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La Belle Vie: A royal love affair and French autumn traditions to enjoy

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
La Belle Vie: A royal love affair and French autumn traditions to enjoy
The Mont Beuvray's forest in the Morvan Regional Natural Park near Saint-Leger-sous-Beuvray, central France. (Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP)

From France's love for the royals to making the most of autumn in France and a drink that sparked a regional battle, this week's La Belle Vie newsletter offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like a French person.

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La Belle Vie is our regular look at the real culture of France – from language to cuisine, manners to films. This newsletter is published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences in “My account”.

The big news in France this week is the royal visit. After having been delayed in the spring due to unrest over pension reform, King Charles has finally made his appearance on French soil and it seems to be the most exciting subject for the French press this week.

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From long, detailed articles on the menu for the King's dinner to consistent updates so that the French public cannot miss out on his daily schedule, it is always a bit surprising to me how much the French obsess over British royals. For a country that got rid of their own monarchy (and not in the most gentle of ways), there is no shortage of royal love in l'Hexagone.

‘The French have a taste for princes’ – Why British royals are so popular in France

One thing I have been genuinely impressed by is King Charles' command over the French language. The King took the podium to give a speech to France's senate on Thursday, and he did it in French.

King Charles is not the only British royal with an aptitude for French - you can judge for yourself how the others have fared. 

VIDEO: How good are British royals at speaking French?

As for other events in France, the Autumn Equinox is coming up this weekend and I'm ready for it. Summer in France certainly has its perks, but I am excited to kiss the mosquitoes and heat goodbye and welcome in a few months of crisp weather. 

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Autumn in France involves wine sales, mushroom-foraging, the changing of the leaves, and the start of soup season. I personally love a potimarron (squash) soup. 

11 ways to make the most of autumn in France

As autumn comes around, I always feel myself itching to get into nature and enjoy a walk in the park or an easy weekend hike. 

Recently, I tested out a different way of overnight hiking in the French Alps that I honestly did not know existed until fairly recently. My partner and I hiked up to a French mountain refuge and stayed the night there. We did not need to bring any camping gear, and we were able to get there pretty easily from Paris. 

Even though a lot of refuges start to close in the early autumn, some remain open as temperatures drop. 

It's truly a lovely experience, and most of the time you get a yummy authentic French meal as a reward for a day spent hiking.

Everything you need to know about staying in a French mountain refuge

As I mentioned, some of the higher altitude hiking can get a bit tricky as we move closer to winter, but that does not mean you have to stay indoors.

One of the best places in France to visit during the autumn months is the Morvan regional park. It is located in Burgundy, and it is particularly beautiful in September and October as the leaves turn bright red and orange. It can get pretty damp in the autumn, but as long as you have a solid pair of boots and a raincoat, you'll be just fine. 

Morvan: Why you should visit one of France's most beautiful and least known areas

And finally, as of 2021, apples (pommes) were the favourite fruit of the French, perhaps because they are such a staple from September - November. Homemade apple cider was always something I looked forward to as a child in the US, and I've grown to love French cidre too.

That being said, be careful how you go about drinking your cidre - you could be wading into a regional battle.

French figures: The drink that sparked a regional crockery battle

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