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lyon, france in 15 days all inclusive, places to visit in France

Lyon

Lyon, also called the “Gaules Capital”, is the third largest city in France: it is mainly known for its historical sights and for its typical gastronomy.

lyon, fourviere

basilique de Fourvière

Lyon’s historic site is registered in UNESCO World Heritage Site: this gives you an idea of how important monuments and sights are in this town! First, you will have the chance to admire the Quartier Saint-Jean and the Old City (Vieux Lyon), where you can find paved little streets, artisanal boutiques and the magnificent Cathedral Saint Jean. Then, another must-see, is without a doubt the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, for its impressive dimensions, for the beauty of the architecture and for the idea of pureness spread by its fair colours. Don’t forget to enjoy the view it gives upon the entire city, crossed by the Rhône and the Saône.

lyon, quaiWalking along the river, you may relax or have a pre-dinner drink on the amazing banks, otherwise, you can enjoy nature and animals in the Parc de la tête d’Or. In Lyon, you can find several street markets in the Old Town, along with typical brasseries (called “bouchon”) where you can taste regional and seasonal food. Starting from the main “red” square, called Place Bellecour, you can walk towards the famous Place des Terreaux through Rue de la République, where you can do shopping and have a drink in one of the restaurants along the way.

Traboule Lyon France ItineraryFinally, for an uncommon visit of this city, try to find the Traboules, starting, for instance, from the top of the Croix Rousse: they are hidden ways that silk workers used not to damage the material (later also used by those who joined the Resistance in order to hide from the Nazis): you can find them pushing doors and seeing if they open on a secret passage! Last but not least, it is important to highlight that in Lyon Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematographe. Besides, on the 8th of December, you can experience the amazing Fête des Lumières, where Lyon becomes the unquestionable French Capital of Lights!

 

Other sightseeings

Annecy

Strasbourg

 

City of Reims

Paris in the Rain, Orsay museum, top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

Top 10 Masterpieces in Orsay Museum

Here you can find a short guide to the best masterpieces in the Orsay Musuem: first, you can find a list with the top 10 masterpieces; then, you can find a short description for every artwork. Once in the museum, take as many pictures as you can and enjoy!

 

1) Degas, The Ballet Class (La Classe de danse, 1874)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

2) Manet,  Luncheon on the Grass (Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1863)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

3) Manet, Olympia (1863)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

4) Renoir, Dance at le Moulin de la Galette (Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

5) Courbet,  The Origin of the World (L’origine du monde, 1866)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

6) Rodin, Fugit Amor (1886)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

7) Van Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhône ( Nuit étoilée sur le Rhône, 1888)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

8) Cézanne, The Card Players (Les joueurs de cartes, 1892-1895)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

9) Monet, London, Houses of Parliament (Londres, le Parlement, 1904)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

10) Monet, Blue Water Lilies (Nymphéas bleus, 1916-1919)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

 

MORE ON THE MASTERPIECES

1) The Ballet Class

Degas used to go to the Paris Opera House, as a spectator but also as a visitor in the backstage and the dance studio: his favourite subjects were ballerinas at work, in rehearsal or at rest, through their movements, their gestures and their expressions. In this painting, the ballerinas have almost finished to train: they are stretching and paying little attention to the teacher. The painter mainly focuses on the contrast between the rigour of the class and the spontaneous movements of the subjects.

2) Luncheon on the Grass

Manet exhibited this painting at the Salon des Refusés, where it became the most important piece of art, generating laughter and scandal. Using strong contrasts, avoiding depth and perspective, Manet refuses to conform to convention and creates a new kind of representation where traditional settings meet shocking characters, for a new contemporary language.

3) Olympia

Olympia is no longer a traditional beauty or a classical virginal body: she is a prostitute, comfortable and proud of her naked body. With this painting, Manet creates a new ‘contemporary subject’ that reflects its time: the girl is looking at the viewer as she was challenging all the conventions and the hypocrisy of high society. In a way, she represents the artist himself.

4) Dance at le Moulin de la Galette

The painting shows the bourgeoisie lifestyle, after the urbanistic renovation made by Baron Haussmann: Paris is now a modern city, home for artists. Thanks to this new social class, the town becomes a vibrant and shiny place where people can enjoy themselves, dancing, drinking and talking to each other. The painting is an amazing ‘snap-shot’ of the spirit of that age.

5) The Origin of the World

The first owner of the painting (and the one who commissioned it) was a Turkish-Egyptian diplomat  who created a collection to celebrate the female body: the fascination of the painting is due to the original subject, the frankness and the “anatomical” focus. It is almost a description of female sex organs, without any context or any other element (some critics ironically said, “too real and clear to be appreciated”). This new style and language avoids pornography, thanks to virtuosity and the clear links with Renaissance Italian painters. Looking at the painting, we might feel like voyeurs or even uncomfortable: however, isn’t that the real purpose of art and the aim of artists? Looking where no one else can and show it to the people.

6) Fugit Amor

The small bronze sculpture is part of “The Gates of Hell”, one of the main Rodin’s projects: he worked on this project for more than 20 years (the illustration of Dante’s Inferno) and you can see the tortured soul of the artist through the anatomy and the movements of the bodies he created.

7) Starry Night over the Rhône

Everybody knows the tortured life of Van Gogh: he’s been a miner’s priest; he started painting really late; he spent years inside the Arles asylum; he committed suicide. However, not everyone knows that he painted most of his masterpieces in the last two years of his life. The Starry Night is one of them: a view over the Rhône river from Arles, where he lived in 1888.

