What makes a village “One of the Most Beautiful” in France?

If you spend much time bouncing around the French countryside, at some point you may come across a village with a distinctive sign at the city limits: “L’un des plus beaux villages de France” – one of the most beautiful villages in France. When you see the sign, you know you’re in for a treat.  Among other things, you’re likely to find ancient buildings, quaint medieval streets, elaborate floral displays, and pleasant gathering places where people meet for drinks and meals.  But have you wondered what makes a town “one of the most beautiful”?  Who decides?  Where are the other “plus beaux villages” in the country? Apremont-sur-Allier is definitely one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France”! There’s actually an […]

MuPoP in Montlucon is a must for music lovers

If you’re a musician – or someone who loves music – you should get out of Paris for a day and head south to MuPop , the Museum of Popular Music in Montluçon. (And yes, I know there’s enormous competition for your time, attention and money when you’re traveling in France.  Trust me, though – this is worth the day away from the capital!) MuPop is an exceptionally well-curated collection of instruments, songs, and stories about musicians from the past 200 years or so.  You’re given a set of headphones at the entrance, with a simple point-and-choose control to let you listen to what you’re seeing.  In each of the exhibits of musical instruments there are good demonstrations of how […]

Driving to Villeneuve – but which one?

After a couple of very pleasant nights in Moulins, I decided this morning to hit the road to see some of the smaller towns in this part of the Allier.  The temperature was rising, the sky had only a few wispy clouds against a rich blue background, and my trusty Michelin Green Guide had a nice section laying out a driving circuit around Moulins with several old chateaux and the little Romanesque churches I love – a perfect day in central France! Things started well.  A quick stop at the church in Yzeure, a side trip down a dirt road for a look at the Chateau at Seganges, and I was ready to move on toward St. Menoux.  Now, I […]