Sunday, April 18, 2010

There's More to France than Paris

Oh, I can hear it now...the exaggerated sighs, the eyes rolling, the hastily inhaled air as the reader sniffs. But, my friends, it is true.

Even though the Parisians, or someone (I think it was the Romans), previously had a good sigh, eye roll, and sniff, and pronounced any place but Paris as "the provinces" (a bit of an exaggeration, but you have to give me author's license here), the provinces, including Provence, have much to offer.

Here is the run-down of places, other than Paris, that we visited: Beaune; Chalon-sur-Saône; Tournus; Mâcon; Beaujolais Region including village of Oingt; Lyon; Tournon; Viviers; Avignon; Arles; Côte d’Azur including Nice; Monte Carlo.

Such a list gives you no sense of the highlights of these places. Here's what I recall, things you won't see in Paris--various towns and villages with extant medieval buildings; places that commemorate all the things the French discovered; countryside dotted with vineyards, orchards, farms; cities with their own history.

Medieval Buildings

Chalon-sur-Saône is fairly dripping with half-timbered houses in quite good shape.
The next series of photos all come from Chalon-sur-Saône.

Next is Oingt (pronounced Wah), a tiny pristine village near Lyon in the Beaujolais region. All the buildings are made of a buttery shade of plaster. Even though the village is inhabited, we saw no one (except us tourists). The village church dates back to the 11th century and was sometimes used as a fort.

That last place featuring medieval buildings is Viviers, a charming small town, with the smallest cathedral in France. Viviers turned out to be a medieval delight—tiny winding streets, lots of Romanesque period buildings, some in transition to Gothic. Once at the top of the hill where the cathedral was, we had a spectacular view out over Rhone valley below. There is a bridge crossing the Rhone that the Allies had to blow up to prevent Germans from reaching Viviers—an act that helped save and preserve the town.

Obviously, the bridge above is the rebuilt one to replace what had been blown up.
Each of these places--Chalon, Oingt, and Viviers is off the typical tourist beaten path. I doubt we would have gone to these places had we not been cruising down a river.
Coming up--other cities (than Paris) that we visited: Arles, Avignon, and Nice.


Anvilcloud said...

I'm all for getting off the beaten track and out of the cities.

Ginger said...

Gorgeous! I'm feeling quite envious. :)

Jayne said...

Not that larger cities don't have a good bit to see, but the stories and history are often just as rich away from the hussle and bussle. Beautiful scenes!

Leslie Patterson said...

Wonderful post! I love seeing the trip through different eyes and wish that I had visited Oingt if only to say the name over and over again.

Anonymous said...

So beautiful. I have been to France but never to Paris so I have to agree with your thesis!