Burgundy, in east-central France, is a region that’s renowned thanks to its vineyards, with wine producing villages like Chablis and Nuits-St-Georges known throughout the world.
Burgundy is a land of picturesque villages, rolling vineyards, medieval abbeys, the Burgundy Canal and historic cities. There’s so much to see that it’s hard to know where to start but Dijon, the capital city, should definitely be on your list.
Dijon is probably best known for its mustard, However there’s far more to this ancient town than this piquant sauce.
It was once home to the fabulously wealthy Dukes of Burgundy who were more powerful than the King until their empire became part of France in the 15th Century. In their wake they left an architectural and cultural legacy that’s just mind-boggling. Dijon is amazingly well preserved and boasts over 100 hectares of magnificent monuments, medieval buildings and 100 hotel particuliers (grand mansion houses). The Palais des Ducs is stunning, built on the site of the Gallo-Roman castrum (a fortified building), the Roman influence is evident in its architecture. It was rebuilt in 1366 and then again in the 17th Century by architects Jules Hardouin-Mansart (Versailles) and Ange-Jacques Gabriel (Fontainebleau). The Palais has been home to the Musée des Beaux Arts since 1799, one of the oldest and most beautiful museums in France.
Climb the 15th century Tour Philippe le Bon for views over jewel-coloured tiled rooftops, crooked medieval streets, and, further afield, vineyards, forests and villages. The hundreds of stairs are worth the effort.
Visit the free Museum of Burgundy Life which has a quirky and eclectic and mix of objects as well as superb recreations of shops from the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Finally, don’t forget to rub the owl! It’s a legend in Dijon that it will bring you luck to run the small stone owl on the wall of the 13th century church of Notre Dame. On top of the church is a 14th Century mechanical clock known as “Jacquemart” whose four figurines chime every quarter of an hour as they gaze over rue de Musette and the second hand book sellers on a Saturday morning.
There are hundreds of cafés and restaurants in the town. For views and a great ambiance, head to the Place des Ducs, or Place Francois Rude with its little carousel where mamans and papas sip coffee while their enfants play.
Les Halles, Dijon's main covered market, was designed by the famous son of Dijon - Gustave Eiffel. It’s excellent for food shopping and has a great café, perfect for people watching. (Market days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday mornings).
You can’t really go to Dijon and not visit Boutique Maille. The famous mustard shop has hundreds of different mustards and a tasting bar.
At the end of the day, join the locals and relax with a kir. This typical Burgundian aperitif is made from local speciality, creme de cassis, (blackcurrant syrup) - and aligote (a Burgundian white wine).
We have a great selection of holiday homes in Burgundy, just head over to our listings pages and find one that’s just perfect for your holiday…
The sunny city of Bordeaux nestles in a land of vineyards dotted with famous wine towns like Saint-Emilion and Medoc. It’s the famous wine of the area that has largely influenced how Bordeaux has evolved for the last two millennia.
The architecture of the city is mellow: neoclassical masterpieces built by rich wine merchants and traders. And, Bordeaux is home to the most wonderful wine bars which definitely adds to the happy and relaxed vibe in the city.
The Romans were the first to start making wine in Bordeaux. When they arrived they imported wine from Italy and Spain but in 1AD they planted the first vines, the ancestor of Cabernet Franc. There are ruins of an amphitheatre known locally as 'Le Palais Gallien' and a few towers but you can’t walk more than a few steps in the city without reminders of that monumental decision the Romans took. There are wine bars everywhere. The locals recommend Maison Gobineau, smart and elegant with tapestries and stained glass windows alongside contemporary style wine racks and an extensive wine list which starts at just €2 a glass.
In the 18th century, rich city merchants began commissioning fabulous buildings in the neoclassical style. Today they contribute to Bordeaux’s status as a UNESCO world heritage centre. The Opera National de Bordeaux is a veritable landmark in a city of landmarks.
