Although we sometimes forget it, France is the number one tourist destination in the world. That gives you a good idea of how many gems there are to discover here. For instance… have you been to the villages of Brittany, Burgundy, or down in the south? On your next canal boat holiday, plan your route to visit (or re-visit) some of France’s most wonderful heritage spots.
If you head for Burgundy, you’re bound to pass through Tonnerre, a village full of narrow streets with three very old churches to visit and several local specialities to try. Another listed village is Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, perched on a hill to the south of Montbard. Its chateau overlooks the Burgundy Canal and the Morvan hills. Travelling between Paray-le-Monial and Vézelay, you can’t help but be moved by the spirituality of the sacred places that used to be centres of devotion in Medieval times, on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.
Brittany has its share of pretty villages to visit. Gacilly, of course, is the stronghold of the Yves Rocher brand, where all kinds of rare and ancient plants are grown. You drift gently along past old houses built in the traditional style, town squares, fountains, wells, and Breton roadside crosses dating back to the times of our ancestors. You’ll pass through the attractive village of Josselin on the banks of the river Oust, a major stopping-off point on the Dukes’ way, to visit the Gothic chateau that is still occupied by the descendants of those who built it in the 11th century.
Heading East, from Alsace to Lorraine, your route takes you through picturesque towns and villages such as Saverne, with its half-timbered facades, imposing 18th century chateau and buildings of pink stone; and Liverdun with its fortified towers.
And then to the south, along the Canal du Midi which is itself a listed Unesco World Heritage site, in the land of pastis where the cicadas sing, and where you’ll find little towns straight out of the Middle Ages. There’s Argens, where Locaboat has its base, and also Puichéric, Carcassonne, Narbonne, not forgetting Aigues-Mortes… so many places, whose names alone are enough to set your pulse racing.