The most charming center in all Provence, this university town was once a seat of aristocracy, its streets walked by counts and kings. The countryside of Aix-en-Provence nearby attracts every year, many tourists. The gentle way of life, the incomparable light fascinated the artists and its beautiful countryside inspired the painter Paul Cézanne for a lifetime. Summer brings frequent cultural events, ranging from opera to jazz, June through August.
Amboise is a charming medieval town on the banks of the Loire River, 14 miles east of Tours. Today a small market town, it was once home of the French royal court and the birthplace of Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci spent his last years here. Château d'Amboise is a15th-century château, a combination of Gothic and Renaissance styles, often associated with Charles VIII. Other imporntant sights are: the Hotel de Ville dating from around 1500, the Tour de l'Horloge and the Church of St. Denis.
Amiens, on the Somme River, has been a textile center since medieval days. It is renowned for its Gothic cathedral, one of the largest 'classic' Gothic churches of the 13th century in France. The Ardennes attracted writers such as Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Alexandre Dumas who have evoked its beauty in their writings. The sandy beaches of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage are the most fashionable and best equipped of the many resorts along the Channel.
Angoulême was the center of the French paper industry in the 17th century, today it remains the center of French comic-strip production. In place of its ancient fortifications, Angoulême is encircled by boulevards known as the Remparts, from which you can admire magnificent views in all directions. One of the most important sites is the cathedral of St. Pierre, a church in the Byzantine-Romanesque style, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries.
Situated in the in the North of the French Alps, Lac d'Annecy is surnamed the Venice of Savoie because of the small canals and streams which dissect medieval town centre built around a 14th Century Chateau. You can explore the arcaded streets where Jean-Jacques Rousseau arrived in 1728. Once a Gallo-Roman town, the seat of the comtes de Genève, Annecy opens onto one of the best views of lakes and mountains in the French Alps.
Ideally located between Nice and Cannes, the port of Antibes has a quiet charm unique on the Côte d'Azur. It boasts cobbled streets with flower-filled squares that have appealed to such artists as Picasso. Its little harbor is filled with fishing boats and pleasure yachts. In the evening, you can watch fishers playing the traditional Riviera game of boles.
This beautiful town on the Rhône has been called "the soul of Provence," by art lovers, archaeologists, and historians. Van Gogh has painted luminously many delightful of its scenes. Arles has kept most of its antique charm. Its first-rate museums, excellent restaurants, and summer festivals (such as the early June international photography festival) make a visit rewarding.
The fortified city of Avignon was the capital of Christendom in the 14th century. Avignon's architecture, marked by papal history makes it one of the most interesting and beautiful of Europe's medieval cities. Lately, it has become well known as a cultural center. Artists and painters in increasing numbers have been moving here. Experimental theaters, painting galleries, and art cinemas have brought diversity to the inner city.
Built on the idyllic banks of the Indre river between 1518 to 1527, the chateau of Azay-le-Rideau is one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux. Gilles Berthelot, Treasurer of François I, commissioned the castle. Later he was accused of misappropriation of funds and forced to flee from Azay-Le-Rideau leaving the castle uncompleted behind him forever. Nowadays it houses a museum with beautiful paintings and furniture mostly from the 18-th century.
Bayeux, the capital of the Bessin region is famous all over the world for the Bayeux Tapestry, a XIth century linen hanging, embroided with various colored wools. Similar to a picture book, it shows through successive images the Norman Conquest, displayed in a museum in the town centre. The beautiful work of this embroidery through its numerous details and veracity is a true revelation. Bayeux also offers many possibilities for excursions to the Landing Beaches, chateaux and abbeys.
Bayonne is the leading port and pleasure-yacht basin of the Côte Basque. It has the longest tradition of bull-fighting in France, a major part of the five-day Fêtes de Bayonne which also feature parades, music, dance, fireworks, food and drink. There are also important festivals of Jazz (July), Bayonne ham (Holy Week), theatre and pelota (the Basque sport). Bayonne is known for its fine chocolates, produced in the town for 500 years, and also for Izarra, the liqueur made in bright colors.
