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The Best Of France: An Offbeat View

This is where you'll find the best of France: the best of everything, from food to destinations to culture.

But you'll find it differently.

The 'best of France' is such a subjective concept... your best and my best will often be different. My best cheese will be Comté and yours Roquefort; or my best city Lyon and yours Paris... 

How do you compare Chenonceau and Chambord? Or Dior and Chanel? Burgundy and Bordeaux?

You can't. You simply accept the superlatives, dive into them, and look for another side, another story.

So without further ado...

11 Unusual Christmas Markets in France

France is home to dozens of fabulous Christmas markets, but at some point it may become difficult to choose which one to visit. I've singled out 11 of the most unusual for you, fairs that have something special no one else can claim.

France's Most Beautiful Villages

France is known for its beautiful villages, its gorgeous rural scenery and its picturesque cobblestoned streets. But there's a story behind the most beautiful villages: just because a village is drop-dead gorgeous doesn't mean it qualifies as one of the most beautiful French villages.

France's Most Intriguing Abandoned Places

Not all our villages are beautiful. Some are ruins, abandoned for whatever reason in the past. Rather than drive by without even knowing where they are, have a look. It's a bit of a thrill, a slightly haunted feeling that emanates from the history left behind. You can even visit a few!

France's Best Flea Markets

Say 'flea market' and Paris tends to spring to mind because yes, it does have the enormously delightful Puces de St Ouen, which I adore. But there are others across the country that can give it a run for its money. Picture this: a giant flea market on the lawns of Chambord Castle. Perfect, right?

That's right: I'll still provide the lists and highlights, but I'm going to provide offbeat, unusual and sometimes mysterious backstory, details that will pique your curiosity or make you want to revisit a much-loved site. Like these, for example...