France Overview

Image Gallery

France has consistently been the most visited country in the world for well over a decade. With nearly 80 million people from around the world visiting France each year, the French have 10 million people or more tourists than every other country. France is number one worldwide in tourism for a reason. Their country boasts an almost infinite number of things to see and do, to go along with their excellent cuisine, wine industry and an efficient transport system that spans the entire country. Bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco and Spain, the French people also boast access to the Mediterranean Sea, English Channel and Atlantic Ocean. France has a long history of human habitation and thus it has been at the centre of not only prosperity but its fair share of conflict between warring tribes, city states, kingdoms and countries. Today, France is not only a major leader economically, culturally and militarily within Europe but also globally. Travelling through France offers great diversity and is worthwhile year round. There are ancient historical sites, castles, palaces, museums, preserved old towns, big cosmopolitan cities, spectacular beaches, winter sports and of course the summer bike race of the Tour de France. France is a big country and requires multiple trips to even scratch the surface on the list of places you will want to see. Paris is the obvious place to start and branch out from, with the amazing architectural gems of palaces and castles in the Loire valley easily accessible from the nations capital. The Atlantic coastal region of Brittany provides a great taste of northern France and interesting coastal towns. The south of the country is distinctly different from the north and this is certainly due to the Mediterranean influence. On top of low cost flights, high speed trains leave Paris to the coastal areas in the south frequently giving visitors the opportunity to experience both aspects of the country. The cities of Nice and Marseille are popular locations. The preserved medieval town of Carcasssonne is a must see if you are heading towards the Pyrenees mountains and Spain. Or you could stop in the wealthy tiny country of Monaco on your way to Italy or Switzerland. France will always leave you wanting more and it won't take long before you realize why this country is so popular.

Avignon
Carcassonne
Chartres
Foix
Fougeres
Monaco
Mont St Michel
Paris
Pont du Gard
St Malo
 
 

Image Gallery

Photography by Eric Starling, Mike Minckler, Footside and Peter Dale

Carcassonne City Walls, France
Carcassonne City Walls
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Mont St Michel, France
Mont St Michel
Arc de Triomphe Backflip, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe Backflip, Paris
Château de Fougères Towers, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Towers
Saint Malo Backflip, France
Saint Malo Backflip
Fontvieille District, Monaco, France
Fontvieille District, Monaco
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris
Chartres Cathedral, France
Chartres Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Château de Foix Castle, Foix, France
Château de Foix Castle, Foix
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon
View of the medieval town of Carcassonne with its preserved walls and surrounding vineyards, France
View of the medieval town of Carcassonne with its preserved walls and surrounding vineyards
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower with the Seine River in the foreground and Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hilltop, France
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower with the Seine River in the foreground and Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hilltop
View of the walled town of Saint Malo from the breakwater, France
View of the walled town of Saint Malo from the breakwater
View of the Pont Du Gard Roman Aqueduct built in the first century AD, France
View of the Pont Du Gard Roman Aqueduct built in the first century AD
View of the tidal island of Mont Saint-Michel from the mud flats at low tide in 2007, France
View of the tidal island of Mont Saint-Michel from the mud flats at low tide in 2007
Pont Du Gard Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard Aqueduct
Fort National, Saint Malo, France
Fort National, Saint Malo
Beach in Nice, France
Beach in Nice
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco, France
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Mont St Michel Backflip, France
Mont St Michel Backflip
Château de Foix Castle, Foix, France
Château de Foix Castle
Carcassonne City Walls, Carcassonne, France
Carcassonne City Walls
Saint Malo, France
Saint Malo
Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral
Château de Foix Castle, Foix, France
Château de Foix Castle
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon
View of the inner courtyard and entrance to the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, France
View of the inner courtyard and entrance to the famous Louvre Museum in Paris
Main gate and drawbridge to enter old town with view of Outer and Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Main gate and drawbridge to enter old town with view of Outer and Inner Walls, Carcassonne
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé, Saint Malo, France
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé
View of the town of Fougères and the frontal towers of Château de Fougères, France
View of the town of Fougères and the frontal towers of Château de Fougères
View from the Rock of Monaco of the La Condamine District, Monaco, France
View from the Rock of Monaco of the La Condamine District, Monaco
Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk in Paris, France
Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk in Paris
Chartres Cathedral, France
Chartres Cathedral
Pont Du Gard Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard Aqueduct
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris
Château de Fougères Tower, France
Château de Fougères Tower
Monaco Backflip, France
Monaco Backflip
Mont St Michel Backflip, France
Mont St Michel Backflip
Pont Du Gard Backflip, France
Pont Du Gard Backflip
Saint Malo Backflip, France
Saint Malo Backflip
Mont St Michel, France
Mont St Michel
Papal Palace, Avignon, France
Papal Palace, Avignon
Carcassonne Inner Keep, France
Carcassonne Inner Keep
Fort National, Saint Malo, France
Fort National, Saint Malo
Chartres Backflip, France
Chartres Backflip
Carcassonne City Walls, France
Carcassonne City Walls
View of Paris from Arc de Triomphe, France
View of Paris from Arc de Triomphe
Château de Fougères Backflip, France
Château de Fougères Backflip
View of the Avignon City Walls and Papal Palace Buildings, France
View of the Avignon City Walls and Papal Palace Buildings
Carcassonne Outer City Walls as viewed from the Inner City Walls, France
Carcassonne Outer City Walls as viewed from the Inner City Walls
View from the Eiffel Tower of the Seine River, Palais de Chaillot and Business District in the distance, Paris, France
View from the Eiffel Tower of the Seine River, Palais de Chaillot and Business District in the distance, Paris
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Pont Du Gard Roman Aqueduct Bridge, France
Pont Du Gard Roman Aqueduct Bridge
View of the city walls and beach of Saint Malo at low tide, France
View of the city walls and beach of Saint Malo at low tide

