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Castelnau-Bretenoux is one of the largest medieval fortress in the Quercy. Its construction started in 1100 under the supervision of Hugh II, Baron of Castelnau, patriarch of a powerful lineage of barons.

Built on top of a hill above the Dordogne River, the castle has a triangular floor plan and rises to 85 metres. The interior of the castle dates mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries, when it became the residence of the Dukes of Luynes.

http://www.eupedia.com/france/castelnau-bretenoux.shtml

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Lille is France's 2nd largest metropolitan area after Paris. It is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais region, the second most densely populated region of continental France after the Parisian region.

The city name comes from the Latin insula or isla, which later changed into modern French l'île (or der ijsel in Dutch), which means "the island", because it was originally founded on an island on the River Deule.

Geographically and historically, Lille is located in Flanders (French Flanders, that is). The region therefore has strong historical and cultural connections with Belgium, as the architectural style, traditional crafts, cuisine and dialects (Flemish and Picard).

http://www.eupedia.com/france/lille.shtml

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Blending Renaissance and Neoclassicism, the Villandry is one of the most popular châteaux of the Loire Valley thanks to its breathtaking landscaped gardens.

Villandry was built in 1536 by Jean le Breton, Finance Minister of Francis I. It stayed in the hands of his descendants, who assumed the title of Marquis de Villandry, until 1754.

The château was then acquired by Count Michel Ange de Castellane, ambassador of France to the Ottoman Empire, and member of one of Provence's oldest noble families. The new owner added a neoclassical wings, and renovated the interior to the tastes and comfort of the 18th century.

http://www.eupedia.com/france/villandry_castle.shtml

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Azay-le-Rideau is one of the earliest French Renaissance châteaux and one of the most charming.

The castle was built between 1518 and 1523 for Gilles Berthelot, Treasurer-General of the Finances of France under King Francis I and mayor of Tours.

In 1523, suspected of collusion in embezzlement, Berthelot is forced to flee. The unfinished Azay-le-Rideau is confiscated by the king, who bestowed it to Antoine de Raffin, captain of his Garde du Corps. The Raffin family remained owner of the castle until 1751.

Azay-le-Rideau became listed as a Monument historique (National Heritage Site of France) in 1840. It was purchased by the French state in 1905 and is nowadays managed by the Centre des Monuments nationaux.

http://www.eupedia.com/france/azay-le-rideau_castle.shtml

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Paris is the capital of France, the second largest and most populous city in Europe (after London), as well as the world's fashion capital. With over 30 million foreign visitors per year, it is the world's most visited city.

The population of Paris is approximately of 2,153,600 within city limits (20 arrondissements), and 9.93 million for the Greater Paris. The metropolitan area exceeds 12 million inhabitants, giving it a larger population than 36 of Europe's 45 countries.

The city contributes to a quarter of France's GDP. The district of La Défense is the largest purpose-built business district in Europe, and hosts the head offices of almost half of the major French companies, including 10 of the world's 100 largest companies.

Paris also hosts many international organizations such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), or the Paris Club (an informal group of the 19 richest IMF members).

http://www.eupedia.com/france/paris.shtml

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Overlooking the spectacular Alpilles plateau, the ruined stone village of Les Baux, perched on a craggy hill, is nearly indistinguishable from the cream-coloured rocks of the landscape. It is one of France's most visited villages and was voted the most beautiful village of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur by the French in 2012.

Abandoned since the 17th century, the historical hilltop citadel of Les Baux is a dead town, which confers it a surreal atmosphere. All the hotels, restaurants and shops are in the much smaller living village (pop. 400) below.

Bauxite, the main source of aluminium, was discovered near Les Baux by the French geologist Pierre Berthier in 1821 and named after the place.

http://www.eupedia.com/france/les_baux-de-provence.shtml

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Strasbourg is capital of the Alsace region and is the 7th most populous city in France.

Strasbourg is the seat of one of the two European Parliaments (the other being in Brussels), the European Ombudsman, the Eurocorps, as well as the Council of Europe with its European Court of Human Rights, its European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Audiovisual Observatory.

The city's historic center (Grande Île) has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1988 - a distinction only shared by two other French cities, Le Havre and Bordeaux. Apart from its sumptuous Gothic cathedral, Strasbourg is well-known for its historical timber-framed houses.

Strasbourg's bicultural heritage has owed the city to be the seat of the Franco-German TV channel Arte (along with Baden-Baden).

http://www.eupedia.com/france/strasbourg.shtml

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Colmar is the capital of the Haut-Rhin Department. It is one of the best preserved historical town in Eastern France, reputed for its timber-framed architecture.

http://www.eupedia.com/france/colmar.shtml

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Reims is the city where the kings of France used to be crowned. Three of the city's monuments were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991 : the Cathedral of Our Lady of Rheims, the Former Abbey of Saint-Remi, and the Palace of Tau.

Many of the largest Champagne producing houses have their headquarters in Reims, including among others Taittinger, Pommery, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Piper-Heidsieck, Ruinart and Krug. Most are open for tasting and tours by appointment.

http://www.eupedia.com/france/reims.shtml

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Built as a royal palace for Louis XV and restored by Napoleon, Compiègne was one of three seats of royal government, along with Versailles and Fontainebleau. The palace has 1337 rooms (including 105 guest apartments), eight courtyards and two parks.

Compiègne was the favourite residence of Napoleon III, who established his court here from 1853 to 1855. From 1856, the emperor threw one-month-long hunting parties in autumn that attracted hundreds of aristocrats from all over Europe.

The star attraction are the Imperial Apartments (Grands Appartements) featuring the emperor and empress' bedrooms, as well as a ballroom lit by 15 chandeliers.

In addition to the lavish state apartments from the 18th and 19th centuries, the palace hosts the Museum of the Second Empire (retracing the life of Napoleon III), the Empress Museum (dedicated to Empress Eugénie) and the National Car Museum (collection of old cars and motorcycles, including pre-combustion automobiles).

http://www.eupedia.com/france/compiegne_castle.shtml

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