Sierra's Tour de France
You can’t go wrong with a visit to France. When you can buy quality wine for just four euros, and even some cheese and a baguette to go with it for even less, there is no way you are going to have a bad time. France is not only rich in food, but also flooding with culture, art, history, fashion, natural beauty and, of course, man-made beauty too. Much of the man-made creations date back to when the Romans were also enjoying themselves in this beautiful country, because who needs Rome when you can have Lyon, Paris, Nice and Marseilles?
France is so much more than what meets the eye or what you see on Pinterest and Instagram. There are so many hidden gems and experiences you can’t find from just stopping in Paris and calling it quits. So, although I was only able to do a short little Tour de France, I will do my best to inform you of all the spots I adore and are a must next time you decide to travel to the land of macaroons and buttery croissants.
So here we go...
In my opinion, a little homier, smaller, and more diverse version of Paris. My favorite part of Lyon is how each quartier has its own attitude and aesthetic. Lyon is hipster heaven and the place to be for any food lover, as it is the gastronomical capital of the world. Sitting along the Rhône and Saône rivers, if you get tired after a long day shopping and site seeing, you can picnic down by the river to find some peace from the city. Lyon is home to my favorite church in Europe, the Fourvier, and also home to some ancient Roman sites and museums. If you’re looking for an Italian feel with dreams of walking through cobblestone and colorful streets, head over to Old Lyon for your most authentic and magical French day.
I probably won’t need to do as much advertising for this one, since going here it’s just kind of common sense. Paris is kind of one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, the capital of France and the City of Love, so I guess you should maybe go. There are also some cool things like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Chamonix is possibly my favorite ski town in the world (though I have yet to test all the subjects for such a statement). But surely, I can’t imagine a better combination of ski-town and mountain. The town is right out of a skier’s fairytale. In the daytime it’s a beautiful and colorful town tucked away in a valley between mountains, equipped with many shops, neat sites and of course restaurants to try out some of the Alp’s specialty fondue. At the instant the slopes close in the evening to late into the night, Chamonix is illuminated with the après-ski scene. And of course, being the home of Mount Blanc, one of the tallest mountains in Europe, Chamonix has arguably the best skiing in France.
Another city amongst some amazing natural scenery in the Alps, this colorful city is often termed “Little Venice,” with its Disneyland-on-water feel. Though Annecy is much smaller and less touristy than of its Venice comparison, it has the same magical feel on top of having a magnificent view of Annecy’s huge lake and alps mountain range hovering in the background. Annecy is a popular destination for all outdoor activities in the mountains, sailing on the lake, or even just relaxing in town or at the beaches alongside the lake for those looking for the perfect escape.
Strasbourg was possibly one of my favorite stops in France. At the border of France and Germany along the River Rhine, the city has a perfect hint of German influence with of course its beautiful French roots to make it one of France’s spunkier and more exciting towns. In terms of town cutesiness, Strasbourg’s streets and shops put it at the top of the list. Be sure to make it into a few of the museums and the Palais Rohan to get a taste of the luxuries of Marie Antoinette’s life, and before it gets too crowded, climb the very gothic and detailed Notre Dame in the morning hours up to the bell tower to get a magnificent view of all of Strasbourg!
Colmar is the smaller and more touristy version of Strasbourg. It definitely has its Disneyland feels also. Its’ cute and colorful buildings along with charming little canals make it right out of a Disney storybook. This little town is getting more and more popular each year as a tourist destination so I would recommend going in the off-season instead of summer to get the most out of your visit without being annoyed by tourists and their selfie sticks swinging all over the place. If you make it to Colmar, be sure to try the sugary bretztel, which is basically a yummy, fatty, sugary, soft pretzel, doughnut thingy that is actually to-die-for happy!
Museum and Palace Central! Go here to experience the life of a royalty, or at least just see it for yourself. Make sure to stop through Dijon on a Sunday to get free access to any and all museums in the area! The Tourism office is one of a kind and has an “Owl Map” available for those looking to follow a trail of owl footprints through the city to find all the important sites (highly recommended)! Dijon also happens to be right in the Bordeaux region of France—a.k.a. fabulous wine! So after a long day of museum hopping, be sure to get into a wine bar in the evening to try some of the region’s best wines!
Wine lover’s paradise. Come here for any sort of wine destination. Spend your day going wine-cellar hopping or even get into a wine tour and gourmet degustation to taste the best wines of France of the Bordeaux region. The town has a very cute and antiquey way about it. Perfect for a weekend escape for wine lovers and French lovers alike!
This cute little fortress of a city in the heart of Provence takes you back in time. Spend your Sunday morning in the Palais des Popes and the rest of your days soaking up some major history lessons in countless museums. After a weekend in this medieval wonderland you will surely go through that “princess faze” you thought you gave up when you were nine.
If you’re looking for that charming cobbled-street, colorful-building, river-town aesthetic, then Arles should definitely be your next getaway. You can get in your Gladiator fix at their coliseum and also, if you’re like me, just sit outside at a café taking in the peaceful beauty of this town while putting down some macaroons of course.
Situated on a mountainside just a little bit south of Avignon, this rocky village is the perfect hideaway, literally. Climb through the cobble streets of this town and up into the ruined castle with a few structures of old weaponry scattered around and amazing panoramic views. Be sure to catch the sunset to see the cotton-candy skies drape over the serene countryside.
The Happiness Hunt