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15 towns in France that are perfect to visit in winter

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15 towns in France that are perfect to visit in winter
Annecy in winter. Photo: Raphaël Fournier Sui/Flickr
12:41 CET+01:00
Forget the big cities in France, winter offers the perfect opportunity to take in some of the country's many, many beautiful towns.
1. Annecy, French Alps
This beautiful Alpine town in the south east of France is stunning all-year-round, with its medieval buildings, cobbled streets and quaint canals and bridges. 
The spectacular fairy tale landscape which includes a crystal clear lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains is the perfect setting for a winter break. 
The old town is the ideal spot for wandering around as you explore the picturesque pedestrian streets. 
And for real romantics don't forget to visit the Pont des Amours (or lovers' bridge) because legend has it that if you share just one kiss here, you'll remain together for life. 
Photo: Kosala Bandara/Flickr
2. Cassis, Provence 
While Cassis might be on your list of must-visit French towns for summer, a winter getaway to this beautiful town on the Mediterranean coast is a great way to avoid the crowds.
After all, you'll have the stunning harbour views and forest walks practically all to yourselves. Not to mention the pretty cafes, restaurants and shops surrounding the town's charming colourful port.
Photo: Amanda Snyder/Flickr 
3. Blois, Loire River  
This hillside city overlooking the Loire River provides the perfect backdrop for a winter getaway. 
Explore the atmospheric late Gothic cathedral and its surrounding cobbled streets, and don't miss the Château Royal de Blois, a former royal palace with ornate chambers, paintings and sculptures from the 16th to 19th century. 
To make your time there even more special, why not reserve a table at Michelin-starred restaurant L’Orangerie du Château?
(Photo: Niko Kaptur/Flickr)
Photo: Niko Kaptur/Flickr
4. Beaune, Burgundy  
A stunning walled town in the heart of Burgundy's winemaking country full of cosy, quality restaurants.
Get into the spirit of the town and sample some of France's finest reds accompanied by the area's most famous hearty dishes perfect for chilly winter nights: Beef Bourginon and Coq au Vin.
And don't miss out on the stunning architectural jewel that is the magnificent Hôtel-Dieu.
Photo: Allie_Caulfield/Flickr
Photo: Paul Arps/Flickr
5. Colmar, Alsace 
Winding streets, bridge canals and a patchwork quilt of colourful buildings make Colmar a wonderful town to explore. 
Offering up a stunning variety of half-timbered medieval and Renaissance buildings, the town is the perfect spot for a pair of culture vultures. 
In the evening warm after your day of exploring out in the cold over a delicious glass of wine - after all, you are in the capital of the Alsace wine region.
Photo: Christina/Flickr
6. Amboise, Loire Valley
The regal atmosphere of Amboise means that it isn't exactly one of your more humble winter getaways. 
The stunning fairy tale castle -- childhood home of Charles VIII and final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci -- sits on the southern bank of the Loire.
Indulge yourself with a visit to one of the town's beautiful hotels where you can enjoy a candlelit dinner without having to experience the chilly night air.
Photo: Benh LIEU SONG/Flickr
7. Honfleur, Normandy  
There's a reason why Honfleur was a big draw for one of the world's most famous painters, Claude Monet. 
The light in this coastal town is beautiful throughout the year and while it's a big draw for Paris day trippers in the summer, you'll find there's a lot more of it to go around in the colder months. 
Visit the picturesque old harbour and enjoy the windswept coast before settling down in one of the historic town's excellent restaurants. 
Photo: tetedelart1855/Flickr
8. Josselin, Brittany 
The magnetism of this picture perfect French town is so hard to deny its charm doesn't fade away in winter. 
Overlooking the River Oust, Josselin's cone-turreted castle has been home to members of the Rohan family for centuries. 
The main hub of activity is the town square next to the Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier. For the best views around, climb to the top of the bell tower and enjoy the stunning panorama. 
Photo: Uwe Brodrecht/Flickr
9. St Malo, Brittany 
Another gem in Brittany. 
The walled city of St Malo, built in the 12th century, offers views across the sea which take the breath away even when the waters are stormy and icy cold in winter.
Aside from the beautiful scenery, there are historical sightseeing opportunities aplenty, including the stunning Château de St Malo and St Malo cathedral. 
And not that it's all about food but be sure to visit one of the city's many seafood restaurants and indulge in some oysters and white wine for a perfect winter's evening.  
Photo: Paul Stephenson.Flickr
10. Troyes, Grand Est
A city that amounts to a warren of cobbled streets, wonderful restaurants and excellent bars stocked full with Champagne is just the place for a winter break. 
The city centre has one of the country's most impressive collections of brightly coloured half-timbered houses and Gothic churches and it's often undeservedly overlooked by tourists.
As you stroll through its cobbled streets, once home to the rich and powerful Counts of Champagne, a visit to Troyes feels like a trip back in time to a more romantic past. 

It was good to be back here, what a wonderful time #Troyes #almostnight #fun #lights #childhood #Troyes #goodtimes

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Photo: Monnuage/Flickr
11. Etretat, Normandy 
Etretat in Normandy has long been a draw for artists and writers for its wild beauty. In fact, Guy de Maupassant wrote "The Englishman of Etretat" here. 
But why let the creative types have all the fun? Come here and explore the wild beauty of the cliffs in winter and admire Etretat's three famous arches which have formed over thousands of years.
And at low tide, you'll be able to spot the 18th century oyster beds, one of the town's claims to fame.
12. Eguisheim, Grand Est 
Situated close to the German border and only a short drive from Colmar, Eguisheim is a colourful town at the heart of the Alsatian wine route.
Voted France's favourite village in 2013, its winding concentric streets overflow with fairytale spires, lively floral decorations and slanted half-timbered buildings mean it's perfect for winter strolls -- as long as you wrap up, that is -- followed by good glass of Alsace wine, of course.
Photo: AFP
13. Megeve, French Alps 
What better place for winter time than the French Alps? 
Megeve is a winter wonderland with its snow-capped mountains, restaurants and bars complete with roaring fires and for the adventurous, horse drawn carriage rides. 
And as if that isn't enough, a trip here means that you're following in the footsteps of Hollywood royalty -- Megeve is where Audrey Hepburn falls for the charms of Cary Grant in the classic movie Charade. 
Photo: AFP
14. Chambery, French Alps
And just for good measure, here's another spot in the French Alps that's a winner. 
This bustling Alpine town has a lot to offer but the old town is really where it's at. After strolling around the streets of brightly coloured houses, sit down at one of Chambery's many, many outdoor restaurants (under the heaters, of course) and savour the atmosphere. 
Photo: Chambery Tourism site
15. La Rochelle, Atlantic coast 
Known for its distinctive limestone facades, La Rochelle is without a doubt one of France's most stunning cities and in winter you won't have to battle other tourists to appreciate it. 
Appropriately named La Ville Blanche (the White City), the coastal city was one of the country's main ports from the 14th to 17th century and there are plenty of reminders of its maritime heritage. 
Full of arcaded walkways, half-timbered houses and more than its fair share of lighthouses, there is plenty to discover in this historic seafaring city. 
Photo: Eric Pouhier
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FD75011 - 14 Jun 2019 22:57
"Beef Bourginon" You couldn't even be bothered to look up how bourguignon was spelled? How professional of you.
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