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Normandie, Normandy, etretat cliffs

Étretat

Étretat is a commune in Normandy (North-East of Le Havre) best known for its chalk cliffs. Very similar to those which can be found in Dover, these cliffs soar above the gravelly beach and form natural arches and complex formations.

The Cliffs

Normandy, Cliffs, Daytour, France, etretat

Cliffs of Etretat, Normandy, France; photo by Jarrod Castaing

Built as a simple fishermen’s village, Étretat is now one of the most renowned and beautiful beach resort in France: thanks to its white cliffs, the shingles and the natural arches, the town is the perfect destination for tourists from all over the world.  The Étretat chalk cliffs are made of different varieties of chalk and rise from 230ft to 300ft above the sea level.

The most unusual and interesting formation is, without a doubt, the so-called Needle (in French, “Anguille”), which rises 70 metres above the sea: an underground river and the natural erosion created, throughout the years, these natural structures, which are now the main attraction of Étretat and one of the most impressive and magnificent natural landscapes in France. Walking along specific trails, you can enjoy vertiginous routes with sensational views over the ocean: interestingly, you can recognize these cliffs, the arches and the “spires” from countless paintings by Impressionist artists like Boudin, Courbet and Monet, who were attracted by the breathtaking and unique landscapes.

Also, the cliffs were used as a special setting by the writer Maurice Leblanc, in 1909, for the novel “The Hollow Needle” (in French, “L’aiguille creuse”), which features one of the most famous character in literature, the gentleman thief “Arsène Lupin”.

The Beach

etretat, etretat cliffsThe gravelly beach, surrounded by the cliffs, is well protected from wind and tides: it is one of the favourite beach resorts in France and tourists from all over the world come there in order to relax and enjoy all the beautiful landscapes that can be found; however, during winter time, the beach regains its “wild” form. Gravel and stones are necessary to the preservation of the beach, since they protect  it from atmospheric agents.

A long walkway-dam called “perrey” divides the beach from the village: it used to protect Étretat from dangerous tides. Besides, the old sea front has been destroyed during World War II in order to better defend the coast.

The Village

etretat cliffs, notre dameThe small village is full of tiny cafés and cosy restaurants. However, the most interesting part of the city is what can be called as the “Old Town”: there, you can find  the impressive church of Notre-Dame, built in the XII century and now historical monument. The Norman Gothic style and the “lanter-tower” highlight the uniqueness of the building: moreover, the Roman façade makes the structure even more characteristic, underlining an amazing mix of cultures and architectures. Close to the church, you can also find a war grave, the “Étretat Churchyard”, which contains 264 Commonwealth and one German burial from the First World War.

clos lupin, etretat cliffsIn Étretat, you will have the chance to find several  beautiful châteaux, manors and villas: first of all, the so-called Clos Lupin, in rue Guy de Maupassant (interestingly, another artist who spent most time in the town…): the house, where Maurice Leblanc used to live, is surrounded by gardens and flowers (the name “Lupin” comes from the flower called “lupines”, in French “lupin”). The house is now a museum, where you can find interesting Lupin-style enigmas. Then, you can find the Manoir de la Salamandre, a typical old regional house, similar to those that can be found in the Pays d’Auges, an area in Normandy: it is a great illustration of the architecture of the region. Finally, you can also take a look at the Villa Orphée, built by the composer Jacques Offenbach: from there, you will have a beautiful view over the cliffs.

Last but not least, Étretat is also known because of the “White Bird” affair, where two pilots, in 1927, tried to make the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York: however, after the departure, the biplane disappeared in the ocean.

How to get there

etretat cliffs, impressionismÉtretat is about 50 minutes by car from Honfleur, via Le Havre. You can easily go there by bus (from 1 to 2 hours), starting from Le Havre’s “gare routière”, adjacent to the train station.

 

 

 Want to see more?

 

Related Posts:

D-Day sites: 5 beaches of Normandy

Mont St. Michel

5 DDay Tours in Normandy


exotic garden of monaco, the french riviera

Exotic Garden of Monaco

The Exotic Garden of Monaco has a unique collection of succulent plants, as well as an old prehistoric cave: from this garden, you can enjoy the most beautiful view over the city!

exotic garden of monaco, the french rivieraThe Exotic Garden of Monaco is a unique botanical garden situated on a Cliffside. It was built by Albert I, Prince of Monaco in 1912, thanks to the help of Louis Notari (the Chief Engineer) and directed by the French agronomist Louis Vatrican.

There, you can find several species of succulent plants – such as cactus – and other particular plants which will delight those who are interested in botany. From the Garden you can enjoy a great view over the city and the Mediterranean sea. Don’t forget to visit the natural cave – only with a specialized guide – and the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology!

The Exotic Garden of Monaco is open all year except for the 19th November and 25th December.
January:  9.00 – 17.00
February to April: 9.00 – 18.00
May to September: 9.00 – 19.00
October: 9.00 – 18.00
November to December: 9.00 – 17.00

Guided tour of the Cave every hour from 10 am, last visit one hour before the closure.

the catacombs

The Catacombs

Bored to death of the same old ordinary paths, of touristic sightseeing and well-known landmarks? Thanks to the Catacombs, you will experience the thrill of underground haunted tunnels, along with the unusual  and breathtaking beauty of old Parisian skeletons.

the catacombsThe Catacombs are one of the most gruesome and macabre sights in Paris. Full of endless underground tunnels  packed with skulls and bones, they represent the solution for aesthetic and hygienic problems due to the overflowing cemeteries during the XVIII century.

Built in 1810, the Catacombs contain a great number of exhumed bones, which are stored in lines. A narrow stairway will lead you down 130 steps  to the tunnels, where you will have the opportunity to reach the barely illuminated and eerie tunnels. Then, you will have the unique chance to walk through the 1.5 km underground tunnel  where millions of skulls from Parisians lie. The tour takes around 45 minutes.

The catacombs have been very important during the WWII: there, since 1944, the Résistance used to meet and to plan attacks, far beyond  Nazi control. Interestingly, nowadays thorughout the catacombs you may also find thrill seeking cataphiles, who wander through the tunnels and look at the lines of skulls as if they were in a sort of amusement park: however, differently, if caught, they are fined!

Halloween Paris 2016, the catacombs

commons.wikimedia.org

This labyrinth, which contains bones from the 11th to the 19th century, has been built following the examples of Rome and Naples. The abandoned quarries, now used to house skulls and bones, has been packed to create space for new districts after numerous complaints about the risk of infection for the inhabitants, caused by the old Cemetery of the Innocents (close to Saint-Eustache, in the area of Les Halles)

One of the most intriguing and interesting attractions in Paris, the Catacombs have been visited by famous people such as Napoleon III and the Emperor of Austria. Take a walk through the narrow tunnels and explore the underground area where the dead rest in peace and the thrill seekers look for excitement!

 For further information, you can click here.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

  • Metro / RER B: Denfert-Rochereau
  • Bus: 36, 68
  • Parking: Boulevard Saint-Jacques

the catacombsYou will begin your walk at a green belle époque-style building in a grassy area in Avenue Colonel Henri Roi-Tanguy, close to Place Denfert Rochereau, in the 14th arrondissement: you can easily go there by metro and get off at them station Denfert Rochereau. The official entrance is in the Museum of the Catacombs, since all of the other entrances were barred or walled up after a series of strange orgies in the 70s.

The exit is close to Rue Dumoncel (metro station: Mouton-Duvernet), 700 m southwest of Avenue Colonel Henri Roi-Tanguy.

 

OPENING HOURS

  • From Tuesday to Sunday: 10 AM – 8.30 PM (last admission 7.30 PM)
  • Closed on Mondays, 1st May and 15th August.
  • Groups from Tuesday to Friday, from 10:30 AM to 12 AM every 30 minutes.

 

PRICES (valid on the spot)

  • Catacombs and exhibition: €10/12
  • Coupled ticket Catacombs + Archaeological Crypt (15 min. from the Catacombs with Metro 4 “Cité”): €13/16

the catacombsReduced prices for youth and young adults (18-26), holders of the “Paris Pass Famille”, school teachers and librarians, large families and membres of several French societies.

