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The Lac de Serre-Poncon

Post by Sharat | September 28, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
The Lac de Serre-Poncon

The Lac de Serre-Ponconis one of Europe’s largest man-made lakes and sits in a lovely location surrounded hills and mountains from where you can obtain some stunning views overlooking the lake. The lake itself is fed by two rivers, the Durance and the Ubaye and if you like water sports, then you should definitely pay a visit to one of the many lake-side village which can serve as excellent bases to participate in these activities.

Explore the Lake Serre-Poncon

There is a road on the Southern edge of the lake linking Embrun and Barcelonnette which is well worth driving along because it offers some fantastic views of the lake. If you have the opportunity and time, then it is highly recommended that you do the drive. If you are travelling with a motorhome then you will be glad to know that there a plenty of parking facilities which also serve as fabulous places to stop overnight.

Water sports

There is a dam located on the Western edge of the lake which is worth a trip and nearby is view point called Rousset which is yet another fabulous vantage point with spectacular views of the lake. Also quite close by is the ‘Museoscope du Lac’ where you can learn bout how the largest dam in Europe was constructed. If you can, you should stop off at the village of Savines-le-lac which sits on the Southern side of the lake and is arguably the main destination for water sports. From here you can take a boat tour or try your hand at a range of activities from sailing to water-skiing. Other alternative destinations for water-related activities include the villages of Crots and Chorges.

Embrun

Savines-le-lac is in actual fact a recreation of a village that had to be flooded in order to create the lake that was rather unsurprisingly called Savines. It is still possible to see its church which used to overlook the village on its hill-top location and now occupies a small island in the lake. If you want to hang out in bars, eat at some nice restaurants or do a spot of shopping, head to Embrun on the lake’s Eastern shore. It actually sits on the hillside above the lake and is an attractive small town that is worth taking the time to visit.

Lac de Serre-Ponçon by Hape662, on Flickr

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Lavish Lacoste

Post by Sharat | September 21, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
Lavish Lacoste

Lacoste is a small but pretty Provencal village that is best know for serving as home to the castle of the Marquis de Sade that overlooks the village. If you are driving to Lacoste, then there are plenty of parking options. The best place to keep your car is in the free car park that is near the village tourist office. When you visit the tourist office you will see that nearby is the Church of Saint-Trophine which has retained some of its original Roman style.

Stone gateway

You should take your time and explore the old village of Lacoste. You should begin by walking up the hill from the village centre to its original stone gateway. The gateway was constructed during the 14th century but then rebuilt two centuries later and was renamed La Porte de La Garde. When you pass through the entrance you will hit upon a narrow-cobbled street that winds its way through the village.

The main attraction

The street is Lacoste’s main attraction because it is largely unspoilt and no extensive renovation. This means nearly every building is eye catching giving you an authentic feeling of wandering through a village as it was centuries ago. As you wander through the village make sure to check out the belfry and bell tower. As you eventually reach the top of the village, you will find the track narrowing until you reach the castle that overlooks Lacoste.

The Marquis de Sade

From the castle there are some amazing views to be had and as we said in the introduction it used to be the home of the Marquis de Sade. For those of you who need an introduction, he was an 18th century author who was imprisoned for his writings which promoting sexual deviance and from whose name the word sadism is derived. The castle funnily enough is now owned by Pierre Cardin. It is occasionally used to host events and displays and apparently during the summer is open to the public.

Some nearby attractions

If you head back to Lacoste’s lower part you can exit the historical part of town and wander along the main road where there is a café and terrace that has some lovely views across the valley. If you want the natural regional Park of Luberon is near by filled with quaint villages set against a backdrop of lovely countryside. If you have the time check out Gordes in particular which is arguably one of France’s loveliest villages and is not far away from Lacoste.

Lacoste by Shadowgate, on Flickr

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Guide To Lac de Sainte-Croix

Post by Sharat | September 14, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
Guide ToLac de Sainte-Croix

The Lac de Sainte-Croix is in the Regional Natural Park of Verdon. It is a leisure lake and reservoir that was established in the seventies and if you visit, there are a number of places worth checking out on the lake shore as well as in the region itself.The Lac de Sainte-Croix is surrounded by roads but many of them sit quite far away so you will not always get to see the water, nevertheless the countryside itself is extremely beautiful as well.

