Places

Places to visit in France

Le jardin de Bouquet is a large park and woodland next to the Chateau du Bouguet whice has been laid out with a large number of parterres made up of clipped box and several other hedgeing and herbaceous plants. The garden can be found on the edge of the village of Sorges, famous for its truffles.

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Beauport Abbey is a charming abbey in northern Brittany, just a few kilometres from Paimpol and in the Cotes-d'Armor department. It is one of the most visited - and most impressive - abbeys n Brittany and an interesting example of the early use of gothic style architecture.

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The Jardin de la Ferme Fleurie is a colourful garden which has been created around a working farm where melons and sweetcorn are grown. The farm also welcomes guests to its gite and chambre d'hote and it is an auberge providing food by reservation in the evening.

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Perigueux cathedral is an imposing historic monument that dominates the skyline of this town in the centre of the Dordogne department in south-west France. The cathedral is classified as a UNESCO World heritage site as one of the stages on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela.

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Les Jardins d'eau in Carsac-Aillac is a beautiful water garden in Carsac-Aillac in the Dordogne department of France. The garden is a classified 'Remarkable Garden' and has a beautiful and rare collection of aquatic plants.

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The cathedral in Treguier - a small town in the north of Brittany - is in the town centre, and the highlight of your visit to the town.

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The village of La Roche-Derrien is in the north part of the Cotes-d'Armor department, in Brittany and near the Coast of Granite Rose. Its is part of the commune called La Roche-Jaudy, and the limit of the tidal part of the river.

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The Musée de la rue du temps qui passe is dedicated to life in the years 1860 to 1940. The museum can be found next to the river Dordogne on the edge of the village of Allas-les Mines in the Dordogne department.
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Ploumanac'h is a village on the north coast of Brittany, in the Cotes-d'Armor department. It is part of Perros-Guirec, an important town a few kilometres to the east. I was not sure when I was in Ploumanac'h and when I was in Saint-Guirec which is the adjacent secteur, so comments below refer to both...

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Trebeurden is a small resort on the coast of north Brittany, in the Cotes d'Armor department and at the west end of the famous "Coast of Granite Rose".

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The Latour Marliac garden is a stunning waterlily garden and nursery that has been in operation since 1875. Joseph Bory Latour Marliac developed a method of crossing a white waterlily, that was the only hardy waterlily of the time, with tropical and wild waterlilies from elsewhere in the world and creating a range of hardy waterlilies in a wide range of colours.

Latour Marliac exhibited his new colourful waterlilies at the Universal Exhibition of 1889, when the Eiffel Tower also was revealed for the first time, and became something of a sensation. He won first prize in his category and his waterlilies attracted the eye of Claude Monet who ordered a large quantity for his garden at Giverny.

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The basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours is the principal monument in the market town of Guingamp, a market town in the eastern part of the Cotes d'Armor department of Brittany.

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Guingamp is a town in the west of the Cotes d'Armor department of Brittany, about 30 kilometres south of the coast.

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Brelevenez is a sector of the town of Lannion, only a kilomètre or two north of the main town centre and accessible on foot: you can see a sign indicating the direction from the road next to Lannion tourist office.

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The Jardins de l'Albarede is an attractive garden near to Domme in the Dordogne department. The garden is in a valley surounded by wooded hills over which it has some splendid views.

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Domremy-la-Pucelle is a small village in the Vosges department, in the north-east of France. The village would go unnoticed by visitors if it was not the birthplace of one of the greatest heroines in the history of France, Joan of Arc (known affectionately in France as la Pucelle, hence the current name of the village), who was born here in 1412.

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The small town of Mirecourt is in the north of the Vosges department of north-east France, about 40 kilometres south of Nancy.

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The Jardins de Cadiot is an attractive garden in the Dordogne valley between Sarlat and Souillac. The garden is on the edge of the village of Carlux which is in itself a very pretty village with the ruins of a castle in its centre.

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The Chateau de Harcourt is a castle with medieval origins, in the village of Harcourt and about halfway between Lisieux and Evreux.

Note: there are at least four castles in France that share the same name, in the departments of Calvados, Eure, Vienne and Vosges. Here we are visiting the Chateau d'Harcourt in the centre-north of the Eure department.

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The Jardins de Roquelin is an attractive rose garden in Meung-sur-Loire in the Loire Valley. It has developed around a family farm and is classified as a Jardin Remarquable.

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Carlux is a small village in the Dordogne department situated between Sarlat-la-Canéda and Souillac. This traditional Perigord village is small but has a few notable monuments and charming stone houses with tall rooves and wooden shutters.

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The town of Champs-sur-Marne is about 20 kilometres east of central Paris, and now largely a commuter town for Paris. It is within the historic Brie district that follows the valleys of the Seine and the Marne, now best known for the famous cheese of the same name that originates here.

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The town of Meaux is on the banks of the Marne river, in the Seine-et-Marne department of France and about 60 kilometres to the east of Paris, in the direction of Reims. It is the biggest town in the department (although not the prefecture / capital of Seine-et-Marne.

Meaux is best known, in France at least, for the famous brie cheese that comes from this region and called Brie de Meaux

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Solre-le-Chateau is a small town in the rolling countryside to the east of the Nord department of northern France and just a few kilometres from the French border with Belgium.

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Meung sur Loire is an attractive medieval village which is situated between Orleans and Chambord in the Loire Valley. It is home to one of the oldest castles in the Loiret region of France.

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Covering a surface of more than 9000 hectares (22000 acres), the Foret de Marmol is the largest area of forest in the Nord department of France. It is in the commune of Locquignol and close to Maroilles and Le Quesnoy.

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The town of Le Quesnoy is in the Nord department, in the north-east corner of France to the east of Cambrai and just a few kilometres from the border with Belgium.

Curiously, the town only became part of France in 1659 when the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed: before that it was for a long time part of Spain's territory in northern Europe.

