The islands Île de Ré, Île d’Oléron and Île-d’Aix in the Atlantic

16 October 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

The island Île de Ré

Île de Ré - Saint-Martin de Ré © Brice Rothschild

Île de Ré – Saint-Martin de Ré © Brice Rothschild

Île de Ré is an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle, on the northern side of the Pertuis d’Antioche strait. The island highest point has an elevation of 20 m ; the island is 30 km long and 5 km wide. A 2.9 km bridge, completed in 1988, connects it to La Rochelle on the mainland.   read more…

Donostia-San Sebastián on the Bay of Biscay

11 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: European Union, General, European Capital of Culture

De la Concha bay © Keta/cc-by-sa-2.5

De la Concha bay © Keta/cc-by-sa-2.5

San Sebastián (Spanish) or Donostia (Basque) is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km (12 miles) from the French border. Capital city of Gipuzkoa, the municipality’s population is 186,000, with its metropolitan area reaching 437,000. Locals call themselves donostiarra, both in Spanish and Basque.   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Fougères

1 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

© S. Möller

© S. Möller

Fougères (Breton: Felger) is a commune and a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine department. Fougères’ major monument is a medieval stronghold built atop a granite ledge, which was part of the ultimately unsuccessful defence system of the Duchy of Brittany against French aggression, and part of a tripartate with Vitré   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Concarneau

9 June 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Aerial view of Ville Close, harbour and town centre © Ronan Voltz

Aerial view of Ville Close, harbour and town centre © Ronan Voltz

Concarneau (Breton: Konk Kerne, meaning Bay of Cornwall) is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.   read more…

Theme Week Gascony

23 March 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks

Château de Castelmore in Lupiac, birthplace of Comte d’Artagnan © Jibi44/cc-by-2.5

Château de Castelmore in Lupiac, birthplace of Comte d’Artagnan © Jibi44/cc-by-2.5

Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the “Province of Guyenne and Gascony” prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a part of Guyenne. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.   read more…

Theme Week Galicia

23 February 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks

Carnota © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-3.0

Carnota © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-3.0

Galicia is an autonomous community in northwest Spain, with the official status of a historic nationality. It comprises the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra, being bordered by Portugal to the south, the Spanish autonomous communities of Castile and León and Asturias to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the north. Galicia has over 1,660 km (1,030 mi) of coastline, including its offshore islands and islets, among them Cíes Islands, Ons, Sálvora, Cortegada, and—the largest and most populated—A Illa de Arousa. Hundreds of ancient standing stone monuments like dolmens, menhirs and megalithics Tumulus were erected during the prehistoric period in Galicia, amongst the best-known are the dolmens of Dombate, Corveira, Axeitos of Pedra da Arca, menhirs like the “Lapa de Gargñáns”. From the Iron Age, Galicia has a rich heritage based mainly on a great number of Hill forts, few of them excavated like Baroña, Sta. Tegra, San Cibrao de Lás and Formigueiros among others. With the introduction of Ancient Roman architecture there was a development of basilicas, castra, city walls, cities, villas, Roman temples, Roman roads, and the Roman bridge of Ponte Vella. It was the Romans who founded some of the first cities in Galicia like Lugo and Ourense. Perhaps the best-known examples are the Roman Walls of Lugo and the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. During the Middle Ages, a huge quantity of fortified castles were built by Galician feudal nobles to mark their powers against their rivals. Although the most of them were demolished during the Irmandiño Wars (1466–1469), some Galician castles that survived are Pambre, Castro Caldelas, Sobroso, Soutomaior and Monterrei among others. Ecclesiastical architecture raised early in Galicia, and the first churches and monasteries as San Pedro de Rocas, began to be built in 5-6th centuries. However, the most famous medieval architecture in Galicia had been using Romanesque architecture like most of Western Europe. Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque churches in Galicia are the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Ourense Cathedral, Saint John of Caaveiro, Our Lady Mary of Cambre and the Church of San Juan of Portomarín among others.   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Vannes

1 February 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Vannes and his wife © Myrabella

Vannes and his wife © Myrabella

Vannes (Breton: Gwened) is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France. It was founded over 2000 years ago. Vannes is located on the Gulf of Morbihan at the mouth of two rivers, the Marle and the Vincin. It is around 100 km northwest of Nantes and 450 km south west of Paris. Vannes is a market town and often linked to the sea.   read more…

The city of Santander in Cantabria

6 June 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Town Hall © Year of the Dragon

Town Hall © Year of the Dragon

The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446.   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Vitré

25 February 2012 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Historical city centre © Electzik

Historical city centre © Electzik

Vitré (Breton: Gwitreg) is a commune in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany in north-western France. Vitré, a sub-prefecture until 1926, is the seat of a canton of around 17,000 inhabitants (2006). It lies on the edge of Brittany, near Normandy, Maine, and Anjou. The town has been designated a ville d’art et d’histoire, a town of artistic and historic significance, by the Ministry of Culture in recognition of its rich cultural inheritance. Vitré is the 37th French city with the most historic buildings and has 14% of the historical monuments of the department.   read more…

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