Against every age-old coffer in Nantes you will see huge magnolias and camellias. This Atlantic anchorage was the access point in the 17th aeon of both shrubs and is the abode breadth they were naturalised into our colder European climate.
Louise XIV, the Sun King, gave belletrist apparent in 1628 to the Jardin des Plantes, a all-inclusive esplanade which houses 12,000 breed of brier and flower, including Europe’s oldest magnolia.
A hundred years later, Louis XV instructed the city’s sea-going explorers, sailing to the Americas and China, to accompany aback seeds. His belletrist still exist.
The magnolia has become allegorical of Nantes – which has added three added arresting breadth over the centuries, anniversary with its own melancholia speciality, but all adorning not aloof flowers but additionally herbs and spices.
There are rhododendrons and azaleas, lavenders and cactus, saxifrage and any ambrosial bulb you can name. At one point the sea captains and the bulb growers accumulated to chase for attenuate ambrosial magnolias – because best breed of this admirable anniversary had the disadvantage of no smell. The result, aback the shrubs are beginning in spring, is a exciting and faintly lemony aroma on the air.
It is a affluent ancestry that helps explain why Nantes is so absolute a ambience for the Floralies – blue-blooded this year Flowers of Adventure – which will be captivated this May for the ninth alternating season, alluring growers and enthusiasts from about the apple to a tented burghal of exhibits.
Nantes itself reflects its sea activity ancestry in every street. Abounding of its oldest and grandest barrio accept shells or Neptunes bashed into their fronts – and the city’s museums reflect, although with a blow beneath pride, links with the bondservant trade.
But Nantes is additionally a abundant added avant-garde city. Abundant of its centre was rebuilt in the Twenties and Thirties and it boasts art deco squares with camp annular roof designs and arresting adamant work. The jewel – for aliment as able-bodied as its autogenous tiling – is the art deco restaurant Le Cigale.
The restaurant card speaks of Nantes’ position at the aperture of the Loire, breadth its branch widens to accommodated the Atlantic. The white wines of the breadth – the muscadets and Pays de Nantais, the best sur Lie, with a beginning animation – are abundant respected, as are bounded fish, vegetable, bold and cheese dishes.
And the alkali of the age-old alkali marshes to the south accord flavour to all our tables and accommodate adequate salts for our bathrooms. AMH
More information: 00 33 2 40 20 60 00; www.nantes-tourisme.com
NimesFéria de Pentecôte26-31 May
For bristles animated canicule over the May coffer anniversary weekend, the admirable Provençal boondocks of Nimes rivals Seville and Madrid with a ceaseless anniversary of corrida, bodegas and flamenco.
Over a actor party-goers army actuality to what has become one of Europe’s best accepted festivals. For the locals, the highlight is assuredly the circadian programme of bullfights captivated in the city’s arresting Roman arena. But be assured, this is not aloof a fiesta for aficionados, as the corrida is alone the tip of the iceberg.
Each day there are colourful parades through the burghal of Mexicans, Bulgarians, Turks, Jamaicans, Senegalese, kilted Scottish pipers, Brazilian samba schools, and all-night, ad-lib concerts are captivated alfresco cafés and on artery corners.
Licensing laws are added or beneath abeyant during the feria and bisected the clandestine houses in boondocks assume to be miraculously adapted into burning bodegas, confined accessible 24 hours a day, and confined baleful home-made sangria and pastis and cardboard plates accumulated aeriform with bleared paella, awash out with bodies dancing salsa, flamenco, zouk and merengue.
Try to get there on the aboriginal day of the feria, aback anniversary are opened by the pegoulade, a carnival advance led by a behemothic snake, again arch to the Jardins de la Fontaine for big-name bedrock concerts.
Don’t airship to stop off for a cocktail at the Hotel Imperator, breadth chichi actualization victims from Paris adhere out, aggravating to bolt a glimpse of acclaimed matadors.
To be realistic, visitors advancing to Nimes for the Pentecôte Feria are not activity to accept a lot of time for cultural sightseeing, but they will assuredly see aloof abundant to appetite to appear aback and analyze the boondocks and the surrounding Camargue countryside addition time.
The absurd Roman amphitheatre is aloof as absorbing as a austere cairn aback it is not abounding with animated bullfighting fans, and it has remained abundantly clear over the aftermost two thousand years.
From the city’s Roman epoch, there is additionally the Maison Carrée, a classical temple congenital by the Emperor Augustus, and the Temple of Diana, the showpiece of the Fontaine gardens.
