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Home Page > Travelogues > France

Quick Access for this Page -- [ Introduction ] [ Travelogues By Region ] [ Features ] [ Links ]

Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue.  The colors indicate different regions of France -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from the CIA World Factbook)

IntroductionMore than any country in Europe, France cannot be painted with Franceone single brushstroke.  It was about as diverse a culture as one would find anywhere, and it was a culture they cherished wholeheartedly.  This, of course, led to the stereotypes sometimes painted by Americans -- French were stubborn, obstinate, snobbish, blah, blah,  blah.

Totally false.  My own experience with the French was nothing short of positive, especially outside of Paris.  I have been to France numerous times, including several trips along the northeast provinces of Alsace-Lorraine near Germany, an extended stay among the D-Day regions of Normandy, a few excursions down to the French Riviera (also known as the Cote d'Azur), and a life-affirming pilgrimage to the holy Sanctuary of Lourdes in the Pyrenees mountains of the southwest.  Now, I'll grant that while some Frenchmen considered Americans unsophisticated and brash, I found such attitudes typically didn't last beyond the introductory handshake.  But the French retained a protective streak, and this did lead sometimes to inflexibility, particularly when dealing with business.  Then again, one ought to hold one's ground if what was at stake was some of the best regarded traditions in the world -- of wine, cheese, art, music, theater, cuisine, etc.  French pride was strong, and showed in their trademark exports.

France was also a beautiful country, despite its occasionally fickle weather.  The cliffs of Normandy, the rolling vineyards of Alsace, and the beautiful southern beaches were just some of France's scenic treasures.  I have not yet visited the French Alps, nor the west coast, the Massif Central, nor the scenic Loire -- hey, given my schedule, there was only so much France I could hit!

Travelogues by Region.  The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different regions in France, as shown below.  Click on a place name to access the travelogues.

RED:  PARIS (4 Chapters).  Ah, gay Pah-REEE!  Paris was the first place I'd ever visited in France, something most Americans might do.  Except I had the Guess this object... :-)opportunity to visit it in wintertime when it wasn't quite so crowded and getting around was pretty easy.  Taking a bus trip, I was able to hit virtually all the major sights, and I had a fabulous time when I wasn't freezing!  I divided the Paris travelogue into four chapters, starting with an Introduction Page. Next is a chapter on the western part of downtown that included the famous Eiffel Tower, Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides and the Champs Elysees.  The eastern part of downtown includes the Notre-Dame and the Louvre.  Finally, the fourth chapter covers the fabulous Palace of Versailles! ORANGE:  Normandy and the D-Day Invasion (4 Chapters).  This is one part of France that still embraces Americans wholeheartedly.  The seven travelogues 101st Airborne Museumhere are all products of a four-day trip I took to the region in June 2002.  Four travelogues are devoted to the battle sights of the invasion -- a D-Day introduction page, plus one each for the three major sectors -- the American sectors at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, and the British-Canadian Sector at Gold Beach and Pegasus Bridge (pictured above is the 101st Airborne museum).  Meanwhile, The Abbey at Caenthe surrounding towns and cities are worth a visit themselves.  My personal favorite was Caen (pictured below) with its massive abbey and fabulous canal district.  Then there was the huge port city of Cherbourg, and the gorgeous city of Bayeux that is home to a famous tapestry of William the Conqueror.

TEAL:  Alsace.  This part of France has changed hands with Germany four times in recent history, and as a result has the best of both worlds.  If you are a carnivore and want a truly filling meal, try a choucrBeautiful Colmaroute (a massive plate of sauerkraut covered with luscious slices of ham, pork cutlets, and tasty sausages)!  The Alsace-Lorraine region is gorgeous with its half-timbered buildings, like those seen in Colmar's (pictured above) Little Venice region.  The regional capital of Strasbourg is the home of the European Commission and is one of the must-see cities for anyone's itinerary.  Finally, there's the industrial center of Mulhouse with its colorful town square.

BLUE:  Cote d'Azur (the Blue Coast, or Riviera).  The famous and popular vacation district!  Beaches everywhere, gorgeous ports, sunny Mediterranean islands, and all the fish-head soup (excuse me, Marseille Cathedralbouillabaisse) you can stomach!  (Ok, maybe you have to drink some red wine first before you try it.)  Daily night trains run from Alsace to Monaco, allowing plenty opportunities from those from the shivering north to venture southward.  I took three trips to the Cote d'Azur from 2000-2002, and always had a great time.  My first trip went to Marseille (pictured), site of the famous Cathedral and the mountain-topped Church of Our Lady.  Other trips took me to wonderful Nice and Cannes during its famous Film Festival.  I also did the nearby country of Monaco, which is a protectorate of France but given its own country section in this website.

