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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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Jardin des Vestiges, Marseille

For a picture of Marseille's earliest civilization, visit the Jardin des Vestiges, a public garden installed in the remains of an original Greek port, which was...more

see the Marseille guide
Editors' Pick
L'Atelier des Chefs, Paris

With a convenient location and well-equipped kitchens, this cooking school offers a two-hour, hands-on course taught by working chefs. You'll learn how to cook...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Le Brigantin, St. Tropez

This comfortable schooner with a friendly bilingual staff offers tours of the magnificent Baie de St. Tropez, with various departures through the day. A great...more

see the St. Tropez guide
Editors' Pick
Les Baux de Provence

Driving up to Les Baux is an exercise in pure Mediterranean escapism: Switchback roads lead past endless olive groves, plane trees, and vineyards, giving...more

see the Provence guide
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Les Calanques, Massif des Calanques

The coastal, creek-lined mastiff gorges known as "Les Calanques" dot the 12-mile jagged shore between Marseille and the attractive fishing port of Cassis....more

see the Marseille guide
Editors' Pick
Hotel Photo
Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

On that inevitable day when you don't want to go to a museum and you're sick of shopping, come to the Luxembourg Gardens. Quite simply, there's no better...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Maison des Papillons, St. Tropez

With so many rare and beautiful creatures flapping their wings around town, there's some poetic justice in the fact that St. Tropez has one of the best...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Maison Européene de la Photographie, Paris

Paris was one of the pioneering cities in the birth of photography: It was recognized as an art form here long before anywhere else. This handsome 17th-century...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Marais, Paris

Since the 1990s, the focus of the city's cruising and schmoozing scene has been the Marais, especially the area around Square du Temple in the Third...more

see the Paris guide
Editors' Pick
Massif de l'Estérel

The Côte d'Azur isn't known for its hiking and camping, but nature is just a 20-minute drive west along the coast from Cannes on the N98 road, a.k.a. the...more

see the Côte d'Azur guide
Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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