Category Archives: Travel

Places and Festivals to Enjoy in French Riviera

The French Riviera is the hottest and luxurious destination in the world.  Stretched along the Mediterranean coastline, French Riviera offers the pleasure all around the year. It’s the hottest spot for rich and famous people. They come here to party and enjoy a relaxed holiday. This place presents world-class cuisines, hot and golden beaches, villas and resorts, and shopping. Also known as Cote d’Azur, French Riviera it is situated in Alp Mountains and has a lot of beautiful places to enjoy. Here are some of the places that you should visit.

  • Cannes: This busy city is well renowned for hosting Cannes Film Festival. Some of the spots here are St Marguerite Island, St Honorat Island, and Museums. Here you got to enjoy the tropical beaches in the Mediterranean climate.
  • Nice: An ideal place to enjoy your honeymoon with sand beaches, sunset, restaurants, and bars.
  • Marseille: One of the oldest and largest cities of South France, it gives to the feel of heritage and cultural life. Here the climate is well blessed by God. The summer season starts earlier than anywhere else and you get to see 300 days of summer. Enjoy the tropical beaches in this favourable climate.
  • St. Tropez: One of the hottest destinations of the famous people who come here to relax. This place is well known for glamour and beautiful climate to go with.
  • Vence: Located in the east of the French Riviera, this place is famous for its rich vegetation along the Alps mountains. It is one of the preferred locations of artisans. It is well-known for its spring water, which you can collect from any of the fountains here.

French Riviera is also famous for the allure of famous festivals which are held here. Some of the world’s prestigious festivals are:

  • Cannes Film Festival: The world renowned festival annually held in May attracts directors, actors, producers, and film industry people from all over the world. It is estimated that this festival is attended by around 30,000 stars each year. Although it is invitation-only festival, some of the showings are open for public, for example on Directors Fortnight.
  • Jazz á Juan Festival: It is one of the oldest running jazz festivals. This festival is held each year in July in Juan-les-Pins. Apart from admission fees festivals, some of the free concerts are held by jazz musicians.
  • Nice Carnival: It is one of the largest carnival festivals of the world. It is celebrated in Nice in February every year. Giant parades accompanied by around 1,000 musicians and dancers from around the world entertain day and night during the carnival.
  • Nice Jazz Festival: Held in July every year in Nice, it is recognized as “the first jazz festival of international significance.” The festival was earlier held in Cimiez and from year 2011 it is being held in Place Masséna. It’s a 5-day festival visited by a great number of people.

If you are planning to have a tremendous and luxurious vacation, French Riviera is a must place to visit. Whether you are fond of natural beauty, glamour world, ancient sculptures, or music, French Riviera has everything to offer. But you have to play your visit well in advance, especially if you plan to take part in any of the festivals.

Discovering Art Gems at the Louvre

The Musee du Louvre, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – call it by any name and still there is no place to beat this display of the world’s best art. The Musee du Louvre as the French call it has many distinctions to its credit. The most visited art museum in the world, one of the largest art museums of the world, one of the most famous landmarks of Paris; the distinctions are many.

But no matter what, Louvre is really tempting for all art lovers no matter where they come from.

Location and History

The Louvre ‑ which means a framed opening in French ‑ is a looming façade on the right bank of the River Seine. It houses over 35,000 objects of art from prehistory to the 19th century over an area of 60,600 square feet. The Louvre art museum is located in the Louvre Palace, once a fortress, originally built in the 12th century. In the 18th century the National Assembly decided that the Palace should be converted to accommodate an art museum and thus one of the finest tributes to art and artists was born.

But before we enter this magnificent tribute to man’s love for the beautiful, let’s take a closer look at the imposing façade.

The Pyramid

Just as you walk in to the spacious courtyard of this ‘E’ shaped palace without the middle line, you come across the astounding beauty of the glass pyramid. The creation of the Chinese architect Ieoh Ming Pi, the Pyramid as it is known, is an imposing glass structure. Constructed with 800 separate pieces of glass, this modern version of the ancient Egyptian stone megalith is assembled on 95 tons of aluminum structure. It was inaugurated in 1989 and stands as a proud testimony of man’s eternal fascination for beauty.

The modern style of the design was initially not well received by art lovers around the world as it contrasted sharply with the classical style of the museum. But, with the passage of time it has come to be accepted as an ingenious way of blending the modern with the classical.

Now, let’s take a walk inside the museum to ogle at its amazing displays.

