Did you know FRANCE Magazine is 32 years old this year? Over the years we’ve featured hundreds of France’s most iconic buildings – and this issue, we meet the organisation that looks after them. The Centre des Monuments Nationaux is a bit like the National Trust, except it’s a government body managing properties on behalf of the French state. One of their most famous sites is Mont-Saint-Michel – our January cover star.
Heading west, our sustainable tourism series continues in Brittany, where pioneering museums are helping to engage the next generation in protecting the seas. Down in the Alps, find out why the Petit Train de la Mure and its jaw-dropping views are back after a long hiatus. And in south-west France, discover the history behind the gorgeous bastide towns.
As usual, we’ve got plenty for foodies including a gastronomic tour of Périgord and a lip-smacking lamb kofta recipe from a locally based chef. Plus, if you’re looking to brush up on your French, we hope you’ll enjoy our usual range of puzzles – there’s even our crossword competition to enter!
Here’s some more of what you can expect…
How to spend a weekend in Auch
“At first sight, Rue Caumont seems like your average residential street. The narrow road is lined with cars on one side, windows are shaded by weathered pastel shutters, and aside from the occasional passer-by, not much is happening. Yet tucked between some of the robust townhouses is a whimsical part of Auch that begs to be discovered, provided you’re up for a good workout: its medieval stepped alleyways known as ‘pousterles’. The five sloping passages once provided residents in the upper part of town (the haute-ville) with easy access to the river below. Four are on this street, and the other one can be reached via the adjacent Rue de Montebello.”
Read more from Paola Westbeek in the January 2022 issue of FRANCE Magazine UK.
Take a stroll in Vence
“It’s hard to drag myself away from the colour, light and serenity of the Chapelle du Rosaire, but my stomach is leading me back towards the restaurants of town. The work done by Henri Matisse on this chapel – including stained glass, murals, chasubles and candle sticks – is arguably some of the finest of the artist’s career, and doubly astonishing for having been completed when he was in poor health and advanced years. As I walk back along the Avenue Henri Matisse, passing the Villa le Rêve which was his home during his time in Vence, I reflect on what a legacy the artist left. But Matisse was far from the only artist to have found inspiration in the undulating landscape, unique light and balmy microclimate of Vence.”
Read more from Lara Dunn in the January 2022 issue of FRANCE Magazine UK.
Picpoul’s rise to power
“In the last two decades, Picpoul de Pinet has emerged as an export juggernaut to the UK. Unaffected by either Brexit or Covid, a full third of all bottles are now enjoyed on British shores. Yet a mere two decades ago, the wine was little more than a local curiosity, known only to sommeliers and die-hard Languedoc wine fans abroad.
Picpoul de Pinet’s story begins in antiquity, with the red grape piquepoul noir (pronounced locally as “pic-a-pool,” or Picapoll in the Occitan language). It once covered vast swathes of southern France, before being displaced from the 16th century onwards by more deeply coloured Spanish varieties such as grenache, carignan and mourvèdre.
Wine made from piquepoul noir was praised by, among others, British philosopher John Locke, when he tasted it in 1674. To this day, piquepoul noir remains a seasoning variety in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, in the southern Rhône valley.”
Read more from Dominic Rippon in the January 2022 issue of FRANCE Magazine UK.
Like what you see? The January 2022 issue of FRANCE Magazine is on sale from 24 November. Take advantage of our great subscription offers and get FRANCE Magazine delivered straight to your door every month! You can also buy single issues from Mags Direct. Happy reading!
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