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7171thomsonalfresco.co.ukRegional Information - FrancePlaces Of Interest & Things To SeeLa Rochelle La Rochelle, the landmark of the region, is seen asthemost unspoilt seaside resorts in France. Thefocalpoint of the town is the old harbour with threemediaeval towers and lined with quayside cafés andrestaurants. There's a natural history museum andaquarium too. To get a good view over the city, climbthe 15th century Tour de la Lanterne and late June toJuly La Rochelle hosts an international film festival.Isle of RéThe Isle of Ré is one of the off shore islands linkedtothe mainland by a toll bridge and has 70km ofcoastline and 20km of fine sand beaches. Whitewashedhouses with green shutters, narrow winding streetsthrough quaint villages and harbours make the islandaparadise for holidaymakers and a haven for cyclists.The Island has oyster farms and salt marshes andevenhas its own nature reserve for birds. The maintown St-Martin de Ré is a picturesque fishing villagesurrounded by 17th Century fortifications which youcan walk around to get an amazing view of the boats inthe harbour. It is popular with cyclists as it is very flatand has an extensive network of paved cycle paths.The Ile d'Oléron is a great surf spot and can also bereached from La Rochelle.RoyanRoyan is a stylish beach resort south of Rochefort; ithas a 2km long beach, a stylish promenade and plentyof cafés, restaurants and shops. It had to be entirelyrebuilt when it was completely destroyed in 1945during the war. Fort BoyardFort Boyard, now known for being the setting of thepopular television series, is located off the coast ofLaRochelle. It was built in 1666 as extra protection forRochefort and the Island of Aix. You are unable to visitthe Island due to television contracts but you can takeone of the many boat trips to sail around it.RochefortRochefort was once a naval base and was foundedbyLouis Colbert in the 17th Century. It was alsothebirthplace of the travel writer Pierre Loti; you canview all the objects he brought back from his travelsin his museum. CognacThis town is famous for making the double distilledspirit Cognac, it has been making the spirit since 1795when a Scot named Otard opened a distillery in thetown and ruthlessly tore down a chapel in the process.It is made of local distilled white wine that is then agedin oak barrels for 54 years before being bottled.SaintesSaintes is a town over 2000 years old and located onthe banks of the Charente river. It is home to one ofthe oldest remaining amphitheatres as well as Romanbaths. Take a stroll through the medieval city of narrowstreets and markets.PoitiersA 14th Century centre of arts and intellectual studies,is today a modern and upbeat city with a wealth ofarchitectural interest in its atmospheric old quarter.ChatelaillonThis is a bustling seaside resort with a promenade andfine sandy beach that is said to be one of the safeston the coast. Stretching over almost 3 kilometres,Chatelaillon boasts a water complex with giant flumeand sailing school.Fun For All The FamilyAquariumsThe whole family can enjoy a visit to the marine world.The grand aquarium of La Rochelle is among the mostbeautiful in Europe. Open close to the Old Harbour, ithouses over 10,000 marine animals from the Atlantic,the Mediterranean and the tropics. And on the IsleofOléron, the Aquarium of Saint-Pierre likewise isapopular place to visit.Le Palmyre ZooJust north of Royan, the resort of La Palmyre hasglorious beaches backed by pine forests. It has azoohome to many animals and endangered specieswhich are all housed in habitat set up like theirnaturalhabitat.Futuroscope Theme Park, Poitiers This hi-tech, cinema theme park is set in what lookslike a science fiction novel, the buildings all reflect thename of the park, a giant sphere set on a slopingsheet of glass, a huge translucent cube and reflectiveorgan pipes that projects into the sky. The attractionsinclude a 3D cyber trip into imaginary worlds, a 3Dspace mission around the universe and CinémaDynamique a virtual reality roller coaster. It also haslive laser and firework nights during high season.Things To DoMarais PoitevinA maze of man-made canals of marshland dating backto the middle ages, when monks started a huge projectto drain the Golfe du Poitou. The more picturesquename given to the area is "La Venise Verte" or "GreenVenice". One of the best ways of exploring the network ofwaterways is to hire a boat, which you can do with orwithout a guide.Visits to VineyardsYou can see the vineyards of Cognac covering the hillsaround the town and also take a tour around one ofthe distilleries. Global Garden (Les Jardins du Monde)A flower and leisure park with tropical green housecontacining orchids, bonsai and landscaped gardensaround a lake.Visit the Oyster BedsMarennes is one of the most important oyster farmingareas. Find out about the life and everyday work ofoyster farmers and the history of oysters.Local Specialities. Chaudrée, local fish in muscatel wine, or tantouillée,a red wine stew made with pork and chicken.. Charente Maritime is known for its green-tingedoyster and liquor; cognac or pineau.Charente Maritime