Free admission for youth until 17, disabled and those who accompany them, job seekers and those who have an income support. Furthermore, the entrance is free for retired Paris employees, professional visual artists and curators, as well as ICOM and ICOMOS members, journalists and city of Rome inhabitants (Paris twin city).

 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Rent an audioguide to enjoy the full experience.
  • Ideal time: early in the morning.
  • Dress well! The temperature is cool, even in summer!
  • Don’t forget to take a torch!
  • The tour is not recommendable for people with heart or respiratory problems, for young children and people withe reduced mobility
  • For safety reasons, no suitcases or luggages are allowed.
  • Plan in advance your visit: before entering, you might have to wait for more than 40 minutes!
  • No toilets or cloackroom available in the catacombs!

 

Don’t miss out this once-in-a-lifetime experience and enjoy the catacombs as soon as possible, before it’s too late

 

3 more articles you may be interested in.

3 Tips for Those Going to Paris

A tailor-made Paris Pass instead of The Paris Pass?

How to plan group trips to Paris?

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Strasbourg

Situated in the beautiful region of Alsace, Strasbourg lies on the French-German border: for this reason, it offers visitors a unique mix of French and German culture, with typical medieval houses and sights.

strasbourg, france in 15 days all inclusiveBordering the West bank of the Rhine river, Strasbourg provides Franco-German culture, ambience and sights: for instance, the beautiful Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, with its astronomical clock and its towers, offers a unique medieval atmosphere, while the famous historic quarter called Petite France offer a great number of channels and medieval houses. There, you can follow the Barrage Vauban – a defensive structure built on the river – and enjoy all the typical houses which are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

The town houses several European institutions, such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. The centre of the city, called Grand Île, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: although always disputed throughout centuries, Strasbourg has been a crucial cultural, historical and social bridge between Germany and France.

strasbourg, barrage, france in 15 days all inclusiveThe city absorbed the Germany influence in its stunning architecture and, as you walk into the town, you will feel as if you are entering a childhood fairytale village. It is simply picturesque. Enjoy a glass of wine from one of the famous Strasbourg caves or a cold mug of beer from one of its equally spectacular breweries. If visiting in the winter, you can also go to the Christmas fair, a real treat during the holiday season.

Although many castles and churches have been destroyed in 1944 during the Allied bombing raids, the main ones are still intact or have been renovated: thus, Strasbourg can still offer, especially these days, a unique and amazing insight into the Franco-German culture and into the Gothic and Romanesque atmosphere of the Middle-Ages.

Other sightseeings

Annecy

Lyon

 

City of Reims

annecy, france in 15 days all inclusive

Annecy

Annecy, also called the “pearl of French Alps”, is a small town between lake and mountains in the South of France. It lies on the Northern side of Lake Annecy.

annecy, france in 15 days all inclusiveIn Annecy, you can find stunning mountains views, you can visit chateaux and, above all, you will have the chance to boat on of the clearest and cleanest lakes in Europe! You can have fun enjoying the beautiful landscapes and experiencing all the outdoor activities that the city provides.

The two canals and the Thiou river, lying through the Old Town, create a wonderful and breathtaking landscape: for this reason, Annecy is also known as the “Venice of the Alps”. In the past, the city of Annecy has also been the capital of the Savoy Province and home to Geneva’s administrative headquarters

Within the city, there are several art museums and renovated castles – such as the Palais de l’Ile and the Château d’Annecy –   as well as green spaces and a renowned flower market. Last but not least, Annecy houses one of the most important film festivals in France, the International Animated Film Festival.

Other sightseeings

Strasbourg

Lyon

City of Reims

mont saint michel, bay

The Village and the Bay

Both the Village and the Bay are important elements of Mont Saint-Michel: they contribute to create the magical atmosphere of the island and, above all, they offer breathtaking views.

Mont Saint Michele with low tideThe Bay of Mont Saint-Michel has always helped monks to live in solitude. Before the causeway was built, Mont Saint-Michel was an island and pilgrims would approach only through the mudflat, since the tide was too fast and high. In order to avoid the tourist masses, walk barefoot on the mudflat around the island but, first, duble-check the tides and bring someone with you!

Mont Saint MichelThe Village lies below the Abbey and above the lower medieval  fortifications: there, you will find typical restaurants, shops, hotels and sights. You can enter the island through a stone arch (or, during high tides, through a door in the central tower) and reach the Rue Principale: from here, you will have access to the Abbey and to all the sights within the island.

Mont Saint-Michel is always packed with tourists, but don’t forget that it has always been like that, even in the Middle Ages! Try the famous omelette at the restaurant Mère Poulard and go uphill following the ramparts in order to reach the Abbey.

 

Toulouse Place du Capitole France Itinerary, france in 10 days

Toulouse

Toulouse is one of the biggest cities in France: it lies on the Garonne river and it is considered to be the capital of the cultural region of Occitania. The town is famous for its particular architecture made of pink terracotta bricks and, for this reason, Toulouse is also known as the “Pink City”.

toulouseIn the very centre of Toulouse, within the area called Place de Capitole, you can find the Hôtel de Ville, the Opera House and the Donjon du Capitole. In that area, you can also find the Cathedral, a Roman building listed as national monument whose main features are the two incomplete churches, the rose windows, a triforium, the West portal and a Gothic-Romanesque tower. However, the most important religious building in town is without a doubt the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest Romanesque remaining in Europe: the abbey is a perfect illustration of high-quality Romanesque sculpture, with vaulted ceilings, beautiful chapels and an impressive bell tower. Also it contains a magnificent pipe organ.

Canal du midi Toulouse France ItineraryThe Canal du Midi is another very important sight: a 241km-long canal which connects the Garonne river to the Etang de Thau (a lagoon on the Mediterranenan). Near to the Canal du Midi, you can take a break in the botanical garden ‘Jardin des plantes’, a public park bordered by schools and museums, which contains several old vestiges. In the Eastern suburbs of Toulouse, you can experience the City of Space, a theme park focused on space with rockets, space stations and planetariums, which shows why Toulouse is considered to be the centre of the European aerospace industry: believe it or not, you will have the possibility to visit a control room and prepare the launching of a rocket!

In Toulouse you can also visit two other important sights, such as the Daurade Basilica and the church of the Jacobins. Besides, you can experience the ‘University atmosphere’ in every part of the town, thanks to one of the oldest universities of Europe and thanks to all the students who live in the city.

camargue, provence

Camargue

The Camargue is a natural region in the South of Provence, between the Mediterranean and the Rhône delta.

camargue, provenceThe Camargue houses the Natural Park of the Camargue (a UNESCO site) and hundreds of different species of plants, flowers, trees and animals, like the famous birds or Camargue horses. In this unique wetland, you can experience nature in its purest form – by foot, by bike or by car – and you can see some landscapes which you cannot find anywhere else, such as brine lagoons.

Close to Park, you can find the small village of Aigues Mortes, a  fortified city from where Louis IX started his crusades: there, you will see both medieval sights and modern structures, built to deal with floods and water.

provence in 5 days, arles, france tourist attractions

Arles

Arles is a city in the south part of Provence which is mainly famous for the Roman and Romanesque monuments and sights spread around the town.

provence, arlesMost of the sight are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The most important among them is the Roman Arena, inspired by the Colosseum: it has two tiers of arches and it has been recently used also for nonviolent bullfights. Another important sight is the Gallo-Roman theatre, where plays, orations and pantomimes were held.

