Paris has long been famous as a world capital of fashion and design, but it is also a city with a wealth of exciting design concept stores bursting with products unique to France. It’s a country and a society with a history of commitment to artisan craft skills, a deep appreciation of the handmade object, innovative use of natural materials and the creative expression of the individual artist or designer.
Around every corner of Paris you will find streets full of history. The secret to discovering the real Paris is to detour off the grand boulevards, famous squares and enticing shopping streets. If you delight in discovering special places, little nooks and crannies, narrow, ancient, pedestrianised streets beloved by locals but unknown to most visitors—the rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter of the 5th arrondissement is for you.
The city of Nantes in western France is located just 50kms from the Atlantic Ocean. Nowadays, it’s the capital of the Pays de la Loire Region, but will always be known as the capital of Brittany, when the Dukes of Brittany ruled from here until the Duchy was united with France in the 16th century. The city is home to many significant buildings, including the former Duchy’s seat of power. The lifeblood of the city is due to its location on the Loire which brought the world to its doorstep, allowing trade and industry to flourish. Today, with great art, cuisine, river islands and Muscadet wines, Nantes is a vibrant, lively city where history and the present merge to offer visitors art, culture and fun.
As we’ve seen in the previous post, the Loire Valley has a wealth of lively towns and villages, plus world renowned vineyards and enchanting scenery to keep any visitor happily engaged for numerous visits. Not only are the many châteaux a window into a world of grandeur and history, it’s possible to have a more personal experience of these historic places, as some now offer fantastic accommodation. What would a trip to the Loire be without great food? Fortunately, the region has any number of great restaurants to try—so you may need to seriously consider lengthening your stay to discover some of these memorable experiences!
With an abundance of charming historic towns and villages, world famous vineyards, beautiful gardens, sweeping forests, great architectural monuments and majestic châteaux, the “Garden of France”, and “The Valley of Kings,” as the region is variously known, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must-see for a memorable visit to France. As there are over 300 châteaux in the Loire Valley, around 100 of which are open to the public, it’s a region that needs more than a rushed day trip from Paris to do it justice. Here are some suggestions to help you plan a memorable visit to this special part of France.