The one place to visit in France this weekend: Bellême

For this week's one place to visit in France this weekend, Emilie King explains why the picture-perfect small town of Bellême in Normandy is the place to be. Email us to share your own recommendations with readers.

The one place to visit in France this weekend: Bellême
Photo: Renaud Camus, Flickr
Where is it?
This beautifully preserved 10th-century town surrounded by rolling hills in a rural part of Normandy called the Perche in the Orne department is located 170 kms west of Paris.
Bellême is a small affluent town of just over 1500 inhabitants which draws quite a few Parisians at the weekend. 
How to get there
Bellême doesn't have a train station and so the easiest way to get there is by car.
Otherwise, a TGV high-speed train links Paris to Nogent-Le-Rotrou, the nearest town, in under 2 hours and from there, you can get a taxi.
Photo: Andrea Kirkby, Flickr
Why go?
Less than two hours drive away from Paris, Bellême is a beautifully contained little town. It is flanked by fields and ancient forests which are perfect for walks, yet its winding cobbled streets are lined with small art galleries, antique shops and a few delicious food shops and restaurants.
For those with a sweet tooth, renowned local chocolatier Charles Bataille is based in the town, and his shop filled with deliciously tempting chocolate treats and patisseries is well worth visit.
There's not an ugly building in sight and we found just walking around and enjoying its beautiful architecture is a feast for the eyes.
Up until the 18th century, Bellême was once home to the region's nobility and bourgeoisie and vast and elegant stone houses can still be seen in the old town.
If you happen to go during the week, there's a market every Thursday around the church in the central square, where you can soak up the atmosphere by sitting on the terrace of one of the cafés nearby.
Bellême is surrounded by a beautiful forest. Photo Malmont2012, Flickr
When to go
If you go in the autumn, you'll be able to enjoy the colourful autumn leaves and guided 'mushroom' walks in the forest nearby.
Around Christmas is also atmospheric and the town hall puts on an amazing display of Christmas lights. Bellême's artists and artisans all join in by decorating their shop windows and exhibiting their works.
The warmer spring and summer months means you'll be able to enjoy strolling around the town at all hours, and picnicking in the countryside nearby.
If you think there is a place we should include in our “One place to visit in France this weekend” series email [email protected] following the same Q&A format as above.
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