France in 25 Photographs

France, perhaps the most idolized country in the world does little to dampen even the highest expectations one might have of this country.  Offering varied landscapes, luxurious treats, and a plethora of cultural relics, France has something for everyone.  With so much history and scenery to explore, two weeks is simply not enough to gain a full understanding of the country.  Although we couldn’t go everywhere, our journey through France did traverse through many important regions of the country and helped us gain a deeper understanding of this world acclaimed and proud culture.

Paris

The city of dreams, lights, and thought, the capital has not only been a center for the nation of France, but has also served as a base of free thought and expression for the entire world for centuries.  Walking through Paris brings alive the places your high school history teacher talked about (if you were paying attention).  Simply put, one trip to Paris is not enough to really get to know the city.  There is simply too much here for one visit.  Cost of Paris keeping you away?  Find out how to visit the city for less than $60 a day here!

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Paris has one of the most user friendly transportation systems in the world.  It makes for getting around the city easy.  IMG_7521

The rose window of Notre Dame.  Absolutly stunning. IMG_7651

One of the most well known symbols throughout the world, the Eiffel Tower still takes your breath away the first time you see it up close.  It’s almost impossible to not be overcome by this city’s symbol.IMG_7581

When one travels to Paris, you must be sure to spend time in one of its open spaces.  Parks are abundant in the city and are a great place to chill out and take in local culture.

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The blue roofed apartments that define much of Paris.  The city is best experienced by walking.  Be sure to take time to wander aimlessly in this city.IMG_7492

Notre Dame, another image that not only represents Paris but France as a whole, has acted as the center of the city for centuries.  The best part of Notre Dame is that you can enjoy it for free!

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Paris is a city of art and to appreciate it, you have to take time to look at the details.  The amount of detail that goes into the architecture of buildings and monuments is breathtaking. This one is of the Arc de Triomphe

Saint Emilion

One of France’s largest exports is wine and for good reason.  Many of the world’s highest quality wines come from France and there is no better place to experience the wine making process than in the Bordeaux region.  Visiting one of the regions many chateaus offers visitors insight into the dedication made to ensure wine from this region remains of the highest quality.  Saint Emilion is a perfect place to get your pallet wet as there are dozens of chateaus in the immediate region and offers visitors with beautiful scenery and a cute little medieval town.  For more information on Saint Emilion, click here.

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Looking over the town of Saint Emillion completes a perfect day of tasting in wine country.IMG_7188

Barrels upon barrels of wine waiting to age to perfection

Etretat

Looking to get away from cities in Europe? Let Etretat help you escape as you daydream on top of cliffs along the English Channel.  The area is also steeped with history as it was a favorite location of Monet’s to paint and was heavily fortified during the Nazi occupation of Germany.  Taking a day trip here from Le Havre is a great way to get a taste of French countryside along with sublime views.  To learn where to stay and how to get here, click here.

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On the beach looking over to a church on top of the cliffs.  It is easy to spend hours here just gazing at the scenery.IMG_8249

It is here where Monet created many pieces at Etretat.  It is easy to see why he fell in love with the place.

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Taking time to climb up onto the cliffs and enjoy the sunshine is the best part of a trip to Etretat.

D-Day Sites

France is also home to some of the world’s most hallowed ground.  Around the sleepy town of Bayeux was the site of the D-Day landings during WWII.  It was here that allied forces broke into France and what became the beginning of a turning point during the war.  Claiming these beaches did not come easily however as thousands gave up their lives.  Walking among what remains of the battlefields and paying respects at the American Cemetery makes one reflect on those who gave up everything to defend the freedom of those they loved and those they did not even know.  Pay your respects and reflect on the great sacrifices that were made here.  For more information on our trip to the D-Day area, click here.

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Bullet holes scar many of the bunkers that still remain along the coast.  A constant reminder of the heavy history that occurred here.IMG_8503

The American cemetery helps put in perspective the sacrifices that were made here so that you could stand where you are today free.IMG_8367

Bayeux is a beautiful town with the impressive Notre Dame cathedral dominating the skyline.

Mont Saint Michel

It is hard to avoid a trip to the Mont while in Normandy.  The ancient fortress has stood the test of time, fending off many invasions dating all the way back to the One Hundred Years War.  Walking the narrow streets here takes visitors back in time and makes you feel as if you too should be carrying your own saber as you walk around town.  For more information on our trip to the Mont, click here.

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With its fast rising tides, quick sand, and formidable walls, one can begin to understand how the Mont was never successfully invaded… until tourism was discoveredIMG_8655

Take time to simply check out the views of town as you rise up towards the abbeyIMG_8653

Climbing up gets you away from the tourist hoards and also offers stunning views.IMG_8685

Inside the abbey which during its time has served as both a church and prisonIMG_8709

The Mont is a great place for beautiful landscapes, epic history, and medieval architecture. IMG_8713

The Mont is beautiful both inside and out.

Versailles

No place else in the world better exemplifies the form of government that controlled Europe throughout much of its history.  The palace of Versailles is an example of absolute monarchy at its finest.  Take in the extravagance that emptied the French bank accounts to build and learn how daily life in the court helped these rulers to impose absolute control over their subjects.

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The Hall of Mirrors.  Mirrors were a luxury at the time so having a room full of them was a pretty bold statement.  This is also the hall where the Treaty of Versailles was signed after WWI. IMG_7914

Versailles is decorated more than the gaudiest of Christmas trees.  It cannot be outdone.IMG_7880

The Opera house in Versailles is one of the most incredible rooms we have ever stepped foot in.  Photographs of this room do not do it justice.  IMG_8014

When exploring Versailles, dedicate some time to venture the vast gardens and grounds of the palace, including Marie Antoinette’s playground where she would go to escape the rigors of court life.

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