WE ARE WELL CONNECTED IN OCCITANIE
Not sure what to do before or after your time with us?
Here are some great ideas to make the most of your visit in France.
All of these areas can be visited by car or train...
Firstly, how about Toulouse, known as the pink city with 2,000 years of history and the aeronautical and space capital of Europe including the headquarters of Airbus. Visit the Basilique Saint Sernin, completed in 1100, it’s the largest Romanesque church in Europe. Next door to Saint Sernin is the Toulouse archeological museum, the Musée Saint-Raymond, with local exhibits from prehistory up to the year 1000 AD. In the centre of the city visit the Place du Capitole, with its majestic neo-classical pink tinted palace. It was built on the site of the original Roman capitoline temple.
There are also several other interesting museums in the city including the Museum of Toulouse and the Fondation Bemberg. On the outskirts of the city, for adults and kids alike is the Cité de l’Espace - a theme park about space exploration.. You could take a river cruise on the Garonne river passing some of the city’s most photogenic monuments and also to give the best view the Pont Neuf bridge, the oldest bridge in the city built in the 1500’s. See the first stretches of the UNESCO listed Canal du Midi which runs through the centre of the city.
The TGV (high speed train) goes north to Lyon from Narbonne, the ‘2nd city' of France situated where the Rhône and Saône rivers merge.
Built by the Romans with the Gallo-Romain theatre and city complex still standing perched high above Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon).
It is known as the gastronomic capital of France which can be reached in less than 3 hours from Narbonne. This is a worthwhile stopover on the train trip to Paris.
Alternatively from Narbonne, you can travel south into Spain where you can be in Barcelona on the TGV in 2 1/2 hours. Of course you can drive to Barcelona in 3 hours possibly stopping off in Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dali with the surrealist inspired Dali museum. This can be combined with the pretty city of Girona for a view of the Cathedral and riverside houses over the Onyar river or stay at a beach resort on the wild Costa Brava.
Travel to the south east corner of France to the Roman built towns of Arles and Nîmes with their Roman amphitheatres and also near to Nîmes is the Roman built marvel that is the Pont de Gard and the popular Duchy of Uzès. Travelling a little east, you can visit Avignon with the Popes Palace and the Pont St. Benezet, the bridge from the celebrated French song Sur Le Pont d'Avignon to name just a few!
Traveling south, not too far from Arles in Les Baux-de-Provence, is the famous Carrières de Lumières. Set in an disused quarry it is a sight and sound art based spectacular and well worth a side trip.
From Arles you can continue on to the Vieux (old) port in Marseille.
Drive a little bit further east to bask in the azure skies of the Côte d’Azur including St Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and Nice. With day trips to the famous artist’s retreat village of St Paul de Vence and the perfume capital of Grasse.
A day trip to Monaco is also possible driving along the Moyenne Corniche stopping at the stunning hill top village of Èze, or you can travel via the coast to the Cap Ferrat where you can visit the beautiful Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild with it's amazing themed gardens overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
Heading north west of Olonzac you can enjoy the architectural gem of Bordeaux, once the biggest port in Europe.
Maybe you can bike or stroll along the Quais de Bordeaux waterfront on the left bank of the Garonne river passing the Place de La Bourse with the famous water mirror, then further north along the front enter the enormous open space of the Esplanade des Quinconces displaying the Monument aux Girondins erected in honour of the Girondin revolutionaries.
Visit the newly built architectural gem Le Cité du Vin, a museum for wine lovers including tastings, and the art and light show at the Les Bassins des Lumières transformed from an old Bordeaux submarine base. Other sights worth visiting are the Musée Aquitaine, the Bordeaux cathedral, the Gross Cloche, the Porte Cailhau and the Grand Theatre.
Also don’t forget to shop in the longest shopping street in Europe, Rue Saint Catherine! Surrounding Bordeaux, you can take a day trip to visit the renowned chateau vineyards of the Medoc and Saint Emilion or you might fancy a cruise along the Garonne or Dordogne rivers.
Speaking of the Dordogne! You could head east of Bordeaux and explore the celebrated Perigord region including the charming market town of Sarlat La Caneda, the famous Lascaux Four Cave complex, the prehistoric troglodyte cave of St Christophe.
Traveling east along the Dordogne River explore the villages of Limeux, Le Roque-Gageac and Domme plus the famous chateaux of Beynac and Castelnaud famed during the medieval 100 Years War between England and France and the clipped topiary of Les Jardins de Marqueyssac.
From Bordeaux you can drive south towards Archachon to the Pilat Dunes, the largest sand dunes of Europe. Then continue south to the 19th century coastal towns of Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
Then crossing the border into Spain continue to San Sebastian with its beautiful beaches. It is the undisputed capital of traditional Basque tapas called Pintxos, together with close neighbour city of Bilbao with the iconic, must see Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim museum.
Or alternatively head north from Bordeaux to the famous wine distilleries of Cognac situated on the pretty Charente river and the old Roman town of Saintes. Then travel up the north west coast to visit the port of La Rochelle starting with the old port including the two entrance towers of the Tour Saint-Nicolas and the Tour de la Chaine.
The Tour de la Lanterne, the gothic lighthouse makes for a great snapshot and don’t miss visiting the massive Aquarium La Rochelle. The cobblestones streets of the Old Quarter behind the Port are also well worth a leisurely saunter as is the green avenue of elm and pine trees, the Allée du Mail.
In the north of France, from Paris you could drive or take a train to the famous and beautiful chateâux of the Loire Valley including the chateâux of Chambord, Cheverny, Chenonceaux, Amboise, Azay-Le-Rideau and the gardens of the Chateâu de Villendry.
Also from Paris you might also want to visit the WW2 Normandy beaches, the medieval Bayeux Tapestry of the year 1066 fame, the popular tidal island of Mont St Michel abbey, the pretty port of Honfleur along with the Claude Monet inspired Notre-Dame cathedral in the city of Rouen. From here head north west to the coastal town of Étretat and visit the Falaises d'Étratat with the renowned rock shaped like the trunk of an elephant! Finally on the way back to Paris, don't forget to visit Monet's house and garden at Giverny with it's famous arched bridge and water lilies.
Of course there are many other regions well worth visiting in France and it’s neighbouring countries. We have mentioned just a few of them to get your francophile juices flowing!