With France advancing to the finals of the World Cup, they have a lot to celebrate. But more than their sporting achievement, they have their own national day happening on the 14th of July - Bastille Day. As July is, indeed, the month of freedom from a former regime, it only makes sense the French would celebrate the 14th as their day, when on that date in 1789, they stormed the mighty Bastille, and turned the tide in the intense and bloody revolutionary war. But we are a travel company, and though we do enjoy our history, we enjoy our travel even more, so here is a list of our absolute favourite spots in this wonderful country (in no particular order, je t'assure).
Is this one a surprise that it's the first on our list? Paris absolutely has to be one of the most iconic places in France, and no one should be surprised by that. From the twisting streets, the wonderful bridges over the romantic Seine, the supposedly temporary Eiffel Tower, and the stunning churches of the Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, there are so many other places I would love to mention, but in all honesty, it would take up the entire word count. Book lovers would go mad for the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, art buffs find themselves called to the Louvre, followers of architecture can go just about anywhere, and ourselves? We love the ornate, crowded, and exciting train stations. Who's surprised at that one?
From north to south, we go to Cannes, one of the crowning jewels of the French Riviera. this is a city loved by the stars and celebrities of the silver screen, because it is here that the iconic Cannes Film Festival is held. Of course, this stunning sun drenched place has far more draws to it than just a star-studded party. You could head out across the sparkling waters to one of the many pretty islands that dot the shore, or you could relax on the pristine sandy beaches. This is certainly a spot that you'll want to go to for a truly glamorous, relaxing holiday.
What can we say about Carcassonne? It is... breathtaking. For those amongst you who crave historic adventure on your holidays (and I admit, I am one of those people), look no further than the stunning city of Carcassonne. This ancient walled city has been calling travellers to its picturesque and labyrinthine streets for centuries. The cité has been through a lot in recent millennia, after being laid siege to numerous times, then enduring the Catholic inquisition, Napoleon, and general neglect, but it has undergone careful and loving restoration so we can behold it in full glory. To behold the city in the day is magnificent, but to see it at night is nigh on otherworldly, and it is definitely one of those places that simply has to be experienced by all.
In a risky but calculated move, we've gone for a river rather than a city in this one, mainly because there is nowhere like the Dordogne. Just thinking about the name inspires visions of hazy summer days, the river moving gently through the warm and verdant scenery, possibly relaxing on a barge on the river or lazing on the lovely banks. Of course, there are a series of wonderful places to explore along the river's route, like the walled commune of La Roque-Gageac. Even the river tributaries have fascinating places nearby, like the prehistoric Lascaux cave. Lascaux is awe inspiring for the age of the paintings that have remained so wonderfully preserved throughout the millennia. As a warning, however, tourists can't enter into the actual caves, just so we can keep those paintings so marvellously preserved.
If you have to ask "why have they chosen Bordeaux", then you're obviously not a fan of wine. If you are and you still have to ask, we delicately, yet firmly, question your taste in wines. Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world, and produces some of the most delicious red wines ever made. Produced since the 8th century, the wine makers in this part of France have it down to an utter art, but surprisingly, we don't just love it for the tipple. Bordeaux is a veritable gold mine of architectural beauty, with a spectacular array of wonderfully preserved historical buildings. The old town of Bordeaux is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is the perfect place to get lost in as you search for an authentic wine bar (thank goodness for smartphone GPS to get us back to our hotels, though)