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Tips and Advise for visiting France by Road to Travel Inc.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Visit Bordeaux: the world capital of wine

Known as the world capital of wine, the city of Bordeaux in France has it all: fine food, world’s best wines and stunning architecture with a UNESCO World Heritage status.

Bordeaux is often called a “little Paris” for its magnificent 18th and 19th century architecture, large squares and elegant boulevards. The city’s monumental heart lies between the spacious boulevards Cours Clemenceau, Cours de l’Intendance, Allées de Tourny that replaced narrow medieval streets and dark buildings in the 1700s. The neo-classic grandeur with vast open spaces declared the Bordeaux’s commercial and political role in the country. Very few cities in the world manage to interweave historic heritage and sleek modernity with such success. Place de la Bourse is a fine example of how it is done in Bordeaux. The 18th century sumptuous royal square is flanked by palace-like façades combined with the modern day creation Mirroir d'Eau are the most-photographed site in the city. A great expanse of shallow water on granite slabs reflects the buildings to a mesmerizing effect.

Bordeaux - Place de la Bourse

One of the iconic buildings in the city is the ornate basilica of St Michel, which took 200 years to complete. Its 114 meters high freestanding spire is the tallest building in Bordeaux. Climb up to the top for spectacular views over the cityscape. Stroll around the Saint Michel quarter surrounding the church to soak up in the relaxed atmosphere of this colorful and atmospheric neighborhood with its charming markets, cafes and restaurants.

Bordeaux - Basilica of St Michel

The monumental Grand Théâtre features twelve colossal Corinthian columns and elaborate statues of nine muses and the goddesses Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Everyone who steps inside is awestruck by the Inside the theater, visitors are awed by opulent foyers and grand staircases. 

Bordeaux - Grande Theatre

Covering thirty-one acres, the Place des Quinconces is the largest city square in Europe that will leave you speechless and… helpless unsuccessfully trying to fit its expanse in one photo. 

If you fill overwhelmed by Bordeaux’s grandeur and splendour, you can always escape for a relaxing visit to one of the region’s excellent vineyards in the countryside.

Photos via Flickr by: Stanislav Georgiev, Genevieve Ducret, Bertrand Duperrin.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Visit the beautiful castles in the Loire Valley

The group forty-two fairy-tale châteaux in the Loire Valley is one of France's most popular tourist destinations. Visiting them all can be a daunting task, so here we pick the five most spectacular castles for you.

Château de Chambord
The largest chateau of the Loire Valley, Chambord boasts 156-metre façade, 440 rooms,  282 fireplaces, 77 staircases and a beautiful park stretching over 13,000 acres. The castle was built by François I who was only 25 years old when he commissioned the construction. Château de Chambord was never furnished as it served as a hunting lodge for short stays and all the necessities were brought by the king’s entourage that consisted of up to 2,000 people. During World War II, some of France's most valuable national treasures and works of art, including the Mona Lisa, were housed in Chambord.

Château de Chambord

Château de Blois
A former residence of seven Kings and ten Queens of France, Blois consists of 564 rooms in total, 75 staircases, and 100 fireplaces. The oldest part of the castle dates back to the 13th century where the spectacular Salle des États (Hall of States) is located. Three wings, built over centuries feature gothic, Renaissance and classical architectural styles. Today the castle houses Blois’ Fine Arts museum as well as various temporary exhibitions in the lavish decorated royal apartments.

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
Nestled on a small island hidden by centuries-old trees, Château d' Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most romantic castles in the Loire Valley. Although significantly smaller than many other castles in the area, Azay-le-Rideau packs a punch with its richly decorated drawing rooms and stately apartments boasting a splendid collection of of Flemish tapestries from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Chateau d'Amboise
A favourite of many French kings, Chateau d'Amboise witnessed some gruesome events: King Charles VIII died here in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel; in the 16th century 1200 Protestants who had tried to revolt were hanged on iron hooks on the castle’s walls. A few hundred metres from the castle stands Le Clos-Lucé manor where Leonardo da Vinci spent final years of his life.

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau
Famous for its arches spanning the River Cher, the Chenonceau castle has opulent furnishings, beautiful formal gardens and an impressive art collection, which includes masterpieces by Rubens, van Dyck, van Loo).

Photos via Flickr by: Dimitar Denev, Mark Weston, Andrea Schaffer.