Paradise in France - Journey to South


Author: Cong Shan graduated from French Department of Xi'an University of International Studies. Since 1985, he has worked successively at Chinese Embassy in Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Embassy in Republic of Gabon, Embassy in Republic of Congo, United Nations Office in Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland work Representations, embassies in France.

Everyone knows Paris, France, but they don't know that south of France is a French paradise. In summer of 2011, Embassy Club organized a trip to south of France organized by a Chinese travel agency in Paris, France. The cities along way have their own characteristics, allowing those of us who live in Paris all year round to see scenery of south of France. Particularly beautiful are fields of freshly harvested wheat along way, bales of straw scattered across field.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Freshly harvested field

Day 1 Dijon-Lyon

Dijon is first stop on way to Southern France, a small city known as gourmet capital of France. The most famous delicacy in city of Dijon is wasabi, a yellow-coloured French mustard that is different from Japanese green mustard. The second most famous is world-famous "wine". Dijon is capital of famous French wine region of Burgundy, 280 kilometers from Paris.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Travel logo is a cartoon owl

The tourist symbol of this city is a cute cartoon owl. The small brass owl can be seen in various tourist attractions and is very attractive in sun. The triumphal arch of 18th century attracts tourists to stop and take pictures. On one of walls of church, there is a plaque that is said to bring people good luck and is touched by tourists from all over world.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Arc de Triomphe of Dijon - Guillaume Gate

Lyon is second largest city in France. It used to be an important city for French textile industry. The red roof of whole city is very beautiful. It looks red from side of cathedral hill. In 1998, old city of Lyon was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Aerial view of Lyon

The ancient Roman theater was built in 15 BC.

Paradise in France - Journey to South


Paradise in France - Journey to South

Ancient Roman theater

The tower of Lyon Cathedral on hill is also very attractive and unforgettable.

Day 2: Lavender at Villa Goud and Provence

The famous Goethe Villa is an ancient Roman building. The medieval castle in existing villa was first built in 1031 and rebuilt in 1123. The whole villa has been included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The villa is built in front of mountain and integrated with mountain. Also known as "Stone City", stone buildings all over mountain look so strong and unique.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Golden Mountain Villa

We were deeply impressed by Villa Gouda, which has a reputation as most beautiful mountain villa in France.

I have long heard that Provence in south of France is famous for its rich lavender. During summer in south of France, lavender fields are in full bloom and air is filled with strong scent of flowers, while tourist shops along street sell a variety of essential oils and derivative products. After visiting Lavender Museum, I realized that lavender can also be divided into real and false, and there are roughly three types, as shown below.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Lavender field

True lavender: It grows in mountains at an altitude of more than 800 meters above sea level in Provence, in south of France. There is only one flower on each stem, which grows from seed. It is called "the blue gold of Provence". Known for its medicinal value since ancient times, it is target of spice giants. Named "True Lavender" for its delicate fragrance.

Lavender broadleaf: Growing in limestone moors at altitudes from 0 to 600 m in south of France, it has many branches and several small flowers on each stem that grow from seeds. It is less used in France due to its strong aroma (rich in camphor).

Miscellaneous lavender: grows worldwide in mountains at altitudes from 0 to 800 m. The plant is relatively large, with two branches and lush spherical inflorescences. It is a hybrid of true lavender and broad lavender. Often confused with real lavender, which has no medicinal value. For industrial use only as a fragrance additive to cleaning or descaling products. It is also used to make so-called "lavender sachets" that can be hung in wardrobe and used as insect repellent.

The medicinal value of "100% pure natural essential oil" made from real lavender includes treatment of insomnia, wounds and burns, colds and sinusitis, sore throats, cramps and rheumatism, intestinal parasites and lice. This is effect described in brochure of French Museum of Lavender, which can cure almost all diseases, which is a bit exaggerated.

Other effects are unknown, but it is effective in healing wounds. I accidentally broke a small wound on my leg. I just remembered essential oil I just bought. I quickly took it out and tried it myself. After applying essential oil to wound, it has an anti-inflammatory and hemostatic effect, wound heals quickly. For those who often have acne, healing effect is also enhanced. The smell of lavender essential oil is a bit pungent but acceptable, slightly different from floral scent of lavender.

Paradise in France - Journey to South


Since I visited Provence and visited lavender, I have gradually fallen in love with scent of this lavender, even choosing lavender when buying washing powder and conditioner.

Under blue skies of Provence in southern France, lavender fields attract countless tourists to stop and check in. People walk in comfort through fragrant lavender fields and enjoy sun in south of France.

Day 3 Avignon Theater Festival

Paradise in France - Journey to South
Paradise in France - Journey to South

\\\ Avignon Arts Festival

Paradise in France - Journey to South
Paradise in France - Journey to South

Avignon is last stop on our journey, just in time for annual International Theater Festival. This world-famous theater festival is said to have started in 1947 and has taken lead in global theater industry. It seems that whole city is celebrating New Year, and joy is everywhere. Artists dressed up in different roles roamed streets, and all sorts of posters on walls were dazzling, making people feel like they were caught in a drama. They say that life is like a game, so why don't each of us play our own part.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Advertising for Avignon Theater Festival

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Avignon Theater Festival

Avignon is located in hinterland of Provence in southern France with a population of 100,000. This is only way to get from Spain to Italy by land. It was once an important religious city in France. It was once defined by Roman emperor Hadrian as "a city directly subordinate to empire." Later, due to migration of Holy See, it became center of Christian world and was known as "Second Vatican".

Paradise in France - Journey to South

Broken bridge in Avignon

The most famous is Broken Bridge, which was built from 1171 to 1185. I remember a song we learned when we were young when we were learning French called "On Pont d'Avignon". Today I finally saw this song performed in song that bridge. The whole city is surrounded by city walls, reminiscent of ancient wars. At that time, city walls played an important role in defense of city. After so many years of war, it is really not easy to keep them in their original form. The Department of Cultural Relics of local government also paid a lot of Kung Fu and Energy. Monuments are everywhere in city, and buildings are also very original, in style of ancient Rome.

On way back we visited scene of French film "Escape from Tiger's Mouth", famous monastery. Let you experience scenes in movie for yourself.

Paradise in France - Journey to South

The monastery in movie "Escape from Tiger's Mouth"

Although it was only a few days, it allowed us to see beauty and customs of southern France, which made our impression of France even deeper.


Author | Cong Shan

Image | Congshan, network

Edit | Qing Yan, diplomat speaks