Monday, January 9, 2017

Why France should Top your 2017 Travel Wish List

France is a compelling destination for many reasons and here are at least five which should  tempt you to visit France in 2017.

Diverse landscape

France, the size of Texas,  has a beautiful and varied landscape.  Its coastline stretches 5,500 km with access to  the channel, the Atlantic Ocean  and the Mediterranean Sea.  This means for those interested in a beach holiday you have numerous choices that range from Le Touquet in Northern France to Deauville in Normandy and from the surfing  paradise in Biarritz on the Atlantic coast to the chic seaside resorts like Cannes on the French  Riviera and many more options in between.

For those who enjoy mountain adventures, France counts seven mountainous regions: the Alps, Massif Central, Jura, Morvan, Pyrenees , Vosges and Corsica.  France's  mountain resorts range from high-altitude with excellent snow quality to mid-moutain traditional villages.  World-class ski resorts such as  Val d'Isere, Meribel, Courchevel and Chamonix are well-known to offer an amazing skiing experience with state of the art equipments.
Popular summer activities in the mountains are no less exciting and include hiking,  mountain-biking, horse-back riding and river rafting.

France's rich cultural patrimony is a testament to its long and colorful history.  There are some 32 UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites in France among them are  monuments like Chartres Cathedral, the Pont du Gard, the  Mont Saint Michel Abbey, the prehistoric cave paintings of Lascaux, Versailles Palace and even Paris' river banks.

France is an art lover paradise.  Throughout the country you will find amazing museums celebrating art throughout the ages.  In Paris, visitors can't miss the great museums like the Louvre, the Orsay, the Rodin, the Pompidou Center but throughout France you will find museums with world-class collections  such as the Fabre Museum in Montpellier, Fondation Maeght for contemporary art in St. Paul de Vence, Toulouse Lautrec Museum in Albi or the Musee des Beaux Arts in Dijon and these are just a sample.

Gastronomy /Wine
France's gastronomy is renowned the world over for its quality and inventiveness. There are more Michelin starred restaurants in France than anywhere else in the world.  Each region, town and village hold dear its culinary traditions-Cassoulet from Castelnaudary in the Languedoc, bouillabaisse from Marseille, ratatouille from Provence and the famous crepe from Britany.  Let's not forget the numerous delicious pastries and bread that make the gourmands among us salivate at the thought.  And, did you know France boasts over five hundred types of cheeses?

France's reputation for its wine is nonpareil. There are 17 distinct wine regions each with its own terroirs and wine-making know-how.  Wine growers in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace,  Loire, Champagne , Rhone Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon, Cognac, Armagnac to name a select  few eagerly welcome visitors from around the world to share with them their passion for the fruit of the vine.

France has been at the forefront of fashion since the 17th century when the Sun King himself was the leading "fashionista" for his time.  Famous fashion houses like Chanel, Dior, St. Laurent, Givenchy, Balmain, Hermes represent luxury "a la Francaise". You will find their boutiques in Paris but also throughout the major French cities. For bargains, the best time to come shopping in France is during the sales which are officially held twice a year  in January and July.

Click here to view Memories of France.   Enjoy.!!

Enchanted France specializes in tours to France.  We'll be happy to prepare for you itineraries to fit your special interests. Let Enchanted France be your guide in France. Visit

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Orsay Museum Celebrates 30 years.

Thirty years ago the Orsay museum opened to the public. Since then, it has become one of the most popular attractions in Paris as it  holds  the world's most important collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings.

Gare d'Orsay-circa 1900
The museum is housed in a former  railroad station built in  between 1898 and 1900 in the Beaux Arts style.  The Orsay station was located on left bank of the River Seine and faced the Tuileries garden and the Louvre. The  station opened on the occasion of  the 1900 Paris World Fair and  ran trains on the southwest line from Paris to Orleans.

Musee d'Orsay Facade-
 The appointed architect, Victor Laloux (1850-1937), had the station industrial steel structure  masked on the outside by a handsome stone facade to blend harmoniously with the elegant architecture of the surroundings. The interior was also planned by Laloux and decorated by famed painters and sculptors of the era.   The main feature of the station is the great hall which is 32 m high, 40 m wide and 138 m long. Because the trains were electrified and did not emit smoke and steam, the station was enclosed with a glass roof. A large handsome gold clock in the central aisle marked the time.

