Royal Saltworks


In 1982, the  Royal Saltworks (Saline Royale) at Arc-et-Senans (25 Doubs, BCF) was included on the UNESCO world heritage list. Designed by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), a visionary architect in the Enlightenment period, the Royal Saltworks site is a rare and an exceptional example of industrial architecture history. The site was designed for the production of salt, commissioned by Louis XV, and built between 1775 and 1779.

Saline Royale
Saline Royale

Almost all of the employees at the Royal Saltworks lived on the premises near the production site. It was built in the form of a circular arc, and included both the dwellings and the production sites. In all, there were 11 buildings: the Director’s house, the Stables, the East and West Salt Buildings, the Eastern and Western Workers (Commis) buildings, the Eastern and Western Dormitories (Berniers) Buildings, the Cooperage, the Guards Building, and the Farrier/Blacksmith.

In late spring, the Salt Works hold a garden festival with a different theme each year – 2 June – 21 October 2018. Located behind the buildings, on the site of some former workers’ vegetable patches, the gardens, rich in shapes and colours, provide a change of scene. The uniqueness of the garden festival lies in its remarkable educational project involving several hundred students from numerous establishments offering a variety of educational and training opportunities. see Saline Royale

Hotel La Saline Royale
Hotel La Saline Royale

Whenever you visit you can stay at the 3-star hotel on site Hotel La Saline Royale – an opportunity to stay inside a UNESCO World Heritage site and be able to explore the grounds when the site is closed to the public!!

For more info on this 3-star hotel see Hotel La Saline Royale

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Provence Piano Festival

Piano Festival

A Provencal international Piano Festival (Festival International de Piano) is held every summer  in the grounds of Château de Florans, at La Roque Antheron (13 Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence) near Cavaillon and Salon-de-Provence 19 July – 18 August 2019 – the 39th edition!

piano festival logo

In 2017 there were over 600 musicians performing in 92 concerts, of which 18 were free of charge!

For almost 38 years, the International Piano Festival of La Roque d’Anthéron has established itself as an exceptional mainstay in the worldwide musical and piano scene.
Although other Festival venues have been added in recent years, the grounds of the Château de Florans remain the key site for unclassifiable encounters between all types of musical creation (classical, contemporary…), every style (jazz, electronic…) and all types of artists, with emerging talents alongside the greatest international performers.
The acoustic qualities of the stage, just as suitable for piano recitals as it is for concertos and symphonies, only add to the charms of this mythical and magical park, filled with the entire history of the Château de Florans .

For more info on the Piano Festival see

Chateau de Florans is also a medical Rehabilitation Clinic for various medical ailments.

Accommodation in La Roque Antheron includes hotels, B&B and self-catering holiday homes such as  the Appartement les Ecureuils (Squirrels) in the town .

les Ecureuils

For more info and to check availabilty at this Provence apartment see Appartement les Ecureuils

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Brittany Photo Festival and Yves Rocher

La Gacilly, (56 Morbihan, Bretagne) is synonymous with the late Yves Rocher who created and ran his cosmetics empire in this charming Morbihan village; it’s also renowned for its arts and crafts. When you’ve checked out the botanical garden and tried some treatments in the spa, go walking with donkeys or rent a boat. Or visit France’s largest outdoor photo festival in Summer.

Btirtany Photo Festival
Photo Festival

Yves Rocher, who died in 2009, founded his cosmetics company in his hometown in 1958; it went on to become a global billion-euro business. The company, which grows, makes and distributes its own products, is the area’s biggest employer. Visit the HQ where you can watch a film about Yves Rocher’s history then wander around the botanical garden where you’ll find 1100 species of plant. There’s an on-site shop in case you want to buy some goodies.

La Grée des Landes,
La Grée des Landes, Eco Spa

 In 2009, Yves Rocher opened an eco-friendly spa hotel, La Grée des Landes, where residents and day visitors can indulge in relaxing treatments using the company’s natural products. The hotel has a gourmet restaurant, which uses organic and local products, where diners can enjoy panoramic views over the gardens; the site is a designated bird and butterfly reserve.

