France's Wine Country: Paris to Nice

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Bright Lights, Beautiful City: Paris' Champs-Elysées  (Photodisc)

There's good reason France is one of the world's most popular travel destinations: It hosts copious attractions, from bike-beckoning, wine-making countryside and Roman ruins to Renaissance castles and art-saturated museums. Travel from Paris to Nice and unravel France's mystique with forays into its historic cities, pleasant rural scenery, and palm-studded shores.

Days 1-4: Paris
Ah, the city of lights! The romantic, historic, sigh-inducing capital of culture! Though Paris does work hard to perpetuate its fairytale qualities, its soaring cathedrals, picturesque bridges, world-class museums, and beautiful street life do contribute to an undeniable air of magic. After falling in love with the Eiffel Tower (+;, the gothic Notre Dame cathedral, the Monets at Musee d'Orsay (62, rue de Lille; +;, and "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre (, choose between numerous other options: Imagine Lance lapping the Champs-Elysees as you roam the shops or stroll the back alleys of the Latin Quarter. See the Arc de Triomphe or gaze at Picassos or Rodins in their respective museums. Explore the lively streets of Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur basilica or stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries. Grab fresh fruit and baguettes for a Seine-side picnic or indulge in a five-course meal at one of the many neighborhood restaurants. Hunt out a hole-in-the-wall jazz joint or sign up for the giddy spectacle of the Moulin Rouge...

The simple truth is, Paris has enough to keep you enraptured for months, and that's not even counting the copious day trips that rightly vie for your attention. But you'd be remiss to not donate at least one day to each of the following:

Versailles & Chartres:
Versailles (, Louis IV's colossal, lavish chateau sits 15 miles southwest of the city. Tour the chapel, opera house, galleries packed with glorifying French paintings, and the spectacular Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919. Then play like Louis and ramble the meticulously manicured gardens. In the afternoon, press about 50 miles farther southwest to Chartres, with its famous World-Heritage-listed cathedral built in high gothic style. After ogling the stained-glass windows, intricate stone sculptures, and soaring spires, stroll the town's medieval streets down to the river Eure.

Auvers-sur-Oise, L'Isle-Adam, & Chantilly:
About 20 miles north of Paris you'll find Auvers-sur-Oise, the idyllic ville where Van Gogh spent his last ten weeks painting over 70 works. Plaques throughout town mark his haunts and the sites of his more famous paintings—it makes for a great walking tour of this sleepy town. Come afternoon, tour nearby L'Isle-Adam, a quaint burg on the River Oise, and lace-renowned Chantilly, where you can check out art-filled chateaus built on a lake island and walk through the royal forest.

Published: 31 Jan 2006 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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