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Archive for france

France’s Fire Art Capital

By Linda Tancs

The international reputation of Limoges as a porcelain capital dates to 1768, when kaolin (a clay mineral) was discovered near this French city. Since then, the city has thrived as the top producer of excellent hard-paste porcelain (china) in France. You can learn more about the evolution of the city’s porcelain empire by visiting the Casseaux Museum, home to the Casseaux porcelain kiln built in 1904. You might also like the Adrien Dubouché National Museum, located in the heart of the city, where the history of art and civilization is examined through the prism of porcelain.

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A Celebration of Citrus

By Linda Tancs

You’ve heard the expression, when life hands you lemons make lemonade. They’ve done one better than that in France with the annual Fête du Citron (lemon festival). Held in the city of Menton, the colossal citrus sculptures require 145 tons of fruit. Processions on the Promenade du Soleil feature of mixture of citrus-themed floats, dancers and folk groups. The Biovès Gardens are also clad with citrus fruit, forming temporary sculptures in dazzling yellow and orange shades, some reaching heights of 32 feet and more. Tickets are required for some events. This year’s festival takes place from February 16 to March 3.

Medieval Splendor in France

By Linda Tancs

Château d’Angers, a medieval fortress in Angers, France, is a massive fortification in schist and limestone. Punctuated by 17 towers, it extends over 1,600 feet, surrounded by gardens large enough to complement its size. The gardens include the usual box trees and yews, as well as a vineyard, vegetable garden, rose garden, hydrangea garden at the royal dwelling, the hanging garden with medicinal and tincture plants and a number of species depicted on the Apocalypse Tapestry. A magnificent work of art, the tapestry is based on the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Like every other part of the castle, its scope is grand, measuring 338 feet in length and nearly 15 feet in width. Once the property of René of Anjou (of the ducal line who occupied the fortress in the 14th and 15th centuries), the tapestry is situated in a specially-lit room to preserve it.

Celebrating Plums in France

By Linda Tancs

You’ll go plum crazy in Metz, France, during the annual Mirabelle Plum Festival. Rounding out the summer program of festivities in the Lorraine region in August, the event promotes the iconic fruit of the region. The highlight is the election of the Plum Queen, but you won’t want to miss the parade, fireworks, local arts and crafts or les montgolfiades (hot air balloons) in the town center by the lake.

Europe’s Renowned Pilgrimage

By Linda Tancs

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have trekked over the Pyrenees from France into Spain via a network of trails that make up the Way of St. James—El Camino de Santiago—converging at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Originating as a spiritual pilgrimage in honor of St. James, the 500-mile trek offers intrepid travelers a cultural immersion as well with cathedrals, bridges, Roman roads, monasteries, palaces, stately homes and traditional regional architecture placed amidst varying landscapes like plateaus and mountains, meadows and coastline. Be prepared for a 30-day hike if you commit to the entire route from France to Spain. Shorter routes could take less than a week to complete.

At the Foot of the Pyrénées

By Linda Tancs

Beautifully set between the mountains and the ocean, it’s easy to see why the ancient royal city of Pau, France, was a prestigious resort for aristocrats from around the world in the 19th century. No less popular today, this charming city at the foot of the Pyrénées is a winter mecca for skiers and a go-to destination for art and history buffs. Enjoy a walk along central Pau’s Boulevard des Pyrénées where countryside views and mountain panoramas prevail on clear days. The boulevard leads up to the castle of Château de Pau, birthplace of King Henry IV of France and Navarre. Another treasure is the Pau Museum of Fine Arts, one of Aquitaine’s biggest museums and home to masterpieces from the 15th to 20th centuries, including a famous painting by Degas.

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.

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