Paris

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Notre Dame Cathedral Backflip, Notre Dame de Paris, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Eiffel Tower, La Tour Eiffel, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe Backflip, Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe
The Louvre Museum Backflip, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
The Louvre Museum
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica
View from Eiffel Tower of Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France
View from Eiffel Tower of Palais de Chaillot

Paris is the world's favourite place to visit. Every year more than 40 million people explore the region in and around Paris. With popular sites from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame Cathedral to the amazing Louvre museum, Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world. More than just a tourist hot spot, Paris is one of the world's leading business and cultural centres and has been an important place of continued human habitation for more than two-thousand years, with early traces of settlement in the area dating from as far back as 4000 BC. The name of Paris is thought to have come from an early Celtic tribe called the Parisii that lived on the banks of the Siene River until the Romans conquered Gaul under Julius Cesar. The city you see today slowly expanded, despite many wars, invasions and outbreaks of plague, from its original defensive position on the Île de la Cité, a natural island in the Siene River where Notre Dame is located. Paris truly has it all; grand and beautiful buildings from its imperial past, new and innovative structures that form its business district, important museums and art galleries, iconic landmarks, fantastic cuisine, a comprehensive transport network and a distinctly French outlook on life. The underground rail network, referred to as the Metro, is extensive and boasts so many stations throughout the main inner city that, on average, you're never more than 500 metres away from a station. There is so much to do in this beautiful city that it can be overwhelming so plan to stay for at least a few days and if you have the time, a week can easily disappear. Research is recommended to ensure you cover all you want to do; the main sites are always busy no matter what time of year so plan ahead. Day trips from Paris to the Palace of Versailles or the castles of the Loire Valley, just to name a few, are great for a chance to leave the city. Expect Paris to be expensive, especially for accommodation and eating out, however, sharing a bottle of fine French wine at night under the Eiffel Tower is just one of the things that will make your time unforgettable.

Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais, Paris, France
Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais
View from the Eiffel Tower of Paris and Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hilltop, Paris, France
View from the Eiffel Tower of Paris and Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hilltop
Place de la Concorde, Paris, France
Place de la Concorde
Fontaine du Palmier, Paris, France
Fontaine du Palmier
The Louvre, Paris, France
The Louvre
Hôtel National des Invalides, Napoleon's Tomb and Army Museum, Paris, France
Hôtel National des Invalides, Napoleon's Tomb and Army Museum
Seine River, Paris, France
Seine River
Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Champ de Mars from the Eiffel Tower
Hôtel National des Invalides, France Army Museum, Paris, France
Hôtel National des Invalides, France Army Museum
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica
Mona Lisa, The Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Mona Lisa, The Louvre Museum
View of the Louvre Museum interior courtyard with the famous glass pyramid, Paris, France
View of the Louvre Museum interior courtyard with the famous glass pyramid
View from the Eiffel Tower of Paris with the Seine River in the foreground and Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hilltop, Paris, France
View from the Eiffel Tower of Paris with the Seine River in the foreground and Sacré-Cœur Basilica on the hilltop
Zoomed in view of the intricately carved statues on the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Zoomed in view of the intricately carved statues on the Arc de Triomphe
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Near the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Near the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
Palais de Chaillot and Business District, Paris, France
Palais de Chaillot and Business District
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe
Seine River, Paris, France
Seine River
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
View from Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
View from Arc de Triomphe
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica
Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk, Paris, France
Place de la Concorde with the Luxor Obelisk
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral
View from the Eiffel Tower of the Seine River, Palais de Chaillot and Business District in the distance, Paris, France
View from the Eiffel Tower of the Seine River, Palais de Chaillot and Business District in the distance
Parisians relaxing in front of the Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Parisians relaxing in front of the Louvre Museum
Arc de Triomphe Statue, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe Statue
Luxor Obelisk, Paris, France
Luxor Obelisk
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica
France Army Museum, Paris, France
France Army Museum
Hôtel National des Invalides, Paris, France
Hôtel National des Invalides
Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Louvre Museum
Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais, Paris, France
Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Sacré-Cœur Basilica
Venus de Milo, Aphrodite of Milos, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Venus de Milo, Louvre Museum
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Louvre Museum
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower
The Louvre Museum, Paris, France
The Louvre Museum
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
View of the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral
Eiffel Tower at Night, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower at Night
Seine River, Paris, France
Seine River
Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Montmartre District, Paris, France
Montmartre District
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Notre Dame Cathedral
Arc de Triomphe from Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe from Eiffel Tower
Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Louvre Museum
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe
Equestrian Statue of King Saint Louis, Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France
Equestrian Statue of King Saint Louis, Sacré-Cœur Basilica
Glass Pyramid, Louvre Museum, Paris, France
Glass Pyramid, Louvre Museum
Eiffel Tower Backflip, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower Backflip

