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May 2

May I Tell You about Paris in May?

Paris is always beautiful, throughout each of the Les Quatre Saisons, no that is not just a name of a Pizza! (the four seasons.)

But people tend to say that Paris is at her best in May...

Now, wouldn’t you like to see that for yourself?

Paris in May

Bien sûr, you may! just join us on Twitter or Facebook today as we will be 'tweeting' some images of Paris later on.

...and to bring a little Paris culture into your day how about a song?...

Click here to view the video of...

'PARIS IS AT HER BEST IN MAY' ('J’aime Paris Au Mois De Mai')

 By Charles Aznavour & Dianne Reeves

Blog submitted by: David at The French Property Network - Cle France.

Add CommentViews: 5375
Dec 16

16th December - Christmas Markets in France

Travelling to France for the Christmas Markets

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially in France. The French love their Christmas markets and do them very well, and they make the perfect excuse for a seasonal weekend away.

When travelling between the UK and France we always use LeShuttle which can get you from Folkestone to Calais in just 35 minutes, and from there you are spoiled for choice with lots of Christmas markets dotted across the country. If you are planning a trip in November or December read on for our pick of the French festive fun.

Top French Christmas Market destinations

If you have never visited a French Christmas market before, these are some of the most popular. These are the Christmas markets in France that see tourists and locals revisit them time and time again. Probably because they each offer something a little different from the next, all with that familiar Christmas atmosphere.

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Where in France: Place de la Cathédrale, Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 621km / 5h 30m

The Christmas market in Strasbourg is one of the oldest and best loved festive celebrations in the country, dating back to 1570. It has a vintage feel, with many traditional craft stalls that will make you think of Christmas celebrations from yesteryear. The city’s historic quarter, known as ‘Petite France’, is a dream to stroll through on a winter’s night, too. Be sure to grab a mulled wine to sip as you wander among 300 twinkling chalets selling festive treats.

Metz Christmas Market

Where in France: Place Saint Louis, Metz, Moselle, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 633km / 6h 30m

Perhaps the second most popular Christmas market in France after Strasbourg, the Christmas market in Metz is spread across the city in five different areas. You can shop for baubles and tree toppers, delicious festive treats and sensational local wine, plus unique Christmas souvenirs.

Reims Christmas Market

Where in France: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, Reims, Marne, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 274km / 2h 20m

The stunning cathedral in the centre of Reims is illuminated, adding to the festive glow and magic of the city at Christmas time. You’ll find all the usual favourites at this Christmas market, such as classy glass decorations, garlands, chocolates and roasted chestnuts. How about a steaming cup of mulled wine to keep the cold at bay, or even a cheeky glass of champagne, for which the city is famous?

Amiens Christmas Market

Where in France: Place Gambetta, Amiens, Somme, Hauts-de-France
Distance from Calais: 157km / 1h 39m

Amiens is the capital of Picardy and home to France’s largest Gothic cathedral that gets beautifully lit up throughout December. It’s the perfect backdrop to the Christmas market. The market is one of the largest in northern France with over 130 stalls. This is the place for unusual items like Le Creuset kitchenware and regionally made glass. Local ​specialties include Beauvais chocolate and macarons made in Amiens.

Bordeaux Christmas Market

Where in France: Allées de Tourny, Gironde, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Drive from Calais: 868km / 7h 40m

If you travel further south in France, a trip to Bordeaux to visit their Christmas market is definitely in order. Enjoy a cup of something hot and spicy as you browse the selection of unique gifts from over 150 exhibitors and vendors, including produce from every corner of France. Sample local beers or wine and ensure everyone on your Christmas list gets something special!

Lille Christmas Market

Where in France: Place Rihour, Lille, Nord, Hauts-de-France
Drive from Calais: 112km / 1h 30m

Lille loves to get festive and you’ll find the whole town dons its Christmas lights and decorations during December. Nestled in the city centre, 90 wooden chalets teem with gift ideas, nativity figurines, Christmas decorations and festive food. As well as regional specialities there’s the classic festive treats to enjoy like gingerbread, roast chestnuts and freshly cooked pralines.

Colmar Christmas Market

Where in France: Place Jeanne d'Arc, Colmar, Haut-Rhin, Grand Est
Distance from Calais: 610km / 6h 20m

For a quintessentially ‘French’ experience, visit the Christmas market in the picturesque Alsace town of Colmar. Place Rapp in Colmar’s market has a huge, 800 square-meter ice rink and Christmas-themed rollercoaster. Listen to the children’s choir as they float along the canals lined with half-timbered houses as you shop for locally crafted gifts and souvenirs.

Toulouse Christmas Market

Where in France: Place du Capitole, Toulouse
Drive from Calais: 962km / 9h 20m

Held in December in the very heart of Toulouse, this is an impressive French Christmas market featuring original gift ideas from local woodcrafts to regional specialities. There’s something for everyone here including toys, pottery, jewellery, candles, clothing and leather goods. Toulouse is France’s fourth biggest city so as well as the market, be sure to stroll around its historic centre.

