Fun things to do in France

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    Ecomusée de Pierre de Bresse

    by gwened Written Apr 7, 2014

    These are spectacular properties often castles that are been turn into ecological muséums or écomusée. There are all over France, however, this one i was taken by my wife's brother here in France and it was spectacular indeed.

    We were driving following him, as he used to worked in this region, and it was a long ride into mountaineous areas, and only cows all over, finally we got to a town where we rest I thought and get something to eat, as we entered the town of Pierre-de-Bresse there was a forest on our left, that covered it all.

    We finally arrive at the center of town and turn left, as I did came upon the magnificent castle of Pierre de Bresse that you see in the link front page , impressive.

    Inside on each floor and corner there was a different trade represented with re creation of farms, stuff animals and Tools from the early days with portraits of the original owners.
    you start with the life of the castle then, the natural elements like the stones used for construction in the area, the room of the history of the Burgundian bresse region from the French revolution and else.
    You move on to the traditional life section showing artifacts and life as it was, the room of furniture from the times, the room of the heritage of the Noirot family; and last the Bressian architecture of the region. These are the permanent collections.

    You have temp collections like the photography history of the area on display now. The castle is open all year from 10h-12h and 14h-18h except saturday and sunday morning from October 1 to May 14;close end of year holidays and May 1st.

    Admission is 7€ adults; all freely visit but you can have a guided tour on Tuesdays at 15h.
    parking is on the Pl des Etampes and on the parc aux daims (a park but freely roaming deers too)

    There is a beautiful boutique with country items and also a gîte or lodging house for rent Inside !! it has a lot more info in French than English
    http://www.ecomusee-de-la-bresse.com/

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    • Museum Visits
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Arts and Culture

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    Provence . . . outside the Riviera . . . fun!

    by Beausoleil Updated Mar 22, 2014

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    When we travel in early spring or late fall, we like the south of France where you are "almost" guaranteed warm weather. It can get pretty cold in winter except right on the shore and summers can be terribly hot so shoulder season is great. I must admit I love Provence any time of year though.

    So many people visit Nice and the Riviera and think they've seen southern France. There is a completely different southern France just north of the Riviera and we prefer it. You won't see the crowds and you will see lovely perched villages, country markets and very friendly French people who want you to enjoy your visit.

    Here is a set of Travel Pages I put together for our youngest daughter planning her first trip to Provence. Provence is also referred to as PACA

    Favorite places of ours are:
    Tourrettes-sur-Loup by Beausoleil (found as Tourette-sur-Loup on Virtual Tourist)
    Gourdon by Beausoleil
    St. Paul de Vence by Beausoleil with the Maeght Foundation
    Vence by Beausoleil
    Grasse and its perfume factories by Beausoleil and flower market
    Aix-en-Provence by Beausoleil
    Avignon by Beausoleil with the Rhone River and the Palace of Popes
    St. Remy-de-Provence by Beausoleil
    Les Baux (never visit in high season!)
    Arles by Beausoleil
    Le Barben, chateau and zoo
    The Camargue with wild bulls and horses and wonderful nature/bird walks
    Abbey of Montmajour and Daudet's Mill (an easy day trip from Arles)
    the famous Pont du Gard, especially if you enjoy kayaking
    Roussillon by Beausoleil wonderful villages like Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Rousssillon, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse . . .
    Aigues-Mortes by Beausoleil (walk the ramparts)
    Abbeys in fields of lavender
    Martigues and its canals

    Useful Official Tourist web sites:
    Glanum
    The Pont du Gard

    Related to:
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    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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    Loire chateaus, a good first trip out of Paris.

    by Beausoleil Updated Feb 2, 2014

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    You've seen Paris and now you want to explore. Hooray! There is an entire country just waiting for you. Rent a car or hop on the train and explore!

    If you only have a few days, choose one area and have a good look at it. A good first choice outside of Paris would be the Loire Valley, the Valley of Kings. You can visit Versailles as a day trip from Paris, but Versailles is not your typical chateau. That's why it's so famous.