Carcassonne

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Peter Dale, Footside and Mike Minckler

Main Gate and Drawbridge Entrance, Carcassonne, France
Main Gate and Drawbridge Entrance
View of Carcasonne at night, Carcassonne, France
View of Carcassonne at night
Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls
Inner Keep with the Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inner Keep with the Old Town
Pont Vieux and the Aude River, Carcassonne, France
Pont Vieux and the Aude River
Outer and Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer and Inner Walls

Carcassonne could arguably be one of the top 5 places to check out in all of Europe and follows only Paris as a must-see in France. More specifically, the Cité de Carcassonne is an exceptionally well preserved fortified town within the larger city of Carcassonne in the south of France, not far from the Spanish border. This city provides a rare example of what a thriving walled medieval town would have looked like in its heyday. Many walled towns in Europe have sections of their "old town" surviving but thanks to efforts by residents in the mid 1800's, Carcassonne avoided being demolished to maintain its architectural and cultural heritage. Carcassonne still has two rings of outer walls with towers, barbicans, gates and even a drawbridge in nearly original condition. Restoration and maintaining the ancient fortification has been an important part of the town's history over the last 150 years and even sections of the old Roman walls have been meticulously maintained. Carcassonne is simply awesome for medieval exploration. You can follow the old outer walls almost the whole way around for free and if you pay to get inside the inner keep within the town, you can get access to the second set of inner walls which can be traversed all the way around to the main gate. In its almost 2500 years of history, the city has seen a few battles and sieges by the Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and even the Crusaders who were persecuting the Cathers (Christians with different interpretations) in 1209. With all this history, and the rare quality of preservation of the old town, Carcassonne is understandably popular and has huge numbers of visitors that come to the town throughout the year. The parking lots around the old town are constantly congested and bus load after bus load of tour groups drop off streams of visitors throughout the day. This factor can certainly detract from the experience of exploring this little gem of history, however, if you can stay overnight and explore the cobbled streets after the crowds depart you will be amazed at the silence and serenity that descends on the town. The view of the walls and towers all lit up at night is further incentive to stay within the old town walls or nearby. This will also provide the ability to explore the town before the buses arrive in the early morning. Carcassonne is a must see experience and one of the more comprehensive examples of medieval architecture in Europe.

Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls
Stained Glass in the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne, France
Stained Glass in the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Secondary Gate, Carcassonne, France
Secondary Gate
Church below Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Church below Old Town
Inside Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inside Old Town
Church of St. Vincent, Carcassonne, France
Church of St. Vincent
Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls
Night View, Carcassonne, France
Night View
Inner and Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner and Outer Walls
Outer Walls and Vineyards, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls and Vineyards
Inner Wall Tower, Carcassonne, France
Inner Wall Tower
Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls
View of the Cité de Carcassonne or Old Town from the main bridge over the Aude River, Carcassonne, France
View of the Cité de Carcassonne or Old Town from the main bridge over the Aude River
View of the Outer Walls and modern town of Carcassonne from the Inner Keep within the Old Town, Carcassonne, France
View of the Outer Walls and modern town of Carcassonne from the Inner Keep within the Old Town
View of the Outer Walls and surrounding vineyards, Carcassonne, France
View of the Outer Walls and surrounding vineyards
Main Entrance Gate, Carcassonne, France
Main Entrance Gate
Inside Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inside Old Town
Inside Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inside Old Town
Inner Keep in Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inner Keep in Old Town
Main Gate at night, Carcassonne, France
Main Gate at night
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne, France
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Inside Inner Keep, Carcassonne, France
Inside Inner Keep
Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner Walls
Inside Inner Keep, Carcassonne, France
Inside Inner Keep
Inside Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inside Old Town
Outer and Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer and Inner Walls
Main Entrance Gate, Carcassonne, France
Main Entrance Gate
Inner Wall Towers, Carcassonne, France
Inner Wall Towers
View from modern town, Carcassonne, France
View from modern town
Inner Keep Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner Keep Walls
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne, France
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner Walls
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne, France
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Main gate and drawbridge to enter old town with view of Outer and Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Main gate and drawbridge to enter old town with view of Outer and Inner Walls
Inside the inner keep castle within the Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inside the inner keep castle within the Old Town
View of the Outer Walls and surrounding vineyards, Carcassonne, France
View of the Outer Walls and surrounding vineyards
Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner Walls
Outer Walls at night, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls at night
Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls
Inner Keep in Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inner Keep in Old Town
Local Red Wine, Carcassonne, France
Local Red Wine
Inner and Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner and Outer Walls
Inner and Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner and Outer Walls
Inner and Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner and Outer Walls
Inside Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inside Old Town
Outer Walls and Tower, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls and Tower
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne, France
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Outer Walls
Inner Keep Tower, Carcassonne, France
Inner Keep Tower
Old Town at night, Carcassonne, France
Old Town at night
Inner and Outer Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner and Outer Walls
Lunch and Wine in Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Lunch and Wine in Old Town
Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner Walls
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne, France
Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse
Inner Walls and Keep in Old Town, Carcassonne, France
Inner Walls and Keep in Old Town
Main Gate at night, Carcassonne, France
Main Gate at night
Inner Walls, Carcassonne, France
Inner Walls
View inside the Old Town with the Inner Keep Castle on the right side, Carcassonne, France
View inside the Old Town with the Inner Keep Castle on the right side
View of Inner Walls from the Outer Wall Tower, Carcassonne, France
View of Inner Walls from the Outer Wall Tower
View of the Outer Walls and surrounding vineyards, Carcassonne, France
View of the Outer Walls and surrounding vineyards

