This will be my first overnight stop on my drive down to the South of France Update Arrived on a Monday. Many restaurants fermé le lundi. Thus pleased to find La Pascaline, open Mondays. Will post pics and details separately.More details
And next stop will be another cathedral town , perhaps the most famous of the cathedrals of Northern Europe. Update .. like most French cathedrals, totally free. Wonderful. See separate review by me. Chartres itself gloriously devoid of tourists at end of January.
And the fifth night in Orange, France from where the Dutch House of Orange originated Recommend the Roman theatre and the Roman gate. The latter we came across first at night quite unexpectedly and it was lit and stunning. Ate at Monteverdi Cafe, see separate entry.More details
Planning to go there in late July / August as apparently they have a brilliant son et lumière based on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables . NB no songs .. it isn’t the musical but I gather it is stunning. Will report back! Update August! absolute recommendation. 500 volunteers plus horses act out this pageant. High high production values. What a spectacle!
We visited here on a Monday because many restaurants are closed in Rouen on Mondays and this was open. I would recommend it for any day of the week though. We had a very good value menu .. three courses ... home cooked and interesting. eg the pictured starter, called a cake. And lovely pear clafoutis for pudding. Pichet of nice white wine.More details
In the old episcopal palace is this newly opened experience which gives insight into the life of Joan of Arc. It recreates the second trial of Joan, which overturned the guilty verdict of her first trial 25 years earlier. Too late for Joan of course as she had been burnt at the stake. A good audio visual experience though a little one sided ie nearly all from the exonerating judge’s viewpoint. The final section showing the way Joan’s image has been exploited over the centuries by all shades of political opinion was fascinating.
7 Rue Saint-Romain, 76000 Rouen, France
Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France • Recommendation •
The most famous cathedral in France! Recently extensively and expensively cleaned inside. Some love the new effect, some hate it. Do you call the atmospheric gloom of 1000 years ‘dirt ‘ or ‘patina’? Go and see and decide.
16 Cloi Notre Dame, Chartres, France
Good restaurant ( in centre of Orange ) which was very welcoming on a wet night. The 20 euro menu offered steak or Baked camembert and ham ; both came with chips and salad and were substantial. Included pictured pud was homemade salted caramel cake and ice cream, very yummy.
443 Boulevard Edouard Daladier, Orange, France
This beautiful island is a 20 minute boat ride from Cannes but could not be more different. There are no cars, no shops, one restaurant (closed in February when we were there), a working monastery and an old fortified one from the roof of which my first photo was taken. We took a picnic and explored in near solitude. Absolute peace.
Why not try your luck horse racing on the Côte d’Azur? You will soon master the language ( key words deux euro à numéro 3 , gagnant et placé ) Even if you don’t win a fun activity on a scenic course with view to the Mediterranean!
06800 Cagnes-sur-Mer, France
Fantastic views in this glorious French hilltop town dedicated to art and food! The photo shows Picasso’s head ( well there is no denying he was a bigheaded genius ) with views to the mountains beyond. It was lovely and quiet on a February Monday. Cannot vouch for the Summer but nothing can affect the views. No cars in old town but free parking
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Nice, France • Recommendation •
A new museum with a very interesting concept in the beautiful hilltop town of Mougins, a few miles North of Cannes. This private collection juxtaposes classical artefacts with modern art works which have been inspired by the classical world. Both the old and new works are of the highest standard. Picasso, Modigliani, Renoir, Rodin, Gormley, Grayson Perry, Dali etc etc! The collection of ancient helmets beggars belief! The village setting is stunning.
32 Rue Commandeur, Vieux Village de Mougins, France
Visited this very tiny restaurant in Antibes today. Dared to try the ‘surprise’ menu at 32 euros. High high standard assuming you like fish ( I do !) My husband just ordered a main course and we shared my amuse bouche, my starter and my dessert. They weren’t at all fazed by this! I like the way it is small and opens for 2 hours at lunchtime then shuts and reopens for a few hours in evening. This is not mass produced cooking. Closed Sunday and Monday. Cash only.More details
Every February Menton, a town just inside France, close to the Italian border hosts its fabulous lemon festival. This was my third visit and I find the constructions made of citrus fruit in the gardens and the procession along the streets a truly joyous and life enhancing experience. No shortage of lemon tarts in the restaurants either!
Quayside restaurant at one of the two bays in mindbogglingly picturesque Villefranche sur Mer. Walk from the station along the Sentier de Littoral ( coastal path) to find la Baleine Joyeuse ( Happy Whale ) Outdoor seating only. My fresh tuna salad was excellent and reasonably priced for the area. Enjoy with rosé wine, the speciality down here in Provence.
4 Quai de la Corderie, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
Stunning setting on Cap Ferrat, surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean. Beautiful gardens , interestingly arranged as ‘rooms’ : Spanish, Japanese, Provençal, etc etc. Musical fountains were great fun. Then wildly over the top house with magnificent views. 14 euro entry. Probably best not to eat there, go instead to Villefranche sur Mer as food overpriced for what it is. Or take a picnic!
1 Avenue Ephrussi de Rothschild, 06230 Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
The villa Kerylos in Beaulieu sur Mer ( 3 stops on train from Nice) was built in the early 20 th century as a homage to the villas of Ancient Greece. This was done in a scholarly and tasteful manner and this is a truly beautiful place to visit. Definitely take the included audio tour for valuable background information.
Impasse Gustave Eiffel, 06310 Beaulieu-sur-Mer, France
One night stop in Montélimar and decided to revisit excellent Moroccan restaurant from three years ago. Did not let us down. Try ‘bricks’ for starters and couscous and brochettes for mains. Generous portions, friendly service. While in Montélimar, don’t forget to try nougat.
23 Boulevard Aristide Briand, 26200 Montélimar, France
Very good lunch (entrée et plat for 14.90 euros) Far superior food and cooking to what you might expect on not very thrilling shopping street. Friendly personal service. I had Velouté of Lentils and chorizo followed by frittata lorraine. Good Vegetarian options as well and I believe they do a good sunday brunch.
13 Rue Grand Rabbin Haguenauer, 54000 Nancy, France
This new outpost of the Louvre in Lens has the laudable aim of breathing new life into a old mining area. The site is not beautiful but pays clever homage to its industrial history and INSIDE is a changing exhibition of highest quality artefacts from the Louvre’s own mighty collection, displayed individually and magnificently.
99 Rue Paul Bert, 62300 Lens, France
What a find! This amazing house was the headquarters of General Haig British C in C in World War One. It had fallen into decline but has been lovingly restored by a dedicated French couple and now is open for bed and breakfast stays. Incredible attention to detail, lovely style and a most wonderful breakfast provided by the genuinely friendly hosts. In Wailly Beaucamp, close to Montreuil sur Mer.
96 Route nationale, 62170 Wailly-Beaucamp, France
Calais has some surprisingly good restaurants including this one. Interesting and well cooked 28 euro menu included three courses preceded by an amuse bouche. Pictured is my crab starter. Art Deco interior belies rather uninteresting location in a shopping street. Drinks a tad expensive Lunch looked good value.
10 Rue Neuve, 62100 Calais, France
Lille, France • Memory •
Modern art museum on outskirts of Lille. The permanent collection is high quality.. see Picasso, Modigliani, Braque, Miro but be warned it is small so fine if you have not come too far. I did not rate the temporary exhibitions which were on while we were there but that may have been bad luck.
1 Allée du Musée, 59650 Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France