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Hotel Groslot is a beautiful Neo-Renaissance mansion on the Place de l'Etape next to the cathedral in Orleans. The mansion which once hosted King Charles IX, Henri IV and Catherine de Medicis is open for visitors to admire part of the interior. It is also known as the Grande Maison de l'Etape and the Maison de Gouverneur.

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Tourtoirac is a small village in the north-east of the Dordogne department, to the east of Perigueux and just a few kilometres from Hautefort and Excideuil. The river in the village is the Auvézère, that flows into the Isle then later into the Dordogne river.

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The town of Lessay is in the centre of the Manche department of Normandy, and developed in the 11th century around the benedictine Lessay Abbey, that was founded here in 1056. The abbey is the principal highlight of a visit.

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The Musée des Beaux Arts museum in Bordeaux is not huge but its nicely laid out and has a nice collecion of paintings and some statues. The museum can be found in central Bordeaux.

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The Jardins de Beauchamp are a series of themed gardens attached to a garden centre, the Jardinerie Jay, on the edge of Marmande in the Lot et Garonne. The garden was established in 2004 and is full of mature plants and trees.

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The Chateau de Beaumesnil is an imposing chateau in the eastern part of the Eure department of Normandy.

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The Museum of Aquitaine has an interesting range of exhibits from Prehistory to current times. The museum is in the centre of Bordeaux which is itself a fabulous city with a rich variety of architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Status as an historic city created in the age of Enlightenment. It has more protected buildings than any other city in France apart from Paris.

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Bournazel is a small village in the Aveyron department of France with ancient origins thought to date back 2000 years. The village is pleasant to explore, and the principal attraction here is the Chateau de Bournazel.

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Valloires is an abbey in Argoules, a small commune in the Somme department of northern France, to the north of Abbeville.

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The small village of Chiry-Ouscamp is in the Oise department of northern France, along the banks of the river Oise. A settlement was established here as early as the 7th century, and the village attracts visitors today mostly because of the ruined cistercian abbey that is found here.

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The village of Morienval is in the Nord department of northern France, to the west of Soissons and east of Senlis and Chantilly. The centre of the village is dominated by the Abbey of Notre-Dame, which is the principal reason that visitors come here.

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The small town of Cassel is in the very north of France, a few kilometres south of Dunkirk and Calais and close to Saint-Omer. In the region known as Flanders, several small hills can be seen on the otherwise flat plains, and the highest of these hills is at Cassel.

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Bavay is a small town in northern France, north-east of Cambrai and south-east of Lille. The town is very close to the French border with Belgium.

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The cloisters of the abbey at Cadouin are in the centre of the village of Cadouin, in the south part of the Dordogne department.

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Cadouin abbey is an abbey in the southern part of the Dordogne department, in the village of Cadouin to the south of Limeuil and Tremolat.

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The Chateau de Bourdeilles dominates the small but charming village of Bourdeilles in the Dordogne department of France. The castle dates back to the 12th century and consists of the early defensive fort and a Renaissance building added in the 16th century.

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The Bassin d'Arcachon is an expanse of sea almost completely surrounded by land, to the west of Bordeaux in south-west France. The circumference of the bassin is around 80 kilometres.

Several of the sites and places around the Bassin are interesting to visit: although it is possible to drive all the way around in about 1 1/2 hours, you see very little from the main road and will certainly wonder why I suggested you come here if that is the way that you explore!

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The Ile Sainte-Marguerite is in the small group of islands called the Iles de Lérins, in the Mediterranean a short distance away from the Cote d'Azur and Cannes. The principal departure point to get here is from the old port in Cannes: boats are operated by Planaria de l'Abbaye de Lérins.

While the nearby Ile Saint-Honorat was named after Honoratus, who established a monastic settlement in the 4th century, this island is named for his sister, Marguerite, who established a nunnery on the island.

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The Ile Sant-Honorat is the second largest island in the Iles de Lérins group, near Cannes on the French Riviera. Most visitors arrive here on one of the many boats from the old port in Cannes, although you will also find boats available in other nearby resorts, such as Theoule-sur-Mer, Juan-les-Pins and Mandelieu-La Napoule.

The island gets its name from Honoratus, a Gallo-Roman who visited here and established a monastery in the 4th century.

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The Iles de Lérins are a small group of islands on the French Riviera near Cannes. The islands separate the Gulf of La Napoule, to the west of here, from the Gulf of Juan, to the east.

To reach the islands you can take boats from Cannes - the emabarcation for these boats is to the west of the old port in the town and the journey takes around 15 minutes. Boats to the islands also leave from other resorts along this part of the cote d'Azur at Juan-les-Pins, Mandelieu-La Napoule and Theoule-sur-Mer.

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The Haras du Pin is a national horse breeding and training centre, east of Argentan, in the Orne department in the southern part of Normandy. It is the oldest Haras National in France.

The Haras Nationaux are a network of centres across France that were first established in the 17th century as a centre for breeding horses to be used by the French army. The Haras have evolved over the centuries, and are now primarily dedicated to horse racing and horse riding, and horse breeding in collaboration with private enterprises.

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The village of Prats-du-Perigord is in the south-east corner of the Dordogne department, a few kilometres north of Villefranche-du-Perigord.

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Bayonne cathedral is an important monument in the heart of the historic centre of Bayonne, in south-west France. Because it is part of the historic pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela, it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The cathedral is known under two names: the Cathedral of Sainte-Marie, and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Bayonne (hence also the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Sainte-Marie...)

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Saint-Pee-sur-Nivelle is a traditional basque village a short distance to the east of Sain-Jean de-Luz.

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The town of Sillé-le-Guillaume is located near the very popular Sillé lake to the west of Le Mans and south of Alençon, and is classed as a small town of character. It has an ancient historic centre and a newer market town which grew up from the 12th century onwards.

Sillé le Guillame is named after and developed largely because of two important personnages. The first was the gallo-romain Sillus who built a residence on the ancient Le Mans to Jublains road, then later in the 11th century Guillaume, the baron of Sillé, was told by the count of Maine to defend the territory and he built the castle.

