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Dijon

Top French Cities - Dijon at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Dijon Tourism Office at www.destinationdijon.com.

City region: Burgundy / Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

Population & what they are called: 153,668 municipality inhabitants (2014 census), called Dijonnais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 3 hours (196 miles) via the A6 Autoroute du Soleil

  • by train: about 1h 35 min by TGV from the Paris Gare de Lyon

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Gustave Eiffel, engineer and architect

  • Jean-Pierre Marielle, actor

  • Yan Pei-Ming, artist

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • The owl is the symbol of Dijon. The small carving of one in the north facade of Notre-Dame is said to bring good luck if you touch it with your left hand and make a wish.

  • Dijon is at the heart of the Burgundy vineyards.

Notable sites:

  • Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne – incredible architectural ensemble that was the residence and seat of government of the Dukes of Burgundy

  • Tour Philippe le Bon – there are 316 steps to its terrace and a 360° view of the city

  • Eglise Notre Dame – a 13th-century church with three tiers of creepy gargoyles

Top annual events:

  • Le Brunch des Halles de Dijon – a delicious a la carte meal at the covered market, available on Sundays from May to September, prepared by talented chefs in a laid-back and festive ambiance (bhd.otdijon.com/le_brunch_des_halles_de_dijon_en.html)

  • Fêtes de la Vigne – biennial international festival of folk music and dance (fetesdelavigne.org)

  • Foire Internationale et Gastronomique de Dijon – pays homage to fine local food products (foirededijon.com)

Most notable museums:

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts – an extensive overview of the region's art and history (beaux-arts.dijon.fr)

  • Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne – models and reconstructions of everyday Burgundian life at the end of the 19th century

  • Musée Archéologique – displays of surprising archeological artifacts from the region (archeologie.dijon.fr)

Culinary specialties:

  • mustard – since its creation in Dijon in the 18th century, it has been famous around the world

  • pain d'épices – a spiced bread that has been made in the traditional way – with wheat flour, honey and spices – for over 220 years at Mulot & Petitjean, which has a full museum space at its production site (mulotpetitjean.fr)

  • oeufs en meurette – poached eggs served on toasted garlic bread with a red wine reduction sauce, lardons, onions and shallots

Local wines & spirits:

  • Burgundy wines – the nearby Côte de Nuits includes 16 grand crus (highest quality) vineyards

  • crème de Cassis – a liqueur made from blackcurrants harvested in the Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits area; when combined with aligoté white wine, it becomes a Kir

Shopping:

  • mustard – the Maille mustard store sells dozens of different mustards from pumps in earthenware pots (us.maille.com), and the Fallot boutique-workshop revisits traditional recipes with unusual twists (fallot.com/en/)

  • La Rose de Vergy – 15th-century boutique for spice bread (a must try: spice bread baguette garnished with chutney or tapenade), fine cookies, jams and both traditional and unique candies

  • Toison d'Or – 10 minutes by tram from the city center, this shopping includes more than 160 boutiques, including a huge Apple Store

Most popular night spots:

  • Péniche Cancale – a wide variety of concerts and DJ sets, plus a restaurant, all set on a barge

  • Le Smart – bar with live music and a downstairs disco

  • Bistrot de la Scène – introduces new artistic creations to an audience spanning generations and social classes

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Lake Kir – jog, bike or walk around this beautiful lake, perhaps going further along the Canal de Bourgogne

  • Les Halles de Dijon – wander the market and learn about the city's incredible gastronomy

  • Greater Dijon trails – follow the signposts into the surrounding region, especially those that head into the vineyards

Local industries:

  • appliances – Groupe SEB (Société d'Emboutissage de Bourgogne) is a large French consortium that produces small appliances

  • technology – adhesive technology company Adhex and navigation systems leader Safran Electronics & Defense both use Dijon as a base of global operations

  • pharmaceuticals – Groupe Urgo is a specialist in the care of wounds, public health and new health technologies

In Pop Culture:

  • Cyrano de Bergerac – the 1990 movie adaptation, with Gérard Depardieu, of the famous novel, filmed in Dijon

  • Love on a Pillow (Le repos du guerrier) – a 1962 French film shot partly in Dijon, starring Brigitte Bardot and directed by Roger Vadim

  • Long Ago In France: The Years In Dijon (Une Jeune mariée à Dijon) by M.F.K. Fisher — candid memoir of the author’s stay in Dijon from 1929-1931 absorbing the essence of French character and

Bordeaux

Top French Cities - Bordeaux at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit Bordeaux Tourism at www.bordeaux-tourism.co.uk.

