Dreaming of France

  • Just 90 minutes southeast of Paris, the city of Auxerre (pronounced Aussere) is located in the Yonne Department and the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. Or, what is simply known to most English-speaking visitors as the Burgundy region. Auxerre’s highlights include the Abbey of Saint-Germain d’Auxerre sitting along the Yonne River, just one of several churches in the town worth visiting. The Medieval city center features a stunning astronomical clock. The city has both a natural history museum and a digital arts museum. And, of course, its many local restaurants allow visitors to experience Burgundy’s famed culinary delights. But Auxerre, Burgundy’s fourth largest…

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  • Brittany remains one of France’s most untamed and vast territories. We spent a lovely two weeks camping there in 2017, and we still only saw a couple of tiny corners. One of the striking things about the Brittany coast is that it conjures a sensation of standing on the edge of the world. You can stay in Brest as a hub for discovering the region. But step away from the mainland to visit one of the islands off the coast…and you’ll really feel like you’re standing on the precipice. One of the best islands to get this experience is Ouessant…

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  • It might be tempting to describe the Ardèche department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region by its proximity to other more famous places in France. Just south of Lyon. Just northeast of the Cévennes. West of Grenoble. Hugging the Rhône river that flows along its eastern border. Ardèche isn’t home to any great cities. But what this sparsely populated territory does have is some of the nation’s most spectacular scenery. That includes Les Gorges de l’Ardèche, a 30 km canyon in a natural reserve that runs along the Ardèche river that has carved deeply into the region’s limestone. You’ll find here the…

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  • Maybe you can’t travel here. But you can begin fantasizing about your next visit. One stop to consider: Chartres. We visited this city about an hour southwest of France over the winter holiday which is known for its artistic bent and the spectacular stained glass windows of its Notre Dame Cathedral (La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres). I’ll write more about this soon. The photo above is just a glimpse.

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  • All that snow got me thinking about the Pyrénées. It’s still unclear whether we’ll be able to get up there this year. But I’ve been thinking about an amazing week we spent in the Pyrénées in March 2019 that included a hike along the Pont d’Espagne. Located at about 1,493 meters up, the Pont d’Espagne was once upon a time a trading route between France and Spain. Located in the Pyrénées National Park in the Hautes Pyrénées Departement, the valley now is a pastoral wonderland in the summer that leads to Lake Gaube. But in the winter, it’s another world where people…

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