Miroir d’Eau, a water sculpture in front of the impressive Place de la Bourse, draws people day and night to marvel at and enjoy. On a hot day, kids splash love to splash in the water and cool down in the misty spray.
The great door or the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris was modelled on the doors of the 11th century Cathedral of Bordeaux where Eleanor of Aquitaine married Louis VII in 1137. In the 14th century, Bordeaux's Archbishop became Pope Clement V and moved the seat of Papal rule from Rome to Avignon.
UNESCO listed churches on the Camino de Santiago. You’ll see little brass floor plates as you walk through the city indicating that you’re on the Way of St James (Camino de Santiago). There are 3 UNESCO listed churches on the route.
Don't miss the magnificent Cité du Vin a superb win museum with innovative displays, high tech marvels, a most fabulous wine tasting area with panoramic views over the city. The superb wine store and gift shop are also worth a visit.
When your legs are weary from walking the streets of this wonderful city, just hop on a boat and take a tour to admire Bordeaux from its river, said to be one of the cleanest in Europe.
With more than 3000 restaurants it’s not easy to know which are the best but these names crop up from locals’ recommendations:
Le Petit Commerce, traditional, friendly, great menu and full of locals. 22 Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre
Braderie Bordelaise “a taste of Bordeaux” is how the locals described it. If you’re a steak frites fan, you’ll love this one.
Seven at Cité du Vin. The 7th floor restaurant at the wine museum has a fabulous menu, brilliant wine list and absolutely stunning view over the city. It’s open for lunch, dinner, afternoon tea and any time for a glass of wine!
Useful website: www.bordeaux-tourisme.com
We have loads of lovely holiday rentals in and around Bordeaux – making your holiday dreams come true…
Bergerac in the Dordogne, Aquitaine, is famous for its wine and fabulous gastronomy, rolling hills and fields of sunflowers, castles and pretty villages. With a pleasant climate year round and fabulously sunny summer months, it’s the perfect holiday destination for those who love to experience the best of authentic France in the most gorgeous surroundings.
Here’s why we at French Connections love Bergerac…
On the banks of the Dordogne, Bergerac’s medieval old town is a jumble of narrow and winding cobbled streets that slope down to the river. Take a wander here and you can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Half-timbered houses, pretty boutiques and galleries, shaded squares lined with bars and cafés – it’s the perfect French town for a relaxing break.
Aquitaine is one of the richest agricultural areas in France and is renowned for its cuisine. Head to Bergerac market (Wednesday and Saturday mornings) for a terrific choice of fresh food – perfect for self-catering holidays.
Spoil yourself with a meal in one of the many excellent restaurants. You’ll see a lot of duck and goose on menus, and plums and walnuts are grown liberally in the Dordogne, so expect to see them in both sweet and savoury dishes. Try Landes Pastis while you are here (a divine apple tart and one of the region’s most popular dishes).
It goes without saying that the region produces some wonderful cheeses, such as Cabécou, a small round tasty goat’s cheese. Bergerac is also a wine lover’s paradise. Regional cheese with a regional wine and a hunk of French crusty bread is mandatory when you holiday in Bergerac and it couldn’t get any better than here!
Two of the best places for a tasting are the Chateau de Monbazillac and the Wine Centre in the town.
Around 10km from the centre of town the 16th century Chateau of Monbazillac is fairy-tale pretty. Owned by the Monbazillac Cooperative it’s a great place to spend a half day touring the grounds and interior which is beautifully furnished. Afterwards enjoy a wine tasting and the wine shop – delicious!
