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‘That is the France you dream of’: readers’ favorite journey discoveries | France holidays


Secret alleys and courtyards in Lyon

Climbing in the direction of the basilica from the river, we explored a zigzag of secret staircases and hidden courtyards in Lyon. These traboules are laborious to observe, and so we needed to look out for the steel plates that mark a few of the entrances. There’s nearly no direct method up from the river, however these routes, initially for town’s silk staff, reveal charming again streets and personal courtyards, into which guests can stare. On the prime, breathless, we beloved the Basilique Nôtre-Dame de Fourvière. Within the crypt we made one other thrilling discovery: an enormous mosaic of the ocean battle of Lepanto, a web site we’d just lately visited in Greece. David Innes-Wilkin

Fons, the village of your goals

The village of Fons. {Photograph}: Andia/Alamy

On the final leg of our street journey to Jazz in Marciac we chanced upon Fons, within the Quercy black triangle. In a deep-sided wooded valley of chestnut and oak timber this medieval village was the France you dream of: a stone-and-timber village of pathways, with swifts and swallows nesting in historic buildings, and a bistro that’s the beating coronary heart of this glorious place. Aperitif available in the market place beneath the Milky Approach was the right solution to log out.Damien Reidy

Quiet corners in Charente-Maritime

The village of Talmont-Sur-Gironde. {Photograph}: Wayne Dentith/Alamy

Should you’re within the Charente-Maritime within the southwest make sure you spend a day south of Royan, the place there’s a set of quiet locations to go to, all in shut proximity. Begin on the Régulus caves, a troglodyte web site that has views of the Cordouan lighthouse and conventional fishing nets hanging from the cliffs. Then, stroll south to the village of Talmont-Sur-Gironde and the imposing Twelfth-century Sainte-Radegonde church, which overlooks the estuary. The village is filled with slim, car-free streets and big hollyhocks rising towards the whitewashed partitions. We had superb seafood at Les Délices de l’Estuaire earlier than heading to the archaeological web site of Fâ .Miles Smith

Deep into Dordogne historical past

A go to to the Gouffre de Padirac cave is a should if you’re within the Dordogne (between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees). It’s an unimaginable place that may be explored by steps, or by getting a raise 103 metres down. As soon as there you’re taken on a magical boat journey on a river within the cave. The water is turquoise and the rock surrounding you is endlessly altering color. You nearly really feel such as you’ve entered a distinct world. I’d suggest visiting out of season when it’s quieter. There’s a small reward store and cafe close by.Deanna

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Wonderful gardens in Nantes

Château Colbert {Photograph}: Herve Lenain/Alamy

Searching for a grand resort inside attain of the airport at Nantes for our final evening on vacation, we discovered Château Colbert in Maulévrier. It’s a mansion with a beautiful restaurant however, even higher, has a restored vegetable backyard that provides the resort, and of which excursions can be found. Subsequent door is the Parc Oriental de Maulévrier, a Japanese strolling backyard created across the similar time as Monet’s backyard at Giverny, when Japonisme was a powerful cultural affect. It ended our garden-themed vacation in nice model.Steve

Winery biking in Alsace

A biking journey by way of France in September noticed us go to the Vosges mountains and Alsace within the east, and had been shocked by how a lot of a hidden gem it was. We stayed on the moderately priced Auberge Ramstein (doubles from €87 room- solely) in Scherwiller, and located loads of vineyards to go to on foot, together with the biodynamic vines at Achillée and the traditional-method winery at Domaine Dussourt. Not like Strasbourg, the village and close by city of Sélestat had been beautiful and quiet, there have been nice cycle routes on the flats and hills, and plenty of mountain climbing choices, too.Maddy Warner

A champagne expertise in De Gaulle nation

La Boisserie, former residence of Charles de Gaulle. {Photograph}: Hemis/Alamy

I ended up in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises in northeastern France by chance. We would have liked dog-friendly lodging en route south. It was a crisp winter night and a big moon shone over a pleasant most important sq. framed by two church buildings, with inviting eating places serving conventional meals and champagne from the close by hills. The phrases “France profonde” got here to my thoughts. In daylight, we found we had been within the village the place President Charles de Gaulle spent each different weekend and retreated when he left politics. His residence, La Boisserie, is open to the general public, and his easy tomb within the small churchyard appears over the fields and hills. There are champagne homes within the village and loads of small producers within the surrounding areas. We adopted the signal for Clairvaux and found the stays of one in every of Europe’s most necessary medieval abbeys. The hills are light and there’s no site visitors, so you’ll be able to carry your bicycle and discover.Lara

Forest bathing in Fontainebleau

A gallery on the Château de Fontainebleau. {Photograph}: DeGe Photograph/Alamy

The very first thing that hits you once you arrive on the forest of Fontainebleau is the superb scent: the recent pine scent feels prefer it’s cleaning physique and soul. The forest is an historic searching floor, now used for strolling, biking and climbing. For a cultural hit, go to the Château de Fontainebleau, which is able to take your breath away. For someplace quieter to remain, the small, fairly city of Bois-le-Roi is contained in the forest and by the banks of the Seine. It’s additionally on a direct prepare line from Paris, so automobiles will not be required, and it takes lower than an hour – making it supreme for a day journey.Suzanne

Artwork and structure in Honfleur, Normandy

Sainte-Catherine, the biggest picket church in France. {Photograph}: Ross Helen/Alamy

In northern France, on the southern financial institution of the Seine estuary, is the engaging city of Honfleur. Its highlights embrace the previous port and Sainte-Catherine church, which is the biggest picket church in France. As you stroll by way of a city that has been related to many notable artists, together with Monet and Boudin, you should definitely admire the homes with their slate-covered fronts and the array of beguiling outlets and galleries. Because the solar units, take pleasure in a glass of calvados on the harbourside, whereas watching the fishing boats on the shore of the Seine.Alison

Successful tip: A museum to treasure close to Lille

La Piscine, the extraordinary artwork museum in Roubaix. {Photograph}: Hilke Maunder/Alamy

Musée La Piscine in Roubaix, a transformed swimming pool simply exterior Lille, is a treasure trove of work, sculptures and installations. The constructing, from the artwork deco interval, is a big a part of its attraction and is a reminder to me of when public buildings had been sensible and delightful. The €9 admission value is an absolute cut price. We spent three hours there and nonetheless didn’t see the whole lot. The restaurant/tea room is superb, too.David Pearce



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