France Just For You Chez Vous

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September 2021
Dear Travelers,
I do love wandering around medieval towns and visiting beautiful castles – probably because they just do not exist in the US, where I grew up. It always seems like being on a magical adventure, imagining what life was like for the people that lived in these villages and castles back in the day.

My daughter Célestine got to live this experience when we visited the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte several years ago (see the photos below).

They offer princess dresses and knights' armor to children for them to wear during the visit. Of course, I tried to get one as well, but the lady thought I was just joking. I was not... (However, next week, France Just For You founder Emilie and I will be visiting the lovely Château de l’Islette – Emilie has assured me that there, they do have costumes for adults!)
As we toured the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Célestine quickly adapted to the role of princess of the palace, and started presenting each room to us and explaining everything in it.

Two older French women were visiting at about the same pace as us, and just loved listening to her explanations. They even told her she had the poise and bone structure to be a true princess. I did not think Célestine understood what that even meant, but she must have, because she demands the royal treatment, even at home...

In this edition of France Just For You Chez Vous, you will find many recommendations and tips for you to visit the beautiful medieval towns, most often with a castle, peppered throughout France.

Enjoy, and bon voyage!

Warmest regards,

Laura Crotet
Senior Trip Planner,
France Just For You

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Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle, near Paris © Olga Khomitsevich (CC BY 2.0)
The Most Charming Medieval Villages & Towns in France
Medieval times go back to long before Columbus set his feet on American soil, so there is always a feeling of wonder and romance when I am in medieval towns. There are many medieval towns and villages across France, and indeed Europe. 

Carcassonne is probably the diamond in the crown, followed closely by Sarlat. But in this month's blog post, I wanted to share a few of my personal favorites; less well-known medieval towns and villages that feel like a real fairytale when you're walking around them. Many are less than an hour's drive from cities like Paris, Lyon, Orleans, Tours and Avignon, so they're easy to include in a self-drive tour of France. And they are definitely are worth a detour!
The medieval side of Vaison-la-Romaine © OT Vaison Ventoux
Discover our favorite medieval towns & villages >
Travel Tip: Visit the most popular medieval sites at night
This seems obvious, but medieval towns have tiny and winding streets that can quickly become packed with tourists. For the most popular towns like Carcassonne and Sarlat, avoid the midday crowds.

If you can, arrive in the late afternoon when the tourist crowds are leaving. Go for dinner and then stroll through the village after nightfall, when the lights create an atmosphere of mystery and romance.
The medieval village of Sarlat by night © Luc Viatour CC BY SA 3.0
10 of Our Favorite French Villages
We have shared this blog post before, but have since added three more villages from Normandy and the Loire Valley. You may now read about 10 of our favorite beautiful villages in France!

You may already have heard of 'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France'. It is an association consisting of 155 of the most beautiful villages in France. These villages want visitors to experience the best of French culture and heritage beyond the most popular tourist sites. Most of these villages only have a population of a few hundred people, so travelers enjoy a more intimate and authentic experience of our wonderful country. That's just one reason why we love them – find out more in the blog post.
From the top: View of the beautiful village of Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère (©Paul & Alexis Benjamin);
The village of Ainhoa in the French Basque Country;
The hilltop village of Gordes in Provence.
© With special thanks to our travelers Paul & Alexis for the top photo.
Find out why we love these beautiful villages >
Les Talmouses (Medieval Cheese Puffs)
When it comes to medieval cooking, I am definitely not an expert. I did some research and found this recipe on Cluny Museum's site. This is a museum in Paris dedicated to the Middle Ages, so they know what they are talking about.

Talmouses are somewhat like cheese puffs with a triangle shape.
There are barely any ingredients, and once you get the hang of how to pinch them into triangles, they are very easy to make.

I served this with a simple green salad, but they could also be used as appetizers. They go well with a light red wine, like a Touraine Gamay. Find the full Talmouses recipe on our blog and let us know if you try it!

Bon Appétit!

- Laura
Try this easy medieval French recipe >
Did you know...
The medieval walled city of Carcassonne was almost destroyed in 1849? After being demilitarised under Napoleon Bonaparte and the Restoration, Carcassonne fell into such disrepair that the French government decreed that it should be demolished.

Local residents were outraged, and supported a campaign to preserve the fortress as an historical monument, led by the mayor of Carcassonne, Jean-Pierre Cros-Mayrevieille, and Prosper Mérimée, the first inspector of ancient monuments. Eventually, architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was commissioned to renovate the city, and thus a wonderful place of French heritage still exists for locals and travelers to enjoy today.
© Travelers Sonia & Peter from Canada in Carcassonne
Coming up next month...
In October, we'll be taking you on a culinary journey around France! We'll explore our favorite farmers' markets in Provence, share some traditional French dishes from the Basque Country and other regions in France – and of course, share another recipe for you to try!

Sending you our warmest wishes,

Emilie & Guillaume Thyebaut
Founders of France Just For You
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