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Posts tagged ‘France’

Exploring Strasbourg: Canals and cathedrals

I’ve been to France more times than I can count – everything from childhood holidays to Normandy to ski trips to the Alps and house-sitting in Paris. What I love about the country (as well as the cheese and wine) is that it is so diverse and there’s always something new to see. Read more

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A ski guide to Méribel-Mottaret in the French Alps

I never thought I’d like skiing – I’m not hugely sporty and I can’t stand being cold – so it wasn’t until my late 20s that I was finally convinced to give it a go. And unexpectedly I loved it. The feeling of freedom as I finally mastered parallel turns and made it down to the bottom of the piste without falling over. Read more

In pictures: On the slopes in France’s Three Valleys

I might not be able to fit a ski trip in this year, but each winter a part of my heart lies out on the slopes of the Three Valleys. This huge ski area in the French Alps, covering famous resorts like Méribel, Courcheval and Val Thorens, is where I learnt to ski and where I’ve been back again and again since. Read more

Paris at Christmas time

I’ve sweltered on the beach at the Paris Plages in the middle of summer, walked through parks full of flowers in springtime and watched the leaves change colour in autumn, but until now I’ve never seen Paris in winter. So this year I finally put this right with a quick pre-Christmas weekend in the city. Read more

In pictures: Christmas lights at Paris’ Galeries Lafayette

In Paris’ 9th arrondissement, Galeries Lafayette is the city’s most glamorous department store – it’s the City of Lights’ version of Selfridges or Macys. And like its London and New York counterparts, it brings out the bling each Christmas. Read more

In the footsteps of heroes at Utah Beach in Normandy

At ten past midnight on the night of 6 June 1944, Lieutenant Norman Poole became the first allied soldier to set foot on French soil, just inland from Utah Beach. And so began Operation Overlord – the code name for the Battle of Normandy. Read more

Skiing off the beaten path in St Jean D’Aulps

When you think of ski resorts in the French Alps, it’s probably the big names that come to mind: Courcheval, Val D’Isere, Tignes, Chamonix. But there are hundreds of smaller resorts scattered across the Alps which don’t get the same amount of publicity, or visitors. Read more

The white cliffs of Normandy’s Alabaster Coast

When you picture steep white chalk cliffs battered by the Channel seas, you probably think of England’s White Cliffs of Dover. But the French have their own lesser-known version on the other side of the Channel – La Côte d’Albâtre, or the Alabaster Coast. Read more

Visiting Paris on a budget

Paris is one of my favourite European cities – I usually try and spend a few days out there most years, and was lucky enough to spend last autumn house-sitting there. But even though I had somewhere to stay, Paris is an easy place to spend money – with fantastic restaurants, shops and wine bars on every corner, and the entrance fees to all those world-class museums and attractions which soon start to add up. Read more

Weekending: Honfleur in Normandy

Walking into the harbour of Honfleur is a bit like walking into one of the Impressionist paintings it inspired. This pretty Normandy port town avoided the bombing during World War II that hit a lot of its neighbours, so still looks a lot like it did in the seventeenth century. Read more

In pictures: Jumièges Abbey in Normandy

One of the great things about travel is coming across something unexpectedly amazing. I’d never heard of Jumièges Abbey until spotting it on the map on a last-minute trip to Normandy. Near the banks of the Seine between Rouen and Le Havre, this Benedictine abbey was originally built in the seventh century. Read more

The underbelly of Paris: Touring the sewers

So I know I said I wanted to see some of the more unusual sights of Paris, but aren’t the sewers a step too far? After visiting another of Paris’ underground attractions, the catacombs, I heard that part of the sewer system had been turned into a museum – Le Musée des Égouts de Paris. Read more

In pictures: Flowers in the Jardin des Plantes

Hidden away behind tall hedges near the Seine in Paris’ 5th arrondissement is the city’s Jardin des Plantes, or botanical gardens. These gardens stretch over almost 70 acres, with more than 4500 different plants – from rose and iris gardens to alpine plants and tropical greenhouses – filling it with beautiful colours and perfumes throughout the year. Read more

In pictures: The beach comes to Paris

Boules on the beach, building sandcastles and relaxing in a deckchair – it’s your traditional French seaside holiday. But in the centre of Paris? In 2002 the mayor of Paris came up with the idea of creating an urban beach for Parisians who had to stay in the city over the summer when most residents leave for the coast or countryside. Read more

A taste of Morocco at Paris’ Grande Mosquée

After spending last autumn in Paris, I’ve done most of the famous sights, so am always on the lookout for unusual and interesting things to see in the city. So when I came across some photos of a hidden Moroccan-style courtyard garden in the middle of Paris, I had to go and check it out on my last trip. Read more