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Parcé sur Sarthe is a pretty village dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries though most of the buildings in the village today are of the 15th and 16th centuries. It is situated on a large meander of the River Sarthe. The village is classified as a "Petite Cité de Caractère de la Sarthe".

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The Arboretum Al Gaulhia is an arboretum in the Espartignac commune, near Uzerche in the Correze department. Having been open to the public for six years, the Arboretum Al Gaulhia is now officially classified as a 'remarkable garden' in France, an important accolade that reflects the time and effort that has gone into creating the arboretum.

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The Port de Larros is one of several traditional oyster villages situated on the Bassin d'Arcachon, the coastal destination to the east of Bordeaux.

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Biron is a small village at the southern edge of the Dordogne department, in the rolling countryside around Monpazier.

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In the eastern part of the city of the town of Tours in the Loire valley you can visit two exceptional monuments: the cathedral of Tours and the la Psalette cloisters, attached to the cathedral.

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The Collegiale Saint-Martin in Angers is one of the most important historic monuments in the town, and the building includes elements from various historic periods from the last 1500 years as well as a display of religious statues and artworks.

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The Apocalypse Tapestry is a large medieval tapestry, held in a display area in the Chateau in Angers, in the Maine-et-Loire department of north-west France.

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Angers cathedral is one of the principal historic monuments in Angers, in the Maine-et-Loire department of north-west France. It is in the town centre, a short distance east of the castle and at the top of a long flight of stairs that lead down to the river.

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Langeais castle is in the centre of the small town of Langeais, a short distance to the west of Tours and in one of the most visited parts of the Loire Valley.

There has been a castle here in Langeais since 994, and in the grounds of the current castle you can still see part of the original castle keep: in fact, this is the oldest castle keep still in existence in France. The main castle that we visit today was built in the grounds of the older castle in 1465, under the orders of Louis XI. It combines the medieval style, with large towers and a drawbridge, with renaissance elements such as elegant stone windows.

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The village of Azay-le-Rideau is in the heart of the Loire Valley, south of Langeais and south-wst of Tours. The village is mostly visited for the Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau and the Chateau of l'Islette, but Azay-le-Rideau village, although small, is also pleasant to explore while you are here.

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The Abbey of Senanque is in the Vaucluse department a few kilometres north of Gordes, one of the prettiest villages in Provence. It is perhaps the famous views of the abbey surrounded by lavender fields that have spread the reputation of Senanque Abbey and attract visitors from all over the world, rather than the chance to enjoy a visit to a beautifully preserved abbey, still occupied by monks...

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Castellar is a small village in the hills to the north of Menton, a short distance east of Sainte-Agnes. While most perched villages are on the side of a steep hill, Castellar is along a high ridge so you get great views from both sides of the village.

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Villa Ephrussi is a lovely villa surounded by extensive gardens on the Cap Ferrat peninsula, to the south of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Villefranche-sur-Mer. It is one of the most visited villas on the French riviera.

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Villa Kérylos is an impressive villa on a peninsula in the town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer on the French riviera. The house is named after the Greek word Kérylos, which means "swallow of the sea" and is a reference to the flying fish that used to be seen in the water here.

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Andernos-les-Bains is about half way around the Bassin d'Arcachon between Cap-Ferret at the tip of the peninsula and Arcachon on the south-western tip of the Bassin. Andernos-les-Bains is home to the longest pier in France.

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The zoo du Bassin d'Arcachon is one of the largest zoos in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region and is about 10 kilometres south of Arcachon, in the commune of La Teste-de-Buch. The zoo is home to more than 800 animals and covers an area of 22 hectares.

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The beach resort of Le Lavandou is on the coast of the Var department, on the Cote d'Azur and just a few kilometres east of the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas.

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The Route des Cretes is a very scenic coast road between Cassis and La Ciotat in Provence to the south-east of Marseille.

Note: there are several other routes called 'route des cretes' in France, including one on the northern rim of the Gorges du Verdon, also in Provence, and another in the Vosges region of north-east France. This article is referring to the cliiftop route on the coast in the Bouches-du-Rhone department.

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The Lac de Sainte-Croix is a leisure lake and reservoir within the Regional Natural Park of Verdon, created in 1974. There are various places of interest along the shores of the lake and in the immediate vicinity.

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Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon is a small resort and village on the west side of the Lac de Sainte-Croix in Provence. The village is an an enviable location, high on a rocky promontory overlooking the lake.

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Bauduen is a small village on the southern shores of the Lac de Sainte-Croix, a popular leisure lake in Provence.

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The village of Trigance is in the Var department of Provence, near the eastern end of the Gorges du Verdon: visitors will usually discover the village while touring the gorges.

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At the top of the stunning hill village of Eze in the Provencal hills is the beautiful Exotic Garden of Eze. It has been created on the site of an ancient fortress and has incredible views over the Cote d'Azur.

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The Exotic Garden of Monaco sits on one of the highest points of Monaco and has great views out over Monaco, the port of Monaco and the sea. It is worth visiting the garden for the views alone but add to that the amazing display of cacti and it becomes a must see destination when you visit Monaco.

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The Port de Biganos is a small, traditional fishing port on the southern side of the Bassin d'Arcachon, about 20 kilometres east of Arcachon.

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Most visitors to this part of the western Côte d'Azur are here to visit the town of Hyères and to take a boat trip to explore the Hyères islands of Port Cros and Porquerolles. What many visitors do not realise is that the peninsula just south of the town - the Presqu'ile de Giens - is also a popular tourist destination.

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The Carrières de Lumières on the edge of the village of Les Baux-de-Provence is a very popular attraction with visitors, with a different sound and light show presented each year and attracting a very large audience.

For the area around the village of Les Baux-de-Provence and the nearby town of Fontvieille, the 19th century was a time of great activity with large quarries supplying rock for the many buildings being built at that time, both factories and houses. There were several important quarries at that time: the one on the edge of Les Baux was called the Grands Fonds.