City region: Aquitaine / Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Population & what they are called: 250,776 municipality inhabitants (2016 census), called Bordelais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 5 h 40 min (363 miles) via the A10 autoroute called L'Aquitaine

  • by train: about 2 hours by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse

  • by plane: about 1 h 15 min from Paris

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • François Mauriac, writer and Nobel laureate

  • Michel de Montaigne, philosopher and essayist

  • Jean-Jacques Sempé, cartoonist

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Bordeaux is the most extensive urban environment in the world to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • 22 bottles of wine from Bordeaux are sold every second all over the world.

Notable sites:

  • Vieille ville – Old Bordeaux, its historic sites (the big bell tower, Place Pey-Berland, Opera House), elegant architecture and numerous wine bars

  • Cité du Vin – a unique immersive journey into the discovery of wine cultures (laciteduvin.com/en)

  • Miroir d'eau – world's largest water mirror, located on the Place de la Bourse

Top annual events:

  • Bordeaux Fête le Vin – a large biennial four-day wine festival that celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018 (June 14 to 18) with the arrival of the Tall Ships Regatta (bordeaux-wine-festival.com)

  • Bordeaux S.O Good – a three-day festival of epicurean and gourmet food, 7,000 gourmet dishes cooked by a collective of chefs (bordeauxsogood.fr)

  • International Festival of Arts of Bordeaux Métropole – nicknamed the FAB, it's three weeks of “artistic effervescence” (fab.festivalbordeaux.com/en/)

Most notable museums:

  • Musée des Beaux Arts – one of France's best painting galleries with artwork by masters from many eras – Rubens to Delacroix to Picasso (musba-bordeaux.fr/en)

  • Musée d'Aquitaine – archeological and history museum (musee-aquitaine-bordeaux.fr/en)

  • Bernard Magrez Institut Culturel – cultural institute with temporary exhibitions of modern art (institut-bernard-magrez.com)

Culinary specialties:

  • oysters – straight from the sea at Arcachon

  • canelé – a rum- and vanilla-flavored pastry with a thick caramelized crust and soft custard center

  • entrecôte bordelaise – a quality cut of beef grilled over a wood fire

Local wines & spirits:

  • Bordeaux wine – famous reds and dry, sweet and even sparkling whites, well worth visiting at the wineries and learning about through a tasting class

  • Lillet – made near Bordeaux with wine and fruit liqueur as a great prelude to any meal

Shopping:

  • Rue Sainte-Catherine – the main shopping street in town, often acclaimed as the longest pedestrian street in Europe (0.75 miles long)

  • Marché des Capucins – Bordeaux’s principal market hall, one of the best and biggest cupboards in the southwest of France

  • wine marmalade – all the delicious taste without the alcohol

Most popular night spots:

  • La Plage – the largest open-air dance floor in a city in France

  • I.BOAT – a concert hall, club and restaurant on a boat moored in a tidal basin

  • Mama Shelter – a rooftop bar with amazing city views

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Quays of the Garonne River – run, bike or stroll from the Jacques Chaban-Delmas Bridge to the Pont de pierre (Stone Bridge)

  • Marché des Chartrons – an outdoor Sunday market and perfect place for a glass of wine with oysters, or a canelé

  • Darwin Ecosystem – a green hub and alternative place dedicated to sustainable economic development and featuring an organic restaurant, urban farm, skate parks etc. (darwin.camp)

Local industries:

  • wine – with the largest AOC vineyards of France, Bordeaux is one of the world's most important wine producers and exporters

  • laser and plasma technologies – the Bordeaux area has the most important concentration of optical and laser expertise in Europe