Beaune is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the district. Its history goes back over 2,000 years. It was a Gallic sanctuary, then a Roman town. Until the 14th century, it was the residence of the ducs de Bourgogne. The Côte de Beaune, is known for its Burgundy wines, and Beaune is known for its annual wine sales organized by the Hospices de Beaune. Beaune is a city of art and of history which illustrates the spiritual, cultural and economic development of the entire region of Burgundy.
Situated on the banks of the Dordogne, Bergerac used to be a very important port controlling the traffic between the Auvergne and Bordeaux. The region is primarily known for wine and tobacco.
The surroundings of Bergerac offer a wide variety of historical sites to discover: historical monuments, cloisters and caves. Take a tour of the Medieval and Renaissance architecture from the Montaigne Tower to the caves of Maxange, starting from the Château of Montréal to reach the Bastide of Monpazier.
Biarritz is a sophisticated coastal town in French Basque Country, which first became popular with the aristocracy and then with wealthy British tourists in the mid-19th century. Empress Eugenie (the wife of Napoleon III) built a Palace on the beach at what is now the world class Hotel de Paris. The beaches, casinos, golf courses or surfing spots draw a cosmopolitan crowd from all over the world. Don't forget to take a visit to the Museum of the Sea, it will fascinate you.
This town is a piece of living history, with cobblestone streets and restored white houses with slate roofs and red brick chimneys. Some of its "streets" are mere alleyways originally laid out in the Middle Ages, or lanes linked by a series of stairs. Blois is famous for its chateau, often called the "Versailles of the Renaissance," the second capital of France, and the "city of kings." The château is like an illustrated storybook of French architecture.
Bordeaux is one of the world's most important wine-producing areas and also a major cultural center. The city has excellent museums, lively nightlife and beaches close by. Wide avenues, neoclassical architecture and well-tended parks all give the city an 18th-century grandeur. The most interesting neighborhood in Old Bordeaux is the "golden triangle:" cours Clemenceau, cours de l'Intendance, and les allées de Tourny. Tour the chateaux, imbibe the world-class wines and Bordeaux will charm you forever.
Once the capital of Aquitaine, Bourges lies in the heart of France and it boasts a rich medieval past. In 52 B.C., Caesar called it the finest city in Gaul. The Saint Etienne Cathedral, the Jacques Coeur Palace are just two examples of the precious heritage from its past. Its spring festival "le Printemps de Bourges" is the international crossroads of rock music. The colorful atmosphere of the Water Gardens and the quietness of its old Berry Canal are an invitation to walking and relaxing.
Caen, the capital of lower Normandy, is a bustling industrial and cultural centre, with a wealth of medieval churches and a magnificent castle. William the Conqueror founded the city in the 11th century, and was laid to rest here. Fortunately William's legacy still remains in nearby Bayeux, and its fabulous tapestry.
The ancient capital of Quercy, Cahors has had a rich history since Celtic times, was a thriving university city in the Middle Ages, and has remained economically important until the present. The town is almost entirely surrounded by a loop of the Lot River. Today Cahors is best known for the red wine made from the Malbec grapes. Explore the vestiges of the Gallo-Roman town, the medieval city, the Cathedral of St. Etienne, the Valentré bridge, the Boulevard Gambetta and the modern city.
150 years ago Cannes was nothing more than a fishing village. Now it has become an elegant city known round the world and attracts an international clientele. Something's always happening at Cannes: international regattas, galas, concours d'élégance, and even a Mimosa Festival in February, but Cannes is at its most frenzied during the International Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on promenade de la Croisette. On the seafront boulevards, flashbulbs pop as the stars emerge and pose.
The greatest fortress city of Europe, Carcassone, is a fairyland, evoking bold knights, fair damsels, and troubadours. Time seems to stand still in this place filled with magic. It is separated into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse. Everybody comes for the Cité, the double-walled and turreted fortress that was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997.
Site of the first Winter Olympic Games, in 1924, Chamonix is in a valley almost at the junction of France, Italy, and Switzerland, at an altitude of 3,422 ft. Skiers all over the world love its 12-mile Vallée Blanche run, the longest, in Europe. Its breathtaking backdrop, Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest mountain at 4,734m (15,780 ft.) and the exceptional equipment have transformed Chamonix in one of Europe's major sports resorts.
