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- Avignon, Gateway to Provence. Here's Your Guide to the City
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. With the modern TGV fast train station serving the area, Avignon is a beautiful centrally located city that provides easy access to unlimited Provence charm. If you’re considering where to stay in the South of France to explore the ancient Roman ruins and endless countryside villages of provence, definitely consider Avignon or Aix-en Provence. Avignon is known for its rich history (there was once a Pope here competing with the Vatican), culture, and art, as well as its beautiful Roman architecture, museums, and festivals. We'll talk about why Avignon is a great home base to explore the region, and what makes this region the perfect gateway to Provence: Palais des Papes: One of the main attractions in Avignon is the Palais des Papes, a massive Gothic palace that served as the seat of the Catholic Church during the 14th century. It is one of the largest and most impressive medieval palaces in Europe, and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Festival d'Avignon: Every summer, Avignon hosts one of the world's most famous theatre festivals, the Festival d'Avignon. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from around the world and features hundreds of performances by international theatre companies. Avignon Bridge: The Pont d'Avignon (Avignon Bridge) is an iconic symbol of the city. Originally built in the 12th century, the bridge spans the Rhone River and is famous for its distinctive arches. Art and Culture: Avignon has a rich artistic and cultural heritage, with many museums, galleries, and cultural events throughout the year. The city is home to several art museums, including the Musée du Petit Palais and the Collection Lambert, as well as numerous theatres, music venues, and festivals. Food and Wine: Avignon is located in the heart of the Provence wine region, known for its delicious wines, including Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The city is also famous for its local cuisine, which features fresh, seasonal ingredients and traditional Provençal dishes like ratatouille, bouillabaisse, and tapenade. Check out the top 10 restaurants in Avignon! Why is this town such a great home base to explore Provence? We loved staying in Aix-en Provence and it's central location for exploring Provence with a car, but if you’re on a tighter timeline or budget, Avignon is nearly as impressive and provides the same great proximity to explore the Provence region. Here are our top reasons why you should use Avignon as a home base to explore Provence: Central Location: Avignon is located in the heart of Provence, making it an ideal base for exploring the region. From Avignon, you can easily reach many of Provence's most famous attractions, including the Pont du Gard, the lavender fields of the Luberon, and the picturesque hilltop villages of the Alpilles. Transportation: Avignon is well-connected to other parts of Provence and beyond. The city has a major train station with regular connections to Paris, Marseille, and other cities in France, as well as international connections to other European destinations. There are also several bus and shuttle services that run to popular destinations in Provence. The updated modern TGV station makes it even easier! Accommodation: Avignon has a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. There are also many vacation rentals available in the city and surrounding areas, including villas, apartments, and farmhouses. We loved staying within the walled city of Avignon! Cultural Attractions: Avignon itself is a fascinating city with a rich cultural heritage. In addition to the Palais des Papes, the city is home to many museums, art galleries, and historic sites, as well as a vibrant restaurant and cafe scene. Festivals: Avignon hosts several major festivals throughout the year, including the Festival d'Avignon, the Avignon Jazz Festival, and the Les Hivernales dance festival. These events attract visitors from around the world and add to the city's vibrant cultural scene. Avignon is a convenient and culturally rich base for exploring Provence, with easy access to many of the region's most famous attractions and a wide range of accommodation options. If you want a similar central city to explore the region, Aix-en-Provence is also a great, less touristy option. Make either your home base for your trip and don’t miss our Provence village recommendations!