Besides, you can visit the church of Saint Trophime, a Roman Catholic building with Romanesque architecture: there, you can admire decorated columns, Last Judgement’s sculptures and even a cloister. In the city centre, you can relax in Republic Square and, if you are interested, you can visit some important museums, such as the ancient history museum of Arles.

arles, provenceThe city is famous also for the heritage left by Van Gogh: he lived there one year and produced over 300 paintings: around the city, you can see many of the landscapes and sights he used as subjects for his paintings – the starry night, the yellow house, the river, the arena, the café at night and so on – and you can learn about his life and his style at the amazing Foundation Van Gogh.

les baux, provence

Les Baux

Les Baux is a small village on the top a rock outcrop and surrounded by castle ruins. It lies in the Alpilles mountains and it has been listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

les baux, provenceThe picturesque small village welcomes every year millions of visitors and offers main important and breathtaking sites: first of all, the Castle ruins, on the top of the village; then, St. Vincent church, partly excavated in the rock, which contains several historical objects. You can also reach the lower town and visit some markets, or visit some specific museum, dedicated to ancient weapons and history.

In this village you can also have the opportunity to enjoy the so-called Carrières des Lumières, a permanent show where images are projected on the walls of galleries dug in the rock in order to plunge the spectator in a unique visual and musical universe.

avignon, provence in 5 days

Avignon

Avignon is a beautiful city manly famous for the Papacy which lasted from 1309 to 1377, when seven popes resided in the city.

avignon, provenceThe historic centre is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and the major sights are without a doubt the Papal Palace and the Saint-Bénézet Bridge. The first – in French, Palais des Papes – was the house of all the popes who lived in Avignon and shows the beauty and magnificence of Gothic architecture. It is composed by two buildings, the old and the new palace: they were the centre of the papal organization and power. Saint-Bénézet bridge lies on the Rhône: nowadays, you can only see four of the twenty-two arches that were built at the beginning, but the fascinating architecture is still intact.  Along with these two sights, you can visit the Avignon Cathedral, a Romanesque building listed as historical monument.

Yavignon, provence in 5 daysou can take a break at Place de l’Horloge, an elegant and typical square in the city centre, or in the Garden called Rocher des doms, a Neolithic site covered with a public garden.

Besides, the city of Avignon is also very famous for its art and theatre festival which is held in July in the Papal Palace, one of the oldest and greatest festivals in the world, and for wine and seasonal markets (along rue des teinturiers).

provence, valensole

Valensole and the Lavender

The lavender is probably the most known element of Provence: every year, lavender fields attract thousands of tourists from all over the world, for their colours, their fragrance and the amazing landscapes.

valensole, provence in 5 daysThe natural region called Plateau de Valensole is composed by small villages, local producers’ estates, small mountains and, above all, an infinite number of purple, yellow and green fields. This “lavender countryside” offers a unique landscape: there, you will feel free, relaxed and nature will help you to forget all the stress and the problems.

Lavender usually blossoms June to August  and can be used to create any kind of product: honey, essential oils, soaps, food and many others. In the area, you can also find many festivals and funfairs, along the way which links all the small villages through the lavender fields, such as Forcalquier, Castellane and Aiguines (in the latter, you can visit a beautiful chateau on the top of a hill).

VALENSOLE, provence in 5 daysBy foot, by bike or by car, there are several ways to enjoy the area and experience all  the different varieties of lavender: the rare and ancient lavender “des hauteurs”, that grows on the hills; the mixed “mosaïque” lavender, which grows next to vineyards and other plants; the well-known “site” lavender, which grown with cereals and plays a crucial role in rural landscapes.

Moving from this region towards Avignon, you will also have the chance to visit the famous Luberon villages: typical rural houses, ancient streets and seasonal markets will let you taste the real provençal flavour!

aix en provence

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence, or simply Aix, is a small elegant town 20 minutes from Marseille. Strolling through the Cours Mirabeau, you will see all the most important sights of the town.

aix en provenceFountains, elegant houses, medieval monuments and bohemian brasseries: Aix-en-Provence has all that you need to relax and have fun. Starting your walk from the Cours Mirabeau, you can pass by the old town and its houses from the 16th and 17th centuries; you can see some brasseries where Cézanne and Hemingway used to go, as well as the impressive Cathedral.

The medieval part of the town offers an insight into Gothic architecture, whereas the Merovingian Baptistery and the archbishop cloister are built in the Renaissance and Romanesque styles. The Quartier Mazarin is without a doubt the most typical part of the city, with some “Hotel Pariculiers” (townhouses) that you cannot miss. Within the city, several musuems are worth the visit: first, the Museum of Natural History, where you can learn about Provençal and French past centuries; then, the Museum of Viel Aix, with several collections about the town.

aix, provenceNot far from the city, you can see – and, why not, reach – the impressive Montagne Saint-Victoire, one of Cézanne’s favourite landscapes and subjects: enjoy the view and feel like all the painters who lived here! Close to Aix and Marseille, you can also find the “calanques”, in Cassis, sheltered inlets and cliffs along the Mediterranean that you can “visit” by boat. From these calanques, you can also reach the small island where the Count of Monte Cristo was held!

Last but not least, in Aix-en-Provence you can join, in June and July, the important International Festival of Lyrical Art, with shows all around the city, housed by theatres, monuments and old buildings.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine trip, places to visit in France

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the largest cities in France, located in the Southwest of France on the Garonne river. It is mainly known for its quality wines and represents the world’s major wine industry capital. Also, the old town and the historic district of the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, thanks to its well preserved historical monuments and the 18th century style.

WHAT TO SEE

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripIn Bordeaux you can find one of the largest squares of all Europe, Place des Quinconces, located at the very center of the town: columns and marble statues are allegories of triumph, navigation and commerce, recalling the majesty of old times. Close to this square, you will find Place de la Bourse, a very particular square which hosts the famous Water Mirror, the world’s largest reflecting pool which, especially in summer, creates amazing water shows.  One of the main sights in town is, without a doubt, the romantic Pont de Pierre, a bridge with seventeen arches which links the two sides of the Garonne river: there, you can have a relaxing walk with your partner and enjoy the beautiful river, maybe when the sun slowly fades away.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripThere are several districts in Bordeaux: Saint-Michel, the cosmopolitan district, with restaurants and markets from all over the world; the elegant and luxurious Les Grands Hommes. However, the most typical district is certainly Saint Pierre, the old town: situated close to the port, it has unique monuments and sights with amazing architectural styles. There, you can find Place du Parlement, Porte Cailhau, with its unique old silhouette, along with the aforementioned Pont de Pierre and Water Mirror.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripOn the left bank quays of the river, you can enjoy one of the most magnificent waterfronts in the world, while passing close to many historic buildings: you can relax in one of the parks or do some shopping, it’s up to you! On the other side of the Garonne, don’t miss the Jardin Botanique de la Bastide, a botanical garden with an arboretum, fields of grain, vines, dunes and cliffs.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripClose to St. Pierre, you can visit the charming Chartrons district: centred around the Church of St. Louis, it has a unique village-like atmosphere, with small bars, restaurants and bistros where you can relax. There, you can the CAPC, that is, the Museum of Contemporary Art, a former warehouse for colonial goods which today houses avant-garde, visual and performance art exhibitions, trying to include different themes and different styles. The Chartrons district, historic heart of the wine trade, is the perfect place to drink some glasses of wine and literally ‘taste’ the reason why Bordeaux is worldwide known for its wine industry. You can taste wine everywhere in the city, but probably you can get the best experience at the CUV (Cave Utile en Ville) an independent wine retailer, at the CIVB or at the City of Wine.

cité du vin, city of wine, bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripIndeed, close to Chartrons, you will find the Cité du Vin – which means, th City of Wine – an impressive cultural centre dedicated to the living heritage of wine. Within the building, you can join a particular journey, in order to see the different ages and civilisations linked to the wine industry. The unique architecture of this 10-level building will turn the visit into a breathtaking experience, which may end with a panoramic view over the city from the restaurant LE7, on the top of the building. Also, you can visit the Museum of Wine and Trade, where you can learn the classifications of wine, the history and the trade system, or the huge Museum of Fine Arts, with masterpieces by Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dyck, Delacroix, Renoir, Matisse and Picasso.