72Regional Information - France72thomsonalfresco.co.ukPlaces Of Interest & Things To SeeCap d'AgdeIs a modern lively resort which has some excellentbeaches. There are a number of impressive museumsto visit, one example is 'Musée de I'Ephèbe', whichdisplays antiquities discovered locally, many of themfrom beneath the sea.SèteHome to France's largest Mediterranean fishing port,this quaint fishing village is renowned for itssalt lakeand seafood specialities, many of which are servedinthe quayside restaurants. The houses in SèteareItalianate in style with wrought iron balconiesoverlooking a network of canals and bridges. From theharbour you can climb to the Cimetière marin - thesailors cemetery where the poet Paul Valéry is buried.There is also the 'Musée Paul Valéry' which has aroom devoted to him, plusa collection of modernFrench paintings. Don'tforget to visit the 'Vauban'sFort St-Pierre' Sète's very own open-air theatre.Argelès-sur-MerHere you will find enormous sandy beaches, a palm-fringed promenade and a fine view of the Albèresmountains.PerpignanThe capital of Roussillon and home of the FrenchCatalan people. The city is rich in museums, andCatalan is still spoken in the Old Quarter. Here youwill find palm-lined promenades, vibrant paintedhouses of turquoise and pink and a preservationoffolklore and tradition. There area number ofhistoric sites to view, there is the imposing 'PalaisdesRois de Majorque', built in the 13thcentury or'Le Castillet' in the centre of the town. Don't missthecathedral, medieval town gate or ChâteaudeQuéribus.The CamargueThis area in the Rhône delta is half land, half marshand is home to a wide range of wildlife. Including thearea's famous white horses, flamingos, vultures, turtlesand small black bulls. In the Parc Naturel Régional dela Camargue the bird life is unique in Europe. It is theonly place in Europe where flamingos flock and nest.CarcassonneThis fairy tale ancient walled city, with its towers,dungeons, moats and drawbridges is one of themostimpressive examples of medieval France. Withtwo miles of ramparts and fantastic views over thesurrounding area it is one of the greatest sights ofEurope. Inside the city lies the basilica of St-Nazaire,amedieval castle and narrow streets lined with shopsand cafés. This medieval city has excellent sound andlight displays throughout the summer.BéziersThis is the wine producing capital of Languedoc,famous for wine, rugby, bull fights, its antiquemarkets and its 13th century St Nazaire cathedralwhich stands at the foot of the Minervois hillsoverlooking the River Orb. There are many things tosee from the 17th century town houses, theatre, theEnglish style garden, 'le Plateau des Poètes', createdin 1865, the bullring, the 12th-13th century Basilicaof Saint Aphrodise, 19th century market halls,theMuseum of Fine Arts and Biterrois Museumoflocal history. MontpellierIt's one of the liveliest cities in the south of France,with a buzzing atmosphere and many street cafésandbars. The 'Place de la Comédie' with its livelycafés surrounding a fountain, is the centre of activity.However, there are many other plaves worth a visitsuch as the 'Opéra' - an ornate 19th century theatre,the Gothic cathedral and the 'Musée Fabre', which hasa display of 17th to 19th century, French, Spanish,Italian, Dutch, Flemish and English paintings includingworks by Raphael. Just to the north is 'Jardin desPlantes' one of France's oldest botanical gardens.CollioureThis picturesque old fishing port near the Spanishborder was put on the map by Picasso. It nestlesinside a deep bay and with its apricot houses, orangetiled roofs and striking vermilion cliffs it stillattractsmany artists today. Behind the harbour you will findthe old quarter of Mouré which is a shoppers paradisewith narrow streets bursting with craft shops.Fun For All The FamilyAqualand Waterpark Based at Cap d'Agde this is an American stylewaterpark which has many exciting slides, pools andaraft river with rapids.Canal du MidiHere you could take a half day cruise along thispoplar-lined canal running from Toulouse toMarseilles. The canal is on the UNESCO WorldHeritage listGorges de LavalThis is great for walking, you can walk around thegorge in the Pyrénéen foothills, and could swim inoneof the rock pools around Soréde.DinosauriaGreat for the younger children, Dinosauria is athemepark near Perpignan.Here you can see bones and dinosaur eggs whichwere found more than 65 million years ago.The Laboratoire Arago Aquarium - inBanyuls-sur-MerIt is one of the oldest in France and exhibits somerare fish donated by local fishermen.Beaches to visit:. Sète. Cap-d'Agde. Valras. Vias. St Cyprien. ArgelèsThings To Do. Windsurfing - With its fantastic beaches andMediterranean water, it is a perfect locationforwindsurfing.Local SpecialitiesMost of Languedoc's cuisine is rich and stronglyseasoned.. Thick Sausages. Bouillinade - a creamy fish stew.. Langouste à la sètoise - a spicy lobster dish.. Boles de Picolat -small balls of chopped up beefand pork, garlic and eggs served with tomatoesandparsley . Aïgo Bouido - Garlic Soup.. Cargolade - Snails stewed in wine.Languedoc