Pre-Departure #4: When in France...

Friday, July 25, 2014

My last Pre-Departure post was about all the places in Europe that I want to see, but none of them were in France. Coincidence? Nope!

While there are a lot of places that I want to see when I'm studying abroad, I also want to stay in France and get to know my town better, and build some seriously awesome relationships with the people I meet there. I am so excited about living in Caen. It looks so beautiful, and everyone who I have talked to who have been there has told me only amazing things about how nice the people are, and how wonderful the town is. I can talk about how amazing Caen looks for hours, and spill out all my research about this little town that I am so excited to call my home in just 49 short days!

But France is a country full of romantic destinations, exotic locales, and seriously amazing cultural and historical landmarks. While I'm in France, I definitely want to see as much of the country as I can!

Here are my top destinations in France that I want to visit while studying abroad.

1. Paris, France - duh.
So I may be cheating just a little bit with this one. Part of the orientation for my program is in Paris, so I will actually get to see Paris as soon as I arrive in France! I've visited Paris twice, both times when I was in high school and I went one those EF Tours/general travel overview trips and we went to France and Spain. However, both times that I was in Paris, I was only there for a few days which is hardly enough time to explore. I know I won't be there for much longer than a few days for orientation, but while I am in France, I really hope to spend some more time in Paris, and learn about it more from a cultural perspective, instead of a tourist perspective.

The Louvre, from my trip in 2012.

Locks of Love Bridge, from my trip in 2012.

La Tour Eiffel, from my trip in 2012. 

L'Arc de Triomphe, from my trip in 2010.

Sometimes, the Eiffel Tower sparkles, from my trip in 2010. 

2. Reims

Reims is located in the Champagne region of France, famous for - you guessed it - the beautiful, bubbly concoction known as champagne. Monumental cathedrals, charming chateaus, vineyards that grow the most perfect grapes for the most perfect drink, and beautiful little pink cookies. What could be better? Well, in addition to the famous champagne, Reims is also steeped in history, as several kings were coronated there, and would then throw a party (ain't no party like a French King party) at the Palais du Tauhemis, now a museum.

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3. Mont St Michel - Normandy, France

So, I'm cheating a little bit. I know I'm going to Mont St Michel, because it's part of my program. BUT just look at it! It's like a castle, on a hill! It is so beautiful, and so inspiring. 

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4. Bayonne - French Basque

Again, Basque culture fascinates me. I was in the French Basque region for about a day during my trip in 2012, but we did not go to Bayonne. It's the capital of the French Basque, and is home to quintessential Basque architecture, and is right near the coast. Perfect place to learn about the Basque culture! It is also close to two other cities that I have been to: Biarritz and St. Jean de Luz, also in the Basque region! It is also close to Spain, which is also wonderful. 

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This is a lighthouse in Biarritz (Photo by Zoe Diaz-McLeese)

St. Jean de Luz (Photo by Zoe Diaz-McLeese)

5. Marseille - Provence, France

The glamour of Provence and Southern France is not lost on me. On the other side of the South from the Basque region, Marseille is home to sunbaked beaches, an edgy city chock full of museums and cultural sites. Its famous port has been welcoming ships for 26 centuries, and being by the water is a dream. 
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This is by no means an exhaustive list of everywhere I want to go while in France, but it hits at least one place, or major site from various parts of France. Is there anywhere else I should go? 

Thanks for reading! 



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