A masterpiece of French renaissance, the Chateau de Chenonceau was built in the beginning of the 16-th century by Thomas Bohier, the Minister of Finance of Francois I. After his death, Henri II gave it to one of his mistresses, Diane de Poitiers. It is one of the most remarkable castles in France, spanning an entire river and with acres of stunning gardens, peaceful cedar forests. That's why many visitors consider this their favorite château in all of France with a mystical air.
The Château de Chinon is one of the oldest fortress-châteaux in France and was once a major stronghold of King Henry II of England. Historically it is most famous however because it was here that Jeanne d'Arc met Charles VI and urged him to declare himself king and raise an army to liberate France from the English. Today, Chinon remains a charming village known mainly for its delightful red wines. Another sight is the house where Richard Lionheart died.
Clermont-Ferrand is also the natural capital of "Massif Central", one of France's most attractive regions. The city is famous for the chain of volcanoes surrounding it. The Puy-de-Dôme (4,720 ft. above sea level) is the highest of these and was a site used for worship since prehistoric times by the Gauls and the Romans. Clermont-Ferrand's most famous public square is place de Jaude, on which stands a grand statue of Vercingetorix, made by Bartholdi who also created the Statue of Liberty.
Colmar it's Alsace's most beautiful city, abounding with medieval and early Renaissance buildings.The houses are surround by tiny gardens and washhouses. Colmar's old quarter is filled with streets of unexpected twists and turns looking more German than French. Colmar is a gateway to the Rhine country and also a major destination for travelers heading south from Strasbourg.This town is also known for the Colmar International Music Festival, a great festival of classical music in its infinite variety.
Deauville has been founded it as an upscale resort in 1859 by the duc de Morny, Napoléon III's half-brother. Coco Chanel launched her career here, opening a boutique selling tiny hats. With its golf courses, casinos, deluxe hotels, La Touques and Clairefontaine racetracks, regattas, a yachting harbor, polo grounds, and tennis courts, Deauville is stylish and expensive, suitable especially for the business of the upper class.
Located in the center of the Côte d'Or, Dijon is the old Capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. It honors the French gastronomical tradition with its mustard, its blackcurrant cream, and its gingerbread. Between meals, you can enjoy the art and architecture. Its medieval core with many old streets and buildings have been restored. University town, business district and culture, Dijon has a varied hotel offer, an auditorium and a significant capacity of reception for any form of event.
Dinan is one of France's most attractive Breton walled towns. Once a stronghold of the ducs de Bretagne nowadays, Dinan welcomes each year thousand of visitors. The 18th-century granite houses provide a sharp contrast to the medieval timbered houses in this walled town with a once-fortified château. Major historical attractions include the Jacobins Theatre dating from 1224, the flamboyant Gothic St Malo's Church, the Romanesque St Saviour's Basilica, Duchess Anne's Tower and the Château de Dinan.
Dinard sits at the top of the Rance River, opposite St-Malo. The abundance of gardens, parks and beaches and a consistently sunny weather make it a popular holiday destination. The attractions include a casino with a restaurant facing the sea and a hall which hosts many expositions. The nearby town of Saint-Lunaire also features a fairly large golf course and the beach of Longchamp, a "surfers' spot". Dinard holds every year a famous British Film Festival in the first days of October.
Evian is situated north of the department of Haute Savoie, on the south bank of Lake Geneva is one of the leading spa resorts in France. The town is built standing against the massif of the Alpine foreland of Chablais. Its spectacular surroundings between lake and mountains and its architectural heritage have given it its renown as an international tourist resort. Evian's waters became famous in the 18th century and are considered useful in everything from baby formula to salt-free diets.
The ancient capital of the Dauphine, Grenoble is the commercial, intellectual, and tourist center of the Alps. Its university, founded in 1339, has a student body of some 40,000 and also the largest summer-session program in Europe attracting a large number of foreign students. The city is also home to four other universities with a large contingent of English and American students, giving the city a cosmopolitan air.
At the mouth of the Seine opposite Le Havre, Honfleur is one of Normandy's most charming fishing ports. It is 500 years older than Le Havre, dating from the 11th century. It is especially known for its beautiful picturesque port, painted many times by artists like: Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet and Johan Jongkind, who have contributed to the appearance of the Impressionist movement. The main sights in town are the 17th century Bassin and the Lieutenance buildings, the church of Sainte Catherine.
