Paris is both the capital of France and its most populous city. This city is in the north-central region of France on the Seine River. Paris has been attracting visitors since the 17th century and has been one of the centers of Europe’s commerce, science, fashion, and arts. The city has much to offer visitors. For the foodies, you will find Michelin starred restaurants, bistros, patisseries, boulangeries, street markets or maybe take a cooking class. Art lovers will be entranced with the treasures to be seen in Paris: the thousands of works exhibited in the Louvre, the impressionist collection at the Musee d’Orsay, the modern and contemporary art at the Pompidou Centre and more. Don’t miss the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the beautiful Champs Elysee, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame and Ile de la Cite’ just to name a few. After the sightseeing, take some time to sit in one of the many parks and gardens or at a café enjoy Parisian life.
Bordeaux, located in southwestern France, offers visitors a chance to explore historic landmarks, enjoy wine tasting, savor Arccchon Bay oysters, and sip a Cognac. While visiting the city of Bordeaux, stop in the Cité du Vin wine heritage center to learn about the wine and gaze in wonder at the “Mirror of Water” facing the Place de la Bourse. Visit Cognac, a city with 18th and 19th century architecture known for its vineyard and brandy.
Provence is a region in Southeastern France. The Cote d’Azur is part of the Provence region. The region is filled with cities and small villages, vineyards, and lavender fields. This area has been the inspiration for many artists including Chagall, Van Gogh, and Cezanne. In Marseilles, visit Notre Dame de la Garde, the Old Port and the Mucem. In Aix-en-Provence, gaze at the beautiful architecture and see why it was nicknamed the ‘little Versailles’. Avignon was the head of Christianity in the 14th century, visit the palaces of the Popes built by Benedict XII and Clement VI. Do not miss the many vineyards such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes du Rhone to name a few.
The Loire Valley is the along the Loire River in central France. It has been referred to as the ‘Garden of France’ because of the number of farms, orchards, and vineyards here. When one thinks of the Loire Valley, you think of its Chateaux. One of the most well-known is the Chateau de Chambord; it was commissioned by Francis I and conceived by Leonardo da Vinci. Chateau de Clos-Luce is where Leonardo spent his last three years. Chateau de Chenonceau was originally given to Diane de Poitiers by Henry II, but the chateau was later taken over by his wife, Catherine de Medici.
Burgundy, located in eastern-central France, offers visitors beautiful natural scenery, UNESCO World Heritage sites, amazing cuisine, and the oldest wine trail in France. Visit Dijon, known as “the town of 100 bells”, with its beautifully preserved architecture that dates back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Visit Beaune and its Les Hospices de Beaune. This flamboyant Gothic former hospital was built in the 15th century and is known worldwide for its 150-acre vineyard. Surrounded by vineyards that produce dry white wine, the small town of Chablis is a medieval village. In Cluny, visit the impressive Cluny Abbey founded in the 10th century.
The French Riviera or Cote d’Azur in French is on the Mediterranean coast in southeast France bordering Italy. There are several well-known cities and towns in this region. Nice is the largest with amazing views of the Mediterranean. Visitors can shop in Vieux Nice, relax on the beach, or walk along the Promenade des Anglais or visit the Marc Chagall museum. Antibes retains local Mediterranean traditions. It hosts a jazz festival every year and is home to the famous Musee Picasso. Cannes is most known for its famous film festival. Grasse is a flower town known for its perfumes and soaps. St Tropez is a popular with the “jet-set”. The small country of Monaco is also found here in the French Riviera.
Lyon is located where the Saone and Rhone Rivers meet. The third largest city in France has history that dates back 2,000 years. Lyon is recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Explore the Renaissance heritage in Vieux Lyon and the many architectural and historic landmarks throughout the city. Lyon is known for its cuisine and gastronomy; visit the covered market Les Halles Paul Bocuse named after the famous chef. It is nicknamed the Capital of Lights for its annual Lights Festival in early December.
The Normandy region of France is in Northwest France. Normandy has taken a part in shaping European history: the Norman invasion of England in 1066 and the D-Day landings in 1944. This region is filled with charming towns, some of which were the inspiration for the Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. One of the must-see attractions is the beautiful abbey and village set on its own rocky island, Mont Saint Michel. For those interested in World War II history, you can visit the landing beaches of Normandy, the Caen Memorial, and the Bayuex Military Cemetery.