Art, craft and photos La Gacilly’s narrow streets are jam-packed with artists and craftsmen of all types, from puppet makers to jewellery designers and from potters to glass blowers. Among them is British artist Anne Smith, official painter to the French Navy, whose work can be seen at the Galerie du Chat Noir. The town is also known for its annual photo festival (Festival Photo La Gacilly from 1 June – 30 September 2019) France’s largest outdoor photographic festival; past themes have included ‘people and nature’ and ‘biodiversity’.

La Gacilly is situated between Rennes and Vannes (37 miles /60 km)

For more info and to check availabilty at this Yves Rocher Spa hotel see La Grée des Landes

also see L’Occitane’s perfumery and garden in Provence

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Sens – B&B, Cathedral and Iluminations

The town of Sens (89 Yonne, Bourgogne-Franche-Comte) has a remarkable heritage, including the gothic Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, the first gothic cathedral; the Archbishops Palace (Palais Synodal);  the parks and gardens, one of them being classified “Jardin Remarquable”.

Sens Cathedral

The Cathedral is illuminated on Friday and Saturday evenings during the summer (7 June – 14 September 2019) to include  the gothic facades of the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne and the adjoining palace are transformed with a spectacular light show.

Sens, a “town in bloom” and recipient of ‘4 flowers’ by “Villes et Villages fleuris”, has many green spots of great variety and remarkable quality.

The various parks and gardens of  Sens and its surroundings offer urban walks and an outstanding break in a very rich vegetation.

Awarded as Jardin Remarquable “in 2011, the Park of the Moulin à Tan, enables you to see different countryside and tropical greenhouses such as the astonishing «Victoria Cruziana», a giant aquatic plant native to the Amazon. It is the glory of the collection. It is one of the most visited parks in Burgundy with more than 200,000 visitors annually.

For more info see

Les 5 Sens B&B
Les 5 Sens B&B

Stay in the Les 5 Sens B&B in the historic heart of the city – just a few minutes walk from the Cathedral with an indoor winter garden and an outdoor terrace.

For more info on this B&B see Les 5 Sens B&B

Rhododendron Festival!

Rhododendron posterThe village of Châteauneuf-sur-Loire (45 Loiret, Centre Val-de-Loire) lies just to the east of Orléans on the River Loire . The highlight is on the ruined Chateau which sits in the middle of a large park surrounded by trees and this is the site for an impressive Rhododendron Festival (Fête des Rhododendrons) 8 – 9 June 2019

The festival features plant displays, gardener’s market stalls, workshops, exploration of the park, treasure-hunt and a firework display!

There is the Loire Maritime Museum (Musée de la Marine de Loire) in the former stables of the château strange given that here is more than 250 miles from the sea (at Saint-Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire!)

For more info see

Rhododendrons are grown for their spectacular flowers, usually borne in spring. Some also have young leaves and stems covered in a striking dense woolly covering (indumentum) and some – the deciduous rhododendrons or azaleas – have good autumn colour. RHS

Hotel du Parc
Hotel du Parc

Stay at the Hotel du Parc on the banks of the Loire River, just 250 yards from the Chateau and the Loire Maritime Museum – see Hotel du Parc

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Weekend des Grands Crus, Bordeaux

The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is a grouping of Bordeaux wine makers who an annual tasting weekend – le Weekend des Grands Crus – to promote their wines to the public. The next major consumer event takes place 24 – 26 May 2019


Discover the wonderful world of the Grands Crus de Bordeaux during a memorable weekend.There are numerous options:-

The Programme in previous years has included:

  • On the Saturday over 110 château owners and their representatives will be delighted to pour two vintages of their great wines – – and talk to you about them on the Quai des Chartrons in the heart of Bordeaux’s wine quarter.
  • Share your thoughts with these grand cru owners at a gala dinner in one of their châteaux. A different wine will be served with each course at these dinners in order to show the diversity of Bordeaux grands crus.
  • On the Sunday become more familiar with the finest Bordeaux appellations thanks to tours, tastings, and lunches in a château.


