TRAVELS WITH YOUR NAVIGO – THE CHÂTEAU DE MALMAISON

Le Chateau de Malmaison. Photo, wikipedia

Famous as the last residence of the Empress Joséphine, it’s also synonymous with her cultivation of rare and exotic plant species hitherto unknown in France, but especially the importation and propagation of roses.  This small château, with its fascinating memorabilia of its most famous residents and its beautiful garden, is barely 15kms west of central Paris, making it a perfect day trip from Paris using your Navigo transport pass.

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TRAVELS WITH YOUR NAVIGO – THE CHÂTEAU DE FONTAINEBLEAU

Aerial view of the Chateau de Fontainebleau. Photo, i.pinimp

On a list of ‘must sees’ for most visitors to Paris, along with the obvious sights such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre etc., is likely to be the Château de Versailles.  Far less familiar though is the Château de Fontainebleau, arguably the centre of the history of French monarchy.  No site in France can compare as a royal residence.  It predates the Louvre itself by 50 years, and Versailles by 5 centuries.

Fontainebleau is the only château that was lived in by every French monarch for almost 8 centuries.

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MORE GREAT DESTINATIONS IN PROVENCE!

‘A Wheat Field with Cypresses’ by Van Gogh. Photo, vincentvangogh.org

The very name ‘Provence’ conjures up images of brilliant blue skies, ancient golden stone villages with terracotta tiled roofs, and dazzling colours thrown into sharp relief as depicted in a Van Gogh painting.  It’s a land of languid, hot sunny days, leisurely outdoor dining on wonderful food that tastes of sunshine, with the air fragrant from fields of lavender.  It’s also a region whose architectural riches of its ancient past are evident at every turn.

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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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