Musee d'Orsay Great Hall

The main line railway  ceased to operate in 1939 because  innovations in railways made the station short platform obsolete for the longer electric trains.   Over the next decades it was used for staging various events like a movie set for such film as Orson Well's "The Trial" or as performance space for the  Theater company Renault-Barrault or as a space for the auctioneers from the Drouot Auction House. In the 1970's the station was scheduled to be demolished to be replaced by a hideous modern hotel.  Thankfully, this did not come to pass and instead the station was placed on the list of historical monuments to be converted into a museum.

 In 1980, the task of  renovating the space from former railroad to museum was awarded to an Italian female architect and interior designer Gae Auletti (1927-2012). It took several years to complete the project and on December 1, 1986 the new museum was inaugurated and subsequently opened to the public on  December 9.  It was from the start a great success and now it attracts more than a 3 million visitors a year.

Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe- Edouard Manet

The Orsay Museum focuses on French modern art from 1848-1915 and holds about 6000 works of art, not all on display at one time, covering paintings, drawings, sculptures, architecture, decorative arts, ceramics and textiles.   In addition it hold an impressive collection of  photography, amounting to some 12,000 photographs.

La Gare St. Lazare- Claude Monet

Its main attraction is its Impressionist and Post Impressionist collection with works by  Gustave Courbet, Jean Francois Millet, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, Pierre-August Renoir, Camille Pissaro, Vincent van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec and much much more.

Four Quarters of the World-
Jean Baptiste Carpeaux
Its sculpture collection, located  in the central aisle,  includes works by Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, Francois Rude, August Rodin, Camille Claudel, August Bartholdi to name a few.
The Musee d'Orsay located at 1 rue de la Legion d'Honneur, is opened everyday except on Mondays from 9:30AM to 6:30PM.  and on Thursdays till  9:15PM.  It is best to buy tickets in advance either online or have a museum pass in order to skip the lines.

Musee d'Orsay Restaurant
When visiting the  Musee d'Orsay,  enjoy  lunch or dinner at one of the two restaurants in the museum.  On the first floor  you will find the former restaurant of the hotel d'Orsay.  The elegant dining room with its large windows overlooking the River Seine has retained the dazzling crystal chandeliers and the  painted and gilded ceiling  circa 1900.

Musee d'Orsay Cafe Campana
More recent is the Cafe Campana located on the 5th floor on  the same level as the Impressionist gallery.  It impresses by its contemporary gold and orange designs and  the large clock that offers breathtaking views of the city.

For custom travel packages to Paris and beyond visit 

#OrsayMuseum #Paris #traveltoParis #ParisMuseums

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Paris Shines Brighter in December

Planning a trip to Paris in December is a great idea for a number of reasons notably decent airfares and hotel rates.  Not negligibly, the City of Light shines brighter during the holiday season and offers a slew of activities to make your visit fun and memorable.  Here are some attractions that will put you in a festive mood when visiting Paris in December.

  • Christmas decorations and lights throughout the the city.
  • Christmas market along the Champs Elysees
  • Ice skating rinks like on Place de l'Hotel de Ville or indoor at the Grand Palais
  • Whimsical holiday window displays at the department stores
  • Scrumptious holiday food.

Lights on everywhere!! The Champs Elysees Avenue, street markets, the monuments, department stores, boutiques and restaurants are beautifully decorated and illuminated for the Christmas season.

It's been a long time tradition for the Parisian department stores to decorate their windows with whimsical musically animated scenes that are sure to please the little kid in all of us.

Many streets hold a Christmas market but the largest one is to be found along the Avenue of the Champs Elysees between Concorde Square and the Champs Elysees roundabout.  Here hundreds of little chalet-like stands line up offering strollers a chance to buy holiday gifts, ornaments, regional products and all kind of delectable goodies like hot cocoa, roasted chestnuts, crepes, cotton candy and more.