GREEN:  Champagne-Ardenne.  The Champagne-Ardenne region is famous for its bubbly, but also deserves recognition for its natural beauty, with rolling farmland and forested hills.  Sparsely populated, its charm is found in its small towns that dot the landscape.  Some of The Cathedral at Reimsthese are featured in my driving tour of the Ardennes border region with Belgium.  Meanwhile, Champagne's cities have fabulous architecture and are a joy to wander around.  Reims (pictured) is a great, nearby alternative to Paris if you don't want the crowds or the kitsch but want to see a beautiful old Cathedral and wonderful arcades.  And Chalons-en-Champagne is a mini-version of Reims.

GRAY:  Lorraine. The Lorraine region is the site of two major cities where the post D-Day advance of Allied troops slowed.  These two are now beautiful and bustling cities with lots of character.  Metz (pictured belTemple Nine at Metzow) is a great city on the Moselle River with the picturesque Temple Nine on a massive island.  It also has one of the more famous Cathedrals in eastern France.  Nancy has the absolutely fabulous Stanislaus Square and numerous gorgeous parks dotted throughout the city.. 
PURPLE:  Franche-Comte Region.  The eastern part of France south of Alsace has some very dramatic scenery, with the river valleys turning steep as the emerge from the Swiss and French Alps further south.  The cities here are marked with grand fortresses sitting high on open Scene from the Citadel at Besanconhillsides, daring all comers.  Vauban, the famous architect of well-defended cities, designed the famous citadel of Belfort, now decorated with a massive red sandstone lion symbolizing the city's successful defense against invaders.  Further west, Besancon (pictured) is a gorgeous city that embraces a sharp bend in the river.  The views from the citadel high above the city are among my most cherished photographs.

 

PINK:  Lourdes (7 Chapters).   The holy city of Lourdes in the mid-Pyrenees was one of the most fabulous trips we've ever taken.  Not only was the city of Lourdes itself beautiful and a joy to visit, but the holy Sanctuary was a sight to behold, especially when it was crowded with thousands of fellow pilgrims from around the world.  The travelogue contains seven chapters.  After the introduction page, the next three chapters describe the city -- covering the Lourdes Sanctuary(shown), the tourist zone of Pont Vieux, and the Fort and City.  The final three chapters describe our participation in the 47th annual Military Pilgrimage conducted in May in 2005.  The Chapters are divided chronologically into Day 1, Day 2, and Night 2/Day 3.

ALSO (BLACK):  Veyrier.  Veyrier is a divided town between France and Switzerland, overlooking the Swiss city of Geneva.  This travelogue is found in the Switzerland section.

Stories and Features:

Cannes Film Festival.  I spent a fabulous day trip in Cannes Scene from the 2002 Cannes Film Festivalsoaking in the environment at the famous Film Festival.  I watched a red carpet opening, overheard wacky artist types talking business, and witnessed the crowds gaggled around the hotels trying to catch just a glimpse of the stars! It's a city all abuzz during the world's greatest movie event, a day I'll never forget! Annual Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes.  This will be an exciting three-part series on this massive event that included Roman Catholic soldiers from over 30 countries -- an event that gets larger each year.  The planned stories will include coverage of the main ecclesiastic events, the military parades and events, and our participation in the most fantastic Stations of the Cross ever seen!

LinksThe below links connect you to external sites in a new window.  All links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated.  These links will open to the French-language home page, which will usually offer an icon or link to an English-language section (normally limited content).  The most common icon used is that of an American or UK flag.  If an English language link is not available, click on links named "Tourisme".  This is for the tourism page, which should have English content.  Locations where we were unable to find any English content are marked as "French only".  Links updated 2 January 2006.

Country Links:

bulletNational Tourism Bureau of France
bulletFrench Tourist Bureau in US
bullet US Embassy to France (Paris)
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US Consulate to France (Marseille)

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US Consulate to France (Strasbourg)

bullet US Consular Information Sheet on France
bullet French Consulates to US 

 

Regional Links:

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Normandy Regional Tourism Page

 

City and Town Links:

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Bayeux Home Page

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Belfort Home Page   

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Besançon Home Page (French only) 

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Caen Home Page (French only)

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Cannes Home Page

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Cannes Film Festival Home Page

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Châlons-en-Champagne Home Page (French only) 

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Cherbourg Home Page 

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Colmar Home Page (French only)

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Lourdes Home Page

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Marseille Home Page

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Metz Home Page 

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Mulhouse Home Page   

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Nancy Home Page

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Nice Home Page

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Paris Home Page

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Paris Tourism Page (includes Versailles)

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Reims Home Page 

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Strasbourg Home Page

   
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