One of the most iconic and photographed places in France, the steeple of its ancient stone church rises majestically into the clouds, whilst its feet sit firmly in the shifting sands and resist the relentless tides. Popular with tourists all year round and overrun in the warm summer months, would it surprise you to know that…
I adore roses. My favourite time of the year is early June, when the delicious honey scent of hundreds of climbing yellow roses infuses every room of my old stone house. On another side, the gnarled trunks of an ancient rose tree rest against the cobbled wall, giving life to slowly unfurling pale pink roses with their heavenly scent. Are you a rose lover as well? If so, here are 5 places in Paris where you can go to see, admire (and smell) the roses.
Christmas in France is a wonderful time of the year. Everyone is in a festive spirit when they visit their local marché de Noël, drinking mulled wine or a hot chocolate to warm your hands in the cold, or the snow if you’re lucky. You might be in Paris and peer into the dazzling window displays of Printemps. There’s the traditions of Christmas Eve, the Reveillon, where families attend midnight mass together and take their exquisite seafood dinner late into the night. And don’t forget to listen for the bells of père Noël. Here are some of my favourite images of a French Christmas.
High on a sandy hill, tucked comfortably amongst the fragrant pine trees and looking over the breathtaking Bassin d’Arcachon, is the Ville d’Hiver, or Winter Town. An eclectic mix of ornate brick mansions, limestone houses and swiss style chalets, it’s a must-see on your visit to Arcachon. The tree-lined streets offer shade and serenity, and as you take a walk along the quiet streets, the exquisitely decorated facades of every colour are a window into the past.
The year is 1984. A French radio journalist and his crew have descended upon the Château de Veauce, in the village of the same name, the tiniest village in the Allier department. They are hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous Lucie, the White Lady who materialises in the medieval tower at midnight, making the château one of the most haunted houses in France.
Classical and elegant, yet bold and brilliant, the city of Bordeaux has something for everyone. If you love wine, it’s among the best in the world. If you love food, there is foie gras and canelés. If you love history, Bordeaux is a potent mix of the medieval, the Renaissance and the modern. In fact, walk around the city and you’ll find almost half of it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. For those of you like me who adore their history, here are the best things to do and see in Bordeaux.
There are so many beautiful châteaux in the Loire Valley, it’s difficult to choose which to visit. The Royal Château of Blois is not the prettiest, but it has been the home of no less than seven French kings and ten queens, and its imposing architecture represents four distinct architectural periods. “The châteaux of few country towns can boast so many and so important events, so long a list of illustrious inmates, or so large a collection of historical recollections, as that of Blois”.
There are some places you visit as a tourist which fill you with sadness and despair at the atrocities committed by men. Oradour-sur-Glane is one of these places. Once a peaceful village in the countryside, in 1944 it was changed forever after one of the most barbarous acts by German soldiers in France in World War II – a massacre in which 642 men, women and children were shot or burnt to death in the local church.
For over 200 years the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, or Strasbourg Cathedral, was the tallest structure in the world. When you stand at its doors and glance upwards, the carved Gothic figures tell you a story, they bring to life the medieval world in which they were created. The Strasbourg Cathedral was one of the first in France I visited, and it has left a lasting impression.