Mont Saint-Michel

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Mont Saint-Michel Backflip, Normandy, France
Mont Saint-Michel Backflip
View from outer walls, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from outer walls
Mont Saint-Michel at Night, Normandy, France
Mont Saint-Michel at Night
View of the island at low tide, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the island at low tide
The single street on the island, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The single street on the island
View of the island at low tide, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the island at low tide

Mont Saint-Michel is a breathtaking ancient monastery perched on an isolated tidal island in the Normandy region of France. The Mont is a UNESCO World Heritage site and this magical little island, situated at the mouth of the Couesnon River, has under 50 full time residents but hosts more than 3 million people annually. Mont Saint-Michel became an important pilgrimage centre in 708 AD when, as legend has it, the Archangel Michael appeared to the local Bishop and instructed him to make a church on the island in the bay. Through the centuries it was one of the top pilgrimage sites in Christianity and specifically in Northern Europe. During the day, the small one-street village becomes packed with visitors who run the gauntlet up to the monastery through tourist stalls and restaurants. By night, the island empties and a peaceful silence descends over it, giving the narrow alleys and ramparts a serene and mystical quality. This fascinating little island deserves more than just a quick stopover to appreciate all it has to offer and staying overnight on the island itself is well worth the time; just make sure you book ahead. Regardless of your time frame, don't miss the opportunity to gaze upon the Mont as it punctuates an otherwise flat and mundane landscape.

Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey
The town on the island at sunset, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The town on the island at sunset
Restaurant on lower walls, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Restaurant on lower walls
View from the parking lot in 2007, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from the parking lot in 2007
View of the island at low tide, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the island at low tide
View of the island from the road, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the island from the road
Outer Walls, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Outer Walls
Looking up from lower walls, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Looking up from lower walls
The single winding street up the island, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The single winding street up the island
Lower Walls, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower Walls
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey
Lower Walls, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower Walls
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey Entrance, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey Entrance
View from the mud flats, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from the mud flats
Lower level building, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower level building
The village at night, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The village at night
View over the mud flats, Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View over the mud flats
Panoramic view of Mont Saint-Michel from the mud flats at low tide in 2007, Normandy, France
Panoramic view of Mont Saint-Michel from the mud flats at low tide in 2007
Panoramic view of the island of Mont Saint-Michel from the road, Normandy, France
Panoramic view of the island of Mont Saint-Michel from the road
Lower Walls, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower Walls
Stained Glass in the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Stained Glass in the abbey
Building in the village, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Building in the village
View of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the abbey
The Mont at Night, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The Mont at Night
Mont Saint Michel Backflip, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Mont Saint Michel Backflip
Post Office, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Post Office
The village at night, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The village at night
Main street on the island, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Main street on the island
Lower Walls, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower Walls
Inside Mont Saint Michel Abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside Mont Saint Michel Abbey
View of mud flats, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of mud flats
View of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the abbey
View of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the abbey
View of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the abbey
Panoramic view of the lower walls of Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Panoramic view of the lower walls of Mont Saint-Michel
Panoramic view of Mont Saint-Michel at low tide, Normandy, France
Panoramic view of Mont Saint-Michel at low tide
View of Mont Saint-Michel from German Cemetery lookout, Normandy, France
View of Mont Saint-Michel from German Cemetery lookout
View from the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from the abbey
View of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the abbey
Lower village, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower village
Inside the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside the abbey
Upper level of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Upper level of the abbey
Inside the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside the abbey
Inside the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside the abbey
Inside the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside the abbey
Sunset shadow of the island, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Sunset shadow of the island
Lower walls, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower walls
View of the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of the abbey
The main street, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The main street
View from mud flats, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from mud flats
View from road, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from road
View from river side, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from river side
Backside view from mud flats, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Backside view from mud flats
The abbey at night, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
The abbey at night
View of mud flats, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View of mud flats
Lower Walls, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Lower Walls
Inside the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside the abbey
View from the road, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from the road
View from lower walls, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
View from lower walls
Inside the abbey, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Inside the abbey
Main Street, Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France
Main Street

Saint Malo

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

View from the town from the breakwater, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from the town from the breakwater
Saint Malo Backflip, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo Backflip
Fort National, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Fort National
Beach at low tide, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Beach at low tide
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls