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The Chateau des Baux-de-Provence is a castle that stands above the village of the same name, in the centre of the Bouches-du-Rhone department in Provence. You will reach the castle as part of your visit to the village of Les Baux-de-Provence: the castle entrance is at the highest point in the village and can only be accessed by walking through the village.

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For much of the 14th century Italy was ravaged by wars, and one consequence of this was also the major event in the history of Avignon, leading to the centre of the Christian world moving to France and the building of the Popes Palace. This Palace is one of the most important monuments in Provence, and is situated in the heart of the historic city.

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The village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, between Orange and Avignon in the Vaucluse department of Provence, is best known for its wines but is also a charming village to explore.

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Situated on the southern edge of the town of Orange, in the Vaucluse department of Provence, the Roman Theatre is one of the most impressive Roman monuments still in existence and one of the best preserved theatres from Roman times.

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The town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a pleasant town on the banks of the Sorgue river and in the south-east of the Vaucluse department of Provence.

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The town of Cadenet is in the Vaucluse department, in the south of the Regional Natural Park of Luberon.

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The Chateau de Lourmarin is on the edge of the village of the same name, to the south of the Luberon Regional Natural Park and in the Vaucluse department of Provence.

This layout with the castle outside the village is quite unusual: in almost every village you visit in Luberon you will find the castle (or ruins of a castle) at the centre of the village, with the village having developed around the castle.

The chateau is said to be the first renaissance style castle to be built in Provence.

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Pertuis is a small town on the southern border of the Luberon Regional Natural Park. The town was originally an important regional centre, but over the centuries Pertuis lost this role to Aix-en-Provence, 25 kilometres south of here.

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The Gorges d'Oppedette are the gorges that run south from the village of Oppedette in Provence. They are a local scenic highlight, easily accessible and very pleasant to explore.

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On the edge of the charming village of Roussillon in the Luberon region of Provence you can explore the historic Ochre mines next to the village, now listed as a conservation area.

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On the edge of the village of Ansouis, in the Luberon region of Provence, the Extraordinary Museum of Georges Mazoyer (Musée Extraordinaire de Georges Mazoyer) is a most unusual museum and collection of artefacts and works of art.

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The Domaine Royal de Château Gaillard and its gardens is a castle/manor house and gardens, completely renovated in recent years to its original condition, in the town of Amboise.

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The Marqueyssac gardens are one of the most original gardens in France. They occupy a beautiful site high above the Dordogne river between the villages of Beynac and La Roque-Gageac.

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Laugerie-Basse is a prehistoric shelter situated next to the lovely natural cave of the Grotte du Grand Roc a few kilometers out of Les-Eyzies.

Les-Eyzies is a world renowned centre for prehistoric caves and shelters and Laugerie-Basse is one of the UNESCO listed prehistoric sites of the area.

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The Grotte du Grand Roc is a beautiful cave system full of stalactites and stalagmites in the Vézère valley.

It is situated close to Les Eyzies in the heart of the "Prehistoric capital of the world".

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Montrol-Senard is a quaint little Limousin village whose buildings evoke the traditional life of a Limousin village in times gone by. As it is just a couple of kilometers from Mortemart, the only village classed among the "most beautiful villages in France" in Haute-Vienne it gets a fair few visitors in summer.

Montrol-Sénard is west of Limoges and south of Bellac in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

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The Chateau de la Mercerie is in the commune of Magnac-lavalette-Villars in the Charente department, in the countryside around 25 kilomètres to the south of Angoulême.

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The Chateau de Bridoire is a 12th century castle in Ribagnac near to Bergerac in the Dordogne which has recently been renovated and opened to the public.

As well as the rooms renovated and decorated as they would have been in previous centuries the castle has also installed hundreds of games ranging from giant chess to grass-skiing and archery making it an excellent destination for families.

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The Chateau de Boutemont is a charming chateau built around three sides of a courtyard and looking out over a formal pond and lovely gardens. The chateau is in the village of Ouilly-le-Vicomte in Normandy. The gardens have been awarded "Remarkable Garden" status.

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Normandy has some lovely gardens and one of these is undoubtedly the Jardins du Pays d'Auge on the edge of the pretty little village of Cambremer. The gardens were started in 1994 and have been constantly evolving ever since. The gardens have been awarded "Remarkable Garden" status.

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Les Petites-Dalles was once a fashionable seaside resort and attracted many famous people and lots of beautiful 19th century villas were built. It is now a quiet hamlet but its architecture and dramatic cliffs make it worth a visit if you are nearby.

Les Petites-Dalles lies on the Normandy coast between Fécamp and Veulettes-sur-Mer.

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Roquecor is a small "perched village" (a village high on a hill) to the south-east of Villeneuve-sur-Lot and in the west of the Tarn-et-Garonne department of France.

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The village of Sainte-Colombe-en-Bruilhois is on a hill in the countryside just a few kilometres south-west of Agen.

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The small town of Labastide d'Armagnac is about 30 kilometres east of Mont-de-Marsan, close to the eastern border of the Landes department of south-west France.

Something of an undiscovered destination, Labastide d'Armagnac has become better known recently after it featured on a shortlist of the 'Favourite villages of the French'.

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The village of Saint-Justin is at the south-eastern limit of the extensive forest of the Landes and about five kilometres west of Labastide d'Armagnac.

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The small village of Mauvezin d'Armagnac is on the eastern edge of the Landes department, approximately seven kilometres east of Labastide d'Armagnac.

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The small town of Eauze is in the north-west of the Gers department of south-west France, about half way between Auch and Mont-de-Marsan.

From the 4th - 7th centuries, this site was occupied by the town of Elusa, capital of the roman region of Novempopulanie.

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The Chateau de Chamerolles is an attractive chateau set in a large park with a lake and a Renaissance garden. A visit to the chateau includes a visit to its interesting exhibition of perfume. The chateau is located in the village of Chilleurs-aux-Bois to the north of Orleans.

