Aigue Mortes: This medieval walled city was once a seaport where Crusaders left for Jerusalem. The buildings are all old, and
mostly devoted to tourist gift shops, but it still has a Church used by Crusaders and what looks like the original lighthouse.
Amboise:This beautiful little city in the Loire Valley has a spectacular chateau – actually a castle – and another Renaissance chateau
called Clos Luce in which Leonardo da Vinci lived. Clos Luce contains working models of many of his inventions.
Amiens: The Cathedral is certainly one of the most beautiful. Inside are many plaques sponsored by the survivors of the Battle
of the Somme in World War I and dedicated to their fallen comrades. Amiens was in the center of the Somme battle area.
Arles: This city has lots of Roman ruins--an arena, a theater, baths, part of a forum, and a great museum devoted to the
archeological evidence. It also has a large medieval wall surrounding a great many ancient buildings still in use, and a walk with
marked stops on the way that show the places that Vincent Van Gogh painted before he entered a mental hospital which also is here.
Avignon: From 1305 to 1378, this was the acknowledged home of the Papacy. In 1378, the Pope returned to Rome. The French
Cardinals disapproved of this move, and twice elected their own Popes, who stayed in Avignon until 1403. The Palace itself is huge,
ornate, and suitably elegant for Princes of the Church. The town still has half of a very old bridge that once crossed the Rhone
River. It was made famous in the song "Sur le pont d'Avignon".
Les Baux: Built by the Romans (with their fortifications still visible) high up in the mountains, this town is full of medieval
buildings and tiny, ancient streets not suitable for modern vehicles. Once voted "The Most Beautiful Village in France"!
Bayeux: The city of William the Conqueror, it houses the eleventh century "Bayeux Tapestry" which is really an enormously long embroidered
(literally and figuratively) telling of the story of the conquering of Britain, according to the victors. There also is a magnificent
Cathedral started by William's brother, Bishop Odo here.
Bertangles: There is a chateau here in this small town. During World War I, the town was the command center of the Austrian Army.
It is also where the life and flying career of Baron von Richthoven, the World War I German air ace known as the Red Baron, ended
when he was shot down by a British or Australian pilot flying a Sopwith Camel.
Cahors:There is a large medieval section easily reached from the center of town, and a 14th century bridge with three
towers. King Henri IV made his home here – and there was considerable activity here during The Hundred Years War and the Religious
Carcassonne: This walled city with Gothic towers on its double towering walls is breathtaking and beautiful. Its history includes
not only battles, but religious wars. It was a center of Cathar activity until the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church intervened
in the Albigensian Heresy.
Chambon-sur-Lignon: This is a Hugenot (French Protestant) town which saved hundreds of Jews from the Nazis during World War II,
despite the personal danger from the SS.
Chantilly: There is a beautiful chateau here, as well as the most incredible stables ever built, both in a beautiful park.
A nobleman who thought he would be re-incarnated as a horse built a stable equal to his position!
Clairiere de l'Armistice: In the woods in the Compiegne forest is the clearing where two pairs of railroad tracks mark the exact
spot where Marshal Foch forced the Germans to walk to his railroad car to sign the the World War I Armistice. It also is the
spot where the same car stood when Adolf Hitler forced the French to walk to it to surrender France near the begining of WWII.
The site includes a museum.
Colmar: This city in Alsace shows its mixed German and French history. The sculptor Bertholdi (Statue of Liberty) came from here.
The Unterlinden Museum showcases the art of the area including Grunewald’s Issenheim Altarpiece.
Dinan:This city with its lovely medieval area was the home of a French Knight, Bertrand de Guesclin who served as Constable of
France in the 14th century and fought and won many battles against the British, regaining much of the territory that they
had conquered during the Hundred Years War
Giverny: This small town was the home of the artist Claude Monet whose home and garden are now a treasured possession of the
French state and a big tourist attraction.
Lascaux: The area near Perigueux has the most famous pre-historic cave drawings in the world. The originals were being damaged
by tourists, so an accurate duplicate was made for tourists
Loches: Thislittle town on the Loire has a very old chateau. It was built by Charles VII for his mistress, Agnes Sorel while
he was still the Dauphin. Joan of Arc visited him here to persuade him to become King and run the English out of his country. The
home town of the great philosopher, Rene Descartes, is nearby.
