When you think of France, Paris is the first city that comes to mind. It’s an iconic destination because it’s home to the Arc D’Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées. But there’s plenty more to see and do in France. There’s vineyards, chateaus, museums, monuments, beaches, woods to explore and different cuisine to try. If you’ve “done” Paris, let GetAway Travel plan you a memorable trip somewhere else in the country that has so much to offer.
Strasbourg embraces dual cultures
Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region of France. The region is the part of France on the border of Germany. The area passed between French and German control several times in the 1600s. The area soaked up the culture of both countries and reflects an interesting blend of French and German influences.
Take a trip on the Alsace Wine Route and tour wineries and some of the quant villages around Strasbourg. But the city itself is gorgeous with its picturesque canals, half-timbered houses and stunning architecture.
The Strasbourg Cathedral, or the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, is a prime example of gothic architecture and many say it has more charm than the Notre-Dame de Paris. When you finish admiring the architecture outside, there’s a gorgeous astronomical clock inside. Hike the 322 steps to the top platform for phenomenal views of the city.
Learn more about the region and its history at the Alsatian Museum and don’t forget to visit the city’s main square, Place Kleber. It’s worth a visit any time, but during the Christmas market season, there’s a skating rink, a gigantic Christmas tree and a wonderland of festive decorations.
The whole city has an eclectic feel because of the dual influences as well as the fact it has the second largest student population in all of France.
Rugged, friendly Brittany
The long, rugged coastline of Brittany in the northwestern most part of France, is dotted with resorts and vacation homes. It is known as the Pink Granite coast because the sand and rock has a sort of blush-tinted hue.
It is an area with an amazing diversity of landscapes — from moody moors to verdant forests and sweeping seascapes all intermingled with medieval villages and fairy-tale castles.
Saint-Malo is a Breton port designed as a citadel, or fortified stronghold, and the medieval fortifications are still visible around the city. You can tour the Château de Saint-Malo which dates to the 14th and 15 centuries and visit the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent which was a part of a complex that housed bishops. Visit the palace, the cloisters, the cathedral and the cannon’s houses. The interior, including the stained glass windows, is stunning.
Quimper is a picture-postcard of a city in Brittany. There are pastel-painted half-timbered homes, cobblestone streets and pedestrian footbridges decorated with flowers. The Musée of Beaux Arts features works from Dutch and Flemish painters as well as paintings from post-Impressionist Masters. There is a museum devoted to faience which is a tin-decorated pottery made in Quimper. Brittany’s rich cultural heritage is on display at the Musée Départemental Breton.
A fact beach-goers should pay attention to: Brittany has the fastest tides in all of Europe.
Marseille: a port city with a rich past
The oldest and second-most populated city in France, Marseille was named the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and it still has a wide variety of theaters, concert halls and museums.
The MuCEM is the newest addition to Marseille’s cultural offerings. It is a museum dedicated to Europe and the Mediterranean. Permanent and rotating exhibits highlight the historical and cultural influences that shaped the region. You can also explore the attached ruins of Fort Saint-Jean. The island fortress of Château d’If should be familiar to readers, it played a part in Alexandre Dumas’s classic, “The Count of Monte Crisco.” On the highest hill near the city is the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. Constructed in the Neo-Byzantine style, the church’s dominant feature is a gilded Madonna.
The Palais Longchamp is an amazing complex of museums and gardens. It is more of a monument than a palace. It was built to acknowledge the engineers who worked 15 years to construct a series of canals to bring water to the drought-stricken area from the Durance River in the Alps. There is, of course, a stunning fountain and other water features as well as two museums. The Musée des Beaux Arts has three centuries of paintings and the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle has 80,000 animal specimens and 20,000 plant exhibits.
Shop and stroll on La Canebière. There are clothing boutiques, bakeries, cafes and local artisan shops. A fantastic Christmas market is held here every year. Does it look familiar? The avenue was featured in French Connection 2.
Culture, castles, cuisine, wine — whatever your area of interest, the advisors at GetAway Travel can craft you a vacation that hits all the marks. Reach us at: (262) 538-2140, e-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org