Tourism in France
The Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s most famous landmarks. This feat of ingenuity is a structure of 8,000 metallic parts, designed by Gustave Eiffel as a temporary exhibit for the World Fair of 1889. Originally loathed by critics, the 320-meter-high tower is now a beloved and irreplaceable fixture of the Paris skyline. The structure’s unique gracefulness has earned it the nickname of “Iron Lady.” Visitors are impressed by the tower’s monumental size and the breathtaking panoramas at each of the three levels. Tourists can dine with a view at the first level or indulge at the Michelin-starred Jules Vernes restaurant on the second level. At the exhilarating height of 276 meters, the top level offers a sweeping outlook over the city of Paris and beyond-extending as far as 70 kilometers on a clear day.
Rising dramatically out of the sea on the coast of Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most striking landmarks. This “Pyramid of the Seas” is a mystical sight, perched on a rocky islet and surrounded by walls and bastions. At high tide, Mont-Saint-Michel is an island. At low tide, it is possible to walk across the sand to the Mont. The main tourist attraction, the Abbaye de Saint-Michel was founded in 708 by the Archbishop Aubert of Avranches after the Archangel Michael appeared to him in a vision. The Abbey is a marvel of medieval architecture with Gothic spires soaring 155 meters above the sea, a sublime sanctuary, and splendid views. Since it was built in the 11th century, the Abbey Church has been an important pilgrimage destination. Because of its soul-inspiring serenity, Mont Saint-Michel is known as “The Heavenly Jerusalem.”
Loire Valley Châteaux
Traveling through the Loire Valley feels like turning the pages of a children’s storybook. Throughout the enchanting countryside of woodlands and river valleys are fairy-tale castles complete with moats and turreted towers. The entire area of the Loire Valley, a lush area known as the “Garden of France,” is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the Loire castles are medieval fortresses built on hilltops and surrounded by ramparts. However the most famous Loire châteaux are sumptuous Renaissance castles that were designed purely for enjoyment and entertaining, as an extension of court life outside of Paris. The Château de Chambord, built for King Francis I, is the most magnificent château; Château de Chenonceau has a distinctive feminine style; and Cheverny is a charming manor house in idyllic surroundings.
Brittany is a beautiful historic region on the northeastern coast of France. Rugged seaside scenery, quaint fishing villages, and weathered sea ports characterize this region. Brittany is proud of its ancient traditions and famous for its costumed religious festivals. Brittany is also a mystical land of myths and legends, with a Celtic influence and a dialect related to Gaelic. The local cuisine is delicious, best known for its savory buckwheat crêpes and sweet dessert crêpes. The quintessential Breton port is Saint-Malo surrounded by ancient walls. Quimper is a picture-postcard historic town with handsome half-timbered houses, pleasant squares, and an impressive Gothic cathedral. Nantes has a spectacular château and is where the Edict of Nantes was signed in 1598 granting freedom of religious belief to Protestants. Other highlights of Brittany are the pristine sandy beaches, tiny remote islands, and ancient castles.
Bordeaux & Saint-Émilion
The Bordeaux region is a beautiful bucolic corner of France, where grandiose castles preside over rolling, vine-covered hills. The region has two exceptional UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the elegant city of Bordeaux, with more than 350 buildings classified as historical monuments and the little country village of Saint-Émilion, 51 kilometers from Bordeaux. With a rich Christian heritage dating back to the 8th century, Saint-Émilion is filled with notable churches and monasteries.