    For something a bit more normal, there are many possibilities. My favorite is Azay-le-Rideau in the town of the same name. It is a small, perfect, white wedding-cake of a chateau set in the middle of a moat by a river. It is nicely furnished; there is adequate (or excellent) accommodation nearby, the grounds are fun to explore and in season there is a fun Sound and Light Show at night. The chateau is right in the small town so you can walk to shops and restaurants or even camp by the river if you like.

    More info at Azay-le-Rideau by Beausoleil including places to stay and restaurants.

    Click on the photo to see a few other chateaus you can visit nearby.

    Here are photos of 16 different Loire Valley chateaus to give you some idea of what is waiting for you.
    Eight Loire Valley Chateaus Travelogue
    Eight More Loire Valley Chateaus

    Related to:
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    • Road Trip
    • Castles and Palaces

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    Visit the Dordogne regions (le Perigord Noir)

    by Beausoleil Updated Jan 31, 2014

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    Update: We revisited the Dordogne to show it to our youngest daughter. We stayed in the same lovely gite in Cenac-et-St.-Julen and enjoyed a few of the places we'd visited before. There is so much to see that we also found a lot of new places and plan to return to explore again. Our daughter is now hooked on the Dordogne too. ;^)

    Original Review: We just returned from an area we had driven through a few times but not explored. This was the year to explore. We rented a gite in the tiny village of Cenac-et-St.-Julien on the Dordogne River and, after escaping the Iceland volcanic ash cloud that grounded flights all over Europe, we settled in to a delightful visit and decided the Dordogne was one of our very favorite regions of France.

    Officially, the Perigord Noir is part of Aquitaine. It is called the Perigord Noir (black) because there are so many forests that the hills look dark. Needless to say, it is green and lovely and the many rivers flowing through it add a wonderful dimension. This is an area that was fought over for hundreds of years so there is a castle on every hilltop and most are magnificent. Many are open to the public and if you climb to the highest part (the Keep), you are rewarded with incredible views.

    Places to visit include:
    Sarlat-la-Caneda (Old Town, historic buildings and really interesting market)
    Domme (fabulous views up and down the Dordogne river and lovely Old Town)
    Chateau Bonaguil (castle dating to 1271 with later additions)
    Chateau at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle (castle with medieval military museum)
    Les Cabanes du Breuil (dry stone bories (cabins) as part of a living history museum
    Chateau des Milandes (home of chanteuse Josephine Baker)
    Abbey at Cadouin
    Caves with prehistoric paintings in the Vezere Valley
    Museum of Prehistory at Les Ezyies de Tayac-Sireuil
    Perigeux
    Many lovely Plus Beaux Villages of France

    Eating in the Perigord is a joy. Even the simplest meals are delicious. In season you have the freshest of produce and this is the home of fois gras if you enjoy it. Duck, lamb and rabbit are on virtually every menu. If you don't like exploring foods, the beef and pork here are also excellent. This is the walnut capital of France so you will even find walnut wine and walnut liqueur. The liqueur is potent! It is also a famous wine region and your waiter will help you find something to your taste. We try to drink local wines just to see what is available.

    There are the little tourist trains you find all over France, but more fun are rides in a Gabare. These are the flat-bottomed boats that were used for shipping in the past. They have been motorized and now carry tourists. You chug down the river and see the castles and abbeys on the surrounding hillsides with herons and hawks swooping overhead. There are few better ways to spend an afternoon.

