Michael Portillo travels from the chateaux of the Loire Valley to the heart of the Champagne region at Reims. Beginning in historic Orleans, Michael follows his Bradshaw’s guide to the magnificent stained-glass windows of the Cathedral of Sainte-Croix, which tell the story of the heroine of France, Joan of Arc. The image of the saintly teenage warrior endures as a symbol of resistance, and her life is celebrated in an annual parade. Michael meets her modern-day incarnation. Among the spectacular Renaissance palaces and fortresses of the River Loire, Michael is intrigued to discover a castle much modernized during the 1930s, which became a refuge for a British royal couple embroiled in scandal. The wedding of the former king, Edward VIII, and the American divorcee Wallis Simpson at Chateau Cande in the summer of 1937 was shunned by the British establishment. Michael takes a spin around the track at Le Mans in a French-built car that won two endurance races during the 1920s. At Versailles, Michael visits the opulent palace and neighbouring Trianon Palace Hotel, where his Bradshaw’s guide describes the signing of the Peace Treaty at the end of the First World War. Arriving in the capital, Paris, Michael heads for Montparnasse, where wildly creative artists and writers of the 1920s and 30s spawned new art movements. Michael joins a life-drawing class at an art school with an impressive legacy. Backstage at the Folies Bergere, Michael asks the ‘enfant terrible’ of fashion Jean Paul Gaultier about his homage to the black American dancer of the 1920s Josephine Baker. East of Paris in champagne country, Michael finishes his journey in style with a tour of the cellars at Domaine Pommery and a glass of fizz with the owner.