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Lavaur is an attractive town on the banks of the river Tarn.  It was once a stronghold of the Cathars and later achieved wealth as a result of its fields of pastel, a plant cultivated for its pastel blue pigment.

Lavaur sits inside the Toulouse, Albi, Carcassonne triangle and thus in the centre of one of France's most interesting and attractive areas to visit.

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Giroussens is a small village famous for its lead-glazed ceramics and also for the lovely gardens of the Jardins des Martels. Giroussens is located 40 kilometers north-east of Toulouse in the Tarn department of the Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrenees region.

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Saint-Pompon is a small village, very traditional of those in the Dordogne area, in the Céou Valley a few kilometres south of Domme.

Note that locally the village is known as Saint-Pompon while officially (and perhaps on your GPS system to get here!) it is called Saint-Pompont.

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Daglan is a small village to the south of the Dordogne department, in the Valley of the Céou river.

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Veules-les-Roses is a 'must see' destination in the Seine-Maritime department of Normandy between Saint-Valery-en-Caux and Dieppe. In 2013 it came 6th in a national competition to find the favourite French village as voted by audiences of the French tv channel France2.

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Meyssac is a lively small market town in the south-west of the Corrèze department of Limousin, about 30 kilometres south of Brive-la-Gaillarde. Perhaps not well known to most visitors to the region, Meyssac has a very attractive and most unusual town centre and we recommend you pause for a look around when you are nearby.

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The small village of Gimel-les-Cascades is a short distance north-east of Tulle in the Correze department of the Limousin. Although it is small it is a pretty village with a few points of interest and a visit is recommended.

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Saint-Chamant is a small village in the west of the Cantal department of Auvergne. Although not in itself an important destination you are likely to come across Saint-Chamant while exploring the Monts de Cantal so it is useful to know what you should look out for!

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Fontanges is a small village in the Cantal department of the Auvergne, a short distance south of Salers and to the west of the Monts du Cantal, part of the Regional Natural Park of the Volcanoes.

In fact Fontanges says that it is at the foot of the highest volcano in Europe, Puy Violent, although the village doesn't really feel 'overshadowed' by a volcano as you might expect...

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La Palme is a resort and traditional village between Leucate and Port-la-Nouvelle, in the Aude department of Languedoc-Roussillon and within the Narbonnais Natural Park.

The town is situated between the vineyards of the region to one side and the lagoon, salt-flats and the sea to the other side.

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The Arboretum des Grandes Bruyeres is a lovely arboretum whose main features include a North American woodland garden, an Asiatic woodland garden and of course lots of heather - bruyeres is the French name for heather.

The arboretum is located 30 kilometres to the east of Orleans in the heart of the Orleans Forest.

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To the east of Porto in western Corsica, a scenic road passes through the mountains eventually to reach Corte. The first 20 kilometres of the route travels through the Gorges de Spelunca, a scenic river valley through the mountains and an easy way to explore the countryside.

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The calanche de Piana are south of the village of Piana in the west of Corsica and are one of the most impressive scenic highlights on the island, indeed anywhere in France. Extending over several kilometres, the calanche (calanques in French) are a series of red rocks and cliffs that plunge up to 300 metres into the Mediterranean below.

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Porto is a village to the west of Corsica, overlooking the Golfe de Porto. It is true that Porto is in quite a remote location but it is in the centre of some of the most scenic highlights in Corsica so many visitors come here.

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The Restonica valley, in the mountains to the west of Corte in central Corsica, is one of the most popular destinations in the region because of the relatively access to the beautiful mountain scenery.

Because of its natural beauty and the need to protect the environment the valley is protected as a 'Site Classé as well as being part of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica.

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Montemaggiore is a village in the Balagne region of north-west Corsica. Although it is only a small village, it has preserved a great deal of its historical charm and has impressive views across the region so a visit is recommended as part of your tour of the Balagne.

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Calenzana is a small town east of Calvi overlooked by the Monte Grosso mountain. It is a very traditional Corsican town with a few sights of particular interest.

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L'Ile-Rousse is a popular resort in north-west Corsica, to the north-east of Calvi and on the edge of the Balagne region. Unlike almost every other important town on Corsica, l'Ile-Rousse was not founded by the Genoese. In fact, the town was founded by Pascal Paoli in the 18th century, principally to try and take trade away from Calvi.

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Algajola is a small fortified town with a long sandy beach between Calvi and l'Ile-Rousse in north-west Corsica.

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Corbara is a village in the Balagne region of north-west Corsica, close to the coast and a few kilometres south-west of l'Ile-Rousse.

It is one of the first villages you will reach as part of your tour of the Balagne - otherwise you can visit as you drive along the coast road, it is only a couple of kilometres detour and well worth the effort.

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Pigna is a very small village in the Balagne region of Corsica, northeast of Calvi. It is quite charming and an hour spent exploring the village is very pleasant.

The village can date its history to the 9th century when Lieutenant Consalvo was sent here by the Pope to free Corsica from the Saracens. Consalvo built a tower and called it Pigna, after the region of Rome where he came from.

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Pino is a small village on the coast of west Cap Corse with a port and beach and views along the coast. If you are travelling around Cap Corse in an anti-clockwise direction, like most visitors, you will reach here in time for your afternoon coffee break!

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Nonza is the last important village you reach as you travel around Cap Corse - it is to the south-west of the peninsula - and is a nice place to end your tour with a pretty church, an ancient tower and lovely views to enjoy.

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As you tour around Cap Corse, the main route crosses from east to west between Macinaggio and Centuri. While it is possible to just follow the main road, you will be missing out on some of the main highlights of Cap Corse if you don't take the time to explore a little.

Although individually the suggested destinations do not take long to explore, each has its own charms and together they make for a pleasant and varied excursion.

