Venture outside the famous "City of Love" and you’ll soon be surrounded by unique French culture.
48 kmWith humble beginnings dating back to the 13th century, this Seine-et-Marne settlement’s architecture cannot be mistaken for anything other than Medieval. A quick amble around the streets will reveal vestiges from various trades of the time, primarily tanners and timber workers. As a former stronghold, much of the Middle Age charm has been preserved.
The town’s alluring nickname, "The Venice of Brie," has earned it additional interest in recent years. It also has a favorable reputation as a hangout for well-known artists of bygone eras, including Toulouse-Lautrec, Corot and Servin. Close by, the picturesque Valley of the Painters is a popular stop for walkers as well as families hoping to cut costs by staying away from Paris. It’s also just a 15-minute drive from Disneyland.
68 kmIt’s not every day you get to walk the same halls as royalty, which is just one reason why a detour to this impressive residence is recommended.
Though some may argue that Versailles is the place to be in terms of monarchical magnificence, we’d much rather visit this less crowded household. It’s surrounded on all sides by perfectly kept courtyards full of flowers, foliage, and of course, fountains. We also like its proximity to the immense and scenic Forest of Fontainebleau, where activities such as bouldering and tree climbing should satisfy adventurous visitors.
74 kmThis pretty little village, situated on the right bank of the Seine, owes much of its reputation to one of France’s most famous sons. It seemed to be love at first sight when Claude Monet first laid eyes on the place from a train window. He took up residence here for 43 of his most formative years.
The artist’s house and honorary museum draw most visitors, but archaeological discoveries dating back to the Neolithic period have added more historical air to the hamlet and provide insight into Normandy’s significance in bygone eras. This is an area that continues to grow old gracefully, and a walk around the lily ponds might awaken the artist in you.
145 kmThough Champagne may call to mind many a celebratory evening of indulgence, a sojourn to the heart of the region that gives the tipple its namesake won’t fail to satisfy.
From the striking facades of the Renaissance-style Champagne Houses, Pommery for example, to the quarried caves that house slowly aging bottles, there is something here for everyone to admire, For those less inclined to delve into the industry’s history, a stroll through the rolling vineyards and a few free samples might win them over. A short distance away, you can visit the ceremonial city of Reims, where many kings were crowned in front of crowds in the spectacularly designed 800-year-old cathedral.
145 kmThe city counts author Jules Verne among its former residents. Amiens’ tumultuous past -- revolutions, occupations, wars -- has helped shape it into one the foremost artistic centers in the country. The city boasts many avant-garde attractions, including street art tours starting in belfries, contemporary art museums and sound and light shows on the sides of churches. If you enjoy the countryside, you will be satisfied by the scenic views along this stretch of the River Somme. The flourishing restaurant scene will delight those seeking local gastronomic treats.