In the 1930s, Juan-les-Pins drew a chic crowd during winter. Today it still attracts young Europeans from many economic backgrounds. Juan-les-Pins is often called a honky-tonk town or the "Coney Island of the Riviera," but anyone who calls it that hasn't seen Coney Island in a long time. F. Scott Fitzgerald himself has decried it as a "constant carnival."
Once known as the French Geneva, La Rochelle is one of the most interesting seaside towns in France. The city has beautifully maintained its past architecture, making it one of the most picturesque and historically cities on the Atlantic coast. The most attractive area is located between the harbor and the place de Verdun. The Grosse Horloge is a gateway to the old town and dominates the harbor. The main sights to visit include the Musee du nouveau Monde and the Hotel de Ville.
Limoges, the ancient capital of Limousin in west-central France, is world famous for its exquisite porcelain and enamel production, a medieval industry revived in the 19th century and still going strong today. The Evêché municipal museum ? Enamel Museum are reminders of how the arts of fire have existed here for over 1,000 years. Limoges is a city in harmony with its surrounding countryside. It has a splendid cultural heritage: monuments and Medieval bell towers spires, half-timbered structures.
Surnamed the "acropolis" of the Loire, the château Loches and its satellite buildings form a complex called the Cité Royale. It grew up round a monastery founded about 500 by St. Ours and belonged to the Counts of Anjou from 886 until 1205. The kings of France occupied it from the mid-13th century until Charles IX became king in 1560. The castle is always linked to legendary beauty Agnès Sorel, the mistress of Charles VII. Today, this town is one of the most picturesque in central France.
In the heart of the Pyrenees, Lourdes is the world's most evocative shrine. Spirituality is part of this city through the depth and beauty of the sight, the marks of the past and the serenity of the Sanctuaries. Lourdes was just a small market town on the 11th of February, when Bernadette Soubirous met, along the Cave, the "Lady" that made this town a Marian city. Today Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels in France with 270 establishments.
Endowed with a rich historical past, Luynes is on the World Heritage listing of UNESCO. The remains of a roman aqueduct, the castle, the priory, the inn, the covered market from the 15th century and diverse houses dating back from the 16th and 17th centuries can still be admired. Still inhabited and sumptuously furnished, the chateau of Luynes built from the 12th century to the 17th century has survived the centuries. The gardens and magnificent panorama over the Loire are full of charm.
Lyon is the third-largest city in France is a very modern city that has not lost its special character. Lyon is also music and theater promoting and hosting productions of all kinds, particularly in the national Opera house, renovated by Jean Nouvel. Parks, skyscrapers and sidewalk cafes, a great transport system, and a nightlife fueled by student energy invigorate Lyon. It has the finest food in France and you will have the chance to discover the "Châteaux" and taste the unequaled wine!
Marseille is the second-largest city in France and its premier port. The Vieux Port, is still at the center of city life, with fishing boats, yachts and cabin cruisers all moored together, though larger ships. Ancient remains, early modern buildings, and twentieth century office and housing blocks make up the physical fabric of a thriving city. Urban infrastructure, Mediterranean climate and a convenient location make it an attractive center for vacations and conventions.
Menton is situated at the eastern frontier of the Côte d'Azur. It has the warmest climate on the Mediterranean coast, and in winter it attracts a large, rather elderly British colony. The oldest Menton visitor might have arrived 30,000 years ago and his skull is kept in the Musée de Préhistoire Régionale
Mont Saint Michel is a small rocky island in Normandy, on the north coast of France, near the border of Brittany and Normandy. Massive walls measuring more than half a mile in circumference surround this great tourist attraction, a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey, perched on a rocky, cone-shaped islet in the midst of immense sandbanks. The church is dedicated to the archangel St Michael. Mont Saint-Michel is connected with the shore by a causeway.
Located 12 km to the south of Tours, Montbazon is a favorite stop along the Route d'Espagne. It was an important fortified town that controlled the valley of the Indre. The castle of Montbazon whose remainders are visible our days, was built from 991 to 994 and is one of the first castles in France. A valley begging at Montbazon and ending at the Loire River comes into sight here, a magnificent emerald basin along whose bottom the Indre River sinuously winds its way.
