With cobblestone streets, architectural feats, delicious pastries, bustling markets, and an atmosphere overflowing with history, it’s no wonder that Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With so many things to do and see, planning your visit to the City of Lights can seem overwhelming.
No matter where you travel to, planning an itinerary centered around your own unique interests is always the key to having a good time. That said, if you’re looking for a true Parisian experience, there are a number of tried-and-true things that deserve to be at the top of your list for things to see and do in Paris. To help give you a base upon which you can begin to build your own customized itinerary, below are four essential experiences everyone visiting Paris should have.
When you think of Paris, you likely think of its iconic Eiffel Tower. Considering it’s featured in more movies, photographs, and calendars than anyone can count, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Constructed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel for the World Exhibition of 1889, it was, at the time, the world’s tallest building at 312 meters. If you’re worried about heights, you’ll be happy to know that the construction of the tower is so sound that it never sways more than nine centimeters, even in strong winds.
The Eiffel Tower is most spectacular at night when the 20,000 lights lining every inch of the tower light up together in performance. These 200,000-watt light shows last five minutes and happen every hour on the hour starting at dusk and lasting until 1 a.m. In addition to the tower itself, the view from the top is a must-see. However, due to popularity and recently added security measures, if you wish to ride to the top of the Eiffel tower, you should reserve plenty of time for waiting.
Rue des Martyrs
There are so many famous tourist attractions to check out in Paris that many of the smaller, more authentic experiences can be easily overlooked. One such experience is wandering Paris’s old market streets. Namely Rue des Martyrs. The street is an old historic route in the Pigalle district leading up to the village of Montmartre. Plus, it’s home to a neighborhood market that’s been in operation for over 200 years. Filling this market is around 200 shops and restaurants.
For foodies, it’s heaven. No matter your preferences, you’re bound to find something that lights up your palette. In fact, there are plenty of options for fruit, fish, pastries, chocolate, and gourmet cafés. If fashion takes priority, you can spend your time hopping from one chic boutique to another.
There is your standard museum experience, then there is the Louvre. As the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre has 675,000 square feet filled with works from nearly every corner and civilization of the world. The museum is as interesting for history enthusiasts as it is for art connoisseurs. The three most famous and most popular pieces inside the museum are:
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci;
Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch, and;
Winged Victory of Samothrace.
To get the most out of your visit to the Louvre, you’re better off prioritizing pieces that actually interest you instead of going straight to the crowd-pleasers. Or, for a truly unique experience, you can go in with no plan at all. With over 35,000 pieces scattered throughout the Louvre, you’re bound to find something that interests you no matter where you go.
Notre-Dame de Paris
If you grew up watching Disney movies, you likely came across The Hunchback of Notre Dame at some point in your childhood. While there may not be a hunchback currently inhabiting it, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is certainly a real place and a must-see during your visit to Paris. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame’s real history is worth a feature film in itself. Although its foundation was first laid in 1163, it wasn’t until 170 years later that its design was actually fully constructed. Then, after nearly being destroyed during the French Revolution, the Cathedral was restored from 1841 to 1864 by architect Viollet-le-Duc.
On April 15, 2019, a fire caused severe damage to the Cathedral, especially the roof and spire. As a result, the Cathedral and its immediate surroundings are closed to the public. Despite the closure for reconstruction, tourists are encouraged to visit areas closeby to take pictures. So don’t let this unfortunate circumstance keep you from seeing this masterful piece of architecture.
Saddle up and head for the hills of Europe on 10 of the most popular horseback riding trails. With its varied landscape and long tradition of horsemanship, Europe is ideal for a horseback-riding holiday. Every country has its own distinctive history and natural wonders to be explored and horse riding offers a completely different perspective on popular European destinations. From the chateaus of France to the glaciers of Scandinavian, get ready for a ride of a lifetime.
With their centuries-old tradition of horseback riding, Renaissance chateaus from the 16th century, and vineyards of Bordeaux, France is an excellent place to experience the country by horseback. Like an aristocrat from the Victorian era, saddle up, English style, for an adventure into the ancient woodlands and castles of the Loire Valley. Another popular riding spot is Provence, an area known for its fine food and glorious landscapes that inspired Cezanne. Riders can also discover the rugged, remote Pyrenees of Pays Basque, the region that borders Spain, for a ride through the mountains and rolling hills. Get ready to gallop across sandy beaches of Landes and witness the castles and famous wine cellars of Bordeaux. Following the French riding tradition of Natural Horsemanship, riding experts encourage a non-violent approach to training, which is a horse whispering riding style that has been passed down through generations.
With its natural diversity and pleasant weather, Portugal has excellent terrain for horseback riding. On a riding holiday of a lifetime, get ready for gallops on deserted sandy beaches, trail rides through mountain ranges, and breathtaking trails along windswept coastlines. In Lisbon and Porto, saddle up and discover the historic architecture of the medieval quarters. For more remote landscapes of the Portugal countryside, head to a romantic pousada, monastery, or manor house for an overnight stay in between trail rides. There are also beautiful rides in Alto Alentjo along the southwest coast and the farmlands and rolling hills of upper Alentjo. Portugal has a long dressage tradition, which is cultivated at the world-class training facility of Lusitano Riding Center. If you’re a novice rider, they offer beginner lessons on the Lusitano horse, a breed considered the best riding horse for its calm temperament and sturdiness.
After a pint of Guinness and a hearty traditional Irish meal, saddle up on a Connemara pony and head out into the Irish countryside. Like most of Europe, Ireland has a rich history of horsemanship, making it easy to horseback ride across Emerald Isle. Horseback is a great way to explore the highlands of Kerry County or the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Atlantic coast. Ireland is also filled with vast grasslands and meadows, the perfect spot for an epic gallop. It’s also a chance for Americans to reconnect with their distant Irish heritage. Along the trails, you’ll find a rich Celtic heritage in the remote islands off the Atlantic with old stone ruins dotting the landscape. The countryside is also full of medieval castles, ancient monasteries, and famous landmarks. In between trail rides, pop in a historic pub that seems to be at the end of every path.
Situated on the edge of the Arctic Circle is one of the most rugged and remote landscapes on earth. With its glaciers, dramatic fjords, waterfalls, and volcanoes, Iceland has some of the most scenic horseback riding trails. The region of the North Atlantic is so rough that extra horses are often brought along to prevent exhaustion along the trail. But the extra effort is worth it for an up close look at the country’s stunning natural wonders. But with the Icelandic horse leading the way, you can rely on the sturdy, even-tempered beast of burden to take you safely through the terrain. Often passing through the backcountry, the riding trails typically lead to rustic mountain huts amongst wild mountain backdrops. The landscape might be unyielding, but on horseback, it’s a thrilling ride through the world’s most dramatic natural scenery.