8) The Card Players

The painting is a clear example of the transition from Impressionism to a new aesthetics, which will become Cubism: this post-impressionist work wants to celebrate poor and common members of lower classes in Provence. However, the realism of the scene is “altered” through the use of saturated colours and broad brushstrokes.

9) London, Houses of Parliament

In his late years, Monet, the Impressionist icon, rejected the conventional “beauty” and the artistic accuracy. He only wanted to “catch” the essence of a moment: the scene was the same for every painting, but the changing light contributed to create a new painting every single time. Here, there’s a strong contrast between the colours and the silhouette of the Parliament, which gives the feeling of something never seen before.

10) Blue Water Lilies

Monet grew water lilies in the water garden he had installed in Giverny: the garden, the bridge and the pond became the artist’s major inspiration (he used to say that his best masterpiece was his garden). The very subject is the pond: there is no sky, nor details. The forms and the brushstrokes gives the impression of an infinite abstract landscape.

 

OTHER MUST-SEE WORKS

Millet, The Angelus (L’Angelus, 1859)

Seurat, The Circus (Le cirque, 1890)

Gauguin, Arearea (1892)

Pissarro, The Seine and the Louvre (La Seine et le Louvre, 1903)

Model of the Paris Opera House

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

Gauguin, Arearea

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

The model of Paris Opera House

 

LESSER-KNOWN IMPORTANT WORKS

Toulouse-Lautrec, Rousse also called Toilet (Rousse dit aussi La toilette, 1889)

Pompon, Polar Bear (Ours blanc, 1923-1933) download

Bazille, Bazille’s Studio (L’atelier de Bazille, 1870)

Guimard, Bench for a Smoking Parlour (Banquette de fumoir, 1897)

top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

Bazille, Bazille’s Studio

Pompon_LOursBlanc1, top 10 masterpieces orsay museum

Pompon, Polar Bear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vincennes castle, Chateau de Vincennes

Chateau de Vincennes

Upon arriving to the Chateau de Vincennes, the most accessible Chateau from Paris, you will get to experience a medieval story that spans over six hundred years, like you are stepping into history.

 

History of the Castle

vincennes, Chateau de Vincennes

From hunting lodge, to military fortress, to royal residence, to state prison, Chateau de Vincennes has stood through the majority of France’s rich history. Built in the 12th century, just before the Hundred Years War, having many different uses and residencies up until the second World War, Chateau de Vincennes is a castle that has changed as often as the country around it. When Chateau de Vincennes was constructed, it was initially built by Capetian monarchs as a medieval hunting fort in the middle of the forest of Vincennes. As the Middle Ages grew more brutal, the need for a strong military citadel was fulfilled, and the development of the tower began. It was during the sixteenthChateau de Vincennes and seventeenth centuries where the chateau began to grow, as a site for royal births, weddings, and deaths, the castle eventually housed the monarchs, up until the completion of the Chateau de Versailles. When Louis XIV decided to relocate the monarchy to Versailles, the Chateau de Vincennes, the castle was turned into a state prison. There are a few recognizable names that were imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes. One in particular is the Marquis de Sade, who spent some of his sentence in the Chateau de Vincennes, and in his cell you can even get to see some of his writings.

What to do at Chateau de Vincennes

Interior_of_Sainte_Chapelle,_Vincennes_140308_1As the Chateau began construction in the twelfth century, admission to this chateau will allow you to see archeology and history from the collections of epochs such as the Byzantine, Middle Ages, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque all within the classical architectural style of its commencement. A basic adult ticket gets you into the grounds: The King and Queen’s royal pavilions, the museum, chapel and chateau. Once you step onto the property, you will truly feel like you have stepped back in time as the fortress is surrounded by a moat, only accessible by bridge.

Vincennes castle, Chateau de VincennesThe Sainte-Chappelle de Vincennes, modeled after Paris’ famous Saint-Chapelle, was built in 1379 and took over 150 years to build, and with all of its beautiful architecture still intact, it’s a must see.  Across from the holy chapel, make sure to check out the donjon, the main tower, which at construction was the tallest fortified donjon in Europe, and it is the tallest still existing in France today! After a morning or afternoon full of exploring the grounds, feel free have a picnic on the pavilions surrounding the chateau, exactly where Louis XIV entertained his courts while staying in Vincennes, just before moving to Versailles. Recently opened are the preserved areas of the keep, so now you can get an “inside scoop” on what it was really like to live as a king, or even as a servant during this rich times in history.

 

Attractions at the Chateau de Vincennes

The basic ticket into the Chateau de Vincennes offers you a self guided tour around the manor, grounds, holy chapel and the lower floors of the keep.

Hours:

Donjon and Keep
May 21st-September 21st from 10:00-6:00 daily
September 22nd-May 20th from 10:00-5:00 daily

Chapel
May 21st-September 21st from 10:30-5:30 daily
September 22nd-May 20th from 10:30-4:30 daily
*Chapel is closed between 1:00 and 2:00 in the summer and between 1:00 and                                                             3:00 in the winter

Pricing:

€9 per adult, free admission for those up to age twenty-six from the European Union
Free on Mondays from November 1st-March 31st

Offers:

Self guided tours daily
Audio-guided tours are offered in English for €4.50 per individual, €6 for couples
Guided tours on Tuesdays and Fridays at 2:30 at €15 per person
Tours of the upper floors of the keep available upon booking at an additional €9.50

Accessibility:

Metro line 1 to Chateau de Vincennes
RER line A to Vincennes

 

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