Exploring the Lac de Sainte-Croix

On the lake’s Eastern shore, you will find Les Salles-sur-Verdon which is extremely popular with tourists. It is a new village built after the lake was created and serves as a replacement to the historic village that bears its name that was destroyed by the creation of the dam and lake. There are supervised beaches that are perfect for the family to relax at and there is plenty of parking. There are other small beaches on Lac de Sainte-Croix which are not supervised and you should be careful if you visit because there are unpredictable currents in the water.

Head to the bridge

There is a bridge located at the point where the River Verdon enters the lake named Pont de Galetas on the East end of Lac de Sainte-Croix. From this vantage point there is a wonderful view of the entrance to the Gorges du Verdon. If you enjoy water sports, hire a canoe or a pedalo and set about exploring. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a small village that is not quite located on the lake shore but is close enough to visit but is worth visiting because it does have some great views that extend across the lake.

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie appears on the “most beautiful villages of France” list because it has spectacular backdrop of cliffs that sit behind the village. It is also an interesting place in it of itself and you will find it extremely picturesque. You will need to spend a little time to explore it properly and if you have time after doing that, head to Aiguines which is not far away and has a few sites that visitors will find extremely interesting.

Lac de Sainte-Croix by Tristan Ferne, on Flickr

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Save Up To £20 On Long Stay Return Fares For Motor Homes & Caravans With P&O Ferries- Offer Ends 09-10-2018

Post by Sharat | September 12, 2018 | Travel Deals | Comment
P&O Ferries

P&O Ferries is running a fabulous deal right now. You could travel between Dover and Calais on a return day trip with your motor home and caravan and save £20 All you need to do is book a 5-day return trip by 9th October 2018 and enter coupon code ECHV10 at checkout. Travel on select dates between now and 18th December 2018 and this deal could be yours so head on over to the P&O site today.

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Book Dover To Calais Return Day Trip And Get 6 Free Bottles Of Wine With P&O Ferries – Offer Ends 07-10-2018

Post by Sharat | September 11, 2018 | Travel Deals | Comment
P&O Ferries

P&O Ferries is running a fabulous deal right now. You could travel between Dover and Calais on a return day trip  and get six bottles of Banrock Station wine free of charge on your outward journey only. All you need to do is book a day trip by 7th October 2018 and enter coupon code WINE18 at checkout. Travel on select dates between 17th September and 26th October 2018 and this deal could be yours so head on over to the P&O site today.

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La Turbie Is Little But Lovely

Post by Sharat | September 7, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
La Turbie Is Little But Lovely

La Turbie sits on the French Riviera a short distance away from Monaco. In fact, it is situated on the beautiful Grand Cornice Road that connects Monaco to Nice and is one the region’s most scenic highlights. The village itself is extremely lovely and has some wonderful views from the cornice. The main reason that people come to visit however is its spectacular Roman monument that dominates the village.

Exploring La Turbie

La Turbie dates back to medieval time and whilst it is small it remains beautifully preserved. La Turbie developed around the Roman monument and if you do visit, don’t just content yourself with seeing the monument, take the time to explore the village itself. In order to enter the village, you will have to pass through a medieval stone gateway where you will find some lovely medieval streets as well as a pretty village square in the centre which is home to a small chapel amidst a gaggle of colourful houses.

The church

You should pay a visit to the baroque style Church of Saint Michel which dates back to the 18th century where you will find a number of paintings and frescoes as well as a wonderfully decorated altarpiece. Of less interest to people who visit is the rest of La Turbie. There is a market that takes place on Thursdays but you won’t find anything more than cheap clothes which is in contrast to the traditional Provencal market that most people love.

Trophy of the Alps

The monument is known as the ‘Trophy of the Alps’ and dates back to the 6th century BC. It used to feature a gigantic statue of the Emperor Augustus sitting on top of a set of circular buildings that were surrounded by great columns which themselves stand on a large stone pedestal. The monument used to mark the boundary between the Roman Empire and the area controlled by Gaul. Not surprisingly the monument was designed to symbolise the imposing power of the Roman Empire as well as celebrate the victory of Augustus over Gaulish tribes.

