Related France Favorites Tips

  • Favorites
    by RACCOON1
  • A crêpe from a vendor by the Eiffel Tower
    A crêpe from a vendor by the Eiffel...
    by iamjacksgoat
  • Favorites
    by Toshioohsako

Most Viewed Favorites in France

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    sorting mobile phones costs and usages

    by gwened Updated Apr 7, 2015

    Favorite thing: I have Nokia and use Orange in France, when travel its very cost effective for me. it change per country with the local provider.

    Cant tell if other option is cheaper. However, buying a SIM card will give you the same roaming charges if go from country to France. The card is good cheaper for in country use.
    You can get a SIM card in France for as little as 10 euros or a mobicarte prepaid phone for 19 euros at Orange.
    you have the stores by area bottom of link orange ,and they do speak English
    http://agence.orange.fr/

    Another good option especially on specials there is the La Poste Mobile Inside the post offices, they have SIM cards in cards of 5,10,15,20,30, and 50 euros that have special pricing and have validity dates from 20 days to 3 months;of course if you need shorter they will work too.

    See détails at in French
    http://www.lapostemobile.fr/offres-mobiles/forfaits-sim.asp

    Hope it helps

    Fondest memory: phoning home and around

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    What about your cell phone in Europe?

    by Beausoleil Updated Dec 24, 2014

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Cell phones are called mobiles in Europe and they broadcast on different bands than the USA so unless you have a tri or quad band cell phone, it won't work in Europe. The next trick is to be sure it is unlocked. Most phones are locked and many can't be unlocked until you've had them for six months. If you are shopping for a new phone, be sure it is unlocked. I had no trouble finding one at Best Buy and I'm sure there are many other places that will sell them.

    In France in the past I have purchased a SIM card from the Orange company. It would be long distance for callers from the USA but that may not be too bad depending on the plans your callers have on their phones. Our daughter had no problem texting (not talking) because her plan allowed texting anywhere for a very low cost, something like 20 cents US.

    A few years ago after a lot of looking I bought a LeFrench Mobile SIM and the price for me is very reasonable. Again, your callers will have to pay long distance charges so it depends on their plans. You have a French phone number and receive texts and calls for free while in France. There is a small charge if you are in some European countries. You receive calls at 0.06 euro cents a minute and make calls at 0.15 euro cents a minute and that is also for the USA so a big savings over many of the other plans for travelers. Big disadvantage is you can't send text messages when you are outside of France. Service is in English if you don't speak French. Rates change periodically but recently they actually went down so check the web site at: Le French Mobile Tariffs

    Another option may be the National Geographic Cellular Abroad program that gives you both a US and a UK phone number. Their rates are a bit higher but it might be cheaper for your callers.

    Here are web sites for the plans I checked. You can look at all of them and see if any will serve your purpose. I don't see how to get around your callers having long distance charges so you might want to consider the LeFrench Mobile plan and have them call (or text) you and then you can call them back and talk on your bill which is 0.15 euro-cents per minute. There is a charge for the first full minute and then it's prorated by the second after that.

    Fondest memory: Here are several of the plans:
    Le French Mobile
    Orange Mobile
    Cellular Abroad
    Vodafone Mobile
    La Poste Mobile Service
    Boingo Mobile

    If you don't have an unlocked phone, either get yours unlocked or purchase one when you get the SIM card and you'll have a European phone for travel.

    If you are Verizon, you can rent a phone inexpensively from Verizon for your trip and then return it. We know people who have done this and loved the program. We also have friends with iPhones who purchased the European option for the time they were in Europe, cancelled it when they got home and they found that worked well for them.

    You should set up a Skype account too. It's free to other Skypers. We've got our family on it now so calls are free. Of course you need the computer to do this. I take mine for many reasons but it's very convenient for keeping in touch with family and friends.

    Chatting on your mobile at a Paris cafe Chatting on your mobile on the French Riviera
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Business Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • arturowan's Profile Photo

    @ home in France...

    by arturowan Written Nov 22, 2014

    Favorite thing: France is a big country & the geography changes noticably if you cross it from north to south - northern France is no more alike the scenery in the south, than the Scottish Highlands are to the English coastal resorts...
    Having grown-up in the countryside, I feel at home in rural areas, & northern France feels like home to me - it looks like pleasant cycling country, where the pace of life is relaxed...

