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page 90 Information - FrancePlaces Of Interest & Things To SeeMarais PoitevinMarais Poitevin is known as 'Venise Verte' or 'GreenVenice'. This area was originally covered by the sea, butas the water retreated the land reclaimed the area.Now Marais Poitevin is a national park with a networkof canals through 40,000 hectares of marshlands. It isa marvellous wetland, and for those of you interestedin nature, there are rich andvaried birdlife. To reachthe heart of the Marais Poitevin you can take a trip ona punt or rowing boat. You can even hire flat bottomedboats to explore the canal close up.MaillezaisThe majestic ruins of Abbaye de St Pierre dominatethe island. The abbey was built in the11th centuryand was added to in 14th and 16th centuries.St Jean de MontsSt Jean de Monts is a modern seaside resort withagreat beach. If you like shopping, then visit onaSaturday, when it has a lively market in the townsquare where you can buy local produce. There arealso museums of local life, and at night you could visitthe casino or fairground. Château de Coudray-SalbartOverlooking the valley of the Sévre Niortaise standingon a rocky cliff are the ruins of the château. This wasbuilt by the lords of Parthenay inthe 13th century.One of the towers 'the double tower' has walls over6m thick!Les Sables d'OlonneThis seaside resort is renowned for its excellent sandybeach which is over a kilometre long and itsthrivingsardine fishing industry. The resort has many things tosee from it's extensive harbour, marina, golf course,zoo and fort to a local history museum, and when youare worn out from all these there are plenty of shops,boutiques and restaurants nearby.La RochelleLa Rochelle was one of the great trading ports fromthe 14th to 17th century, and twin towers still guardthe narrow harbour entrance. The whole town issteeped in history with cobbled streets, beautiful parksand stylish shops. One of the focal points isthe line ofcafés and restaurants which line the old port. Why notvisit the 'Porte de la Grosse Horloge' (Clock gate),orthe the 'Musée duNouveau Monde' (Museumofthe New World) displaying a large collection ofmaterial on early French exploration and settlementofthe Americas.Île de NoirmoutierThe island is approximately 20km long and featuresbeautiful sandy beaches. It is connected to the mainland at low tide via the Gois causeway, or from themainland bridge at Fromentine (a3mile bridge). Theisland is home to the ruins ofa 7th century monasteryfounded by St Philbert, a château and for the childrenthere is the 'Océanile Waterpark'.Île de RéIle de Ré island is 30km long and has its ownmicroclimate. Known locally as the 'white island bathedin light'. Some say it is named this due tothe 'ratis'the fern which it was covered in in prehistoric times. Itis best known for its oysters, sandy beaches, prettyvillages, wild birds and white washed cottages.St Gilles Croix de VieThis is a very modern resort with a busy fishing port.Home to a great beach, there are lots of sportingactivities and the resort provides a great choice ofrestaurants and cafes to enjoy the local cuisine. Fun For All The FamilyLe Puy-du-FouLe Puy-du-Fou is both a historical and ecological park,with 30 hectares of countryside where you can stroll bymeadows and through woods. You can enjoy a 'livingmedieval village', displays of falconry, jousting and stuntriding near the château and you can even see someViking and Roman battles in theamphitheatre. Thisruined Renaissance château forms the perfect settingfor spectacular son et lumiére (sound & light)performances during the summer involving over700participants!Lake ApremontA little way inland you will find a beautiful lake 'LakeApremont' with a famous château. A great place tovisit with the children, where you can see the freshwater lake, visit the castle ruins, or try your hand atwindsurfing and sailing at the large reservoir.Océanile WaterparkLocated at Île de Noirmoutier, this water park makesagreat day out for the children with its shipwreckthemed attractions and an indoor pool.Les Sables d'Olonne ZooThis is an excellent zoo, which makes a great day out.It is home to many animals and endangered specieswhich are all housed in a natural habitat.Motor MuseumLocated at Talmont St Hilaire, there are 150 differentvehicles in working order on display. Motorcars, horse-drawn vehicles, cycles and motorcycles. The collectionbegins in 1885 and ends with the 1960's.Beaches to visit: . Île de Noirmoutier. Île de Ré. Les Sables d'Olonne - (over 2km of fine beach). La TrancheBlue Flag beaches:. St-Jean-de-Monts. St-Hilaire-de-RiezThings To DoLes Sables d'OlonneIf you like to be active then you will enjoy it at LesSables d'Olonne. There are numerous well markedtracks which make the surroundings a paradise forhikers and cyclists.Local Specialities. Mouclade - Mussels cooked in wine, egg yolks andcream and served with Pineau des Charentes.. Seafood of all varieties.. Fluffy loaves of brioche - a sweet bread made withadash of rum or orange flavoured water.. Fricassee of eels. Sauce aux lumas - snails in red wine. Fiefs vendéens and Mareuil wine.Vendée

