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Street in Toulouse
The capital of the Midi-Pyrénées region and préfecture (capital) of the Haute-Garonne department --- TOULOUSE is the southwest's largest city.
It is renowned for its high-tech industries, including some of Europe's most advanced aerospace facilities.
Since the anti-Cathar movement of the 13th C., this has also been a major centre of higher education, with a student population only second in size to Paris.
There are also many Spanish descendents living here -- of refugees from the Spanish Civil War. Along with a large North African community, this makes for a lively, friendly, and go-getting city with an abundance of "bodegas" (Spanish style wine bars), North African restaurants, and laid-back cafés. Nationwide magazine polls identify Toulouse as most French people's favourite city.
With no quarries nearby, all the older buildings in the centre were made of red brick. This has created a certain homogeny of colour, and given it the nickname, 'la ville rose'...the pink city.
Directions: Easy to get to by air, bus, train, or car.
Phone: Tourist Off: 05.61.11.02.22
A pond at Giverny
The village of GIVERNY can be reached by taking the train from Paris, Gare Saint Lazare, into the station in Vernon, a French village near Giverny. Purchase train tickets via Horaires SNCF at http://www.voyages-sncf.com/dynamic/
Then take the local bus service between Vernon station and Giverny (5 kms) which arrives 15 mins. after the train pulls in.
1.90 Euros each way.
You could also walk if you'd enjoy the exercise and seeing the surroundings closer up!
The only unpleasant thing about the place can be the large crowds, usually in the form of bus groups. If you can get to the house when it first opens then you can sometimes miss the brunt of the big groups.
In the gardens, even with people about, it can still feel somewhat peaceful. People seem to become quiet in the gardens for some reason.
Take time in the house too.
Don't look for any actual work by Monet there(much like when I tried to find Van Gogh's works in Arles!). You won't find any originals because whatever you see will be copies or photos.
However, you will find his collection of Japanese wood block prints covering every inch of walls in the house.
The dining room and kitchen are amazing!! They have recreated the rooms of Monet's house based on photos. A few are displayed for easy comparison.
House and Gardens ~ 5.5 Euros for Adults and Seniors
April 1st to October 31st
Tuesday to Sunday
9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: 84 rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lectoure, old capital of the Lomagne, is a handsome, stoic place, with a turbulent past that seems to have left it enervated behind its neoclassical facades.
It sits on a boat-shaped rock above the Gers (pronounced JZersh in that region) that was already occupied by a tribe called the Lactoratii (hence the name) when the Romans moved in. The Romans built in the valley below, leaving the rock for temples to Jupiter and to Cybele, the ancient mother-goddess of Asia Minor.
Protestant Lectoure was occupied by Catholic troops during the Wars of Religion.
When Auch was made the Gers' capital after the Revolution, Lectoure faded away.
If you love Monet's paintings then you should by all means go to the 'Latour-Marliac Gardens and Nurseries' where Monet bought his famous waterlilies...the ones he immortalized in his amazing paintings!!
The gardens are open from May to September (10:00 to 17:00 hrs).
Children under 16 are free.
The Gift Shop and Sale of their Plants are open from March to September 30th.
They also carry their own label of Latour-Marliac wines 'Cotes du Marmandais' (produced at Cave de Cocumont) which can be purchased at the gift shop.
Address: Latour-Marliac, S.A. 47110 Le Temple-sur-Lot
Directions: Located off Exit (Sortie) #6, near Damazan, on the A62 Highway between Bordeaux and Toulouse.
Cloister of Abbey St. Pierre
Moissac was a major stop for pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela, and today it's a major stop for connoisseurs of the Romanesque.
Here in this quiet artists' colony is France's most beautiful ensemble of Romanesque art and the oldest surviving collection.
Directions: Moissac is on the Toulouse-Agen N113 road.
Phone: Tourist Off: 05.63.04.01.85
Chateau of Henry IV
Nérac lies astride the Baise river and just across the main bridge stands the Chateau of Nérac. This is where Henry IV, France's favourite king, held court.
It's a lovely town with cobbled streets, ochre and terracotta buildings, and an enchanting park to wander through, which is located across the bridge from the chateau.
Directions: SW France
St. Just in front of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges
Below the rocky hump where the village now stands are the ruins of a much earlier and more substantial Roman provincial capital city, where Herod Antipas was exiled with his wife Caligula shortly after the Crucifixion.
The Garonne and its fertile banks are close by, and it is easy to imagine the march of Pompey's legions arriving here on their way to or from Spain.
The Roman city was almost destroyed by barbarians in the 4th century, and in the 6th century the plague struck! Only a handful of houses remained, sheltering under the hill, until in 1120 Bertrand, Bishop of the county of Comminges, built a cathedral here and a new community developed.
The cathedral is a truly remarkable building, with a cloister open to the valley on one side where the view of fields and meadows, vines and cypresses are an integral part of this place of worship.
Directions: Located in the Haute-Garonne close to the Pyrennes.
The 2-hectare site came to light in 1866, when the curate of nearby Labarrère found a patch of mossaic tiles.
Further work came in 1909, though most excavation was done between 1959 and 1992.
What archeologists found were the remains of a luxurious villa on the agricultural estate of a 4th-century Roman aristocrat, along with other buildings dating from the 2nd to the 7th centuries.
Directions: The turning to Séviac is on the D29, 900 m west of Montréal; from there, follow the well sign-posted country road for 1.4 km.
Montréal du Gers was probably Gascony's first bastide, begun in 1255 by Alphonse de Poitiers, although the English moved in before he had it finished.
The once-fortified site, above the gorge of the River Auzoue, is all the more attractive for being mostly unrestored.
Its chunky Gothic church squats at the edge of the main square, thumbing its nose at the bastide's precision by aligning itself instead with the town walls.
The town's trump card is the excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman villa, 2.3 km south-west of the centre...at Seviac.
Directions: Gascony region of SW France
Phone: Tourist Off: 05.62.29.42.85
Larressingle just might be France's cutest fortified village!
Armies of Compostella pilgrims and breathless tourists seem to have put its tiny community on the defensive.
Locals, presumably with tongues deep in their cheeks, refer to it as the 'Carcassonne of the Gers'.
But, it is an amazing bastion with original walls, surrounded by a moat, and largely intact. Inside are the remains of the castle-keep, the sturdy Église St. Sigmund (with a mermaid depicted in one of its' stained-glass windows), an unconvincing museum of medieval life, and some craft shops.
Directions: SW France
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