Copenhagen to Geneva: Exquisite Architecture and Epicurean Delights - Page 2
|Evidence of the Golden Jubilee: Brussels' Le Cinquantenaire (Photodisc)|
|Blurring the City of Lights: Paris (Photodisc)|
Day 4: Amsterdam to Brussels (130 Miles)
Drive to Brussels and take a walk around the city's well-preserved medieval centre. As the headquarters for both NATO and the European Union, Brussels is very modern and cosmopolitan, while deftly preserving its sixth-century origins. It's also a spectacular city to sample some of the country's world-famous beerjust don't get discouraged if you only scratch a few off the long list as they've got more varieties than days in a year. Once you've had your fill, rest your spinning head at Les Bluets Hotel (Rue Berckmans 124; +32.2.534.3983; www.geocities.com/les_bluets) just one block south of the "Petit Ring," the pedestrian boulevards ringed by the medieval city walls.
Day 5-6: Brussels to Paris (190 Miles)
Pushing south, rolling plains of agricultural land will give way to Reims and the massive, World Heritage-listed Cathedral of Notre Dame in Reims (1 rue Guillaume de Machault; +33.326.47.5534; www.cathedrale-reims.com), site of France's coronations. Along with Epernay and Chalons-sur-Marne, Reims is part of the so-called "sacred triangle of Champagne" and produces some excellent champagne wines. Visit Moet et Chandon (www.moet.com) and descend into the chalky caves for a flute of bubbly. Only 87 miles to the west, Paris awaits. Pretend you're a star in a Truffaut movie and walk the banks of the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower (www.tour-eiffel.fr) and the Parc du Champ de Mars to the Notre Dame cathedral. The stylish and contemporary Hotel Pavillon Bastille (65, rue de Lyon; +33.1.4343.6565; www.paris-hotel-pavillonbastille.com) is opposite the gleaming glass facade of the Bastille Opera House (120 rue de Lyon; +33.1.7229.3535; www.operadeparis.fr) and the perfect staging area for forays into the city's heart. And as for the rest of Paris, the art, food, culture, clothing, cuisine, it's all as good as everyone says.
Day 7: Paris to Onzain (130 Miles)
Head southwest through the lush Loire Valley and visit the soaring gothic spires and renowned stained glass of Chartres Cathedral (+188.8.131.52.2626; www.chartres-csm.org), considered by some the world's most beautiful cathedral. The distinctive blue glass in the stained-glass windows was so prized that it was removed during World War II and stored in secret, lest bombing or looting claim its beauty (the glass was replaced after the war).
In the town of Le Mans, you can visit the Musee de l'Automobile (www.en-lorraine.com/Alaacl/musee.htm), which showcases another form of beauty. Race aficionados will also want to see the famed 24-Hours of Le Mans racetrack (+33.2.434.02540; www.lemans.org). To feel like one of the counts that built the nearby Chateaux de la Loire (Chambord, Blois, and Chenonceau), stay at the Domaine des Hauts de Loire (Route de Herbault; +33.2.5420.7257; www.domainehautsloire.com) in Onzain. You can trail run on the sprawling grounds and swim in the private lake, play tennis, and sup in the gourmet restaurant of this former 19th-century hunting lodge.