‘Sleepy, leafy and lusciously bucolic’: France’s greatest cities and villages by readers | France holidays

Successful tip: Saint-Nectaire: picnic paradise, Puy-de-Dôme

I actually liked the peacefulness of Saint-Nectaire. The native cheese is sufficient to put it on any listing nevertheless it additionally has woodland trails, grottos, a spa and an Eleventh-century hilltop church. It’s additionally a beautiful base for exploring the Puys however you’ll be able to’t beat taking a picnic (keep in mind the cheese!) to close by Lac Chambon and having fun with the crystal clear waters surrounded by historical volcanic hills. We stayed on the household run Resort Regina (doubles from €65 B&B) the place our rest room was in a turret.
Anthony T

Brouage – a luxurious citadel south of La Rochelle

{Photograph}: M@rcel/Alamy

Brouage is a fortified, star-shaped and once-coastal village within the Charente-Maritime area. The previous battlements and eight-metre-high partitions make for hours of exploring and provides far-reaching views over the encompassing salt marshes (the ocean is about 3km away these days). The beautiful village feels considerably like a Roman encampment; a hollyhock-lined grid of streets holds the quaint church of St Peter and St Paul with a mannequin boat suspended from the ceiling; in the meantime, the quirky Musée du Vélo is a should for bike fanatics. A lazy lunch within the leafy backyard of La Conserverie is really helpful for a little bit of shade, adopted by a lot extra taking part in at “archers” within the watchtowers atop the citadelle partitions.
Anna Kennett

Medieval watery attraction, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence

{Photograph}: BTWImages/Alamy

This can be a very fairly little city, 30km or so east of Avignon. Near different maybe extra well-known Luberon hotspots resembling Ménerbes, Cavaillon and Gordes, it has its personal distinct medieval watery attraction as a result of it was constructed on islands amid 5 arms of the Sorgue River. Wander around the compact centre, stroll alongside the Waterwheel Circuit (there are about 15 waterwheels across the village), view the beautiful baroque church or just sip a morning espresso or lunchtime pastis at a waterside cafe. Sunday is flea market day, and bartering is the norm.
Paul MacDermott


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Champagne and chocolate, Troyes

Troyes, France
{Photograph}: Jeanette Teare/Alamy

Slightly recognized medieval gem of a metropolis within the Grand-Est, Troyes is stuffed with lovely half-timbered homes, slender cobbled alleyways and superb church buildings. As soon as the capital of the Champagne area Troyes is a superb place to base your self whereas visiting well-known Champagne vineyards within the surrounding countryside. On the town, certainly one of a number of nice locations to pattern some fizz is Aux Crieurs de Vins. Cellier Saint Pierre by the cathedral is an effective place to purchase just a few bottles of regional plonk. The much-feted grasp chocolatier Pascal Caffet sells his beautiful confections within the coronary heart of the traditional metropolis. Look out for glorious eating places and cafes by the aspect of the canal which flows via the centre of city and uncover sculptures, artwork galleries and quirky museums. The fashionable artwork museum is especially glorious. It’s all simply 90 minutes on the prepare from Paris Gare de l’Est.

No petrol however pretty cheese, Bain-de-Bretagne, Brittany

Bertaud mill, Bain-de-Bretagne.
Bertaud mill, Bain-de-Bretagne. {Photograph}: Phil Wahlbrink/Alamy

I found Bain-de-Bretagne accidentally when working out of gas whereas driving south from Rennes to Nantes. A modest city in luscious Brittany countryside, it has bakeries with ache aux raisin so good I diverted for them on my means residence. There’s a fascinating village sq. with geraniums and outdoors tables for consuming and stress-free with mates and an historical church. It’s sleepy, leafy and lusciously bucolic. I found a crèmerie with cheeses wrapped in wild flowers and a wine store with nice selections and even higher recommendation. There’s a tiny evening market if you wish to prepare dinner at residence. I dreamed of it typically within the bleak 2020/21 winter. I’m going again quickly.

