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Favourite monuments of the French

Every year, a TV contest in France focuses on the favourite monuments of the French. Voting is fierce and the monuments are marvellous. In 2021, Place Stanislas in Nancy, north-east France was the winner.

Discover all the candidates for the favourite monuments of the French, 2021:

Place Stanislas in Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle)

The UNESCO listed Place Stanislas in Nancy, Lorraine, (top photo) was commissioned by King Stanislas Leszczynski in 1752. Architect Emmanuel Héré was charged with creating a space to unite the old town and the new town of Nancy. Classic and rococo styles combine beautifully with an ornamental Arc de Triomphe, pavilions in each corner, gold railings, rococo fountains and highly decorated facades on the buildings. It’s the perfect square to stroll or sit and relax. See more photos of Nancy

Falaise castle (Calvados)

The solid stone fortress was built by the Dukes of Normandy dating from the year 1000. William the Conqueror was born here in 1028, the illegitimate son Duke Robert 1 of Normandy and the daughter of a tanner in Falaise who became the King of England. Read about the Bayeux Tapestry

The Tours of La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime)

There are three famous towers in La Rochelle. The two 14th century towers known as The Saint Nicolas Tower and the Chain Tower created an impressive gateway to the Old Port of La Rochelle. The 42m high Saint Nicolas Tower (named after the patron saint of sailors) to protect the entrance to the port was connected to the Chain Tower by a huge chain which was stretched across at night to effectively close the port. The Lantern Tower was built in the 15th century and was in charge of control and disarmament of ships entering the port. Read more on La Rochelle

The Briare Canal Bridge (Loiret)

The Briare canal is one of the oldest canals in France. Begun in 1604 it was opened in 1642 between Briare and Montargis in the Loire. The aqueduct, or canal bridge, was built by the Eiffel company between 1890 and 1896. At 662 metres in length, supported by fifteen 40 metre-long and 11.5 metre-wide spans, it is suspended 11 metres above the river and weighing in at 13,680 tonnes. The bridge connected the Berry Canal to the Briare Canal, creating a link to the Saone and Seine Rivers. For a long time it was THE biggest in the world, and is still among the world’s biggest structures.

The Ancient Theater of Orange (Vaucluse)

The UNESCO listed Roman theatre of Orange is amongst the best known and best preserved Roman remains outside of Italy. Built in the first century AD, it is still in use. Backed by a 37-metre high wall and a stage facing a round auditorium of stone benches, it’s one of the wonders of France. Read more about the Roman theatre of Orange

The Château de Pierrefonds (Oise)

The original castle of Pierrefonds was built in the 14th century and restored in the 19th century. Teeming with turrets and towers, the building is magnificent and the unfurnished rooms make it easy to see the castle’s bones. It was the location for UK TV series Merlin and it really is quite magical.

The Pont du Gard (Gard)

The Pont du Gard is a giant of an engineering masterpiece at 3 stories and 50 metres high. It’s 2,000 years old and the largest of all the Roman aqueducts. Amazingly it took just 5 years to build. It stands shimmering in the barren heat against miles of unspoilt landscape and in total defiance of the centuries. A visit here gives you a wonderful view of the past and of the Romans thirst for luxury. Read more about the Pont du Gard

The railway rotunda of Chambéry (Savoie)

Built by Gustave Eiffel in 1906, La Rotonde is the largest roundhouse ever built by SNCF (the French railway service). The depot is 108 metres in diameter and 34 metres high with a central glass dome. It’s not that well known but is still a working place with dozens of locomotives going round on the turntable each day.

Maison Caillebotte, Yerres (Essonne)

The former family home of painter Gustave Caillebotte where he completed some 80 paintings in the 1870’s. Wonderfully restored and furnished it is now a museum dedicated to the painter. There is also a beautiful park.

The Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune (Côte-d’Or)

The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune as it is now known, is a former charitable almshouse in Beaune, Burgundy. It was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, the chancellor of Burgundy and his wife Guigone de Salins, as a hospital for the poor. The original hospital building, the Hôtel-Dieu, is one of the finest examples of 15th century Burgundian architecture. From the main courtyard the flamboyant roof with its typically Burgundian colourful tiles is world famous. Inside, the restored hospital with its ancient kitchens, beds and hospital equipment is outstanding. Read more about the Hotel-Dieu de Beaune.

The Balata Garden in Fort-de- France (Martinique)

A garden paradise created by landscape gardener Jean-Philippe Thoze. There are more than 3000 species of tropical plants in the beautifully landscaped gardens.

The ramparts of Saint-Malo (Ille-et-Vilaine)

Construction of Saint-Malo’s ramparts began in the 12th century. On one side the ramparts run around the coastline taking in Quai Saint-Vincent and Quai St Louis and look over the Grande Porte and the battlements of 17th century Fort National. Read more about Saint-Malo and the ramparts

The Citadel of Bonifacio and the staircase of the King of Aragon (Corse-du-Sud)

According to legend, the King of Aragon’s stairway, now a listed historic monument, was dug by hand in the limestone cliff in one night by the troops of the King in 1420. Its purpose was to access the Saint-Barthelemy fresh water well. Composed of 187 uneven steps, from the top the views over the sea, Sardinia and the surrounding cliffs, are sensational. At the bottom you are just a few metres above sea level on a path carved into the cliff.

Passage Pommeraye in Nantes (Loire-Atlantique)

Passage Pommeraye is a shopping mall in Nantes town centre. It’s an extraordinary 19th century building, full of historical charm. Built around three sets of stone steps, it’s teeming with cafés, boutiques and quirky stores. At Christmas it’s beautifully decorated.

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