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Archive for france

The Oak Chapel

By Linda Tancs

The oldest known tree in France is an oak located in the small French farming village of Allouville-Bellefosse known as le chêne chapelle. Dating back purportedly at least 1,000 years, it presided over such seminal events in the nation’s history as the French Revolution, the reign of Louis XIV and Napoleon’s expansion of the empire. Its ancient trunk is now hollowed out and home to two chapels accessible via a spiral staircase around the trunk. Given its age, you’d better make haste to see this heavenly treehouse.


A Writer’s Inspiration in France

By Linda Tancs

Jules Verne was a French novelist, poet and playwright best known for his adventure novels like Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. A native of Nantes, France, he was inspired by the sailors’ tales that he heard on the docks of this maritime city at the mouth of the Loire River. So it’s appropriate that the Jules Verne Museum overlooks the river, in the Loire hillside where the Verne family’s country house can still be seen nearby. Located on rue de l’Hermitage, the museum is an easy walk via Chronobus 1 (Lechat) or Tramway 1 (Gare maritime).

French Wildlife in Savoie

By Linda Tancs

Vanoise National Park in southeastern France is the country’s oldest national park. Occupying over 130,000 acres, it stretches to the Italian border and is contiguous with the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy. Originally founded in 1963 for the protection of the Alpine ibex (a wild goat that suffered greatly from hunting beginning in the 16th century), conservation efforts have proved fruitful. About 2,000 ibex reside in the park, the largest national population. Other animals found there include 5,500 chamois as well as marmots, foxes,  golden eagles, black grouse and perhaps rarest of all, the three-toed woodpecker, which purportedly has only ever been seen in Savoie and Haute-Savoie.

A Poisonous World

By Linda Tancs

Musée des Confluences is France’s newest museum. Located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers in Lyon, the spaceship-like facility is a science center and anthropological museum. One of its studies on display until April 13 explores the world of poison. A subject evoking both fear and fascination, the exhibition delves into the historical, cultural, scientific and forensic aspects of poison through various media, including artifacts, art and live animals.

The Best of the Alps

By Linda Tancs

The Portes du Soleil is regarded as the largest international ski area in Europe, spanning both France and Switzerland. Some consider the region to encompass the best of the Alps, from picturesque hamlets to bustling resorts. One of those jewels is Morzine, a pretty Alpine town bordering Switzerland. Just over an hour from Geneva airport, the town is linked not only to neighboring Avoriaz and Les Gets and the Portes du Soleil ski area but also to delectable cuisine beyond the oft-anticipated stodgy saucepan of fondue. Local specialties include cheeses of Abondance and Beaufort and féra, a tasty regional whitefish. But of course no French town would be complete without a bakery, one of the most popular being Boulangerie Tavernier with its artisanal chocolates, pastries and cakes.

Living History in Rouen

By Linda Tancs

Joan of Arc is a national heroine of France, a peasant girl born in the 1400s who led the French army to a momentous victory over the English during the Hundred Years’ War. Later captured by opposition forces, she was tried for witchcraft and heresy and burned at the stake in 1431 in Rouen, France, at the age of 19. You can immerse yourself in medieval history and her life and times at the Joan of Arc History Museum. Housed in a 15th century archbishop’s palace, visitors can live this historic period by viewing a series of films projected onto the walls of the magnificent palace in holographic style. The state-of-the-art audiovisual experience is an immersive adventure for all ages.

The Cradle of Caen’s Heritage

By Linda Tancs

Caen is the capital of northern France’s Lower Normandy region. The cradle of its heritage is Château de Caen, a medieval castle that is one of the largest in Europe. Built around 1060 by William the Conqueror, it stands on a hill flanked by the Romanesque abbeys of Saint-Étienne (also known as the Men’s Abbey) and Sainte-Trinité (the Ladies’ Abbey), which date from the same period and were built to appease the Pope’s disapproval of William’s marriage to his cousin Matilda of Flanders. The castle is home to the Normandy Museum (devoted to WWII and the Battle of Normandy) and the Fine Arts Museum.

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