Known as Aphrodite’s Isle, Cyprus is full of romantic notions, particularly the legend of the goddess of love rising out of the waves. With its sandy beaches, hillsides, and mountain ranges, the ancient isle has a variety of trails that are ideal for horseback riding. Along the way, you’ll get to explore relics of the ancient world, medieval castles, and Byzantine churches. In a landscape filled with historic wonders and romantic legends, it’s no surprise that Cyprus is a popular honeymoon destination and a vacation on horseback ups the ante in the art of romance. Another horse riding trail is in the countryside of Mesogi in the Paphos region where the Eagle Mountain Ranch offers
In the Cradle of the Ancient World, explore the backdrop to Greek mythology by horseback just like the early pioneers. Starting in Crete, saddle up for a ride through traditional farmlands, rolling hills, ancient olive groves along the rugged coast of the Mediterranean. Back on the mainland, the country is full of major archeological sites, including the ancient city of Athens and the ruins of the Partheneon and Acropolis, among others. The mild Mediterranean weather is also ideal for horseback riding year-round and a cool gallop down the coast at sunset is a favorite activity for Greek riders. From the ancient city of Athens to the rugged coast, Greece is full of unforgettable trail rides for the novice or the expert rider.
With its dramatic fjords, rugged mountain ranges, and ancient woodlands, Norway is full of horseback riding trails. Saddle up on a sturdy, sure-footed Icelandic horse and head out into the Scandinavian countryside for an unforgettable horseback-riding holiday. In the southwest, riders can explore the fjords under the midnight sun, a place where the sun never rises in the winter or sets in midsummer. Norway also contains Justedalsbreen, Europe’s largest glacier, which can be explored by horseback on a guided tour. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to see the Sognefjord and Nordfjord, which cut through each side of the glacier. Deep in the rural area, riders often stop off at rustic mountain cottages before heading out for another day of trailblazing against the backdrop of the Scandinavian heartland.
Deep in the heart of vampire country is the mysterious and ancient Transylvania, the jewel of Romania. Get ready to gallop through green fields, past steep snow-capped mountains, and old monasteries left by monks of antiquity. As the setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Romania is an land of intrigue, legends of the Old World, and natural wonders. Follow the trail through quaint folk villages that haven’t felt the passage of time and still plow the fields with horses. The region is also known for the mountains that were featured in the movie Cold Mountain and the medieval villages in the nearby Carpathian Mountains. For an unforgettable experience that will take you back to the 18th century, take a horse and carriage ride to Borgo Pass for a spooky overnight stay in Hotel Castle Dracula.
In a world of stunning natural landscapes, historic landmarks, and medieval villages, Spain is a great place for horseback riding adventures. Starting in Catalonia, head out to the trails leading to volcanoes and pristine sandy beaches. Spain also contains part of the Pyrenees Mountain Range, a rugged landscape ideal for cross-country horse riding. Outside Madrid, a popular trail takes riders to medieval villages that dot the countryside and finally to the Kingdom of Castile in the Gredos Mountains, an area known for its red-roofed Romanesque architecture that was popular in antiquity. The Spanish horse, known as the Andalusian, is the most ancient horse breed in the world. Although their exact origin is unknown, they are believed to be a distant relative of the mustang and quarter horse breeds that are popular in the US.
At the crossroads of the East and West, Turkey has been a major center of trade and culture throughout the centuries, dating back to the ancient world. For horseback riders, the country has some unique trails the pass through ancient ruins scattered throughout Anatolia, the eastern part of Turkey. Further south on the coast of the Mediterranean, you’ll find a different landscape of dramatic coastal cliffs and sandy beaches for a spirited seaside gallop. Other trails will take you through the Anatolian Plateau, which is considered the heartland of Turkey with its tranquil countryside surround by woodlands. Further along the coast is the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast. Here you’ll find deserted beaches, mountain scenery, and the famous Lycian tombs carved out of rocks jutting out from precarious cliffs, making the carvings a natural wonder of the ancient world.
There has never been a better time than now to be a solo female traveler looking to explore Europe. Cities are becoming safer, female-friendly hotels are popping up and it is getting easier to meet other solo female travelers around the world. Here are 20 safe European cities for female solo travelers.
20. Vienna, Austria
Austria is ranked number 4 on the Global Peace Index, making it an excellent and safe country for female solo travelers to visit. Vienna, the capital of Austria has earned the name of “city with the highest quality of life” several years in a row.
Vienna is full of stunning architecture, music, and history. There are plenty of museums to visit, such as Sigmund Freud’s house. This museum will help you understand why Vienna is known as the “city of dreams”. You may also want to make a stop at Prater park to see the iconic Riesenrad Ferris wheel landmark. Finally, be sure to head to a local restaurant and try authentic Austrian food such as Wiener Schnitzel (a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet), Sachertorte (chocolate torte), or an Apfelstrudel (apple strudel).
19. Edinburgh, Scotland
Between the breathtaking landscapes, ancient castles, and rich history, Scotland has a lot to offer. Scotland, a region of the United Kingdom ranks 45 on the Global Peace Index and is considered safe for female solo travelers. There is so much to do and see in Edinburg, the capital of Scotland. To begin, if you visit in August, there is a month-long arts festival called Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This festival offers theatrical performances, comedy shows, and many other activities that would be perfect for a female solo traveler, especially if you’re hoping to meet new people.
Moreover, consider taking a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle and take in the medieval architecture. After visiting the castle, be sure to head to Calton Hill which is a high point in the city that allows you to catch a full view of Edinburgh. Finish your day at a local pub and indulge in authentic food while meeting the locals.
18. Berlin, Germany
Berlin, Germany’s capital is home to 3.5 million residents. Berlin is rich in history and full of culture and would be an excellent place to explore on your own. There are many restaurants, markets, and cafes in Berlin that will make you feel comfortable dining alone.
Discover what this city has to offer by taking a free walking tour, use the bike-sharing program, or hop on public transportation. Be sure to check out the Brandenburg Gate, and the Holocaust Memorial, and the remnants of the Berlin Wall.
17. Bruges, Belgium
If you are a solo female traveler looking to immerse yourself in a fairy tale this would be the city to visit. Straight off a postcard, the city of Bruges is loaded with cobblestone streets, historic houses, and canals. It is here where you will be inspired to take long strolls throughout the streets and enjoy Belgian pints of beer by street-side cafes while people watching.
This city is extremely safe, for all travelers and welcomes visitors, especially in the summertime when it becomes peak travel season. There is a range of good hotels along with budget hostels that will meet any traveler’s budget, and English is widely understood throughout. Female travelers will feel safe as locals are willing to lend a hand if needed and are more than happy to give advice on where to go, what to see, and where to grab the next pint of beer.
16. Santorini, Greece
If you want to see jaw-dropping scenery, be sure to add Santorini, Greece to your travel wish list. The emerald Mediterranean Sea is enough to take your breath away, but also the picturesque white villas are a sight to see too. Many people travel to Santorini with a partner or friend but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel there solo.
With friendly locals and an affordable bus system, you’ll be able to navigate your way across the city.
15. Paris, France
Paris, France is known as the city of love. So it may seem ironic that one would travel there alone. However, exploring this beautiful city alone means that you don’t have to abide by anyone else’s opinions or plans. Further, exploring this city is easy and best to do either on foot or by taking the metro.
There are so many amazing things to see and do in Paris, France. Be sure to check out the iconic Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the Arc de Triomphe. You should also enjoy a bottle of wine and a baguette all to yourself during your stay too.
14. London, England
London, England is an excellent destination for solo female travels. Traveling through this city is easy from the amazing public transportation system to the remarkable hostels, hotels, and Airbnb’s. Not to mention English is their first language.