Saint Malo is a walled port city located on the English Channel in northwestern France. The town is a key hub for ferry traffic across the English Channel and one of the premier places to visit in the popular Brittany region. The old town has immaculate and imposing city walls that were rebuilt to their former glory after being destroyed by fighting during World War 2. One of the best parts about Saint Malo is being able to walk the entire length of the walls around the old town, providing views into the town and around the surrounding coastline. During the middle ages, Saint Malo was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance River. Today, it is still technically an island but is connected to the mainland by bridges and development. The old town also boasts some of the finest golden sand beaches in all of France, arguably rivaling anything on the Mediterranean side of the country. These beaches are a great spot to hang out, soak up some sun and let the scenery around you sink in. Due to the close proximity of the city walls, these beaches have a few spots where there are wind breaks which means even into late September you can get a tan and avoid the chilly winds coming off the Channel. The tidal activity around Saint Malo is famously treacherous. Small outlying islands, which have old forts and keeps, are accessible during low tide but can become cut off within minutes as the tides roll in at substantial speeds. Views of the walled town and its great beaches from the larger tidal island of Grand Bé are well worth the walk, just make sure you pay attention to when the tides roll in as people have been stuck out on the island for a tidal cycle while taking in the view. Staying in the walled old town, walking its walls, relaxing on the beach and dining at the many excellent restaurants is a great way to experience a different sort of coastal France. Saint Malo has places to stay and eat from the top-end down to backpacker budgets, so make sure this little gem is on your list if you stay in northern France.

View of the Saint Malo city walls and the beach at low tide, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of the Saint Malo city walls and the beach at low tide
View of Saint Malo from across the harbour, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of Saint Malo from across the harbour
Beach with incoming tide, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Beach with incoming tide
Fort National, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Fort National
View of walls and town from Grand Bé Island, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of walls and town from Grand Bé Island
View into town from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View into town from city walls
View from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from city walls
View into town from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View into town from city walls
City walls at low tide, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City walls at low tide
Saint Malo Sunset, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo Sunset
Saint Malo Backflip, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo Backflip
Path to Fort National, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Path to Fort National
Saint Malo Harbour, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo Harbour
View of walls and town from Grand Bé Island, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of walls and town from Grand Bé Island
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the breakwater, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the breakwater
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé
View of Fort National from the city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of Fort National from the city walls
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from Fort National, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from Fort National
Fort National Backflip, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Fort National Backflip
Saint Malo from across the harbour, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo from across the harbour
Grand Bé Island Backflip, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Grand Bé Island Backflip
View into old town from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View into old town from city walls
Tidal Warning Sign, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Tidal Warning Sign
Saint Malo Backflip, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo Backflip
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls
Saint Malo Harbour, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo Harbour
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls
Inside Old Town, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Inside Old Town
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of the city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé
View of city walls, tide pool and Fort National, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of city walls, tide pool and Fort National
View of Fort National on the left, city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View of Fort National on the left, city walls and old town of Saint Malo from the tidal island of Grand Bé
City Walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
City Walls
View from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from city walls
View from breakwater, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from breakwater
View from breakwater, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from breakwater
Saint Malo sunset, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
Saint Malo sunset
View from across harbour, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from across harbour
View from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from city walls
View from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from city walls
View from city walls, Saint Malo, Brittany, France
View from city walls

Pont Du Gard

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Peter Dale and Footside

Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France

The Pont Du Gard is an ancient Roman Aqueduct located in southern France, about a 30 minute drive from the city of Avignon. The Pont spans the Gardon River and is a three-tiered structure that stands almost 50 metres above the river. This exceptionally well preserved piece of Roman ingenuity was built in the 1st century AD and is part of an aqueduct system that is 50 kilometres long, having supplied a Roman outpost at the modern day town of Nimes. What is even more impressive is learning the 50 km system, built over 2000 years ago, only descends in height by 17 metres. Standing under the first row of gigantic arches next to the river and seeing how perfectly and precise the massive sandstone blocks are put together, you can't help but marvel at these ancient engineers. With no computer power, some slave labour and a desire for fresh spring water, these Romans created a system that lasted until the 6th century. The Pont Du Gard fell into disuse when the last remnants of the Roman empire were no longer maintaining the infrastructure but the bridge that spanned the river continued to be used for centuries as a toll bridge. The aqueduct bridge was so well made that it survived 2000 years of weather and looting of its stone before it became protected in the early part of the 20th century. A hotel nearby showed pictures of the river overflowing to the second level of the bridge in 2005! It makes you wonder how many times that happened over the 2000 years prior and gives you further appreciation for those ancient builders that made this monument so long lasting.

Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France
Pont Du Gard, Roman Aqueduct, France

Fougères

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Château de Fougères Towers, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Towers
Château de Fougères Walls, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Walls
View of the town of Fougères from the castle, Fougères, France
View of the town of Fougères from the castle
Château de Fougères Tower, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Tower
Château de Fougères Tower, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Tower
View of the town of Fougères from the castle, Fougères, France
View of the town of Fougères from the castle

The town of Fougères is located in North Western France and is a great place to stop off for a day trip while making your way from Paris to the Brittany coastal region. The big reason to stop off in Fougères is to view the impressive Château de Fougères castle which is a focal point of this small town. Having originally been a wooden fort that didn't last too long in the eleventh century, the castle was rebuilt in stone and now boasts 13 towers and excellent walls that can be walked almost the entire length of the castle. This castle was built over a naturally defensive position on a bend of the Nançon river which acts as moat to this day. One of the best aspects of Château de Fougères is the freedom to walk all the walls and climb most of the towers that still remain in excellent condition. The town of Fougères also has a large section of the old town walls that survive and can be traversed from the lower town to the upper town. Views from the castle walls of the surrounding town and granite cliffs make it well worth the stop over if you are heading to the coast from Paris and need a small break from the road.

