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France is the most visited country on Earth. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that more people travel here than anywhere else. Located at the heart of Western Europe, it is a transportation hub and easily reached from anywhere in the world. For any traveler, there’s just so much to see and do in France. This is a country of history and culture…and wine.

While Paris has a great deal to offer travelers to France (and ought to be visited at least once in your life), there’s a great amount to see besides the capital. The war sites in Normandy are legendary and any visitor from one of the Allied countries feels a deep, emotional connection to the battles fought here. The wine regions of Champagne, Bordeaux, the Alsace, and the Cote du Rhone are among some of the best in the world. But there is no place quite like Provence, from Van Gogh’s residence and the Roman ruins to the markets and the wineries, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Seven Ways to Experience the Appeal of Avignon

The skyline of Avignon, France

On the western edge of Provence is the brilliant city of Avignon. Here, cobblestone lanes lined with plane trees swirl within the city’s medieval walls. Outdoor cafes sprawl into the squares. Avignon is a very modern city with all the beauty, spirit, and French-ness that Provence has to offer.

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Picture Perfect Provence at the Hotel de l’Image

The backyard area of the Hotel de l'Image in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France

Behind the Hotel de l’Image, it is green as far as you can see, or at least until the limestone peaks of the Alpilles mountains rise from the Rhone valley. Here, there are sprawling gardens, fountains, the pool, and plenty of room to relax.

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France’s Palace of the Popes

Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France

Beginning in 1309, seven popes ruled the Catholic Church from Avignon, France, rather than Rome. To accommodate the needs of the Church and demonstrate its power, the Palace of the Popes was built on the banks of the Rhone.

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A Visit to France’s Chartres Cathedral

Stained glass window at Chartres Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site in France

I can still remember the TV cart being rolled into my seventh grade classroom. It was the early ’90s when the rickety metal things bumped through middle school hallways everywhere, long before the days of touchscreens and streaming video. My European History class was studying cathedrals, and it was time for some animated characters to

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The Two Mont Saint-Michel Islands

The island of Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France.

The island of Mont Saint-Michel has attracted pilgrims for over a thousand years. As we planned our trip to France, there would be no doubt that we’d also make our pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michael. What we found completely surprised and delighted us.

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The D-Day Beaches of Normandy

The American Cemetery in Normandy, France.

The D-Day landing on the beaches of Normandy was a concerted effort to save what was left of Europe. Now, nearly 70 years later, the beaches have an eerie quiet as travelers come to pay their respects.

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Peace in Monet’s Gardens at Giverny, France

Pond in Monet's Water Garden in Giverny, France.

An hour from Paris, but world’s apart, Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny, France are the most tangible location to experience French Impressionism in real life. Monet’s Home and Gardens still exist today, largely as they did when he passed away in 1926. Giverny is just as beautiful as the paintings would make it seem.

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Exploring the Versailles Gardens

Taking in the vast Versailles gardens outside of Paris.

I’m a sucker for gardens. I find there is just something magical about Europe’s grand palace gardens. From the Schonbrunn in Vienna to Powerscourt in Ireland, Europeans know how to set a spectacle. But there are perhaps none grander the Versailles gardens in France.

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