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Picture: Blois

In the summer months, cities around France put on heaps of razzle dazzle with son et lumière shows. Castles, Cathedrals, ancient buildings, beautiful gardens and even small villages light up and show off with sound and light shows to wow.

The concept was invented by a French man, Paul Robert-Houdin, then curator of the magnificent Château de Chambord, Loire, France. In the years since, the practice has spread around the world and in France it’s a hugely popular form of entertainment and often free.

Here are some of our favourite summer son et lumière shows that we think you’ll love!

Blois Chateau, Loire Valley

In the spectacular courtyard of this ancient chateau, the buildings are lit up to reveal the story of its dramatic past. Pop on your headphones and listen to tales of love, deception, murder and chivalry (available in English), it runs until 24 September 2017. See website for details and tickets:

Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de Loire

Picture: Le Mans

Known as La Nuit des Chimères this free event sees the medieval quarter of Le Mans turn into a huge and magnificent light fest through July and August. The cobbled streets and facades of historic monuments are transformed into projection screens when dusk falls and brings the city to life after dark.

Orléans Cathedral, Normandy

Picture: Orleans

Until 18 September 2017, this magnificent cathedral will show images of Joan of Arc, the “Maid of Orléans”.  Wonderfully colourful, the show will take place until September 16 at 11pm and 11.30 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from July to August. Pop into the tourist office for more details.

Palais des Papes, Avignon

Picture: Avignon © Jean-Marc Charles

 A truly sumptuous show with 3D images that conjures up this enormous palace’s papal past before your eyes. Set in a UNESCO world heritage site that has an 800-year-old history, this is one son et lumière show you won’t forget. From 12 August to 30 September 2017, available in English for specific performances, see website for details and tickets:

Rouen Cathedral, Normandy

Picture: Rouen © JF LangeMétropole Rouen Normandie

A wonderful nightly sound and light show that illuminates the Cathedral of Rouen with a theme of either William the Conqueror (1066 and all that) or Joan of Arc, who was executed in the town.

From 3 June to 23 September 2017. See website for details:

French Connections have lots of great accommodation offers for you in all areas of France, pop over to our rental pages and search in the area that interests you to find your dream temporary home.

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Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loire

The medieval old town of Le Mans sits on a hill above the new town and is known as the Cité Plantagenet, since in 1129 Geoffrey Plantagenet married Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England who gave birth to Henry II. It’s a great place to wander with cobbled streets, wonderful architecture, ancient churches and half-timbered buildings 

The annual light show Le Mans is a spectacular sight and a great way to enjoy an evening in the town throughout the summer months. Known as the Nuit des Chimères, this free event starts at around 9.30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and is a must see for all visitors to Le Mans. Details:

Two hours southwest of Paris is the “Valley of the Kings” – the Loire Valley, home to France’s greatest chateaux.

This lush green area is criss-crossed by rivers, covered in vineyards and peppered with hundreds of beautiful chateaux from the small and bijou to the grandest of the grand. 

Champagne is an effervescent region – quite literally thanks to the famous bubbly wine that’s made here. It’s also a land of rolling vineyards and canals, medieval towns and picturesque villages.

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