Panoramic view inside the walls of Château de Fougères, Fougères, France
Panoramic view inside the walls of Château de Fougères
Panoramic view of the outside walls of Château de Fougères, Fougères, France
Panoramic view of the outside walls of Château de Fougères
Fougères Castle Tower, Fougères, France
Fougères Castle Tower
Fougères Castle Moat and Tower, Fougères, France
Fougères Castle Moat and Tower
Fougères Castle Towers and Moat, Fougères, France
Fougères Castle Towers and Moat
Inside Fougères Castle, Fougères, France
Inside Fougères Castle
Inside Fougères Castle, Fougères, France
Inside Fougères Castle
Fougères Castle Walls and Towers, Fougères, France
Fougères Castle Walls and Towers
Château de Fougères Tower and Moat, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Tower and Moat
Château de Fougères Backflip, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Backflip
Château de Fougères Towers, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Towers
Château de Fougères Moat, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Moat
Château de Fougères Tower, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Tower
Château de Fougères Moat, Fougères, France
Château de Fougères Moat
Panoramic view of the town of Fougères and the frontal towers of Château de Fougères, Fougères, France
Panoramic view of the town of Fougères and the frontal towers of Château de Fougères
Panoramic view of the interior of Château de Fougères, Fougères, France
Panoramic view of the interior of Château de Fougères
View from Fougères Castle, France
View from Fougères Castle
Fougères Castle Tower, France
Fougères Castle Tower
Fougères Castle and Fougères Town, France
Fougères Castle and Fougères Town
Inside Fougères Castle, France
Inside Fougères Castle
Inside Fougères Castle, France
Inside Fougères Castle
View from Fougères Castle, France
View from Fougères Castle
Château de Fougères Tower, France
Château de Fougères Tower
Château de Fougères Walls, France
Château de Fougères Walls
Château de Fougères and the town of Fougères, France
Château de Fougères and the town of Fougères

Foix

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Footside and Peter Dale

Château de Foix Castle, Foix, France
Château de Foix Castle
Foix Old Town, Foix, France
Foix Old Town
Château de Foix from across the river, Foix, France
Château de Foix from across the river
View from Foix Castle Tower, Foix, France
View from Foix Castle Tower
Foix Old Town, Foix, France
Foix Old Town
View of Château de Foix Round Tower, Foix, France
View of Château de Foix Round Tower

Foix is a small town nestled in the hills near the French border with Spain and Andorra. Originally a Roman outpost, the town wasn't officially founded until 849 AD. The key feature for this little town is the distinctive castle that towers above the old narrow streets. The castle is comprised of three impressive towers, one of which is round in shape and two of which are square structures. Originally, there was a Roman fort on this rocky outcrop that sits in the middle of the valley, while the current buildings are remains of a castle dating from the 12th to 14th centuries. The Travelling Backflip team made Foix a stopover on a road trip we did between Spain and Germany in 2011. After seeing the town featured in a couple of stages of the Tour de France in 2007 and 2008 it was deemed a worthy one night destination. Foix is small and most of the town closes down after regular business hours making it a pretty quiet place, however, walking the deserted medieval streets with the castle towering above in the early evening is worth the detour from the coast or the mountains if you're ever in southwest France.

View from Foix Castle, Foix, France
View from Foix Castle
Château de Foix in the rain, Foix, France
Château de Foix in the rain
Strolling the Old Town, Foix, France
Strolling the Old Town
Château de Foix Towers, Foix, France
Château de Foix Towers
View of Foix Old Town from Castle, Foix, France
View of Foix Old Town from Castle
Château de Foix, Foix, France
Château de Foix
Château de Foix Tower 1, Foix, France
Château de Foix Tower 1
Château de Foix Tower 2, Foix, France
Château de Foix Tower 2
Château de Foix Tower 3, Foix, France
Château de Foix Tower 3
Panoramic view of Château de Foix and the Old Town of Foix from across the river, France
Panoramic view of Château de Foix and the Old Town of Foix from across the river
Château de Foix Castle, Foix, France
Château de Foix Castle
Awesome French Car, Foix, France
Awesome French Car
Château de Foix Main Gate, Foix, France
Château de Foix Main Gate
Château de Foix Tower, Foix, France
Château de Foix Tower
Château de Foix Towers, Foix, France
Château de Foix Towers
Château de Foix Middle Tower, Foix, France
Château de Foix Middle Tower
Roundabout in town, Foix, France
Roundabout in town
Local Stream, Foix, France
Local Stream
View from Château de Foix, Foix, France
View from Château de Foix
Château de Foix and river, Foix, France
Château de Foix and river
Saint-Volusien Abbey, Foix, France
Saint-Volusien Abbey
Kings Bed, Château de Foix, Foix, France
Kings Bed, Château de Foix
Panoramic view of the Old Town of Foix and the Saint-Volusien Abbey on the left from Château de Foix Castle, Foix, France
Panoramic view of the Old Town of Foix and the Saint-Volusien Abbey on the left from Château de Foix Castle
Château de Foix entrance ramp, Foix, France
Château de Foix entrance ramp
Taking pictures of Château de Foix, Foix, France
Taking pictures of Château de Foix
Saint-Volusien Abbey, Foix, France
Saint-Volusien Abbey
Streets of Foix, Foix, France
Streets of Foix
Buildings and River in Foix, Foix, France
Buildings and River in Foix
Round Tower, Château de Foix, Foix, France
Round Tower, Château de Foix
Foix Old Town, Foix, France
Foix Old Town
Foix Castle entrance ramp, Foix, France
Foix Castle entrance ramp
Foix Old Town, Foix, France
Foix Old Town
View from Château de Foix Tower, Foix, France
View from Château de Foix Tower
View from Château de Foix Tower, Foix, France
View from Château de Foix Tower
View from Château de Foix Tower, Foix, France
View from Château de Foix Tower
Inside Château de Foix, Foix, France
Inside Château de Foix
Château de Foix Entrance, Foix, France
Château de Foix Entrance
Inside Château de Foix, Foix, France
Inside Château de Foix
Château de Foix, Foix, France
Château de Foix
Château de Foix Old Crapper, Foix, France
Château de Foix Old Crapper
Château de Foix Towers, Foix, France
Château de Foix Towers