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The village of Centuri is situated to the north-west of Cap Corse, and the Port de Centuri - the highlight of your visit - is a few kilometres along a winding road to the west. The port is the largest fishing port on Cap Corse (although it is still really quite small!)

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The fishing village of Erbalunga is a small village on the coast of Cap Corse, about 10 kilometres north of Bastia and one of the more important of the destinations as you tour the peninsula.

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One of the most scenic parts of Corsica is in the mountains to the north-west of Porto-Vecchio where a road, the D368, climbs quickly into the mountains to reach l'Ospedale, Zonza and the Col de Bavella. Below the mountain peaks there are dense forests with numerous hiking opportunities and fast-flowing rivers.

Note: we were warned that this road is narrow and dangerous but I think it must have been altered because it is now an easy two lane road in all places.

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There are lots of exceptional beaches along the coast both north and south of Porto-Vecchio in south-east Corsica. Among these, our favourites are the cluster of beaches to the south-east of the town and including Palombaggia beach, Tamaricciu beach (also known as Falacca beach) and Santa-Giulia beach.

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The two beaches of Petit Sperone and Grand Sperone, south-east of Bonifacio, are among the most picturesque beaches in Corsica - indeed, they are among the most lovely beaches we have seen anywhere in France.

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Roccapina is situated between Bonifacio and Sartene in south-west Corsica. It is a popular destination with visitors because it has a lovely sandy beach and a panoramic trail and viewpoint.

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Propriano is a small town with a pleasure port on the coast of south-west Corsica, between Ajaccio and Bonifacio. It is sheltered within the Golfe de Valinco, and best known for the beaches nearby. The town is quite easy to reach from the airports at Ajaccio to the north and Bonifacio (Figari airport) to the south.

Although a small village existed here several hundred years ago, most of the town we see today is less than 150 years old, having been developed after a road was opened between Ajaccio and Bonifacio in the late 19th century and a port was developed.

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Filitosa is a remarkable prehistoric site between Ajaccio and Propriano in south-west Corsica, where you have a rare opportunity to see prehistoric stone engravings in a natural setting.

The site was occupied from the 6th century BC until Roman times and includes megalithic sculptures and engravings as well other prehistoric monuments. It was rediscovered in 1946, then subject to 20 years of excavations before being opened to the public.

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Porticcio is a beach resort on the coast of south-west Corsica, a short distance south-east of Ajaccio.

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The Iles-Sanguinaires, the Parata Peninsula and the coast path between here and the Capo-di-Feno together make this one of the most scenic, and most visited, destinations around Ajaccio in south-west Corsica. To get here follow the Route des Iles-Sanguinaires west from the centre of Ajaccio.

Together this area is now officially classed as one of the 'Grand Sites of France'

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There are several beaches in and around Ajaccio in south-west Corsica, including a beach in the town centre, but if you are looking for beaches that are particularly picturesque we suggest you travel a few kilometres west to the Capo-di-Feno, and the Petit Capo and Grand Capo beaches.

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The Jardin des Martels is a beautiful garden open to the public in the Tarn department about 30km north of Toulouse in the village of Giroussens. The extensive garden covers about 35000m2 and is one of the stops of the 'Chemin de Fer touristique du Tarn', a small tourist steam train which sets off from St Lieux les Lavaur.

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Lisle-sur-Tarn is a lovely village situated between Albi and Toulouse in the Tarn department. The village is a bastide laid out in a grid pattern with a central square and was created by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse in the 13th century.

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The village of Albas is in southern France, on the Lot river between Puy l'Eveque and Cahors.

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The small village of Cabrerets is on the Célé river a few kilometres north of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in the Lot department of France.

The village is attractive but very small and would perhaps go unnoticed by visitors except the village contains one of the most visited caves in France, the Grotte de Pech Merle. You can also see two castles in this riverside village.

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Montpezat-de-Quercy is a small town with some interesting historic buildings in the quiet Lot countryside to the south of Cahors.

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The town of Castelnau-Montratier is in the rolling countryside of the Lot department, to the south of Cahors and in the Quercy Blanc region. It is rather a long way from the main tourist routes of the region but if you visit you will discover a pleasant historic centre, an imposing church and attractive views across the countryside

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The village of Montcuq is in the Lot department of southern France, between Lauzerte and Cahors and in the region known locally as Quercy Blanc.

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Navarrenx is a delightful little bastide town, situated in the beautiful Béarn region. It was awarded prestigious Plus Beau Village status in 2014. Bastides or fortified towns and villages laid out in a grid pattern are to be found all across the South West of France and Navarrenx is a fine example.

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Langon in the Ille-et-Vilaine department (not to be confused with Langon in Gironde) is a small town with a couple of important historic monuments. It has a group of megaliths from Neolithic times and a small chapel dating back to Roman times.

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Monbazillac is a small village a few kilometres south of Bergerac in the Dordogne department of France. The village is pleasant, if very small, and would probably go unnoticed if it wasn't for the imposing Château de Monbazillac on the edge of the village and the famous wines produced here.

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The village of Lussan is in the attractive countryside to the north of the Gard department. It is officially listed as one of the 'Gard Villages of Character'.

France This Way comment: although it is quite a small village, Lussan is in a very attractive position with extensive views across the countryside and also has several sights of interest including two castles so a visit is highly recommended.

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Bagnols-sur-Ceze is the principal town in the Ceze valley in the northern Gard department of Languedoc-Roussillon.

France This Way comment: we were quite disappointed when we visited Bagnols-sur-Cèze: because there are so many lovely towns and villages in the region we had high expectations but as a town to visit as a tourist we found the monuments of interest rather lost in the surrounding sprawl...but we appreciate that not everywhere has an industry based on tourism, and there are still some notable sights to be seen!

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The village of Saint-Victor-la-Coste is in the Tave Valley in the eastern part of the Gard department, and one of several small villages in the area that are interesting to explore.

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Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres is one of a group of small picturesque villages in the north-east of the Gard department close to La Roque-sur-Cèze.