- Starry Nights, a Historic Guide to Arles
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. We initially passed through Arles on the way to Nimes and made a point to return to spend more time in this romantic and quaint French Village that is a must see for any South of France vacation. Arles has a rich and unique history, dating back to ancient Roman times and is one of the most well preserved cities in France, even after intense fighting during WW2. Before we go into the sites and guide, here are few highlights that drew us to revisiting this beautiful village tucked along the Rhone river: Roman History: Arles was an important city in the Roman Empire, known as Arelate. It was a major port and center of trade, and its prosperity is reflected in the many well-preserved Roman monuments that still stand today. These include the Arles Amphitheater, the Roman Theatre, the Cryptoporticus (an underground gallery), and the Alyscamps, an ancient necropolis. Check out the UNESCO sites. Medieval History: After the fall of the Roman Empire, Arles became part of the Kingdom of the Franks. In the 12th century, it became an important center of the Provencal troubadour culture, which celebrated love, chivalry, and poetry. Religious History: Arles was also an important center of Christianity in the early Middle Ages. In the 4th century, it became the seat of a bishopric, and several important Christian figures lived and worked there, including St. Trophimus, who built the Arles Cathedral. During WW2, The German occupation of Arles was marked by repression and resistance. Many locals joined the French Resistance movement and carried out acts of sabotage against the occupiers. In retaliation, the Germans executed several resistance fighters and civilians. In August 1944, the Allies launched a major offensive against German forces in southern France, including Arles. The city was tragically bombed heavily by Allied planes, causing extensive damage to buildings, infrastructure and unfortunately loss of civilian life. Artistic History: Arles was the home of the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, who lived and worked there in the late 19th century. He was inspired by the city's beauty and painted many of his most famous works there. Arles has a fascinating history that spans thousands of years and encompasses many different cultures and influences. It is a city that has played an important role in the development of art, religion, and society in France and Europe. Try a walking tour, we find these are the best way to learn and get a good overview of a city! You can see everything in Arles in one day, although we’d recommend more time of course if you’re staying on an extended trip in the South of France. Here are some things that make Arles a special place to visit: Ancient Roman monuments: Arles was once an important city in the Roman Empire, and it still has many well-preserved Roman monuments, including the Arles Amphitheater, which is one of the best-preserved Roman arenas in the world. Don't forget to visit the famous Bath of Constantine that dates back to the early 4th century! Vincent Van Gogh: The famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh lived and worked in Arles in 1888 and 1889, and he created many of his most famous paintings there, including "The Night Cafe" and "Starry Night Over the Rhone." You can visit several places in Arles that are associated with Van Gogh, such as the Yellow House and the hospital where he was treated after cutting off his ear. Beautiful architecture: Arles has a mix of architectural styles from different periods, including Roman, Gothic, and Renaissance. The historic center of Arles has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it's filled with narrow streets, picturesque squares, and charming buildings. Cultural events: Arles is known for hosting many cultural events throughout the year, including the famous Rencontres d'Arles photography festival, which attracts thousands of visitors each summer. Eat, drink, walk and repeat; check out the top 10 restaurant in Arles, France! Arles is a beautiful and culturally rich city that offers visitors a glimpse into France's fascinating history and artistic heritage. Take an easy quick train from Avignon and spend the day soaking in the historic beauty!
- What's in our bags? Here's what you should (and shouldn't) pack for your next European vacation!