  • Visit the Cité du Vin and take a Grand Cru Lunch on the river – discover wine cultures from around the world during a visit to the new Cité du Vin and enjoy a Grand Cru Lunch on a riverboat while admiring the beautiful buildings lining the quays.

more info:Union des Grands Crus de BordeauxTwitter

B&B Chateau GiscoursBordeaux Grand Cru Classé, Château Giscours is a 19th-century chateau offering B&B accommodation in the former stables near the Chateau with 3 bedrooms , wine tastings and wine cellar visits and views of the vineyards – see Château Giscours

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Vienne Jazz Festival

The Vienne Jazz Festival takes place in Vienne (38 Isêre, ARA) 28 June – 13 July 2019 and headline artists in previous years have included Herbie Hancock and Jamie Callum, Chick Corea. Diana Krall, Neneh Cherry and many more French musicians.

Vienne Ampitheatre
Vienne Ampitheatre

A dramatic setting for an outdoor jazz festival is the Roman amphitheatre  (one of the biggest in Europe) at Vienne which hosts the main acts, which in 2016  included Imelda May, Esperanza Spalding, Earth Wind and Fire, Chic, Erik Truffaz, a tribute to Django Reinhardt, Diana Krall, Lisa Simone and Brad Mehldau. There are smaller venues around Vienne such as the Garden of Cybele (Jardin de Cybèle), another Roman ruin, which offers music throughout the day and workshops for aspiring musicians – The garden, built in the heart of the city, retains a double arcade and limestone walls.

In Vienne the Temple of August and Livia (Temple d’Auguste et de Livie), the Pyramid and the archaeological garden of Cybèle are historic relics which beautifully stand out against the cityscape. The site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal-Vienne welcomes over 80,000 visitors a year, covers several hectares of the Rhône’s right bank and is one of the most beautiful museums and archaeological sites in France and Europe.

This is also the wine area of the northern Rhône with appellations such as Côte Rotie and Condrieu – smooth silky Syrah reds and exotic, perfumed white wine!

Lyon is only 30km north up the river Rhone or autoroute A7, train/bus.

For more info on the Vienne Jazz Festival see

(not to be confused with the Vienne départment which is in the Poitou-Charentes (Nouvelle Aquitaine)

Stay in a modern self-catering apartment la Suite du Jardin de l’Isle 

la Suite du Jardin de l'Isle
la Suite du Jardin de l’Isle

For more info and to check availabilty at this Vienne apartment see Suite du Jardin de l’Isle

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Mont de Marsan goes Brazilian

The town of Mont de Marsan (40 Landes, Nouvelle Aquitaine) holds a Brazilian Music Festival (Moun do Brasil) starting on 25-26 May 2019

Moun do Brasil poster

Throughout the week the town will be bathed in the colours of Brazil – conderences, concerts, street entertainment and sporting events – the town will vibrate to with Brazilian culture – and it is all free!

Between the ocean and the mountains, in the heart of the largest forest in Europe, Mont-de-Marsan is the prefecture of the Landes department. Known as the Gascon city (cité Gascon), there are three rivers.

And Mont-de-Marsan features Landes specialties: foie gras, duck breast and duck confit, chicken, asparagus, corn, meat pie, pastis, armagnac.

For more info on the Festival see

For more on Mont de Marsan see

Just outside the town at Bretagne-de-Marsan you can stay at a comfortable B&B with swimming pool at

B&B Villa Aquitaine
B&B Villa Aquitaine

Chambres d’Hôtes Villa Aquitaine

or stay nearby on an Armagnac vineyard B&B at Domaine de Paguy

For more info on this Armagnac vineyard B&B at Domaine de Paguy

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Bouillabaisse Festival

In the Provencal port of Six Fours Les Plages (83 Var, Provence) near Toulon there is an annual celebration of the world-renown Fish soup – Fete de la Bouillabaisse (Bouillabaisse Festival) 23 June 2019

bouillabaisse festival

Bouillabaisse was originally a stew made by Marseille fishermen using the bony rockfish which they were unable to sell to restaurants or markets. There are at least three kinds of fish in a traditional bouillabaisse: typically red rascasse (Scorpaena scrofa); sea robin (grondin); and European conger (congre). It can also include gilt-head bream (dorade); turbot; monkfish (lotte or baudroie); mullet; or European hake (merlan). It usually also includes shellfish and other seafood such as sea urchins (oursins), mussels (moules); velvet crabs (étrilles); spider crab (araignées de mer) or octopus. More expensive versions may add langoustine (European lobster), though this was not part of the traditional dish made by Marseille fishermen. Vegetables such as leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes are simmered together with the broth and served with the fish. The broth is traditionally served with a rouille, a mayonnaise made of olive oil, garlic, saffron, and cayenne pepper on grilled slices of bread.

