The impressionist artist Claude Monet once said "My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece" and his living legacy is his garden at Giverny, Normandy.
Normandy in northern France has plenty to tempt visitors. With a varied coastline which includes golden sandy seashores and the D-Day landing beaches, there’s also glorious countryside, pretty villages, historic towns. Normandy really does have something for everyone to enjoy.
Nice is one of the sunniest cities in France – with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, and often warm enough to dine al fresco in winter, it’s a great place to visit. There’s loads to see, do and fall in love with but here are my top ten things to do in Nice:
1. Nice Market
One of the most famous markets of the south of France is Cours Saleya in the heart of the old town of Nice. The food market takes place from Tuesday to Sunday (morning) with the freshest most beautiful fruit and veg and amazing street food. It’s a symphony for the senses – the scene of spices, cheese, street food and fresh fruit are a memory to cherish…There’s a flower market too on Sunday making the whole place smell of blossom. On Mondays there’s a huge sprawling antiques market.
2. The Chateau of Nice
Not exactly a chateau, it’s actually a park on top a hill, the castle having long gone. Head here for sensational views over the city and port surrounded by sweet smelling pine treas. Sigh over the sight of the Bay of Angels and enjoy a picnic in the fresh air and spectacular botanical gardens.
3. Socca – it’s not a game!
Nice is a gastronomic city and one of its finest offerings is socca. It’s a sort of pancake made from chickpeas and the Nicois are crazy for them. At the market, local socca seller Theresa is a celebrity and you may have to wait in line to be served – but it’s worth it. The socca chips are also absolutely delicious!
4. Classic luxury
The pink dome of the Hotel Negresco is an iconic landmark of Nice. This palace of the French Riviera is home away from home to celebrities and royal families from around the world. Nip to La Rotonde bistro for a taste of luxury that won’t break the bank or the famous bar for an expensive cocktail and a chance to view the incredible artworks on display here.
5. The Old Town
Wander the narrow and winding lanes of this ancient town and simply admire the colourful buildings, ancient shops, tempting shady squares and fabulous café lifestyle.
The Promenade de Paillon is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sun, a park and promenade with water jets and fountains, it’s a favourite with the locals to while away the hours.
7. Swim in the sea
The Mediterranean water is clear and turquoise coloured . Take a dip and cool down on the town beach (which is stony) or head to one of the local beaches if you want sand.
8. Nice Carnival
Noisy, colourful, fun and crazy. Every February, huge parades of giant kings and thousands of dancers and musicians fill the Place Massena, not to mention flower fights! This is 15 days of utter magical mayhem.
9. Matisse Museum
A short bus ride or healthy walk from the old town, the Matisse Museum is located next to the Roman ruins of Cimiez. It’s a fascinating exhibition of the artist’s work that takes you through the evolution of his style from the first painting he did which is rather ordinary to his extraordinary vibrant creations.
The choice of restaurants, cafés, bistros and places to eat is overwhelming but brilliant in Nice. One of the most fun places you’ll find is round the Cours Saleya, the market place. There are dozens of restaurants here, tables and chairs spilling out onto the sunny terraces, often accompanied to the sound of live music. Nip into the alleys of the old town and you’re really spoiled for choice. Don’t miss A Buteghinna, 11 rue du marché, run by three friends (Sophie, Marcelle and Evelyne) this is where you’ll get true Nicoise cooking – just like maman used to make!
It’s that time of the year when the weather starts to get better, flowers blossom under blue skies and loads of fabulous events take place. At French Connections we love the fact that in France there’s so much going on! Here we share some of our favourite events coming up in April.
Burgundy has it all: glorious countryside, vineyards, amazing gastronomy, a fabulous history, picturesque villages, awesome towns, the Burgundy Canal and an incredible capital city – Dijon. There are also more chateaux in this region than any other in France, many of them with well stocked wine cellars and gourmet restaurants and swimming pools. Some of them are available to the public as luxury hotels like the stunning 19th Century Chateau de la Marquise Thesut near Chalon-sur-Saône in the heart of Burgundy.
Wine, Chateaux, Gastronomy!
There are hundreds of reasons why you should be tempted to visit this lovely region. The diversity of the local landscape, the chance to stay in a fabulous chateau or gorgeous gite amazing heritage, picturesque villages, lush vineyards, the waterways, the peacefulness of the countryside… cheese, wine and the most amazing gastronomy.
Dijon, capital of Burgundy
The Dukes of Burgundy were once more powerful than the royal family of France. Their footprint in Dijon is staggering. Hugely wealthy, the Dukes of Burgundy were patrons of the arts and spent fortunes making Dijon as beautiful as possible. An enormous palace, wide open squares, medieval streets with breath-taking mansions – their legacy is on every corner.
Wander round Dijon town and take in the sights of this historic town that bears so many traces of its illustrious and very prosperous past. It’s astonishing to nip into a modern clothes shop and discover an ancient well left over from the 15th Century. Dip down an alleyway and find a hidden medieval house that looks like it was built yesterday. Rest your feet and people watch at Place Francois Rude, encircled by cafés and bars whose tables spill onto the pedestrianised square. A lively place named after the Dijon-born sculptor of “La Marseilleise” which graces the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The locals call it Place du Bareuzai thanks to the statue of a naked man treading grapes; the name means ”red stockings” (from bas rosé) which the winegrowers had after crushing grapes with their feet.
Beaune is a pretty town where they take their wine seriously. The Hospices de Beaune was a cutting edge hospital in the 1400s and incredibly parts of it stayed open until the 1990s. Nowadays it’s just as famous for its wine auctions. It is a fascinating place to visit and you will never forget the sight of that magnificent multi-coloured tiled roof.
Must do’s in Burgundy
Enjoy a picnic along the famous Burgundy canal shaded by leafy trees.
Cycle - there are 800 km of cycle routes and 5 major routes.
A must-see is the Chateau of Guedelon, Yonnne, a medieval castle being built in the 21st Century. (Open March – November).
Chateauneuf- en-Auxois is a fairy-tale looking picture perfect hill top Burgundian country town. It overlooks the Burgundy Canal and is officially one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France”. A great place to spend a day chilling out though there is not a lot to do other than wander, wonder and eat - the views alone are worth the detour.
Check out our Burgundy rentals and be inspired…
Here at French Connections, we’re always looking for ways to tempt you to France!
We love the French way of life – the wine, the cuisine, those delicious cheeses, beaches, walks in the countryside, the smell of croissants fresh cooked in the boulangerie… and heaps more. So we’re constantly trying to come up with ways to make it easier for you to enjoy a holiday here– whether it’s a last minute break, a long let or with a bit of a special offer that you can’t resist.