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France Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for France. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
Glanum (Site Archéologique de Glanum) was a Roman town built at the foot of the Alpilles mountains south of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It is a large site with remains of baths, public forum, temples, houses and a sacred spring. A beautiful Triumphal Arch that was on the edge of the town is beside the parking area. This was originally an Iron Age settlement, then a Greek town and finally a Roman town. It was abandoned when the Roman Empire fell and was excavated in the early 20th century. These are very interesting Roman remains in a spectacular setting. The Roman road Via Domitia passes through here. Glanum is high up above St Remy, with lovely views. Plan to spend a couple of hours exploring the site. There are many other things to see...
Autun was a walled and fortified Roman town founded in the 1st century by Emporer Augustus. It was on the Via Agrippa, the Roman road connecting Boulogne-sur-Mer (in northern France on the Atlantic coast near Calais) to Lyon (southeast of Autun). The town replaced a previous settlement at nearby Bibracte. City walls, two gates, an ancient temple and a theater remain from the Gallo-Roman times. There are many medieval buildings in the city center. Location: France - Bourgogne-Franche-Comté - Saone-et-Loire - Autun Autun is a small town in western Burgundy (population 15,000) on the edge of the Morvan Regional Natural Park. This is a pretty town with many things to see. There are restaurants in the square in front of Saint-Lazare and on...
The Madeleine Dolmen (Dolmen de la Madeleine) sits in an open field outside the town of Gennes, near the Loire River. In recent times it was used as a bakery. You can see the remains of the oven inside. Well worth a visit if you are in this area. A dolmen is a single-chamber megalithic tomb (also called portal tomb, portal grave or quoit), usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat capstone. Most date from 4000 to 3000 BC (Neolithic). They were usually covered with earth to form a barrow. In many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving the exposed dolmen stones. Location: France - Pays de la Loire - Maine-et-Loire - Gennes On the D69, to the south of Gennes, on the east side of the road. It is...
The Bagneux Dolmen (Le Dolmen de Bagneux) is the largest dolmen in France, second largest in Europe (the Spanish dolmen in Antequera, near Malaga, is bigger). This dolmen is HUGE and worth visiting for that alone, but its location makes it even more interesting. The city has grown around the dolmen, so it is tucked into a walled garden, surrounded by other buildings. A dolmen is a single-chamber megalithic tomb (also called portal tomb, portal grave or quoit), usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat capstone. Most date from 4000 to 3000 BC (Neolithic). They were usually covered with earth to form a barrow. In many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving the exposed dolmen stones. Location...
Fontevraud Abbey (Abbaye de Fontevraud) was founded by Robert of Arbrissel in the 12th century as a religious community dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Although Fontevraud housed both monks and nuns, its founder decreed that the order's leader would always be a woman. The Fontevrist movement steadily expanded within France as well as in England and Spain until its dissolution during the French Revolution. During its active period, Fontevraud Abbey opened its doors to many in need of sanctuary including reformed prostitutes, battered women, and lepers. In the early 19th century, in a sharp departure from its earlier history, the former abbey was converted to an infamous prison. Fontevraud is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Location: France...
Lillebonne, a small town along the River Seine west of Rouen, was an important Roman town (called Juliobona). It has the largest and best preserved Roman theater in northern France (seated 5,000 to 7,000). In the late 3rd or early 4th century, some of the stone from the theater was used to build the fortification for the town and in the early 19th century it was made into a quarry but was saved from ruin by a local priest. Lillibonne is a small and charming town and an interesting stop on your tour of the Seine River valley west of Rouen. We stopped on our way from Jumièges Abbey to the town of Étretat on the coast. Location: France - Normandy - Seine-Maritime - Lillebonne The Roman theater is in the center of town with parking across...
Jumièges Abbey (Abbaye de Jumièges), the remains of a Benedictine monastery built in the 11th century, is called "the most beautiful ruin of France". It is situated in a small town on the River Seine, west of Rouen. The main structure is the Abbey Church of Notre-Dame, constructed between 1040 and 1067, a masterpiece of Romanesque Art. Location: France - Normandy - Seine-Maritime - Jumièges Opening Times: Note that the abbey closes in the middle of the day (from 1 - 2:30pm) in the off season. 15 April - 15 September 9:30 - 18:30 16 September - 14 April 9:30 - 13:00 and 14:30 - 17:30 There are a few nice cafes and restaurants near the abbey. We had a good lunch at a crepe restaurant across the road. This is a very pretty rural area to...
