A mixture of sophistication and rustic charm.
Go from Romanesque abbeys to whitewashed houses, from fields of sunflowers or lavender to Prada or Chanel shops. Wonder through charming villages where geraniums spill from the window boxes of wooden chalets. Drive through the ornate chateaux of the Loire Valley or see the art collections of the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay. See UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful historic and modern architecture, Communist-era memories, contemporary art galleries, important Jewish sites.
For gourmets, the variety of food is almost unlimited: there’s the olive oil of Tuscany or Provence, the pasta of Italy, the Michelin star restaurants of France, the seafood of Venice, the croissants of France, the ice creams of Italy, the wine of Bordeaux, the Chianti or Lavaux, the cheeses of France, the chocolate of Switzerland, the waffles from Belgium, or the beers of Germany.
Browse antiques markets, artisans’ workshops, design boutiques, and stores specializing in local crafts.
For sun worshippers, the deep blue Adriatic washes the white sand beaches of Puglia. Enjoy the beaches along the Amalfi Coast, see the shores of Lake Como. Stay on the Cote d’Azur in a luxurious hotels overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
For active travelers, hike glaciers and high peaks in the most scenic parts of the Swiss Alps.
Bike through vineyards in Tuscany or lavender fields in Provence.
Stay in aristocratic villas or convents converted into five-star hotels.
France is one of the world’s most complex destinations, as it combines sophistication with rusticity and culture with pleasure. It is a land of contrasts. You can go from the sea to the mountains in a couple of hours.
Dine Out: This is the most serious, but also sensual business in France. Go from affordable bistros to memorable Michelin starred restaurants.
Enjoy the scenery: Glaciers and high peaks, charming villages where geraniums spill from the window boxes of wooden chalets or see the waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen
View castles and cathedral: The castle at Chillon where Lord Byron wrote The Prisoner of Chillon. Or Gruyères, which everyone knows for the cheese, but is also the most craggy castle village of Switzerland, complete with dungeon and spectacular panoramic views. Both Bern and Basel have historic Münster cathedrals.
Food and Markets: Vienna’s foodie Naschmarkt, the Julius Meinl gourmet market, and the festive Christmas markets that make winter a magical time to visit the city and the famous Sacher Torte from the Hotel Sacher. The secret has been closely guarded since 1832. But also the 140-year-old Café Landtmann famous for its apple strudel.
Cruise the Canals: Board a glass-topped tour boat for a cruise on Amsterdam’s storied canals. From this vantage point, you get the best possible view of all those gabled Golden Age merchants’ houses.
Visit the Anne Frankhuis: The clear and haunting words of a young Jewish girl trying to survive and grow in unimaginable circumstances have moved millions since they were first published in the aftermath of World War II. It’s a melancholy, but unforgettable experience to spend a reflective moment in Anne Frank’s stark hideout from Nazi terror.
This is a complex country with multi language, personality and culture, with French, Dutch and German influences.
Of course, it is synonymous with waffles, French fries, chocolate and beers. But it is also a very cultural destination with cities such as Bruges, Brussels, Liege and Antwerp, to name just a few.
Explore the New Berlin: Since reunification, civic planners have demolished large sections of what once stood as a scar across the face of a defeated nation.
The architectural changes and urban developments that constantly update the cityscape around Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse and Potsdamer Platz can be confusing. But regardless of which renewal program is churning up rubble at the time of your visit, a pilgrimage through what used to be the most bitterly contested urban turf in Europe can’t help but provoke powerful emotions.
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