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    walk Strasbourg

    by gwened Written Apr 20, 2014

    Favorite thing: a wonderful town to walk history and great architecture in every block in the center and over tothe petite France.

    I dug up these photos of my passing by here and figure to share with VT.
    the ecluse or levy at the petite France, narrow and quaint , curiosity for all visitors

    Place Saint Etienne, is at the Grande Île, and was built in the 11C Under the name of rue de la Pierre Large, it takes the current name in 1400

    rue du bain aux plantes, is in the Petite France district . This street is, it, seems name after the baths which were there and which were only reserved for women. It is bordered by houses once occupied by tanners and their roofs in stairs were thus built granaries-kilns. Today, the rue du bain aux plantes is renowned thanks to its Alsatian houses with typical facades and so specific architecture of the region.

    Fondest memory: all walk the petite France, go ahead walk it, you will be back any chance you have too;

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    weather in France

    by gwened Written Mar 31, 2014

    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

    méteo France

    LA Châine méteo

    and the weather channel

    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

    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.

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    Getting high at Capluc and Pas de Loup

    by iandsmith Updated Feb 4, 2014

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    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:
    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!

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    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

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    Autun, a past and a future

    by iandsmith Written Jul 14, 2013

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    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!

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    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

    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

    and this site tells about the The Way movie

    hope it helps

    Fondest memory: the walk

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    by balhannah Updated Jun 15, 2013

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    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.


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    by balhannah Written Jun 12, 2013

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    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.

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    by balhannah Updated Jun 12, 2013

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    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.

    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!

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    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.
    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.

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    Lestelle Betharram

    by iandsmith Written Jun 6, 2013

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    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.

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    La Couvertoirade

    by iandsmith Written Jun 6, 2013

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    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.

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    The beaches of France

    by gwened Written Jun 5, 2013

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    Favorite thing: The beach is glorious here,even if the weather limits your time on them, they are a match to any at the right time. My favorites are in the town of Lacanau-Océan, the webpage for the town tourist office is here in French, . You are along the ocean here, you can go south or north from here or over the pines central section of the Medoc to the wine chateaux. Lacanau-Océan is a world center of Surfing in Europe and the best come here to compete in the Lacanau Pro event.

    Another wonderful area is to head for the beaches of Cancans and Hourtin as well like our playground area, crisscrossing this wonderful region, great beaches there if a bit smaller. There is a lake beach at Maubuisson , the webpage for tourism there and Hourtin,and Lacanau in English! is here .

    The Hourtin area has a huge lake too, and its own tourist office webpage here . Then you have a webpage for tourism in the entire Medoc peninsula with English translation here . There is also a webpage for Carcans-Maubuisson here

    The very tip of the peninsula at Vendays-Montalivet are wonderful beaches too.So far is the Médoc, my back yard in France.

    The beaches of France runs the territory for about 5500 kms ,all along the Manche, Atlantic ocean,and the Méditerranean, representing about 20% of the entire coastline of Europe!

    Some nice ones closer to present home are in the charente Maritime region at St Georges d'Oléron. Not to forget the beaches in my new backyard of Carnac, Quiberon, and Port Navalo,Perros Guirec, and Crozon peninsula.
    Deauville,and Trouville sur mer.
    Le touquet - Paris
    Further south on the Atlantic side there are nice ones at Le Pornic,Arcachon,Socoa,St jéan de Luz, Biscarrose ,Mimizan.
    Les Sables d'Olonne;

    Pyrénées orientales you have Argéles sur Mer, with plenty of nice ones there.
    in the Hérault there are nice ones at Vias Plage, Marseillan Plage,Sété, and la Grande Motte.
    the Gard has le Grau du roi
    Bouches du Rhône has Cassis, La Ciotat,and Ste Marie de la Mer
    The Var is loaded with Bandol,Cavalaire sur mer,Frêjus,le lavandou, St Râphael, and Ste Maxime.
    Alps maritimes you have them nice at Antibes, juan les pins, cagnes sur mer, cannes,St jean cap ferrat,

    of course ,there are many others ,i am just starting !!) This site gives you good info on all of them in French, best info, you can translate and google their name for specifics, the ones above are all great for families.