Monaco

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling and Footside

Fontvieille District, Monaco
Fontvieille District
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco
Monte Carlo Casino
La Condamine District, Monaco
La Condamine District
Saint Roman District, Monaco
Saint Roman District
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco
Monte Carlo Casino
Monaco from the highway above, Monaco
Monaco from the highway above

Monaco is a beautiful and exceptionally wealthy city-state located on the Mediterranean. Though not officially a part of France, Monaco is the world's smallest French speaking country and a place where million dollar yachts and sleek sports cars are the norm. This principality is a tax haven for the wealthy and most of the people living in its 485 acres are millionaires from other countries. Due to this, it is one of the most expensive and sought after places for property on the planet. This little city is perfect for a day trip from any of the French or Italian cities in the surrounding area and their food and accommodation prices won't break your budget. Wandering the immaculate streets of Monaco, where Formula 1 holds its most prestigious race, is a lesson in how much money can be on display in a tax haven on the Med coast. You may find yourself standing dumbfounded in the shadow of yachts that are bigger than some buildings, or wonder how many kilometres are on the sports cars lined up outside the famous casino. On your stroll through this wealthy enclave it is always recommended to enjoy the vista views from the Rock of Monaco, the site of an early palace and a central viewing point within the city. Spending more than a day in Monaco could do some damage to your budget but make sure you allocate for a stop over to see how the rich and famous live.

View from the Rock of Monaco of the La Condamine District, Monaco
View from the Rock of Monaco of the La Condamine District
View of the Fontvieille District from the highway above on the road to Italy, Monaco
View of the Fontvieille District from the highway above on the road to Italy
View of Monaco and its entire principality from the highway above on the road to Italy, Monaco
View of Monaco and its entire principality from the highway above on the road to Italy
La Condamine District, Monaco
La Condamine District
Monaco Beach Backflip, Monaco
Monaco Beach Backflip
The beach in Nice France, 20 min away from Monaco, Monaco
The beach in Nice France, 20 min away from Monaco
Cruise ship moored just outside the city, Monaco
Cruise ship moored just outside the city
La Condamine District, Monaco
La Condamine District
Monte Carlo District, Monaco
Monte Carlo District
The Monaco Stadium, Monaco
The Monaco Stadium
La Condamine District, Monaco
La Condamine District
Fontvieille District, Monaco
Fontvieille District
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco
Monte Carlo Casino
The Rock of Monaco, Monaco
The Rock of Monaco
Fontvieille District, Monaco
Fontvieille District
View of the Fontvieille District from the highway above on the road to Italy, Monaco
View of the Fontvieille District from the highway above on the road to Italy
View from the Rock of Monaco of the La Condamine District, Monaco
View from the Rock of Monaco of the La Condamine District
View of Monaco and the brilliant blue Mediterranean from the road to Italy, Monaco
View of Monaco and the brilliant blue Mediterranean from the road to Italy
La Condamine District, Monaco
La Condamine District
Riding a canon on the Rock of Monaco, Monaco
Riding a canon on the Rock of Monaco
Fontvieille District, Monaco
Fontvieille District
The Casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco
The Casino in Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco
Monte Carlo Casino
Fontvieille District, Monaco
Fontvieille District

Avignon

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling, Peter Dale and Footside

Papal Palaces, Palais des Papes, Avignon, France
Papal Palaces
Paintings of Popes, Avignon, France
Paintings of Popes
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge
View from the Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
View from the Pont d'Avignon Bridge
Campane Tower, Avignon, France
Campane Tower
Avignon Clock Tower, Avignon, France
Avignon Clock Tower

Avignon is a medium sized city on the banks of the Rhone river in southern France. It once served as a home for the pope during the 14th and 15th centuries when the Catholic church was divided. The city boasts its medieval city walls that still remain intact around almost the entire old town and former papal palaces. The big draw to Avignon other than its surviving buildings in the old town are the extravagant papal palaces that were constructed during the Catholic Schism from 1309-1423. Entry tickets to the palaces also give you access to the ruined bridge that juts halfway into the Rhone River and some access to the walled ramparts around the old town. Avignon is a great place to stop off for some history and architectural marvels in southern France and is also only a 30 minute drive to the amazing Pont Du Gard Roman aqueduct. This city is set up for mass tourism and can get very busy, so keep that in mind if you're travelling through during the busier summer months.

