afternoon airport area August building car Chateau city coast countryside couple crowd day Europe Festival fine food France garden Gothic history July lamb lavender market middle Music Paris place Provence reason region restaurant River Rue seafood summer sun time town trip Visit water way work
Because the sun appears less often here than in the south, some people think of Nord-Pas de Calais as a gloomy region. They have clearly never paid it a visit: it’s probably one of the jolliest regions in France, and always ready to celebrate. Parades, carnivals, fairs and fanfares – good habits endure in this land of memory, bristling with belfries. To get the right feel for the region’s spirit, you need to join the crowd during the great collective celebrations, and share their meals based on seafood – the famous moules-frites, the traditional waterzoï (a court-bouillon of fish and chicken) – washed down with some of the local beer. It’s a lively region where tradition is part of daily life – a region open to the major capitals cities of Europe such a short distance away! Read the rest of this entry »
The Loire is France’s longest river, and one of its most untamed. But it’s not its landscape that draws most tourists to the lower Loire, but the fine chateaux and palaces along its banks.
Castle building on the Loire started in the Middle Ages with keeps like that at Blois, but it was in the Renaissance that the mania for fine chateaux really began. French kings sponsored huge building programmes at Amboise and Chambord, while rich nobles built palaces like Azay-le-Rideaux, Chaumont and Chenonceaux.
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France itself was born in this northern province between the Marne and the Somme – for it was here that the Franks – ancestors of the French – set up home.
A land of culture, the cradle of Gothic art and an unspoiled environment: Picardy is a treasure-trove of art and natural beauty. Its cathedrals at Beauvais, Amiens, Senlis, Laon or Noyon illustrate the rise of Gothic art as it spread across France and Europe. The charm of its small Medieval town of Senlis or the riches of the châteaux at Pierrefonds, Coucy, Chantilly, Bagatelle and Compiègne, surrounded by magnificent gardens, parks and forests set a nostalgic mood that’s enhanced during festivals, son et lumières shows and Picardy games. Another pleasure inherited from the past – that of good food – is assiduously cultivated: ficelle picarde, salt meadow lamb, gâteau battu and other abundant products of the generous environment. Picardy produce has what it takes to give the most demanding gourmet an appetite! Read the rest of this entry »
As one of France’s most famously picturesque regions, Provence is packed full of worthy destinations. I chose to make Avignon my base camp. It is a lovely, mid-sized city with plenty of restaurants, shops, history, and day-trip opportunities to make for a great lavender scented vacation escape.
When we arrived in Avignon on June 21st, to my surprise we were greeted by thick traffic and large crowds; not exactly what I expected. But there was actually a rather fortunate reason for all the hustle and bustle. It turns out that on this particular day in France, the national Fête de la Musique (Festival of Music) is held. People pour into the cities to enjoy free concerts held simultaneously throughout the streets. Read the rest of this entry »