What makes a bouillabaisse different from other fish soups is the selection of Provençal herbs and spices in the broth; the use of bony local Mediterranean fish; the way the fish are added one at a time, and brought to a boil; and the method of serving. In Marseille, the broth is served first in a soup plate with slices of bread and rouille, then the fish is served separately on a large platter (see image at right); or, more simply, as Julia Child suggests, the fish and broth are brought to the table separately and served together in large soup plates. (Wikipedia)

For more info on the Bouillabaisse Festival see

Hotel Helios
Hotel Helios

Stay at Hotel Helios on the Embiez Island, a charming small hotel in a natural setting made of pine forests and vineyards, close to peaceful beaches and rocky coves.

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New Bordeaux wine centre – La Cité du Vin

A new and dramatic venture is to open in Bordeaux (33 Gironde, ALPC) on 1 June 2016la Cité des Civilisations du Vin. This will be a world wine centre, showcasing wine and cultures across the world, albeit based in probably the most important wine city in the world.

Cite du Vin Bordeaux
Cite du Vin Bordeaux

A unique venue for culture and recreation where wine comes to life through an immersive, sensorial approach This is all set within an evocative architectural design. La Cité du Vin gives a different view of wine, across the world, across the ages, across all cultures and all civilisations. La Cité du Vin invites you on a lively, eye-opening journey around a world of wine and culture. Embark on an immersive, sensory adventure to discover the cultures and civilisations of wine. In an open exhibition space occupying more than 3,000 m², nearly twenty different themed areas invite you to take a voyage of discovery and enjoy a unique experience exploring the many and varied facets of wine across time and space.

One of the most exciting aspects of the building should be the Belvedere – on the 8th Floor, from where you will be able to see a stunning 360o panorama of the City of Bordeaux, the river Garonne and the old wine quarter and wharves – Les Chartrons!

For more info see The centre is located to the north of the city centre along the river adjacent to the new bridge – Pont Chaban-Delmas on the Quai de Bacalan – Tram line B!

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Bordeaux’s Port de la Lune is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Port de la Lune, port city of Bordeaux in south-west France, is inscribed as an inhabited historic city, an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble, created in the age of the Enlightenment, whose values continued up to the first half of the 20th century, with more protected buildings than any other French city except Paris. It is also recognized for its historic role as a place of exchange of cultural values over more than 2,000 years, particularly since the 12th century due to commercial links with Britain and the Low Lands. Urban plans and architectural ensembles of the early 18th century onwards place the city as an outstanding example of innovative classical and neoclassical trends and give it an exceptional urban and architectural unity and coherence. Its urban form represents the success of philosophers who wanted to make towns into melting pots of humanism, universality and culture. (Unesco)
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New Bordeaux Wine Centre

Opening in June 2016, the New Bordeaux Wine Centre (la Cité du Vin à Bordeaux) is now taking shape in the northern suburbs of the city of Bordeaux. (33 Gironde, Aquitaine).

Cite du Vin, BordeauxDubbed by some as Bordeaux’s Guggenheim,for its curvy, reflective skin the building was designed by architect Anouck Legendre and is sited on the banks of the Garonne just north of the new Chaban-Delmas bridge and the Quai des Chartrons, the traditional centre for Bordeaux wine negociants and warehouses. The centre will serve both as a showcase for Bordeaux wines, an exhibition space and a learning centre for the world of wine and viticulture across the planet.

