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France Travel Articles

Travel notes and articles for France. Articles posted must be approved by the Admin before they are published.
 
Regions and Departments of France France is divided into thirteen regions (not including overseas regions). Regions are further divided into departments. In total there are 96 departments (not including overseas departments). In some cases the department is better known than the region. For example, the Dordogne is a department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region but travel articles may refer to the Dordogne, not mentioning the region it is in. In this website we group France information by...
 
The town of Fréjus sits on the western edge of the Estérel Mountains, on the Mediterranean coast. During ancient Roman times Fréjus was an important port town called Forum Julii and situated at the crossroads of Via Augusta and Via Domitia. There are various Roman remains in and around the town, but the most interesting are the remains of the Fréjus Aqueduct. The aqueduct, built in the 1st century AD, covered a distance of about 40km bringing water from the mountains to the town. Many parts...
 
Loupian Roman Villa (Villa-Loupian) is the remains of a 5th century Roman villa with beautiful and well preserved mosaic floors. The villa was discovered under a farm field and many parts of the mosaics were damaged, but they saved what they could and reconstructed the walls of the villa so you see the layout of the rooms. They put a building around the villa to protect it. Highly recommended - beautiful, detailed mosaics. We arrived in the late afternoon in time for the last tour and since...
 
Carcassonne is a city on the River Aude. Within Carcassonne are two historic areas: the Medieval City (La Cité) and the Bastide Saint-Louis (the historic center). La Cité, the medieval city, is the main attraction. It sits on a hill south east of the Bastide, surrounded by the modern town of Carcassonne. There has been a fortified settlement on this hill since the 6th century BC. What you see now is a medieval fortified town, with massive walls encircling the castle and the town and a fine...
 
Lectoure Museum (Musée de Lectoure or Musée archéologique Eugène-Camoreyt) has an important collection of Roman altars used in "Bull Worship" (ceremonies using bull's blood) in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Some very good Roman mosaics found in the nearby area are also on display. Lectoure is a very pretty small town. We visited this museum in 2011 and enjoyed the displays. The Roman altars are fascinating and there are some good Roman mosaics. Location: France - Midi-Pyrénées - Gers -...
 
The Eauze Treasure (Le Trésor d'Eauze) is displayed in a small museum in the center of the charming town of Eauze, near Condom. The treasure includes 28,003 Roman coins and jewelry discovered nearby. Coins are displayed on shelves grouped by type. Upstairs they have a small display of other Roman finds. Location: France - Novelle-Aquitaine - Gers - Eauze The town of Eauze is interesting with many beautiful old buildings. There are restaurants, cafes and shops. There are other interesting...
 
Séviac Roman Villa (Villa Gallo-Romaine de Séviac) is the remains of a Roman villa from the 4th century. There are mosaic tiled floors throughout the site. It is a large site with good information (they give you a book in English describing the parts of the villa). Séviac Museum is in the Tourist Office in the central square of nearby Montréal. Some of the best mosaics from the villa are displayed in the museum, along with other Roman artifacts recovered at the site. The Trees mosaic is...
 
The Biran Roman Tower (Pile gallo-romaine de La Turraque) is one of a few Roman towers in the countryside in southern Gers. We sought out three of these towers near Biran, in the River Baise valley. The Michelin map for the Midi-Pyrenees #525 has three towers marked - Biran Roman Tower, Lasserre Roman Tower and St Lary Roman Tower. The Biran Roman Tower is the best preserved and easiest to find. Location: France - Novelle-Aquitaine - Gers - Biran On the day we were finding these towers we...
 
Flaran Abbey (Abbaye de Flaran), a Cistercian abbey founded in 1151, is one of the best preserved abbeys in the southwest of France. Inside the abbey is a permanent exhibition on the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage route that passes through Gascony to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Two interesting statues in the Museum show pilgrims wearing the traditional scallop shells. - Pelerin de Saint-Jacques, 18th century (estimated 1772) from Mezin (Lot-et-Garonne). Statue of a pilgrim walking...
 
The Vézère Valley (La vallée de la Vézère) in the Dordogne (in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of south-west France) has some of the most significant archaeological finds of the Paleolithic period (200,000 to 10,000 years ago) and many are open to the public. It is home to several caves with prehistoric cave art. Lascaux, the replica of a cave showing the prehistoric cave art, is here. There are others caves where you can visit the original cave, not a replica. The main towns of the valley are...
 
