Let’s start our little tour of hot spots with Nantes, the capital of the Dukes of Brittany. The super trendy Le Lieu Unique, located in a former biscuit factory, gives rhythm to the local cultural life, with festivals and avant-garde events organized around the arts, dance, literature and theatre. You can also go there to enjoy a drink or sit down to eat in a décor to be found nowhere else. But Nantes is also the gateway to Brittany. The medieval quarter of Bouffay, only a stone’s throw from the castle, offers diners a choice of restaurants serving delicious crêpes and cider. The same district also boasts a rich student night life and a host of designer boutiques. More traditional tastes will want to stroll the dense shopping street of Rue Crébillon. Visitors with children can rent bikes and set off to explore the Loire Estuary, dotted with monumental sculptures by a group of artists from June to September 2007.
The just-as-lively student town of Montpellier, located on the Mediterranean coast, seduces visitors by the beauty of its magnificently renovated old town, where fashionable boutiques vie with gourmet restaurants. Be sure to stop by the recently renovated Fabre Museum, which houses a renowned collection of paintings by the modern artist Pierre Soulages, as well as great 19th-century French artists. To rest your feet, opt for the Place de la Comédie, an immense pedestrian-only esplanade overflowing with cafés. The city boasts an exceptional cultural diversity, including two operas and a famous modern dance centre. For something to remember, Montpellier is the place to be as it will be welcoming the Australian rugby team for the Rugby World Cup. Party ambiance guaranteed!
Montpellier’s south-eastern neighbour, Aix-en-Provence, definitely holds its own. Once known as the "small Versailles" for its profusion of townhouses, the city offers visitors an ideal setting bathed by the warm Provençal sun where its aperitifs are programmed around sublime pool settings. Take the Set Club for example and dive into an idyllic ambiance of palm trees, rose-bay trees, pine and cedar. In other words, a dream place for letting-go and returning to one’s roots.
If you’re looking for a place of jet-set, look no further then Saint Tropez! Set on the exquisite blue waters of the Golfe de Saint-Tropez, this town is the portrait of jet-set lavishness, with luxury yachts lined up in the harbour, expensive cars cruising the streets, and helicopters “delivering” glamorous guests to elite events and private estates along the coastline. Avant-garde for more than 40 years, the Papagayo nightclub is without contest the international destination point of the Côte d’Azur with guests such as David Guetta, Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig and Bono. This formidable palace is “the” place to spend your Tropézienne nights. But if we had to choose another night club we’d choose Les Caves du Roy, the Riviera’s hippiest and most select place to be. With guests such as Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell, George Clooney, this part bar, part club has a friendly atmosphere with an avant-garde music scene. And will seduce any clubber into the Saint Tropez early hours. For the debut of your soirée, head to Nikki Beach, a beach where champagne flows to no-end and all the jet-setters of the planet come to show off amongst the most beautiful women of the world.
To the east, Strasbourg has been given fresh impetus by the recently-inaugurated TGV high-speed train line. Under the shining sun, discover a city that’s particularly enjoyable to explore by foot, with a stroll through the Petite France neighbourhood bordering the river and cathedral. In the Saint-Etienne quarter near the cathedral, restaurants and interior design boutiques attract a fashionable clientele. The nearby Modern Art Museum offers works by a vast panorama of modern artists. Take advantage of your visit to enjoy a drink at the museum’s terrace café, with its panoramic view. To go for a walk in a particularly trendy part of town, amble over to the Krutenau, full of life in the evening. During the day, step aboard the Atlantico barge, moored at the Quai des Pêcheurs. Enjoy the architecture of the neighbourhood housing the European institutions, or go for a bike ride along the banks of the Rhine River. If you’d like to attend a show, La Laiterie, located in a former factory, is a cultural centre with an especially eclectic programme of events. Strasbourg is frequented by more than 50,000 students of all nationalities contributing to numerous nocturnal events. With its numerous bars, concert halls and clubs, fun is absolutely guaranteed, yet you won’t spend a fortune.
Another city of preference is in the North of France, Lille. Until the 19th of August, this city will transform into seaside resort. Here they will install sand, palm trees, pools and waterslides for a specially set-up beach complex called Lille Plage for everyone to rejoince in the summer sun. For those interested in the Wild-West, why not try Lille Ranch with pony rides and Indian Teepees. All activities are free! The French capital of Flanders boasts a charming old town, Le Vieux-Lille, home to luxury boutiques, especially in the Rue Grande Chaussée, Rue Basse and Rue de la Monnaie. The trendy boutiques are to be found in the nearby Rue de la Clef. Looking for interior design ideas? Then visit the Esquermoise district. On Sunday morning, be sure to visit the colourful Wazemmes market and enjoy a drink at one of the square’s many cafés. The students have set up headquarters in the Rue Masséna and Rue Solférino, where bars serving the many regional beers are legion. Food lovers will be delighted with the city’s traditional brasseries, bistros and restaurants serving Flemish specialities.
And finally, how could we talk about the hot-spots of summer without speaking about Paris! The amateurs of shopping will head to Etienne Marcel Street with its fashion boutiques. Other could pedal around this fashion capital by renting a bike from the town hall. For the best in Parisian nightlife, clubbers can find themselves around the Golden Triangle (Champs Elysées, George V and Montaigne) 3 avenues that come together providing the best and most prestigious Parisian night clubs.
Tourism office: www.nantes-tourisme.com
Tourism office: www.ot-strasbourg.com/?lang=en
Tourism office: www.mairie-lille.fr/sections/site-en
Lille Plage and Lille Ranch: www.mairie-lille.fr/sections/site-en/A_la_une/inauguration-lille-plage
Author: Mikaël Attar
Adaptation and translation: Carmen Dunn
Brought to you by MDLF
By Joe Buckle
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