Lyon: This great city boasts a beautiful cathedral on the hill, a Roman amphitheater that is still in use and a wonderful museum
devoted to Roman antiquities.
Martel: Besides its lovely and ancient buildings, Martel is closely associated with Henry II of England, whose eldest son "Henri
Court Mantel" (Henry Short Coat) was mortally wounded while "avenging" the death of Thomas Beckett by his father’s knights. He
died in Martel in a house on the main square (on which you can see the plaque on the left), thereby allowing two of his younger
brothers to play their roles in history as King Richard the Lion Heat and King John (of Magna Carta fame).
Omaha Beach and Normandy: The beaches along the Normandy coast were the scene of the D-Day Invasion of World War II. Omaha Beach
where over 9,000 Americans lie buried is now a part of America. Every area was involved in the landings of Allied troops from Oisterham
to Pointe du Hoc.
Oradour-sur-Glane: This is a town that became a French national monument. The 642 residents were murdered by the Nazi Waffen
SS guards who then torched the entire town. The French government let it remain as the Nazis left it.
Paris: The capitol of France is one of the most famous and historic cities in the world. It is home to the Conciergerie, which
was once a French Revolution prison, several castles, world renown cathedrals and many world class museums. Even its large Pere Lachaise
cemetery has "residents" known to all the world.
Pech Merle: This is the site of another pre-historic cave filled with original neolithic drawings on the walls. Some of the paintings
were "signed" by the artist by blowing carbon black over their hand, as in the photo at the left.
Perigueux: There is a medieval city within this small city, as well as Roman ruins. Near the "cella" (center of a Roman temple,
pictured at the right) are the ruins of a huge Roman villa which is enclosed in a new glass museum.
Peronne: The Austrians in World War I made this their headquarters. It was totally destroyed first in 1872 during the war with
Germany, then during World War I and partially destroyed in World War II. The Historiale (Its entrance pictured at the left) is
a museum that focusses on WWI. Visitors can tour trenches preserved from that war that are not far away.
Pont du Gard: The remains of a huge aqueduct built by the Romans to carry water to the Roman towns in Gaul (France).
Rennes: This small city has the remains of a Roman wall, a medieval twin towered gate (photo at left), and many half-timbered
is a huge industrial city, but has some wonderful ancient buildings, a great art museum and an interesting airplane
museum. St Thomas Acquinas is entombed in the Jacobin church.
a charming town once a center of the cloth trade in France, with many half-timbered buildings, and many churches, including
a cathedral, and several museums, including one that has a unique collection of 17th through 19th century tools, and another about
the pioneering development of knitting machines that produce circular, i.e., cylindrical cloth used in bonnets, skirts, sweaters and
Some Places We Visited in France Where You Are Close to Important Historical Events
Ste. Mere Eglise:
This town in Normandy was the first one liberated after D-Day and battles fought there especially by the 82nd Airborne
Division, he Screaming Eagles, were key to Allied advancement into France. A museum dedicated to the 82nd Airborne
is located there and a celebration of the D-Day landings takes place there every anniversary. The town is featured in the
movie, "The Longest Day".
Click on the place
of interest to go directly to its
Nancy in the Lorraine just south of Metz, is a gem of classical French and art nouveau architecture. That is because the art
nouveau movement took hold here. The photo at the right is of the interior of a downtown Nancy MacDonald's.
ROUEN northwest of Paris has a number of tourist attractions, including a huge cathedral, but perhaps is most famous
as the place where Jeanne D’Arc was tried for heresy and then burned.
The photo at the left is of the Joan of Arc Church.
ST. MALO is a walled city in Brittany that still functions as a beachside town. It was heavily damaged during many
wars but the city has always rebuilt in the old style, complete with walk-around ramparts. In the past it was the main port
from which Corsairs left to harass and plunder British ships entering the Channel. And it also was the port from which Jacque
Cartier left on his voyage of discovery of Canada.
Strasbourg in Alsace is a historic city with Roman, German and French roots and a very gothic huge Cathedral. In more
modern times its claim to historic fame rests on Johannes Gutenberg who built and commercially tested the first moveable type
printing press here, a technological invention that changed the world.