Fontenay Abbey (Abbaye de Fontenay) was a Cistercian abbey founded in 1118. Guided tours are offered but you may walk around on your own. The grounds are large and beautiful. In the complex you can visit the large church, the cloister, and the forge (and a few other buildings). The Cistercian Order was a Roman Catholic religious order of monks and nuns founded in Burgundy, France in the late 11th century. It spread throughout France, Britain, Ireland and other European countries in the 12th...
 
The Bayeux Tapestry (Tapisserie de Bayeux) is an embroidered cloth nearly 230 feet (70 meters) long. In about 50 scenes, the tapestry depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, ending with the Battle of Hastings. It was created in the 11th century, possibly in England. Location: France - Normandy - Calvados - Bayeux The tapestry is exhibited at Bayeux Museum (Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux). In high season there will be a line, but it is well worth the wait. You are...
 
World War II (also called the Second World War, World War Two, WW2, WWII) was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. Much of the fighting took place in northern France and you can visit some of the battle sites and graveyards. Normandy Landings and American Cemetery The Normandy Landings were the WWII landing operations that took place on 6 June 1944 (D-Day). This Allied invasion of Normandy started the invasion of German-occupied western Europe and contributed to an Allied victory in...
 
Ambrussum (Oppidum d'Ambrussum) was a Roman staging post and settlement along the Via Domitia. No new town was built in this location, so you can see it as it was. Part of Pont Ambroix, a Roman bridge, remains. You can see where the lower town or staging post was. Then you walk along Roman roads, with the imprints of cart wheels in the stone, to the upper town where you see remains of buildings and the ramparts. Location: France - Occitanie - Herault - Lunel Ambrussum is a bit hard to find...
 
Saint-Roman Abbey (Abbaye de Saint-Roman) is an ancient troglodyte monastery dug out of rock by hermits and monks. Excavations to create the abbey started in the 5th century but many parts were built in the 12th century. Parts of the abbey were created using a natural grotto which has been used by hermits before the monks arrived. Location: France - Occitanie - Gard - Beaucaire Access by car either from D999 or D2 west of Beaucaire. Well signed. From the parking lot it is a 15 minute walk...
 
The Barbegal Aqueduct and Mill (Aqueduc de Barbegal) are the remains of a Roman mill and part of the aqueduct that ran from the Alpilles to Arles. In Roman times 16 water wheels powered the mill. This is not a well marked and popular tourist attraction, but is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Many parts of the aqueduct are well preserved and you can clearly see where the mill sat on a steep hillside, powered by the water from the aqueduct. Location: France - Provence -...
 
The Arles Amphitheater (Les Arènes d'Arles) was built in 90 AD. It is 136 meters (446 ft) long and 109 meters (358 ft) wide and seats up to 30,000 people. Originally three tiers of arches, only two remain, each with 60 arches. It is still in use today for bullfights and other events. The city of Arles sits on the Provence side of the River Rhone. It was a large center during the Roman Empire and there are several Roman sites to visit. Location: France - Provence - Bouches-du-Rhone - Arles...
 
Ganagobie Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Ganagobie) is Benedictine monastery sitting on a hill above the Durance valley. This hilltop has been occupied since prehistoric times (Bronze Age, 2000BC). You can visit the small Romanesque church, built in the 12th century but the rest of the Abbey is private. The entrance to the church has detailed religious carvings. Inside the church is a two-color mosaic floor from 1124. There are good views from here and walking trails. The setting of Ganagobie...
 
The La Lèque Standing Stone (Menhir de La Lèque) is the tallest prehistoric standing stone in the Gard, standing over 18 feet tall (5.6 meters). The stone has been shaped and polished. It is near the village of La Lèque and is difficult to find but is well worth the effort. This is the best standing stone in the area around Uzes. Location: France - Occitanie - Gard - Lussan Signs may say Pierre Plantée. This translates to "standing stone". There are three ways to get to La Lèque Standing...
 
The Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman bridge, is part of the Nîmes Roman Aqueduct that carried water from Uzès to Nîmes. The bridge, which crosses the River Gardon, is essentially three bridges built one on top of the other to reach the required height. The lower bridge has six arches, the next has 11 and the top has 36 small arches (originally there were more on the top). The channel of water ran on the top of the bridge. Edwin Mullins in "Roman Provence" says "The Pont du Gard has been widely...
 
The Nîmes Amphitheater also called the Arena of Nîmes (Arènes de Nîmes) was built in the first century AD. The Nîmes Amphitheater, along with the Arles Amphitheater and the Rome Coliseum, are the best preserved buildings of Ancient Rome. The Nimes Amphitheater is 133m long, 101m wide and 21m high with two walls of 60 arches. There were 24 rows of seats with a capacity of 23,000. In medieval times a village was built inside the remains of the amphitheater. In the 19th century the buildings...

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