• Kemi A

Tour de France...without the illegal performance enhancers

Paris...the city of lights, the capital of France, the city of Amour! Yes, Paris is great and has much to see, do and eat, but there’s more to France than the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge. And with France’s affordable and easy to navigate train system why not explore the country from the capital to the coast. The 10 most memorable things in France from this visit… yes including Paris 😏

1. Travel through time at Le Musee du Louvre: Le Louvre is probably on most top anything lists, but for good reason. It contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art: sculptures, objets d'art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds. You can literally get lost in this place all day and not even come close to seeing everything. In Paris there are several other museums worth exploring: Picasso & d'Orsay to name a couple. If you plan on spending most of your time exploring museums get the Paris Museum Pass, but do the math as it only makes sense if you visit more than a few in as many days. They have 2, 4, and 6 day passes

It's large. You will get lost. Even with a map.

2. Live your Disney fantasy in the Loire Valley: This area of France is stocked with palatial buildings and awe-inspiring gardens to match. If staying in Amboise you can walk to several castles and take a quick train ride to Tours where you can join a group outing to other castles. Chateaus Amboise, Villandry, and Azay-Le-Rideau were some of my favorites. Get a discount on entrance tickets by purchasing yours at the tourism office in Amboise or Tours.

Think I saw Gaston running after Belle in here

3. Drink ALL the wine in Bordeaux: I mean ALL of it. Some call Bordeaux the little Paris, but ask a local resident and you may get into a full blown argument as they consider Paris to be a large ripoff of Bordeaux. I'm not picking sides here, but Bordeaux is amazing for many reasons including the wine culture and close proximity to many vineyards. You can literally take a short bus ride to several vineyards, and they have a whole museum dedicated to this nectar from the gods! Visit the Cite du Vin for education on all things wine and to schedule a tour to some of the farther and more famous vineyards in St Emillion, Medoc, & Pessac. Or you can just find one of many wine bars and drink yourself around the region from one cozy spot.

Believe I drank about this many barrels of wine during my stay in Bordeaux

4. Shaku Shaku the night away: Outside of Africa, Afrobeats isn't just big in the states, it's worldwide, and several DJs from Europe have been spinning hip hop, R&B, and Afrobeats at great venues for a while. DJ BabaFlex is a regular at Mama Shelter which has locations in Paris, Bordeaux, and Marseille for a great night out.

5. Get a taste of the motherland: In several cities in France (Paris, Nice, Marseille) you'll find small pockets of African communities with open air markets, stores, and restaurants to make you feel a little closer to The Continent. In Paris this area is called Goutte D’or, and Delices de Sacre Coeur is an amazing restaurant there, serving up delicious Senegalese food. I also stumbled upon Chez Marie Ange in Nice, serving up some of the best food I had in my whole France trip.

Those plantains made my heart sing!

6. Take a guided walking tour... FOR FREE: Plenty of companies offer free walking tours of major cities. I religiously use these my first day in a new city as a jumping off point, and the guides are usually good references to help round out your itinerary. One guide in Porto emailed me a list of his favorite restaurant, and another in Lisbon took us to lunch- can't beat that type of hospitality! You also have the opportunity to make some new friends with others on the tour. Sandemans is an example of a tour company with great guides.

It's nice to look at, but even better to get the history behind it from a free tour

7. Customize your vacay scent: Want to smell like the French Riviera, or create your own bespoke fragrance? Part of the south of France is known as the perfume capital of the world and here you can take tours of perfume factories, spend your life savings at the many perfume boutiques, visit perfume museums, and create your own fragrance. I love perfumes, so this was absolute heaven for me. Of course you can buy fancy perfume in Paris, but Grasse & Eze in the French Riviera are the places to go to get a history of perfume and create your own. Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard offer fragrance making workshops and free factory tours.

Olfactory heaven

8. Work on your tan: Beaches hold a special place in my heart. There's sun, sand, and salt water- you pretty much don't need anything else. Cannes, Nice, & Marseille are great places to soak up some sun. It's Europe so these aren't always the white sand beaches you may be used to. Some are rocky but still beautiful and worth a visit. From my apartments in Nice & Marseille I was able to walk to several beaches.

Thongs will be seen... on women and men

9. Drink the tap water: Sounds lame, but France has some great tap water IMO. Chocked full of minerals and mystical healing properties. I swear it kept me healthy, got my skin glowing, and prevented me from getting sick despite inhaling so much second hand smoke throughout France.

10. Visit Monaco: Technically it's its own country (you can go to the tourism office and get a stamp on your passport), but for the purposes of this post we're calling it part of France. I happened to take a day trip from Nice the day of the Grand Prix! Traveler's luck I guess. It was an easy and scenic bus ride from Nice- I recommend sitting on the right side of the bus so you can get amazing views of the coast on your way there. Aside from the excitement of the Grand Prix there's the prince's palace with the changing of the guards, Princess Grace Kelly's rose garden, an insane antique & race car collection, a sculpture path, and the famous James Bond casino! It's free to see the lobby and surrounding areas of the Monte Carlo Casino, but there's an entrance fee if you want to see where the action happens.

Comment and let me know what are some of your favorite places are in France. And if you need help figuring out your own Tour de France, send me an email to get a customized itinerary.

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