Montignac is a town in the Dordogne département of France. During the early fall of 1940, an amazing archaeological discovery was made above the Vézère River near the town of Montignac. Lascaux Cave is one of the world's great treasures with about six hundred paintings and almost 1,500 engravings. Subject matter of the cave paintings and engravings are mostly animals. Since the Lascaux Cave is closed to the public, a replica has been created at Montignac, 200 meters from the original cave.
Montpellier is an ancient university city still renowned for its medical school, founded in the 13th century. Personalities like Nostradamus, Rabelais and Petrarch have studied here. Today Montpellier is one of southern France's fastest-growing cities. The city has tree-flanked promenades, broad avenues, and historic monuments. Students are about a quarter of the population, creating a lively atmosphere. In recent years, many high-tech corporations have settled in Montpellier.
Situated in the northeast corner of France, Nancy was the capital of old Lorraine. The city was built around a fortified castle on a rock. Because of it's serenely beautiful, history, cuisine and architecture, it once rivaled Paris as the center for Art Nouveau. The medieval alleys and towers around the old Palais Ducal where Charles II received Joan of Arc, the rococo golden gates and fountains, and the dull modern sections contribute all to the diversity of Nancy.
Attractively situated on islands in the estuary of France's mighty Loire River, the solid city of Nantes exudes an air of importance and historical significance. It is a wealthy industrial port, its architectural heritage reflecting its past achievements, from the medieval remnants in the narrow streets of pedestrianised Bouffay. Many famous people, from Molière to Stendhal, have lived here. Nantes is now home to high-tech industries, it has some 30,000 college students.
Nice is the capital of the Riviera, yet far less glamorous and expensive than Cannes. It's also one of the most ancient, having been founded by the Greeks, who called it "Nike," or Victory. Because of its brilliant sunshine and relaxed living, it has attracted in the past famous artists and writers. The best trip center on the Riviera, you can choose to explore region or hang out in its famous cafes. But the most obvious hangout spot here is the beach. The Nice beach is rocks, just rocks so wear a pair of good sandals.
Nîmes is located in the Languedoc Roussillon, near to the border with Provence. The city's culture is a splendid mixture of the two regions. It is famous for its influence in Roman times and possesses one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world and a near-perfect Roman temple. The city has also a touch of Pamplona(Spain) in the festivals of the bullfights at the arena. At night, the bodegas are usually filled with students drinking sangría and listening to the sounds of flamenco.
Only an hour away from Paris, Orléans is the capital of the Loire Valley and is famous for two reasons: Joan of Arc and the "Chateaux" in the region. In 1429, Joan of Arc relieved the city from attacks by the Burgundians and the English. That deliverance is celebrated every year on May 8, the anniversary of her victory. An equestrian statue of Jeanne d'Arc stands on place du Martroi. Other important sites are the Cathedral of "Saint Croix", comparable with Notre Dame and the hotel Groslot.
Only 20 minutes away from the center of Strasbourg, from the train station and from Germany, Ostwald has a privileged geographical position. The archeological discoveries have attested the existence of a human habitat here since the Celtic period. The commune has received its name during the French revolution from 1789. In the XIX century the Château de l'Ile was built using the traditional Alsatian architecture: half-timbering, sand stone, flowered balconies, and terraces at the water's edge.
Paris assaults the senses, demanding to be seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelled. Gaze at impressive monuments and savor its gourmet pastiche of cheese, chocolate, wine and seafood. Paris is a city of vast perspectives and intimate streets, of formal gardens and of quiet squares. Paris is relatively small as capitals go, with many of its major sights and museums within walking distance of each other. Stroll down the Champs-Elysees for the chic grand boulevard experience and Rue Cler for a more intimate snapshot of Parisian living.
Recommended Stay:At least 3 nights Must See`s:
Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Jardin des Tuileries, Latin Quater, Avenue des Champs Elysees and so much more!
Pau is the most cosmopolitan city in the western Pyrénées. High above the banks of the Gave de Pau River, this year-round resort attracts many tourists. The British discovered Pau in the early 19th century, launching such practices as fox hunting, a custom that lingers. It still keeps some English traditions, such as the afternoon tea. Even if you're just passing through, follow boulevard des Pyrénées, an esplanade erected on Napoléon's orders, for a famous panoramic view.