    Exploring caves is fun but if you have limited mobility, you may want to try the cave at Rouffignac. There is an electric train that takes you through the cave. The commentary is in French and it would not be wheelchair accessible but it is fine for someone who can walk a normal city street and climb onto a small train. We had a family from New Zealand with us and the guide gave a brief explanation of everything in English for them so make your language known if you want help. Les Eyzies Official Web Site

    Here are some of the places we enjoyed. Just click on each link to see the page.
    Beynac-et-Cazenac by Beausoleil
    Domme by Beausoleil
    Brantôme by Beausoleil
    Condat-sur-Vézère by Beausoleil
    Daglan by Beausoleil
    Sarlat-la-Canéda by Beausoleil
    Villefranche-de-Rouergue by Beausoleil
    Castelnaud-la-Chapelle by Beausoleil

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    • Road Trip

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    Instead of the Alps, try the Pyrenees

    by Beausoleil Updated Jan 31, 2014

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    You always hear about the Alps and they are spectacular . . . However, the Pyrenees are equally spectacular. They run the length of France from Atlantic to Mediterranean forming a barrier to Spain.

    Tucked away in these mountains are lovely hidden villages, monasteries, abbeys, ruined castles and churches. It is great fun to get off the AutoRoute and find these places. One year we bought Cathar Passes with discounts to all the Cathar sites and had a great time trying to visit all of them. We didn't quite get to all but we sure had fun trying.
    Foix and the Chateau by Beausoleil
    Ceret by Beausoleil
    Beautiful Castelnou by Beausoleil
    Lourdes, a pilgrimage by Beausoleil
    Toulouse, the pink city by Beausoleil

    Don't forget to pick up your Cathar Pass. The Cathar Pass Official Site

    The Ariege Tourism Site

    Related to:
    • Castles and Palaces
    • Religious Travel
    • Photography

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    Normandy, Low (Basse Normandie)

    by Beausoleil Updated Jan 31, 2014

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    This is the Normandy where you'll find the D-Day Beaches and WWII cemeteries. The American Cemetery is outside of Colleville-sur-Mer right above Omaha Beach. As you walk through the cemetery, you look down on Omaha Beach and can (on a clear day) see Pointe du Hoc. USA Government Cemetery Information

    There are cemeteries for all the nationalities who died in WWII, including a German cemetery. You may wish to book a tour of several. We stayed near a Canadian War Cemetery near Cauvicourt and the back was lined with Canadian maple trees in full Fall color (October). They are all very peaceful places but it's unnerving to see how many lives were lost.

    Once through the WWII sites, lower Normandy is a fabulous place to visit. It is the one area of France that does not make wine. They are instead famous for their cider and it is really fun to visit in the autumn if you can. There are Calvados tastings (cider liqueur) and it is potent stuff!

    Normandy is also famous for cheeses and dairy products. You will see the healthy black and white Norman cows grazing peacefully in fields all over Normandy. You can visit cheese factories in Livarot and Pont-l'Eveque. Get there early in the morning because that's when the farmers bring in the milk and the cheese making process begins then. Tastings are fun if you like strong cheese. We do . . . 8^)

    Honfleur is an art center on the coast at the mouth of the Seine and a lovely historic village. It's fun to drive along the coast and visit seaside resorts like Trouville-sur-Mer, Deauville, Villers-sur-Mer, Houlgate and Cabourg.
    Honfleur, Harbor and Artists by Beausoleil
    Villers-sur-Mer by Beausoleil
    Houlgate on the Sea by Beausoleil
    Cabourg and the Grand Hotel by Beausoleil

    If you want to venture into la France profonde, leave the coast and venture inland to such beautiful villages as Beuvron-en-Auge, Bayeux with its famous cathedral and the Bayeux Tapestry, Clecy in the Suisse Normand and Falaise, home of William the Conqueror.
    Beuvron-en-Auge by Beausoleil
    Bayeux by Beausoleil
    Clecy in Normandy by Beausoleil
    Crevecoeur-en-Auge by Beausoleil
    Falaise by Beausoleil

    Venture further west to see the most-photographed Mont St. Michel on a rock in the ocean. It is stunning and will be crowded even out of season. Tidal heights vary throughout the year so ask locally to find out if there is one near your visit. . If you want to see the famous high tides at Mont Saint Michel, be forewarned that the highest tides are at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

    We enjoyed Villedieu-les-Poeles the home of copper pans and things copper. The Abbey de Hambaye just north of Villedieu is worth a visit. Driving north you can visit Cherbourg where the cruise ships come in. Just east of Cherbourg is a wonderful little port city of Barfleur and then you can drive back east along the coast and visit more WWII beaches.

