Small places in France

The Little Venices of France
April 26, 2023

Throughout France, there are no less than 50 locales with the nickname “Petite Venise”. Uncover the origins and aesthetic attraction of those charming French cities crisscrossed by canals and rivers.

From the port cities of Provence to the cities and villages of Alsace, Normandy and Picardy, the checklist of French “Little Venices” in tour guides is lengthy: no less than 50. In all circumstances, there isn’t any gondola or Doge’s palace in sight, however these cities, large or small, have one thing in frequent. In a single factor: it’s located on waterways and is normally crossed by picturesque canals which makes it similar to the Italian Serenissima.

“In Brantôme, one factor is for certain: it isn’t a advertising time period,” says Julie Martinet, director of the tourism workplace in Brantôme-en-Périgord, one of the vital picturesque areas within the Dordogne.

It was invented in 1913 by French President Raymond Poincaré who came around the village. As he crossed the Coudé Bridge, which spans the Dronne River, he was struck by its rustic environment and river, and exclaimed, “That is the inexperienced Venice of the Périgord!”. From then on, the time period caught. .

The time period will undoubtedly survive as a result of the whole village is surrounded by the waters of Dron, which was partly was a canal within the sixteenth century by Benedictine monks. As well as, Brantôme shares with Venice nice architectural wealth. Probably the most visited monument is undoubtedly the monastery, constructed on the foot of a steep wooded slope, the place the Doomsday Cave homes two bas-reliefs carved by Fifteenth-century monks. It’s mentioned that Charlemagne based the abbey and that its bell tower is among the oldest in France.

Learn extra: Voyages of the Dordogne: The Temptation of Perigord

Brantôme, the ‘inexperienced Venice’ of the Périgord © OT_Brantôme en Périgord

Italian church buildings
The title “Venice of Provence” is given to the city of Martigues, within the Bouches-du-Rhône, virtually as outdated. “As early as 1934, the singer and actor Alibert sang concerning the Martigues within the Adieu Venise proofçale, for which Vincent Scotto wrote the music,” explains Didier Cerboni, director of town’s vacationer workplace.

In actual fact, that is solely affirmation of an already well-established repute and there’s no scarcity of justification for it. Martigues lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Étang de Berre and the Romans constructed an aqueduct there. Till the nineteenth century, 9 aqueducts, utilized by fishermen, traversed Martigues. As well as So, round 1860, the orientalist painter Felix Ziem, who painted seascapes and landscapes of Venice and Constantinople and stored feeling nostalgic for these locations, settled in Martigos and opened a studio. Different painters reminiscent of Dufy and Van Gogh adopted, all fascinated by its colours and colours. The affiliation got here with Venice. Usually “.

Right now, with three canals, fishing boats moored throughout, and the well-known Miroir Oyso Passage, an inlet that spans Sebastian Bridge and displays the brightly coloured facades of fishermen’s homes, it is like being in a metropolis of water. Martigues, which may be visited by boat by its canals, has many points of interest, together with the Ziem Museum and the Chapelle de l’Annonciade, a jewel of Provencal Baroque artwork.

Staying south, it’s also on account of its historic searching custom that L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has lengthy been often known as the ‘Venice of the Comtat Venaissin’, after the realm as soon as managed by the Pope in Avignon . It’s actually an outdated fishing village constructed on stilts alongside the River Sorge, whose waters had been as soon as wealthy in trout, lobster and eels. Well-known at this time for its antiques market, the third largest in Europe after London and Paris, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue runs by canals, alongside which watermills allowed the event of silk, woolen and paper mills. A couple of waterwheels stay and the structure of the city is just not not like that of Dogues: the collegiate church, Notre-Dame-des-Anges, with its Romanesque façade and wealthy Seventeenth-century inside ornament, can also be harking back to Italian church buildings. Lengthy and skinny conventional fishing boats (known as Nego Chen, which implies “drowned canine” in Provençal) by navigators standing within the deep, like gondolas. Each July, illuminated floats adorn flowers alongside the Surg Canals at dusk.