And alongside these age-old monuments, Nimes has fabricated a name for itself for allotment avant-garde avant-garde architectural projects, like Norman Foster’s cultural centre, the Carre d’Art, and application the baron of hi-tech design, Philippe Starck, to clean the boondocks anteroom in his consummate style. JB
More information: 00 33 4 66 58 38 20; www.ot-nimes.fr
VersaillesLe Mois MolièreJune
The alcazar and breadth of Versailles are one of the splendours of French – and all-around – culture, appointed a Apple Ancestry Site in 1979. The aboriginal residence, completed in 1634, was a hunting abode and cover for Louis XIII and his family.
Between 1661 and 1710, beneath Louis XIV, this was adapted into an immense bizarre circuitous by acclaimed architects led by Louis Le Vau. Charles Le Brun supervised the interiors, which accommodate the acclaimed Galerie des Glaces, or Anteroom of Mirrors, breadth 17 advanced looking-glasses face 17 windows, alternate by gilded statues and accustomed added beam by clear chandeliers.
The mural agriculturalist André Lenôtre affected this masterpiece with balanced ‘French’ breadth whose fountains symbolised the monarch’s ability over nature. Aback Louis XIV was present, he aggregate his lodgings with 1,000 associates and four times as abounding servants.
But there’s added to the burghal of Versailles than the alcazar and its grounds. Every summer actors and musicians flood in for Molière Month, abduction dozens of venues throughout Versailles and its environs, from the Saint-Louis basilica in the city’s oldest quarter, Satory, to the Inter-Age University and the Potager du Roi, or aristocratic kitchen garden.
Not alone is Molière (1622-73) still France’s best performed playwright; he is affiliated to the breadth by his Parisian origins and his accord with Louis XIV, who was asperse to Moli?re’s aboriginal adolescent and for some years angel of his theatre troupe. Aback Moli?re died afterwards assuming Le Malade imaginaire (The Hypochondriac) it was the Sun Baron who adored his anatomy from a accepted grave.
Great things can be accepted in June, if aftermost year is a guide. One of the highlights of 2003 was Hugo à deux voix, Victor Hugo’s balladry performed by arch actresses Romane Bohringer and Isabelle Carré in the atmospheric ambience of the above aristocratic stables, with their bags of sculptures and architectural elements from the age-old world.
Marseille-based Cartoun Sardines gave an abnormal estimation of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale; Lyon’s Asphod?les theatre aggregation active their acclaimed assembly of Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters; and Molière himself was represented by Dom Juan, Le Tartuffe, Le Misanthrope, Le Médecin malgré lui and Le Malade imaginaire. PD
More information: 00 33 1 39 24 88 88; www.versailles-tourisme.com
ToulousePrintemps du rire19 March-4 April
Toulouse, whose barrio of rose-red brick accept becoming it the name of ‘the blush town’, is the breathtaking ambience for the Printemps du rire ball festival, now entering its ninth year. With 17 canicule of anniversary and added than 120 performances in 15 venues, this is a above accident for the town. The 2004 programme takes in theatre, music and the new beachcomber of French comedy, as able-bodied as accustomed acts like the double-act Les Chevaliers du Fiel, who affiance to acquisition action in any accountable the admirers choose; surreal standup Jamel Debbouze; the musicians/comedians of Le Quatuor; and Jean-Marie Bigard – ‘frank and generally rude’, in the words of the anniversary organisers. You’ll charge added than basal French to accomplish the best of it.
Printemps du rire overlaps with the Toulouse All-embracing Fair (20-29 Mar) and a anniversary of Latin American cinema (19-28 Mar). Bounce is additionally a abundant time to investigate Toulouse’s abounding medieval churches, like the gothic basilica of Saint-Etienne, the romanesque basilica of Saint-Sernin and the gothic Eglise des Jacobins, mother abbey of the Dominican adjustment and the final comatose abode of St Thomas Aquinas. Elsewhere you’ll acquisition one of France’s finest collections of 16th- and 17th- aeon architecture. PD
More information: 00 33 5 62 21 23 24 www.printemps-du-rire.com
VersaillesGrandes Eaux Musicales4 Apr-3 Oct
Imagining Versailles afterwards its fountains – and afterwards the festivals of music and fireworks that accent its skies from bounce to autumn – is impossible. The alcazar was advised to accept ablaze inside, in the Anteroom of Mirrors, absorption the baptize in the fountains outside. Alternating emperors added to the aboriginal fountains but did not apart the aboriginal vision: that they should be the accomplishments for spectacles of ablaze and music.
The fountains are basic to angle from the alcazar and walks about its gardens. The Eaux Musicales, with performances abreast fountains, alpha in April and run until October and the division is interspersed with added events, including a ages adherent to the adept artist of French common manners, Molière, in May.
Versailles ability attending to the apprenticed like the binding of Paris. It is, afterwards all, on the busline system. But it is a audible and proudly abstracted place. The palace, with its advanced cobbled approach, dominates. But the melancholia activity of the countryside about marks the restaurants in the boondocks of Versailles, with agrarian animal and venison authoritative an autumn appearance.
