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Lot River The Lot, named after the river which runs through it, is one of the most attractive departments in the Midi-Pyrenees, one of the most unspoilt parts of south west France.The department prefecture, Cahors, is internationally famous for the robust red wine of the same name which is produced locally. Not only that, but this beautiful and fascinating town offers many sites of historic interest.Situated as Cahors is on a ‘U’ shaped bend of the Lot River, the 14th century Pont Valentre, a...

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Cognac: A Trip of Rich History and Fine Spirits

Ancient town of Cognac Cognac isn't just a name for a delicious variety of brandy – it is also the name of a town off the east coast of France that is rich in history and culture.The scenic Cognac landscape is reminiscent of Medieval times. The delightful cobbled streets of Cognac are lined with buildings of Renaissance design.Along Rampe du Chateau is "King's Balcony" where the insignia of King François I can be found. King François I is dubbed the first Renaissance King of France. Cognac's success in...

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Thouars Thouars is a beautiful mediaeval town, full of character. It stands on a rocky outcrop above the right bank of the River Thouars, a tributary of the Loire.The town is known best for its impressive Château de la Trémoille which, at different times, has been a noble residence, a barracks and a prison. It is still attracts many visitors to Thouars, as do the town’s ancient ramparts and towers and stunning churches. Make sure you take your camera.Thouars has some good shopping facilities...

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Montalivet - Idyllic on the French Coast

Lac Hourtin I first visited this area many years ago when I was invited to stay with friends in their wooden cabin at the Centre Helio Marin (CHM) near the Atlantic seaside town of Montalivet and I have been drawn back year after year.I was aware that CHM was a naturist resort but I had no idea of the idyllic surroundings and tranquil atmosphere – situated in pine forests, surrounded by wild strawberry bushes and trailing mimosa - all adjacent to the most wonderful vast sandy beaches.And there is...

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Bordeaux Lovers of fine wine, culture, history and shopping will love Bordeaux, the capital of the most famous wine region in the world.This sophisticated city, located in South West France on the Atlantic coast, enjoys a good climate and has been associated with the wine trade since the 8th Century.It hosts the world’s main wine fair, Vinexpo, and boasts approximately 116,160 hectares (287,000 acres) of vineyards, 57 appellations, 10,0000 wine producing chateaux and 13,000 grape growers.Both...

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Dijon Best known for its spicy mustard, Dijon has much to offer – a wealth of history, fine food and fascinating architecture.The capital of the wine-growing region of Burgundy, Dijon is an attractive and delightful city in eastern France.Food lovers will love Dijon, which is home to the annual International and Gastronomic Fair each October. With over 500 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors annually, the fair is one of the ten most prestigious in France.Dijon also hosts the International...

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Chartres Chartres is a delightful medieval town in the Eure-et-Loir department, 96 km south west of Paris.The town is best known for its Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, said to be finest gothic cathedral in France and recognised in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.Chartres is known as the ‘Capital of Light and Perfume’ due to its position at the heart of Cosmetic Valley (There is a local perfume festival in April).The town has many half-timbered houses to enjoy, as well as...

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Parthenay Parthenay, a fascinating ancient fortified town positioned on a rocky spur and surrounded on two sides by the River Thouet.The castle, situated at the tip of the rocky promontory surrounded by the loop of the river, was built in the 13th century. This is also when the outer fortifications protecting the citadel, and the town itself, were completed.There are several very good supermarkets (where we buy our prawns, or crevettes, by the kilo at ridiculously cheap prices compared to the UK),...

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Le Mans

Le Mans Le Mans is best known for its famous 24 hour motor race, held annually since 1923. Organised by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest, the race takes place on closed public roads and attracts many thousands of visitors every June.Situated in the North West of France, Le Mans is an ideal choice as a stop over between Normandy and the Loire.The city is overlooked by its cathedral of St Julien which has some of the oldest examples of stained glass windows in France. Original third and fourth...

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Avignon If history is what fascinates you, then Avignon is the place for you. Known for its ramparts and it famous Pont Saint-Bénezet and the Palais des Papes, Avignon is a UNESCO world heritage site.Situated in south east France and bordered by the Rhone River, Avignon is often referred to as the ‘City of Popes’ due to the presence of popes and anti popes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism.Having fled the corruption of Rome in the 14th century, the popes built 'Le Palais des...

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