    Fondest memory: When I have been on a long distance coach trip across Europe, I feel back at home as soon as I cross the border into northern France...
    Northern France is so alike England, much more so than the north of Britain is to East Anglia...
    The only obvious difference is that traffic drives on the opposite sides of the carriageways, apart from that, if I do not wear my spectacles, so that the language on the roadsigns becomes unreadable, I feel like I am in southern England...
    Northern France is flattish, arable farmland & pasture, dotted with small farmhouses, smallholdings, barns, & domestic wind turbines...

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • GracesTrips's Profile Photo

    Electrical Outlets/Plugs

    by GracesTrips Updated Aug 28, 2014

    Favorite thing: In Europe, the electrical outlets are 220V AC. That means for American travelers, our electrical devices we use at home will only work with an adapter. I've become a smarter traveler and have bought certain items with the 220V plugs such as a high watt hair dryer, curling iron and straight iron (I know that seems like an oxymoron - the curling iron & straight iron). I have damaged a curling iron and straight iron on previous trips using an adapter because the voltage was still too high. Other devices we bring such as cell phone chargers, lap top cord and camera battery chargers do just fine with the adapters.

    Hope you find this helpful!

    Was this review helpful?

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    weather in France

    by gwened Written Mar 31, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: I tell you don't worry about and come in anyway. The weather is very unpredictable even in local news programs, and nowdays with the climate conditions the way they are, even more difficult to predict.

    I check these sites for information if going for long periods
    wunderground
    http://www.wunderground.com/

    méteo France
    http://www.meteofrance.com/accueil

    LA Châine méteo
    http://france.lachainemeteo.com/meteo-france/previsions-meteo-france-0.php

    and the weather channel
    http://www.weather.com/

    in addition to whatever local news is saying the night before. Generally, we can classify the seasons as :
    Summer comes in July and lasts till August in Paris. Throughout these summer months the average temperature stays at 25°C. Moreover, nighttime temperature hardly falls below the mid-teens. Rainfall is not frequent although the occasional and unexpected shower could disturb the tourists at any time. Summer months receive more than 60mm of rain. However, the city witnesses more than eight hours of sunshine per day.

    Autumn, October to December, is a period of change. Paris experiences cooler temperatures during this season. The first month of autumn sees regular highs of 15°C and as the season progresses it falls quickly and stands at 10°C. Rainfall remains almost same like the other months of year. Night time temperature, however, drops into 8°C in October. Interestingly, the city gets very low level of sunshine during November, less than three hours per day.

    Winter features very cold weather in Paris. During January the maximum temperature of the city stands at only 6°C while the minimums at 1°C. Although it is unusual, the city sees snow often. During this time, especially when snow falls, Paris looks truly stunning.

    Spring appears with better climate. Paris dwellers see the sign of the season when flowers bloom in several well decorated garden in the city. The temperature increases gradually and stands at around 20 during May. The season sees a great level of sunshine during the spring season.

    you can find weather info for Paris and surrounding area in the Paris tourist office webpage in English
    http://en.parisinfo.com/practical-paris/practical-fact-sheets/climate

    for a footnote, these are the weather in the hemisphere north and South this year 2014.
    hemisphere North
    Spring from March 20 to June 20.
    Summer from June 21 to September 22.
    Fall from September 23 to December 20.
    Winter from December 21 to March 19.

    Hemisphere South
    Spring from September 23 to December 20.
    Summer from December 21 to March 19.
    Fall from March 20 to June 20.
    Winter from June 21 to September 22.

    Fondest memory: driving on the A13 Under a hailstorm with heavy winds, and arrive in Brittany safe and sound. No sweats.

