A Francophile’s guide to...Cheltenham

In our new series, we explore Britain’s French connections

As FRANCE Magazine’s hometown, Cheltenham is arguably (we’ll argue it as such anyway) the most important town in Britain for French links, but it doesn’t stop there; the Regency town has many other French connections. It is twinned with Annecy, in Haute-Savoie. Their close link is maintained by the twinning association (www.cheltenhamtwinning.wordpress.com).

Visitors will find gastro delights abound here with a trio of French restaurants; two-Michelin-starred Le Champignon Sauvage is run by David Everitt-Matthias and his wife Helen and offers a modern French menu with a local twist (tel: (Fr) 01242 573 449, www.lechampignonsauvage.co.uk). A more casual bite can be found at the cavernous Coco Bistro (tel: 01242 534 000, www.bistrotcoco.co.uk), where the ceiling is an impressive collage of black and white photos of all things French. The restaurant also holds French-themed evenings dedicated to a particular region; on 1 October it will be Alsace. Otherwise, for a taste of the Provence, try the recently opened L’Artisan, run by French couple Yves and Elizabeth and Ogrodzki (tel: 01242 571 257, www.lartisan-restaurant.com).

Make time for a bit of shopping too; in the Montpellier area (supposedly named after its French counterpart), you’ll find the vintage French furniture shop Rechercher (14 Rotunda Terrace, tel: 01242 515 509). The Paragon Gallery, features artwork by French painter Sebastien Levigne (tel: 01242 233 391, www.paragongallery.co.uk).

If in town on the second or last Friday of the month, pick up some French fare at the farmers’ market, held on the pedestrianised promenade, where the French family-run Parisienne stall sells all sorts of delicious breads and pâtisseries.

For those lodging in Cheltenham for a longer stint, the Cercle Français is the resident French club, which meets fortnightly for conversation, talks and lectures (tel: 01242 676 143, www.cercle-francais-cheltenham.webs.com). The local film society regularly screens French movies too; this autumn’s programme includes Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic Breathless and Guillaume Nicloux’s The Nun (www.cheltfilmsoc.org.uk).

Does your hometown have a French connection? Write to us at [email protected]