TWO SECRET VILLAGES IN PARIS

La Butte aux Cailles is a delightful location for a quiet stroll. 

If you’ve been to Paris a few times, no doubt you’ve taken in the big, headline monuments and sites such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, walked along the Champs Elysees and shopped ’til you dropped in Galeries Lafayette.  These iconic places are internationally famous for a very good reason, but for your next visit, I’d like to suggest some hidden little pockets to explore that most likely you’ve never heard of.  There are a number of charming little havens of tranquility that were once small communities in their own right, but have since been absorbed into the fabric of one of the most densely populated cities on the planet.  Such little gems are what really make Paris the unique, much-loved city that it is today.

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MORE GREAT SIGHTS TO DISCOVER IN THE DORDOGNE

Rocamadour at sunset. 

Recently we’ve been looking at a number of beautiful places to visit in the Dordogne—a region blessed with a wealth of attractions.  There are many beautiful villages—a number of which are members of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France organisation—enough to keep a visitor occupied for weeks.  The region has some lovely towns and stunning châteaux and romantic ruins to explore, fascinating cave complexes decorated with prehistoric drawings, ancient Roman sites, numerous World Heritage Sites and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.  As if all this were not enough to enchant the visitor, the Dordogne also has some of the best food in the country.

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THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF JOSEPHINE BAKER – CABARET STAR, RESISTANCE HEROINE, ACTIVIST AND OWNER OF A DORDOGNE CHATEAU

Josephine wearing her famous banana costume.

Iconic entertainer of the Jazz Age, famous for her risqué performances, Josephine Baker’s extraordinary story is one of perseverance, bravery, and incredible talent.  She was a force to be reckoned with, whether fighting racism in her native America or spying on top Nazis.  She found new ways to challenge those who sought to diminish or silence her, and innumerable ways to both charm and resist.  She has now been honoured in the Panthéon, Paris.

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SARLAT, MEDIEVAL GEM OF THE DORDOGNE

The beautiful medieval town of Sarlat in the Dordogne. 

The town of Sarlat-la-Canéda is the capital of the Périgord Noir.  Located between the Dordogne and Vézère Valleys, it is regarded as having one of the most beautiful and cohesive collection of medieval buildings in Europe and classified as a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire.  Sarlat has the highest density of listed historic buildings per square metre in France.  Every year thousands of visitors are attracted to its picturesque squares, charming medieval streets, splendid architectural heritage, multiple markets, shops and restaurants.  Food lovers are drawn to Sarlat for its array of delicious local specialities, notably duck, particularly foie gras, walnuts and of course that rarest and most prized of delicacies, truffles.

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LES PLUS BEAUX VILLAGES IN THE DORDOGNE-PÉRIGORD

Views such as this are typical of the Dordogne-Perigord region. 

Boasting more villages designated as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France than any other region, except perhaps Provence, the Dordogne has some of the finest treasures of natural and cultural heritage in the country.  You’ll find fortress châteaux, churches, honey-coloured stone buildings, troglodyte cave dwellings, ancient barns, medieval villages, beautiful woodlands, meandering rivers and panoramic views.  The food is sensational, based on locally grown produce and specialties such as duck, walnuts and truffles.

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