Oh what fun!! imaging skating outdoor in front of the Paris City Hall or facing the Eiffel Tower on Place du Trocadero? There is even a small rink set up on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower; here you are sure to be awed by the view!!.  There is also a much larger indoor skating rink installed inside the Grand Palais, on the Champs Elysees; a beautiful building built for the 1900 World's Fair.

First, you will feast your eyes looking at all tantalizing displays of Christmas specialities and be sure to treat yourself to holiday pate, foie gras, fresh oysters, cheeses and the ubiquitous Buche de Noel (Christmas log).

For your custom holiday travel package to Paris, visit my website or email your request at contact@enchanted-france

#Paris #ParisinChristmas #ParisTravel

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fall Exploration of the Alsatian Wine Road

Fall is a great time to explore the wine road of Alsace.  You will enjoy the picturesque countryside of rolling hills covered in rust colored vineyards and picture-book villages. After the  summer trafic jams the scenic country roads of Alsace regain some peace and quiet to be  left for you to discover at a leisurely pace in pleasant Indian summer temperatures.

Alsace is situated in the northeast corner of France  on the west bank of the Rhine River and shares borders with Germany and Switzerland.

The famed Alsace wine road runs 170 km from north to south passing through seventy wine-growing villages, many being considered to be the most beautiful villages in France. Starting in Strasbourg , the capital of Alsace and ending in Colmar , its wine capital,  your journey along the scenic road will let you  explore historical sites, pretty villages, meet winegrowers,  taste their wines as well savor the many  local specialities that make Alsace a top gastronomic  destination.

Strasbourg makes for a great starting point for its easy access by air, train and roads.  In Strasbourg discover the picturesque historical center where stands for some 800 years the gorgeous gothic cathedral Notre Dame constructed from the pink-sandstone quarried in  the nearby Vosges Mountains. You will be charmed by  the picturesque neighborhood of la Petite France lined with flowered timber-framed houses and you will  delight at the many inviting squares filled with cafes and winstubs where you can sip a local beer or glass of wine and feast on Alsatian specialities like Choucroute,  baekeoffe or tarte flambée.

Historic sites and monuments
Just 40km southwest  of  Strasbourg  you can stop at Mont Saint Odile.  Named for the Patron saint of Alsace  this hill top is the site of a convent which has welcomed pilgrims since the  16th century.  You can visit the convent with its chapel and cloister and  enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Alsace plains and  mountains.  

Further south you will find the Chateau du Haut Koenigsberg.  This red sandstone medieval castle stands on top of a rocky promontory  over 700 meters high. The original 12th century fortress has been dismantled and rebuilt a number of times over the centuries in a land that had been bitterly contested. The present castle was rebuilt in the early 20th century by King Willhem II in the medieval style with turrets, towers, battlements, drawbridges and moat. There is plenty to explore inside and around the castle. 

 Picturesque Villages
 On your journey along the wine road, you will be beckoned by many picture-postcard worthy villages with their characteristically Alsatian  geranium-bedecked timber-frame houses. Villages considered the prettiest  of Alsace include Obernai, Barr, Dambach, Ribeauville, Riquewhir, Eguisheim, Kaysersburg , Turkheim just to name a few. Meander the villages'  cobblestone lanes to  explore their unique architectural heritage of ancient gates, medieval walls, churches, town halls,market places and attractive Medieval and Renaissance houses.


Meandering along the Route du Vin you will pass rows after rows of well tended vineyards.  Alsatian wines use specific variety of grapes; their AOC bear the name of the grape variety.
Alsace counts seven AOC  grape wines;  Six white wines:  Gewurtztraminer,  Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris,  Sylvaner, Muscat, and Pinto Gris;  and one red or rose wine: Pinot Noir.  In autumn during the harvest many wine related events take place and visitors are welcomed to visit cellars to meet the wine growers and sample the fruit of their vines. 