The centre will be accessible by tram from the city centre and is located on the Quai de Baccalan at 150 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

Close to the site Apartments Les Chais de Bordeaux offers self-catering apartments within easy walking distance and with a tramline to other parts of the city.

For more info on the Bordeaux Wine Centre see

Jazz in Paris

There are 3 major Jazz Festivals in Paris every year:

  • Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Pré (Spring)
  • Paris Jazz Festival (Summer)
  • Jazz à la Villette (Autumn)

The Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés festival takes place in Paris 16 – 27 May 2019.

Created in 2001 and located in the famous Saint-Germain-des-Prés area, heart of jazz in Europe, the Festival Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés Paris is one of the great jazz event in Paris during Spring every year:

logoExceptional concerts, unique meetings, creations, talented young artists ;

International artists. In festival since 2001 : Lisa Simone, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Brad Meldhau, first concert of Norah Jones in France, Manu Katché, Manu Dibango, Michel Legrand, Michel Portal, Kyle Eastwood, Vijay Iyer, Paolo Fresu, Kenny Barron, Kurt Elling, Lucky Peterson, Richard Galliano, Ben l’Oncle Soul, Raphael Gualazzi, Eric Bibb… ;

Unique locations : Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, Odéon Theater, Maison des Océans, Paris-Sorbonne University, Paris Descartes University, the Sénat, Réfectoire des Cordeliers, Hôtel Lutetia, Irish Cultural Center…

Jazz like a multi-artistic culture : concerts, exhibitions, Jazz & Chats, conferences, master class, Jazz & Champagne…

more info on Jazz à Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Then in June…..

The Paris Jazz Festival takes place in the Parc Floral de Paris (Jardin botanique)in the Bois de Vincennes 30 June – 22 July 2019

posterFounded by two jazz fans founded 1994, the Paris Jazz Festival (formerly “A fleurs de Jazz”) artfully blends jazz melodies and the harmony of nature. Since its debut, the festival has been supported by the Parc Floral in Paris which lends its blossoming, verdant backdrop to jazz -lovers.

With over 120,000 spectators last year, this jazz festival has clearly established itself as one of the great events in the genre in Paris and across the Ile-de-France region. With a daring and eclectic line-up each year, the festival is a symbol of the vitality of the French and Parisian jazz scene. However the festival also invites major international jazz players and singers to perform on stage at the Espace Delta where music and nature come together as one.

more info on Paris Jazz Festival

Then in Autumn…..

Paris starts to return to normal in September after the annual exodus of the residents to the south of France or other vacances destinations – mainly in France rather than into foreign climes. And the volume of tourists declines a bit, although I have always thought that May/June and September/October are the best times to enjoy Paris.

posterThe autumn gets off to a good start with the Jazz Festival Jazz à la Villette 29 August – 10 September 2019, which takes place in numerous venues around the Parc de la Villette (19e arondissement) in the north of the city, but within the Péripherique. Amongst the spectacles last year was a tribute to Nina Simone – “autour de Nina”. The programme includes both established acts and upcoming artists covering many aspects and trends in Jazz.

For more info on Jazz la Villette see

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Hardelot Medieval and Summer Festivals

At Neufchâtel-Hardelot (62 Pas-de-Calais, Hauts de France) is the medieval fortified Chateau d’Hardelot. Being just south of Boulogne-sur-Mer, the Chateau has witnessed much Anglo-French history over the centuries.

Hardelot poster

The Chateau hosts a medieval Festival every Spring – Printemps Medieval 10 – 22 April 2020

and in summer there is a music festival –The Midsummer Festival 8 – 23 May 2019. This is a variety of events including music, opera, theatre (including some Shakesperian themes with Les Shakespeare Nights) and dance.


The Chateau d’Hardelot is at Condette on the Opal Coast, south of Boulogne-sur-Mer and is a Tudor-style castle is steeped in history – home to the Entente Cordiale Cultural Centre. The Château d’Hardelot sees itself at the crossroads of the French and British cultures.