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Getting ready for a trip to Europe and looking for ideas of what to pack? We put together this easy packing guide of our favorite (and most useful) Amazon finds- plus a few things to leave behind! Our number one most used item of the trip has been these vacuum travel bags. The set of bags comes with a perfect travel-sized pump that is small but mighty! Great if you're on a longer trip or just need to make some space in a smaller bag. (Also try these packing cubes if you're looking to avoid traveling with a pump!) These European plug adapters are a must have for all of your gadgets. This is my all-time favorite toiletry bag. It's fits soo much! It comes with a handy hook that is perfect for hanging on door allowing you to make the most of your space (keep in mind rooms are typically on the more compact side in most places around Europe). If you're planning on shopping or flying extra items back with you (or just to check your weight before you fly), you need this digital weight scale. From our experience, airlines in Europe have been much stricter with baggage weight than they typically are in the States, even for carry-on items. So save yourself the headache (and avoid extra fees) and make sure your bags meet the weight requirements before getting to the airport... we learned the hard way. Hiking on your trip? Skip packing a bulky backpack and opt for this lightweight, water resistant backpack instead. It rolls up to fit in your hand, but will surprise you with how much it can hold! I'm sure you've been warned about pick-pocketers. Theft can happen anywhere, but seems to be most common in the big city crowds. Our best advice is to avoid leaving items like wallets and phones in your pockets (especially back pockets!) and bring something like this front-facing fanny pack or a backpack to keep your belongings in. Comfortable walking shoes are a must! Unlike most cities in the United States, European cities are very walkable. We average about 5-6 miles a day. Come prepared with these heel liners in case you need them. You can expect uneven, cobblestone roads in most places. Many cities also have steep hills and lots of steps (looking at you Lisbon, Porto and Positano). So ditch the heels, bring your best walking shoes and be ready to get your steps in! Even if you're traveling during the summer, it's still a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater as evening temps in most places can still get a bit chilly. This one is not really a necessity, but it is definitely nice to have if you happen to encounter rain during your trip. This umbrella has held up through heavy winds, rain and being shoved in the bottom of a backpack about 100 times so far. For my traveling pet parents: I plan to do a more detailed post on our experience traveling with our dogs, but for now I will just include these must-haves for those planning to travel abroad with their pets. This pet carrier- it is airline approved and great for trains/taxis or simply to wear as a backpack to keep hands free. It fit our 10 lb Yorkie mix nicely and has held up well through our travels. These collapsible bowls with lids are perfect to store an easily accessible meal while traveling if needed. The hooks make it convenient to attach to leashes. Finally, this is our favorite harness/leash combo. The harness has hooks on both the front of chest and top of harness back and the leash is thick with a nicely padded handle. Last but not least, we have loved these pet backpacks! What are some things you recommend or can't travel without that I have missing from my list?? Tip: It's important to note that you will want to pack light as you will likely have to carry your luggage up/down stairs and potentially long distances, especially if you're heading to a car-free city or town. Check out my Travel Checklist next for a printable packing list! We quickly learned after our first trip to Positano why everyone says to travel light in Europe.. so many regrets (and maybe a few tears) lugging heavy suitcases around!
- Get Lost in Lacoste, France
Want to escape the crowds and get lost in one the best kept small villages in the South of France? Lacoste is a small hilltop village located in the Luberon region of Provence, France. There's a good chance you can have the wonderfully preserved village all to yourself, only because it's off the beaten path and relatively unknown compared to it's more popular sibling city Gordes. We found Lacoste as a great stop in the Luberon Villages for a hilltop hike with majestic views and endless cobblestone. Here are some of the things that make Lacoste a great destination and why you need to visit the Luberon village region! Château de Lacoste: The Château de Lacoste is a historic castle that dates back to the 11th century. It was once home to the infamous Marquis de Sade, and today, it's a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the castle ruins and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Beautiful Scenery: Lacoste is situated in a picturesque setting, surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and cherry orchards. The village offers stunning views of the Luberon Valley and the nearby villages. Artists' Village: Lacoste has a rich artistic history and has been a haven for artists and creatives for many years. The village is home to several art galleries and studios, and there are frequent exhibitions and events showcasing local artists. Local Cuisine: Lacoste is known for its delicious cuisine, which features local ingredients and traditional dishes. There are several restaurants in the village that offer excellent meals, such as truffle dishes, goat cheese, and Provencal cuisine. Come hungry as there is surprisingly enough open throughout the day. Festivals and Events: Lacoste hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Lacoste Festival in July, which features music, dance, and theater performances. The village also hosts a Christmas market in December, where visitors can enjoy the festive atmosphere and buy local crafts and products. Lacoste is a charming and picturesque village that offers stunning scenery, rich history, and a vibrant artistic community. While it's not as popular as Gordes, you won't find nearly as many people exploring the town, and that's sometimes the best part of the adventure. It's a great destination for anyone who wants to experience the beauty and culture of Provence without any crowds, so go get lost in Lacoste!
