French Connections

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  • The Somme - discover France on your doorstep

    Our featured region this month is the Somme in Northern France.  Bet you didn’t know that there was such a potent mix of history, seascapes, fishing harbours, unspoilt beaches, sports and activities around an hour’s drive from Calais. Typical is St Valery sure Somme, shown in our photo.

    I first visited this area by train when staying in Le Touquet, a little way up the coast, and I really liked Amiens, the main town, for its Gothic cathedral and surrounding square and its walkways beside the River Somme. Abbeville was fascinating for its World War II history and museums.

    For some reason I particularly remember seeing in Abbeville a monument to a 19 year old boy who was shot shortly before the Revolution for refusing to salute a passing member of the aristocracy. No wonder French people so value their egalitarianism!

  • We're excited about the Tour de France!

    The 2012 Tour de France rolls into action on 30th June. We always love this dramatic cycling event, with its opportunity to see regions of France and their varied landscapes – but this year there’s a bigger buzz than ever in the UK as British star Bradley Wiggins and his Team Sky are going into the race as favourites. Could Britain win its first ever Tour de France? The team also includes sprinter Mark Cavendish, who we'll be seeing in the London Olympics Road Race.

    Liège in Belgium is the starting point on Saturday 30th and this leads into a series of very accessible stages in Northern France, taking in Boulogne, Abbeville, Normandy’s cathedral city of Rouen and then down to Epernay in champagne country. The route then dives through eastern France and through the Alps, before going across to the Pyrenees, along the Mediterranean coast and returning through the centre of the country to the grand finale in Paris on Sunday 22nd July.

    You can follow the race live on the ITV4 channel – but why not hop across and take in all the excitement for real? We’ve put together a comprehensive mini-guide to the Tour with links to accommodation in all the crucial areas, making it really easy for you to plan your getaway, even at the last minute. Stay in a B&B or your own holiday home, watch the race, get inspired, go cycling yourself at a gentler pace and take in some of the beauty of the French countryside and coast in early summer. Keen cyclist but can't make the Tour? Browse our selection of cycling holidays in France.