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Beautiful historic town is one of France’s cheap uncrowded gems

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Whilst many holidaymakers enjoy a trip to France, few look forward to the large crowds and inflated prices commonly seen in large cities such as Paris. As a result, it can pay to find a smaller, lesser-known destination in another part of the country.

Located around an hour away from the city of Nantes, Cholet is a small and incredibly quiet commune within Maine-et-Loire that has a population of just under 54,000.

Whilst the original name appears to have stemmed from the Latin word for cabbage, Charlotte, a travel expert from the tourism blog Solo Sophie, noted that residents have given the commune their own affectionate nickname.

She explained: “The town is perhaps best known as France’s ‘handkerchief capital’. The iconic red and white handkerchiefs that rose to prominence thanks to a song by Théodore Botrel, “Le mouchoir rouge de Cholet” (The red handkerchief of Cholet).

“The myth of the red and white handkerchief is meant to represent a time in history where Cholet was important to the outcome of how France would be ruled; red represented blood and the white evoked the memory of those in the Vendée who gave their lives standing up against the men of the Revolution.”

As expected, Cholet offers tourists plenty of historical attractions, with Solo Sophie noting that the most widely acclaimed is the Eglise Notre-Dame de Cholet.

Translating to ‘Our Lady of Cholet’, construction began on this church in 1853 before being given a very distinctive restyling at some stage in the 19th century.

However, in contrast to the straight, neo-Gothic architecture of the outside, Eglise Notre-Dame de Cholet features a very lavish interior, containing a number of historic paintings and statues from the sculptor Hippolyte Maindrom.

For tourists looking to take in some fresh air and scenery on a trip to Cholet, Solo Sophie recommended a stroll through the Parc de Moine.

A popular gathering spot for locals, this large park offers a swimming pool, skate park and a grand total of 642 different trees and 165 conifers.

Visitors to the commune looking to stretch their legs for a while can also walk along the Cholet river, which spans from the park to the other side of the town.

Finally, Solo Sophie recommended that holidaymakers planning to see a less conventional side of Cholet consider visiting the Textile and Fashion Museum.

Since the area has had a rich past in producing items of clothing, particularly linen, this museum tracks how the local industry has developed over the following centuries.

Based at a former bleaching factory, the museum exhibits a massive range of types of textiles including, you guessed it, a red and white handkerchief.

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