There are dozens of fantastic historical sites worth visiting for those with an interest in France’s past: from sobering battlefields to monumental Gothic cathedrals, it’s a country steeped in history and packed with relics and breath-taking artefacts. Here are just a few of our recommended picks:
1. Mont Saint-Michel (Le Mont-Saint-Michel, 50170)
Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy has been in use as far back as the 6th century. A church-topped rocky outcrop, it has changed hands several times over the years, with each ruler adding to the imposing structure or finding a new use for it. It was used as a prison during the French revolution and today, a Roman-style abbey perches there amongst a maze of medieval streets. Guided and audio tours are available daily, helping visitors to explore the medieval ramparts and discover the Museum of History and the Maritime museum.
2. (4 Boulevard des Arènes, 30000 Nîmes)
Arguably one of the best remaining Roman amphitheatres in the world, the Arena of Nîmes dates back to 70AD, during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Originally used to host gladiator bouts, it was later used as a military base in the event the local area should come under attack. Seating a total of 24,000, it was also kept as emergency accommodation for the local people. The Arena of Nîmes is still used to host events, although today it mostly serves as a historical site. Audio guides and a small exhibition detail the arena’s rich history.
3. Somme Battlefields (21 Rue Ernest Cauvin, 80000 Amiens)
Situated in the north of France, many tourists take a daytrip to the Somme Battlefields to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers of WWI. One of the most savage and bloody battles of the Great War, the fields are now home to thousands of bright red poppies, stretching as far as the eye can see. There is a well-trodden route, known as the Circuit of Remembrance, for those wishing looking to learn about the events of the Great War. Stop-offs along the way, with information boards at some open-air sites, guide visitors along the route.
Should you be inspired by any of these sites, many of our French chateau rentals offer a great opportunity to experience these unique historical treasures first-hand, and are conveniently located for daytrips.
If you’re particularly taken with the Arena of Nîmes, why not consider renting out the Chateau de Mazelle This sprawling, 19th century chateau comfortably has room for 20 guests, and is located just an hour’s drive from the city of Nîmes. With three rustic yet elegant reception rooms, dining terraces overlooking a picturesque valley and a private 21m outdoor swimming pool, this property really is a treat.
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