Behind its characteristic nineteenth century architecture and interior, the story of this Franco-British history unfolds. From the dining-room to the smoking room, the library to the private apartments and along the pathways and groves of the Tudor gardens, Franco-British people and monarchs mingle in every space. William the Conqueror, Henry the VIII, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II all rub shoulders with the extraordinary owners of the Château : Henry Guy, Sir John Hare, Sir John Robinson Whitley and the mysterious Abbé Bouly, in an amusing display of national treasures. The Chateau has recently opened an Elizabethan-style theatre similar to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.Facebook link

For holiday accommodation nearby see

Annonay Balloon Festival

Annonay Balloon Festival 1 – 2 June 2018 Annonay (07 Ardèche, ARA) holds its annual Hot Air Balloon Festival (L’Art de l’Envol) on the first weekend of June.


An historical reconstitution of the flight of the first paper hot air balloon made by the famous Montgolfier brothers. This historic flight, which took place on June 4, 1783 in Annonay, led to the first manned flight!

The Montgolfier brothers:
The town is the site of Montgolfier brothers’s first balloon flight and includes several monuments to mark this event:

  • A Statue of the brothers Joseph and Etienne de Montgolfier located in the Place de Liberation, by the sculptor Henri Cordier.
  • The Pyramid stone obelisk, the work of Étienne-François Imbard located on the Boulevard de la République. Built between 1819 and 1822, it commemorates the first ballooning experience of the Montgolfier brothers.
  • The Montgolfier-Canson Paper Mill (18th century) is registered as an historical monument.

Annonay is about 75km southwest of Lyon.

For more info on the Balloon Festival see

B&B Le Clos de Lapras
B&B Le Clos de Lapras

Stay at the B&B Le Clos de Lapras in the town with its outfoor swimming pool.

For more info on this Annonay B&B see B&B Le Clos de Lapras

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Fascinating Aix-en-Provence

Although many drive straight past Aix-en-Provence (13 Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence PACA) on the A8 autoroute there are many good reasons to detour into the city.

International Music Festival. 3- 22 July 2019

Cezanne Ste Victoire

Not least is the connection with Cézanne, a native of the city. In the heart of the city is a Cézanne walking trail marked by studs in the pavement taking in key locations from his life. The principal art gallery is Musée Granet, but it also worth getting a local bus or lengthy walk to Cezanne’s studio at 9, avenue Paul Cézanne, which is very atmospheric and has been kept as it was when he was alive.

Montagne Sainte Victoire
Montagne Sainte Victoire

The other great link to Cézanne, and worth visiting even if you are not an art lover is the Montagne Saint Victoire – to the east of the City – a range of spectacular and beautiful mountains which often featured in Cézanne’s paintings.

Beyond Cézanne the city itself is worth a visit – an elegant centre with the imposing Cours Mirabeau main avenue, and plenty of shopping and restaurant opportunities.

Just outside the city to the west is a little known aqueduct at Roquefavour  at Ventabren – although only built in the 19th Century it is an impressive stone structure carrying a canal to Marseille and is the largest stone aqueduct in the world at 83 metres (nearly 300 feet) high and is a French national heritage site.

Montagne Sainte Victoire is also a designated wine appellation – Côtes de Provence – Sainte Victoire for red, white and rosé Provence wines.

Aix-en-Provence Fstival Poster

In midsummer there is an internationally recognised music Festival (Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence). 3- 22 July 2019 in Aix-en-Provence.

Les Lodges Sainte Victoire

There are many places to stay in and around Aix-en-Provence (hotels, Bed & Breakfast, apartments) including Les Lodges Sainte-Victoire, a hotel set in 5-hectare park with vineyards and Olive trees,  The property was built in the 18th Century and includes spa facilities, 2 swimming pools and a gourmet restaurant. There is even  a regular bus service from the village to the centre of Aix-en-Provence!

For more info and to check availabilty at these Lodges see Les Lodges Sainte-Victoire

Hotel Maison d'Aix
Maison d’Aix

In the city itself try La Maison d’Aix  a small, yet stylish upmarket hotel, a short walk from Cours Mirabeau with a small indoor pool!