- Gorgeous Gordes, France
Gordes is a beautiful hilltop village located in the Luberon region of Provence, France. We loved Gordes enough to make another trip back when our family came to visit. It's truly once of the most charming and picturesque villages in all of France, and is consistently voted the most beautiful village in France. If you find yourself yearning for the South of France life, Gordes is the epitome of what France has to offer. Stop for a day trip or stay for a weekend to soak up the sunshine and Provence charm. Here are some of our favorite things to do and see in Gordes: Visit the Castle: The Château de Gordes is a historic castle located in the center of the village. It was built in the 11th century and served as a residence for the local aristocracy. Today, it houses the Pol Mara Museum, which showcases the works of the Belgian painter Pol Mara. Explore the Village: Gordes is a charming village with narrow streets, stone houses, and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Take a stroll through the village and admire the architecture and the views. You can do this on repeat for 3 days and it won't get old! Visit the Abbey of Sénanque: The Abbey of Sénanque is a Cistercian monastery located just outside of Gordes. It was founded in the 12th century and is still home to a community of monks. The abbey is known for its beautiful architecture and its lavender fields, which bloom in the summer. If you can time your trip in late June or August, you'll be rewarded with one of the most iconic pictures in Provence. Visit the Village des Bories: The Village des Bories is a historic site located just outside of Gordes. It consists of a collection of stone huts, called bories, that were used by shepherds and farmers in the past. The site provides a glimpse into the traditional way of life in the Luberon region. Enjoy the Local Cuisine: There are several restaurants in the village that offer delicious local, seasonal cuisine. Enjoy le petit dejeuner at Boulangerie Mamie Jane, check out L'Outsider, a small, family owned restaurant for an intimate lunch and end the day at La Trinquette for an elegant dinner with breathtaking sunset views. Attend a Festival or Event: Gordes hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Festival of Chamber Music and the Lavender Festival in August. These events provide a great opportunity to experience the local culture and traditions. We happened to be there for a concert where they made local bites and served pastis, not as many people spoke much English but that was part of the fun so brush up on your French P's and Q's! Gordes is a beautiful village with a rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. It's a great destination for anyone who wants to experience the beauty and culture of Provence. We loved Grordes in the Spring through early Summer where this tiny village becomes alive with festivals and local visitors from the Provence region.
- Top 10 Small Towns to Visit in Europe
Our top 10 small towns to visit in Europe is by no means an easy list to compile. While the grand cities of Paris, London, Rome, Madrid and Vienna are amazing and offer everything, they are met with large crowds and often less value. If you can manage to rent a car, the opportunities to explore the lesser known villages are endless and rewarding beyond the typical European city. If you’re not sold, here are our top reasons why you need to experience the small villages of Europe. Then, we’ll break down our top 10 must visit small towns in Europe. Authenticity: Small towns often have a unique charm and character that has been preserved over time, giving visitors an authentic taste of local life and culture. You will encounter locals that are excited to see travelers and want to share their traditions! Scenery: Small towns are often located in beautiful natural surroundings, such as remote mountains, pristine lakes, or lush forests, providing visitors with breathtaking views and outdoor activities. Ideal when you need a break from the museums and sites, the small towns provide the best escape for serenity! History: Many small towns in Europe have an even richer history, with well-preserved architecture, museums, and cultural sites that offer a glimpse into the past without the higher price admission sites of the larger cities. Slow pace: Duh, but this cannot be overstated after living in Paris, Rome or Madrid. Small towns often have a slower pace of life than big cities, providing visitors with a chance to relax and unwind in a peaceful setting. Local cuisine: While we’re picky eaters and admittedly not the most adventurous with cuisine, I did try(accidentally) pig intestine meatballs in Gordes, France. Small towns often have a distinct culinary scene, with traditional dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients, providing visitors with a unique and authentic gastronomic experience. You’ll find the most off-the beaten path meals that offer the most authentic ambience. Less crowded: Small towns are less crowded