The Wine Centre is located in the Récollets Cloisters in Bergerac. It’s a magnificent group of monastic buildings from the 17th century. There’s an exhibition about the Bergerac vineyards, film and tasting experience. Concerts are regularly held in these lovely surroundings – check the website for details: www.vins-bergeracduras.fr/en
When French King Louis XIII entered Bergerac in 1621, he stayed in the 16th-century Maison Peyrarède. The house, with its cantilevered tower and Renaissance mullioned windows, is now the home of the Musée du Tabac. It might surprise you to know that Bergerac has one of the last tobacco plantations in Europe. This quirky museum - which in no way promotes tobacco, presents its history dating back more than 3000 years when the plant was first cultivated. There’s a fascinating collection of ivory, bronze and copper pipes and other smoking paraphernalia.
For something really different, seek out the Grottes de Maxange. Discovered by accident in 2000, during dynamiting in an adjacent quarry, the caves are extraordinary. Off the beaten track, hidden in the hills upriver from Bergerac they have masses and masses of crystals covering almost every surface, it is eerily beautiful.
During the summer months you really would be missing out if you came to Bergerac and didn’t take a trip on the river. Rent a canoe or kayak to discover the beauty of the surrounding landscape from the water. Or, for something more relaxing, take a pleasure boat ride on a traditional gabare (a traditional flat bottomed wooden boat). Enjoy a swim in the lake, try water skiing, charter a pedal boat, a picnic on the river banks… the potential for fun is endless for water babies!
Find out more about what to see and do on the Bergerac Tourism website
French Connections has hundreds of fabulous holiday homes in and around Bergerac, click here to see a terrific selection.
If you’re wondering where to enjoy your holiday in France and not sure where to go, we’ve got thousands of wonderful holiday homes all over the country. Whether it’s coast, city or a tiny village in the middle of glorious countryside, be inspired by our brilliant listings.
We also have some terrific special offers on holiday with immediate effect right through the summer months.
If you’re looking for a remarkable rate or a great escape that doesn’t blow the bank – check out our Special Offers section
We’ve got plenty of discounts, reduced rate weeks and even free extra nights (e.g. 9 nights for the price of 7), throughout the year in all your favourite French destinations. Whether you’re looking for a romantic break for two, or a family holiday for 10 or even a get-away for a large group of friends, there’s plenty to suit. Country houses, chateaux, pretty cottages, comfy gites and gorgeous villas.
Some home owners even greet you with free wine or a welcome meal on arrival.
Whether you want to beat the summer crowds and go out of season, or wait for the sunny summer months to arrive, we’ve got a special offer to suit you.
Looking to take a holiday in France right now? Check out our holiday accommodation all over France to find the holiday that’s perfect for you. We list holiday homes available from next week to 6 weeks, saving you time when searching for that ideal last minute break.
Most people think long lets are all about taking an extended out of season or winter break but, if you’re lucky enough to be able to take time off year round, you’ll find we also have holiday home owners who offer long lets to suit your needs.
French Connections love to help you make your holiday dreams come true. It’s very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for with our search criteria whether you want something suitable for kids, where pets are welcomed, with a pool or air conditioning and lots more.
Saint Rémy de Provence is just 12 miles south of Avignon, the capital of the department of Vaucluse in Provence. It’s a small town that’s buzzy and vibrant from spring to autumn and a bit sleepy in the winter months. The boulevards and narrow cobblestone streets that wind through the old city make it a living photo opp on every corner, and the plane trees that are such a feature of Provence grow tall and splendid. The central shopping area and stone fountain dedicated to the town’s most famous resident, Nostradamus, are picture perfect.
We highlight 5 must sees in St Remy:
South of St-Rémy lie the magnificent ruins of Glanum and Les Antiques. Les Antiques is a cenotaph rather than a sepulchre, as originally thought. It stands next to a fine triumphal arch, giving access to the city of Glanum, built over 2,000 years ago. It’s a worthwhile and well-interpreted diversion – don’t forget to look for the fossilised shells in the limestone pavements.
The artist Vincent Van Gogh was treated here in the psychiatric centre a few minutes south of St-Rémy. He stayed at the Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole after he relieved himself of one of his ears. It was here that he painted The Starry Night, one of his best loved works. Surrounded by peaceful gardens, parts of the monastery are open to the public and you can see works of art by Van Gogh hanging above the main staircase. You can also see the room where the artist was confined while undergoing psychiatric tests.