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripIf you are interested in religious monuments, you cannot miss the Saint André Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop, with its Roman architecture and house of the Marcadé collection (paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects). Next to the cathedral you will find the impressive Pey Berland Tower and its gothic style; not far from there, you can finally reach the Basilica of Saint Michel, a gothic church with the amazing representation of Saint Michael slaying the dragon.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION & TIPS

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripYou should definitely try local products! A glass of Lillet to start your meal, oysters from Arcachon Bay, a spicy sausage called grenier médocain, some ‘pibales’, that is, the so-called ‘caviar of Aquitaine’, along with delicious golden cannelés, traditional pastries flavoured with rum and vanilla. And remember, when you want some ‘pain au chocolat’, you have to ask for a ‘chocolatine’!

bordeaux, bordeaux wine tripThere are several places where you can eat and taste good wine: bistros in the old city with seasonal ingredients and cosy atmosphere (haute cuisine but reasonable prices); upscale restaurants and wine bars (the famous panoramic restaurant LE7 on the top of the Cité du Vin or the restaurant of Pierre Gagnaire); if you want to eat à la française, the most famous restaurant  is La Tupina, situated in the so-called ‘Rue Gourmande’ (in the old district between ‘saint-Michel’ and ‘sainte-croix’), along with Le Bistro du sommelier and Le Bouchon Bordelais. The best terraces to enjoy the view of the city are LE 7 restaurant, Quai des Marques and Place du Parlement

Last but not least, on Sundays, you will find amazing and crowded markets, such as the Capuchins Market and the flea market at the Quai de Salinières!

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Médoc

The Dune of Pilat

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

old town, bordeaux wine trip

Bordeaux Old Town

In the Bordeaux Old Town district – called Saint Pierre – you will find a unique atmosphere: it is the place where the inhabitants used to gather and where all the ships used to arrive, together with their merchandise.

old town, bordeaux wine tripsFacing the Garonne river and the port, the Bordeaux Old Town is full of important historic buildings, along with museums and beautiful sights. First of all, there, you can find the iconic Place de la Bourse, with the most famous sight of Bordeaux, the Water Mirror. This 3,450-square metre reflecting pool was built in 2006: it is made of granite and it is covered by 2 cm of water.

old town, bordeaux wine tripIn the Bordeaux Old Town, you can visit the magnificent Cathedral: it is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Andrew, where you can still see an old Roman wall in the nave, along with the beautiful Marcadé Collection, a series of paintings, sculptures, objects and liturgical vestments. It was consecrated by Pope urban II and today it is the seat of the archbishop. Some architectural elements are worth a visit: the Door of Arrows, the Gargoyles, the North Rose Window and the Choir. Outside the impressive church, you will also find the gothic Tower Pey-Berland, a quadrangular building which used to protect the cathedral from the vibration of the bells.

old town, bordeaux wine tripIn the Bordeaux Old Town, you cannot miss the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the largest art galleries outside Paris. The collections focus on French and Dutch painters and consist of paintings, sculptures and drawings. There, you can enjoy some of the best pieces of art by Tiziano, Delacroix, Seurat, Rubens, Matisse and Picasso.

However, do not forget to have a break and relax! In Saint Pierre, you can eat in one of the small bars, restaurants and bistros spread around the district and, above all, you can enjoy the cosy and warm atmosphere of the ‘real’ Bordeaux!

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Saint-Emilion

Médoc

Bordeaux

city of wine, cité du vin, bordeaux wine trip

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

The City of Wine in Bordeaux, located on the left bank of the Garonne river, is a museum and exhibition centre on the theme of wine, wine industry and wine culture.

city of wine, cité du vin, bordeaux wine tripOpened in 2016, the City of Wine in Bordeaux represents a cultural and touristic centre entirely dedicated to wine: this building, half a museum and half a theme park, wants to defend and spread the cultural heritage and value of wine.  You can easily reach the building by foot or by tramway (line B) and enjoy all the caves, the ateliers and the exhibitions within the City. Located in the district of Bassin à Flot, where the forges of the port were situated, it has been built with an impressive ‘round’ architecture, which makes the building something unique and iconic. The silhouette looks like a vine stock, to recall both the swirl of the Garonne and the wine which is poured inside the glass. Panels of aluminium and glass cover the entire façade until the top of the tower (55 metres).

city of wine, cité du vin, bordeaux wine tripIn the City of Wine, you can visit a library-cellar with more than 9,000 bottles from 88 countries (you can taste some of these wines in specific areas); then, you can enjoy some ateliers and visit temporary exhibitions. Once you reach the second floor, you can visit the permanent exhibition: a journey across the ages and the places of wine, which will teach the history and the culture of wine. On the top of the building, you can enjoy the panoramic restaurant Le 7 and a breathtaking view from the Belvedere, one of the highest points in town.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

OPENING HOURS: Everyday, from 9:30 AM to 7 PM

PRICE: €20 (Permanent Exhibition, Guide, Tasting of wines in Belvedere)

TRANSPORTS: Tramway Line B

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Saint-Emilion

Bordeaux Old Town

The Dune of Pilat

dune of pilat, bordeaux wine trip

The Dune of Pilat

The Dune of Pilat is the tallest sand dune in Europe: it is situated in the Arcanchon Bay, 60 kilometres from Bordeaux.

dune of pilat, bordeaux wine tripThe Dune of Pilat is approximately 110 metres above the Ocean level and has more than 1 million visitors every year! It runs along the shoreline and it is surrounded by forests. The Dune offers a unique and breathtaking view over the sea and, according to scientists, it is still moving, from 1 to 5 metres inland every year!

You can climb the dune of ‘Pilat’ – word which stands for ‘heap’, ‘mound’-  and descend through the stairway, rolling or slowly walking down the hill, it’s up to you! The Dune will bring you back to your childhood, when you could recklessly run along the beach or down the hill, and the desert-like exotic setting will astonish you.

You can easily reach the Dune by train, from Bordeaux to Arcanchon, and from Arcanchon you can take a bus. The entrance is free and there are several campsites and restaurants around the area, if you want to spend more time there! So, what are you waiting for?

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

Médoc

Bordeaux

saint emilion, bordeaux wine trip

Saint-Emilion

The Saint Emilion wine route is one of most renowned routes of the area, both for the wines you can find along the way and for the amazing medieval village of Saint Emilion (only 35 minutes from Bordeaux).

saint emilion, bordeaux wine tripSituated in a hilltop position, Saint-Emilion dominates the Dordogne Valley: its landscape, which consists of the village and the vineyards, has been awarded the title ‘Cultural Landscape’ by UNESCO – first vineyard in the world! The whole area seems to be intact, as it was centuries ago, for this reason, it is a perfect starting point for a wine tour. There, you can have a tour around the village, in cellars and through vineyards; you can taste different wines in different places and enjoy the views. In the small village, you can find the largest monolithic church in Europe, ancient buildings, caves and a great number of historic monuments which represent the heritage of the heart of the wine growing region.  The legend says that the village was founded by a monk from Brittany who sought refuge in a cave and made several miracles. In the small village, you can take a look at the Trinity Chapel, the Monastery (near to the cave where the monk was buried) and the Grande Muraille.

st chatThe wines of the region are blended from different grape varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) and the classification consists of the following levels: Premier Grand Cru classé A, Premier Grand Cru classé B and Grand Cru classé. Today, there are 4 estates at the highest level: Chateau Angelus, Chateau Ausone, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Pavie

The vineyards date back to Roman age and the region is one of the principal red wine areas of Bordeaux with Médoc, Graves and Pomerol.  Pomerol is a smaller area but has the same Roman history and roots. There, the main variety of grape is Merlot.

In these two areas, you can taste different varieties of wine, you can visit renowned chateaux, estates and enjoy beautiful views and breathtaking landscapes.  Last but not least, in order to experience the whole area, you can visit the vineyards by bike, around a 10-km vineyard loop that you will never forget!

