Category Archive: France

Viva le Tower: The 127th Anniversary of the Eiffel Tower

March 31st is the 127th anniversary of the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower, and boy dho I wish I was there to celebrate! Located beside the River Seine in Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in the city.  Following its completion in 1889, it was the tallest structure in the world, and remained so until the Chrysler Building in New York City displaced it from that top spot. The Eiffel Tower was originally built as the entrance arch for the Paris World’s Fair.  That  also marked the 100-year commemoration of the French Revolution. When it was first built, many considered it to be an eyesore, part of the reason why originally the tower was to be torn down 20 years after it was erected.  Fortunately, some practical uses came of the tower (including the role it played in helping […]

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7 Places to Sip Wine in France

When I think about traveling in France, food and wine are at the top of my list of things to enjoy. From simple peasant fare to exquisite fine dining, my mouth waters thinking about the choices. It’s been awhile since I visited France for longer than making a connection at the airport, but I still have fond memories of delightful combinations of food and wine. You can enjoy this experience with minimal effort. Arm yourself with some basic wine information, hone in on a destination or two, maybe even limit your “research” to one or two types of grapes. For your consideration, I suggest seven places to sip wine while you’re in France: Toast a special occasion with champagne in Champagne. Champagne is not just a delicious sparkling wine, it’s a legal term that can only be used for wine made with […]

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My Favorite Paris Museum

In a city as full of museums as Paris, you might think think it tough to choose a favorite.  After a whirlwind week soaking up as much as I possible could, and visiting more than a few museums, there were only a few Paris museums that made a lasting impression. The Louvre was vast and covered an extensive period of time.   But while I enjoyed it, the art on display – with a few notable exceptions – wasn’t really my cup of tea.  The Rodin displayed statuary that was lovely, but it didn’t offer the depth to really captivate me.  Although this museum would score a solid second on my list of favorites in large part because of the gardens that surround it.  The Centre Pompidou made me smile with its architecture and exhibits, the Delacroix was nice, the Quai […]

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The Arc de Triomphe: The Triumph of Paris

Standing in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle (also called the Place de l’Étoile) at the western end of the Champs-Élyseés, the Arc de Triomphe is the largest triumphal arch in the world.  It honors those who bravely fought for France, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, and beneath the arch is the tomb of the unknown soldier from World War I, the grave marked by the very first eternal flame.  The flame burns in memory of those who died, but were not identified, in both WWI and WWII.  The English translation of the inscription reads “Here lies a French soldier who died for his fatherland 1914-1918.”  It’s said that this flame was the inspiration for an eternal flame being placed on the grave of assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The Arc de Triomphe stands about 165 feet tall, […]

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The Beauty in Chamonix

Fans of sports, snow, and the outdoors love Chamonix for the famous resort at the base of Mont Blanc in the French Alps, home to the First Winter Olympic games in 1924.  From snow sports, to natural beauty, to year-round mountaineering, to the nightlife in Chamonix, this is a place that gets under your skin and never lets you go. What can you expect when you visit? Snow Sports – Mont Blanc and skiing go hand-in-hand, and this is where you’ll find top-notch adrenalin junkies pushing themselves on some of the most challenging and thrilling ski slopes.  Glacier skiing is also popular, and there are plenty of options for snowboarding.  While the resort claims to have skiing for all ability levels, most of the runs are intermediate to advanced.  Popular ski areas include:  White Valley (glacier skiing), Brevent and la […]

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Paris Pantheon: Finding Where the Bodies Are Buried

One of my favorite places in Paris is the Pantheon, a neo-Classical church in the Latin Quarter.  It was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome and topped with a dome similar to the one on Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.  Although it was originally an abbey, it now primarily serves as a burial place for famous French heroes, leaders, artists, and writers. This beautiful building was constructed as a result of a promise made by King Louis XV in 1744.  He was suffering from a serious and mysterious illness (later believed to be gout), and vowed that if he recovered he would build something worthy of the patron saint of Paris. He recovered, and construction of the Pantheon began in 1758 and was completed in 1789.  Like constructions projects today, the Pantheon ran into delay after delay — most related […]

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The Louvre: A Love Affair With Art

The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world, and most trips to Paris (at least first trips) include a visit to this famous spot located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (map). The building, originally a palace, is now home to some of the world’s most famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and Aphrodite/Venus de Milo.  The museum opened to the public in 1793, and since then the collections have grown to their current number of over 380,000.  It’s not the largest art collection in the world, but most art historians agree that it is the finest. The main buildings of the Louvre look rather fortress-like with iron gates around it.  The real treasure lie within the gates, much like it must have been when it was […]

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The Famous & Exclusive Avenue des Champs-Élysées

If the thought of a beautiful bag, a decadent pair of heels, or the luxurious feel of the fabric of a finely crafted suit make you swoon, then an afternoon on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris may be your definition of heaven. The  Champs-Élysées is not only one of the most recognized street names in Paris, but in the entire world, and is lined with luxury and specialty shops, theaters, cafes and restaurants.  The street itself is a little over a mile and a quarter long, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe in the 9th arrondissement. The name translates to “Elysian Fields” a reference to the “place of the blessed” in Greek mythology.  With the prices you’ll see at most of these shops and cafes, you’ll need to be blessed, indeed, to make […]

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Make Mine Bordeaux

Bordeaux is city in the southwest part of France and boasts a million residents and probably just as many great bottles of wine.  Bordeaux is one of the world’s major wine producers, dating back to the 8th century, and although the historic part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I think of the vines. I thought that Bordeaux wines were always red, but it turns out that’s not the case.  Most of the wine produced there is red, (ranging from every day table wine to some pretty prestigious bottles), but there are also white, rosé and sparkling wines produced. I don’t order Bordeaux when I’m out for dinner, probably because I don’t speak French, and it can be a little intimidating to order a bottle of something that you can’t pronounce correctly.  That was true when I […]

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Julia Child’s Paris

During the holiday season it seems like I watch lots of movies.  Whether it’s catching up on television, renting videos, or indulging in pay-per-view, it’s an enjoyable way to spend some lazy winter days.  Assuming you like the movie, of course. I like a variety of movies, but the ones at the top of my list are those that give me a sense of time and place.  Movies that make me want to be where the movie is, and sometimes even when the movie takes place. Earlier this week I watched Julie & Julia, a great movie, and one that made me long for a return trip to Paris soon. Julie & Julia was written and directed by Nora Ephron, and stars Meryl Streep as the famous chef Julia Child and Amy Adams as Julie Powell, a young, and somewhat […]

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