Le Havre in Normandy is an ancient town with a contemporary footprint. It’s a UNESCO listed city, recognised for its extraordinary architecture.
Le Havre’s origins go back to 1517 when Francis 1 commissioned the construction of a port, it was known then as Francispolis. These days Le Havre is one of the biggest of French ports, a vast, vibrant and buzzing city.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Le Havre suffered enormous damage during World War II and afterwards needed almost complete rebuilding. The architect who oversaw the rebuild didn’t have to worry too much about preserving the past, it was nearly all gone. Belgium born Auguste Perret, teacher to another famous architect who also left his mark on France, Le Corbusier, was the man entrusted with bringing Le Havre back to life. He persuaded the town planners to let him use reinforced concrete as his main medium. In those days, it was an unusual idea. Then, and even now, it’s not a commonly seen sight, or at least not in France. Think Manhattan meets Star Wars.
Masterpiece or monstrosity? From Le Corbusier’s big housing project through to crumbling castles. Get to know this divisive design style.
What is Brutalist Architecture?
You may have heard of the term Brutalist architecture and thought, that sounds a bit harsh.. But the rough and aggressive name is the perfect moniker for this love-it-or-hate-it style of architecture. The word ‘brutal’ comes from the French béton brut, referring to the ‘raw cement’ used in many of these buildings. In Brutalist architecture this rawness refers to the stripped back and glaringly conspicuous concrete that composes the designs. Arguably the most controversial design movement of the 20th century, here is everything you wanted to know about Brutalist architecture.
Where and When
World War Two put an end to the frivolity of previous decades’ design styles. With determination and optimism, areas destroyed by enemy bombs were rebuilt across Europe. The post-war population boom exaggerated the need for housing around the world. To meet demand for affordable homes, architects moved to concrete as an inexpensive material that allowed for quick construction.
While driving into the vineyard, you will be amazed by the diversity of landscapes, colours and architectural heritage passing before your eyes. The region, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, is, first of all, a land of history. The place was already very active during Roman Empire. It has always been an economic centre, a crossroad and the home of famous medieval fairs. Reims remains the city where French kings were crowned, from Clovis in 498 to Charles IX in 1825.
Champagne, the closest wine region from Paris
You have got some days off and you wonder how you could make the most of them? What about visiting the Champagne region and tasting some delicious nectar? Indeed, the most famous French vineyard is only three hours driving far from Calais. Traveling by car remains the easiest way to visit wineries in Champagne often located in the heart of the vineyards.
Wonderful cellars that contain millions of bottles
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to visit the entire Dom Pérignon’s region and its 30.000 hectares in only a few days.
His concrete monoliths still divide opinion today, yet Le Corbusier is undoubtedly the most influential architect of the 20th century. Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey investigates.
Father of modern architecture, Le Corbusier was a true trailblazer. He was a contemporary and friend of Picasso and Dalí, who met Einstein and became infatuated with Josephine Baker. A man who travelled the globe, crossed the Atlantic in the Graf Zeppelin, and flew across South America with Saint-Exupéry. A man who once skinned his dead pet dog and then covered one of his books in its fur. A prolific painter and sculptor, an author of 34 books, a polemicist, a public speaker and lecturer. An architect who was called upon to design an entire city from scratch. A divisive urban planner who dreamed of razing central Paris to the ground to make space for concrete skyscrapers.
Le Corbusier’s work is now studied and debated by scholars and architects the world over.
It is easy to get lost in all that Paris has to offer, but don’t make the mistake of spending your whole trip in the city. These 9 day trips from Paris will help you see a side of France you don’t always find in the City of Lights!
The height of culture. The epicenter of fashion. The City of Lights.
Thinking about Paris calls to mind images of ostentatious buildings, gilded in gold, lording over the gritty streets below. And, as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, it occupies a spot on nearly every traveler’s bucket list.
As a first-time visitor to Paris, it’s easy to get lost in the massive amount of cultural riches you’ll find there. Yes, the city is filled with incredible art museums, important landmarks, and delicious food. But Paris isn’t the only thing France has to offer.
