Ohhh… have I got an itch to travel. You, too? Here are five cures if you crave to travel to France.
There are places I crave to visit. I could go to some of them again and again. They are my favorites because of their rich cultural heritage, unique beauty, and cuisine.
Let me tell you about a few.
Once you’ve seen Rocamadour, you’ll never get the vision out of your mind. Carved into the side of a cliff, the village traces its history from biblical legend to the age of the earliest caveman. Rocamadour is a top tourist site in France and second to Mont Saint Michel as a pilgrimage site.
Medieval royals and modern trekkers have passed through Rocamadour to worship religious relics and on pilgrimages — specifically the Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. The town is situated on a cliff and is home to a cluster of churches, including the Chapelle Notre Dame, which contains the famous Black Madonna statue. Since at least the tenth century, devout pilgrims — many on their knees– have climbed the 216 steps leading to a cluster of churches atop Rocamadour. A château once stood at the top of the cliff to protect the churches and town below. Today the view from the ruins and ramparts of the château can take your breath away.
I’m scared of heights, so I’m sure I stopped breathing when I looked down from the observation bridge.
Fabulous foods in Rocamadour
The firm, sharp flavor of the Agneau du Quercy and Melon du Query goat cheeses that melt in your mouth come from leaving them to mature for fifteen days to several months. Rocamadour is also known for its black truffles, harvested from November to March. There’s Quercy lamp, walnut oil — and don’t forget the foie gras — this is the Dordogne.
Read more about Rocamadour here …
Sarlat is one of my favorite towns in Dordogne. In fact, I briefly considered relocating there. Except for the winter climate, I may have been writing to you from Sarlat.
Known better than its newly joined town, La Canéda, Sarlat is a medieval town that arose around a Benedictine abbey. The original village is contained within a historic district, restored to its early use as a center of trade and commerce.
Market days and times in Sarlat are Wednesday in the morning and all day Saturday. You can roam through the marketplace, from vendors’ stalls to town shops, to restaurants and cafes, unhindered by cars and traffic. The church of Sainte-Marie, next to the Mairie (city hall), has even more vendors and stalls of goodies. Visitors can climb the bell tower for a stunning view of the town and surrounding countryside.
My “go-to” place while living in France has been Antibes. There are more reasons that I love it than I have fingers and toes. Here are a few.
Antibes is famous for its picturesque old town, surrounded by 16th-century ramparts and filled with narrow streets, charming squares, and colorful buildings. The center city marketplace, known as the Marché Provençal, is a bright and lively outdoor market that sells a variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other local specialties.
The Picasso Museum is a significant attraction in Antibes and features a collection of works by the famous artist, who spent some time living in the town. For a fun-filled afternoon or a night out, stop by the Absinthe Bar near the Marché Provençal. It’s a popular spot in Antibes where you can sample the absinthe-based drink made famous by bohemian artists and writers of the 19th century, particularly in France,
Looking for a good read about Antibes? Dive into the Love in Provence book series by my good friend Patricia Sands. Through her best-selling novels, Patricia weaves a rich sampling of French life and culture into a love story between Katherine, a Canadian, and a handsome Frenchman, Philippe, who happens to be a cheese merchant. Patricia tells me the inspiration for her Phillip character came from getting to know the cheese experts at La Fromagerie du marché in Antibes’ town market. La Fromagerie du marché is a must-visit destination for cheese lovers and a great place to discover some of the region’s best and most delicious cheeses.
Read more about Antibes here …
Bordeaux is famous for its wine, architecture, food, culture, and location. Among those reasons to visit Bordeaux, its wine industry is the main attraction for many visitors.
On my visit to Bordeaux, I enjoyed guided tours of vineyards and wineries. I learned about the different grape varieties and winemaking techniques used to create Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, as well as white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. I spent a day exploring the Cite de Vin. But the Chartrons district, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Bordeaux, fascinated me the most in my search to learn about the wines and their history.
Chartons District History
In the 18th century, the Chartrons district in the northwestern part of the city was home to the many wine merchants who played crucial roles in the region’s wine trade. The merchants would store their wines in large warehouses along the Garonne River and ship them to other parts of France and worldwide. The district was named after the Chartreux monks who lived in the area in the 14th century.
During the 19th century, the wine trade flourished in the Chartrons, and many beautiful buildings were constructed. The district became a hub of activity, with restaurants, bars, and cafes opening to cater to the merchants and their clients.
In the 20th century, the wine trade declined, and the Chartrons district became neglected and run down. Fortunately, in recent years, the community has undergone redevelopment, and many old warehouses have been converted into trendy boutiques, galleries, and apartments.
Cannelés. The Bordeaux Pastry’s Wine Connection
Cannelés (or canelés) are a traditional French pastry originating in Bordeaux. The exact origins of cannelés are uncertain, but there are popular theories about how they were created. One idea is that it was nuns in a convent in Bordeaux that made the first cannelés. Another is that it was bakers from the area. Regardless of origin, cannele’s were made using leftover egg yolks from the winemaking process. Special molds made from copper gave the small pastries their distinctive cylindrical shape and caramelized, crispy crust. The soft, custardy interior is flavored with rum and vanilla,
You must have a Cannelé when visiting Bordeaux
My favorite place to stay in Nice is the Hotel Beau Rivage at the entrance to the “old town.” Next to restaurants, cafes, and shops, the hotel is only steps away from the outdoor market. The hotel restaurant on the Promenade is one of those places to go for a dress-up dinner or slip on a bathing suit coverup for lunch after sunbathing.
Tourism has been the primary industry for Nice for centuries. The Memories You Promised Yourself Tours are based in Nice to give our tour ladies the perfect taste of the Mediterranean and easy access to enchanting Provencäl villages with unforgettable sea views.
For a first visit to Nice, I highly recommend taking the “hop on, hop off” bus for a broad view of the town. If you are traveling without a car, there are bus tours into the hill towns above Nice. My favorites are Villefranche-sur-Mer, St. Paul de Vence, Eze, and Villa Rothschild.
Once you get in the swing of the Nice, you may want to search out art museums in and around the town. You will recognize the source of inspiration for many famous artists who visited or lived around Nice over the years. Vibrant colors and the light of the Mediterranean, local landscapes and people, sunny beaches, and colorful architecture surround you.
Exhibition spaces throughout the city and the surrounding areas that you may also be interested in exploring include:
- Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC): Located in the heart of Nice, this museum features modern and contemporary art from the 1960s to the present, including pieces by Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Andy Warhol.
- National Marc Chagall: Dedicated to the works of the famous Russian-French painter Marc Chagall, this museum is located in the hills of Nice.
- Musée Matisse: The works of the renowned French artist Henri Matisse include a collection of his paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics.
- Villa Masséna Musée et Jardins: Located in a beautiful historic villa, this collection of art and artifacts showcases the history and culture of Nice and the French Riviera.
- Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice: This museum features a collection of fine art from the 16th to the 20th centuries, including works by artists such as Rubens, Fragonard, and Monet.
Now that you know my favorites … let’s go!
I’d love to know where you like to visit in France. Please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Antiibes, Around France, Bordeaux, Dordogne, Loving Art, Loving Food, Loving History, Nice, Rocamodore, Sarlat
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