Accent on travel
Dreaming of experiencing one of the most elegant countries in the world? Did you say “oui?” History, culture, fashion and gastronomy leave little time for idle days and nights. France is Western Europe’s largest country; about 20 percent smaller than Texas.
Flying from Albany? Major airlines operate connecting flights. Air from JFK, Newark or Montreal can provide substantial savings, even non-stop service. Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG) is the largest airport in France and 15 miles north of Paris.
Want to visit both Paris and London? Arrange to fly into one and out of the other.
Split your visit to both destinations and use the chunnel to transfer from Paris to London.
When should I go?
You’ll find the cheapest airfares to Europe during the winter, with fall and spring being less expensive than peak summer travel.
Weather conditions vary throughout France, based on distance from the Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea. Coastal areas have mild winters and cool summers, while inland regions have hot summers and cold winters. The French Alps, bordering Italy and Switzerland, have the most precipitation and are highly regarded ski areas. The Alps shield cold weather from the French Riviera and principality of Monaco, which border the Mediterranean Sea.
Using Paris for reference, average temperatures are:
Fall: September-October. High 60, Low 47.
Winter: Nov-Feb. High 45, Low 34. Light snowfall possible.
Springtime: March-May. High 58, Low 43, and frequent rain showers.
Summer: June-August. High 76, Low 57.
What can I do there?
Paris, capital of France (known as the City of Lights), seems to be on the top of everyone’s travel list these days. At first glance, one can understand why Parisians consider their city the most beautiful in the world. While the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and the Louvre have appeal, impressive museums, exceptional cuisine and significant historic sites attract over 25 million visitors a year.
The Seine River divides the city with its’ left bank and right bank distinction. In addition, 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) spiral the city, providing unique accommodations, museums, cafes and shopping that attract tourists, as well as the locals.
First Arrondissement: Home to the Louvre and Palais Royal, is located in the geographic center of the city.
Fifth Arrondissement: The popular Latin Quarter and haven for intellectuals. Students and professionals enjoy international cafes, eclectic restaurants and lively nightlife. Choose from unique, boutique style hotels that are within easy reach of activity.
Seventh Arrondissement: An art lover’s paradise, packed with museums. Most notably, The Eiffel Tower and Musee d’Orsay are located here.
Traveling with children? You may want to treat them to Euro Disney in Paris.
Walking this beautiful city is enjoyable with a good pair of shoes. The metro and bus are efficient ways to sight-see. Leaving the Paris region? The TGV high-speed train is the most efficient mode of travel.
Pair the City of Lights with at least one other region of France for a winning combination of culture, history and gastronomy.
Versaille – Avid horticulturist or not, be inspired by one of the most renowned palaces and gardens in the world; home of Louis XIV, who reigned 74 years. Built in the 1600s, it took 36,000 people nearly three years to complete. Devote an entire day to tour the spectacular grounds. Walk in the path of Marie Antoinette.
Rouen – A two-hour ride from Paris, visit this historic village, steeped in a medieval facade. Famed novelist and area resident Victor Hugo penned one of the greatest stories of all time in 1862: Les Miserables. Near an enchanting carousel in Marquet Square, a simple plaque dated May 30, 1431 commemorates the spot where Joan of Arc, age 19, was burned at the stake.
Normandy – Are you a military veteran or history buff? Visit the D-Day landing beaches in remembrance of those who braved their lives during the invasion on June 6, 1944.
Brittany – Visit Mont St. Michel, an island fortress and monastery. Dating back to the eight century, it’s one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.
Giverny – History paints a picture. Stop to visit the home and gardens of impressionist Claude Monet.
Lyons – Take the TGV for a day trip. Noted as a major shopping region for fashions and fabric, it has been a center for silk manufacturing since the 16th century.
Bordeaux – Looking for a premier wine region? Consider this capital of gourmet pleasure and newly-appointed world heritage site.
Reims & Epernay – The best champagne in the country is produced here.
Reims Museum of Fine Arts – Where the Germans surrendered in World War II.
Loire Valley – 3,000 castles and chateaux dating back to four centuries of French history.
Which would you prefer to call home?
Provence – People love the quaint villages, lavender fields and abundant days of sunshine.
Nice – The Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) attracts the rich, famous and curious. Temperatures are normally pleasant, but not consistently warm. The beach may be as rocky as it is sandy.
Cannes – Annual International Film Festival location and port of call for Mediterranean cruises.
Grasse – World perfume capital. Custom design your own fragrance and officially name it.
Famous French icons include: Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte, Paul Cezanne, Jacque Cousteau, Marie and Pierre Curie, Edgar Degas, Alexander Gustave Eiffel, Joan Of Arc, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet and Pierre Renoir.
Whatever your passion, France could be the country you’ll long to see again.
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.net.