During your stay, be sure to visit Buckingham Palace, take a tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and visit one of the many museums London has to offer. You should also dine at a local pub to indulge in traditional British food such as fish and chips, or a Toad in the hole. Further, dining at a pub will also help you meet the locals as well as other solo travelers too.
13. Oslo, Norway
Oslo is a dream for female solo travelers, alas a bit expensive at times. It is Norway’s largest city and a great cultural city destination that is overflowing with things to see and do. Female solo travelers will feel safe no matter where they stay but may feel some extra comfort if they choose to stay on the women-only floor of the 130-year old Grand Hotel. Here they will find rooms stacked with books, magazines, a yoga mat, toiletries, and a female room-service menu, without the room service charge!
Wandering around the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is 80 acres and feature 212 bronze and granite sculptures, you are sure to meet other solo travelers who will become quick friends. Head out to one of the many vibrant nightclubs or theaters with new-found travel friends for an unforgettable experience.
12. Dublin, Ireland
Ireland is a very safe country. According to the Global Peace Index, Ireland ranks number 12 in the world. Further, as a female solo traveler, you will feel comfortable dining alone and you may even run into another solo traveler during your stay.
Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is laden with historic buildings including the captivating Dublin Castle. Some other great places to see are the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland, and other must-see historic Attractions in Dublin.
11. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal is a wonderful place for female solo travelers. To begin, there are many safe and affordable hostels to stay in where you will meet many other solo travelers too. Secondly, Portugal ranks 3rd on the Global Peace Index.
Lisbon is full of rugged yet wonderful architecture and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Consider having a beach day all to yourself, or explore the Castelo de S. Jorge or the Jerónimos Monastery. Exploring this beautiful city is easy and can be done either by public transportation, on foot, or on a bike.
10. Stockholm, Sweden
Built over 14 islands and connected by over 50 bridges this lovely cosmopolitan city is home to more than two million people. It is known for its gorgeous modern architecture, friendly people, and captivating waterways. Women are treated equally like men here and solo female travelers will face no issues in terms of harassment, drink spiking, or pickpocketing.
There is a slew of budget hostels throughout the city that are both affordable and safe, and a great way to connect with other travelers. This is a great city to experience Nordic culture in its modern and multicultural avatar, as well as dine on delightful local food. English is widely spoken here, and the locals are often teased for speaking a mix of Swedish and English-nicknamed Swinglish. Women will have no trouble finding people to talk to, tours to take and culture to experience here in Stockholm.
9. Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff is the capital and largest city of Wales. This city is also considered one of Britain’s safer cities and for that reason, it is Wales’s most popular tourist destination. Along with being a safe city, Cardiff is full of culture, has many captivating castles and if you meet the locals they’ll surely share some of their ancient Welsh legends.
Further, students make up about 10% of Cardiff’s population which means younger female solo travelers will surely be well taken care of. There are many things to see and do in Cardiff. During your stay be sure to check out the National Museu, Cardiff Bay, and Cardiff Castle.
8. Helsinki, Finland
The capital of Finland is one of the best cities for female solo travelers, thanks to its friendly locals, its reputation for being safe and beautiful. This walkable city is loaded with lovely parks, free city events, music, and shopping. Solo travelers will delight in the 20th-century architecture, the Helsinki Cathedral and the National Museum of Finland, which are always, home to other visitors.
One of the best things to do when you first get into the city is to take a walking tour, in order to fully appreciate the city’s cultural heritage, then move on to the shopping and dining. One cannot travel here without taking a dip in the Yrjönkatu Indoor Swimming Pool, (the oldest pool) built-in 1928. Recently renovated to house three pools and wonderful saunas, this is where women meet after work and have a sauna and swim followed by a drink, all done without any clothes on.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
Immerse yourself in the alluring culture of the Czech Republic by visiting its capital, Prague. There is an abundance of things to see and do in the wonderful city of Prague.
Prague is not only a beautiful place to visit but the country, the Czech Republic ranks in the top 10 of the Global Peace Index. Consider meeting other solo travelers by taking a walking tour, or keep to yourself and explore one of their many museums, or even check out a show at the State Opera.
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
The capital of Denmark is a vibrant and colorful city, which still manages to maintain a small-town feeling. New meets old in this fairytale-like city that features ancient buildings and towering glass and steel skyscrapers. Many of the state-run museums in this city are free admission, making it easy to save on spending and you can’t miss out on visiting the world’s oldest amusement park- Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park.
This city offers a unique experience that is perfect for female solo travelers called ‘Meet the Danes.’ This service arranges home-dinners with a Danish family or a single woman and her friend. Expect a traditional Danish meal and plenty of conversation with your new-found friends. Don’t miss the goddess Gefjun fountain that depicts the mythology of Denmark’s creation and magic within the Norse religion.
5. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain is known for its captivating architecture and art and would be a great destination for female solo travelers. For starters, the public transportation system is excellent. You’ll have the option of taking a bus, metro, trains, or trams, however, you will also be able to see a lot of the attractions on foot too. While Barcelona is generally safe, it’s always important to still take precautions such as keeping your personal belongings close by to prevent pickpocketing and don’t flash around money or expensive belongings.
During your stay be sure to check out the Sagrada Familia church, designed by Antoni Gaudi, and the Picasso Museum.
4. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is an extremely safe city and therefore traveling alone as a female here is also incredibly safe, and downright breathtaking. Snow-capped Alps loom in the background, museums and art galleries line the streets and the nightlife is something to speak of. Female travelers will find no shortage of shopping to do here, cobblers, tailors, metalsmiths, candle makers, jewelry makers, and watchmakers fill the streets.
Choices of accommodations are endless here and if you feel nervous at all in this city we suggest heading over to Lady’s First Design Hotel, which was built especially for female travelers. The ancient center is the perfect place to stroll through the winding lanes and look up to the tall church steeples, stopping for coffee at sidewalk cafes. Further, Zuri-West is where to find the hottest nightlife in the city, just in case you are looking to meet new friends that want to dance the night away.
3. Sorento, Italy
Sorento is a coastal town located in the southwestern part of Italy. This charming town faces the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Be sure to make your way to Piazzo Tasso, a central square in Sorrento that offers plenty of restaurants and shopping. Here you can try their famous Gelato, or drink a cup of delicious coffee.
Not only is there a lot to see and do in Sorento, but it’s also a popular vacation spot for Europeans. This means that you’ll hear a lot of English in both the restaurants and in the streets of Sorento which will only make traveling by yourself even easier. Further, you’ll find that it is easy to navigate around the town which will only add to a stress-free experience.
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam received the nickname “Venice of the North” because it has many beautiful canals. This charming city has something for every type of female traveler. Whether you enjoy history, are a party animal, or prefer to simply take in the scenic view, Amsterdam has it all.
According to the Global Peace Index, the Netherlands ranks in the top 20 in the world. There is plenty to see and do in Amsterdam and you will most likely run into other solo travelers too.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
It has been rated as the number one safest country for women to travel to alone and Iceland has been beckoning female solo travelers for as long as it can remember. This is the ultimate travel adventure for the traveler who loves the outdoors. Think glacier hiking in the Pingvellir National Park, skiing at Blafjoll, and Viking horse riding at Thingvellir.
