The Most Beautiful Villages In France
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE : GARGILESSE (visited with children)
France is a beautiful country. A country of contrast and diversity. Travelling through France is not just discovering cosmopolitan cities and mediaeval villages. Visiting France is also tasting its regional cuisine, drinking the region's wines, talking to the people who are always friendly and ready to help foreigners.
Travelling with small children, however, can be a very different experience. As many parents sadly know, with small children one can not sit in the lovely cafes to see the "life go by" and absorb the ambiance. With young children it is always go and one only gets to see the most relevant things of a place and eat Mac Donalds. Other times, however, it is thanks to the little devils that we discover little jewels.
Travelling with our five year old princess and three year old hooligan we have discovered some of the most beautiful villages in France. Pushing prams, go-chairs, carrying nappies and picnic bags is more our "travel style". Sleeping in camping sites rather than 4 o 5 star hotels where our "darlings" would cause disrepair. Eating picnics and fast food rather than five course meals in fancy restaurants... that is us!
Thankfully leaving in the centre of France it is never too far to take a couple of days off to discover a new place. For example, just 15 minutes from where we leave, there is a gorgeous artist's village: Gargilesse.
Gargilesse is a romantic little village perched on top a hill. A village inhabited by artists of all sorts: artisans, sculptors, wood-crafters, leather crafters, ironmongers, painters and poets. It is in Gargilesse that the famous French writer George Sand came when she wanted peace, she had a little house in here, her refuge, now a small museum that can be visited for a small fee.
Gargilesse is dominated by its castle and church hidden on top of an evergreen hill. The houses are grouped around the XIth century church, from there the views are outstanding. My daughter loves this place as it is small and looks as if taken from a fairy tale. In here she can run freely and admire both the castle and the river running under. The children always love to go to the creperie where they can have an ice cream while we have a "kir" which is white wine flavoured to your taste with violets, raspberries, or rose liqueur. The crepes in here are also superb. One of my favourite starters is the salad with Gargilesse cheese. A very simple dish of lettuce and toasted bread with the most mouth-watering grilled goat's cheese on top. To follow, I always fall for a salty "cheese" crepe and of course, greedy as I am I take a crepe for desert. Here I can never decide, the choice is ample and deliciously mouth-melting, pears and chocolate, honey, grand Marnier, just sugar and lemon juice, apple puree, apples in caramel... you name it, they will have it.
If you are daring enough, you can also walk down to the river and dip your toes there or just sit and watch the children play in the water.
There are several festivals during the year in Gargilesse. In May, there is a flower and farm market where you can stock with all types of geraniums for you flower beds and delicious cheese, honey, and seasonal vegetables. In August, there is an Arp festival, followed in September by a book festival. And of course, all year round you can visit the crafters and the creperie for an indulgent treat.
Must-sees and must-dos in Gargilesse...
The Romanesque church
George Sand's house
Beautiful Small Towns in France
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