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Graves and Sauternes

Médoc

Bordeaux

 

 

saint-emilion, bordeaux wine trip,

Médoc

In the Northern part of the Bordeaux area, you can enjoy the Castle Route, from Bordeaux up and along the Médoc region. There, you can find 8 of the most important appellations, along with vast manmade forests (built to protect the vines) and magnificent chateaux.

médoc, bordeaux wine tripThe Médoc countryside offers beautiful landscapes, valleys and wetlands, along with sandy beaches which run along the Atlantic coast. In the Médoc area you can find 8 AOC wines (controlled designation of origin) and the best chateaux of the Bordeaux region. The main grape varieties are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (along with Malbec and Petit Verdot) and you can find both independent wineries and winemaking cooperatives. Due to the proximity of the Atlantic ocean, the area might be unsuitable of wine making; however, the variation and the particular soil better suit for varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the heart of the region you can find the famous 86-km long D2 wine route (also called ‘the Castle Route’), which passes by all the main chateaux and wine names, such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Juline and Moulis.

Most of the chateaux welcome visitors, but it is always better to book in advance! You can also visit some artistic exhibitions, like the one in the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac (the famous chateau with the world’s most expensive wine), with medieval tapestries and porcelain from China and Japan, or the modern art collection in Chateau Chasse-Spleen.

medoc, bordeaux wine trip

Château Margaux (Margaux)

Thanks to the Great Growth Classification (Classement des Grands Crus Classés) made by Napoleon in 1855 the most prestigious wines are classified by 5 categories (from 1st to 5th Growths). Five Médoc  Appelations are considered as Premier Grand Cru in the classification. The Médoc is home to 8 AOC: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Moulis-en-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Sainte-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Margaux. The latter, a wine growing commune centred on the village of Margaux, houses an impressive and magnificent chateau. Besides, you can visit 21 other important chateaux in the area.

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Saint-Emilion

Graves and Sauternes

The City of Wine in Bordeaux

graves sauternes, bordeaux wine trip

Graves and Sauternes

Graves and Sauternes wine region is larger than Médoc but it produces half of the amount of wine. The soil is perfect for grape growing and the trades of wine with England dates back since the XII century.

saut3While the Médoc was the source of all red wines, the Sauternes is the one of white wines:  the most famous among the varieties is, without a doubt, the sweet wine from Chateau Yquem. In this region you can find any different kind of wine: red wines (made with Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec) or dry white wines (Sauternes, Sauvignon, Muscatelle).

There, you can visit several chateaux: first, Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte, with where you can take a look at the barrels and visit the contemporary art collection; then, you can reach Chateau de Cazeneuve and Chateau La Brede, where Montesquieu was born. Wi
thin the area, you cannot miss neither the five-star palace Les Sources de Caudalie, with its spa, its luxury restaurant and several wine bars,  nor the Cathedral of St. Jean Baptiste.

In order to have the best wine experience, you can visit the famous Chateau Haut-Bailly, renowned for its fine wines and the seasonal cuisine, along with the Chateau Filhot, famous for the AOC Sauternes wines.

 

Additional sightseeings in Bordeaux

Médoc

Saint-Emilion

Bordeaux Old Town

villefranche sur mer, the french riviera

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer is an easy-going  small town along the Riviera, a typical example of Mediterranean city. The narrow street will lead you towards the sea, passing by Italian-style buildings and squares, small cafés and the deep harbour.

WHAT TO SEE

Situated between Nicevillefranche sur mer, the french riviera and Monaco, Villefranche is easy to reach and its beautiful views, along with the amazing bay, will let you experience the Mediterranean atmosphere of the French Riviera.

The harbour is one of the most important sights of Villefranche: it is quite small, but it brings you back in a fishermen village, with a beautiful view over the sailing yacht. Then, you can walk along the footpath and reach the citadel, another main attraction: it was built in the XVI century and today it houses art galleries and the city hall. Villefranche’s cultural highlight is, without a doubt, the Chapel of St. Pierre: this beautiful building, decorated by avant-garde artist Jean Cocteau, has a unique style and interesting interiors. In Villefranche you can enjoy the landscapes booking a cruise trip (€18 for 2 hours); otherwise, you can enjoy the  romantic seafront walk which will lead you from the harbour to the old town.

eze le village, villefranche sur mer, the french rivieraClose to Villefranche, following the Middle Corniche which links Nice to Monaco, you can find the beautiful village of Èze: right above the sea, it has a unique style, composed of flowers, local gastronomy and elegant boutiques. Within the French Riviera, it is definitely an unusual place: however, thanks to its particular atmosphere, you will certainly enjoy its sights. You can visit the Gardens of Èze, with 400 different plants, cactus and a breathtaking view over the sea. Then, you can move to the Fragonard Perfume Factory and see how perfumes are scented and made.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION & TIPS

On Sundays and Saturdays there are several markets in Villefranche. Try some local products or, if you prefer, you can go shopping around the city. You may also spend some time in one of the sandy beaches and have lunch around Place Pollonais, where tourists and inhabitants use to gather and relax.

What are you waiting for? Go and visit Villefranche and Èze and their atypical Mediterranean atmosphere: you won’t regret it!

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Antibes

Monaco

Cannes

hotel negresco, the french riviera

Hotel Negresco

The Hotel Negresco is a luxury hotel which, throughout the years, has become one of the most important historic monuments in Nice. With its pink dome and its elegant interiors, this amazing building will bring you back to the 18th century!

hotel negresco, the french rivieraThe Hotel Negresco is a luxury hotel located on the Promenade des Anglais with a breathtaking view over the Mediterranean. Henri Negresco, director of the Municipal Casino in Nice, built it in order to attract wealthy clients: there you can find a spectacular crystal chandelier, the famous pink dome and other amazing elements designed by the great architect Édouard-Jean Niermans.

Today, the luxuriously decorated and furnished rooms (119 guest rooms and 22 suites) also house the two-star restaurant Le Chandelier. The Hotel Negresco is considered to be a national historic monument, thanks to his museum-like interiors based upon the 18th century. You can have a drink in the Salon Royal lounge room, where elegant exhibitions are usually held; otherwise, you can take a look at the Relais Bar and stroll around.

Perhaps, who knows, you can also book a room or an unforgettable dinner at the Chandelier: they are both really expensive, but it will definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Nice

Promenade des Anglais

vieux nice, the french riviera

Vieux Nice

Vieux Nice – literally The Old Town – is the perfect place where you can discover old local habits, enjoy local markets and experience tradition.

vieux nice, the french rivieraIn Vieux Nice (the Old Town), you can enjoy many different delights: first, you can visit Cours Saleya, with its colours, its sights, its atmosphere (it was the main market of Nice in ancient times). Indeed, Nice is very famous for its flowers, then, don’t miss the chance to take a look at the largest flower market of the whole French Riviera, full of roses, carnations, flowers and plants of any kind. Within the market, you will also find different seasonal products, directly sold by the local farmers in their stalls.

In Rue de la Poissonnerie, take a look at Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden right above an old decorated door, then go down until the old baroque church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation. In the Old Town, you will have the opportunity to feel the Medieval atmosphere, enhanced by the narrow streets, old mansions and magnificent Italian-style balconies. Once in Place Rossetti, you might think you are in Rome: indeed, this famous Piazza links the French atmosphere to the Italian architecture.

Don’t miss out the Old Town nightlife, with relaxing and elegant cafés, cool bars and a friendly atmosphere!

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Monaco

Hotel Negresco

Cannes

 

antibes, the french riviera

Antibes

In Antibes you will find the more relaxed and easy-going atmosphere in the whole French Riviera.  With its narrow streets and its colours, the sandy beaches and the amazing harbour, you can find the characteristics of a small village which mix with cultural sights – such as the Picasso museum – and nature.

WHAT TO SEE

antibes, the french rivieraThe Old Port is certainly one of the main sights in Antibes: it is probably the biggest pleasure-boat harbour in Europe and it is linked to Fort Carré, a star-shaped fort which used to protect the town from enemies. Then, you can have a walk in the Old Town, where boaters use to gather, and enjoy the market hall, where you will find stalls with local products or restaurants.