Capital of the old province of Périgord, Périgueux is the city of foie gras and truffles. The region is also known for its Roman ruins and medieval churches offering more than 2000 years of history in 39 historic monuments. Périgueux is a city of culture: theaters, cultural centers, libraries, conservatory, art galleries, housing prestigious concerts, ballets and thematic expositions. It is a gateway to the Dordogne Valley and the cave paintings at Les Eyzies.
Once Catalonia's second city after Barcelona, Perpignan is the meeting point of all the routes which lead to the seaside, the mountains, and also all the other cultural environments. Magnificent monuments: the "Palais des Rois de Majorque", the Castillet, the "Loge de Mer", the cathedral of St John the Baptist built between the 1324 and 1509 or the Campo Santo can be admired here. Immortalized by Dali to make its train station the center of the world, Perpignan will seduce you by its diversity.
The ancient capital of Poitou, the northern part of Aquitaine, Poitiers is a town filled with history. It is a fascinating town for those interested in antiquity. The great artistic wealth of Poitiers comprises: the Notre-Dame-la-Grande church with Romanesque architecture, the Saint-Pierre cathedral, built in the Gothic style, the 4th-century rectangular Baptistère Saint-Jean, probably the oldest Christian edifice in France; the 12th-century former ducal palace has been incorporated into the 19th-century Hôtel de Ville.
Situated at the confluence of the Odet and Steir, Quimper, is a beautiful city dating from at least the 1st century BC. Its spectacular Gothic cathedral was started in the 13th century. The town's best known for the Quimper faïence pottery. You can tour one of the ateliers; inquire at the tourist office. You can tour one of the ateliers; inquire at the tourist office. The town has also been known for copper and bronze work, food items, galvanized ironware, hosiery, leather, paper and woolen goods.
Reims is an ancient Roman city and the birthplace of the French nation. Here you will find one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals in France, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, where most of the kings of France were crowned. The neighboring Basilique St-Rémi is even older and includes the old royal abbey which is now a museum documenting the history of the town. Most visitors come to Reims, not so much for history but for tasting is the lightest and subtlest in flavor of the world's wines - the champagne.
The capital of Normandy, Rouen is one of the country's most ancient cities, with 2,000 years of history, laid out by the Duke of Normandy in 911. The city on the Seine is rich in historic associations: William the Conqueror died here in 1087, and Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on place du Vieux-Marché in 1431. Nowadays, Rouen is a bustling, vibrant place, bursting with activity generated by the industries connected to the port and the students at nearby universities and art schools.
Between the plane of Alsace and the hills vosgiennes, between vineyards and history, Rouffach is the place where you find pace and harmony. It is a delightful, charming city, with a subtle Renaissance atmosphere. Rouffach has a rich history and a beautiful patrimony. In the XII century, it was a fortified city and is still keeps some vestiges from that period. The main sights are: the house Trois Dames from the XVI century, the house of nobles Schoenau, the old hospital Saint Esprit funded in 1270.
The region is renowned for its beautiful centuries-old homes and churches, sparkling wines, and mushroom caves. Saumur is a beautiful town that produces some 100,000 tons per year of the mushrooms in France. The city is also famous for its factory where carnivals masks are made. Other important sights are: the Château de Saumur and the Tank Museum, the largest museum of its kind in Europe, displaying a wide range of other armored vehicles.
Built on a granite rock in the Channel, Saint-Malo was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance River, during the Middle Ages controlling the estuary and the sea beyond. The peninsula curves around a natural harbor that comprises several smaller basins. The Cathédrale St-Vincent is the town spiritual centerpiece. Jacques Cartier, an explorer who discovered Canada, while trying to find a route to China, is very popular in Saint-Malo, because was born and spend most of his life in this city.
St Paul stretches over 1.700 acres, and it is surrounded by the Mediterranean sea and the Cap d'Antibes, the Alps and the Esterel Mountains. With an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, St Paul has a uniquely mild climate. Most of the stone houses along rue Grande are from the 16th and 17th centuries, many still bearing the coats-of-arms placed here by the original builders. Today most of them are antiques shops, art-and-crafts galleries, and souvenir and gift shops.
