In the St Pantaleon church in the arts district of Troyes, France (Photo: Ashley Frois)
The very mention of France when trading holiday stories usually turns half the listeners off. “The French are so unfriendly,” is a popular hasty reply, as well as, “It’s so overrated”.
One in two visitors to France might have unpleasant experiences in Paris, but their opinions could have been different if they had gone to one of France’s less touristy spots.
The friendly commune of Troyes, for example, is just two hours’ drive from Paris and is south of Reims, which is part of the Champagne region. Once there, you will be soaking in the rustic wealth of French heritage. Navigate up the Seine River, with the help of Google map via SingTel DataRoam Saver Plan, and take in this preciously preserved medieval environment that astounds with its vast stretches of ancient buildings.
Cruise along the Seine River in Paris (Photo: Wikimedia)
Speedy and available all across France and many European countries, SingTel DataRoam Saver Plan can be easily activated by downloading My SingTel App from the Apple App Store, GooglePlay or BlackBerry App World.
Lose yourself in Troyes’ breathtaking art and canal districts, and scenic old Jewish Quarter while updating friends and family back home on your travels via social media or keep in contact via instant messaging.
Walk through the commercial district of Les Halles, where modern buildings co-exist alongside a train station, a theatre and a handful of other beautiful structures from the 19th century. Take photos of the sights and share them immediately with loved ones and friends on Facebook or Instagram.
The Basilique Saint-Urbain de Troyes, a large gothic church in Troyes (Photo: Wikimedia)
Once a stronghold of the Knights Templar, this ancient city of Troyes showcase carefully restored buildings, including its old synagogue and abbey from its heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of these old-timers now enjoy a new lease of life as charming inns and guesthouses that welcome the historically inquisitive traveller.
The Old Jewish area of Rachi in Troyes (Photo: Wikimedia)
Apart from its impressive history, Troyes has also given the world some global icons. Sculptors such as Maurice Marinot and stained-glass artisans such as Linard Gontier once called Troyes home, as well as men of science such as psychotherapist and pharmacist Emile Coue and prolific engineer Albert Caquot.
Their storied lives are catalogued in Troyes’ numerous museums, which include a military museum and one dedicated to craft tools. The Apothicairerie, or the Apothecary Museum, is one of the most memorable of the lot. Once an important hospital of Northern France, the Apothicairerie now serves to showcase the evolution of medical care in Western Europe.
A Roman stele structure in Musee Saint-Loup (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Being part of the Champagne region, Troyes offers some enjoyable champagne fairs. Venture out in a minivan or on a Vespa to taste the bubbly of the countryside’s immense, surreal vineyards.
Or do something different and catch Troyes’ local football team in action, as they valiantly struggle this season for survival in France’s increasingly talented top division.