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France see + do

Planning a trip to France? Whether you're a gourmand or a history buff, a sun seeker or a shopper, everything in this country seems to derive from or end up in Paris. It's the starting point for most trips, and with its world-class museums, ever-renewing neighborhoods, and cavalcade of classic and new restaurants, it'd be easy to spend your whole trip there. However, the rest of France provides an equally staggering embarrassment of riches. Hop a train south to Provence where Roman ruins sit among medieval villages and pine-covered mountains, and the Côte d'Azur, where celebs and socialites pack sunny beaches and swanky nightclubs.

Art lovers will want to reserve significant time for classics like the Louvre, Musée Rodin, and Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and then head to the many small Impressionist museums in Provence and along the coast. For architectural grandeur, explore the Gothic cathedrals in Reims, the Champagne region, and Normandy, as well as Paris's Notre-Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and Saint-Eustache. Or head to the Loire Valley to tour (or spend the night in) the region's grand châteaux. And if you'd rather a feast for your stomach than your eyes, head to Lyon, the center of France's butter-and-cream culinary culture, or to Bordeaux, a revitalized city at the center of one of the world's most prestigious wine-growing regions. Any short visit will tend to excess, mais c'est la vie.

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Diving, St. Tropez

When you need a break from the exotic creatures on the ground, take to the waters with Octopussy, a well-regarded PADI diving outfit that sets up both...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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École du Vin, Bordeaux

The city's École du Vin offers thorough but inexpensive beginner and intermediate courses (in English) on appreciating the local wine and identifying your...more

see the Bordeaux guide
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Hotel Photo
Eiffel Tower, Paris

It's hard to imagine just how avant-garde this tower of cast-iron girders was when it was built in 1889 to celebrate the World's Fair and the centenary of the...more

see the Paris guide
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The Fish Market, Marseille

Try to rise early enough to catch the renowned seafood and fish market, daily at the Vieux Port, for a sneak peak of what will be in the bouillabaisse come...more

see the Marseille guide
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Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, Burgundy

According to legend, Flavinius, a Roman who arrived in Burgundy with Julius Caesar around 52 B.C., fell in love with the site of this enchanting village and...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Gordes, Gordes, Provence

Dreams of owning property in the region are often born in this template of a Provence village: The dramatic limestone cliff is covered in red-roofed buildings...more

see the Provence guide
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Gorges du Verdon, Moustiers-Ste-Marie

The Gorges du Verdon, at 12 miles long and up to 2,300 feet deep at points, is wild France at its most awe-inspiring. The turquoise-green Verdon River sits at...more

see the Provence guide
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Hiking in Chamonix, Chamonix

Not for nothing does Chamonix call itself the "birthplace of mountaineering." In summer, the mountains are a hikers' paradise, with sparkling-clean air, pine...more

see the Chamonix guide
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Hotel Photo
Hospices and Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, Beaune, Burgundy

For centuries, the Hospices and Hôtel-Dieu of Beaune (better known simply as the Hospices de Beaune) was the main hospital of this fortified town,...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Île de la Cité and Île St-Louis, Paris

Midstream in the Seine, the Île de la Cité is Paris's birthplace, where a Celtic tribe known as the Parisii built their wattle settlement around 250...more

see the Paris guide
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