The Egyptian Antiquities

The Louvre Museum has one of the most expansive ranges of collections of Egyptian art and artifacts in the world ranging over an extensive period of Egyptian history. The time period of the displays begins with the Nile civilization in the 4000 BC and moves to the 4th century. Housed in 20 different rooms of the museum, the displays span from Ancient Egypt, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, Coptic Art, Roman, Ptolemaic and Byzantine periods. The entry to the Egyptian wing is guarded by the 2000 BC Large Sphinx sculpture.

The other major areas covered include Roman, Etruscan, Greek, Russian and Oriental and Islamic Art.

The Paintings

We have to begin with none other than the Mona Lisa. Though the museum houses one of the largest collections of permanent displays of arts and paintings in the world, the Louvre is synonymous with the Mona Lisa. This fact was reiterated with the publishing of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. A major portion of this best seller is picturised in the Louvre with the Mona Lisa as its focus.

This bewitching beauty by Italian Maestro Leonardo da Vinci is one of the major attractions of the Louvre. But it is just one of the nearly 7,500 works of art or Objects d’Art   that are displayed in three spacious rooms of the palace. The other major attractions include the statue of Venus di Milo, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and the Nike of Samothrake as well as paintings by Raphael.

Most of the displays span over a period of BC to 1848. A majority of the paintings and Objects d’Art belong to French masters. Nearly 1,200 are the works of Northern European artists. The Louvre collection of arts was sourced from the private collection of Francis I and Louis XIV.

In this article it is impossible to cover all 35,000 of art objects, yet you have an idea now of what to expect when you visit the Louvre next time you come to Paris.

You can book your tickets for Louvre right now online or you can take an online Louvre tour right now.

Experience the “Garden of France” Loire Valley!

Loire Valley is a charming and captivating region filled with rolling green knolls, beautiful flowers, and wonderful vineyards, sprinkled with over a thousand chateaux.

Loire Valley was quintessential for writers and poets over the centuries and has presented some of the best artistry within France.   There is so much to see and take in.  This location is ideal for any traveler who is looking for a vacation, holiday or day trip filled with allure, romance, adventure, history and art.

Experiencing the Loire Valley is becoming engulfed in its rich and deep history, amazing architecture, and sprawling towns!

Chambord

The Chambord is vast.  In fact it is the largest castle within Loire Valley.  The Renaissance structure which was designed and built by François I is encircled by a huge hunting preserve and park.  Horse drawn carriages will take you through the estate to marvel at its impeccable grounds, gorgeous furnishings and magnificent architecture.  You can also take in the Chambord via air balloon which is accessible on site. 

Orleans

Orleans is known as the vinegar hub of France, and once, the second largest city of the region.

If you visit during May, there is a celebration honoring Joan of Arc, who released Orleans from the British in 1429.  You can also the visit the home in which Joan of Arc used to stage her uprising.

The city features castles of Sully-sur-Loire and Chamerolles, all worth a visit.  In addition, the town highlights Hotel Groslot, a beautiful stone and brick mansion of the Renaissance period, which operated as the Town Hall, and the Cathedral of St-Croix, designed with Gothic influence.

Blois
This world renowned castle is most known and connected, for many centuries, with France’s Kings.  If you are still enhancing your French repertoire, on Wednesday, enjoy an English speaking show at the castle.

Other amazing sites to take in include:  Chaumont-sur Loire which, from mid June through mid October, covers the very well-known International Festival of Parks and Gardens; and the Châteaux of Beauregard.

Chartres
Known by Rodin as the Acropolis of France, the celebrated and famous Cathedral of Chartres is an incredible throw back to the architecture of the medieval period.

While in Chartres, check out the castles of Maintenon and Anet, and visit an assortment of long forgotten musical instruments, sculptures, and stunning stained glass features.

Delightful footbridges, gabled homes, and enchanting medieval cobbled stoned streets in Old Town, all lay at the base of Cathedral of Chartres.

Amboise/Chenonceaux
Amboise is an attractive town which features appealing white stone homes which date back to the 15th century.

Venture to Cbs Lucé.  Here is where you’ll find the former dwelling of Leonardo da Vinci.   Just miles away from Cbs Lucé, you’ll encounter the Ladies Castle, also known as the Château of Chenonceau.  This lovely castle features a popular viewing terrace, designed by the Queens of France.

From there, you’ll be able to take in breathtaking sites including the Cher River.

Bourges
The center of France can be found in Bourges.  This town encompasses very old rampart battlements, Renaissance and medieval architecture, and the extraordinary gothic Cathedral of St-Etienne which sits atop a mountainThis beautiful house of worship overlooks the entire hilltop. 

Other must sees include: Noirlac Abbey, the world renowned white wines of Sancerre, the château o’ Meillant, and in Nohant, the George Sand’s House.

