DEAUVILLE, THE RIVIERA OF NORMANDY, AND COCO CHANEL

Sketch of Coco Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, attached to the shop where she opened her first boutique. Photo, thegoodlifefrance

Just 2 ½ hrs from Paris by train, Deauville is a favourite destination for many well-heeled Parisians looking for a weekend getaway.  It’s often referred to as the Queen of the Normandy coast, ‘Paris-sur-Mer’ or the Kingdom of Elegance.  Notable for its long sandy beach, beautiful Belle Epoque hotels, casino and racecourses, Deauville has been a playground for the rich and famous since the mid 19th century.  There was a second wave of development at the turn of the century, and Deauville became a favourite resort with the “fast set” including the dashing English polo player, ‘Boy’ Capel and his mistress, Coco Chanel.  She was quick to see the town’s potential for the leisured classes to indulge themselves further with some retail therapy, and opened her first shop here in 1913, marking the beginning of her fashion empire.  Deauville has also been the background for countless films—the infamous Lord Lucan was once screen tested for the role of James Bond here!

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THE CHAMPAGNE EXPERIENCE – THE REGION AND ITS PLEASURES

Just a small selection of great Champagnes! Photo, iO.wp

Say the word “Champagne”, and the first thing that springs to mind is the iconic sparkling white wine named for the region in N.E. France where it’s produced.  It’s an area that’s close to Paris for a quick weekend visit, but it has so much more to offer!  Champagne is world-renowned as a symbol of the French art of living, of festivities and celebration, literature, painting, music, cinema, photography and even comics, all testifying to the influence and constancy of this unique region’s image.

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DISCOVER THE FASCINATING MEDIEVAL CITY OF TROYES

The medieval heart of Troyes. Photo, thegoodlifefrance

Troyes is one of the most alluring and interesting medieval towns in France.  It’s easy to spend at least a couple of days wandering around, in and out of many historic buildings, fascinating museums, and the numerous beautiful churches.  Its medieval core invites you to stop and enjoy one of the many enticing cafés and restaurants, watch the world go by and enjoy the ambience of this friendly, historic town, surrounded by the most beautiful countryside along the River Seine.  Aside from its physical delights, one of the great attractions of Troyes is that it’s the historic capital of Champagne, with the nearest vineyard only about ten kilometres away.  For those of us who love fashion, Troyes has a surprise in store!

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NANTES – THRIVING CITY AT THE MOUTH OF THE LOIRE

The mechanical Great Elephone, one of the Machines de L’Ile de Nantes. Photo, Paris + Plus

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.

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THE LURE OF THE LOIRE – PART 2

Chateau d’Usse and part of the gardens. Photo, i.reddit

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!

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