Learn extra: Purple Rain: Lavender and Provence

Beautiful Isle sur la Sorgue within the Vaucluse Lodge © OT Isle sur la Sorgue

floating gardens
Within the Eure division, close to Rouen and Honfleur, there may be once more the community of canals that enable Pont-Audemer to say the title of “Little Norman Venice”. Mendacity between two branches of the Risle, the canals had been utilized by fishermen who solid their nets so far as the mouth of the Seine. A number of the leather-based that geared up William the Conqueror’s military within the eleventh century was tanned on the banks of the Pont-Audemer. Within the Center Ages, sandals with a flat backside had been known as sandals échaudes, used to move lime or grain. “Canals used to provide personal palaces. Every palace had direct entry to the sidewalks. You possibly can nonetheless see stays of picket sidewalks right here and there,” says Natalie Delaney, director of the Pont-Audemer Vacationer Workplace. “Right now, as in Venice, pedestrians can transfer From one canal to a different by medieval streets. And there is a signposted path the place they will stroll within the footsteps of Thierry Hermès, founding father of luxurious design home Hermès. In 1821 he was apprenticed to a saddle craftsman and realized the commerce right here.”

To the north, within the former province of Picardy, the Somme has earned Amiens the nickname “Little Venice of the North”. The river, one of many longest in France, flows by the well-known Hortillonnages, 300 hectares of former moorland reworked within the Center Ages into floating market gardens. It was punctuated by rios, canals fed by branches of the river round which town was constructed and which nonetheless exist at this time.

The significance of the river’s previous can simply be appreciated by strolling by the maze of streets and canals within the Saint-Leu district, within the middle of Picardy’s capital. It’s unattainable to get misplaced on this space, as a result of once you lookup, you at all times see Notre Dame Cathedral, the most important Gothic constructing in France. It is usually doable to go to the Hortillonnages by the use of pateaux a cornet, a sort of flat boat utilized by market farmers to promote their produce. The custom has been preserved: each Saturday of the yr a market is held on the fringe of the canals and greens nonetheless come from the Hortillonnages.

Learn extra: Following the Seine in and round Paris

Saint-Leu district in Amiens © OT Amiens

Aqua Alta
Not all Little Venices can boast of such a protracted historical past. With its 400 inhabitants, the commune of Soline-Doues, in Champagne, adopted the title “Venise Verte de l’Aube” solely 20 years in the past, with the thought of ​​selling the websites of the Aube division. “The Champagne wetland village is criss-crossed by streams, spanned by twelve bridges, the oldest of which, the Henri IV bridge, was in-built 1607,” explains Elisabeth Guindot of the Grande-l’Acques de Champagne tourism workplace. “Since historic occasions, it has been fashioned by an increase from which two rivers movement: the Laines and the Dhuys, which meet within the middle of the village and thus kind a small island. A 3rd river, the Ru des Vignes, crosses the Soulaines-Dhuys and flows into the Laines. Certainly, in historic Celtic, Dhuys means “again.” The Ru des Vignes is normally dry, however when the water degree rises, it causes floods within the village. that trigger metropolis flooding at sure occasions of the yr.

To those cities and villages we will add Annecy: its nickname “Venice of the Alps” comes from the blue-green waters of its lakes and canals, however not like its Italian mannequin, it’s closed to navigation. We may additionally add Goudargues, “Little Venice of the Gard”, crossed by a single canal; Port Grimaud, on the Mediterranean coast, the most recent ‘Little Venice’; “Little Venice Colmar” in Alsace; La Canourgue, “The Little Lozer Gun”; Bonneval, “The Little Venice of Beauce”; Lucite, “Venice of the Languedoc”.

The purpose is, indubitably, that Venice is all over the place. As a result of, as Serge Reggiani, himself of Italian descent, sang: “Venice is just not in Italy, Venice is in anybody’s residence.” […] It is anyplace, it is the opposite facet of a wet morning, it is the place you are completely happy.”

From France Right now journal

Principal picture proprietor: Le Miroir aux Oiseaux in Martigues © OTMartigues-KK

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