During summer months, Bourges spotlights the Illuminated Nights.  This event features certain structures which magically come of life using light and music!

Tours
Connecting the Cher Rivers and the Loire, the town of Tour is a great way to explore the Loire Valley. Throughout the Middle Ages, Tours was one of the illustrious pilgrimage locations of Europe.

In this age, you’ll explore and discover neo-classical and Renaissance styled mansions which surround the celebrated Plumereau Square. 

You’ll find world renowned wine regions such as:  Chinon, Bourgueil and Vouvray.  Visit the Cathedral of St-Gatien, and the Châteaux of Azay-IeRideau.

Other must sees are: the Villandry, bordered by Renaissance themed gardens; and rumored to be the actual Sleeping Beauty castle, the Ussé; visit Langeais and Loches, in addition to the grand town of Chinon.

 

Top 5 Places to Visit While in France

France is most delightedly and globally known.  It is also one of the most intriguing, stunning and picturesque regions you’ll ever experience.

While there are many wonderful destinations and cities to investigate and encounter, some of the must-sees of France will make your trip a worth-while adventure never to be forgotten!

Paris, France

Paris is a beautiful destination which will engage your senses of nostalgia, romance and grandeur.  Some of the must-sees include:

  • The Eiffel Tower – Climb atop this internationally recognized monument which encompasses the city.  Encounter the 1665 steps which elevate you to the top of Paris – magnifique!
  • Notre Dame – Transcending Notre Dame Cathédral and its surrounding island home.
  • Palais de Justice – Well known throughout the French Révolution.
  • Conciergerie – Where Marie Antoinette was held captive.
  • Saint Chapelle – A Church, which is architecturally stunning, with its beautiful stained glass.
  • Palais de Justice – Very nearby Paris, made  famous during the French Revolution.
  • The Louvre – As seen in the film, The Da Vinci  Code, released by Columbia Pictures in 2006,  this museum contains one of the most significant and extraordinary paintings of all   time – the Mona Lisa.
  • Adventure for the family –  Disneyland, just over ½ hour out of Paris.
  • Champs Elysées – This portion of Paris is    known for its romantic setting which            includes some of the most fashionable  streets, ideal for shopping, strolling and       taking in the epic Arc de Triomphe.
  • Seine River cruises are also a very popular    attraction.

The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur)

Located along the southeast corner of France, The French Riviera extends along the Mediterranean seaside, and is the home to the Cannes International Film Festival.  

It is also a region which serves as a playground for the rich and famous, housing multi-million dollar yachts and expensive cafes.

Visit breathtaking St. Tropez which is the essence of the Riviera, and the Principality of Monaco.

Don’t forget to take a side trip to Nice, the capital of the Riviera, which is home to the incredible Matisse Museum. 

There are numerous charming and scenic seaside resorts including:  Fréjus, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cap-d’Ail, Sainte Maxime, Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Saint-Raphaël and Juan-les-Pins.

The French Alps

Journey to the regal French Alps and unearth the renowned ski resorts of France.  Choose from a variety of top notch resorts which all interconnect its lifts: Trois Vallées, Val Thorens, Courchevel, Les Menuires, Méribel, and La Tania.

Frequently referred to as the “Rooftop of Europe,” fix your eyes on the legendary Mont Blanc, the highest mountain within the Alps.  

Other noteworthy towns which are sure to excite a traveler include:  Annecy, Grenoble, Chambéry, Albertville, Chamonix, and Annecy.

Notably, the French Alps are just as prevalent in the summer months as it is throughout the winter months.

Once the snow melts, take in the incredibly crisp and fresh mountainous air; engage in activities including: mountain climbing, walking and biking.

Lyon

Lyon is a little known city that should be on every traveler’s must-see list while in France.  This attractive city is home to many Roman inspired monuments, notably the Amphitheatre des Tres Gaules.

The heavenly and mouth-watering cuisine, history and impeccable shopping are worth a day trip.  The city is also known for its nightlife, casinos and clubs.  

The Loire Valley

This area of France embodies 15th to 18th century French aristocracy, and some of the most stunning and magnificent castles anywhere in the world, sit here.

Many of the most well known chateaux include:  Villandry, Angers, Chenonceau, Chinon, Saumur, and Chambord.

This valley is well known as the “Garden of France”, so be sure to soak up its luscious grounds and unforgettable scenery.

It’s highly recommended that you take some time to tour the castles.

If you are there during the summer months, you will be treated to outdoor theatre, dance, music and fireworks.

One of the more pronounced pieces of architecture resides in the town of Chartres.  The 13th century cathedral is considered to be one of Europe’s finest buildings derived from Gothic influence.

