|The Paris catacombs
1, avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy
|A strange underground ossuary, filled with the bones and skeletons
of some 6 million Parisians, collected from city graveyards between
1786 and the
mid 19th century. 2 km walk underground. 130 steps down, 83 up.
|The Paris Sewer museum
Musée des égouts) Quai d'Orsay - 6th district
|There is a whole
underground city beneath the Paris streets, and the ancient sewerage
system is a historic monument, with its own museum and tour visit.
|The Underground city of Naours
in the Somme, in the Picardy
|For centuries men lived
or sought refuge in underground
spaces hollowed out of the chalk hillside. Today there are some 2 km
of caves and tunnels, including memories of the First Wold
troops lived here. Self-guided audio tours.
|Sculpted rocks of Rotheneuf
|Rotheneuf, near Saint
Malo in Brittany
||This strange open air
sculpture gallery is the work of a deaf and dumb priest, the Abbé
Fouré, who spent thirteen years in the latter part of his life, from
1894 to 1907, giving form to the granite rocks on this part of the
north Brittany coast.
|The Valley of the Saints.
on the border between the Côtes d'Armor (22) and Finistère (29)
departments of Brittany
century project aims to create a Breton equivalent to Easter Island,
with statues of the 1000 saints of Brittany. By 2018, the 35 hectare
park had received its 100th granite megalithic statue. Statues are all
at least 2.50 metres tall, and weigh up to 12 tonnes each
|The Robert Tatin museum.
near Laval, in the north of the Pays
de la Loire region
|A strange art
experience created in his
retirement between 1962 and 1983 by the artist Robert Tatin, in and
around his farmhouse. A complex of monumental sculptures, wacky
buildings and decorative forms built of stone and concrete, inspired by
mystical and religious traditions of Europe and the Orient. An
experience that anyone can enjoy. Paid entry.
|The house of Facteur Cheval
in the north of the Drome (26) department of the Rhone-Alpes area
||From 1879 to 1913,
local postman (facteur) Ferdinand Cheval spent his spare time
collecting stones and using them to build up a unique and very quirky
"Ideal Palace" in the garden round his house. A masterpiece of naive
art or "outsider art" (art produced by people with no formal training),
Cheval's exceptional creation is now officially classed as a historic
monument and draws in artists and sculptors from around the world. Open
all year except in mid-winter. Paid entry.
|The Chapel of St Michael
Puy en Velay in the Auvergne
||Built in the tenth
century, this UNESCO-listed chapel, one of the oldest in France, is
perched precariously on top of a pinnacle of volcanic rock. Access to
the top by foot only, up 268 steps
|The shell mosaics of Ile Penotte
|In the old town of Les Sables d'Olonne,
in Vendée, on the Atlantic coast of France
||The "Ile Penotte"
is not an island, but a historic residential area of
narrow streets in the old centre of the seaside resort of Les Sables
d'Olonne. It has become famous for the many attractive seashell mosaics
- in actual fact mosaics of seashells and coloured pebbles and glass -
decorating the walls of many houses. The mosaics are the work of local
artist Danielle Arnaud Aubin, who began this monumental work in 1997.
|The Mazamet walkway
|Mazamet, in the Tarn (81) department of Midi-Pyrenees
||Some 50 km north of
Carcassonne, this giddying aerial walkway opened in September 2018. 140
metres long, it spans a chasm between two rocky outcrops beside the
river 70 metres (230 ft) below, allowing access to the historic village
of Hautpoul. Access from Mazamet involves a good climb. the bridge is
not for those without a head for heights. Free attraction.
|The source of the Loue
||Ouhans in the Doubs
(25) department of Franche
||The river Loue emerges
with a flow of 7 m3/sec from the
base of cliffs at the head of a long gorge. This resurgence is the most
impressive (though not the biggest) of a number of resurgences in
Free access by foot from a car park
|The Pont d'Arc
||On the Ardèche
river in the Rhone valley - Rhone-Alpes
||"Amazing" is a word
often used in relation
to this unique natural bridge under which flows a fully-fledged river.
Fifty-nine metres across at the base, the opening rises to 34 metres
above river level at its peak. For the full experience
visitors can kayak or swim under the arch, which is just one highlight
of the Ardeche gorge. The other big attraction is the
Grotte-Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc interpretive centre, with a full-scale
replica of the nearby caves containing Europe's finest collection of
prehistoric art. Free access to the natural bridge.
|Chaos of Montpellier le Vieux
in the Aveyron (12) department of
||Perched on the cusp
between the Causse Noir uplands and
the Dourbie gorge below, the Chaos of Montpellier le Vieux is a
landscape of massive boulders and strangely eroded rocks. The gorge
below is home to eagles and vultures which can be seen soaring
Explore the natural site on foot or by mini tourist train. Paid entry.
|Le Mas d'Azil
||40 km north west of Foix in the Ariège (12) department
of the Pyrenees
||Here is a unique
opportunity to drive through a natural
underground cavern. The D117 road follows the river Arize into the
hillside and emerges 420 metres and a couple of bends later on the
other side. In the middle of the cavern is a prehistoric grotto. Access
to the road tunnel is free; the prehistoric site is paid entry.
|The Organ rocks of Ille sur Tet
|West of Perpignan in the Pyrenees Orientales department
||One of the most
remarkable rock formations in France,
the Organs of Ille sur Tet are known in geological terms as
fairy chimneys. The best-known example of these is the Bryce Canyon
natioal park in the USA; the rocks at Ille sur Tet are a smaller and
much less well-known version of the same. There is a small entrance fee.
|The Galamus Gorge
||Between St. Martin de Fenouillet in the Pyrenees
department and Cubières in the Aude (11) Languedoc-Roussillon
||France has several
impressive gorges to drive through,
but none as narrow as Galamus, on the road between St. Martin de
Fenouillet and Cubières. the road is carved out of the site of the
gorge that is up to 500 metres deep and barely a couple of metres
acroos at the foot. Free access