France is the most popular tourist destination in the world, and it is easy to see why, from the excellent culinary delights, the fantastic choice of wines, gorgeous scenery, wonderful weather to the various exciting attractions. Our luxury villas in the South of France, Normandy, Languedoc and many other locations are top spots to head to for a large family holiday or big group holiday with your friends.
Our villas also provide easy access to the cultural highlights nearby. Read on to see our guide for the top spots to head to for a cultural getaway in the delightful country of France.
Castles of Languedoc
In the twelfth century, a new religion took root in Europe, known today as Catharism. The Cathars were Gnostic Christians and their religion flourished in the Languedoc region, with a number of castles being built. These castles were located on hilltops in the foothills of the Pyrenees. When several crusades and sieges were led against the Cathars – who were regarded as heretics by the Catholic Church – and the Cathars were eventually defeated and exterminated. Their castles were reinforced and rebuilt or destroyed, some even being turned into royal fortresses until the French border moved further south and the castles were no longer to needed for border defences. Today you can visit many of these Cathar Castles in Languedoc, as some have been restored. Spectacular, romantic and poignant, they are a major tourist attraction of the region.
The Avignon Festival, Provence
The Avignon Festival is an immensely popular arts event held in the city of Avignon each year. This year, from 7 to 30 July, there will be 1066 theatre troupes, 1336 shows from every region in France and from the world over. The festival was founded in 1947 and is the oldest festival in France, and one of the world’s greatest. You can see several theatre performances, listen to music from all over the world in various styles, watch magic shows and any other artistic performance which celebrates life and freedom.
Prehistoric art, Dordogne
In the Vezere Valley area of Dordogne, some 17,000 years ago, men and women crawled into the labyrinth of Rouffignac cavern. They lay on their backs and painted pictures on the rock above them. More than 60 images of horses, cattle and mammoths survive today, and each animal can easily be identified. These cave paintings are a sign of early civilisation and the series of caves revealed more than just the paintings, such as tools, burial remains and other artefacts. The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is closed to the public to preserve the paintings, but a number of tourist attractions have been set up to enable visitors to discover the past of this place.
French Riviera gardens
The French Riviera has some of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, styled on typical English gardens. On a hot, sunny day, instead of heading to the beach why not indulge in a tour of the gardens, which were created to be a playground for the rich and famous. In the glory days of rich British expats who made their home on the Riviera, they would also make their gardens to match their lifestyle, and their legacy remains. The warm and healthy climate is what attracted people to come, and stay, and the gardens also thrived in the sun-kissed Mediterranean. Citrus trees, roses, lotus and water lily pools, cypresses, hydrangeas and many more colourful plants bloom throughout the year, and you can take tours of the gardens when staying at our villas in the South of France.
Rouen is often considered to be one of Normandy’s, and even the whole of France, most engaging city. The history of Rouen is rich and varied, having seen fires, plagues and many wars. Yet it is also a beautiful place, with a great insight into France’s history and culture. The Gothic Cathédral Notre Dame towers above the city, and the medieval quarter is a must see. Rouen is also famous as being the death place of Joan of Arc, who was tried for heresy and burned at the stake in the square in 1431. You can visit the museums which house fantastic artwork by the likes of Ruben and Caravaggio and explore the many medieval churches that Rouen is home to.