History

girafe in paris

Her Highness the Giraffe, and other exotic specimens in 19th century Paris

On 30 June, 1827, an enormous crowd gathered in the streets of Paris, understandably so, for the sight they beheld was quite unusual. For the first time ever, towering high above the people, there was a giraffe in Paris. Nicknamed ‘Her Highness’, the giraffe was a gift from the Egyptian Pasha Mehemet-Ali to Charles X, …

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From coast to mountain, from champagne to red wine, there are almost 200 exquisite cathedrals to explore. Here is my list of the 10 most beautiful cathedrals in France

The 10 most beautiful cathedrals in france

From medieval stone crypts to soaring Gothic arches, from carved rose windows to sky-high spires. the cathedrals of France are simply magnificent. There is no other place in the world where the steeples of bell towers dot every corner of the landscape, or as the French saying goes, de clocher en clocher . Every small village has its church, and every region has at least one glorious cathedral rising to the heavens. There are almost 200 exquisite cathedrals to explore. Here is my list of the 10 most beautiful cathedrals in France.

lost royal chateaux

The lost royal châteaux of France

In a country with thousands of beautiful châteaux, it’s easy to imagine that any could simply be lost to history. War, weather, revolutions and natural disasters have all taken their toll on the built landscape. But lost royal châteaux? Today we can still visit many of the many palaces and châteaux which have harboured the French kings and queens over the past thousand years. Others have been razed to the ground, and only in our imagination can we glimpse the pomp and glamour of royal life.

Marie Antoinette and the Temple of Love

In the grounds of the Petit Trianon, the beloved neoclassical villa of Marie Antoinette, sits one of her follies – le Temple de l’Amour, or Temple of Love. Each morning, as she rose from her luxurious bed and glanced out the window, the sight of its elegant Greek-style cupola filled her heart with joy. Marie Antoinette may have loved jewels and fabulous new dresses, and knew how to party, but she also craved the peace and solitude which was completely lacking in the ornate and formal world of the Palace of Versailles. This, she found in the gardens of her Petit Trianon, in her Temple dedicated to Love.

1000 years of pilgrimage: Mont-St-Michel and the modern pilgrim

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…

french easter

A French Easter

Easter, or Pâques in French, is a beautiful time of the year. The bright yellow flocks of daffodils dance in the sunlight, joyous after a long winter. The first of the pink blossoms twirl their way around branches sprinkled with tiny green shoots, alive with tiny birds flitting to and fro, creating a nest for …

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french church

A serendipitous encounter with a 13th century church

Every morning, I hark the sound of church bells. They murmur gently, at first, shaping my dreams, but soon their insistent melody awakens me from my slumber. I am used to it now, my ancient alarm clock. For hundreds of years, church bells all over France have…

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