The first time we visited France, we made the mistake of never leaving the city.
The Languedoc Roussillon region of France has a long and illustrious history dating back to Roman times. There’s plenty of thngs to do in the Languedoc, whether it is exploring Roman archeological ruins, the medieval fortified city of Carcassone, Europe’s largest river delta at the Camargue or the charming towns lining the 200+ miles of coastline edging the Meditteranean Sea.
Although ever-popular Provence gets all the attention, the neighbouring French region of Languedoc-Roussillon is where the smart money goes to avoid the crowds but still get the French countryside charm. We first discovered the Languedoc accidentally when my husband won a charity auction for a luxury stay at Maison Laurent near Carcassone. We loved it so much we have returned several times including with the kids. We weren’t surprised when Lonely Planet named it among the top 10 regions to visit in the world for 2018, along with Alaska in the USA, the Julian Alps in Slovenia and Bahia in Brasil.
I’ve always been a fan of embracing the season and so when winter swung by London and the first snow of the season had fallen, we hopped on a train in search of the ski slopes of France.
Funnily enough, our trip to France would actually involve taking the train to Italy and then finishing the journey with a little drive back to France.
Tickets booked via Voyages SNCF, we headed off to Montgenevre in France, with a quick pit-stop and an amazing lunch at Le Train Bleu.
Little sidebar: Voyages SNCF is THE go to place for European train travel. I never really use it for the UK – I’ve just always used my Trainline app (which can occasionally be annoying as they have fees on certain journeys) or I just buy my tickets in person at the station (especially for tickets when it doesn’t make a difference in the price if I buy in advance or on the day of arrival).
If you’ve ever felt like getting away for a while we’ve got a list of places where you’ll feel like royalty. Check out 50 extremely remote castles.
Castle of Zafra, Campillo de Dueñas
This partly restored castle in Spain was built in the late 12th century or early 13th century. It holds the distinction of never being conquered. It also holds the distinction of appearing in “Game of Thrones” in three episodes.
The Castle of Jadraque, Jadraque, Castile-La Mancha, Spain
The site of this castle in located northeast of Madrid and has evidence of use since prehistoric time. It’s mention in the poem, “Cantar del Mio Cid.”
Isola di Loreto
Isola di Loreto is found northeast of Milan on Lago d’iseo and is a privately owned island. The castle got built in 1910 among traces of ruins.
Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven Scotland
Dunnottar Castle is only accessible by winding staircases and bridges and has become an iconic setting for films and television. Disney’s “Brave” took inspiration from the site.
Mespelbrunn Castle, between Frankfurt and Wurzburg
Mespelbrunn Castle in Germany was completed in the 16th century as a Renaissance-style castle in a remote location.
If you enjoy beautiful beaches, adorable villages and delicious food, then the South of France should be on the top of your travel bucket list. This sunny and laid-back region of the country is glamorous and packed with top-notch resorts for travelers. With so many marvelous sights to see, here are 11 great places to visit in the South of France.
Places like Avignon in the South of France are evidence that there’s much more than just beaches and film festivals here. Avignon is packed with history and fascinating architecture, making it an ideal destination for sightseeing. Pont d’Avignon is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and there’s a theater festival in July that’s worth checking out. The Pope’s Palace, gardens at Rocher des Doms, and Avignon Les Halles street market are all popular things to do.
Ready to embark on the next chapter in his life, Daniel Kearney sets off on the Chemin du Puy pilgrim’s route to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle in search of a new direction.
For twenty years I had a role, an identity, a label, a job. But after taking early retirement from teaching, I found myself looking for a reinvention of sorts. I needed to re-adjust to a different rhythm of life. One day, reading an article by Bruce Chatwin one line in particular caught my eye: “The best thing is to walk.” Movement is the best cure, he argued – for everything. Not taking flight, but moving purposefully, virtuously, in another direction, opening oneself up to new experiences. So I decided to walk. John suggested the Via Podiensis, the pilgrimage route that starts at Le Puy-en-Velay and heads west towards Santiago de Compostela.