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This website offers you
thousands of photographs of the Regions,
Départements, cities, towns and villages of
France. Use it for planning your holiday,
vacation, travel or even a day trip – or
simply enjoy the stunning landscape,
architecture and curious corners of France,
North, South, East and West. Churches,
cathedrals, châteaux, cottages, museums,
galleries, playgrounds and parks, you'll find
an abundance here.
All photographs ©Hedley
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the main index, click here.
For a map of France with regions
and Départements, click here.
are corners of France where the very air is magic;
where the past is not merely close to, but actually
a part of, the present. These are places not visited
by many tourists, yet not inimical to strangers.
They are secret places; but once you have found
them, why, you are in the secret and therefore a
Take, for example, Brantôme, a little town
which must be one of the most beautiful places on
earth. Twenty thousand years ago there were people
living there in caves hollowed out of the cliffs
along the river bank. Twelve hundred years ago
Charlemagne – in person – founded an Abbey there.
The monks diverted the river and made an island, on
which people built little houses with thick white
walls and soft red roofs. And that is the whole
story. Nothing has changed, nothing has happened
since. There are still houses cut into the cliffs.
There is water and willow trees, silence and slow
time. Visitors come and are swallowed up. Only the
bell on the abbey church, one of the oldest bells in
France, punctuates the dream.
There is a village in Normandy called
Neuilly-la-Forêt. The forest has been gone a hundred
years, but the name remembers it. It stands on a
hilltop and watches the world. In 1944 the Battle of
Normandy raged all around, but Neuilly was not
disturbed. It is a beautiful village, and its 600
people love it. Once a year, on the Sunday before
the fifteenth of August, they turn back the clock.
In 1989 they turned back to 1789. In 1991, they
turned back to 1911. The Mayor, in top hat and
tricolour sash, presided at a
wedding. These were not actors, but the Mayor
himself and his people. The bride was the
grand-daughter of the girl married that same day
in 1911, and she rode off in the same carriage.
The fire brigade joined the procession in their
brass helmets, and 100 villagers in their
grandparents' clothes danced all day and feasted
at trestle tables in the village square.
Let us not forget that France is the most modern
country in Europe; the France of the Ariane
rocket, the Pompidou centre and the channel
tunnel, with the fastest trains in the world and
fast broadband almost everywhere. But it is also
one of the most ancient countries, and its past is
still present. In the city of Rouen, for example,
they are halfway through their conservation
project. So far, 400 medieval houses have been
restored. Which means that Rouen alone has 800
medieval houses; and medieval, in Continental
Europe, means 'before 1492'.
There is a plateau in the South of the
Auvergne called La Margeride. Its villages snuggle
in folds of the hills and drowse in the summer
heat. They have names like Loubaresse, Signalauze,
Combechalde, Orceyrolles. The local council has
stopped time in four of the houses; a forge, a
school, a bakery and a peasant farm; not
preserved, not shown under glass, but simply kept.
Look, this is how we are. This is how we always
were. 1875 was a good year, but so were all the
others. Secret France is waiting. Only an ocean
stands in your way.