View of the Rhone River, Pont d'Avignon Bridge and the Palais des Papes or Papal Palaces in Avignon, France
View of the Rhone River, Pont d'Avignon Bridge and the Palais des Papes or Papal Palaces in Avignon
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge
Palais des Papes, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes
Avignon City Walls, Avignon, France
Avignon City Walls
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Palais des Papes and City Walls, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes and City Walls
Inside the Papal Palaces, Avignon, France
Inside the Papal Palaces
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Avignon City Walls, Avignon, France
Avignon City Walls
Pont d'Avignon Bridge Entrance, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge Entrance
Palais des Papes Square, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes Square
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Pont d'Avignon Bridge and Rhone River, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge and Rhone River
Pope Paul V's Coast of Arms, Avignon, France
Pope Paul V's Coast of Arms
Campane Tower, Avignon, France
Campane Tower
The Grand Chapel, Papal Palace, Avignon, France
The Grand Chapel, Papal Palace
Inside the Papal Palaces, Avignon, France
Inside the Papal Palaces
View of the Avignon City Walls and Papal Palace Buildings, Avignon, France
View of the Avignon City Walls and Papal Palace Buildings
Pont d'Avignon Bridge and Rhone River, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge and Rhone River
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Rhone River, Avignon, France
Rhone River
Inside Papal Palace, Avignon, France
Inside Papal Palace
Fresco in Papal Palace, Avignon, France
Fresco in Papal Palace
Inside Papal Palace, Avignon, France
Inside Papal Palace
Avignon City Walls, Avignon, France
Avignon City Walls
Fresco in Papal Palace, Avignon, France
Fresco in Papal Palace
Campane Tower, Avignon, France
Campane Tower
Art Exhibit in Papal Palaces, Avignon, France
Art Exhibit in Papal Palaces
Palais des Papes, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes
Palais des Papes Entrance, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes Entrance
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge
Pont d'Avignon Bridge, Avignon, France
Pont d'Avignon Bridge
Palais des Papes, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Palais des Papes, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes
Palais des Papes Gates, Avignon, France
Palais des Papes Gates
Avignon Cathedral, Notre-Dame des Doms, Avignon, France
Avignon Cathedral
Avignon Old Town, Avignon, France
Avignon Old Town
Avignon Cathedral, Notre-Dame des Doms, Avignon, France
Avignon Cathedral
Pope Paintings, Avignon, France
Pope Paintings
Pope Marble Tomb, Avignon, France
Pope Marble Tomb

Chartres

Text by Eric Starling; Photography by Eric Starling

Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral
Inside Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Inside Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral and Town, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral and Town
View from Chartres Cathedral Tower, Chartres, France
View from Chartres Cathedral Tower
Chartres Cathedral Carving, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Carving
Chartres Cathedral Towers, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Towers

Chartres is a medium sized town about 100 km southwest of Paris that is famous for its huge gothic Cathedral. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century and the current stone structure took nearly 60 years to build, finally being completed by 1250 AD. It should be noted that the Travelling Backflip team does not follow any particular religion, however, we do find the dedication to build such impressive structures out of stone in a pre-industrial society to be something worth checking out. Chartres Cathedral is one of those places that is highly impressive and well worth visiting for the amazing early Gothic architecture, stunningly preserved stained glass windows that are hundreds of years old and the intricate and surprising carvings that adorn the Cathedral throughout. One of the most important aspects of Chartres Cathedral is the incorporation of huge flying buttresses that specifically were utilized to have large windows admitting lots of light. Our favourite aspects of this structure were the towers that can be climbed for views over the town, the buttresses that support the huge walls and the crazy carvings of animals and reptiles around the tops of the towers. Chartres Cathedral is worth stopping in on your way out west to the Brittany region or as a day trip from Paris if you want to escape the big city.

Chartres Cathedral Gargoyle, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Gargoyle
Chartres Backflip, Chartres, France
Chartres Backflip
Chartres Cathedral Entrance, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Entrance
Inside Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Inside Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral Entrance, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Entrance
Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass
Chartres Cathedral Carving, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Carving
Chartres Cathedral Flying Buttresses, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Flying Buttresses
Chartres Cathedral Statue, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Statue
Chartres Cathedral Carving, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Carving
Inside Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Inside Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral Entrance, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Entrance
View of the town of Chartres and Chartres Cathedral from a war memorial park, France
View of the town of Chartres and Chartres Cathedral from a war memorial park
View from Chartres Cathedral Tower, Chartres, France
View from Chartres Cathedral Tower
Chartres Cathedral Towers, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Towers
Chartres Old Town, Chartres, France
Chartres Old Town
Chartres Cathedral Gargoyle, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Gargoyle
Chartres Cathedral Tower, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Tower
View from Chartres Cathedral Tower, Chartres, France
View from Chartres Cathedral Tower
Chartres Cathedral Entrance, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Entrance
Inside Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Inside Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral
Inside Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Inside Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral Tower, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Tower
Chartres Cathedral Carving, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Carving
Chartres Cathedral Statue, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Statue
Chartres Cathedral Facade, Chartres, France
Chartres Cathedral Facade
Inside Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
Inside Chartres Cathedral