    Fondest memory: beach time reminds me of my origins and its sublime, the ocean, the sand, the well wonderful memories. In France, the romance feels stronger, maybe because it is France n'est pas, oh la la la la!!
    all of these photos are personal family gathering so I rather don't post them. Just take my word for it.

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    Villefranche de Conflent

    by iandsmith Written May 31, 2013

    Favorite thing: In 1092, Guillaume Raymond, the Count of Cerdanya, decided to build a town where three rivers meet, the Têt, the Cady and the Rotja, so as to protect the valleys from invasion. In the same year, the Bishop of Elne gave permission for the construction of the church of St Jacques.
    In 1095 the newly-built town was named VILA FRANCA, or Town of free-trade in English, by the Count of Cerdanya.
    As a means of stimulation, tax privileges were bestowed on Villefranche in order to attract different trades: weavers, tanners, drapers, stonemasons, merchants etc.
    In 1277, exclusive market rights were granted to some for the sale of meat, fish and vegetables on the Place de l'église.
    In 1654, the Treaty of the Pyrenees brought about the division of Catalonia into South Catalonia and North Catalonia (currently known as the Pyrénées Orientales department).
    In 1681 Vauban, the great rebuilder under the Sun King Louis XIVth, built Fort Liberia and remodelled Villefranche, making the ramparts higher. He oversaw the construction of a barracks, a hospital, watch towers, gunpowder stores and also the demolition of the Franciscan convent in the town.
    From the 18th Century to the present day, under Louis XVI (1783), the narrow carriage gates and bridges were replaced by larger gates in pink marble with a drawbridge as well.
    In the 19th Century, Napoleon III, who was keen on architecture, ordered extensive building works, notably the construction of the underground passage "of a thousand steps", linking the village to Fort Liberia on high via 775 steps (starting point by the Pont St Pierre, a Roman bridge).

    Fondest memory: The fortifications that were added by Vauban (1633-1707) consist of 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the western, northern and eastern borders of France. They were designed by him and were added in 2008 to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
    Villefranche is an outstanding example of his handiwork.
    If you're interested in history, Vauban is worth some boning up on.
    This fascinating man changed sides during his career and was a greatly influential engineer during the reign of Louis XIV.
    Though wounded several times he proved to be a courageous man and very inventive, coming up with a technique known as ricochet fire and inventing the bayonet.
    During his illustrious career he fortified over 160 towns, often using new designs of his own invention.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

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    Cascades Du Herisson - Waterfall wonder

    by iandsmith Written May 30, 2013

    Favorite thing: I'd heard about this place but never quite had the urge to go until this trip when I slotted it in between accommodation. How glad I am now that I went - it's a stunner.
    From my notes at the time:
    ".......then, suddenly, all other water experiences became second rate.
    We’d driven there in fog and light rain, winding over a 4,000ft mountain pass, saying goodbye to Switzerland for the last time and eventually heading up a dead end road past a lovely lake with some unattended open boats accumulating precipitation. It costs 4 euros to park but you get a free (and welcome) map before trudging off past the lone tourist shop and on the path adjacent the river.
    That’s about where the gasps start. Just 100 metres in the largest and most dramatic fall, L’Eventail, can be seen through the foliage but travel another 20 metres and, off to your right is the prettiest of all the falls though it’s but a sidestream to the main event.
    Now L’Eventail becomes clear. Claimed to be a 65 metre drop, it’s not the height that thrills us but the volume. It’s clearly in flood, great sheets of water plunging, spraying and dashing themselves on the rocks beneath. As we approach, normal conversation becomes impossible, drowned by the furore.

    Fondest memory: If that was all we came to see we would have departed satisfied, but nay, we climbed above and the enshrouding mist and moss laden forest added to the enchantment of the next fall, Grand Saut, itself draped by the sparkling leafiness of the vibrant spring shoots. At 60 metres it’s also impressive but difficult to get a decent photo of, so I slipped over a couple of barriers to get something decent.
    We moved on, at times even the trail was overcome with the volume, steps were slippery, fallen leaves saturated and a danger sign with skill and crossbones and a death warning appeared but we walked on by because that’s only for the French.
    The further we went the harder it was getting to see anything as rain laden clouds moved inexorably up the valley. We called it quits, apparently, according to the map, having seen the best of it. So we left for our new digs just over two hours away.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography

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