During the time that Van Gogh spent in the monastery, he created almost 300 pieces of art. Follow in his footsteps on the Van Gogh route to take a journey through his painting, from the fields and through a landscape that’s recognisable. Details http://www.vangoghroute.com/france/saint-remy-de-provence/
Visit the Moulin du Calanquet, a family owned company of five generations which produces olive oil and other delicious gastronomic products. You can do a tasting, see a film about olive oil production and, it’s the perfect place to shop for a delicious souvenir.
Built in 1814, the original fountain featured a bust of Louis XVI. It was replaced with a bust of Nostradamus, in 1859. Nostradamus, whose full name was Michel de Nostredame, was a French physician and astrologist, famous to this day for his predictions of the future.
If you’re there at the right time (May or June) you’ll witness the annual Transhumance. Every year, sheep farmers prepare their flocks to leave the warmer, lower fields and sheds and move to the upper slopes. Here they spend the summer grazing on wild herbs in the cooler air. It’s quite a festival to see 4000 sheep, lambs, rams, goats and donkeys, herded by shepherds in traditional costume marching through the town on their way to summer pastures.
St. Remy is a great base for excursions to dozens of quaint little towns like Gordes, Roussillon and Uzes as well as larger, more populated towns like Aix, Avignon and Arles. And, if you go once, you’ll always find yourself longing to return…
French Connections has loads of fabulous holiday homes in Provence, browse our selection and discover your dream holiday….
La Manche is a department in Normandy. It’s blessed with a long coast line and picturesque countryside. There are many museums and sites and it is one of the key areas for the D-Day landings of 6 June 1944.
We share some of our favourite things to do and see in La Manche:
The no. 1 must-see in Normandy, in fact it’s a top site in France, is the Benedictine Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. It is one of the most incredible medieval feats of architecture in the world. From the 8th to the 18th century it was one of Christianity's most important pilgrimage sites. Now it’s one of the most important tourist sites. The Abbey consists of several stunning clerical buildings including a church, cloisters, refectory, monks' ambulatory and the gardens of what is known as the Merveille (marvel). It’s a steep walk to the top but worth it for the amazing views and buildings. Lower down is a charming helter skelter of wiggly winding streets lined with cafés, restaurants and shops.
The Airborne Museum is based in the square of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, just a few miles from the D-Day landing beaches. Through spectacular museography, the Airborne Museum takes you through D-Day alongside American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
Barfleur with its pretty and colourful port is officially one of the prettiest villages in France.
Situated two kilometres to the North of Barfleur, the lighthouse of Gatteville – 75 metres high – is the 2nd tallest in France and Europe. Walk up the 365 steps and enjoy a magnificent panorama.
The Jardin des plantes de Coutances is the oldest public plant garden in Normandy and the plant theme changes annually. Recent displays have been of food and sea life. It’s a great park for relaxing and a picnic.
Take a cruise on a passenger boat, yacht or old sailing ship. You can go island hopping to the Chausey Islands, the Channel Islands or Tatihou Island and other smaller, lesser known islands off the coast of La Manche.
The great gothic cathedral of Coutances was constructed from 1210 to 1274. Standing 80 metres tall, it dominates the town and can be seen from miles around.
Utah Beach stretches from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont as far as Quinéville, about 5 km. It was the first of two zones selected for the American landings. Visit the Utah Beach Museum to discover more about the history of the D-Day landings.
Close by you can visit the German battery at Azeville which marked the beginning of the presence of the Germans on this stretch of the coast.
Cherbourg is at the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula, the last stop before the high seas. There’s plenty to do and see here, from museums to fabulous sea food restaurants. Don’t miss La Cité de la Mer, a scientific theme park located in the old transatlantic harbour station of Cherbourg where you can see the submarine “le Redoutable”, take a virtual tour to the bottom of the ocean and discover sea life in the aquarium.