The Carnac Alignments (Alignements de Carnac) are rows of more than 3,000 standing stones erected during the Neolithic period, over 6,000 years ago. The lines of stones are in adjoining fields north of the towns of Carnac and La Trinité-sur-Mer in south-eastern Brittany, near the coast. This is the largest group of prehistoric stone alignments in the world. There are several other prehistoric sites in this part of Brittany. Rows of standing stones in the Carnac Alignments Location: France - Brittany - Morbihan - Carnac The alignments are a mile or two north of the town of Carnac, along Route D196 which runs east-west. Note that standing stones are called Megaliths or Menhirs in France. Road signs may point to Megaliths or...
The small city of Reims is known for being in the middle of the Champagne region. It’s also the home of a Notre Dame cathedral whose claim to fame is being larger than the one in Paris and also being where many French kings were crowned. There is a second church that deserves a visit for its amazing stained glass windows – the Basilica of Saint Remi. Reims is easy to reach from Paris. It’s a one hour ride on a tgv from Gare de l'Est. The train arrives in the center of Reims and from there one can easily catch a taxi, or a bus to your hotel. Or you can choose to do as we did and take a 10 minute walk to the Les Telliers b&b. This is one of my favorite b&b’s that I have stayed at in France. The owners, Veronique and Renaud, are warm and...
The Eurostar is a high speed train that gets you from London to Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes. 20 minutes of that trip is underground through the Chunnel - a tunnel under the English Channel. The cost and travel time are similar to flying, but on the Eurostar you leave from and arrive at central downtown locations. There are three classes of service: Standard, Leisure Select and Business Premier. Meals are served at the seat for Leisure Select and Business Premier. Eurostar Stations - St Pancras and Gare du Nord The Eurostar departs from the St Pancras Station in central London and arrives at the Gare du Nord in Paris. In both stations there are special waiting and boarding areas for the Eurostar trains. Both stations connect to...
There is so much to see in Provence if you’re a history buff, it could drive you crazy. In order to preserve our sanity and marriage, The Husband and I decided to follow a theme on this trip to Provence, and restrain ourselves to visiting Roman sites. We also agreed to throw in visits to three Cistercian abbeys because they were on the way to other sites we wanted to see anyway, and I have a thing about cloisters and we both love medieval architecture. As it turned out, the Three Sisters, as these abbeys in Provence are called, were a major highlight of the trip. Even though places such as the Pont de Gard, Vaison la Romaine, Orange, Arles and Nimes were impressive, these austerely beautiful abbeys made us catch our breaths. We could...
There is a large network of vegetarian restaurants and natural food shops throughout France. This is not a complete list of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Paris but is my personal list. Resources listed at the bottom of the article provide more information. NOTES If you can't find a vegetarian restaurant, look for a Creperie. They offer savory crepes which are usually available without meat. Be aware that potatoes may be fried in animal fat. Many restaurants will have one or two vegetarian offerings on their menus. If you don't see one, ask if they will make a vegetable plate. VEGETARIAN, VEGAN and MACROBIOTIC RESTAURANTS Restaurants ordered by arrondissement (e.g. 75005 is the 5th arrondissement). Marked with * if we ate there...
The café is central to life in France. This is where you will find the locals having their morning coffee, meeting friends, reading the papers. They may drop in several times during the day. Most cafés are locally owned and run by the owner. For the traveler, cafés let you experience the local life. Go to a café for breakfast and linger at a sunny table or drop in for quick coffee during the day. Most cafés offer snacks or lunch. Drop in before dinner for an aperitif or a glass of wine. Cafés are open early in the morning and may close around 7pm in a village, later in a larger town. They do not close mid-day like the shops. They are usually closed one day a week and Sundays (some are open Sunday morning, but close at lunch time for...

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