Take the Roman highway to Narbonne, Occitanie

Saint-Just Cathedral, Narbonne.
Saint-Simply Cathedral, Narbonne. {Photograph}: John Kellerman/Alamy

We arrived in Narbonne for a day journey from Béziers (simply 12 minutes by prepare) and stayed for 3 days. Loads of time then to discover the Palais Vieux, Palais Neuf and the 13-century Cathedrale Saint-Simply et Saint-Pasteur. Don’t miss the part of Roman highway preserved within the centre of Place de l’Resort de Ville. Loads of consuming locations alongside Canal de la Robine however our spotlight was the bustling Les Halles the place we managed to squeeze into an finish desk at Les Tapas de la Clape for excellent seafood, wine and occasional. For a spot to remain we stumbled throughout Resort La Résidence (doubles from €80 B&B) which unexpectedly gave us beautiful views of the cathedral. Don’t miss (any) of it.

Excessive on the ramparts, Montreuil-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais

The historic old fortified ramparts of Montreuil sur Mer, France
{Photograph}: Ian Shaw/Alamy

The ramparts stroll that circles the city of Montreuil-sur-Mer stands out for me, not least as a result of the trail is slightly near sheer drops in locations, but in addition for the in depth views over the countryside and the city itself. I additionally loved wandering the cobbled streets with their charming buildings and exploring the citadel. About an hour’s drive from Calais, there was as soon as a seaport right here earlier than the Canche estuary silted up, explaining the “sur-Mer”. Victor Hugo used the city as a setting in Les Misérables – every summer time Son et Lumière exhibits are carried out on the citadel, celebrating this hyperlink.
Sharon Pinner

Hive of tradition, Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Burgundy

Saint Sauveur en Puisaye
{Photograph}: Hemis/Alamy

Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye in Burgundy, the birthplace of the author Colette, is the village I return typically, to replenish my vitality within the midst of forests and lakes and castles. A vibrant market city with various artists, galleries, funky bars, theatre, movie evenings, music occasions, courtyard exhibitions, author’s competition, even a British tea room. Historical past lovers should see Guédelon, a Thirteenth-century chateau development. Go to La Poeterie, a sculpture backyard with concert events and a deer herd. I spend lengthy summers swimming within the Lac du Bourdon, consuming Belgian-style chips whereas the solar set. Two hours from Paris, to cite the property brokers, it’s the place to be.

I am keen on Cahors, Occitanie

Pont Valentré.
Pont Valentré. {Photograph}: Laurent Fox/Getty Pictures

Nestled in a meander of the Lot river, Cahors lies protected by the limestone cliffs of the causses (bluffs). Medieval half-timbered buildings delight the attention whether or not wandering by foot or vacationer prepare.A secret backyard path steeped within the space’s folklore begins with a vine backyard on the medieval Pont Valentré bridge Seen from land or a ship journey, it’s a worthy step on the pilgrimage solution to Santiago de Campostela. Eat on the Petite Auberge for hearty native delicacies and native vin rouge and be careful for the uncovered staircase beside it.
Clare Burke

Hooray for Auray, Brittany

Pont Neuf and the Port de St Goustan at night, Auray
{Photograph}: David Noton Pictures/Alamy

I discovered the city of Auray, 100km or so north-west of Nantes, a beautiful place to remain and the proper base to discover the beautiful southern coast of Brittany. It really bustles on Monday market day, with stalls stuffed with native produce cramming the primary sq.. It’s additionally near lovely seashores in addition to the neolithic websites round Carnac. The city’s port of Saint-Goustan is picturesque by day and magical at evening, when road lamps mirror throughout the river by the previous bridge. We actually loved the straightforward eating in eating places lining the quayside and cobbled streets – Crêperie La Goustanaise was our favorite – serving scrumptious, cheap galettes (savoury crammed crepes) and Breton cider.
Jean Wealthy

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