Unusual sights

  • The village gets its name from the Benedictine abbey established here in the Middle Ages and which turned the Senouire valley into “la vallée de Dieu” (valley of God). The abbey is one of the jewels of Auvergne’s religious heritage what with its Romanesque cloister and the Byzantine-inspired mural adorning its refectory. The village is just like it with its creamy-stone, round-tiled winegrowers’ houses

    Themes

    • Abbeys and churches : The Benedictine abbey
    • By the waterside : The River Senouire

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  • Le Poët-Laval is nestled in the Jabron valley amid lavender and wheat fields some twenty kilometres from Montélimar. The village was a former commanderie of the order of Knights Hospitaller and has kept the castle, ruins of the Romanesque chapel of Saint Jean des Commandeurs and ramparts from that time.

    Themes

    • Castles and ramparts : The castle dating back to the 12C, 13C and 15C
    • Unusual sights : Dauphiné Reformation Museum
    • Panoramas : View of the Jabron valley from the top of the village

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  • Les Baux-de-Provence lies perched like an eagle’s nest in the heart of the Alpilles and is a must-see place in Provence which artists, craftspeople and makers of local produce keep alive all year round.

    Themes

    • Castles and ramparts : Les Baux Castle
    • Gastronomy : AOC olive oil from the Valley of Les Baux
    • Unusual sights : Carrières de Lumière 
    • Panoramas : Les Alpilles scenery
    • Wine : AOC Baux-de-Provence wines

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    Lourmarin sprang up at the foot of the gash that the River Aiguebrun cut in the Luberon and it stands amid vineyards and olive groves. Its fountain-lined streets thread their way around the Castellas and a charming Romanesque church and lead to the magnificent castle. This was built in the 15C by the Agoult family and today houses a well-stocked collection of furniture and objets d’art. Lourmarin is an artists’ village and, among others, attracted Henri Bosco and Albert Camus who are both buried in the cemetery.

    Themes

    • Castles and ramparts : The castle
    • Gastronomy : AOC Côtes du Luberon wines
    • Unusual sights : The graves of Henri Bosco and Albert Camus

     

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  • 40 kilometres east of Rouen, in one of Europe’s finest beech groves, the aptly named Lyons-la-Forêt (the Forest) stretches out its facades decked with half-timbering, colourful daub and bricks along the River Lieure. Shops busily ply their trade around the 18C covered market where other jewels of local architecture such as the Vieux Logis or former bailiwick that has since become the town hall can also be seen.

    Themes

    • Abbeys and churches : Church of Saint Denis
    • Unusual sights : 18C covered market

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    • Ménerbes cadran solaire

    From the top of a rocky spur overlooking the Luberon garrigue and vineyards, the fortified village of Ménerbes and its castle watch over the neighbouring Most Beautiful Villages of Gordes and Roussillon. Inside, the narrow streets reveal a wealth of heritage : old houses, the town hall square with its 17C belfry and bell tower. Like many villages in the Luberon, Ménerbes has attracted several famous artists such as Picasso who used to have a house there.

    Themes

    • Abbeys and churches : Saint-Hilaire abbey
    • Castles and ramparts : The citadel and castle
    • Unusual sights : Corkscrew Museum and Truffle and Wine Centre
    • Panoramas : View of Coulon valley and the villages of Gordes and Roussillon from the deserted cemetery
    • Gastronomy : AOC Côtes du Luberon wines

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    • Minerve entrée du village

    Surrounded by deep gorges cut where the Brian and Cesse meet and situated at the very end of a limestone plateau, Minerve is a stony village in the heart of the Languedoc hinterland. It was an old Cathar bastion that was destroyed by Simon de Montfort in 1210 and the village has a column in memory of a stake at which 140 Cathars were burnt at that time. Minerve is also famous for its wine that has been produced here by local winegrowers for centuries

    Themes

    • Castles and ramparts : The remains of the fortress (Candéla : eight-sided tower), old rampart walk
    • Unusual sights : The underground passageway beneath a limestone vault leading to the postern, column in memory of a Cathar stake
    • Panoramas : View of the gorges from the rampart walk
    • Wine : AOC Minervois wines

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    • Monestiés porte de Candèze

    Monestiès is nestled in a loop of the River Céro 20 kilometres north of Albi ; an old stone bridge spans the river just a stone’s throw from the fortified gate that marks the entrance to the village. Although Saint Jacques’ Chapel no longer welcomes pilgrims on their way to Compostela, it does house some exceptional furniture including a 15C altarpiece comprising 20 multi-coloured statues.

    Themes

    • Unusual sights : The altarpiece with 20 life-size multi-coloured statues

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  • This "bastide" or fortified village is situated between Agenais and Périgord ; it was founded in 1256 and had to repress many attacks by the English and recover from the Wars of Religion. Although the village has lost is ramparts, it has retained its characteristic grid pattern and the ever-bustling Place des Arcades still displays some very fine houses, for example the house of the Black Prince.

    Themes

    • Unusual sights : La place des Arcades
    • Panoramas : La vue sur la vallée de la Lède depuis le « Cap del Pech »
    • Wine : The Pays of Haut-Agenais wines

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  • Monpazier is labelled a "Grand site national", it has no less than 32 listed buildings and is regarded as the prime example of a "bastide" among the 300 in South-western France. Monpazier has had countless awards to salute, but also to protect, the outstanding heritage of this fortified village that was founded by Edward I of England in 1284.

    Themes

    • Gastronomy : The Cèpe mushroom market every afternoon from August to October (depending on growth)
    • Unusual sights : The main square with arcade

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