There are several museums you should not miss: first of all, the Picasso Museum, a three-floor building which offers one of the world’s largest collections of the artist (with paintings, sculptures and ceramics); secondly, you can visit the History and Archaeological Museum, where you will find Roman, Greek and Etruscan collections which show the old roots of the town.

antibes, the french rivieraHowever, the best thing to enjoy in Antibes are probably its beaches: there are more than 20 beaches along the 25km-long coastline, though the best ones are between the port and Cap d’Antibes.  Besides, you can also try some walks or hikes  along the beaches and up the hill to get the best view over the city!

FORT CARRÉ IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

PRACTICAL INFORMATION & TIPS

Avoid Antibes on Mondays, when every important sight is closed.  Antibes has many different dining options: you can eat at the Marché Provençal, packed with tourists looking for local gastronomy; you may try a romantic picnic on the beach or, if you prefer, a typical dinner in one of the restaurants or Tavernes.

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Monaco

Nice

monaco, french riviera, france in 10 days

Monaco

Monaco is a must-see of the French Riviera: this minuscule principality is worldwide known for the Grand Prix, the luxury lifestyle of its inhabitants and the Casino. Some romantic people may also remember the glamourous marriage between Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, which gave to the city a fairy-tale and luxurious atmosphere.

WHAT TO SEE

monaco, the french rivieraIn Monaco, there are 3 main areas: Monaco-Ville, the oldest part home of the Prince’s Palace; Monte Carlo, the area around the casino and La Condamine, the official port. All the main sights are in Monaco-Ville (except the Casino) and they are all really close to each other. First, you can walk around the Palace Square and, a few steps away, you can reach the Prince’s Palace, a medieval castle where the Prince and his bride still live. There, you can also enjoy the old ceremony of the Changing of the Guard, which gives the impression of being part of an important royal community.

If you are interested in art, don’t miss the Napoleon Collection, where you can find several items – such as hats, swords, guns, letters – which napoleon left behind when he occupied the town. Close to this Collection, you can have a walk around – and inside – the beautiful Cathedral, where all the royal members are buried. Last but not least, you can experience the Cousteau Aquarium, a magnificent oceanographic museum displays tropical and Mediterranean fish, as well as whale skeletons, tools and ship models.

monaco, the french riviera, casinoHowever, we haven’t talked about the most important sight yet! Hold on, we will see the Casino later. First, let me introduce the wonderful Exotic Garden: it is the municipal “jardin” and mixes both the Italian and the French style. There, you can find several species of cacti and other plants which will make those who love botany really happy. After the Garden, you can finally move towards the Casino, which is situated in Monte Carlo, It is the most famous Casino in Europe and was designed by the great Charles Garnier. There, you can enter private gaming rooms, enjoy different types of slot machines and, paradoxically, relax while spending money!

BOTH THE NAPOLEON COLLECTION AND COUSTEAU AQUARIUM ARE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION & TIPS

In Monaco you will find some of the most elegant – though expensive – restaurants of the whole Riviera: don’t miss out the chance to live as price or a princess for one day! In addition, you can also enjoy a cruise trip, even you can easily reach everything by foot.

If you go to the Casino during gambling hours and, of course, if you are a man, don’t forget to wear jacket and slacks!  The dress code for ladies is way more relaxed.

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Cannes

Antibes

Promenade des Anglais

cannes, the french riviera

Cannes

Cannes is the gem of the French Riviera: not far from Antibes, this city is worldwide known for the annual Film Festival, one of the most important in the world. However, Cannes has also many different interesting sights and a unique Mediterranean elegant atmosphere.

WHAT TO SEE

cannes, the french rivieraThe Promenade de la Croisette is, without a doubt, the the most important sight in Cannes: it consists of a 2km-long road which extends along the shores of the Mediterranean. There, you can find the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the Film Festival is held, along with chic boutiques, restaurants and expensive hotels. You can spend some time in one of the elegant cafés or, if you prefer, you can walk along the Promenade and take a break in one of the beautiful beaches. Then, you can visit Le Suquet – the Old Town – where you can find an exotic Russian orthodox church and amazing viewpoints over the city. There, you can also find the Museum de La Castre, situated within the Chapel of St. Anne, which houses collections from Pacific atolls and Pre-Columbian cultures.

Half a mile off shore from Cannes, you can find the Île Sainte-Marguerite, with the famous fortress – called Fort Royal – where the Man In The Iron Mask was held around the 17th century. However, within the tiny island, you can also spend some relaxing time walking through the woods of umbrella pines and eucalyptus. Not far from Sainte-Marguerite, there is the Île Saint-Honorat, another tiny island which houses an old Cistercian monastery.

cannes, the french rivieraGoing back to the mainland, you can visit le Palais des Festival et des Congrès, which hosts the famous Film Festival and other relevant conventions and, if you are interested in modern art, you cannot miss the Art Center of La Malmaison, with masterpieces by Picasso, Matisse and Mirò.

THE MUSÉE DE LA CASTRE IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

PRACTICAL INFORMATION & TIPS

If you choose to go to Cannes during the Film Festival (around the end of May), remember that the town can be very crowded and there may be a shortage of hotel rooms! The city of Cannes also hosts the Midem  (the most important tradeshow for music industry), as well as a great Carnival Parade. Within the city, you can also find chic restaurants and renowned boutiques, thus, you will never risk to get bored!

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Monaco

Nice

Hotel Negresco

nice, the french riviera

Nice

Nice is a perfect mix between a French and an Italian city: with big squares, broad walkways and long beaches along the Mediterranean, you can feel the typical and unique atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur.

WHAT TO SEE

nice, the french rivieraIn Nice, you will be welcomed by the breathtaking Promenade des Anglais, a four-mile-long seafront promenade where you can stroll from the Hôtel Negresco to Castle Hill. During the walk, you can enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, where you can play sports or just relax. Follow the impressive Bay of Angels and reach Albert 1st Park: there, you can find the private gardens of the Belgian King and, close to the park, you will find the Paillon, Nice’s main river. The Promenade ends at Castel Hill, where you can experience a breathtaking view of the town, from the Alps down to the sea.

Within the town, you can visit many monuments and some important museums. The Chagall Museum is, without a doubt, the most relevant museum in the city: you can find Chagall’s largest collection, together with some of his famous paintings inspired by the Bible. In Nice, you can also visit the small Museum Matisse, with a collection which highlights the style and the many materials used by the artist and shaped by the landscapes of Nice and other artists such as Picasso and Renoir. You can also spend some time in the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, which focuses on Pop Art and New Realism (from the 60s to the 70s) and admire the unusual Russian Cathedral with its domes and its exotic architecture.

370026074_a802ad460f_b During your stay in Nice, you can choose among some different kinds of trip: a bus tour (€21) which passes by all the main sights; a Walking tour (€12), both in English and French or, if you prefer living the city in your own way, you can also go for a Self-guided tour around the main sites!

BOTH THE CHAGALL AND THE MATISSE MUSEUMS ARE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

 

PRACTICAL INFO & TIPS

nice, the french rivieraYou can relax and spend your free time in Cours Saleya and Rue Masséna, where you can find all the most beautiful walks. Later, have dinner and some fun in Vieux Nice, where you can taste delicious local food and try Nice’s nightlife in Place du Palais, Rue de ls Préfecture  and Place Rossetti, the “most-Italian” place in town.

Remember that many museum are closed on Tuesdays and that, if you love shopping, the chicest street is the Golden Square between Rue Karr, Rue de la Liberté and Rue du Paradis.

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Antibes

Cannes

promenade des anglais, the french riviera

Promenade des Anglais

The Prom – as those who live in Nice call it – was once a safe walkay for English aristocrats. Today, it has become a long and relaxing walk full of people who enjoy themselves and a beautiful view over the Mediterranean.

promenade des anglais, the french rivieraThe Promenade des Anglais is a famous walk, or better, a famous Prom – as the local inhabitants call it –along the Mediterranean. In this 4-mile long promenade, you can join all the strollers, the bicyclists, the skaters and the families who usually or occasionally go there to relax and enjoy the amazing view over the Bay of Angels. Famous events, such as the Carnival, take place along the promenade.

This belle époque-style walk extends from the Hotel Negresco to Castle Hill: along the way, you will pass by several beaches, Albert 1st Park and you will feel like the aristocrats who first created the promenade, in order to have a safe place to admire the beauties of the coast.

