Paris is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of France. But there are many wonderful places across the country and we’re here to make sure you don’t miss out on them!
Mont Saint Michel – Where the Middle Ages meet the 21st century
Have you ever wondered how it would be to suddenly walk within a medieval setting, as if you stepped foot in Umberto Eco’s “Name of the Rose”? Well, search no more, for a visit to Mont Saint Michel will transfer you to the 11th century and its imposing atmosphere!
Mont Saint Michel is a tidal island abbey and an UNESCO heritage site, located approximately one mile off the coast of Normandy. The abbey itself was founded by an Irish monk and has since been one of France’s most iconic monuments and a symbol of resistance. Now its lone spire marks the abbey’s location from distance and beckons you to explore its secret and lost glamor of ages past. The causeway leading to this monumental site used to be submerged completely in the Atlantic Ocean and surfaced only when the low tide pulled the waters away from the island to reveal a secret path for visiting pilgrims. Nowadays a bridge connects the mainland and the island, allowing for passage throughout the year.
Cobbled streets and narrow stairs guide you through the limestone buildings that have been well maintained through the years. On this island modern age meets history and as you enter a store’s doorway, while you would expect a knight making his way out, you are instead greeted by the warm setting of a typical French café. Don’t forget to close the curtain with a visit to the castle’s ramparts from where you will be able to enjoy a lovely sunset!
The Abbey of Senanque – A haven of peace and serenity dressed in purple
At the coming of each spring, the Abbey of Senanque opens to the public and the majesty of nature’s palette is ready to welcome you. Deep within the valleys of Provence, near the medieval village of Gordes, lies the famous abbey itself.
Built by Cistercian monks in the 12th century, it has been a house of prayer and meditation ever since. One of the few remnants of true Romanesque architecture, the abbey is a site that any visitor to Provence must see. The resident monks, true to their order’s strictures and beliefs, live in seclusion to this day, cultivating lavender and harnessing honey. As spring envelops the region, the fields of lavender bloom and engulf the abbey and its surrounding lands in a purple sheet of beauty.
Let yourself wander among an atmosphere of serenity as you step into the dormitory and immediately lose yourself in an oasis of tranquility as you exit through the gardens of the cloister. You can even visit the chapter house and the church itself and marvel at the splendor of ages past.
The abbey closes by 5pm but don’t forget to pass from Gordes for dinner and a nightcap!
The Chateau de Chenonceau – A paragon of elegance and beauty
The Chateau de Chenonceau is an architectural jewel in the Loire Valley built in the 16th century and through its long history it has seen a series of powerful and independent women carve its destiny.
While crossing the imposing bridge that spans over the river Cher, take a minute to enjoy the view as the sun playfully shines above the waters. Step into the second most visited castle in the whole country and you will relive history in the steps of powerful ladies such as Catherine de Medici and Louise de Lorraine, to name only two. Bask in the glamor of sublime artistry as you walk beneath the gilded and painted ceilings and let the exquisite furniture travel your mind to another age. The chateau’s extensive art collection will certainly be a highlight of your visit.
Once you finish your walk within the marble walls and arches of the chateau, it’s time for a picnic in one of France’s most beautiful gardens. Spring is the ideal season to visit the spacious and carefully maintained gardens, as every flower blooms and a colorful curtain provides you with sensory stimulation. For those playful enough (or plainly romantic) there is also a gazebo at the center of the garden’s maze, the ideal spot for the perfect Instagram story!
Giverny – A house of inspiration within a masterpiece of nature
If you’ve ever wondered what the inspiration of a famous impressionist painter could be then you have to search no more. The house of Claude Monet and his gardens in Giverny will take you to a trip within the artist’s mind and provide you with glimpses of his inspiration and talent.
Giverny is almost an hour away from Paris and it’s the place where the famous painter lived the better part of his life until the end of his days. It is surrounded by tens of thousands of different flowers and a multitude of walking paths for those who want to aimlessly wander among a colorful and bucolic scenery. Monet himself designed and decorated the estate but his vision of the gardens did not stop there; the river Epte was diverted, in order to nourish the water garden that inspired the series of paintings called “Nympheas”.
When it is time to “bid adieu” to the unforgettable gardens, make a lunch stop to Vernon, a picturesque small town in close distance. The small town’s unique atmosphere and its signature landmarks; the Old Mill, the Collegiate Church and its rows of 15th century houses will bring this wonderful visit to full circle!