In Pop Culture:

  • The Mummy – a 2016 movie with Tom Cruise with a scene made in Mérignac, near Bordeaux

  • The Flower of Evil (La fleur du mal) – a 2003 movie by Claude Chabrol about a seemingly perfect bourgeois family in Bordeaux

  • Les Misérables – a Robert Hossein adaptation of the famous novel, released in 1982

Major 2020 developments:

  • The trendy and rejuvenated neighborhood of Bacalan welcomes in spring 2020 the Bassin des Lumières, a grand digital exhibition space housed in the former WWII submarine base. It will also neighbor the Cité du Vin and the new Musée Mer Marine, all a 15mn tram ride from the city’s central Place de la Comédie.
Avignon

Top French Cities - Avignon at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit Avignon Tourisme at www.avignon-tourisme.com.

City region: Provence / Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Population & what they are called: 94,087 inhabitants (2016 census), called Avignonnais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 6 h 45 min (435 miles) via A6 and A7 autoroute du Soleil

  • by train: about 2 h 40 min by TGV from the Gare de Lyon; 30 min by train from Marseilles Provence Airport

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Pierre Boulle, writer

  • Bernard Kouchner, politician

  • Mireille Mathieu, singer

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • The bridge of Avignon is the one referred to in the famous children's song.

Notable sites:

  • Palais des Papes – the largest Gothic palace in Europe, former papal residence during the 14th century, now a World Heritage site (palais-des-papes.com)

  • Pont d’Avignon – the surviving four arches (of the original 22) of the 13th-century Saint-Bénézet bridge (avignon-pont.com)

  • Carré du Palais – a palace for Côtes-du-Rhône wines and all things related to wine tourism related (carredupalaisavignon.com)

Top annual events:

  • Festival d'Avignon – major arts festival during three weeks in July (festival-avignon.com/en/)

  • Festival Off d'Avignon – in parallel with the main Festival, one of the largest festivals for independent theater companies in the world (avignonleoff.com/en/)

  • Festival Résonance – bands and DJs performing in heritage monuments (festival-resonance.fr)

Most notable museums:

  • Musée du Petit Palais – Italian paintings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance (petit-palais.org)

  • Musée Calvet – a fine arts collections from the 15th to the 20th centuries, set in a magnificent 18th-century mansion (musee-calvet-avignon.com)

  • Musée Angladon – located in a private mansion, a museum notable for works of art by 20th-century masters (angladon.com)

Culinary specialties:

  • papaline d'Avignon – fine chocolate with sugar and oregano liqueur

  • asparagus – it's a seasonal vegetable, but in that season it is revered in soups, roasted, grilled and lightly sautéed

  • daube avignonaise – the traditional lamb stew from the city, where the meat is marinated in white wine

Local wines & spirits:

  • Côtes-du-Rhône wines – Avignon is the capital of the appellation, which includes famous vintages like Châteauneuf du Pape

  • Distillerie Manguin – fruit-based eau-de-vies and liqueurs distilled on Ile de la Barthelasse

Shopping:

  • city center – Rue Joseph Vernet and Rue St Agricol feature trendy creators and chic boutiques, antiques shops and other designers in the pedestrian area

  • markets – Les Halles d'Avignon (Place Pie) is the most famous of the city

Most popular night spots:

  • 83 Vernet – a restaurant and bar set in former school buildings

  • La Cave des Pas Sages – small wine bar situated in a typical cobbled street (Rue des Teinturiers)

  • L’Opéra Café – one of the standout cafes on the Place de l’Horloge

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Rocher des Doms – the cradle of civilization in Avignon and now a lush hilltop garden with amazing views

  • Ile de la Barthelasse – the biggest river island in France and a great places for a stroll, jog, cycle or skate

  • Ramparts – enjoy leisurely time walking along one of the finest examples of medieval fortification in existence, one of the few to have been preserved in France

Local industries:

  • French Tech – the Avignon-Arles economic basin includes 600 companies working in digital technology

  • Technopôle Pégase Avignon – brings together more than 300 actors in the aerospace industry

In Pop Culture:

  • The Avignon Quintet, by Lawrence Durrell – a five-volume series of celebrated metafictional novels, set partly in Avignon
Angers

Top French Cities - Angers at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Angers Loire Valley Tourist Office at www.angersloiretourisme.com.