In fact, the cathedral has been reserved as a worldwide cultural heritage location, by the United Nations.

The Loire Valley which is also home to the major wines in the region is reasonably priced, boasting delectable treats and amazing food.

Lose yourself in France!  The wine, the culture, the romance, the cuisine, the decadence… A trip that is sure to leave you with wanting more!

France as a Travel Destination

France

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty located in New York, USA, is actually French?  In fact, France constructed the 151 ft. tall monument, and gifted it to the United States on October 28, 1886.

How about the bikini?  Yes!  Louis Réard, who was a French engineer, invented the modern bikini in 1946.  

The History of France

Prior to taking on the name France, the country was named Gaul.  Gaul was taken over by the Romans, and assumed its culture and language.

In the region of 400 AD, a Germanic group of people known as the Franks traveled to Gaul and made their home.  The term “Franks” is where France’s name originated from. 

France experienced massive defeats during World War I.  Though the country was taken over by the Nazis throughout World War II, the region ultimately freed itself in 1941, with assistance from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

France has some of the most iconic structures in the world, such as the Eiffel Tower.  The country is a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), and was ranked 20th on the Human Development Index, which is to say, France’s quality of living.

Climate of France

Depending upon the area in which you’re visiting, you’ll experience a few different climate variations in France:  Continental, Mediterranean and Oceanic.

While visiting central and eastern France such as Centre and Franche-Comté, be prepared for balmy and tepid summers and very cold winters, with plenty of rainfall and snow particularly in the higher elevations.

The south of France, perhaps the most prominent region, entails mild weather patterns, which is to say, you’ll feel chilly but calm winters, partial rainfall and hot summers.

If you are in the western part of the region such as Paris, you will experience calm, cool, breezy summers and very mild winters with plenty of rain.

Along the northern coastal regions and mountainous quarters, heavy rainfall is to be expected. 

Visa Requirements for France

If you are not a citizen of France, you will be required to attain a valid visa to enter French territory.  If you feel you are exempt from this rule, contact your local embassy so that you can obtain specific instructions and paperwork.

If you are visiting France for 90 days or less and are from the Schengen area, you will need to submit an application for a short-stay visa, also referred to as a “Schengen visa.”

If you are visiting France for more than 90 days and are from the Schengen area, you will need to submit an application for a long-stay visa, also referred to as a “Schengen visa.”

If you are not from the Schengen area, and depending upon your stay as outlined above, you will need to apply for a long or short stay visa.

When submitting your short or long stay visa application, you must submit it to the French consulate.

You will also need your passport which should be valid for at least 3 months from the time you enter France.

Be sure to contact the French consulate to receive additional instructions on submitting your application and if they will require specific documentation such as:  possible insurance, proof as to the purpose of your trip, etc.

What Type of Currency is Accepted in France?

The national currency of France is the Euro.  If you need to exchange currency, most banks, large stores, airports, exchange offices near major tourist sites and train stations will accommodate you.

It’s best to look for larger banks or exchange offices that are located in the center of town or financial district.  Hotels are also an option if you are exchanging a small amount of currency.  The exchange rate will vary based on where you are exchanging your currency.

If you need to exchange your Traveler’s Checks, it is best to do so at an exchange office or bank as not many businesses recognize them.

Another option is to purchase Traveler’s Checks.  You can purchase them from any major bank in France.  It’s a much safer and secure way to travel.

Visa is accepted at most French establishments with MasterCard close behind.  Keep in mind, shops, markets and restaurants will not accept credit card payments if the purchase is under 15 or 20 Euros.

Also, ATM machines may not be readily available so it’s best to utilize your Visa, Master Card, Traveler’s Checks in French Francs or Euro.

The Language

The language of France is French.  If you are traveling to any foreign country in which you are not familiar with, it’s always recommended that you learn a few simple words and phrases to open the lines of communication.

Travel to France

You are able to access France by air or ship.  Although, economically speaking, flying will most likely be the better bargain.

Once in France, you will have access to taxis, buses and a superb rail system.

While there are over 40 airports in France, the two main Paris international airports are:  Orly and Charles de Gaulle.

Places to Visit While in France

  • Paris – The Eiffel Tower and The Louvre (Musée du Louvre)
  • Palace of Versailles – Residence of the King and his court during 17th century France
  • Saint-Tropez along the French Rivera – Sunbathing and pleasant weather
  • Lyon – Outstanding museums, art galleries, wonderful shopping and exuberant night life
  • St. Paul de Vence in Province – Charming hilltops, boutiques, sidewalk cafes and art galleries