    mist on the Loch on a rainy day in winter.
    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Getting high at Capluc and Pas de Loup

    by iandsmith Updated Feb 4, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Make no mistake, this walk is hard but extremely rewarding, not for agoraphobics or the unfit. In a life of bushwalking this is one of the best I've ever done. My notes from the day:
    HAVE WE GOT ROCKS IN OUR HEADS?
    At some point during our 6 ½ hour walk we contemplated such words. We had started out above Le Rozier, the village adjacent to Peyreleau where we were staying. They are separated only by a small stream and a one arch mediaeval bridge.
    We had climbed for about 20 minutes to get to the base of Capluc, whose name comes from Cap Luuis, the Latin for “peak of light”. In the 19th century they were going to erect a statue of the Virgin Mary up there but apparently the local priest entrusted with the funds, a buxom young lady and the funds themselves all disappeared. So, in 1973 they erected a simple cross instead.
    From the base, reached by steep uneven steps, you then have to climb three ladders to reach the very top where there’s a small area fenced in. I’ve travelled a bit but can honestly say I’ve never seen a 360 degree view to match it; for below, where the Jonte and Tarn Rivers converge, heading in three different directions are some of the deepest gorges in Europe. Dotted by ancient villages and scarred here and there by the few roads in the area it truly is spectacular.
    Even more breathtaking are the rock formations, and that was our next goal on the Pas de Loup. For just over an hour we trod an uneven path, ascending through sparse forest to a saddle between two of the formations. Lorraine was suffering but soldiered on and when we reached the upper part of the walk things were a lot easier.
    Every 50 metres beheld new panoramas over sheer drops and beneath towering ramparts of massive rock walls. It was like our Blue Mountains on steroids only there’s a lot more of it. Occasionally we passed other hikers or they overtook us as we branched out on the loop that would ultimately return us via even more dramatic formations, something we’d not thought possible a couple of hours before.
    By the time we reached the sheep’s gate, a now disused affair, Lorraine wasn’t really in need of what lay below. For 50 precarious metres beyond the old metal, put there to stop sheep from going over the cliff and falling to their death, one had to descend a rock strewn slope with few grips and very steep. Lorraine, somewhat acrophobic, was not amused! However, with some gentle cajoling and some physical help, she bravely made it to the bottom only to be confronted by other situations along the rim where, without any protection, the abyss awaited you beside the narrow track.
    However, the rock formations here were beyond anything we’d ever seen and were right in your face and often towering immediately above you. It was epic, unforgettable and awe inspiring all at the same time. Lammergeiers rose majestically on the uplifting currents and skinks scuttled from the path as we trod onwards.

    Fondest memory: From time to time we came across rock climbers, for here, with over 600 sites to choose from, they have found heaven. Nirvana on a rock face is not something either of us aspire to though we could but gasp at what they were trying to achieve.
    When we reached the end of the loop and started down again, our knees weren’t keen at all but, when you do incredible walks like this, somehow the moment overcomes the physical hardship and then there are all those photographs you’ll have to show your friends!

    View from the top of Capluc The rock formations are in your face About half way during the walk The views are simply stunning Lorraine climbing near Capluc
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Sarlat-la-Caneda

    by iandsmith Updated Oct 17, 2013

    Favorite thing: It was only because I was looking for somewhere to stay that I stumbled over this town as I had been aiming for a little further south. Frankly, I'm disappointed in myself; Sarlat is a great town in more ways than one. It has more 17th century facades than any other town in France for a start.
    We deliberately went there on market day and loved every minute of it. The variety and atmosphere rival any market I've been to in Europe.
    The only problem was, we got so caught up in it we didn't have enough time to see some of the other attractions the town has to offer.
    Sarlat's traceable past began in the 9th century with the founding of a Benedictine abbey. The abbey grew and acquired other churches in the Perigord region and with its growth a town began to build up around it. The town was under the authority of the church but the abbey grew in power and tension came to the fore until finally in 1299 the town was granted liberty from the church by Philippe le Bel.
    Sarlat had actually become a city at the 8th century and was on the border between Kings of France and of England during the Hundred Year War, it became English later in 1360 and was then relieved ten years later by Du Guesclin. The cathedral of Saint-Sacerdos was set up under Henri IV.
    In medieval times Sarlat grew bigger and richer and became an important market town. Many of the upmarket houses in Sarlat's old time were built during this time to house the rich merchants. Despite its fortified walls Sarlat suffered greatly during the Hundred Years War.
    The end of the 15th century and beginning of the 16th century was again an important time for Sarlat. With an exemption from some taxes the town began to prosper again and became an important political and judicial centre. Another period of building started this time in the Renaissance style. The Italian Renaissance ideas were to influence one of Sarlat's residents and Etienne de La Boetie became a famous humanist and philosopher. The house of his birth still stands opposite the cathedral.
    The Wars of Religion struck and Sarlat at the end of the wars was firmly in the Catholic camp.
    In the following centuries the bishops played an important part and the cathedral was completed and the bishop's palace restored. Most of the fortifications were removed (only a very small section of ramparts still exists) and the defensive ditches filled in.
    Following the Revolution in 1789 Sarlat lost its bishopric but the last bishop became the first maire of Sarlat and Sarlat began its new role as a centre of commerce but its distance from main road routes and lack of railway for many years meant that it did not become a successful commercial centre - happily for us as this could have lead to the destruction of many of its historic buildings in the name of progress!
    The coming of the railway led to a new era of prosperity though.
    In 1962 Sarlat became the trial town of a new law called the 'loi Malraux' which set about to protect the patrimony of French towns. Money was provided to restore Sarlat's fine buildings and it now has the highest density of 'Historic Monuments' and 'Classified Monuments' of any town in France. It is now classified as a 'Town of Art and History' and as a 'Plus Beaux Detour' - a town meriting a visit for its beauty. The historic centre is also on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Classification