If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, don’t worry there is plenty for you to do here including the chance to relax and de-stress in one of the many thermal pools and spas across the city. If you’re lucky you may even get to witness the famous Aurora Borealis. This city happens to be famously expensive though and we highly suggest staying at a hostel instead of a hotel to save money. This city is notoriously safe, even at night and as a female solo traveler, make sure you put Reykjavik on your bucket list.
France is a popular tourist destination, especially for those who are looking for a romantic location, a place to explore and meet new people, or even just to relax on a beach. There’s so much conversation around this beautiful country that sometimes tourists think they understand the French culture and the history behind the country without doing any research. This incredible country deserves more research before you travel there so you can immerse yourself in the culture in a respectful and educated way.
Besides having the best taste in fashion and beautiful architecture, there are things you must understand before meeting the French face to face. An example of this is that the French find it very respectful to be greeted in French. Imagine if you went to France not knowing that! You would not leave a good first impression in your wake. Read through these interesting facts about France and familiarize yourself with the culture before visiting the country of love.
1. The French Love Their Cheese
When you think of food in France, chances are, you’re thinking about wine, cheese, and croissants. While it may be called a stereotype in some circles, it really is the truth! France takes great pride in its high-quality cheeses, as well as the amount of variety they have to offer.
To be exact, there are up to 1200 varieties of cheese made in France which weigh around 1 billion tonnes. 1 billion! If you thought your family eats a lot of cheese, chances are, the French eat more.
2. France is the First Country to Make Throwing Out or Burning Food Illegal
If you want to take a peek into what North America’s future may look like, take a look at France. At many grocery stores in Canada and the United States, it’s actually illegal to give away leftover supermarket food. In fact, this rule applies to food that is still perfectly good.
However, as of 2016, France has made it illegal to throw away unsold food that is perfectly edible. Instead of tossing it in the trash, you must donate all unsold food so those who need to eat, can benefit from stores having a surplus of food.
3. The Word “Salut” Has Two Meanings
In English, every word has an unmistakable meaning. For example, if you were to say “Hello Friend!” no one would ever think you were saying goodbye. While this is quite convenient in English to ensure proper communication of a single message, the French are a little more complex.
The word “Salut” is used as a greeting and as a goodbye. If you are touring France, don’t be surprised if you realize that your conversations with the locals begin and end with the same word. If this is too complicated for you to catch on to, you can always say “Bonjour” for hello, and “Au Revoir” for goodbye.
4. The French Love Their Sleep
Do you ever feel like you’re a hamster that cannot get off the hamster wheel of business? Many Americans and Canadians feel that way, however, we need to catch up with France. While we are running around to work, then soccer, making supper then running off to a social event, the French are sleeping! They place a high value on their sleep and may even get more sleep than you do!
On average, the French get approximately 8.83 hours of sleep per day. Sleep is so crucial to our well-being that we should make it a higher priority in our lives. Getting more sleep could also reduce stress and illnesses! Hopefully, when you travel to France, you can get lots of rest along with the rest of the country.
5. Some “French” Food Isn’t Actually French
While you may be eating French fries and French toast in preparation for your upcoming France trip, you may want to stick to indulging in wines, cheese, and croissants. This is because French toast and French fries were not actually made in France!
French fries were actually introduced to the American soldiers during World War one by Belgian soldiers who spoke French. As such, the Americans called them French Fries. As for French toast, it can be traced back to being in existence during the Roman Empire.
6. The Eiffel Tower is Named After a Special Individual
If you thought the Eiffel tower has always been a beloved landmark in France, think again. When it was first built, the tower was considered very ugly by most people. It really took quite a while for people to warm up to it.
The Eiffel tower is named after the mastermind and genius who designed it. Gustave Eiffel was this tower’s engineer who took all the backlash after creating it. If only he could see now how popular his best art piece is today.
7. Greet The French In A Respectful Way
When you meet a tourist in your own country, it always feels good when they know how to say a few things in your language. The French are no exception to this courtesy when you are visiting their country. Many French citizens speak a variety of languages and expect tourists to do the same.
Before traveling to France, make sure you are able to order food from a restaurant, ask where the washrooms are, and how to say “I’m lost”. That last one will serve you well once you arrive to this busy city. Another phrase that is important to learn is how to tell locals that you are very sorry but you do not speak very much French. While they may prefer to communicate in their language, your attempt at speaking French will be much better received than just speaking in English.
8. Not All Of France Speaks French
Coming from North America, it can be hard to picture what the landscape of Europe looks like, especially how close every country is. One side of France is actually connected to Italy, making the French along that border very fluent in Italian.
Much like greeting the French in French, always ensure that you are extending this courtesy no matter where you are in the country. If you find that you are surrounded by more French people who speak Italian, make sure you have a few Italian phrases in your back pocket. This is also a wonderful aspect of the country’s landscape and would be an excellent cost-effective way to experience a variety of cultures in such a small area.
9. France has the Most Time Zones in the World
Did you know that the United States has 6 time zones? From ocean to ocean, desert to desert, there is such a diverse range of landscape and time zones here in North America. It truly demonstrates how incredibly vast this country is. Or does it?
Surprisingly, France is a tiny country compared to Canada or the United States but it is riddled with time change no matter where you go. France actually has 12 different times zones. This can change in a matter of hours, so it’s important for you to keep your eye on the clock and constantly check to see what the time zone is in your area so ensure you are on schedule.
10. Tour De France Is A Lot Older Than Most People
The idea of a bicycle race through a gorgeous city sounds like a fairly modern development. A bunch of people in bright, athletic company-sponsored gear getting broadcasted across the world is also quite modern.
However, the truth of the matter is the first race was on July 1, 1903, making this incredible, 23-day long bike race over 100 years old! Can you imagine what those athletes were wearing for that first race? Certainly not Nike or Adidas! If you’re traveling to France in July, this is something you will definitely not want to miss. If you’re feeling extra enthusiastic, you can wear yellow to match the jersey of the person who is winning the race on each leg of the race.
11. Roundabouts Control Traffic
France has one way to keep traffic flowing in the city centers and that does not include stopping at stop signs. While this may sound dangerous, roundabouts contribute to encouraging the natural flow of traffic throughout cities to help with traffic jams.
France loves their roundabouts so much that they have more than half of the world’s roundabouts right there in France. The thing is to remember to yield to anyone who is already in the roundabout and signal when you are ready to exit. This ensures safe entry and exit so you don’t have to deal with getting in a car accident on your vacation.
12. Historial Sites Are Common In France
If you are looking for incredible sights to see in France that carry a lot of historical meaning, head to any of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. UNESCO stands for The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization which is actually based in Paris, France.
In many places, UNESCO sites are forests, lakes, rivers, and other incredible natural terrains. However, in France, the architecture and historical value of entire towns are protected under UNESCO. This gives tourists an amazing opportunity to see locations where major historical events happened without worrying about the sites being destroyed.
13. France Is Popular Among Tourists
If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of life, you can find some peace and quiet in the countryside of France. In contrast, the cities are very busy and packed with tourists. This makes it an amazing place to meet new people from all over the world and to enjoy the exciting buzz of civilization.
France is the number one most visited country in the world, so you can be sure that you will not be the only ones stopping for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, or buying a baguette for the first time at a bakery.