than big cities, allowing visitors to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more personalized experience. Visiting small towns in Europe provides a unique and authentic travel experience, allowing visitors to connect with the local culture, history, and scenery in a more intimate and personal way. So what are our top 10 best towns to visit in Europe? This is in no particular order and offers just a glimpse into each town, but we’ll provide a deeper dive in the next blog. Top 10 Small Towns to Visit in Europe Positano, Italy - Known for its colorful hilltop homes perched above the cliffs with incredible views of turquoise blue water, it's a true scenic seaside paradise. Pack your hiking shoes and wander through the nearby villages along the Garden of Gods Hike! Rovinj, Croatia - Rovinj is a charming fishing village with narrow streets and beautiful stone houses, surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea. Formerly ruled by the Venetians so you know they have great food and art! Gordes, France - Gordes is for art lovers and natural beauty. It is a beautiful town perched atop a dramatic ridge with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and luberon vineyards. Easy to access from one of our favorite cities, Aix-en Provence. Sintra, Portugal - Sintra is a fairy-tale town with a stunning royal palace, castles, and gardens, all set amidst the lush greenery of the Serra de Sintra hills. It’s touristy and hot during the summer but worth the drive. Hallstatt, Austria - Hallstatt is a picturesque village situated on the shores of Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by mountains and known for its stunning Alpine scenery. One of the most photogenic backdrops in all of Europe. Bled, Slovenia - You’ve seen the picture-perfect island church surrounded by the turquoise lake, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for nearby adventure! Colmar, France - Colmar is a beautiful town with well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture, including brightly-colored half-timbered houses. Come for the Christmas markets starting in late November! Biarritz, France - This is Basque Country, so make room for tapas. Small surfer village with elegance and royal history, the biscay bay produces large crashing waves against the epic limestone cliffs for the most beautiful sunsets. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Rothenburg is a medieval town with a well-preserved wall and gates, cobbled streets, and a beautiful town square. Another must visit for their Christmas markets! Cinque Terre, Italy - Cinque Terre is a group of five colorful fishing villages perched on cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, connected by hiking trails and offering stunning views. Bring your sunscreen and hiking shoes!
- Aix-en-Provence, the Heart of Provence
This city holds a special place in our hearts because it was our first month-long stay in France. While it was difficult to commit to an entire month stay, after careful consideration and research, I can say it was one of our best decisions. Here are a few reasons you should plan a trip to Aix! Rich cultural heritage: Aix-en-Provence is a city with a rich cultural history and is home to many beautiful landmarks, museums, and galleries. The city is famous for its stunning architecture, including the Cours Mirabeau, a tree-lined boulevard that dates back to the 17th century. Beautiful natural surroundings: Aix-en-Provence is located in the heart of Provence, surrounded by stunning natural landscapes such as the Luberon Regional Nature Park and the Verdon Gorge. Visitors can explore these areas by hiking, cycling, or taking scenic drives through the countryside. Delicious cuisine: Aix-en-Provence is known for its delicious food and wine, with many restaurants and cafes serving local specialties such as bouillabaisse, ratatouille, and rosé wine. Visitors can also enjoy shopping for local products at the city's many markets. Art and culture: Aix-en-Provence has a thriving arts scene, with many museums and galleries showcasing works by local and international artists. The city is also famous for its music and theater festivals, including the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and the Festival International de Piano de La Roque d'Anthéron. (Beginning July 2023). Mediterranean climate: Aix-en-Provence enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. The city is bathed in sunshine for much of the year, making it an ideal destination for those looking to escape colder climates. While Aix is on the more expensive side for a major university city, it's by far one of the more upscale and well rounded cities in the South of France. Overall, Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful and culturally rich destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you're interested in history and culture, exploring the great outdoors, or simply enjoying delicious food and wine, Aix-en-Provence is a must-visit destination in France, you