We’ve all heard of Marseille, Le Havre and Caen but at European Waterways we like to get a little off the beaten track, to the underground roman river ports and the cities that inspired one of the greatest artists of the 19th century, to the Secret France that only the locals know. So without further ado, here are 3 River Ports that we think are worthy of your attention…
The Secret Ports of France
Once a bustling seaport that was primarily used as a trading post along the Via Dolmitia, Narbonne is a charming mixture of Gothic and Roman architecture with a strong modern standing in the wine industry. In a city of only 50,000 people there is something for everyone; architectural enthusiast? Head to the Archbishop’s Palace or shuffle through the Horreum (an underground labyrinth of ancient warehouses). Bit of a foodie? The Patisserie Combot is famed for its fabulous pastries and cakes. Nature lover? Stroll through the lagoons and vineyards of the protected Wildlife Park or head to Narbonne Plage for a dip in the ocean.
A treasure trove for literature lovers, Le Somail houses a bookshop which contains some 50,000 titles, roughly 48,000 more than the population of the surrounding commune! This quintessential hamlet epitomises the Southern French way of life; beautiful and tranquil, feel free to explore its low stone bridges on the Canal du Midi, sloping vineyards and Mediterranean canal side bars at your own pace.
If this city beguiled and inspired Van Gogh, what chance do the rest of us have? The famed painter lived here for just over a year and in that time produced in excess of 300 works. With its enchanting cobbled streets, roman ruins and exuberant cafes it’s easy to picture a future for one’s self wiling away the days painting in the sunshine. If, like the majority of us, you’re not at liberty to do that then we’d recommend a visit to the Ampitheatre which still holds annual bullfights, or a jaunt to the Camargue Nature Park where you’ll see wild horses in their natural habitat, along with a flurry of pink flamingos!
Keep an eye out for our Secret France series as we continue to bring you the insider experiences and local knowledge that really make a difference, and if you’re at all interested in any of the places mentioned above you can find more information here.