14. Raise Children Well, Get Rewarded
Sometimes it feels as if parents who work hard to raise fantastic kids don’t get the credit they deserve. Well, France has a solution for that and it comes in the form of a medal! This may add pressure to parents, but at the same time, maybe it’s a healthy pressure to ensure that each child has their needs met, and they become contributing citizens to the country of France.
The medal is called the Medal of the French Family and it is awarded to those who have raised several children with dignity. If you are considering moving to France, chances are, you’ll be surrounded by some very involved and responsible parents who care deeply for the well-being of their children.
15. The French Take Reading Very Seriously
If you are an avid reader and are looking to do some serious French reading, well, Marcel Proust’s book called A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu will not leave you empty-handed. This is the world’s longest novel and consists of 13 volumes!
The English translation of this book title is “Remembrance of Things Past”. If you have a hard time keeping up with complicated plots like from the movie Inception, this may not be the book for you. With 3,000 pages forging through a grand story, you can be sure to find many, many different plots woven together into a beautiful symphony of imagination.
16. Visit The Birthplace of Napoleon
You’ve probably heard of the French icon named Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was born in Corsica, a beautiful French island, which is located in the Mediterranean sea. Not only is it a French island, but it is one of the 18 regions of France that you won’t want to miss.
It is truly impossible to capture the beauty of this place in words or photos. The water is a flawless aquamarine blue, the buildings reflect the history of the island with incredible architecture and bright colors, and the beaches are to die for. If you are looking for a tropical vacation in Europe that will simultaneously make you feel like you’re in the Bahamas, this is the island for you.
17. France Has Art Outside Of Art Galleries
While France is renowned for its one-of-a-kind museums that house some of the most iconic pieces of art in the entire world, it’s landscape is also hiding some artwork in other places. While we find artwork that is 100 years old to be impressive, the most impressive artwork is located on French walls of stone. The Lascaux Caves give viewers an inside look into what life on earth looked like around 200,000 years ago.
It truly creates a reflective environment where viewers are humbled by the beauty and intelligence that has preceded them. The Paleolithic artwork on the interior of these stunning caves is located in the region of Dordogne which is in the south-east area of France.
18. France Invented A System Of Measurement
As if France needed any more credit for creating icons, geniuses, and beauty in just about every way, they had the mathematical world covered as well. Gabriel Mouton was a vicar at St. Paul’s Church which is located in Lyons, France. He introduced the concept of a decimal system, which ended up being the beginning of a massive change in measurement starting in the late 1600s.
As such, if you are used to the Imperial method of measurement, adjusting to the Metric system may be a bit of a shock to your brain. Before traveling to France, make sure you have an idea of the difference between miles and kilometers, inches and centimeters, and Fahrenheit versus Celsius. This is a great way to stay informed in case you get lost, or are trying to plan out your next few days of travel.
19. Women Are Finally Legally Allowed To Wear Pants
While this law was not actually enforced consistently, Paris, France was a little behind on the women’s empowerment movement. This was probably because no one in France truly paid attention to it anymore, but just the same, the law needed to be updated!
According to the law, women needed to gain permission from the local police if they wanted to “dress like a man” and wear trousers. Thankfully, in 2013, the French government overturned this very outdated law and now, Parisian women are free to wear whatever they want.
20. The Name “France” Isn’t French
Ironically, the name France is technically not French. France is actually from a Germanic tribe and the original name was actually Frank. This word meant “free” which is why it was chosen for this beautiful, progressive country.
The original name of France was Gaul, however, when the Germanic barbarian tribe destroyed the Gauls, the name France came into existence. This tribe was called Frank, hence the name of the free tribe which now owned France.
There are many ways a place can delight the senses. The majestic height of a mountain. The power of a waterfall. The overpowering silence in the serenity of the wilderness. The raucous sounds of the jungle or an outdoor opera in a Roman amphitheater in Provence. But perhaps because it’s the most easily reproduced in the mind, the most indelible memories of all are the color of privileged moments in impossibly beautiful places. Waves crashing on shores sound the same everywhere. But the pristine blue and white of a beach on the Maldives shine forever. The fields of Lavender in Grasse do not need a photo to produce a fond recollection. Nor does the flaming orange sun melting into the Andaman Sea. It is not only natural phenomena that can take your breath away. The brilliant hues of the Sistine Chapel or the calliope of colors in the famous bazaars of Morocco never fade however old they become. No less a brand than the Smithsonian has diversified into a number of different revenue streams, including travel. Their stable of experts has designed tours on many different themes, one of which is The Most Colorful Destinations. None of the above are included, which, if nothing else, goes to show the Smithsonian experts don’t know everything. Doubtless, many of you will have other sites of color lodged in your hippocampus. No one is saying there are the only colorful places on Earth. But they make for a pretty good start.
10. Northern Lights, Thingvellir, Iceland
The ghostly glow of the elusive aurora borealis have fascinated people for millennia. The celestial light show is caused by the collision of gas particles in the atmosphere. Named for the Roman Goddess of the Dawn, they can be best seen in remote northern locales, the renowned travel writer Bill Bryson chose Hammerfest Norway to see them recounts being bored stiff for days before he did. The Smithsonian picks Thingvellir, with its UNESCO World Heritage site National Park and ION Hotel with its neo-Scandinavian cuisine and more importantly, floor to ceiling windows in case of a sudden outburst in the sky. Seekers are at the mercy of weather not even all the Smithsonian experts in the world can control but prime time is said to be March-September.
9. Keukhenhof Gardens, Amsterdam, Holland
The lovely myth about the origin of tulips is that they sprang from the Turkish steppes watered by the tears of a jilted lover. They originated there, were imported by the Danish Ambassador to Constantinople, and were the subject of the world’s first speculation bubble. The Dutch have raised them to an art form and Keukenhoff’s seven million, multi-hued blooms are rightly called The Greatest Flower Show on Earth.” New strains are bred every year and there are orchids, roses, lilies, and other blooms on display in the idyllic 79-acre park complete with ponds, streams, and landscaped pathways. It dates from the 15th-century herb garden tended by a countess in a nearby castle. A truly intoxicating experience for memorable sights and scents. A feast for the eyes and nose sounded a little clunky, don’t you think?
8. Cinque Terre, Italy
Imagine a Friendly Italian Giant with a basket of gelato colored houses sprinkled the perch impossibly on the sheer cliffs of an ancient blue sea. That would be Cinque Terre (CHINK-way TERE-ah) or Five Lands, 5 fishing villages really dating from the 7th century until modern times linked only by the sea and a narrow footpath which makes a lovely hike for the many tourists who seek the place’s colorful charm and quiet. There is a train but no cars. High up the thigh of the Italian boot in the west coast region of Liguria which also gave the world pesto. Monterosso is the oldest and biggest, Vernazza the prettiest. The trail isn’t climbing Everest but it’s no walk in the park either with lots of ups and downs. A short boat ride south lies Portovenere with the same style of colorful building but a few stories higher than those of Cinque Terre.
