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offbeat france: beyond the baguette

Are you fascinated by France? Are you curious about the French, about our foods and customs? Do you love our little perched villages and romantic chateaux?

Whether you've been here a dozen times or you're planning a first visit, Offbeat France is here to make sure that in addition to seeing the main sights, you uncover some of our lesser-known but equally stunning destinations, away from the crowds. This site will also make sure that when you do visit the main sights, you'll know about their backstories and curious histories.

Because France is a bit like an onion... the more you peel the more you find underneath.

It's the kind of country that has so much to see that it makes choosing almost impossible.

Behind each itinerary lie dozens of achingly gorgeous villages. And beyond the baguette, a positively addictive array of impossibly delectable foods.

Everything in France seems designed to capture and keep you: the foods and wines, of course, and the cobblestones and the history, and the magnificent buildings and workmanship.

Yet all these are easy to find: surely there are thousands of blogs about France or Paris or Provence out there.

So why add another to the mix?

Because this one is different.

A little different.

Because I'm on a mission to find the offbeat and the unusual.

The thinking behind offbeat france

With so many wonderful blogs and sites already out there about France, what could I possibly add, you ask?

Easy. I can add context. And history. And marvel.

You don't need me to tell you about the best things to do in this city or that. But you might need my help to find out why some things are as they are, or who made them that way, or what long-lost legends have survived about it.

Here at Offbeat France, you run the risk of scurrying down innumerable rabbit holes from which you'll emerge enlightened, wide-eyed and craving for more.

Offbeat France is about anecdotes, about history and unexplored corners, about the obscure and the unexpected. It's about my doing that extra bit of homework for you. Like telling you what a day at the court of Louis XIV was like.

I should warn you though - we French have a very different sense of humour than many. We can be rude, offensive even, caustic and acerbic. That's just who we are, weird and quirky, pushy and proud, but basically as human as you. This is us.

By the way, looking at the offbeat side of France doesn't not mean ignoring the thousands of popular sights you know and love.

It just means looking at them a bit... sideways, or from a different angle.

I won't tell you how to get to the Eiffel Tower or what times it's open, but I'll share  the Eiffel Tower's secrets with you.

I won't give you entrance prices for the top Loire chateaux – but I will tell you all about the intriguing stories and legendary crimes that coloured their histories.

now, who am I? and why does it matter?

It does matter.

So many sites and blogs are written to tempt Google rather than inform YOU, or to attract advertisers with popular topics and ignore the road less travelled.

Here, you'll find the exact opposite. If something has caught my attention or awakened my curiosity, I'll share it. And I'll be on this discovery journey with you, finding out about my country by your side.

I was born in Paris (too many years ago to admit to publicly) but I never lived in my home country until my thirties. I was a foreign correspondent and then worked for the United Nations, my eyes focussed on the world's distant trouble spots.

And then I retired.

Now, I'm on a mission to explore my country. And I'm taking you with me.

First time here? That's why I have a Start Here page :-)