Arras Christmas Market

Where in France: Grand Place, Arras, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France
Distance from Calais: 109km / 1h 10m

You can’t miss the fantastic centrepiece of the Arras Christmas market – an enormous Ferris wheel. Take a ride to see views of the surrounding festivities and Flemish architecture. After a restorative mulled wine, browse the market stalls, visit the unique Christmas tree roundabout, or try skating on the natural ice-rink. Foodies should note that Arras is famous for its Gaufres - waffles of Flemish origin that are best served smothered in melted chocolate. Yum!

Other less well-known French Christmas markets

Smaller and less busy, if you need a quieter Christmas shop (but with no less magic) then these are the spots to explore.

Avignon Christmas Market

Where in France: Place de l'Horloge, Avignon, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur
Drive from Calais: 983km / 8h 47m

Avignon’s grand Christmas Market runs throughout December in Place de l'Horloge, a central square. As well as streets lit up with fairy lights there’s live music and stalls selling crafts and food. A must see is the ‘Chemin des Crèches’, a very pretty walk through the different animated and illuminated nativity scenes, allowing you to discover the fabulous traditional ‘santons’ figures which are hand-painted figurines made from wood or clay.

Mulhouse Christmas Market

Where in France: Place de la Réunion, Mulhouse, Haut-Rhin, Grand Est
Drive from Calais: 666km / 6h 45m

Famous for its textiles, the pretty Alsace enclave of Mulhouse decorates its streets and market stalls with luxury Christmas fabric, which is made each year to mark the occasion. The stalls are within the glow of the church of Saint-Etienne which is lit for the festive season. Around 100 Christmas huts present local culinary specialities including foie gras, gingerbread and Bredeles (small cakes). While you're here, visit one of the town's many museums, including the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes (fabric printing museum).

Le Touquet Christmas Market

Where in France: Le Touquet-Paris Plage, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France
Drive from Calais: 70km / 1h

The stylish and fashionable seaside resort of Le Touquet stages beautiful Christmas celebrations each year. The town and surrounding dunes twinkle with fairy lights and entertainment includes carol singing and a Saint Nicolas parade. The stalls sell everything you need for the perfect Christmas gift including jewellery, hand-made wooden toys, and gourmet specialities including champagne and cheese.

Rouen Christmas Market

Where in France: Place de la Cathédrale, Rouen, Normandy
Drive from Calais: 274km / 2h 45m

Rouen has dubbed its Christmas event ’Rouen givrée’ (Frosted Rouen), and sees the whole town undergo a magical transformation. At the Christmas Market, held in front of the stunning cathedral, over 70 wooden chalets sell all manner of local fayre, such as cheeses, wines and sweets, traditional arts and crafts and Christmas decorations. Warm yourself up with a mulled cider or hot Calvados and honey before taking a turn on the ferris wheel on Place du Vieux Marché.

Licques Christmas Market

Where in France: Place de la Marie, Licques, Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France
Drive from Calais: 21km / 30 minutes

This is one of the more unusual Christmas markets in France and only runs for three days. Because the town is known for its exceptional poultry, there is a Fête de la Dinde, which is a live parade of turkeys through the town centre, followed by local dignitaries and organisations. Licques Christmas market is where you can buy lots of festive treats to eat as well as traditional crafts and decorations. As the closest Christmas market to our Calais terminal, why not include Licques in a festive day trip to France?

Christmas Market Stall

What is the most Christmassy town in France?

It’s hard to say, but festivities in France don’t come much twinklier than in Strasbourg, which calls itself the ‘Capital of Christmas’. As well as the Christmas market itself, which spills out over large parts of the city’s old town, Strasbourg plays host to carol singers, a children’s Christmas village and the tallest decorated Christmas tree in Europe. But smaller towns like Colmar perhaps offer something cosier, and if it's Christmas twinkle you want, you can’t beat the City of Lights itself, Paris.

What is one unusual Christmas tradition in France? 

There are lots of similarities with how Christmas is celebrated in the UK, but perhaps the biggest difference is that for some French families, December 6th is the day that presents are exchanged. This is because it is the feast day of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children, who helped inspire the figure of Father Christmas. Children leave out shoes for St Nicholas to fill with presents (but only for the good children). This is a Christmas tradition strongest in north and north-eastern France.

When do Christmas markets start in France?

Christmas markets in France usually start towards the end of November and run through December, and some even remain open until the first week of January. If it’s your first time to a French Christmas market, here are five must dos, and some other ideas to help get you feeling festive in France.

Cle France Currency Guide link

Thanks to Le Shuttle for providing the background to this blog.

For everything you need to know about French property visit www.clefrance.co.uk

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Jul 24

A Beach in the Heart of Paris

With the return of summer comes beach season.

Volleyball, bikinis, and ice cream, what more do you want?

Because France is surrounded by water on 3 of her 5 sides, you are bound to find a beach you’ll like and we have many coastal properties for sale across France to tempt you.

Tu veux faire un petit plouf (want to make a splash) in the Atlantic? try Aquitaine properties for sale.

Try a beach at Les Sables d’Olonne, a beautiful beach town in Western France, we have many houses for sale in the Vendee.

