The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Winter 2022

  • Text
  • Giveaways
  • Recipes
  • Christmas
  • France
  • Vineyards
  • Villages
  • Medieval
  • Provence
Discover France’s magical winter wonderland destinations - from the French Alps to the French Riviera. Read about the biggest bûche de Noël, Christmas log cake, in the world and see Paris when it snows. Head to the sweet village of Flavigny in Burgundy where the film Chocolat was filmed and to Rouen, the Ardèche region and Côtes du Rhône. Go gaga for gorgeous Gascony and feel festive at the colourful Christmas market of Metz, Lorraine.Toulouse, feel good films, recipes, guides and giveaways…

Maclou, but twenty years

Maclou, but twenty years on from my last visit, they seemed brighter and better maintained, clearly the result of ongoing restoration. I walked beneath the colourful facades of 14th century houses; indulged in a scrumptious cake at Dame Cakes by the cathedral; and wandered through the lofty interior of Saint- Ouen Church, currently the subject of a major restoration campaign. Like many French cities, Rouen is dotted with churches, some big, some small, and some utterly unique like the Joan of Arc church in the Place du Vieux Marché. A peasant girl from the Vosges, Joan claimed that God had instructed her to support Charles, heir to the French throne, against the English. But she was captured by their allies, the Burgundians, tried in the Archbishop’s Palace at Rouen and condemned to death. Joan was burnt at the stake in the Old Market Place in 1431 and today a modern church built in 1979 stands next to the covered market at the place where she breathed her last. Unprepossessing from the outside, the church is a different story inside, dappled with colour from a multi-coloured wall of brilliant medieval stained glass. Discover Joan’s dramatic story at the immersive experience that is the Historial Jeanne d’Arc, a digital journey through a second trial that took place here in 1456 in the very spot where she was tried the first time. Headsets provide the commentary in English from an array of ‘talking heads’ and as you move from room to room, you really get the feeling that you are in on the decision that was made to pardon the ‘Maid of Orleans’. Absorbing and instructive with no previous Joan knowledge necessary. Wander the streets to take in other monuments such as the Gros Horloge, an enormous 14th century clock with one of the oldest clock mechanisms in Europe, and La Maison Sublime, oldest Jewish monument in France. Walk or cycle along the quaysides beside the Seine, and browse Rouen’s rich offering of high street retailers and specialist boutiques, liberally dotted with tempting places to eat and drink. But leave time too for some of the city’s eight free museums. I loved the eclectic mix on display in the Antiquities Museum that includes a Roman mosaic, an Egyptian mummy and Greek pottery, as well as the Natural History Museum which boasts one of the most diverse collections in France. But top slot for me goes to the Impressionist collection within the Fine Arts Museum. Works by Monet, of course, but Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley too, who all painted in the city and surrounding area. One of the most important Impressionist collections outside Paris, it is a highlight of one of France’s most delightful cities. Further information from Beyond the city centre A few days at your disposal? Follow the meanders of the Seine to east and west, by car or maybe by bike. Heading east, the Route des Abbayes links ecclesiastical gems such as the Abbey of Saint-Pierre de Jumièges – 30 km from the city centre – where contemporary art exhibitions are frequently held amongst the ruins, and Saint-Georges de Boscherville with its terraced abbey gardens. And buy seasonal fruit, jams and jellies along the Route des Fruits between Duclair and Notre-Dame de Bliquetuit where the microclimate favours all manner of orchard fruits. Head east for the ruins of Château Gaillard, a strategic fortress built by Richard the Lionheart on a hilltop beside the Seine at Les Andeleys, 40 km from historic Rouen. Another 30 km brings you to Giverny and the legendary house and garden of Impressionist supremo Claude Monet. Walk amongst the flower beds, spend time in the house he shared with his wife and children, and stroll around the famous lily pond that featured in so many vast canvasses painted towards the end of his long life. But do try to visit early or late in the day, or outside peak season, to enjoy this magical plot without the international crowds desperate for the next Instagram selfie. For a different kind of Norman countryside, drive east from Rouen for 35 km, passing through a glorious beech forest to Lyons-la- Forêt, an enchanting village of half-timbered and brick houses that is deservedly classified amongst Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Find out more at 44 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 45

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