7. Ngorongoro, Tanzania
The size and diversity of the herds who make the Great migration to this conservation area are staggering. Millions of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and Cape buffalo with lions, leopards, and cheetahs on the heels move to summer feeding grounds in the Tanzanian grasslands. The Ngorongoro (Masaai “Gift of Life”) Crater is a sanctuary for a wide variety of animals, birds of all kinds of sport, stripes, and hues, set with the rich colorful flora of the savannah and forests 2000 feet below the plain. Watch for the rare black rhinoceros and witness the splash of pink of flamingos, the golden straw-colored bristles on crowned cranes, the ostrich feathers that were once the height of fashion for European women. Even the traditional clothing of the Maasi appear to be in full bloom. An entire ecosystem like no other.
6. Monteverde, Costa Rica
Another stunning, stellar ecotourism destination. Pound for pound acre for acre, few places offer more exotic biodiversity and natural beauty than Cost Rica. The Biological Reserve is a gorgeous cloud forest. A rich green canopy itself covered in mist sheltering a pristine paradise for birders and floraphiles. The Smithsonian itinerary says to expect to me “100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds (including 30 kinds of hummingbirds), and 2,500 species of plants (including 420 kinds of orchids), including the fascinating transparent Glasswing butterfly and the almost mythical brilliantly plumed resplendent quetzal. The quetzal was considered sacred in some Central American cultures. Though it sings and flies poorly, Mayan legend holds that the bird once sang with aching beauty but went silent at the brutal Spanish conquest of the 16th century. It prophesied the singing would resume when the land and people regain their complete freedom.
5. Forbidden City, Beijing
Though it may seem overmatched by transparent butterflies and Dutch tulips, the Forbidden City’s distinctive yellow roof tiles and iconic architecture are a fac9nating study in the historical and cultural significance of color. It lives on in one of the most relentlessly urbanizing cities anywhere, the largest surviving enclave of ancient wooden structures in the world a miracle that it still stands. Forbidden because no one was allowed to come or go without the express permission of the Emperor. The Yellow is in fact the color reserved for the Emperors’ buildings and clothes dating back to the Tang Dynasty of the 7th century. Red is the symbol of good fortune and despite the unspeakable horrors leaders have inflicted on their people, no other colorful setting is so deeply entrenched in a peoples’ ethos.
4. Machu Picchu, Peru
There may be no more compelling sightto be had in this lifetime than dawn over the long-abandoned, still mysterious Incan site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes with a foreboding grey sky and the Andean peaks as background. The United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization calls it “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization.” Built by 1450, abandoned a century later, and undiscovered by Europeans in 1911The green of the land with the color of ancient stone set in an altitude in which hotels offer complimentary oxygen is like a Sistine Chapel in the sky.
3. Jatiluwih, Indonesia
The color green is most often associated with Ireland. But that is with respect to a Eurocentric view. There may be no greener place on earth than the spectacular terraced rice fields of Bali. In Bali rice is not just another carb. It is a gift from the Gods and treated with great reverence. The Jatiluiwih fields are unforgettable, faultlessly manicured, bursting tropical green irrigated by the water by a lake so sacred, that even thinking, swimming or boating is sacrilegious.
2. Strasbourg, France
Actually this lovely old city, now the capital of the European Union is the culmination of a cruise along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers which includes Christmas markets in beautiful historic towns such as Koblenz and Bernkastel. Strasbourg’s city center is yet another UNESCO Heritage Site and home to “Christkindelsmärik”, France’s oldest and Europe’s largest holiday market, dating from 1570. The decorated late Renaissance-era buildings are unforgettable with the backdrop of Notre Dame Cathedral recalling centuries-old celebrations. Stalls offer locally crafted Christmas artifacts as well as delicious food and wine from one of the great culinary capitals of the world. A splendid colorful gourmet Christmas with legendary Alsatian wines without the December deepfreeze. Strasbourg’s average temperature at that time of year is 37 Fahrenheit. A feast for the eyes and palate of any faith.
1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
A teeming self-contained ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the world. Home to a kaleidoscope of the brilliantly colored underwater life of fish, turtles, and the coral of the Reef itself. Especially worthy of the top spot here because it sadly ranks highly as one of the most threatened by climate change. An incredible 1600 miles of coral, it is a staggering thought that this is the largest structure in the world created and inhabited by living organisms. From the smallest tropically colored fish the whales and dolphins, it could very well be Mother Nature’s most sublimely rendered palette of color. It has been compared to a rainforest of the sea.
Visiting Paris as a tourist, seeing sight after sight- like the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and The Louvre- can get very overwhelming and exhausting. So take a break from the lines and spend time exploring Paris’ nitty-gritty- you will discover what makes Paris a world-class destination time and time again.
10. Montmartre/ Pigalle
This is the nightlife district of Paris. Home to the clubs, cabarets, and bars of Paris, this quarter is where the famous Moulin Rouge bar is found- although it is more of a tourist destination than anything. If you want a real Parisian night on the town, opt for one of the local cabarets or clubs instead; if you can get in, be sure to make your way to a dance floor- it is an oddly satisfying feeling joined all the locals, dancing their night away. Montmartre is the hill on which sits the beautiful Sacré Coeur church; here you can be sure to get one of the best views of all of Paris. The streets running around the church are considered the artist quarter of Paris, although today it is mostly commercial and geared for tourists. You won’t find much local here anymore, but it is still worth a walkthrough for the atmosphere alone.
People come to Batignolles for the relaxing, café culture commonly associated with Parisian life. All along the streets here are rows and rows of tables and chairs, perfect for a coffee, croissant, and people watching. Parks are in abundance here; although it is a bit further from the heart of Paris, people come here to experience a more laid back, Parisian way of life.
8. La Chapelle
La Chapelle in Paris is characterized primarily by its rich diversity; walking a few blocks down one of the streets will attack your senses with food from all over the world- Indian, Pakastani, and Moroccan, just to name a few. Ethnic shops and restaurants definitely dominate here, and if you are looking for traditional Parisian cuisine, this quarter may not be the place. But, this neighborhood is evolving and gentrifying, as young couples and artists are quickly realizing the draw of this diverse, immigrant population. There is still traditional Parisian architecture and important landmarks to be explored in this intensely multicultural area, but it is the atmosphere and intoxicating energy that you will remember from this area- it will surely keep you here longer than perhaps you had planned!
7. Opéra- Grands Boulevards
The quarter of the Grands Boulevards is the main shopping area of Paris. Running from the Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondissements to the Place de la Bastille in the 11th, this district is packed full of all the big Paris department stores. The Boulevard Haussmann is the heart of all the shopping, and if you are so inclined, hours could be spent on this street alone (credit cards, anyone?). However, this district is more than just shopping; home to some important historical sites (Place de la Bastile) as well as beautiful architectural ones, like the Opera House, one could quite easily spend their entire Parisian vacation in this district without feeling cheated in the slightest.
6. Quartier Latin
The Latin Quarter is the young, hip, vibrant part of Paris. As the traditional student quarter, covering most of the 6th arrondissement, this part of Paris is full of cafés and restaurants; you’ll find the traditional French cuisine here, but try some of the many ethnic options lining the boulevards- the street food here is divine. Boulevard Saint Michel is a famous street in Paris, filled with many little shops and bookstores- if it is raining, step into one of the many cinemas on this street! (even if you don’t speak French, it is a quintessential Paris experience). This is the young Paris; partiers and locals give this quarter its pulse. However, if you are looking for a peaceful stay, do not be based here, as the music and laughter continue until the early morning hours!