For more info and to check availabilty at this Aix-en-Provence boutique hotel see La Maison d’Aix 

Festival of the Camargue

The Camargue celebrates its unique wildlife habitats with the Festival of the Camargue (Festival de la Camargue et du Delta du Rhône) 3 – 9 May 2019


The Camargue is a natural region located south of Arles (13 Bouches-du-Rhone, ProvencePACA), between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the delta of the Rhône. It is home to more than 400 species of birds and is one of the few European habitats for the greater flamingo. The marshes are also a prime habitat for many species of insects, notably some of the most ferocious mosquitos to be found anywhere in France. Camargue horses roam the extensive marshlands, along with Camargue cattle.

The festival includes an exhibition showcasing the Wildlife Photographers of the Year,and films and exhibits highlighting the conservation work that is being undertaken. There will be numerous wildlife trails by foot, bike, horse, boat etc, which can take you into parts of the Camargue usually off-limits to visitors

And in the evening there will be “gipsy”music and dancing including some flamenco music reflecting the strong ties of this area with Spain.The centre for the Festival will be Port Saint Louis.

For more info see or the Parc Naturel Regional de Camargue.

The are many holiday accommodation options for visiting the Camargue, including Arles or there is  The Mas de Calabrun, a hotel on a private estate in the Camargue Regional Park or –Hotel Les Arnelles – in the heart of the Camargue Natural Regional Park, with an outdoor swimming pool, a garden and a terrace ideal for horse riding.

Hotel Les Arnelles

For more info and to check availabilty at this Camargue hotel see Hotel Les Arnelles

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Oyster Festival

The Brittany port of Saint-Cast-le-Guildo (22 Cotes d’Armor, Bretagne) plays host to a summer Oyster Festival (Fete de l’Huitre) on 22 June 2019 starting at 18h00.

Every year at the beginning of Summer the traditional Oyster Festival at Saint-Cast le Guildo. You can taste the local oysters and mussels (moules-frites); have a go at an oyster -shelling competition (écailler), hear the mariners’ sea shanties, watch the procession of oyster barges, dance to local folk music and see the fireworks!

Saint-Cast le Guildo is the scene of a French victory over the English fleet in the 18th Century. It lies on the English Channel coast about 30km west of St Malo

For more info on the Oyster Festival see

Saint Cast-le-Guildo

This is rural Brittany, so there is not a wealth of hotels available, but there is a very traditional hotel in the middle of Saint-Cast le GuildoHôtel de l’Espérance and plenty of opportunities for camping


For more info and to check availabilty at this Brittany hotel see Hôtel de l’Espérance

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Fontevrault Abbey – hotel and history

The quite exceptional Fontevrault Abbey (49 Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire) is not just the burial place of Richard the Lionheart, this exceptional abbey offers the visitor an impressive history of architecture and now a 54 room Hotel and gourmet restaurant .

Abbaye Royal de Fontevraud
Abbaye Royal de Fontevraud

Located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Loire Valley (between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes) the abbey is situated between Saumur and Chinon.  With the Royal Abbey (the largest in Europe), its cloisters and spacious Romanesque kitchens and history dating back to the 12th Century, Fontevraud is always worth a visit.

A new modern art museum opens at Fontevraud Abbey this year!. The Fannnerie, the former stables, will host the rich  private collection of Martine and Léon Clignan, featuring works by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Rodin.

Opening: May/June 2020

See a wonderful collection of images of the Abbey and its history at Google’s Art and Culture website

Fontevraud L’hôtel  – now you can stay in modern and well-equipped rooms and explore the abbey in the evenings when the day visitors have left.

Fontevraud L’hôtel is located in the priory of the historic monument of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye and as well as the high standard of accommodation (each room comes with a TV and an iPad!), there is a gourmet restaurant run by an award-winning chef!

For more info and to check availabilty at this Abbey Hotel see Fontevraud L’hôtel

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Beautiful Villages of France

Citroen 2CVThe Beautiful Villages of France Association is taking part in a 2CV Rally from Paris to Cannes (Rallye 2CV La Route des Villages Paris-Cannes®) 12-19 May 2019 calling in to 20 or more Beautiful Villages (Plus Beaux Villages) en route. Amongst the villages visited will be

There is another shorter 2CV rally 3-6 September 2019 ParisDeauville (14 Calvados, Normandie) calling at these “beautiful” villages:

It is not on either route, but the association which represents the most beautiful villages in France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France) includes the medieval fortified village of Rodemack (57 Moselle, Grand Est).

