France Today magazine is proud to have an expert team of contributors, whose knowledge of France is vast and inspiring. In a series of interviews highlighting “France Favourites,” we shine the spotlight on our team. Here we share travel tips from Alison Hughes.
Having lived a globe-trotting life as a ‘forces child,’ Alison’s taste for travel was established early on. After reading English at university she lived in rural France, and later in Paris and Brussels, returning to the UK in the early nineties. Former Deputy Editor of FRANCE Magazine, Alison now works as a freelance writer for various publications – she has an enduring love of all things French.
What’s your perfect day in Paris?
There’s something very continental about having breakfast out so to get in ‘holiday mode’ I would start with a coffee and croissant on a café terrace. I love boats so a trip on a bâteau-mouche would be next – a great way to watch many of Paris’s most beautiful landmarks float by. Then a visit to one of the smaller museums – the Rodin museum and the Musée de Cluny are two of my favourites.
Your favourite restaurant in Paris?
It has to be Chartier, for the fabulous Art Nouveau décor, atmosphere and memories. The floor-length tabliers of the waiters, the scribbling of your order on the paper tablecloth, the sawdust on the floor all take you back to the early 1900s – not to mention the legendary value for money.
The most sublime meal you’ve ever had in France?
I’ve been lucky enough to eat in many wonderful, gastronomic restaurants but nothing can beat moules-frites on a terrace overlooking the sea.
Best travel memory in France?
So many, but hard to do find a more sublime trip than my cruise down the Canal de Nivernais last May – unspoilt scenery, great food and wine and good company.
Favourite French region to travel?
I think I have been to nearly every corner of France and I just love the variety of each and every area. If I had to choose, Normandy, the Loire, Burgundy and Provence would be at the top.
Top museum in France?
There are many quirky and very specific museums in France. One of the most fascinating is in the small town of Sainte-Sévère, dedicated to Jacques Tati. Le Jour de Fête was filmed here using extras from the village and the museum offers a very interactive experience – I’m still trying to work out the technicalities.
Favourite French film?
Amélie for humour, Le Grand Chemin for its depiction of rural life and heart-tugging story and Jean de Florette for the glorious Provençal countryside.
Souvenir for friends back home?
The French are very good at ‘regional specialities’ so I always try to pick up something from the area where I’ve been visiting.
Boutiques where you shop during the semi-annual soldes?
I’m not a great shopper but I do love those attached to art galleries and museums.
A destination in France that you’re dying to visit?
I’ve never been to Corsica. Commission anyone???
Tip for first-time visitors to France?
Go with the flow. Don’t get uptight about ‘slow service’, just enjoy the more leisurely pace of life. You’re on holiday!