City region:Loire Valley / Pays de la Loire

Population & what they are called: 155,734 inhabitants (2016 census), called Angevins

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 3 hours (185 miles) via A11 autoroute (L'Océane)

  • by train: about 1 h 30 min by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse, and about 2 h 20 min by direct TGV from Paris CDG airport

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Herzé Bazin, writer

  • Edouard Cointreau, creator of Cointreau

  • Nicolas Mahut, tennis player

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • The Apocalypse Tapestry on display in the Château d’Angers is the oldest French medieval tapestry to have survived to the present day and the biggest medieval tapestry ensemble in the world.

  • Angers is the largest horticultural center in Europe.

Notable sites:

  • Cité – the historic center of Angers is like a journey back in time

  • Château of Angers – the Loire Valley's largest fortress, which houses the spectacular medieval Apocalypse Tapestry

  • Terra Botanica – the world’s first “edutainment” park to be themed on plants and gardens (terrabotanica.fr/en/)

Top annual events:

  • Balade du roi René – a nocturnal tour in summertime that showcases highlights of the historic center through lights and entertainment (labaladeduroirene.fr)

  • Levitation France – psychedelic rock music festival, formerly the Austin Psych Fest, in reference to its twin city of Austin, Texas (levitation-france.com)

  • Festival Premiers Plans – a film festival for first and second feature films, first short films and student films (premiersplans.org/festival/en/)

Most notable museums:

  • Musée des Beaux-Arts – a fine arts museum also covering the history of Angers (musees.angers.fr/langues-etrangeres/english/musee-des-beaux-arts/the-site/index.html)

  • Jean Lurçat and Contemporary Tapestry Museum – works of textile art from the 1950s to the present displayed in a 12th-century hospital (musees.angers.fr/langues-etrangeres/english/musee-jean-lurcat-et-de-la-tapisserie-contemporaine/the- site/index.html)

  • David d'Angers Gallery – a restored abbey-church showcasing the works of David d’Angers, a 19th-century sculptor (musees.angers.fr/langues-etrangeres/english/galerie-david-d-angers/the-site/index.html)

Culinary specialties:

  • fricassée de poulet à l’angevine – made with chicken, onions, mushrooms, cream and Anjou wine

  • Crémet d'Anjou – a dessert made with a base of whipped fromage blanc or crême fraiche and usually topped with seasonal berries

  • Quernons d'Ardoise – a small square of nougatine (caramelized hazelnuts and almonds) wrapped in blue chocolate

Local wines & spirits:

  • Cointreau – the orange-flavored liqueur produced exclusively in Angers (carre-cointreau.fr)

  • Anjou wines – a diverse and heady choice of dry and sweet whites, rosés and fruity reds are sourced from surrounding vineyards in the third largest wine region in France

  • Menthe-Pastille – a white mint liqueur

Shopping:

  • Slate items – saucers, plates and more made of the local stone

  • Small tapestries – mini versions of the city's famous medieval and contemporary tapestries

Most popular night spots:

  • guinguettes – local, open-air, riverside restaurants like Le Héron Carré

  • Le Cercle Rouge – wine bar with over 300 wines

  • Disco Le Boléro – a great place to go dancing in the busy St-Laud pedestrian zone

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • La Doutre – a quiet residential district where locals go to eat and drink on the Place de la Laiterie

  • Cycling – Angers is located at the crossroad of the three cycle routes, and boasts a scenic Angers loop of the Loire à Vélo route (cycling-loire.com)

  • Wine Routes – follow the scenic wine routes along the Loire river and through small villages

Local industries:

  • Cité for the Internet of Things – with 900 businesses and 7000 workers in the digital and electronics sectors

  • fruit – headquarters of the European Community Plant Variety Office, which encourages innovation in plant varieties; and Pomanjou, an international fruit grower specialized in apple production

In Pop Culture:

  • Viper in the Fist (Vipère au Poing) by Hervé Bazin – a classic novel in France, given to high school students to read

Aix-en-Provence

Top French Cities - Aix-en-Provence at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Aix-en-Provence Tourist Office at www.aixenprovencetourism.com.

