Vive la France
Collected by Bronwen Gregory, AFAR Local Expert
The love affair with France continues, and like all relationships, it's complicated. Just look at the inefficiency that you'll experience on your way in and out at the Charles de Gaulle airport as a cultural experience and you'll be in the right mind set. The colors, the sounds, the art, the flavors, the passion, the snail's pace of life- all worth falling for. Let yourself love this fantastic country.
84400 Saignon, France
Though my favorite Provencal hotel is now gone from Saignon, it is still the quintessential, hilltop town worth visiting when you're biking, hiking or driving through this area of France. The dreamy town center (all of three streets) will provide...
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Located at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, a stone’s throw from the Seine and draped in the shadow of Notre Dame, is what should be proclaimed one of France’s national treasures: the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. This is...
3 Rue Brey, 75017 Paris, France
'Bisous' in French means 'kisses' and on their national day (especially in Paris) you may get a few, since everyone is celebrating. It's a real treat to be anywhere on July 14th in France, but Paris knows how to put on a show. After the sun goes...
113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
Before the French Revolution, this park used to be the site of the Royal Palace. Today, the garden, which separates the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde, is a place where Parisians and tourists stroll amid Rodin and Maillol statues or relax...
79 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France
We enjoyed a glass of red wine and dessert at the café on the grounds of Le Musée Rodin. The trees, thinned from winter, gave the gardens a gothic air, as if to suggest the possibility of specters and spooks emerging from its graveled paths. That...
48 Rue Saint-Antoine, 75004 Paris, France
The Marias- and the Place de Vosges in particular- is my favorite place to get lost in Paris. Due to the sporadic curves or lengths of the small streets in this neighborhood, you need to just let the city take you in and know that you'll be wowed...
Pont des Arts, 75006 Paris, France
Strolling over the Pont des Arts, in spite of the tourists, and the cliché, bereted accordian player busquing for a Euro... even with the lovers buying locks to place on the fencing, and the nasal wail of the Bateaux Mouches loudspeakers floating...
12 Rue de Sainte-Cécile, 84580 Oppède, France
Oppede-le-Vieux is a hidden treasure in Provence that so many visitors miss and I'd encourage you to put it (and a stop at this enchanting little cafe) on your must-see list. Due to the design of this hilltop town, you'll have to park in a...
Vallon de l’Arcoule (D78F), 13520 Les Baux-de-Provence, France
'Benvengudo' means welcome in old, Provencal dialect and it's a fitting name for a hotel that will feel like home. Hotel Benvendgudo is a small, casual, boutique hotel just a few kilometers below the fortified town of Les Baux, in the Alpilles...
Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
3 Place de la Mairie, 29890 Plounéour-Trez, France
If you're in the beautiful Brittany region of France, be sure to take a break from the cider and buckwheat crepes, for a heart racing trip along the open beaches in one of these! 'Char a voile' in French, the phrase means 'sand yachting/speed...
Chemin Saint-Paul, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Vincent van Gogh was a self-admitted patient at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy from May 1889 until May 1890. During much of his time there he was confined to the grounds of the asylum, and his works are great studies of the landscape and...
13810 Eygalières, France
Eygalieres is an endlessly charming, Provencal town, tucked just outside of the Les Alpilles range. In all of those years living, working and biking through Provence, I found no more perfect place for an espresso stop en route to and from some of...
Père-Lachaise, 75020 Paris, France
We don't know if Chopin, Molière, Colette, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and other famous denizens of Père Lachaise were disturbed by the keening sounds of Bruce Ackley's soprano saxophone on this cold January afternoon. But a security...
Aiguille du Midi, 74400 Chamonix, France
France's Chamonix Valley is one of the most scenic places on the European continent. It's a narrow river valley which houses everything from rock-climbing centers to pulsing bars and pubs, and on both sides of the river the peaks of the French...
75006 Paris, France
On sunny days, Parisians head for the Luxembourg Garden, built by Marie de' Medici in 1611 and modeled after the Boboli Gardens in her native Florence. In addition to the magnificent Medici Fountain, there are more than 100 statues arranged around...
11 Place du Forum, 13200 Arles, France
Once known as the Cafe Terrace, this is the place captured so colorfully in Van Gogh's painting of Place du Forum in Arles, in September of 1888. Still in operation today and now named Cafe Van Gogh, it's a lovely little spot to have your espresso...
Rue du Bienvenu, 14400 Bayeux, France
The Norman town of Bayeux has their own famed basilica and cathedral (the second largest of its kind in France, behind the one on the Paris) and it's well worth the trip while you're in town seeing the Bayeux Tapestry or waiting for your pick-up...
Gorges de la Nesque, 84390 Monieux, France
Bienvenue to favorite bicycle ride in all of France. One that I did so often while living in Provence that my friends called it my 'church.' Aptly named. Depending on which direction you're coming from, you'll probably come through the small town...
Pont Saint-Louis, 75004 Paris, France
On the narrow, pedestrian only bridge Pont St Louis that connects the eastern part of the larger island of Paris (Isle de la Cite) and Isle St Louis, a weekend afternoon in search of the famed Bertillon ice cream can mean live music and dancing...
Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France
The Centre Pompidou, France's national museum of modern art, led the way for steel and glass buildings in the 1970s. Now the museum leads the way in modern art with its extraordinary collection, currently the world's second largest....
Col du Tourmalet, Tourmalet, 65120 Barèges, France
Living and working in Europe for over a decade always meant an annual pilgrimage to follow certain stages of 'The Great Race'. This moment was from the 2010 Tour de France on the Col du Tourmalet and I'd just run across the road wearing my yellow...
Col des Tempêtes, 84410 Bédoin, France
It's the grand daddy of all famed Tour de France rides and always at the very top of every cyclist's dream, to-do list. There are three different ways to start the ascent, but the most storied (and most challenging approach) begins in Bedoin. Mont...
84390 Monieux, France
I happen to be convinced that there's no dreamier a place that Provence, for 5 nights and 6 days of cycling, eating, experiencing and drinking up all that there is to love. The Backroads Casual Inn Provence Biking trip covers beautifully diverse...
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