Between the red lava peaks of the Massif de l'Estérel and the densely forested hills of the Massif des Maures, St-Raphaël was first popular during Roman times, when rich families came to the large resort here. The city still offers the wide beaches, good restaurants and hotels, and coastal ambience of other Côte d'Azur resorts, but, at a fraction of the price. This is why St-Raphaël, one of the richest towns on the coast, draws more and more families every year.
St-Rémy is a small town full of charm and with a rich cultural patrimony: historic monuments, museums, traditional holidays, concerts. The countryside has been an inspiring source for the great Van Gogh who has illustrated it in more than 150 of his paintings. Nostradamus, the famous French physician/astrologer, was born here in 1503. St Rémy reunites more arts : music (Charles Gounod), literature (Nostradamus, F. Mistral, J. Roumanille, C. Mauron, M. Mauron, M. Bonnet), painting (Van Gogh).
Saint Symphorien le Château is mostly a residential town. Dating back to the 11th century, the Esclimont Castle rests on a rich, historical past. A number of wars led to its destruction, but it was then rebuilt in 1543. Over the course of the centuries, it underwent various transformations, in particular in the 18th and the 19th centuries when it has been restored in the Renaissance style. In 1980, the Castle was transformed into a hotel by a large international chain.
The capital of Alsace, Strasbourg is one of France's greatest cities and also one of France's major ports, only 2 miles west of the Rhine. It was wrestled back and forth between the Germans and the French, resulting in a curious - and often rewarding - mixture of language, culture and food. La Petite France is the most interesting quarter of Strasbourg. For a good view, walk along rue des Moulins, branching off from rue du Bain-aux-Plantes.
Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur région, this fortress and modern town is the principal naval base of France. With its magnificent natural harbor, surrounded by hills, Toulon is a city of contrasts. Plage du Mourillon is an area just minutes from the city center has 20ha, of well equipped beaches where all water sports are available. Toulon offers a wide choice of activities: music festivals, museums, the dance festival at Châteauvallon, the Zenith concert hall, the Palais des Congrès.
The old capital of Languedoc, Toulouse is nowadays France's fourth-largest city. It is a city with a distinguished historical past, and also a city of the future and the high-tech center of the aerospace industry in France. Its small, 18-century Old Quarter is a maze of narrow lanes and plazas in which to get happily lost. Its River Garonne is peaceful by day and romantic by night, when the Pont Neuf is floodlit. Stumble across grand churches, fine art and handsome 16th-century mansions.
Situated at the junction of the Loire and Cher rivers, Tours is an excellent base for visiting the region's magnificent châteaux. The original home of the French language and the "art de vivre", Tours is a land of harmony and proportion. Today, it is a modern, lively centre; with a thriving university, cultivating economic development. You can taste its charm visiting the old quarter, the Gothic Cathedral of St. Gatien, Touraine Wine Museum, the fine-arts museum and Plessis les Tours.
The Ville de Vichy, a world-renowned spa, is situated in the centre of France and at the heart of the "Province du Boubonnais". Surrounded by many areas of natural beauty, Vichy is a town in the countryside, but with a complete and very modern infrastructure, full of activities. It is famous as a major European centre dedicated to beauty, health, fitness and leisure. Private hotels in eclectic styles, extravagant domes, galleries in wrought iron, Vichy abounds in architectural diversity and many surprises.
Built in the 16-th century on the location of a ruined fort, the Renaissance castle of Villandry is most famous for its gardens celebrated throughout the Touraine. Nowadays, tourists come over Villandry to admire its splendid and diversified gardens: the water garden, the decorative ornamental garden, the ornamental vegetable garden that is completely replanted twice a year. Every square of the gardens is like a geometric mosaic. The borders symbolize the faces of love: tender, tragic, and crazy.
Vougeot is named for the River Vouge. Monks first planted vine in Clos de Vougeot in the 12th century. Nowadays, Clos de Vougeot is one of the largest single vineyards in Burgundy producing grand cru wines. The vineyard is shared between many owners, so inevitably there is some mediocre as well as some very fine wine made. The best cuvée de Vougeot is traditionally reckoned to be amongst the finest red wine in the world.
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