FAVOURITE VILLAGES OF THE LUBERON

Roussillon and the richly coloured ochre cliffs. Photo, hotelticati

There would be few travellers nowadays who, when they hear or read ‘Luberon’, don’t immediately conjure up the delightful memoirs by the late Peter Mayle.  His first book, ‘A Year in Provence’ published in 1989 became the model for a new travel genre and spawned any number of imitators on the theme of an outsider taking up residence in a town or region somewhere picturesque such as Provence or Tuscany.  Until then, the Luberon region of Provence was barely known outside France, and then mostly for its typical Provencal produce.

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NÎMES – THE ROME OF SOUTHERN FRANCE

The magnificent Les Arenes Roman Amphitheatre dominates Nimes. Photo, lonelyplanet

Located in the Languedoc on the border with Provence, between the Mediterranean and the hills of the Cevennes, Nîmes is one of the loveliest towns in southern France.  It has the finest collection of Roman remains in France, and its pleasant little pedestrianised streets invite the visitor to explore the attractive old town, shady gardens and fountains.  It’s also the perfect base for discovering the Cevennes national park to the north or the famous wetlands of the Camargue to the southeast, as well as the large number of other historic towns and sites in this part of France.

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MORE PYRENEES GEMS

The Cathar Chateau de Foix. Photo, i.reddit

For a region that is relatively unexplored by many visitors to France, the Pyrenees has so much to offer.  Not just its breathtaking scenery of snow-capped mountains, deep gorges and high altitude agriculture, but also for the number of beautiful little villages that have their own distinct architectural style and character.

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EXPLORING THE HEART OF THE PYRÉNÉES

The beautiful town of
Pau. Photo, wikimedia

Travelling eastwards from the Basque region of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, there are many more gems to discover.  Pau, the capital of the department is set along the northern edge of the Pyrenees, has fine boulevards, an impressive castle and panoramic views of the mountains.  There are little villages nestled in the high plateaux, stunning scenery, excellent ski slopes, glaciers, high altitude agricultural communities and rich gastronomic traditions such as the famous sauce Bearnaise.

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FRENCH BASQUE COUNTRY AND THE PYRENEES

Typical Basque countryside. Photo, basquecountry.bike

Located down in the most south-westerly tip of France, this small area is the last region in the country before crossing into its larger Basque neighbour over the Spanish border.  Most visitors cling to the beautiful coastal area around the trés chic city of Biarritz, but venture further inland from Bayonne and you’ll soon be immersed in the rich Pays Basque with its own distinct culture.

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