City region: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Population & what they are called: 145,160 inhabitants (2014 census); Aixois (or, rarely, Aquisextains)

Access from Paris:

  • by road: between 6 h 40 min and 8 h 50 min (470 miles) via A6 and A7 autoroute du Soleil

  • by train: about 3 hours by TGV from the Gare de Lyon

  • by plane: 1h15, landing in Marseille-Provence Airport, then 20 minutes by shuttle

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Paul Cézanne, painter

  • Hélène Grimaud, concert pianist

  • Thylane Blondeau, top model and actress

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Aix is known as the city of a thousand fountains.

  • The Fondation Vasarely was established in 1966 by Victor Vasarely himself, leader of the op art movement, who chose Aix-en-Provence given the city’s rich history, artistic and architectural activities, world-renowned festival, exceptional network of motorways and, finally, Vasarely's admiration for Cézanne.

Notable sites:

  • Vieil Aix – the historic old town

  • Cours Mirabeau – the city's most famous grand boulevard, lined by fountains and lofty plane trees, and bordered by fabulous Renaissance mansions

  • Montagne Sainte-Victoire – the nearby mountain that inspired Cézanne and was, in turn, made famous by him

Top annual events:

  • Festival d’Aix-en-Provence – a month-long festival of classical music, opera and dance, celebrating its 70th year in 2018 (festival-aix.com)

  • Festival de Pâques (Easter Festival) – a classical music festival (festivalpaques.com)

  • Les Rencontres du 9e Art – a festival of comics and other innovative graphic and popular arts (bd-aix.com)

Most notable museums:

  • Musée Granet – a showcase of iconic artists associated with Provence, including Picasso and Cézanne (www.museegranet-aixenprovence.fr)

  • Caumont Art Center – rotating exhibitions about the region’s artistic and cultural heritage set in a stunning 18th-century mansion (caumont-centredart.com)

  • Atelier de Cézanne – the former studio of Paul Cézanne

Culinary specialties:

  • Calissons d’Aix – diamond-shaped delights with almonds, sugar, candied melon and orange peel

  • Olive oil – there are 2,000 olive growers in the Aix region

Local wines & spirits:

  • Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence AOC – the second largest Provençal wine appellation whose rosés are considered especially unique

Shopping: * antiques – the best markets are in the Mazarin District and around the Cours Mirabeau

  • artisanal crafts – such as soap, santon (clay figurines), ceramics, mosaics, metal art

Most popular night spots:

  • Les Woods Cardeurs – a student bar with music a large terrace

  • Le Mistral – for anyone in the mood to dance

  • Au Verre Levé – a café with a great selection of organic wines from small producers

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Montagne Sainte-Victoire – a popular place for outdoor sports (hiking, biking, paragliding, climbing and more)

  • Cours Mirabeau – the most famous of many superb shopping boulevards; also location of Brasserie Les Deux Garçons, the city's most famous café

  • Parc Jourdan – one of the largest parks in the city and a great place to play pétanque

Local industries:

  • cosmetics – several leading firms, such as Esthederm and Daniel Jouvance, lead the charge in scientific research into nutrition, anti-aging, dermatology etc.

  • energy research – Cadarache, a research center of the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, is one of the most important centers for energy research and development in Europe.

In Pop Culture:

  • Cézanne and I (Cézanne et moi) – a 2016 French movie about the friendship between Emile Zola and Paul Cézanne

  • The Horseman on the Roof (Le hussard sur le toit) – an award-winning 1995 movies about an Italian nobleman in France during a time of cholera

  • A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle – the famous book about life in Provence Major 2018 development:

Top French Cities

Meet the Top French Cities

Press release

Inviting travelers to explore this group of 28 cities is one of France’s ways to share the rich and varied history, heritage, cultural happenings, gastronomy and all aspects of French joie de vivre that they offer each in their own ways.

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