Renovated monument

The statue unfortunately did not stand the test of time and its structure fell into disrepair and ultimately ruin over the intervening centuries. Much of the village it stands watch over was in fact built using the very same stone that was used to construct the monument. In the 20th century there was a renovation effort which has had a profound effect and recaptured some of the lost glory of the monument. The monument now sits in a small park and overlooks the sea.

Spectacular views

If you visit the monument, be sure to check out the small on-site museum which houses a scale model of the original monument. The views from the monument are spectacular and you will find it hard to obtain a better view of the French Riviera anywhere in France. On the left side of the monument you will find a belvedere where you can obtain some good views without having to fork out cash to pay for admission to the Trophy des Alpes.

La Turbie 08 by Ben Bowes, on Flickr

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Little La Grave

Post by Sharat | August 28, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
Little La Grave

La Grave is a village that sits high up in the mountains and is about an hour drive North-West of Briancon. The village appears on the ‘most beautiful villages’ of France list and because there is a mountain range facing the village, many people refer to it as La Grave – La Meijie. It should come as no surprise if you haven’t visited before that the imposing mountains surrounding the village is the reason it is so scenic.

Exploring La Grave

Because La Grave sits at such a height there are no trees and this means you will not find any wooden chalets in the village. Another reason for the lack of wooden chalets is the village has in the past been consumed by fire so that definitely discouraged the idea. Instead you will find buildings constructed from rock complete with stone rooves. The houses are built mainly from volcanic rock and the village is perched on a slope and filled with a warren of narrow streets that wind in between the houses and the Roman style church constructed during the 12th century in the centre of town.

Spectacular views

The residents of La Grave are extremely proud and have a right to be because the village has been able to avoid the visual impact of tourism and the facilities blend seamlessly into the rest of the village. The views from La Grave of the surrounding countryside are nothing short of spectacular. If you decide to visit during the summer you will really enjoy some of the hiking trails in the region. Another very popular activity during that time of the year is rock climbing.

La Grave skiing

Whilst summer is a great time to visit, the best time to come to La Grave is without question the winter if you happen to be someone who enjoys winter sports. This is because La Grave is most famous for being a ski resort and if you do come for the skiing, then make sure you have experience because there are no established pistes and you will find yourself skiing on glaciers more often than not. It is possible to reach what is arguably one of the best ski runs in Europe by tram and lift and it is hardly a surprise that the village attracts so many experienced skiers thanks to its magical setting and incredible challenge.

2012-08-01 by Guillaume Baviere, on Flickr

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Luscious La Croix-Valmer

Post by Sharat | August 21, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment

La Croix-Valmer is a little town on the French Riviera to the South of Saint-Tropez, as you would imagine with any town on the Cote d’Azur it is quite attractive thanks to its beaches and pine covered Maures Massif. There are some lovely villas from the earlier part of the 20th century that are worth checking out. The two most impressive are the Maison des Peres du Saint Esprit and the Orangery. However, it goes without saying, if you are paying a visit to La Croix-Valmer then you have come for the beaches and scenery.

Beaches of La Croix-Valmer

There are a number of fantastic beaches in La Croix-Valmer and they cover many kilometres of coastline with lovely backdrops consisting of rocks and trees. The water is crystal clear and the beaches are very sandy. As a result, the beaches of La Croix-Valmer have been given the blue flag award for cleanliness and facilities. The town even lays on free shuttle buses from its centre to some of the more popular beaches.

Visit as many as possible

Arguably the most popular beaches are the Plage de Giagaro and the Plage du Debarquement both of which have complete facilities and during summer time are extremely busy. There are other beaches which are much quieter but have no facilities so you will have to make a choice as to which you prefer. It is highly recommended that if you do come to La Croix-Valmer, you should visit as many beaches as you can since they tend to differ quite substantially from one another. You should also be aware that these beaches were extremely important landing beaches during the invasion of Southern France as the Second World War was drawing to a close.