cannot beat the location and access to the best villages in the South of France! Keep reading for a 3-day itinerary of Aix-en-Provence! If you have three days to explore Aix-en-Provence, here is what we'd recommend that would allow you to see the city's highlights and even a fun day trip to the iconic Calanques: Day 1: Morning: Start your day by exploring the city's historic center, including the beautiful Cours Mirabeau, a tree-lined boulevard that dates back to the 17th century. Explore the fresh, seasonal produce and local items at the Provencal Market. (Check the calendar here to see the schedule of the market you're looking for). Stop at Bechard along the way to enjoy their incredible pastries. Afternoon: Visit the Granet Museum, which houses an impressive collection of European art, including works by Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Picasso. Afterward, explore the beautiful gardens at the Jas de Bouffan, which inspired many of Cézanne's paintings. Evening: Enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city center. A few of our favorites are: MITCH- contemporary French dishes in a rustic-chic space L'Incontournable- Snag a spot around the beautiful fountain outside and enjoy the excellent French/Mediterranean cuisine L'Opéra- Beautifully presented French dishes served by friendly and welcoming staff Tip: Sign up for "The Fork" to make reservations and find dining discounts! You will find many restaurants across Europe on here. Earn 2000 Yums (points) for your first reservation on TheFork, and you’ll get a £50 discount on your next meal for signing up! Day 2: Morning/Afternoon: Take a day trip to the stunning Calanques, a series of rocky inlets and cliffs along the Mediterranean coast. Spend the day hiking or enjoy a boat tour around this beautiful natural wonder. Evening: Enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Mazarin district, a beautiful area of the city known for its elegant architecture Day 3: Morning: Take a trip to the nearby Luberon Regional Nature Park, where you can explore beautiful hilltop villages, such as Gordes and Roussillon. You can also hike or bike through the park's stunning landscapes. Afternoon: Visit the Pavillon de Vendôme, a beautiful 17th-century mansion that houses a museum dedicated to the history of Aix-en-Provence. After, grab a baguette and bottle of rosé at a local boulangerie and picnic at Parc Jourdan (dog+kid friendly). Evening: Enjoy a final dinner at one of the city's many restaurants, or head to a wine bar to sample some more of the region's delicious rosé wines. This itinerary will allow you to see many of the highlights of Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding region, while also giving you plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and delicious food and wine. We'll dive into more of the nearby villages that are a must visit in there own right, make sure to check out our guides of the Luberon Villages! What else would you add for a long weekend in Aix??
- Lyon vs Paris: Which is Better?
You’ve probably noticed Lyon getting a lot of hype, after all it’s just a quick train from Paris and packs a Parisian punch minus the droves of tourists. So the question remains, is this lesser known city actually better than the City of Lights? First, let's see how the two cities stack up against each other. Here are some ways in which the two cities compare: Size - Paris is a much larger city than Lyon, with a population of around 2.2 million compared to Lyon's 500,000. As a result, Paris offers more diverse and numerous attractions, museums, and restaurants. Landmarks - Paris is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the world, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. While Lyon also has many historic and cultural landmarks, it doesn't quite measure up to the iconic status of Paris. Food - While Paris has a fantastic food scene, with plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants and a diverse range of international cuisine, Lyon is considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of France. Lyon is famous for its traditional Lyonnais cuisine, including dishes such as coq au vin, quenelles, and saucisson. Architecture - Both cities have a rich history and offer many examples of stunning architecture. Paris is known for its grand Haussmannian buildings, Gothic cathedrals, and Belle Époque landmarks, while Lyon boasts a mix of medieval, Renaissance, and modern architecture. Culture - Paris is a hub for art, fashion, and design, with a wide range of museums and galleries showcasing works by some of the world's most famous artists. Lyon, on the other hand, has a rich cultural heritage, with many historic museums and landmarks, as well as a lively theater and music scene. Paris is of course a must visit, but Lyon should be at the top of your list when in France, here is why: Food - Lyon is considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of France. The city is known for its bouchons, traditional Lyonnais restaurants