5. Saint Germain des Près-Odéon
Saint Germain is one of the more upscale, posh neighborhoods of Paris. It is in this neighborhood that you will find the impeccably dressed and proper Parisians out for a stroll (even the carriage-pushing mothers are perfectly coiffed in Dior or Chanel). The streets are lined with many artistic shops and galleries, although the best artists often line the promenade along the Seine! The food is great, although a bit more upscale than some of the other neighborhoods, but there are some little food stands tucked in and amongst the narrow streets that offer some cheaper, local alternatives.
4. Invalides- École Militaire
This part of Paris is largely administrative. It contains many impressively large buildings, like the French National Assembly, as well as the house of the Prime Minister and the Musée d’Orsay. This area is also home to one of the most visited landmarks in all of Europe, the Eiffel Tower. Around the Eiffel Tower, the crowds are often overwhelming and the lineups are usually long, but once you get your obligatory “holding up the Eiffel Tower” picture, wander away from the crowds and toward the quieter, more residential streets. Here you will find some of the best architecture in Paris, and you can spend hours exploring the many streets and important buildings. This part of town (away from the Eiffel Tower, of course) feels very local; there are plenty of little cafés and patches of green where you will see Parisians enjoying their lunch breaks. It may not be as flashy as some of the other Parisian districts, but there is a certain authenticity that almost makes you feel as if you are a Parisian yourself!
3. Notre Dame- Ile de La Cité
Few tourists see Paris without a visit to the famed Notre Dame Cathedral; in fact, it is one of the Paris landmarks that should not be missed. But, few realize that the cathedral is actually centered on an island in the middle of the Seine, the Ile de la Cité. This is essentially the center, the heart, of Paris. One of the first settled locations in Paris, it has grown and evolved over the years into a vibrant neighborhood, although it still maintains much of its original, Parisian charm. Accommodation is extremely pricey on the island though, so your best bet is to stay off the island itself, but there are plenty of quaint streets and traditional architecture to fill up your day- and your memory card!
Hip, edgy, diverse, modern, and traditional: all words used to describe the Bastille neighborhood in Paris. Popular with students, young adults, and artists, the Bastille streets are filled with eating and shopping options; here is where you go if you are looking for something Parisian without breaking the bank. And due to this area’s role in the French Revolution, the Bastille neighborhood has some of the richest history in the country, and even the rest of Europe. Bastille is definitely a fun place to hang out and discover the nitty-gritty of Paris, and staying here won’t break the bank either!
1. Le Marais
In recent years, Le Marais has become a hip, chic place to live. Situated in the 4th arrondissement on the north bank of the Seine, it has row after row of beautiful historical buildings and quaint residential homes. The narrow streets are home to many local artisan shops and second-hand thrift stores, as well as countless local cafés and restaurants. Since the opening of the Pompidou Centre (an architectural interest in its own right), this area has become quite popular with tourists, although it still maintains a feeling of authentic Paris sometimes lost around some of the more famous landmarks.
There’s nothing quite like getting out to sea and sailing the mighty waters and if you’ve ever experienced it, there’s a good chance you’re hooked. For some, sailing around the world is a dream but for others, a blithe reality. Whether it’s your first time sailing or you’re an accomplished ocean master, the spray of the sea and the feel of the salty wind in your hair never gets old. Moorings and anchorages are easy to find alongside dynamic coastal destinations, from classic sailing points such as the British Virgin Islands to exotic stops like Zanzibar.
7. Galápagos Islands | Ecuador
Sailing in the Galapagos Islands is like cruising through one of the world’s most magical places filled with so many different species it’s literally a wild kingdom. Sailing around the volcanic peninsula, the name Galapagos conjures images of some of the world’s most important wildlife but it’s also a lesser known yet equally thrilling sailing destination. A live-aboard boat is one of the best ways to experience sailing throughout the area–take a week-long cruise aboard a yacht (but don’t worry, there’s usually a motor just incase the wind’s not sufficient). The days can be wiled away diving or snorkeling or just relaxing offshore or head to land and cavort–while treading carefully ofcourse–among the vast numbers of giant tortoises, playful sea lions, emerald iguanas, and bounty of bird species in this ecological Eden. Get there on any of the daily flights leaving Quito, Ecuador’s capital, via Guayaquil.
6. Bay of Islands | New Zealand
Over the last decade, there have been an abundance of cruising boats around the Bay Islands in Honduras–spectacular scenery and world-class worthy diving and snorkeling are easy guesses for why this small island region has been named one of the largest per-population estimated rates of boat ownership around the globe. From 25km to 50 km off the northern mainland coast, Honduras’s three main islands–Guanaja, Roatan, and Utila–are home to barrier reefs that are the world’s second largest, churning with fish, sea turtles, sponges, whale sharks, coral, and rays. Dozens of coves make for an interesting nautical adventure, where clear waters beckon into the cool, refreshing turquoise depths. Most of the other islands, numbering around 150, are free of the advancing development found on the three favourites, making it a choice area for exploring. Anchor offshore and spend weeks discovering some of nature’s finest, uninhabited islands.
5. French Riviera
The glitz, the glamour…the sailing! Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, Nice–this revered coastline is brimming with myths and legends and scandals of the rich and famous. This is where ultra-luxurious yachts host some of the most enduring, hedonistic lifestyles in the world but not to fret, there’s still room for the average sailor swapping the sometimes-pretentious coast for offshore pursuits. You don’t need a monumental yacht–you can hire a classic sail boat and crew for a trip around the Cote D’Azur–or if you’re a greenhorn, take an independent journey around the calm waters. One of the best places to avoid the crowds is to sail to Port Cros and I_le de Porquerolle, a beautiful, pristine paradise several nautical miles from the Cote-D’Azur’s stratospheric indulgences. These unspoilt islands are the best place to be unseen, showcasing the pretty, rocky inlets, rugged shorelines, and some of the riviera’s finest stretches of sand.
4. British Virgin Islands
The name British Virgin Islands swiftly brings to mind nature’s most unsullied landscapes and one of the best-known destinations for getting your sails wet, whether as an experienced captain or complete novice. Stretched out in front, like in a sailor’s most vivid dream, is the Sir Frances Drake Channel, the main focus of the nautical crowd. The trade winds are so beautifully consistent, the sun shines almost every day, cerulean water is all about, and most surrounding islands are so close they’re navigated by eye alone. The total navigating area in the British Virgin Islands is a broad 51 x 24 kilometers, a perfect amount of space for an easygoing journey. With hundreds of anchorages across more than 40 islands, this is one easy place to sail. With hundreds upon hundreds of protected bays ideal for mooring for a day–or days on end–and such tame currents there’s virtually never a cause for concern, the BVIs are seafarer’s Shangri-la.
Croatia has headed in one direction only when it comes to the travel world, and that is up-way up. Called the “new Tuscany,” and reminiscent of both the Riviera and the Greek Islands, Croatia has gained substantial attention from the sailing world. The in-crowd is here, taking full advantage of the incredible conditions and lower costs of sailing in the Adriatic. Less trend-setting and more timeless, Croatia’s 1777km coastline and no less than 1184 islands practically begs to be discovered and there’s really no better way to achieve that then by sailing. It puts you in the perfect position for all the best places. Dubrovnik, Kornati, Split, Zadar, Skradin, and countless other coastal cities keep sailors tied up for weeks, even months. Traditional fishing villages, clandestine coves, and remote islands like Elafiti make the decision between land and water difficult but the clear choice is both. Gateway cities like famed and stunning Dubrovnik are history-filled, landmark dotted travel havens–be sure to set your feet on dry land, even if just for a while.