Rodemack Citadelle
Rodemack Citadelle

The Citadelle of Rodemack hosts the annual Wine Market of the the most beautiful villages in France (Marché aux Vins des Plus Beaux Villages de France) 27 – 28 April 2019. There is a Medieval Festival in Rodemack (Cité Medieval en Fête) 29 – 30 June 2019 – see

Les Plus Beauc Villages logo

Rodemack is in the Pays des “Trois Frontières” or Land of the Three Frontiers, on the borders of France, Germany (which it is only 20 km away from) and Luxembourg (6 km) and it is steeped in these three cultures. The village is nicknamed “Petite Carcassonne Lorraine” and is still surrounded by 700 m of ramparts dating from the 15C. Entrance is via the fortified gate of Sierck, which was built by the inhabitants themselves in the 14C.

more information – see

The Les Plus Beaux Villages de France classification requires that the village meets several criteria, including

  • fewer than 2000 inhabitants
  • at least two protected sites or monuments and
  • must be really beautiful.

Just 159 villages in 14 régions and 70 départements make the official list of the prettiest villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France)

There are many holiday accommodation options near Rodemack including the B&B Le Clos du Verger, a renovated farmhouse, dating back to the 19th century just 7 km from the Moselle Vineyard and wine route, with a garden and terrace.

The Most Beautiul Villages of FranceNewly Published (april 2019):The Most Beautiful Villages of France: The Official Guide. – this illustrated guide revealsthe beauty of rural France, with visitor information for a wealth of attractive and interesting villages in France

Carefully selected each year, the French villages featured in this official guide are replete with historical, architectural, and natural riches. An introductory paragraph presents the history of each village, and is accompanied by recommendations for monuments, museums, and other places to visit.

Rouen and the Joan of Arc Museum

Rouen Cathedral

The Cathedral de Notre Dame in Rouen is illuminated at night Cathédrale de Lumière 1 June – 15 September 2019 – see

A new museum opened in Rouen (76 Seine Maritime, Normandie) in 2015 dedicated to the life of that iconic French heroine Joan of Arc:  Historial Jeanne d’Arc 7, rue Saint-Romain, 76000 Rouen

Rouen Fete du Ventre poster

In OCTOBER the city of Rouen celebrates Normandy’s food and gastronomy  with the Fête du Ventre (Festival of the Stomach) 12 – 13 October 2019 in the Old Market quarter of the city with more than 180 producers of fruit(apples) and vegetables, cheeses, dairy, chocolates, pastries , alcoholic beverages and more…. – see

Historial Jeanne d’Arc

Rouen was where Jeanne d’Arc was tried by the English and then burned at the stake in 1431 It was also where a later trial by the French exonerated her posthumously  and eventually beatified and canonized her (in 1920). She is one of the patron saints of France.

In Rouen, the memory of Joan of Arc lingers in the patrimony and landscape – the old Market Place, the Keep where she was threatened with torture and the archiepiscopal complex where some of the hearings of her trial were held.


It is perhaps Orléans (45 Loiret,Centre) which has a prior claim on her – she is known as “The Maid of Orléans”, as it was there that she played a major role in lifting the siege of the city of Orléans and ultimately to the restoration of the French King Charles VII.

Reims (51 Marne, Champagne-Ardenne) is another city with links to the Maid – being the place where Charles VII was crowned.

Historial Jeanne d’Arc 7, rue Saint-Romain, 76000 Rouen

Brittany Ferries offers routes from Portsmouth to Le Havre (about 50 miles by car or 50 minutes by train) and Caen (about 85 miles by car) or

DFDS goes from Newhaven to Dieppe (about 40 miles by car, or 50 minutes by train)

Holiday accommodation in Rouen including hotels, B&B and self-catering including the very central Mercure Hotel Cathedrale right by the Cathedral

For more info on this Cathedral Hotel see Mercure Hotel Cathedrale

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