    Fondest memory: About half way along the Rue des Consuls is the Manoir de Gisson originally called the Hotel Magenat. The Manoir de Gisson is made up of two buildings of different styles linked together by a hexagonal tower. The building dates back to the 13th century. Recently opened to the public there are two aspects to your visit. The first is a visit to the vaulted cellars and rooms which exhibit items on the history of Justice from the Middle Ages to the Revolution. This includes an exhibition of instruments of torture.
    The second part of a visit to the Manoir de Gisson is the private apartments showing home life for the Sarlat nobility. Furniture dates from the Middle Ages to the 17th century and you can see the lovely wooden floors, panelling and huge fireplaces and of course the spiral staircase which winds up the hexagonal tower.
    Outside the Manoir de Gisson is the Place du Marché des Oies, the goose market with a statue of some geese in the centre, just the place to get your picture taken.
    The preceding is but a part of what Sarlat has to offer, definitely one of the highlights of any trip to France

    Inside the Manoir de Gisson Dining on duck in Sarlat To market, to market Surprises around every corner Lovely park where we entered the town
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Autun, a past and a future

    by iandsmith Written Jul 14, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Autun is a town in the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy, to the north-west of Chalon-sur-Saone. An active town these days, Autun retains much of the original fortified walls (ramparts) around the old town, and, set in an attractive setting with the Morvan Hills behind, is one of the most visited towns in Burgundy.
    The town was an even more active and lively centre in Roman times and the Roman remains are one of the main drawcards.
    There are several Roman remnants to be seen in and around Autun and they include two remaining portals that were part of the fortified walls: the Porte d'Arroux to the north and the Port saint-Andre to the east. Both follow a similar design, with wider arches for carriages to pass through and narrow side arches for pedestrians.
    You can also see the Roman amphitheatre and the taunting Temple of Janus, though the remaining corner of the temple only hints at the grandeur of the original building. There is strong archeological evidence that there were originally other temples nearby. The theatre was among the largest in the Roman empire and could seat up to 20 000 people, as befits a town sometimes labelled "the Rome of the north".
    There are several museums in Autun, dedicated to diverse subjects such as Natural History; the children who played in bands that accompanied the French Army (the Musée des Anciens Enfants de Troupe); and the Musée Lapidaire that contains various architectural items from the medieval period, among others.
    If you only have time to visit one museum then the Musée Rolin has an interesting collection of art and historical items including those by the well known medieval artists Gislebertus and the Maitre des Moulins.
    The centre of Autun is largely situated in the streets around the two large squares that are next to each other. One is dominated by Autun's Theatre and Town Hall and the other by the impressive Lycée buildings.
    Be sure to also visit the 'Covered Passage', an ornate shopping arcade with a glass ceiling built in the 19th century. Another unexpected discovery in Autun is the old prison. Set on a circular plan, it was one of the first prisons in France to be built around individual 'prison

    Fondest memory: Your visit should ideally commence heading towards the historical centre of Autun, near the cathedral. The Cathedral Saint Lazare is an attractive Roman style cathedral within the ancient town walls, dating originally from the 12th century although signficant modifications were made in the following centuries, and the spire was added in the 16th century. Famed above all for its carvings and sculptures, particularly statues by Gislebertus, one of the most renowned of the Romanesque sculptors - see the story of the Last Judgement in the tympanum above the west door for some of the best examples - while inside you can see some attractively carved capital stones. Next to the cathedral is the Saint-Lazaire fountain.
    In the area around the cathedral there are some pedestrianised streets with bars and restaurants if you are looking for somewhere to eat. The cobbled streets leading from the main square to the cathedral are a pleasure to stroll along, even if they are a bit uphill!

