Everything else.. Beyond the City of Lights | France

Beyond the City of Lights | France

2018 Aug 7

France, a country every traveler has a relationship with and falls in love with. It’s an absolutely magical dream of its joie de vivre shown by its countless restaurants, picturesque villages, and world-famous gastronomy. Apart from bringing home the FIFA World Cup trophy, France can be amusing in ways more than one.

France has been the world’s most popular tourist destination for years. If visiting the treasures of L’Hexagone isn’t on your bucket list, it’s time it makes its way to the top! Jet Airways flies 13 times a week to Paris starting at an all-inclusive price of LKR 80,000! We were given an incredible opportunity by Jet Airways to tick off our bucket list dreams and venture into La Gaule. Our adventures were not limited to the City of Lights, Paris, but continued onto the scenic outdoors of Provence and more!

7 days, 6 stops, each with sights of its own; our week’s adventure was like no other. This isn’t your usual coffee table write-up of the well-known wonders of Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe or Notre-Dame de Paris. Instead, our itinerary comprised of visits to lesser spoken of yet equally incredible sights in Paris and the French suburbs. If you followed our journey on social media, you had an exclusive sneak peek into our incredibly eventful week in Paris! Stay tuned to our social media for real time updates of our #PulseVisits adventures and more.

Stop 1: Amboise

Our journey began in Paris and we made our way straight to Hotel Littre, a contemporary 4-star Parisian hotel located between Saint Germain-des-Prés and Montparnasse. It combines the renown of Saint-Germain-des-Près, the bohemian lifestyle of Montparnasse, the excitement of the Latin Quarter, and the peaceful romanticism of the Luxembourg Gardens.

Our first venture out of Paris was to the small market commune, Amboise. Amboise is a city is famous for the Clos Lucé manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived (and ultimately died) at the invitation of King Francis I of France, whose Château d’Amboise also dominates the town.

Castle Clos Lucé: The Clos Lucé Manor House is famous for being the official residence of Leonardo da Vinci between 1516 and 1519. It is located 500m from the royal Château d’Amboise, to which it is connected by an underground passageway. In 1516, King Francis I of France invited Leonardo da Vinci to Amboise and provided him with the Clos Lucé, then called Château de Cloux, as a place to stay and work. A few attractions inside to look out for: Chamber of Da Vinci, Paddle Wheel, Two Level Bridge, and Garden of Leonardo.

Royal Castle of Amboise: Surrounded by lush lavender fields, Château d’Amboise is both historical and interesting. Confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century, it became a favoured royal residence and was extensively rebuilt thereafter. We’re also told that King Charles VIII died at the château in 1498 after hitting his head on a door lintel.

Le Maitre d’Art and Loire Wine Tasting: The beautiful commune of Amboise, lying on the banks of the Loire River, is home to gourmet produce, meals, and regional products. Our next two adventures; a meal at Le Maitre d’Art and a Wine Tasting by the Loire, allowed us to experience just that.

Stop 2: Aix en Provence

Ah, the sweet scents of Provence! Aix en Provence is a city-commune to the south of France, full of life and culture, alike.

Château La Coste: Chateau La Coste is an extraordinary place, far removed from a typical Provence winery where a combination of the tradition of wine and contemporary architecture sings. In 2004, artists and architects from around the world were invited to the landscape of Chateau La Coste, to choose a place that ‘spoke to them’, and then create something that would take up residence there. The result was a series of intriguing art objects linked by a walking trail around the vineyards of La Coste.

Roy René museum:
The calisson (traditional French candy consisting of a smooth, pale yellow, homogeneous paste of candied fruit and ground almonds topped with a thin layer of royal icing) is recognized as part of the heritage of the city of Aix. Whether you’re a connoisseur or not, you can learn more about the authentic flavours of the calisson by visiting the fascinating sites of the Confiserie du Roy René.

Château de Fonscolombe Hotel: Our bed for the night was at Château de Fonscolombe, radiating reflections of history, the spirit of the Enlightenment, and the glow of festivities. After a long day in Aix, we slid into the luxurious splendor of this completely restored family Château.

Stop 3: Gordes

Listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, its white and gray stone houses rise up in a spiral around the rock where the village is set. Whilst strolling through the tiny streets which lie between the tall houses, we discovered beautiful old doorways, arcades, and perfectly restored walls of flat stone. On the other side is a panoramic view of the valley and mountains of Luberon.

Sénanque Abbey:
Three Cistercian abbeys called the Three Sisters of Provence were founded in the 12th century: Senanque Abbey, Thoronet Abbey, and Silvacane Abbey. Founded in 1148, Senanque was the first of the Three Provençal Sisters. The abbey lends way to a spectacular view of lavender fields, fragrant and blooming during the summer.

Mas des Herbes Blanches: Our bed for the night was at one of the best Gordes hotels, Mas des Herbes Blanches. This hotel is the perfect base for visiting Gordes, Joucas, the Luberon and Provence’s many attractions. The hotel first opened in 1974 and has been a member of Relais & Chateaux since 1976.

Stop 4: Rousillon

One of the most impressive villages in France, Roussillon is a must-see in the Luberon and is well worth a detour.

Orchre Trail in Roussillon: Situated in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world, Roussillon is famous for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries. The red, yellow, and brown shades of the earth form a striking contrast with the lush green pine trees and the vivid blue of the Provençal sky makes this an absolutely exceptional site and trail!

Stop 5: Avignon

The historic city of Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France located in the department of Vaucluse on the left bank of the Rhône River. The architecture, culture and life are incredible, echoed in the buildings, food, and the people.

Halles d’Avignon: Not your average flea market, it is bustling with activity, life, and gourmet products alike.

Palace of the Popes:
The Palais des Papes is a historical palace located in Avignon and is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century.

Day 06: Paris

Back to some sightseeing in the heart of France!

Louvre Museum: Revisited by Beyonce and Jay-Z, the Louvre Palace is a former royal palace located on the right bank of the Seine. It became a royal palace in the 14th century under Charles V and was occasionally used by kings of France as their main Paris residence. It is now home to priceless art, history, and architecture.

Louis Vuitton Foundation: As a private cultural initiative, the Louis Vuitton Foundation aims to support contemporary artistic creation for a wide French and international audience. Stemming from an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook, Frank Gehry constantly sought to “design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolizing the cultural calling of France”.

Beateau Mouche: Our adventurous day in Paris came to an end with a dinner river cruise down the Seine, an incredible way to explore Paris differently and uncover the historic heart of the city of lights whilst sailing down its most beautiful avenue.

Palace of Versailles:
The Palace of Versailles was the principal residence of the Kings of France from Louis XIV in 1682 until the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. The Palace is now a French Historic Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, notable for the ceremonial Hall of Mirrors, the jewel-like Opera Theatre, and its royal apartments.