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Goudargues is a small village spread along the sides of a canal in the Cèze Valley and in the Gard department of Languedoc-Roussillon.

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The village of Cornillon is on a hill in the north of the Gard department, and is one of several picturesque historic villages in this region.

France This Way comment: Cornillon is quite small and perhaps rather ignored because of its more famous 'neighbours' such as La Roque-sur-Cèze but we thought it was a lovely little historic village and well worth visiting.

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The town of Barjac is in the northern part of the Gard department in Languedoc-Roussillon. It has a historic centre with several monuments of interest to discover.

France This Way comment: the centre of Barjac is quite small and the historic monuments are quite minor but all the same it is a pleasant town to visit when you are exploring this lovely region.

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The small village of Montclus is a picturesque village in the northern area of the Gard department of Languedoc-Roussillon.

This historic village is in a peaceful setting on the banks of the Cèze river surrounded by vineyards, lavender fields and woodlands and on a small hill with almost a complete lack of modern development nearby so it has retained a great deal of its charm and is now listed among the 'most beautiful villages in France'.

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Becherel is known as the "Village of Books" as it has 15 or so bookstores located in the village. It also has a monthly book market. As well as books it is a picturesque village perched above the surrounding countryside and with some pretty views.

The village is about 35 kilometres north-west of Rennes and Becherel is listed as one of France's "petite cités de caractére", a distinction given to small towns with an interesting architectural heritage.

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Saint-Suliac is a lovely village which sits on the banks of the estuary of the La Rance river. The fishing port is edged with lovely granite cottages and on the water small boats add to the picturesque view. Saint-Suliac is classed as one of the "most beautiful villages of France".

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Mont Dol is a pretty village close to the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in Brittany. The village sits on the edge of a rocky hill and the cliffs of granite are clearly visible behind some of the houses of the village. Elsewhere trees cover the hillside providing a pretty backdrop to the village.

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The Jardins de Colette is a large garden covering 5 hectares which tells the story of important phases of Colette's life through a series of gardens. Each of the gardens represent regions where the famous French novelist, Colette, lived during her life. 

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Cap Blanc-Nez and Cap Gris-Nez are two capes on the coast of Northern France between Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer. Because of their beauty and particularly the splendid palette of colours that can be seen at the capes these have together been classified as a 'Grand Site of France'.

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Wimereux is a quiet seaside town on the north coast of France between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais. It enjoyed a period of growth at the end of the 19th century / beginning of the 20th century coinciding with the craze for Belle Epoque style houses. Consequently Wimereux has a good selection of these stylish villas.

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Wissant, literally meaning white sand, is a pleasant seaside village set on a 12 kilometre long sandy beach on the Opal coast. It is just a five minutes drive from the Dover-Calais channel tunnel and sits between the Cap Blanc-Nez and Cap Gris-Nez both of which are designated "Grand Sites de France" for their natural beauty.

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The Nausicaa Sea Centre is both an excellent aquarium and a centre for studies of the sea and in particular to raising awareness of the need to respect the sea and its resources.

Nausicaa is one of the top ten tourist attractions in France and attracts around 600,000 visitors each year. The centre is based at Boulogne sur Mer in the north of France. Calais and the Channel tunnel is twenty minutes away and Paris less than 2 hours.

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The Château de Termes is one of the famous 'cathar castles' of southern France, situated near Termes village in the Aude department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The castle, now in ruins, circles the top of a hill and dates from around the 12th century.

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The Château de Quéribus is one of the famous 'cathar castles' of southern France, situated in Cucugnan in the Aude department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. One of the most visited and most dramatically located of the cathar castles, the Chateau de Quéribus stands high on a rocky ridge at 728 metres altitude.

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The Château de Peyrepertuse is one of the famous 'cathar castles' of southern France, situated in Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse in the Aude department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The castle is at the top of a steep rocky ridge, at almost 800 metres altitude. As well as the obvious defensive advantages of this position it also allowed a large amount of the surrounding region to be watched over and controlled.

One of the most visited and most dramatically situated of the cathar castles, and also the largest among them, the Château de Peyrepertuse is one of the five castles classed as the 'Cinq fils de Carcassonne' that formed a band of protection between France and Spain.

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The Château d'Aguilar is one of the famous 'cathar castles' of southern France, situated in Tuchan in the Aude department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The hill the castle is on is less 'dramatic' than some of the cathar castles, being really quite a small hill of 96 metres altitude rather than a craggy mountain ridge, so is perhaps less 'typical' of what you expect to see when you visit a cathar castle.

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The Château de Puilaurens, one of the most impressive examples of medieval castle architecture in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, is one of the famous 'cathar castles' of southern France. The castle is at an altitude of 697 metres above the Boulzane valley, in Lapradelle-Puilaurens to the south of Carcassonne and in the Aude department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The location of the Château de Puilaurens on a rocky ridge high above the surrounding countryside is particularly remarkable even among the cathar castles!

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The Bories du Breuil are a group of ancient agricultural buildings on a farm in the Dordogne that are very unusual because they are built entirely - roofs included - from stone. They have been completely restored and now provide a fascinating glimpse of farming life in earlier centuries.

Note that the buildings are referred to as both the 'Cabanes du Breuil' and the Bories du Breuil' - the two names refer to the same place.

You will see individual bories quite often as you explore the Dordogne, although typically just one in any place and often in poor condition. It is the number of cabins and their high standard of maintenance that makes Breuil interesting.

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The Village des Bories is a popular attraction near Gordes in Provence where you can see a group of very ancient small stone houses called bories.

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The beach front and central shopping area of Arcachon is known as the Ville d'Ete and over the last 20-30 years has been completely transformed into a stunning and vibrant sea-side town full of character. It is one of our favourite resorts in France.

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Set above the beach and Arcachon's Ville d'Eté or summer town is the Ville d'Hiver, the winter town. This part of town is packed with magnificent villas built at the end of the 19th century both to extend the summer season and as an alternative to cures in the mountains for tuberculosis.