    We once spent an entire month in lower Normandy and didn't begin to see all the interesting sites. It is a great place for a vacation, not just a quick runout from Paris. Really stop and enjoy it.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip

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    Brittany (Bretagne), Celtic France, mysterious

    by Beausoleil Updated Jan 31, 2014

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    Visit Bretagne (Brittany). If you get as far as Mont St. Michel, cross the river into Brittany and see Celtic France. There is a wild seacoast, lighthouses, excellent seafood, grey stone houses with bright red geraniums in the windows. The churches have a Parish Close or enclosed courtyard filled with statuary. If the church is closed and you appear to look at it, someone will come running from a nearby house with a key and let you in. More often than not they will not speak English but they know what you want and will help you.

    The westernmost point in France is here at Point Raz. There is parking and a walk out to the point where you can view the lighthouse. Often there are wild waves crashing against the rocks. Point du Grouin across the bay from Mont St. Michel is a wildlife sanctuary where there are well marked walks along the shore and flora and fauna are identified on large signs with pictures if you don't speak French.

    Merlin the Magician from King Arthur was buried here and Chateau de Comper is where Sir Lancelot was raised and there is a Center of Arthurian Legend in the castle which is open to the public. Don't miss the Forest of Broceliande in Paimpont. The Forest of Broceliande by Beausoleil

    There are plenty of festivals featuring local music and the wonderful native costumes including incredible lace headdresses on the women.

    It is a wild and wonderful land well worth visiting for a completely different French experience and there are several lovely large cities like Quimper and St. Malo. Quimper by Beausoleil
    St. Malo by Beausoleil

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    • Castles and Palaces

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    Languedoc-Roussillon, Cathar Castles aplenty

    by Beausoleil Updated Jan 31, 2014

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    The Riviera and Provence get a lot of press and a lot of visitors. It is beautiful and we love it, but it's a little more relaxed and wild in the southwest region called Languedoc-Roussillon. There are miles of soft sand beaches, wild wonderful mountains, perched villages and even a couple cities if you like excitement.

    One of our favorite stretches of beach is between Canet-Plage and St.-Cyprien-Plage. It is a long stretch of soft sand with free parking and a national park on the other side of the road. If there is any wind at all, there will be lovely waves and you will be joined by quiet, happy French families and can watch the wind surfers.

    Once with our oldest daughter we bought Cathar Passes and did our very best to see everything on the pass. We didn't make it but we had fun trying and learned a lot of history and saw some magnificent scenery in the process.

    Some of our favorite places in Languedoc-Roussillon are:
    Collioure with colorful fishing boats by Beausoleil
    Elne by Beausoleil
    Ceret by Beausoleil
    Villefranche-de-Conflent with a chateau and the Little Yellow Train
    Castelnou and Eus, two lovely perched villages
    Carcassonne by Beausoleil
    Historic Foix by Beausoleil
    Medieval Mirepoix by Beausoleil
    Puivert with marvelous views from its chateau on a hill
    Grotte (cave) de Niaux with cave paintings
    Parc de la Prehistoire, a prehistory theme park (fun and educational)
    Rennes-le-Chateau if you like a good mystery
    Perpignan by Beausoleil
    Narbonne by Beausoleil
    Montolieu by Beausoleil Montolieu, the Village of Books
    the spectacular scenic Pyrenees Mountains

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Historical Travel
    • Water Sports

