France

France


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Table of Contents

General

Places


Burgundy

  • Taste wine in classic Burgundian villages such as Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet, and mingle with friendly residents. Our highlight was spontaneously meeting a gentleman who invited us into his ancestral home to share a 1982 bottle of Cabernet.
  • From the gorgeous rooftop of the Hôtel-Dieu to cobbled lanes, delve into the details of the city of Beaune. It’s often referred to as the wine capital of Burgundy.
  • Stroll the elegant Old Town streets of Dijon, once a mustard-making mecca. I left this pretty town with several specialty jars of mustard. They don’t just offer the yellow stuff there. I came home with a raspberry version and one with basil notes.

grapevine green gate Burgundy France

Burgundy sunflowers
Pretending to conduct a sea of sunflowers in Burgundy.

Giverny

  • Regardless if it’s spring, summer or fall, visit Giverny, Claude Monet’s garden and home, which inspired some of his most famous work (think lily pond and Japanese bridge paintings). I’ve been to Giverny in the spring and summer, and someday hope to see the garden dressed in autumnal hues.
Claude Monet's pink home, surrounded by purple irises and other flowers. It's located in Giverny, France.
Irises frame a crushed-stone lane at Giverny, where artist Claude Monet once lived. Giverny is about 1.5 hours from Paris by car.

Grand-Est-Region (formerly Alsace)

  • Colmar
    • Spend the day exploring Colmar, known for its flower-bedecked, half-timbered homes, picturesque canals, wine culture, and link to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who created the Statue of Liberty. A tiny replica of Lady Liberty stands guard in a roundabout on the north side of Colmar.
  • Strasbourg
    • Climb to the top of the Strasbourg Cathedral, which was the world’s tallest building for more than two centuries. Watch the celebrated astronomical clock inside the church toll at noon.
    • Stroll through Petite France and admire the picturesque quarter’s half-timbered homes whose flower boxes overflow with red geraniums.
    • Glide past Strasbourg’s most well-known attractions in a covered glass boat.
  • Saint Hippolyte
    • Pop into quaint, family-owned wineries and try popular Alsatian grape varietals like Riesling, Sylvaner, and Gewürztraminer.
    • From Saint Hippolyte, journey about 7 km to the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, a mighty medieval castle. The drive has some hairpin turns, but the scenic views from the fortress make the effort worthwhile!

Saint Hippolyte Church Alsace France

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg Castle France Alsatian Woman in Costume
The Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, as glimpsed from a vineyard in the village of Saint Hippolyte (left). A winery tablecloth features a woman dressed in traditional Alsatian folk costume (right).

2010 Saint Hippolyte - France - 138

A golden home and a lavender neighboring building in the French village of Saint Hippolyte.
A characteristic Saint Hippolyte scene: colorful, half-timbered homes, a trail of wisteria, and flowerboxes studded with blooms.

Loire Valley

  • Soar to new heights in a hot air balloon. The Loire Valley views are – unsurprisingly – incredible. Our pilot even turned up the fear factor by tickling the treetops with our basket.
  • Avoid ‘château fatigue’ by visiting diverse castles. Our top picks: The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau (where we attended a quirky sound and light show), Clos Lucé (once Leonardo da Vinci’s residence), and the Château de Villandry (because of its incredible formal gardens plus its utilitarian herb garden). Though the Château de Chambord was a bit too flamboyant, its expansive grounds and ornate flair were impressive. My favorite feature was the double helix staircase, supposedly designed by da Vinci.
Chateau Villandry Loire Valley France
The Château de Villandry, among my Loire Valley favorites.
Two multicolored hot air balloons flying over France's Loire Valley.
Once we took to the sky, we flew among many other hot air balloons. This is the view from our basket.
A colorful hot air balloon prepares to land in a green field (left) and the shadow of a hot air balloon (right), both in France.
Spending a few hours around hot air balloon enthusiasts, we quickly learned the French word for hot air balloon: montgolfière. Here, a neighbor balloon prepares to land (left) and the shadow of our balloon (right).

Occitanie & Provence

  • Marvel at the incredible Pont du Gard, and the picturesque natural surroundings. We enjoyed a picnic on the grounds, and viewed the ancient Roman aqueduct from varied angles before exploring the museum.
  • Ogle at lesser-visited ancient Roman sites in Orange – the theater and triumphant arch are magnificent!
  • Explore 2,000-year-old Roman sites in Nîmes. The Arena and Maison Carrée temple are the star sites, but the Tour Magne and Castellum Aquae (end of the Nîmes aqueduct) are interesting too, particularly if you like Roman history.
  • Pop into the fresh market in the beautiful town of Uzès; you’ll find everything from dried herbs and essential oil, to tantalizing tapenades.
  • Explore the Cité de Carcassonne. By day, this medieval citadel overflows with visitors, but by night – the mood is calm and the fortress is dramatically bathed in floodlights.
  • Savor wine. We enjoyed the trying the the world’s so-called “first bubbly” in Limoux (Blanquette de Limoux Methode Ancestrale and the less-sweet Blanquette de Limoux Brut). Closer to Nîmes, we sampled rosés and reds in Lirac and Tavel.
  • Dance beside Avignon’s famous bridge (while singing the famous song of the same name, of course!), then tiptoe through quieter districts. We stumbled upon a charming Sunday flea market on the sycamore-lined Rue des Teinturiers.
Stone homes with terracotta roofs seemingly rise from an olive grove near Sernhac, in France's Occitanie region.
Stone homes with terracotta roofs rise above an olive grove near the village of Sernhac, in the Occitanie region.

Paris

Paris French flags people walking sidewalk

People sitting at outdoor cafe tables in Paris.
Shawn and me, enjoying coffee across from La Madeleine, in Paris’ 8th arrondissement.

Saint-Émilion

Tricia Shawn Mitchell Saint Emilion Bordeaux
Surrounded by grapevines. The bell tower of Saint-Emilion’s Monolithic Church is in the background.
The bell tower of Saint-Emilion's Monolithic Church
The bell tower of Saint-Emilion’s Monolithic Church (which you can ascend) and a stained-glass window inside.
Lamp Shadow Saint Emilion Home Bordeaux
A winery’s name from a bygone age mingles with late-afternoon shadows.

Savoie

Lake Annecy France
Lake Annecy.

Accommodation

  • Saint-Émilion (Bordeaux) – Along with Shawn’s parents, we spent two wonderful nights at the Hotel Au Logis des Remparts (affiliate link). We loved the boutique hotel’s pretty courtyard, where breakfast was served. (I especially enjoyed the fresh yogurt. Served in little glasses, it felt as though it came straight from an artisanal creamery.) We spent many many happy hours taking a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool, then enjoying Rosé wine from Provence, poolside. La vie en rose indeed!

Transportation

  • Train – SNCF is France’s state-owned railway.

Additional France Resources