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Friday 12 April - Friday 17 May 11-11.30am

Familiar Radio 4 voices explore the culture and pleasures of our nearest and dearest neighbour - France. Arthur Smith, Tony Hawks and Linda Smith travel from the Jura to the Auvergne, from Corsica to Provence - each episode building up a picture of the places that the British traveller normal bypasses on the AutoRoute. Each programme has a theme - the revolution, the flag, the origins of the beret, immigration, films, philosophy, art… but is also inspired by food, landscape, literature and the things the French know about best.

Click on the map to find out more about the route you're interested in. route one Pas de Calais route two Jura route three Provence route four Pays Basque route five Corsica route six Auvergne

Click to ListenProgramme Six: Auvergne
Comedian Linda Smith explores the relationship between the French and their water - Volvic, Vichy and the health spas of the Auvergne.

Find out more about the route used in programme 6

Click to ListenProgramme Five: Corsica
Comedian Linda Smith investigates the notion of 'corsitude', loosely translated as 'Corsicanness', and looks at an ancient musical tradition.

Find out more about the route used in programme 5

Click to ListenProgramme Four: Le Pays Basque
Tony Hawks sets off for the French Basque country, plays pelote in Biarritz and then heads to the villages.

Find out more about the route used in programme 4

Click to ListenProgramme Three: Provence
For the third programme Tony Hawks sets off for Pagnol country, starting in the hills behind Marseille and then heading north as far as the Luberon.

Find out more about the route used in programme 3

Click to ListenProgramme Two: Jura
For the second programme, Two Wise Men and a Dangerous Cheese, Arthur visits the Jura mountains, whose name comes from a Gaulish word meaning "forest". They span 350 km along the French-Swiss border from Basel to just north of Geneva.

Find out more about the route used in programme 2

Click to ListenProgramme One: Pas de Calais

(We apologise that for technical reasons the last ten minutes of the audio for this programme is not available.)

Arthur Smith, comedian, columnist and confirmed Francophile, took a break and breathed some French air directly into his Balham tainted lungs.

"The first foreign country I ever visited was France. I was of course intoxicated by its streets, its smells, its otherness, its seasonal possibilities, but mostly by finding that everyone indeed speaks French and really did say ooh la la! Later I spent a year in Paris as an English assistant and have returned to France many times since. But I'm only a part-time francophile - there are areas I've never been to or only passed through I decided to seek some of these out enjoy some savoir vivre and take a turn around the old question. Who are these French?"

Arthur's daily diary of the programme happens here - read it from Tuesday!

Read Arthur Smith's Diary of the visit

Find out more about the route used in programme 1
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