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    Alesia

    by iandsmith Updated Jan 23, 2014

    52 B.C. was, arguably, one of the most significant events in world history.
    Here we saw a united Gaul army ultimately defeated by none other than the man who became better known as Julius Caesar. It was his rendition of this battle in high places in Rome that led to his leadership of the Roman Empire.
    In 52 BC, the Gallic leaders met at Bibracte and elected Vercingetorix of the Averni to lead the them. Launching waves of attacks across Gaul, Roman soldiers, settlers, and merchants were slaughtered in large numbers. Initially unaware of the violence, Caesar learned of it while in winter quarters in Cisalpine Gaul. Mobilizing his army, Caesar moved across the snow-covered Alps to strike at the Gauls.
    Caesar dispatched Titus Labienus north with four legions to attack the Senones and the Parisii whilst Caesar retained five legions and his allied Germanic cavalry for the pursuit of Vercingetorix. After winning a series of minor victories, Caesar suffered a setback at the hands of the Gauls at Gergovia when his men failed to execute his battle plan. Temporarily falling back, Caesar renewed his attacks on the Gauls over the next few weeks through a series of cavalry raids. Not believing the time was right to risk battle with Caesar, Vercingetorix withdrew to the walled Mandubii town of Alesia.
    Situated on a hill and surrounded by river valleys, Alesia offered a strong defensive position as you can clearly see at today's historic site.
    Arriving with his army, Caesar declined to launch a frontal assault and instead decided to lay siege to the town. As the entirety of Vercingetorix's army was within the walls along with the town's population, Caesar expected the siege to be brief. To ensure that Alesia was fully cut off from aid, he ordered his men to construct an encircling set of fortifications known as a circumvallation that stretched for 16 kilometres.
    Understanding Caesar's intentions, Vercingetorix launched several cavalry attacks with the goal of preventing completion of the circumvallation. These were largely beaten off though a small force of Gallic cavalry did break through. The fortifications were completed in around three weeks. Concerned that the escaped cavalry would return with a relief army, Caesar began construction on a second set of works which faced outwards. Known as a contravallation, this 19km fortification was identical in design to the inner ring facing Alesia.
    Occupying the space between the walls, Caesar hoped to end the siege before aid could arrive. Within Alesia, conditions quickly deteriorated as food ran out. Hoping to alleviate the crisis, the Mandubii sent out their women and children with the hope that Caesar would open his lines and allow them to leave. Such a breach would also allow for an attempt by the army to break out. Caesar refused and the women and children were left in limbo between his walls and those of the town. Without food, they began to starve, further lowering the morale of the town's defenders.
    In late September, Vercingetorix faced a crisis with supplies nearly exhausted and part of his army considering surrender. However, his cause was bolstered by the arrival of a relief army under the command of Commius who launched an assault on Caesar's outer walls while Vercingetorix attacked from the inside. Both efforts were defeated as the Romans held. The next day the Gauls attacked again, this time under the cover of darkness. While Commius was breached the Roman lines, the gap was soon closed by cavalry led by Mark Antony and Gaius Trebonius.
    On the inside, Vercingetorix also attacked but the element of surprise was forfeited due to the need to fill in Roman trenches before moving forward. As a result, the assault was defeated. Beaten in their early efforts, the Gauls planned a third strike for October 2 against a weak point in Caesar's lines where natural obstacles had prevented construction of a continuous wall. Moving forward, 60,000 men led by Vercassivellaunus struck the weak point while Vercingetorix pressured the entire inner line.
    Issuing orders to simply hold the line, Caesar rode amongst his men to inspire them. Breaking through, Vercassivellaunus' men pressed the Romans. Under extreme pressure on all fronts, Caesar shifted troops to deal with threats as they emerged. Dispatching Labienus' cavalry to help seal the breach, Caesar led a number of counterattacks against Vercingetorix's troops along the inner wall. Though this area was holding, Labienus' men were reaching a breaking point. Rallying thirteen cohorts (approx. 6,000 men), Caesar personally led them out of the Roman lines to attack the Gallic rear.
    Spurred on by their leader's personal bravery, Labienus' men held as Caesar attacked. Caught between two forces, the Gauls soon broke and began fleeing. Pursued by the Romans, they were cut down in large numbers. With the relief army routed and his own men unable to break out, Vercingetorix surrendered the next day and presented his arms to the victorious Caesar.
    Between 100,000 to over 220,000 are believed to have died here and today a modern museum gives you all the details.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

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    Nancy

    by solopes Updated Jan 5, 2014

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    A couple of days may be enough, but Nancy is something you should... "live".