Without a doubt, the Promenade is the perfect place to experience the Mediterranean lifestyle of Nice: take a break and relax along the way or in one of beautiful beaches, you deserve it!

Additional sightseeings along the French Riviera

Hotel Negresco

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Nice

versailles, gallery of coaches

The Gallery of Coaches

The Gallery of Coaches consists of two galleries which house a huge collection of rare and impressive pieces.

versailles, gallery of coachesSituated in the heart of the Great Stables,  this great royal construction used to house majestic coaches and carriages, along with sedan chairs sleds and travelling thrones, for a unique and magnificent collection which highlights once again the splendour of the court life.

Built by Mansart, it was really important during the Ancien Régime: the 1000 m2-gallery housed all the grand ceremonial coaches of the royal family.

Thanks to these pieces, you can look at the history of France through the vehicles that important people such as the King or Napoleon used during marriages, coronations, baptisms or funerals.

versailles, grand trianon

The Grand Trianon

The Grand Trianon is the perfect summer gateway, the King’s private residence away from the main place.

Versailles Palace, versailles, the grand trianon

The Grand Trianon – Credit: ParisByM

It is a small palace that the King built to hide his love affairs with his mistresses. Made in marble and porphyry and inspired by Italian architecture, it was designed by Mansart and includes some beautiful gardens.

The balustrade, the flat roof and the orderly gardens, along with its flowerbeds and terraces, will give you the thrill of classical beauty.

It also contains a Mirror Room, a bedchamber, an open-air colonnade called Peristyle and the Malachite Room, that used to be Napoleon’s living room.

ONLY FULL DAY TOUR

versailles, petit trianon

The Petit Trianon

The Petit Trianon is the place where the King could spend some relaxing time close to his French Gardens.

versailles, petit trianonIt is a neoclassical château in the middle of the gardens with Greek-style columns and windows. Very closed to the gardens, from there the King could easily reach the grounds and develop his interest for botany.

Like the other two buildings of the Estate of the Trianon, it was built in an attempt to gain brief respite from the royal court etiquette.

Recently restored, there you can find the way the King used to deal with his two passions: on the one hand, botany; in the other hand, his mistresses.

ONLY FULL DAY TOUR

versailles, marie antoinette's estate

Marie Antoinette’s Estate

Within her domain, the Queen could spend some time with friends listening to music or playing parlour games.

It was the private domain of the Queen, where she used to go in order to escape the opulence of the court: there, she used to give parties and dinners.

It contains the Queeversailles, queens' hamletn’s Theatre, where private performances were held, and the Queen’s Hamlet, a complex of twelve thatched-roof buildings influenced by the rural architecture of Normandy, where the Queen used to host guests.

The complex also included a mill, a dairy and domestic animals, with English gardens, cottages and agricultural structures which will bring you back to ancient times and will let you experience the rural atmosphere that the Queen loved so much.

ONLY FULL DAY TOUR

Versailles, Palace of Versailles, palace of versailles

The Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles represents the royalty and the majesty of French Kings: it is maybe the most important palace of French history. The French King Louis XIV installed the royal court in Versailles to be protected from civil movements and continued to embellish the palace up until the Revolution.

Paris in 2 days, versailles 1/2 day with transportation, palace of versaillesThe State and the Private Apartments of the Palace of Versailles contain over 2,300 rooms: here you can find the famous Hall of Mirrors, a 250-feet long room with a great number of luxury mirrors reflecting the light of the sun from the 17 windows letting in the breathtaking view of the gardens; the War Room, where Louis XIV’s victories are depicted as political propaganda; the Peace Room, with cupids who play with discarded cannons and violins. The King’s Apartments, which consist of seven rooms and contain Italian-style decorations: from there, anyone could see the royal family on their way to the chapel.

The king’s private domain contains the important bedchamber, the symbolic room where the ‘getting up’ and the ‘going to bed’ ceremonies used to be held. Symmetrical to the king’s apartments, the Queen’s Apartments were built to house the queen’s bedchamber, where she used to spend most of her time.

The Royal Chapel is another important room, designed with a vaulted ceiling and dedicated to Saint Louis: Louis XIV used to go there every morning at 10:00 with is family. The Palace also contains a Royal Opera House, built during the reign of Louis XV, and the Museum of History of France, inaugurated in the 19th century.

How to get from Paris to Versailles, Day trip from Paris, versailles, how to get from Paris to Versailles, the versailles gardens, day trips from paris by train

The Versailles Gardens

Outside the palace, you can find the Gardens, a range of elaborately planned and decorated grounds which show how the King used to ‘control’ everything, even nature.

Versailles Gardens, versailles, the versailles gardensThe Greco-Roman themes display the power of the King and the symmetry of the structure gives a sensation of incomparable beauty.

There are several elements which make these gardens unique: in the Orangery, Louis XIV used to grow orange trees to amaze his visitors; trees from all over the world; the Grand Canal, which divides the gardens into two parts. Then, you can also find beautiful fountains, such as the Latona Basin, a round fountain which tells the story of the birth of Apollo, and the Apollo Basin, where the sun god starts his journey, in his chariot, across the sky.

In spring and summertime, during the fountains shows called Les Jardins Musicaux and Les Grandes Eaux Musicales, you can have a relaxing walk while listening to some music and enjoying the fountain activity (for any additional information click here).

versailles, the musical gardens and the fountains show

The Musical Gardens and the Fountains Show

During spring and summer, you can enjoy some musical shows in the gardens, called Les Grandes Eaux Musicales and Les Jardins Musicaux.

versailles, the musical gardens and the fountains showThe musical show called “The Musical Waters” or “Grandes Eaux Musicales”, is a unique experience where you can wander at the sound of classical music while enjoying the fountains activity. Besides, the “Jardins Musicaux” offer the same kind of walk, with Baroque music, but without the fountains.

There, you will have the opportunity to feel the magnificent atmosphere of royal entertainment and, above all, you will enjoy yourself while relaxing. You can also enjoy the woods of Versailles, usually closed, which are open only for this occasion!

Opening times:

Les Grandes Eaux Musicales: on Saturdays and Sundays, from 1st April to 29th October; on Tuesdays, from 23rd May to 27th June / Special Dates: Friday, 14th April; Thursday, 25th May; Friday, 14th July and Tuesday, 15th August.

Les Jardins Musicaux: on Tuesdays from 4th April to 16th May, then on Tuesdays from 4th July to 31st October and on Fridays from 31st Mars to 27th October (except for the 14th July).

NOT INCLUDED IN THE HALF DAY TOUR

Marais, the centre pompidou

The Centre Pompidou

Tired of ordinary museums and traditional works by the same old painters? The Centre Pompidou will offer you the largest variety of contemporary and modern pieces of art, right in the heart of Paris!

 

Best area to stay in Paris, the cente pompidou

The Centre Pompidou is a complex building situated in the Beaubourg area (4th arrondissement) which houses the National Museum of Modern Art, the Public Information Library and the IRCAM, a centre for music research.  It contains Europe’s leading collection of modern and contemporary art, with over 100.000 works of 20th and 21st centuries.  It opened in 1977 in a revolutionary six-floor building designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers and, at the core of its mission, it has always tried to include contemporary artists and to open to any kind of art from all over the world.

You will find temporary exhibitions, which focus on new technologies, installations and contemporary art, along with permanent exhibitions. Around the building, you can also enjoy the atmosphere of the area called Beaubourg, within the Marais, full of cafés, small shops and people from all over the world.

There are several collections within the museum:

The Modern Collection (1905 – 1960’s)

the centre pompidou

It contains major works by leading figures such as Matisse, Picasso and Braque, starting with the Fauve Revolution and joining the Surrealism, with the reconstruction of André Breton’s studio and some works by Duchamp. Here you can also find some pieces of Informal Art by Dubuffet and some major works by Kandinsky.

The Contemporary Collection (1960’s – 1990’s)

It contains paintings, photographs and sculptures by artists such as Bacon, Rothko, Klein, Johns and Beuys. You can also find some works of the most representative Pop Artist Andy Warhol.

