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Above: Louise de Bourbon in a centuries old "selfie" Abbey Fontevraud This has to be one of the most beautiful abbeys in all of France – and there are a lot of them. The Abbey de Fontevraud is the burial place of Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine. It has immense history you can almost feel when you walk through the doors and into the cool interior with enormously high ceilings, Byzantine style domes and white stone walls. Unusually this was an abbey that was run by women, powerful Abesses who answered only to the King and the Pope. The women who lived here dedicated their lives to praying. It was a hard life; they were not allowed to speak to each other or make eye contact, even during meals. When Louise de Bourbon (1673–1743) became Abbesse it became quite popular for the aristocracy to send daughters there. Gorgeous paintings show Louise had herself added to a religious scene, it seems vanity didn't completely disappear and subsequent Abesses followed her lead - making this an early "selfie". During the French Revolution the Abbey became a prison which closed in 1963. In 1975 it was designated a place of culture and arts, fabulous exhibitions are displayed in some of the ancient chambers. On site is a beautiful hotel converted from one of the buildings. Truly tranquil, it is exquisitely updated keeping as many features as possible whilst being a truly luxurious experience. The air is scented with oils, the rooms are spacious and über luxurious but organic at the same time. Staying here gives you access to the abbey and the gorgeous gardens. The bar and restaurant are open to non-residents and are worth going for on their own merits.
Blois Son et Lumieres Show On summer evenings a very special son et lumière show takes place in the grand courtyard of the Chateau of Blois. Listen to the music and tales of the castle's history via audio (in several languages) for a spectacular extravaganza that lasts for 45 minutes. Take a blanket to sit on or stand, as you’ll need to swivel as the show is projected on all four walls and the famous staircase. Magical, mesmerising and memorable – this is a must see. Plus, the town is perfect for wandering. There are plenty of restaurants, try La Creusille at the side of the river for delicious dishes in an ancient courtyard. You may not be able to stay in the chateau of Blois but close by is the gorgeous chateau Tertres. You're guaranteed to feel like royalty here in the lovely spacious rooms, mooching around the grounds, or stroking the attention seeking friendly Angers and Cointreau The famous orange liqueur was invented during the era of Belle Époque. Anyone can take a tour at Cointreau and you won't quickly forget the smell as you walk into the still room – it’s like stepping inside an orange. Here tons of orange peel, the main ingredient, is distilled daily in old copper stills then bottled. In the warm atmosphere, filled with a heady scent, you'll learn the secrets of Cointreau, amazingly every bottle you buy, and every sip of Cointreau you enjoy, will have come from that distillery room. Don’t miss a tasting at the very smart bar, visit the factory, enjoy the huge collection of marketing material and promotional posters on display, it's a great way to while away an hour and for Cointreau fans, a must-see: www.remy-cointreau.com The Blois Son et Lumiere show takes places 1 April to 24 September 2017 March, April, May, September: starts 22h June, July, August: starts 22h30 Tickets may be bought at the tourist office in Blois and main towns in the Loire
BISOUS From France Bonjour This iss
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MAMAN'S APPLE TART
NOUGAT the sweet taste of the south
Gigot d'Ag aux legum by Sara Neumei
What a mad few months it's been her