    Different epochs, different styles but the love of the people for the city is generally present, and their defense of glass art is absolutely justified by the industry's history and present.

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    Normandie

    by solopes Updated Dec 20, 2013

    Travelling in Normandie is a constant meeting with contradictory feelings - the beauty of the coast and its highlights, and the signs of the dramatic WW2.

    For us, men, with all those names in mind, from lectures and movies about the conflict it is a sort of getting back to remote memories and experiences, and even Fernanda, not too acquainted with war details got touched by the extensive remains of that serious event in history.

    Related to:
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    Bordeaux

    by solopes Updated Dec 20, 2013

    I will never forget the strong sensation felt in 1971, when, for the first time, I went out of the Iberian dictatorships. Even the air, from Bayonne to Bordeaux seemed different. I loved the area and the landscape, but, for several reasons, I never had the chance to visit it again, except in a rushing stop in 1989, driving the kids in their first trip to Europe.

    It is something that I miss, and after a couple of great days in Normandy, next time in France I will try to do the same in this area.

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    Loire Valley, churches, abbeys, gardens . . .

    by Beausoleil Updated Dec 8, 2013

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    Gardens, churches, abbeys, parks, rivers, hiking. There is a lot to do. If you've seen the chateaus or at least the ones you want to see . . . or you have seen a few too many . . . consider the abbeys and churches. Click on the picture for ideas.

    Of course, the cathedral at Chartres is justifiably famous so if you are in the area, it is definitely worth a day trip. Chartres Tourist Office

    We've had fun over the years keeping up with the restoration of Fontevraud Abbey near the convergence of the Loire and Vienne Rivers. It's a great stop near Chinon and the picturesque village of Candes-St.-Martin on the Loire.

    Fontevraud Abbey is no longer a French National Monument; it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also holds a 52-room hotel if you want to spend some time there. The hotel web site is: Fontevraud Abbey Hotel

    Here are some of my Travel Pages you may want to check.
    Chartres by Beausoleil
    Chateau Chaumont Gardens by Beausoleil
    Fontevraud Abbey by Beausoleil
    Chateau & Gardens at Villandry by Beausoleil

    Type Loire into the VT Search Window and click on Pays de la Loire for more information.

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    Come see history of not to be repeated Verdun

    by gwened Written Nov 14, 2013

    This is Verdun, it is a magical tragic city in the region of Lorraine, dept of the Meuse, France. Trying to bring back my photos here.....

    It is the history of a great battle in WWI, with lots of memorials alongside the river Meuse and into the countryside. As one historian rightful said, « Verdun est le symbole et le sommet de la Grande Guerre. C’est sans doute le seul nom qui survivra à l’oubli des siècles », BY Guy Pedroncini.
    "Verdun is a symbol and the summit of the big war or WWI. Without a doubt, the only name that will survive the forgetfullness of the centuries passing"

    Its a must to visit to remember, respect ,and never forget. ,the city page
    http://verdun.fr/Terre-d-Histoire

    you have the tourist office page here
    http://www.tourisme-verdun.fr/

    just walk the meuse along the quais and go up to the mémorial

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    • Museum Visits

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    Dine and WIne

    by Chickytrick Written Oct 25, 2013

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    When you travel through small towns and villages there is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy quiet and nature. You can walk and walk and breath fresh air and be with yourself. You just need the weather to be nice^)

    But on top of that France is definitely is the placу where you can try and enjoy gourmet cuisine and wines. Try those nice family restaurants that I recommend on pages related to France. I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience.

    Related to:
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