- Loire Valley,
This is my trip to France I'll take it in the summer.
Brasserie de l'Univers, France
Tours 37000, France
Tel: 33 2 47 05 50 92
This big, beautiful Belle Époque restaurant dates to 1896 and has an original stained-glass domed ceiling and an outdoor terrace. It's widely acknowledged to be the best brasserie in town, and has long been popular with writers and poets (it hosts numerous literary festivals and academic talks about local history and architecture). The service is flawless, and the food is simple but good—mostly grilled meats, fish, and seafood, and classics like duck breast confit, foie gras, and oysters St. Jacques, as well as pizza and salads.
Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa
See + Do
Château de Versailles, France
Tel: 33 1 30 83 76 20 or 33 8 92 68 46 94 for advance ticket sales
People visit Versailles in the hopes of being absolutely dazzled by opulence. They're rarely disappointed. The palace is glorious, but unless you already have a good grasp of French history, it's a good idea to bone up, since the endless references to seemingly out-of-sequence kings and their queens, mistresses, and children can dull the magic if you can't keep up. Get here as early as you possibly can to avoid the tour-bus herds, and don't just troop through the most famous rooms—the Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Appartement where Louis XIV held court, and the queen's bedroom. The lavish private apartments of Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Marie-Antoinette give a glimpse of why the Revolution took place, and the Opera House and Royal Chapel tell you plenty about the gilded-lily, ancien régime lifestyle. Do check out Madame de Pompadour's gorgeously restored "secret" apartments, wander the sublime gardens, and visit the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette futilely, fatuously, famously attempted to re-create the simple life of her subjects. Also stop by the Potager du Roi, the vegetable garden to the west of the palace that supplied the court. The palace compound is currently undergoing extensive renovations, which have added new must-sees to a visit, including the gilded salle de bain (bathroom) of Louis XV.
Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. November through March; 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. April through October. Palace closed Mondays; gardens open daily.