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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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Musée du Vin–Burgundy Wine Museum, Beaune, Burgundy

In Beaune, Burgundy's wine capital, some wine shops call themselves museums, but a visit to the Musée du Vin is the best way to learn about the history of...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Musée du Quai Branly, Paris

After a decade of dithering, Parisian star architect Jean Nouvel's $300 million Seine-side complex finally opened in June 2006. Built to embody President...more

see the Paris guide
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Hotel Photo
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The world's most famous museum, originally a royal residence, usually elicits one of two strong reactions from those who've never been before—exhilaration...more

see the Paris guide
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Musée des Docks Romains, Marseille

The Museum of the Roman Docks houses a unique and intimate collection where vast dolia (grain-storage jars) share space with Roman treasures mainly found in...more

see the Marseille guide
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Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux

Set in two galleries in the gardens of the splendid Baroque Palais Rohan, which now serves as the city's Hôtel de Ville (town hall), the collection, about...more

see the Bordeaux guide
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Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Bordeaux

The exhibits—porcelain, pictures, furniture—are moderately diverting, but they pale in comparison to the surrounding building: a perfectly preserved,...more

see the Bordeaux guide
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Musée Départemental de Préhistoire, Solutré-Pouilly, Burgundy

In prehistoric times, hunters ambushed mammoths and horses at Roche de Solutré, a startling hogback outcropping six miles east of Mâcon, near the...more

see the Burgundy guide
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Musée de L'Annonciade, St. Tropez

A superb collection of paintings by artists who brought St. Tropez its initial renown, particularly pointillist Paul Signac, whose boldly pixilated paintings...more

see the St. Tropez guide
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Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Since opening in 1986, the Musée d'Orsay has become one of the most successful and beloved museums in the world. The grandiose limestone edifice was...more

see the Paris guide
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Musée Carnavalet, Paris

Ignore the Mona Lisa's prima donna claim on the world's imagination. The first museum you should go to in Paris is this superb 140-room collection dedicated to...more

see the Paris guide
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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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