France

Visiting Petite Venise is one of the top things to do in Colmar France
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 Cotes 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.

Markets in the South of France provide the best ingredients for Provencal cooking

Adventures in Provencal Cooking

Provence takes its food seriously. It’s rustic and flavorful, featuring olives, garlic, and dozens of other delicious ingredients. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Here are a few of the things that I learned in my attempt to cook in Provence.

The skyline of Avignon, France

Seven Ways to Experience the Appeal of Avignon

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.

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

Picture Perfect Provence at the Hotel de l’Image

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.

Radishes and artichokes at a Provence market in Arles France

An Embarrassment of Riches — Provence Market Days

Brightly-colored vegetables spill forth from the stands. The aroma of roasted chicken drifts through the air while locals arrive for their daily baguettes. The ambiance at weekly markets – particularly at a Provence market – is addicting.

Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France

France’s Palace of the Popes

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.

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

The Two Mont Saint-Michel Islands

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.

The American Cemetery in Normandy, France.

The D-Day Beaches of Normandy

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.

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

Peace in Monet’s Gardens at 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.

Taking in the vast Versailles gardens outside of Paris.

Exploring the Versailles Gardens

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.