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12Arles - France (by Jacqueline Poggi)Arles is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence.A large part of the Camargue is located on the territory of the commune, making it the largest commune in Metropolitan France in terms of territory (though Maripasoula, French Guiana, is much larger). The city has a long history, and was of considerable importance in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. The Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during his time there. An international photography festival has been held in the city since 1970.


06Chambord Castle, France by Thierry BeauvirThe royal Château de Chambord at Chambord, Loir-et-Cher, France, is one of the most recognizable châteaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The building, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France.Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the châteaux of Blois and Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with some doubt, to Domenico da Cortona; Leonardo da Vinci may also have been involved.Chambord was altered considerably during the twenty-eight years of its construction (1519–1547), during which it was overseen on-site by Pierre Nepveu. With the château nearing completion, Francis showed off his enormous symbol of wealth and power by hosting his old archrival, Emperor Charles V, at Chambord.

Photo by Thierry Beauvir.

08Josselin Castle, France (by Ytierny)Josselin Castle is a medieval castle at Josselin, in the Morbihan department of Brittany, France, first built in the 11th century and rebuilt at various times since. It has been designated as a monument historique since 1928.Guéthénoc, vicomte of Porhoët, Rohan and Guéméné, began to build the first castle on the site around the year 1008, choosing a rocky promontory overlooking the valley of the Oust. The new fortress was named after Guéthénoc’s son, Goscelinus.The name is recorded in the Cartulary of Redon Abbey (1080) as castellum et castrum Goscelini, but already by 1108 it was appearing as Castellum Joscelini.The site chosen for the castle was excellent from both the commercial and the military points of view, and since the 9th century there had also existed an annual pilgrimage in September to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Bramble (Notre-Dame du Roncier), which added greatly to the wealth of the lords and people of Josselin.