Granville, known as the "Monaco of the North", became a popular seaside resort at the end of the 19th Century. It’s an elegant city, great for a stroll, seafood restaurants and lovely beaches. Don’t miss the Christian Dior Museum. The couturier Christian Dior spent his childhood here and each year his former family home, now a museum, hosts an exhibition dedicated to the stylist.
Saint-Lô is home to the State Stud Farm, constructed under Napoleon. Visit to find out more about the horsey history of this area. The Musée des Beaux Arts is well worth a visit with paintings by some of the greats, including Boudin. Don’t miss the Norman Bocage Museum at a 17th century farm with a huge collection of traditional artefacts which depicts farm life in Normandy over the centuries.
Discover lots more to see and do in La Manche on the tourist office website: www.manche-tourism.com
French Connections has loads of fabulous holiday rentals in La Manche – take a look and make your holiday dreams come true
If you love picturesque villages, historic towns, lavender fields, Roman ruins, quaint cobbled streets, scrumptious restaurants, head-turning vineyards and the most divine gastronomy, then Vaucluse will make you truly happy.
Vaucluse is a department in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south east of France. It’s named after the Fontaine de Vaucluse, a famous spring with fast flowing water which feeds the river Sorgue. It’s home to many of the most beautiful villages of France and is peppered with breath-takingly pretty hamlets and a lush landscape which turns purple in summer when the lavender blooms.
Avignon: The capital of the department of Vaucluse, Avignon is a former Papal city and home to the monumental Palais des Papes. Explore its winding streets lined with boutiques and restaurants, museums, boat rides and a stunning garden with views over the river Rhone which is crossed by the famous Pont d’Avignon.
Gorgeous Gordes: Listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”, Gordes is a captivating hilltop village that looks like something off the front of a postcard or chocolate box lid. From its dramatic position on a steep slope, Gordes is dominated by a 16th-century Château. It’s a town that has inspired artists through the centuries from Van Gogh to Picasso.
Roman ruins: In the small town of Orange you’ll see some of the most impressive archaeological sites in France. The most famous is the UNESCO-listed Théâtre Antique (ancient Roman theatre) that dates to the 1st century AD. It’s incredibly well preserved and hosts multiple public events from pop concerts to Shakespeare.
Abbaye de Sénanque: It’s one of the most scenic abbeys in France, and an iconic site of Provence when in summer, it’s surrounded by fields of lavender from the end of June through to the beginning of August. Founded in 1148, the Abbey of Sénanque is still a working monastery for Cistercian monks.
Carpentras: This sunny town has rather an exotic air with its terracotta roofed buildings and winding alleyways. At the centre is the flamboyant Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Siffrein, built between 1406 and 1519. There is a superb weekly market in the town (Friday mornings) which spreads out through cobbled streets. Don’t miss a chance to visit the cheese shop Fromagerie Vigier run by Claudine Vigier, master cheese-maker!
The antiques capital of Provence: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was once a tranquil fishing village, which developed along the watery arteries of the Sorgue River which gives it its nickname of the Venice of Provence. It’s fabulously pretty, a vivacious sort of place where antiques fans will be in seventh heaven. There are seven “antiques villages”, more than 350 antique dealers open all year round, a weekly antiques market (Sundays) and several big antiques events each year. Leave room in your suitcase for that must-have souvenir when you come here!
Fountains and fortifications: Pernes-les-Fontaines is a lovely medieval town with a relaxing ambience and many ancient fountains. Old stone houses, cobbled streets and medieval town gates = lots of olde worlde charm which make it the perfect location to sit and watch the world go by from a café, especially on Saturday – market day!
We’ve got loads of exquisite holiday homes in the Vaucluse area, just click here to take a look and discover your dream holiday home…