A must-see on the wine route of Alsace is the charming town of Colmar, considered to be he capital of  Alsace wine. You will be enchanted by its old town lined with colorful houses, particularly in the picturesque neighborhood of La Petite Venise alongside the River Lauch.  Not to be missed is a visit of the superb Unterlinden Museum where you can admire a masterpiece from the 16th century-- the Isenheim Altarpiece

For travel planning to Alsace visit Enchanted France - call 323 9311769 or email

#Alsace #vacationInFrance #AlsaceWineRoad #Colmar #Strasbourg

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Conquest of England by William of Normandy ( the Conqueror )

On this day September 28, 1066 after a two day long crossing of the Channel,  William I , Duke of Normandy and his army landed on the coast of England in Penvensey Bay to claim the throne of England from "usurper" King Harold.   He met the Anglo-Saxon army of king Harold at Hastings on October 14 and in the battle that ensues Harold was killed.  William, then went on to conquer England and was crowned King in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066.

Ships set Sails- 

You can visit a colorful pictorial rendition of the Conquest of England by William the Conqueror in Bayeux.  Dating from the 11th century, it is believed the embroidery was commissioned by Bishop Odo, a half brother of William and for centuries it was displayed in the Cathedral of Bayeux.   This amazingly well-preserved needlepoint measures 70 meters long and 50 centimeters tall and is made up of fifty scenes which depict the preparation of the invasion, the crossing of the Channel and  the battle of Hastings.

Having survived for so many centuries the ravage of the Revolution and numerable wars, the tapestry is now  inscribed as a  UNESCO World Heritage site and can be viewed  at the Tapestry Museum in Bayeux, a visit you should not miss.

Battle of Hastings

#Bayeux #BayeuxTapestry #Normandy
pictures courtesy of

Saturday, September 24, 2016

France Gastronomy Fair 2017

This weekend, France celebrates its gastronomy. Ever since UNESCO declared  France's gastronomy as a World Intangible Heritage in 2010, the country has devoted a weekend in late September to rejoice in its culinary traditions.  All throughout France and its overseas departments, people will get together to partake at banquets, picnics, chef demonstrations, even conferences.   The theme this year centers around the cuisine of the people.   It is not necessarily about Haute Cuisine, it is everyday cooking prepared at home
with care using fresh locally grown products and shared convivially with family and friends or eaten at the local bistro and country inn.  Each region has its specialties from the Choucroute of Alsace to the Fondue from Savoie, from the escargots de Bourgogne to Bouillabaisse from Marseille and what about the Cassoulet of Toulouse and Crepes from Brittany or the Quiche from Lorraine ?.  This sampling of specialities have been popularized around the world and tourists from far and wide have come to France to taste these famous dishes.   In France  these culinary wonders  are simply served at a family get-together Sunday meal and even in children's school lunch dining halls.  As we celebrate French gastronomy , let me
 call.. A table everybody!!

Enchanted France specializes in custom travel to France.  Visit

#France #FetedelaGastronomy #FrenchCuisine #frenchGastronomy

Friday, August 19, 2016

European Driving Holiday

While it’s nice to experience all that one single European city like Paris has to offer, it’s nice to branch out and see as much scenery and culture as you can. What better way than through an independent driving tour? After all, there’s truly nothing like driving amongst slopping and beautiful landscapes, windows rolled down, hair rustling in the fresh  countryside air. At Enchanted France, we strive to provide you with a truly unforgettable experience and driving tours are just that. 

When traveling within a new culture, you may be uncertain of which sights to see, which destinations to visit, and which direction to travel. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of seeing just as much as you can. With our selection of European driving holidays, you’re provided all you need to have a truly fabulous time, including a rental car, a personalized itinerary with map and directions, and accommodations within a luxurious hotel or chateau.

Explore France vineyards in Bordeaux, Burgundy or Cognac; view the majesty of the French Alps or Pyrenees mountains; or discover  the timeless beauty of Normandy or Provence, all from the comfort of your car. Traveling independently, either on your own or with a loved one, allows you to tailor the trip to fit your needs, stopping to see the sights, tasting the food and meeting the locals  along the way!  
So what are you waiting for?  fall is a great time to take the road and explore the beautiful countryside of France.

Visit us online today to browse our complete selection of independent driving tours and plan your retreat today.

#France #driving tours# # France Travel Specialist # European driving tours