that serve hearty, rustic dishes. Lyon is also home to many Michelin-starred restaurants, making it a food lover's paradise. You can find anything in Lyon! Size - While Paris is a large and bustling city, some people might prefer the smaller and more manageable size of Lyon. Lyon still offers many of the attractions and amenities of a big city, but with a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. Way less lines and traffic around town! Architecture - Lyon has a rich history and is home to many beautiful examples of architecture from different time periods. The Old Town of Lyon, for example, has many well-preserved Renaissance-era buildings, while the city's modern Confluence district is known for its cutting-edge architecture. One of my favorite workouts was running the stairs at the ancient Roman ruin amphitheater! Location - Lyon is situated in the heart of the Rhone-Alpes region, which offers many opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and wine tasting. Additionally, Lyon is located just a few hours from other popular destinations in France, such as the French Alps and the Provence region. You are literally in the middle of everything, this is a great hub location! Culture - Lyon has a vibrant cultural scene, with many museums, galleries, and theaters. The city is also home to several annual festivals, including the Fête des Lumières, which celebrates the city's history and culture with light displays and fireworks. While Paris is an amazing city, for a longer stay we actually preferred the more relaxed and less touristy atmosphere of Lyon, as well as its unique cultural and culinary offerings. Lyon is really a more authentic taste of France without the crowds, make sure to add a few nights here!
- Summer Adventure Guide to Chamonix-Mont Blanc
Oui Oui to Chamonix! While the Alps is an obvious choice for skiing in winter, we think the summer is one of the best times to visit this gorgeous region, especially if you want to escape the crowds and heat in other popular tourist destinations in France and Italy. We'll discus the best activites then provide an action packed guide to spend 3 days in Chamonix, the best home base to explore the French Alps. First, here are the reasons you need to consider the French Alps during the summer: Hiking: Take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a hike in the mountains. You can explore popular trails like the Tour du Mont Blanc or climb up to the summit of Mont Blanc. Mountain biking: Rent a mountain bike and explore the alpine terrain at your own pace. There are trails for all skill levels, ranging from scenic routes to more challenging downhill routes. Lakes and water sports: The French Alps are home to many beautiful lakes, perfect for swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Rock climbing: If you're up for an adventure, try rock climbing in the French Alps. There are routes for all skill levels, from beginner to expert. Paragliding: Take to the skies and enjoy stunning views of the mountains from above with a paragliding experience. Cultural activities: Visit the nearby towns and villages to learn about the local culture and history. Explore medieval castles, visit local farmers' markets, and try traditional Alpine cuisine. Spa and wellness: Take a break from your outdoor activities and indulge in some spa and wellness treatments in one of the many mountain resorts in the region. Here's our 3-day guide for an action-packed adventure in Chamonix, France, the ideal home base to explore this beautiful region in the French Alps. Day 1: Morning: Start your day with an adrenaline rush by taking the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to the top of the mountain for panoramic views of the Alps. Afternoon: Explore the town of Chamonix by taking a stroll through the pedestrian streets and browsing the local shops. Evening: Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of Chamonix's many restaurants, such as Le Cap Horn or L'Impossible. Day 2: Morning: Get your heart pumping with an exciting white-water rafting trip down the Arve River. Afternoon: Take a scenic hike to Lac Blanc for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. Evening: Relax and unwind with a spa treatment at one of Chamonix's luxurious spas, such as QC Terme Chamonix Mont Blanc or Les Granges d'en Haut. Day 3: Morning: Take a guided rock climbing or Via Ferrata excursion to experience the thrill of scaling the mountains. Afternoon: Enjoy a leisurely picnic by the scenic Les Praz river or spend the afternoon at the Lac des Gaillands, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains where you can swim, paddleboard, or rent a kayak. Evening: End your trip with a sunset dinner at Le Bistrot, a charming restaurant with panoramic views of the Mont Blanc massif. Bonus activities: Paragliding over the Chamonix valley Mountain biking in the nearby trails Wine tasting in the local vineyards A day trip to nearby Annecy, known as the "Venice of the Alps" for its picturesque canals and old town.