Prefer une petite baignade (a little dip) in la Méditeranée? Can’t go wrong with the options on our property for sale on the French Riviera down south or even our properties for sale in the Languedoc region in the south west of France

Want to sunbathe on the sand but still look up to see the Eiffel Tower? Sorry, Paris is landlocked. No beaches there… or are there?

Paris Plage 1

In 2002, Bertrand Delanoe, the newly-elected mayor, decided to bring the beach to Paris. August is a prime time for vacation, and many shops close down for a few weeks. It’s the perfect time to head out to the beach. Some people aren’t able to leave the city, but that’s no reason to not be able to feel le sable (sand) between your toes. The banks of the Seine river are  blocked off to host various beach activities including volleyball and sandcastles. To top it all off, il y a également des palmiers (there are also palm trees)!

At first, there was only one beach on the Rive Droite (The Right Bank of the river). Four years later in 2006, an additional beach was opened on the Rive Gauche (The Left Bank). Paris-Plage as it was called would henceforth be known as Paris-Plages (notice the –s?). The budget for the improvised beach has been cut in the past few years, but thousands of tons of sand are still brought in.

Paris Plage 2

This year, Paris-Plages is back for its 15th year. It opened on le 20 juillet (July 20th) and will run through le 23 août (August 23rd). In addition to the normal oversized lawn chairs, Paris-Plages is introducing some new events this year for everyone! There are chances to win entrance into the Louvre museum (they sponsor Paris-Plages and have a stand), see cute animals, and see The Little Prince and his plane. Want to learn Tai Chi? You’re in luck – there are free lessons! Coca-Cola has put into place quite a few sports: le football, le disc-golf, et le badminton, par exemple (soccer, disc golf, and badminton, for example). In August, there’s a dance competition on un grand dance-floor on the beach. And that’s not all! You can read all the events planned here. It’s all free!

Paris Plage 3

So, if you have the “misfortune” of being “stuck” in Paris and want to get out to the beach (or if you can’t decide between staying in the city or going to the beach), look no further than the Seine river! Just don’t swim in it.

Cle Mortages 

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

Add CommentViews: 5281
Oct 29

La Dame Blanche (The White Lady): Mont Blanc

Bonjour mess amis! (Hello my friends!)

One of the best experiences of driving in France was actually leaving France, no wait... that does not sound right! BUT driving through the Mont Blanc tunnel through to Italy (and back) is a fantastic experience, if you ever get the chance you should do it, if you have done this journey then tell us how it was for you!

Mont Blanc

I thought it might be interesting to study un peu de Géographie (a little Geography). Histoire/Géographie (History/Geography) was a combined course in French schools and part of the standard curriculum in the early 1990s. Students would call it Histoire/Géo for short and I clearly remember the green cahier (notebook) dedicated to the class. It was one of my favorite classes in 6ème and 5ème (6th and 7th grades, respectively) and one that ignited a passion for History (and to a lesser extent Geography) that I still harbor to this day.

If you happen to be a Francophile like me, you probably have heard of Mont Blanc (White Mountain), the highest peak in the Alps and coincidentally, the tallest summit in the European Union. Mont Blanc is part of the Massif du Mont Blanc, a mountain range in the Graian Alps that covers part of Italy, France (part of the Rhône-Alpes region) and Switzerland.

Ever since la première ascension (the first ascent) in 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard, Mont Blanc has remained one of the most popular go-to destinations for those hardy souls who enjoy l’alpinisme (mountaineering) and l’escalade (rock climbing). Attempting to climb Mont Blanc is neither for the faint of heart nor for those who suffer from le vertige (vertigo/dizziness). Reaching an altitude of 4,810 m (15,781 ft), the mountain can be very unforgiving, as evidenced par la mort (by the death) of seven climbers in the summer of 2014 alone. A sad affair indeed, however, for those who reach le sommet (the summit) the view is breathtaking as you can imagine (and measures only 30 m in length).

Mont Blanc became internationally renown as the site of the first Jeux Olympiques d’hiver (winter Olympics) in 1924. Hosted in Chamonix, a small ski resort on the north side of the mountain, Mont Blanc went from being a regular ski destination for locals in the early 20th century to becoming a world renown resort for more extreme sports such as ice climbing, paragliding, Wingsuit flying and extreme skiing.

Should you ever have a chance to visit the Alps, whether in Italy, France or Switzerland, consider taking a detour to visit la Dame Blanche (the White Lady). Both beautiful and deadly, she inspires a sense of awe and wonder that reminds us just how small and finite we really are.

Blog submitted by: Alex at The French Property Network - Cle France.

This blog was originally posted on The French Language Blog pages.

Add CommentViews: 5437
Jul 9

Cle France agents boast many other talents!

One of our agents just sent us a drawing he did in between viewings in Limoux, very good indeed I am sure you will agree and goes to show Cle France agents are not just good at guiding you through the buying process in France, they also boast many other talents!

Limoux is in the department of Aude, deep in the south-west of France, part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Cle France images of Limoux church

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