|Area: 211,208 square
miles (almost the size of Texas).Population: 58,518,395
(Paris, 2,150,000; Marseille, 868,000; Lyon, 410,000; Nice,
Paris, the "grande
dame" of French art and heritage, has restored and added
many jewels to her cultural crown. The Louvre's reorganization
will be completed in 1998; reopened is the Sully wing with
11 new rooms dedicated to Oriental Antiquities. New museums
include the Musée de la Musique featuring more than
4,500 musical instruments from the 16th century to today, the
Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art and the Maillol Museum-Dina
Vieray Foundation. To open in 1998 is the Museum of Jewish
Art and History in the heart of the Marais district.
The Île-de-France region surrounding
Paris has a dozen castles, including Vaux-le-Vicomte, and the
stately châteaux of Versailles and Fontainebleau. Explore
the small towns and villages once home to famed artists, from
Sisley's Milly-la-Forêt to Van Gogh's Auvers-sur-Oise.
The Loire Valley sparkles
with famous châteaux, including the stately Chambord
and 16th-century Chenonceau, bridging the Cher river. Medieval
Loches, birthplace of poet Alfred de Vigny, boasts a 13th-
to 16th-century castle; while Bourges is famed for its cathedral,
old quarter and Gothic Palais Jacques Coeur.
Brittany has 800 miles
of rocky coastline, scores of fishing villages and a Celtic
heritage. The July Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper (famous
for its faïence) draws thousands of music and dance groups
from Ireland, Scotland and other Celtic communities.
Burgundy is known for
its dukes, prestigious wines and distinctive cuisine. Many
vineyards and wineries can be visited by tour or by appointment.
The countryside and magnificent estates can be admired from
a hot-air balloon; the network of rivers and canals is ideal
for barge excursions. Among the towns celebrated for remarkable
architecture are Beaune, also noted for its wine market and
the Three Days of Glory in November; Dijon, of mustard fame;
and medieval Vézelay.
Normandy and its beaches
drew veterans and visitors during the D-Day anniversary year,
with its moving memorials, museums and famous landing sites
from the beaches named Omaha and Utah to Pointe-du-Hoc.
Provence abounds with
Roman ruins and cities of art and history from Vaison-la-Romaine
to Orange, Arles, St-Rémy and Nîmes, as well as
Avignon with its Palace of the Popes and Pont-du-Gard and its
Roman aqueduct. Marseille, the second-largest city, is the
oldest of the great French ports. Aix-en-Provence, home of
a popular summer festival, has elegant mansions, inviting squares,
graceful fountains and the atelier of Paul Cézanne.
Art patrons are drawn to Arles, where Van Gogh created some
300 paintings and drawings among the Roman ruins.
The Riviera is known
for its fabled beach resorts and azure sea and sky. Nice has
Matisse and Chagall museums, and a fragrant flower market at
Cours Saleya. The famous film festival at Cannes celebrated
its 50th year in 1997. At Antibes, the 15th-century Grimaldi
Castle houses a Picasso museum. Vence has a magnificent Matisse
A connoisseur's Riviera includes the must-see medieval and
cultural hill towns of Eze, Hauts-de-Cagnes, Vallauris, St-Paul-de-Vence
Lyon, where the Saône
meets the Rhône, is famed for its outstanding restaurants
and vast collection of artifacts at the Musée de la
Civilisation Gallo-Romaine. The Beaux-Arts Museum has been
restored and expanded, and the new opera house is popular with
performers and audiences alike. Nearby are the celebrated vineyards
The French Alps soar
from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean, and boast the highest
peak in Western Europe, Mont Blanc (15,781 feet). The 1992
Winter Olympics were held at Albertville in the Savoie region,
with improved facilities and easier access to the 10 Olympic
venues. A former Olympic site, Grenoble is the chief city,
and Courchevel enters its 52nd year as one of France's premier
Alsace is a land of
great vineyards; fortified villages like Riquewihr; and medieval
towns like Colmar, overflowing with history and folklore. The
parliament of the European Union meets in Strasbourg, also
the site of one of France's finest cathedrals.
Viator Selected Tours:
- Da Vinci Code Walking Tour
- Illuminations and Moulin Rouge Show
- Paris Segway Tour
- Seine Cruise and Illuminations
- Arts and Fine Dining
the Fine Wine Producing Regions of Bordeaux Enchanting
landscapes, romance, historical sites and of course
Provence and more
The fields of lavender fills the beautiful landscapes
with rolling seas of purple!
Loire Valley, Arles, Avignon, Blois,
Bordeaux, Caen, Cannes, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Les
Baux de Provence, Lille, Lisieux , Lyon , Marseille ,
| Latin America
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