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The Dune de Pyla - often referred to as the Dune de Pilat outside France - is a natural sand dune, several kilometres long and approximately 100 metres high on the Atlantic Coast a few kilometres south of Arcachon.

The dune is one of the most unusual and impressive natural sites in France, and officially listed as one of just 30 'Grand Sites of France'. Apparently the Dune de Pyla receives 1 000 000 visitors each year!

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A particular highlight of a visit to Cap Ferret, on the Gironde coast west of Bordeaux, is a chance to visit the villages of l'Herbe and Le Canon, just two of several villages that developed around the culture of oysters along the shores of the Bassin d'Arcachon.

Here in the oyster villages of Cap Ferret you can discover the ideal combination of unspoiled villages, a unique and attractive architectural style, a picturesque environment and a great place for lunch!

These villages, in particular those at l'Herbe (our personal favourite) and Le Canon but also elsewhere along the coast, are a very attractive combination of the traditional small cottages used by the oyster growers, active oyster harvesting centres, and waterfront restaurants where you can enjoy the local oysters and wine.

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As well as its incredible historic old centre, Bordeaux has various charming districts to explore including the waterfront, the area around St Michel's church and Chartrons. Chartrons is one of our favourites.

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Guided tour of the highlights in Bordeaux old town

The following is a photo guide to Bordeaux's beautiful and historic centre.

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The village of Martres-Tolosane is a few kilometres west of Cazeres and about 60 kilometres south-west of Toulouse in the Haute-Garonne department of southern France.

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The village of Pierrefonds is on the south-east edge of the Forest of Compiegne between Soissons (to the east) and Compiegne (to the west) in the centre of the Oise department of Picardy.

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The important regional town of Compiègne is not particularly well known by tourists, but you will find there are a good number of sites and places of interest both in and near the town. It is situated north-east of Paris, in the heart of the Oise department of Picardy.

It was in a train carriage here at Compiègne that the armistice to end the First World War was signed.

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The town of Chantilly, in the Picardy region of France, is about 40 kilometres north of Paris and 10 kilometres to the west of Senlis.

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The village of Saint-Riquier is towards the west of the Somme department in Picardy, surrounded by the flat landscape typical of the region and just a few kilometres east of the important town of Abbeville.

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Péronne is a small town on the banks of the Somme river in the east of the Somme department of Picardy, about 50 kilometres to the east of Amiens. Although it is a quiet provincial town there are several monuments of interest here, and an important museum commemorating the First World War that is the principal attraction to visitors

Substantial parts of the town were reconstructed after extensive damage during the First World War.

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Aiguines is a small village on the northern border of the Var department, near the Lac de Sainte-Croix (to the west) and the Gorges du Verdon (to the east) and at the foot of the mountain called Grand Margès. The village falls within the Verdon Natural Regional Park and is well placed to discover this scenic region of Provence.

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The Arcachon Port area, and the beaches in the town to the east of here, are the least visited part of Arcachon but if time permits you will enjoy a stroll along the Plage d'Eyrac and around the port. The more southern parts of the Ville d'Automne are less interesting to visitors.

For other parts of this popular town see the Arcachon travel guide!

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The village of Montcaret is in the west of the Dordogne department in south-west France, between Saint-Emilion to the west and Sainte-Foy-le-Grande to the east (so quite a substantial distance west of the more famous places usually associated with the Dordogne).

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The Chateau de Cléron is a castle with 14th century origins in the Doubs department of eastern France, at Cléron near Besançon. The castle is in an idyllic location on the edge of the Loue river and surrounded by attractive gardens.

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Close to Pontarlier at La Cluse-et-Mijoux in the Doubs department, the Chateau de Joux is one of the most impressive and interesting castles to visit in the Franche-Comté region. The chateau is also known as the Fort de Joux.

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The small village of Mouthier-Haute Pierre, in the Doubs department of France not far from Lods and Ornans, is in a valley surrounded by steep forested hills and cliffs that reach almost 1000 metres altitude. The village is best known for its proximity to the source of the Loue River and the Gorges de Nouialles, but the village itself is very charming and also merits to be explored.

In the lower part of the valley you will see many of the cherry trees for which the village is well known, and from which a regional kirsch is produced.

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The small town of Saint-Hippolyte is in the north-east of the Doubs department near the border with Switzerland and south of Montbeliard. It is in an attractive location at the confluence of the Dessoubre river and the Doubs river.

It is the parts of Saint-Hippolyte along the waterfront that are the most attractive and most interesting to visitors, and the scenic backdrop of the forested hills and cliffs adds further to the charm of the village.

Note that the village is also referred to as Saint-Hippolyte-sur-le-Doubs.

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Set on a small hill above the village of La Sauve, in the heart of the vineyards of the western Gironde to the south-east of Bordeaux, the Abbey of La Sauve-Majeure is in ruins - but the ruins are quite substantial and there are several particularly interesting examples of the local roman style architecture to be seen.

The abbey is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, being one of the important historic monuments on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, and an important starting point for pilgrims from this region. It is also a French National Monument.

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The Jardin des Lianes is a fabulous garden which has been lovingly planted and maintained by its owners over the last 25 years. 

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The quiet small town of Chalus is in the south-west of the Haute-Vienne department of Limousin and close to the border with Aquitaine. It has an unspoiled traditional town centre and the remains of two medieval castles, among other places of interest and is part of the 'Monts du Châlus' region.

The village passed into the history books in 1199 when Richard the Lionheart was fatally wounded in a battle here during the Second Siege of Chalus Chabrol.

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The popular seaside resort at Le Moulleau is actually part of Arcachon - it is the south-west limit of that town - but has its own separate resort centre, facilities and characteristics. Although it has quite a small centre, Le Moulleau has everything you will need for your visit to the Atlantic beaches of south-west France.

While it would be perfectly possible to spend a holiday here without venturing into Arcachon town centre that would be a mistake! See the Arcachon guide for some of the reasons why...

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