The Contemporary and Progressive Creation (1990’s – Onwards)

centre pompidou

It consists of paintings, sculptures and installations by artists born after 1960. Most of the works are multidisciplinary and you can enjoy masterpieces by Orozco, Bartana, Koo Jeong A and Parreno.

The museum also houses Europe’s largest Collection of Photographs, with works by Man Ray, Brancusi and Surrealist artists, and the Design Collection, with a great variety of prototypes and unique pieces. You can also visit the Cinema and New Media Collection, with experimental movies and creations from Méliès to Donnelly, as well as several installations by iconic artists such as Dan Graham.

Finally, you can also enjoy the Graphic Art Collection, where the major collections of works on paper by Artaud, Chagall, Delaunay, Matisse or Kandinsky are exposed.

centre pompidou

Within the Centre Pompidou, you may take a look at the Kandinsky Library, specialised in the arts, where books, reviews, archives and audiovisual documents are presented. Later, you can visit the Atelier Brancusi, where the artist used to create his sculptures: you will have the opportunity to see how sculptures were created and disposed by Brancusi in order to establish a close relationship with space.

 

Family

Let your kids enjoy the museum thanks to special activities in the “Kids Gallery” and in the “Kids Studio”: an interactive and funny way to explore the world of the artists through observation and experimentation. There is also a space for teenagers called Studio 13/16, where they can enjoy free programmes, as well as interact with the creators.

How to get to the Centre:

Transportation in Paris, centre pompidou

Credit: Gonzalo Photography

You can easily get to the Centre by Metro (Rambuteau, line 11; Hôtel de Ville, lines 1 and 11; Châtelet, lines 1, 4, 7, 11 and 14). Otherwise, you can take the RER (Châtelet-les Halles, lines A, B and D), or the Bus (29, 38, 47, 75). There are also several Velib stations (no. 4020, 3014 and 3010).

 

Opening times:

Centre Pompidou:  11:00 – 22:00 (exhibition areas close at 21:00) / Thursdays until 23:00 (exhibitions on level 6)

Atelier Brancusi: 14:00 – 18:00

Public Library:  Monday-Friday  12:00 – 22:00 / Saturday, Sunday and Holidays  11:00 – 22:00

Closed on Tuesdays and  1st of May

On the first Sunday of every month, the access to the museum is free for everyone!

Then, what are you waiting for? Discover contemporary and modern art at the Centre Pompidou and enjoy all the amazing collections!

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Mont Saint Michel, mont saint michel abbey, france tourist attractions

Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Experience the magical and unique atmosphere of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, the only place where you can find the beauties of history and architecture along with a breathtaking landscape!

Mont Saint Michele, mont saint michel in 1 day, mont saint michel abbey

The Mont Saint-Michel Abbey is located within the small island of  Mont-Saint-Michel, in lower Normandy: it is at the top of the structural composition of the small feudal village which was built in the island.

It is part of the UNESCO world heritage site and, throughout the centuries, it has been a church, a Benedictine abbey, a prison and an historical monument.

The structure recalls both the Gothic and the Roman styles and can be divided in several parts: the underground church-abbey (“Our Mother Underground”), the Abbey-church (created to welcome the increasing number of pilgrims). Later, a new part was built: the monk living area called “Merveille”, which contains a cloister and a chaplaincy.

Nowadays, the abbey hosts some monks of the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem from St-Gervais-et-St-Protais and, recently, it has been the main inspiration for the design of Minas Tirith in the movie The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King.

amusement parks in Paris

Amusement Parks in Paris

Do you want to have fun with your family once you are in Paris? Here you can find the best amusement parks in Paris and some others around the town: theme parks, seasonal parks and educational parks that will provide a unique experience for you and your kids.

 1. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland 1 day, amusement parks in Paris

© Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is probably the most famous among the amusement parks in Paris: a theme park which brings the magical atmosphere of Disney’s creations a few steps outside the city centre. The park includes entertainment, shopping and dining districts, as well as hotels and a golf course. You can easily go there using the RER (Line A) towards Marne la Vallée and you will get there in 40 minutes.

 

Let your kids experience  Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters or the Big Thunder Mountain Railroard, they will never forget it!

For more information about the Studios and the Adventure Park click here and here.
Opening hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Tickets with access for both parks for 1 day and round trip transportation from Paris are available here.

2. Parc Astérix

Summer activities in Paris, amusement parks in Paris

Credit: Flickr.com

The Parc Astérix is situated in the north of Paris and it is based on the stories of the most popular among the Gauls. Although it may take some time to reach the park, the breath-taking roller coasters and the unique atmosphere will give you an experience you will never forget, bringing you back to the Roman Empire, to Ancient Greece and Egypt: there is no better way to enjoy history!

Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Official Website here

3. France Miniature

France Miniature, amusement parks in Paris

France Miniature

France miniature is a miniature park in Élancourt (30 km from Paris) with scale models of the most famous French monuments and landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre.

Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Official Website here

 

 4. Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

cité des sciences, amusement parks in Paris

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie is the biggest science museum in Europe and it is located in the centre of Paris (Parc de la Villette): thanks to the Planetarium, the Submarine and an IMAX Theatre, you and your kids will have the opportunity to improve your scientific knowledge while having fun!

 

Opening hours: from Tuesday to Saturday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm; Sunday 10.00 am – 7.00 pm (booking recommended)
Official Website here

 

SEASONAL AMUSEMENT PARKS

5. Jardin des Tuileries

Jogging in Paris, Jardin des Tuileries, amusement parks in Paris

Best Places to Go Jogging in Paris: Jardin des Tuileries

The Jardin des Tuileries is a public garden, situated in the 1st arrondissement, close to the Louvre Museum, that in summertime becomes the perfect place for your kids: with the return of the funfair, you can find  attractions of any kind, such as bumper cars, trampolines and wooden carrousel horses.

 

 

6. Jardin d’Acclimatation

Especially designed for kids, the Jardin d’Acclimatation is an amusement park, situated in the Bois de Boulogne, that includes attractions such as miniature golf courses, pony ride, puppet theatres and museums. The park also includes the Exploradôme, an interactive science museum.

Official Website here

 

7. Foire du Trône

foire du trone, amusement parks in Paris

From the end of March to the end of May, you can experience the Foire du trône, the oldest funfair in France. It is located in the 12th arrondissement (Bois de Vincennes) and mixes the atmosphere of springtime with attractions for kids and families. Do not forget to eat the typical street food on the Pelouse de Reilly!

Official Website here

 

 8. Fête des Loges

The Fête des Loges, one of the oldest fairs in Paris, is held in the forest of Saint-Germain-En-Laye (Yvelines): it is a traditional fair with a strong focus on typical and regional gastronomy.

Official Website here

 

9. Aquaboulevard

aquaboulevard, amusement parks in Paris

The Aquaboulevard is a complex in the 15the arrondissement which consists of a huge waterpark, a sauna and a hammam, several cinemas, tennis courts and many other fitness and sport facilities.

Official Website here

 

 

OUTSIDE PARIS

10. Puy du Fou

puy du fou, amusement parks in Paris

This historical theme park, situated in Les Epesses (Vendée Department) includes 26 shows, such as the Secret of the Lance, the Phantom Birds Dance and the Richelieue Muskeeter. The Puy du Fou park will let you experience the thrill of past centuries,  from the gladiatorial combats to the Vikings, from the Gauls to King Arthur.

Official Website here

 

11. Vulcania

Vulcania is the “European Park of Vulcanism”, both an educational and an amusement park. It is situated in Ours-Les-Roches, in Auvergne.

Official Website here

 

12. Futuroscope

futuroscope, amusement parks in Paris

The Futuroscope is an amusement park which focuses on multimedia. It has several 3D and 4D cinemas and it is located in the north of Poitiers (Chasseneuil-du-Poitou and Jaunay-Clan).

Official Website here

So, what are you waiting for? Have fun with with your kids in one of these amusement parks in Paris!

 

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