    Port d'Arroux Temple of Janus Tympanum above the west door of Saint Lazare Exquisite capitals at the cathedral of St Lazare Detail of the town hall in the main sqare
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • gwened's Profile Photo

    The way to Santiago St James from France

    by gwened Updated Jun 30, 2013

    Favorite thing: you have to be in Paris. To do the Camino you can do from Spain like Madrid or San Sebastian. If you want to do the Camino Francés then you can come out from Toulouse.
    Yes from Paris you can come down to St Jean-de-Port, and do the short one instead of Toulouse.

    You dont need a visa if for 90 days, see US govt site for information
    http://photos.state.gov/libraries/france/5/acs/paris-official_stay.pdf

    You get the book at the tourist office or the basilica St Sernin in Toulouse that I know for sure
    here is info in English
    http://www.santiago-compostela.net//

    and this site tells about the The Way movie
    http://www.galiciaguide.com/Santiago-pilgrimage.html

    hope it helps

    Fondest memory: the walk

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    ALSACE WINE ROUTE

    by balhannah Updated Jun 15, 2013

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The Alsace wine route would have to be one of the prettiest routes to follow in France.
    As a garden lover, and knowing the Alsace is one of the most flowery region's in France, I couldn't wait to get here!
    It's easy driving, but be prepared to stop at the many gorgeous villages of half-timbered building's with flower boxes overflowing, see many fountains, interesting shops, Beautiful Churches, historic Town gates, try wine tasting, the list goes on, really you need to stay somewhere to see it all and to get the most out of the area.
    It was like stepping back in time in many of the villages, as I walked along the cobble stone streets. Parking we found to be hard to find, streets are narrow and quite a lot are pedestrian only streets. Tourist coaches pour into the main towns, so don't expect to have these towns to yourself, one of the advantages of staying overnight. I could have stopped at each village, each had so much to offer, but I wasn't allowed!
    Print the map off the excellent website, or pick one up from one of the tourist information centres.
    http://www.tourisme-alsace.com/en/alsace-wine-route/

    IT IS A MUST DO!

    Alsace wine route Alsace wine route Alsace wine route Alsace wine route Alsace wine route
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    CHAMPAGNE HALF-TIMBERED CHURCH TRAIL

    by balhannah Written Jun 12, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: I happened to come across this trail when I was researching the Champagne area of France. On a closer look, and with a print-out of the map from the website, it was decided to follow it as much as we could.
    This was country France, "THE GREAT LAKES DISTRICT," where many Lakes and fields of crops were growing, Farmers were busy cultivating their land and sometimes we were caught behind them on the narrow roads. The Villages were small and old, quite a find, as were the very old wooden Churches. Altogether, there are 10 Churches and 1 Chapel, all dating from the 15th - 18th Centuries. Not all of them could be visited inside, but some I was able to.

    This is a scenic drive, throw in the Churches, and I think you will agree, one that is worth doing.

    Fondest memory: The Half-Timbered Church Trail.
    http://www.champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk/patrimony/discovery-tours/half-timbered-churches-trail.aspx

    One of the Churches
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    THE CHAMPAGNE WINE ROUTES

    by balhannah Updated Jun 12, 2013

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: A good way to see the best of the Champagne area, is to follow one of the Champagne Route's.
    There are 5 routes you can choose from.
    The one we followed off and on, was the "Cote des Blancs" route which heads south from Epernay. This is the home of the white Chardonnay grape. The views were wonderful, even though it was a rainy day. No photo's though - too wet.