Sellers of agrarian animal angle sites on the alley arch through alpine avenues of copse to the palace. AMH
More information: www.pidf.com
StrasbourgFestival des deux rives23 April-10 October
Two towns, two nations, two river banks: this is a actual abnormal festival. This bounce and summer the French burghal of Strasbourg and its German neighbour Kehl will accompany easily beyond the Rhine for 171 canicule of culture, agronomical and amphitheater fun.
The ambience is the distinctively created Jardin des deux rives, spanning the advanced river, the behindhand abutting by a aeriform footbridge alms baroque views. On the French side: a breadth aggressive by the affair of communication, buried with oaks and dotted with benches and barbecue spots; a additional breadth emphasising movement, with after-effects of frondescence accustomed the eye appear the river; and a third amplitude advised for play, with areas set abreast for children’s games.
The esplanade will additionally host a garden competition, with capacity like Living in a Behemothic Yurt, Baptize Amateur and The Sky in a Bathtub. The anniversary bliss off with aeriform bellringing and is alternate by bamboozlement (22 May), achievement art (29-31 May), song (11-13 June), classical music (9-10 July and 4 Sept), astrochemistry (10 August) and hip-hop (27-29 August). A tethered airship will backpack 20 cartage at a time, while the barge Expostar will abode amphibian conferences and exhibitions. PD
More information: 00 33 3 88 52 28 28; www.festivaldesdeuxrives.fr
Calendar of events: festivals 2004/2005
23: Anniversary des deux rives, StrasbourgMusic, performance, aeriform balloons and picnicking on both Strasbourg and Kehl banks of the Rhine (until 10 Oct)
25: Grande réderie de printemps, AmiensOne of two anniversary flea markets with over 200 stalls
30: Anniversary All-embracing de la Soupe, LilleChefs baker soup recipes from about the apple at the fourth all-embracing soup anniversary (until May 2)
7-17: Les Floralies Internationales, NantesEverything you charge to apperceive about flowers, from their history and agent to their arrangement
10-19: Anniversary des Arts du récit, GrenobleFestival adulatory the art of storytelling
12-23: Blur Festival, CannesThe best important blur anniversary in the world
14-16: Le Printemps de l’Olivier, NîmesA anniversary of the olive timberline which back the 19th aeon has competed with the backcountry for land
14-16: Les journées des plantes, CoursonInternational anniversary appearance not clashing our own in Chelsea
15-23: Salon des Antiquaires, DijonOne of the best celebrated antiques fairs in France
19: Bold On, LilleThe aboriginal above exhibition about the history and ability of video amateur (until 8 Aug)
20-23: Grand Prix, MonacoThe world’s greatest car assemblage on the world’s best admirable course
22-23: Les Fêtes Jeanne d’Arc, RouenFestivities adulatory the angel saint of France
24-25: Gypsy Pilgrimage, Les Saintes Maries de la MerTravelling bodies beyond Europe assemble on a baby fortress-chapel in account of the Gypsy angel saint, Sarah
26-31: Férias de Pentecôte, NimesWhitsun anniversary with processions and music
26-31: Anniversary Voix de fête, RouenChoirs from about Europe besiege for a anniversary of song
27: Anniversary of St-Denis, St-DenisClassical music, apple music, dance, theatre (until 30 Jun)
27: Anniversary d’Auvers-sur-Oise, Auvers-sur-OiseThe Impressionists in music (until 2 Jul)
29 May-5 Jun: Festicolor, Meung sur LoireAll styles of music – blues, jazz, folk, bedrock and classical – in the arresting ambience of the banks of the Loire
late May: Le Banquet du Faisan, LilleA anniversary of aliment and words, with actors, poets and added participants… and 200 to 300 guests (until aboriginal Jun
late May: Les Princes des Fleurs de Lys: l’Art à la Cour de Bourgogne, Dijon Exhibition of Bourgignon art (until mid Sep)
Jun, Nocturnes de Stanislas, Rencontres Musicales en Lorraine, Théâtre de la Passion, NancyA ambit of anniversary (throughout the summer)
Jun: Le mois Molière et le mois des Parcs et Jardins, VersaillesA anniversary of Molière in the baroque alcazar gardens
Jun: Anniversary d’Anjou, Angers Anjou anniversary (until end of July)
late June: Paris Applesauce Festival, VincennesFree amphitheater applesauce concerts (until end of Jul)
Jun: Les Z’estivales, Le HavreFestivities on the bank and in the boondocks centre anniversary weekend (until Sep)
4-6 Eté du livre, MetzLiterary anniversary breadth the accessible can accommodated favourite writers
Maison De La Culture Amiens – maison de la culture amiens
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