74Regional Information - France74Places Of Interest & Things To SeeAnnecy Lake Annecy is situated within the Haute SavoieNational Park. The picturesque medieval town ofAnnecy sits in a deep valley at the Northern end ofLake Annecy and is a great base for water sports,hiking, and cycling. The Thiou Canal winds peacefullythrough the colourful town, passing a variety of cafesand restaurants decked with flowers, which explainswhy Annecy is often called the 'Venice of Savoie'.Take a gentle lakeside stroll around Annecy'sEuropean Gardens or visit to the town's 12th-century castle. For the more demanding hiker thereis always the Tournette, the highest point aroundLake Annecy. The Roc de Chère nature reservecontains many marked paths and the AngonWaterfall offers fantastic views over Talloires andthelake itself. A local market is held on Tuesday inRue Ste-Claire.ChamberyLying between Annecy and Grenoble, the town ofChambery is also well worth a visit. It is built arounda 14th century castle and has a charming old quarterand interesting museums. On the southwest edgeofthe town is a 17th century country house calledLes Charmettes, where the Romantic philosopher,Rousseau lived. You'll find a small museum here,dedicated to celebrate Rousseau's life. There is alsoacathedral, art gallery and stylish shops too.Chamonix Here you will find the world's highest cable car,theAiguille du Midi, which climbs over the town ofChamonix and is the best way to see the majesticslopes of Mont Blanc. It climbs over 12,000 feetabove ground and there are stunning views fromthetop. Or catch the Montenver train to La MerdeGlace (the seas of ice). Dominated by the 19thCentury castle of the counts and Dukes of Savoie,the old town of Chambery is brimming with historicmansions and buildings. The Alpine Museumprovides an insight into the history and architectureof the valley and there are bustling weekly marketsselling a range of local produce. TalloiresA village on the east shore of Lake Annecy, Talloireswas built up around an 11th century Benedictinemonastery and has its own sheltered bay, beach andbathing area. The spectacular waterfall at Angon,Bridge des Fees and the Ermitage de St. Germainare all within walking distance of Talloires. St Jorioz Set between the Semnoz mountain and the westernshore of Lake Annecy. Right on the lake shore thetown offers shops, restaurants and watersports. Fun For All The FamilyBoat tripsAnnecy's lake is said to be the cleanest lake inEurope. Experience the best views of the lakes,surrounding mountain scenery and discover lakesidevillages by taking one of the many boat trips thatrun from the marinas and jetties. Take a boat tothelakeside village of Talloires which faces the 15thcentury Château de Duingt which isn't open tovisitors but the views from Talloires are spectacular.For those who are more active there's pleasureboats, dinghies, windsurfers, canoeing, scuba-divingand pedaloes to hire around the lake -fun forallages!Alpine ActivitiesTrips around the shores of the lake Annecy on foot,horse-back or bikes are very popular. Swim at thebeaches at Annecy and St Jorioz.Acrobatic Adventure ParkTest your agility, balance and acrobatic skills at theadventure park in the forest just above Méribel.Acrobatic forest activities take place in the treecanopy and can be enjoyed by adults and children.Strapped into a safety harness and suspendedseveral metres above ground you can move betweentrees like tarzan!NatureFrom pony walks and donkey rides to wild Marmotor the Alpine Ibix (wild goat), children can enjoyandlearn about nature in the Alps. The pasturesareablaze with colour from alpine flowers in thesummer.Things To DoMenthon and SévrierThe lovely lakeside village of Menthon is home toafairytale castle, Château de Menthon St Bernard,and the charming village of Sévrier is well worthavisit.Le Semnoz Nature ReserveThe impressive Alpine Garden of Semnoz can befound at the entrance of the Bauges National Park.With views to Mont Blanc, the garden boasts over100 varieties of Alpine flowers and shrubbery. Viewlife in the Alps at the indoor exhibition of caves andunderground streams. Also within easy reach are theSecret Gardens of Vaulx near Rumilly.Grotte et Cascade A network of passages at the foot of the wallowsmountains and home to cascades of waterfallsspilling into giant pools before falling into LakeAnnecy. Get a different view by walking up thewaterfall via the footbridges and steps. Aix-Le-BainsA thermal spa town situated northwest of Chamberyon the beautiful Lake Bourget.Château de Montrottier The medieval castle of Montrottier is located tenminutes away from Annecy. This castle perched onahill contains a variety of historic collections ofweaponary, pottery, tapestries and antique furniture.Summer SkiingSummer skiing on the Grande Motte GlacierinTignes.Tour de FranceThe famous Tour de France cycle race will be in theAlps mid July. GolfGolfers can choose from three courses in idyllicsettings that suit all standards whilst enjoyingbreathtaking views.Local Specialities. Ingredients mainly used are potatoes, cheeseandcured meats.. Fondue made from local cheeses such asEmmenthal, Tomme and Reblochon.. Tartiflette - a hearty potato, bacon and garlic dish. . Gateau de Savoie - a rich sponge cake. . Genepi - a spirit made from local herbs from thefoothills of the Alps.French