8 things we learned about France in the latest issue of FRANCE Magazine

Have you got your copy yet

Have you got your copy yet - Credit: Archant

One of the best bits about working on FRANCE Magazine is learning something new about our favourite country every single day. Here are some of the weird and wonderful things we discovered about the Hexagone while putting together your October issue…

Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-Elves - Pic: Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie

Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-Elves - Pic: Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie - Credit: Archant

1) Treetop wine tastings are now a thing – and we want in

France’s wine tourism industry is booming, with as many as 10 million visitors coming to sample the country’s drinkable delights in 2016. In Sandra Haurant’s article on oenotourisme, we were fascinated by the Château de Rayne Vigneau’s dégustation perchée, where experts harness up visitors and help them climb up the trees at the entrance to the vineyard to sample the château’s wines with a view to die for. It’s just the climbing back down after a few glasses that we don’t fancy! (Page 39)

2) The town of Tulle has a surprising presidential past

It might be better known for its accordions, but did you know Tulle was also the political base for both Jacques Chirac and François Hollande? The pair even shared a favourite restaurant in the town: the Taverne du Sommelier, which has over 300 wines to choose from. (Page 24)

Stunning Aix les Bains - Pic: aurelienantoine/Getty Images/iStock

Stunning Aix les Bains - Pic: aurelienantoine/Getty Images/iStock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

3) There’s a town in Creuse with an unexpected Hobbit connection

The Lord of the Rings fans in the team were particularly excited about this one. In Aubusson, the home of France’s international tapestry museum, 13 intricate tapestries and one carpet depicting various parts of The Hobbit will be going on display. The first has just been completed, and the series is expected to be finished by 2021, when it will go on display at the Cité internationale de la Tapisserie. Deborah Nash got to meet Baillie Tolkien, daughter-in-law of J. R. R. himself, at its unveiling. (Page 52)

4) This Tarn town has an unexpected haute couture connection

Leather produced in the world-renowned tanneries and workshops of the fortified town of Graulhet is used by the likes of Chanel, Dior and Givenchy. On 24-25 October, visitors can visit the workshops for a behind-the-scenes look on their open days, where they can discover how the material is crafted by skilled artisans. (Page 18)

The mountains of Mercantour - Pic: JLV Photos/Getty Images/iStock

The mountains of Mercantour - Pic: JLV Photos/Getty Images/iStock - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

5) Aix-les-Bains was one of the first French cities to get its own cinema

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It’s a town known as the ‘Riviera of the Alps’ thanks to its stunning belle époque buildings, casino and flower-filled gardens. It’s therefore perhaps no surprise that Aix-les-Bains was one of the first places in France to get its own cinema, as Gaye Lamouroux learned on her road trip through the lakes and mountains of Rhône Alpes. (Page 28)

6) Lavardin plays host to an unusual world championship

Lavardin is the self-proclaimed ‘capitale de la chouine’ and at first, like writer Alison Hughes, we didn’t really know what chouine was either. It transpired it is a medieval card game that has been experiencing something of a revival. In fact, since 1973, Lavardin has even been hosting the world championship! (Page 59)

7) There are now 350 wolves in the Mercantour National Park

The fearsome animals first returned naturally to France in 1992, over the border from neighbouring Italy. They’re the theme of this month’s fascinating parallel text from Régine Godrey, who also shares some interesting French metaphors featuring the loup that you’ll definitely want to impress your French friends with. (Page 87)

8) You can get your hair done at the St Pancras Eurostar Terminal before your trip

When we found out that you could refresh your look in just 20 minutes while waiting for the train to Paris, we were fascinated. At Chop Chop there’s a ‘menu’ of styles to choose from, and the best bit? They’re just £20. (Page 24)