    If you are interested in doing any of the routes, and I would have been if we had more time in the area, check out the listed website.
    http://wineroutesfrance.com/5.html

    These routes are good, as they take you through the prettiest of villages, to viewpoints and other points of interest in the area, they make sure you miss nothing on the tour.
    On one such tour, you will go to Hautvillers, famous for its abbey where Dom Perignon is said to have discovered the secret of champagne making in the 17th century.
    Family ‘vignerons’ are dotted through-out the countryside, and it's at these you can try the Champagne. Each champagne is different, so elect somebody as the car driver and try the pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay.
    You will have a wonderful time here!

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Photography
    • Wine Tasting

    Was this review helpful?

  • ant1606's Profile Photo

    Nice - Free WiFi

    by ant1606 Written Jun 12, 2013

    Favorite thing: As of May 14, 2013, the City of Nice municipality has launched a project that offers free WiFi in selected city areas with possible future expansion to additional locations. Current spots are in the pedestrian areas of Cours Saleya (Marche' aux Fleurs in the Old City) and Palais de Justice square.
    SSID: NiceGOWEXFREEWiFi
    Free surfing, after registration, for repeated 30-minute sessions at 512 Mb max speed.

    Based on GOWEX systems, it follows similar projects in Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille.

    Nice - Free public WiFi spots as of May 14, 2013

    Was this review helpful?

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    Lestelle Betharram

    by iandsmith Written Jun 6, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: In the South West of France, at the foot of the Pyrenees, you will find the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Betharram. In a way, the Virgin has taken over the whole región. – Lourdes, the center of pilgrimages known world wide, is 15 kilometers from here. In the XIX century, Saint Michael Garicoïts made the the cradle of a new community, the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
    According to some the origin of the Sanctuary goes back as far as the XI century, at a time when the whole of Europe, instigated by Saint Bernard, was covered by homes of Marian devotion. When returning from their campaigns against the Moors, the knights of the Crusades came to render homage to the Virgin. Betharram was also a staging post for the pilgrims who marched from all over Europe toward Compostelle. Its name appears for the first time in 1493 under the title of Gataram.
    The popular tradition bears witness to three miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary in this place.
    One day when the shepherds were leading their flocks along the mountain stream, or Gave, they were suddenly attracted by a very bright light coming from the rocks. When they approached they claimed to have seen a beautiful image of the Virgin. As soon as the people of the village of Lestelle were informed, they decided to build a chapel to put in a statue (as you would), but on the opposite side of the stream to the sighting, because of the lack of space where they had found the image. But, every time they placed her there, mysteriously, she crossed to the other side of the stream. The people from the village then understood that Mary wanted to remain in the initial place. And so it was then that they constructed the first Marian Building of Betharram.
    The second miracle dates back to the year 1616. Some peasants from Montaut, not far from Lestelle, were returning after a long hard day's work out in the fields when a violent wind arose and devastated the hill, threatening Betharram. The cyclone blasted the great wooden cross on the summit, but as soon as it fell on the ground, it was seen completely surrounded by a halo of light. The news rapidly spread around the country, and an immense crowd gathered there coming in procession to the chapel of Betharram to thank God for this prodigy. Now we come to the third extraordinary event; this is important since it gave its name to Betharram. A young girl bent over the edge of the Gave to pick a flower but she fell headlong into the swirling, whirling water. She was about to be drowned when she invoked the Virgin of the Sanctuary, with a loud cry. Miraculously, a branch appeared and in this way she was able to retrieve the shore and save her life. As a sign of gratitude, she wanted to offer a golden branch to the Madonna and thus she became for all the Virgin of Betharram – that is to say – “a beautiful branch”, in the local dialect.
    You can see all the stuff that was erected all around the site and get some understanding of how important this place was then and still is today, even down to the small bronze statue by the river, largely unnoticed by the majority of tourists.
    To these three miracles, narrated by ancient authors, popular piety has added many others, of a similar nature. One of these was even mentioned by Bernadette Soubirous who, upset because of the great curiosity of which she was subjected to, one day exclaimed: “Why seek at all cost to see me? What more do I have than others? God serves himself of me just as he served himself of the bullocks of Betharram”. Bernadette refers here to a tradition according to which some bullocks went away from the herd to dig the ground, and they found on their hoof a statue of the Virgin.
    Whatever may be the historical exactitude, these miracles give witness to a fundamental truth: Betharram has always been considered as a sacred place that has nourished faith and the Marian devotion.