Sights close to La Croix-Valmer

Once you have had your fill of all the beaches you can take a walk along some very lovely coastal paths that have their origins in La Croix-Valmer. There are some fabulous views across the Gulf of Saint-Tropez to be had and the scenery varies from place to place. You should also take a hike across the Massif Maures Hills which is a very pleasant experience. There are a couple of villages nearby that are extremely beautiful (Gassin and Ramatuelle) both of which have spectacular views fanning out across the Mediterranean. If you have time, about an hour’s walk away is Port Grimuad which is worth visiting in its own right.

La Croix-Valmer – Plage de Gigaro by Frederique Voisin-Demery , on Flickr

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Guide To La Ciotat

Post by Sharat | August 14, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
Guide ToLa Ciotat

La Ciotatis located in Provence and sits on the coast in between Marseille and Cassis. Thanks to its location there is some lovely coastal scenery to enjoy plus there is easy access to the beaches. La Ciotat itself serves as a fishing port complete with attractive harbour that is filled with pleasure crafts. The easiest place to park if you visit is at the large car park next to the ocean on the Western side of the port. From there it is a short walk to the tourist office where you can begin your exploration.

Exploring La Ciotat

You should make sure you visit the Church of Notre-Dame which was built in Roman style during the 17th century and continues to dominate the western harbour. The church was renovated during the 70’s and there are several frescoes painted during the renovation by Gilbert Ganteaume that are simply beautiful. You should then head to the old town where there are some very impressive houses that are at least four centuries old that you can admire plus a shady open square where you can sit and relax.

Parks and gardens

There are a number of parks and garden all of which are worth visiting. Some of the gardens are located in town.The the one you should definitely make room on your itinerary for is the Parc du Mugel which is a 12 hectare botanical garden. There is a huge variety of flora in this garden and it sits in a lovely setting, on a peninsula which gives you some lovely views across the Calanque du Muguel.

The beaches

If you want to spend some time at the seaside then the Plage de La Ciotat is where you should visit with its six kilometres of beaches but it requires a little bit of travel from the town centre. On the Eastern side of the port you will find the Gulf d’Amour which is where most of the sandy beaches are located. If you don’t want to trek very far head to the Plage des Capucins. If you are non-smoker then the beach to head to is the Plage Lumiere where smoking is prohibited which is unusual for France. If you are adventurous then continue further North-East where you will find some lovely smaller beaches.

Port de La Ciotat By Gerard Colombat, on Flickr

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Lovely La Brigue

Post by Sharat | August 7, 2018 | See France Destination Guides | Comment
Lovely La Brigue

La Brigue is a lovely little village that sits in an extremely beautiful riverside setting in between Tende and Menton. The village was originally part of Italy but was made officially part of France as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1947. Very few people are aware of this gem because it is usually little more than a footnote in most travel guides, nevertheless the village of La Brigue is very picturesque thanks to its steep rocky hills on either side of the village. There are also a number of important historical sites that are well worth visiting so if you are in the region you should stop off for a visit.

Start on the bridge

You should start your tour of La Brigue on the bridge across the river in the very heart of the village. There are some lovely views to be had of the houses that dot the river banks and the river valley itself. At one end of the bridge you will find a small square where there is a chapel, church and a statue. The most important attraction here is the Church of Saint-Michel built during the 14th century. The church was constructed in Roman style with a baroque façade and given that La Brigue is so small it is much larger than one might expect.

Check out the frescoes

If you venture beyond the square you will eventually reach the older parts of the village where you will find some very attractive houses and a square that is adjacent to the river featuring arcaded buildings. Above the village lies the ruins of Chateau Lascaris which is well worth visiting. You should follow the road leading East out La Brigue and after a short while you will arrive as a small chapel nestled in the woods called Notre-Dame des Fontaines. The chapel sits in a peaceful setting and features a very simple design that is very unassuming. Upon entry however you will discover a very impressive set of frescoes painted by a 15th century artist named Canavesio.

Attractions nearby

While you can easily drive from La Brigue to Notre-Dame des Fontaines, it is highly recommended that you follow the path between the two instead. This is because by doing so you will better appreciate the location and countryside. If you follow the river upstream you come across a medieval bridge and a number of oratories on your way. The route is known as Chemin des Oratories and your walk will take a couple of hours to get there and back.

44320011 by Helen Morgan, on Flickr

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