    Fondest memory: Hubert Charpentier (1565 –1650), a priest architect had the idea to open a hospice for the pilgrims and a house for the priests in charge, also rendered services in the parishes around. And thus, the first chapel was enlarged in order to build a Sanctuary worthy of that name, extended by a monastery belonging to the chaplains of Betharram. In addition, Hubert Charpentier also had a monumental Way of the Cross –Via Crucis – set up above the Sanctuary at the side of the hill.
    The whole gave way to make this Sanctuary one of the most visited in France in the XVII-XVIII centuries, the golden centuries of Betharram. At that time it was the third most popular pilgrimage of the Kingdom, according to Saint Vincent de Paul. But the French Revolution interrupted this expansion, at the end of the XVIII century, destroyed the Calvary, confiscated the property and expelled the chaplains. The only thing saved was the Sanctuary.

    Love the bridge Impressive way of the cross station The main building Statue of the girl Way of the cross detail
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo

    La Couvertoirade

    by iandsmith Written Jun 6, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The "hôtel particulier de la Scipione" (Scipione house) was built in the XVIIth century. It is now the tourist information center for your visit to La Couvertoirade.
    Here you can get a free laminated map and also access the ramparts.
    It is also the seat of the Association "les amis de La Couvertoirade" (Friends of La Couvertoirade) that is constantly working to keep the village as a living and habited village and not as a zoo with a Middle-Ages village preserved only for tourists.
    At the entrance there's a plane tree that would bring a spot of shade during the hottest days. Plane trees need a lot of water to grow and are frequent here, despite the fact that in summer the Larzac plateau is dry.
    The trees survive because there is plenty of water in the porous rock beneath the soil, not visible at the surface.
    An intact surrounding wall of round and square towers connected by a rampart walk is what you get and this allows you to imagine what a mediaeval city was like.
    Hordes of tourists invade this historic spot, but idling in the cobbled streets and shops permits an authentic understanding of the excitement of the Middle Ages marketplace. On the ground floor, a vaulted roof sheltered the sheep's pen and today, this type of space is frequently occupied by artisans' shops.

    Fondest memory: The original Saint-Christophe church at La Couvertoirade was built in the 11th century but, since then, a more recent restoration from the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century has replaced it. Part of the church is built into the rock and its tower, which also forms part of the ramparts, was built in the 15th century. Outside the church, visitors will find a Templar graveyard with its original tomb stones and you can exit the walls here also through the portanelle, a small gateway in the wall.
    The tombstones are very Celtic in design, indicating the heritage of the area.
    It might pay to keep an eye on the kids if you're on the rampart, for there is no barrier but it reeks of authenticity and gives an excellent oversight of the village and an insight into how it might have been defended as well as how cramped it was.
    To get there you need to go to the tourist office and that gives you access to the tower on the left as shown in the first photo.
    There you ascend a winding staircase to the top.

    The tourist office Plane trees at the entrance View from the ramparts An ancient oven Celtic style gravestone
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

    Was this review helpful?

France Hotels

See all 14297 Hotels in France

Top France Hotels

Paris Hotels
22847 Reviews - 56620 Photos
Nice Hotels
1833 Reviews - 3944 Photos
Lyon Hotels
567 Reviews - 1348 Photos
Annecy Hotels
254 Reviews - 792 Photos
Lille Hotels
423 Reviews - 1095 Photos
Épernay Hotels
35 Reviews - 131 Photos
Lourdes Hotels
127 Reviews - 292 Photos
Strasbourg Hotels
952 Reviews - 2858 Photos
Carcassonne Hotels
483 Reviews - 1416 Photos
Colmar Hotels
310 Reviews - 951 Photos
Bordeaux Hotels
535 Reviews - 1420 Photos
Cassis Hotels
46 Reviews - 111 Photos
Villefranche-sur-Mer Hotels
94 Reviews - 229 Photos
Avignon Hotels
487 Reviews - 1422 Photos
Nantes Hotels
221 Reviews - 650 Photos

Instant Answers: France

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

48 travelers online now

Comments

France Favorites

Reviews and photos of France favorites posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for France sightseeing.
Map of France

France Members Meetings

May 19, 2015 
heading to paradise
May 22, 2015 
French Open 2015
Jun 24, 2015 
The Ile de France trio,General
Jun 24, 2015 
Ile de France trio

see all France member meetings