2. Nile River | Egypt
One of the most relaxing and euphoric experiences in Egypt is sailing up the Nile River on a traditional Felucca boat, a wood vessel used in calmer waters of the Nile and rigged with one, and sometimes two, canvas lateen sails. Crewed by two or three people and taking up to ten passengers, a Felucca is still a great way to slow-travel outside of the popular and most frequented ferries and motorboats. Feluccas are more than just budget-friendly, but that’s one of the great things about them. You can hardly believe how inexpensive a journey up the Nile can be–a fraction of the cost of sailing on a dahabiyya, extravagant houseboats that have become the Nile’s version of a Rolls Royce. Following a millennia of transportation over one of the world’s oldest trade routes, a sailing journey will take you deep into nautical history and tradition. Start in Aswan and take the well-sailed route to Edfu, stopping at landmarks and smaller islands en route.
Arty, edgy, and historically rich, Zanzibar is a proper archipelago off Tanzania’s east coast in the Indian Ocean. It’s a destination ideal for stepping off Tanzania’s beaten path–in fact, get right off any path and onto the waters surrounding Zanzibar and the area’s wild, raw backdrop will take your breath away. It’s not hard to feel as if you’ve slipped back a century or two, as the flat-topped, low-rise buildings in Stone Town’s (a World Heritage accredited town) come into view off the ocean, laid out along the coast while the Muslim call to prayer reproduces itself endlessly across the water. Old town, with it’s twisting, narrow streets and fabulously adorned doors evoke memories of a Persia lost, ancient kingdom, sultans, and caliphs. If you’re not up for manning a boat yourself, hire a dhow, an ancient traditional Arabic vessel, to whisk you off into the distance where snorkeling and diving are first-rate and the beaches are stunning.
Fashion week takes over the world in London, Paris, New York City and Milan twice a year but that doesn’t mean fashion lovers can’t get their fill in the rest of the year. All across the world are incredible fashion-focused museums, some free to check out while others accept a small payment. It is here at these museums where visitors will find one-of-a-kind pieces, a history of shoes, more bags and purses in one spot than you ever imagines, famous articles of clothing, avant-garde fashion and more. From Milan the capital of the fashion world to a UNESCO site in Amsterdam to Italy, there are the best fashion museums in the world.
9. Palazzo Morando, Milan
It wouldn’t be a complete list without a fashion museum in one of the worlds most important design capitals. The Palazzo Morando is housed in the Renaissance palace that was at one point home to Milanese noble families until it was donated to the city in 1945.
It wasn’t until 2010 when the Castello Sforzesco’s costume collection was merged with the former Museum of Milan’s collection that this became one very chic museum. Although you won’t find loads of clothes on display like others, this museum features two separate display areas and includes a collection of clothing, accessories, and uniforms. As a bonus, this museum is free and open to the public.
8. Christian Dior Museum and Garden, Granville, France
This museum is actually the former childhood home of the famous couturier and now is a place of memories dedicated to the life and work of Christian Dior. Since the year 1997 a temporary exhibit is held each summer who theme is linked to the fashion designs of Dior and his fashion house and since 2010 an Autumn and Winter exhibition presents the museums own collection.
This cliff-top villa houses the designer’s exquisite creations as well as pieces from the fashion houses other notable designers including Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano. Open 7 days a week from 10am-6:30 pm, this is truly a treat for the biggest of fashion lovers.
7. Ferragamo Museo, Florence Italy
This museum is dedicated to Salvatore Ferragamo, the inventor of the wedge and the cage-heel, one of the greatest inventors when it comes to shoes of all time. The museum opened in 1995 in an effort to illustrate Ferragamo’s artistic qualities and the important role he played in the history of shoe design and international fashion. Much of his success came from Hollywood Starlets across the pond such as Marilyn Monroe.
The museum is host to photographs, sketches, books, magazines and over 10,000 models that were designed by him until 1960 when he passed away. The shoes are on a biennial rotation and are all works of refined craftsmanship. Visitors can marvel at the incredible display of shoes and step back into a true artist’s mind through the many artifacts displayed.
6. Costume Institute at the Met, New York City
For anyone interested in costume fashion, there is perhaps a no better place on earth than the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This museum is home to over 35,000 costumes and accessories ranging from the 15th century to the present and representing five continents.
It underwent a two-year renovation between 2012-2014 and has since reopened to the public with one more special exhibitions annually. Fashion-focused tours are available year-round that discuss costume history within the context of the Museum’s collection of armor, textiles, paintings and more with an audio guide. If you can attend the annual gala expect plenty of celebrities and high profile fashion designers.
5. Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassen Museum), Amsterdam
It is the largest of its kind in the world, a fascinating story that features fashion, art, customs, and history. The museum also happens to be situated in a lovely canal house in the center of Amsterdam and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Canal Ring Area.
On display is the development of bags and purses from the Middle Ages to the present day and this is truly the only place in the world where you will find so many handbags in one spot. Featuring 17th-century-period rooms, the actual Versace bag used by Madonna, over 5,000 bags and purses, a lovely restaurant with a view of the gardens and guided tours, a trip here is well worth taking, especially if you just happen to love bags.
4. Museo De La Moda, Santiago, Chile
This privately operated fashion museum has an incredible permanent collection of Western clothing, particularly from the 20th century and is well known for a few key items. It is here where you can see John Lennon’s jacket from 1966, the cone bra that was designed for Madonna and an evening gown worn by Lady Diana in 1981. There are more than 10,000 pieces in this collection, with only a fraction on display at one time.
Temporary exhibits here are incredible and have ranged from a Michael Jackson tribute to a Mad Men 60’s theme. There are thousands of sketchbooks, photographs, and books on fashion and design that are also available to view as long as an appointment is made in advance. Opened in 2007, this fairly new museum is host to an impressive number of important fashion pieces.
3. Museum at FIT, New York City
New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology has given the world incredible fashion stars and its museum is one of the only ones in the city that is open to the public. It hosts rotating exhibits that pull from the school’s impressive collection of one-of-a-kind pieces from designers such as Chanel, Alaia, and Halston. Not only does this museum feature exhibits but also talks, tours, lectures, book signings and fashion conversations with leading designers.
The permanent collection here encompasses over 50,00 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present, with an emphasis on avant-garde fashion. With three different galleries, a photographic studio, workshop, and conservation laboratory this is one impressive museum. Expect patrons here to be dressed to the nines while they check out the fashion.
2. Gucci Museum, Florence
Guccio Gucci started the label in Florence in 1921 and it is fitting that in 2011 a museum devoted to this designed finally opened its doors. The museum provides a history of the Florentine fashion house, containing a permanent exhibit of the iconic pieces of the brand such as bags, clothes, and accessories.
Along with stunning evening gowns including ones worn by Hilary Swank, amusing exhibits such as monogrammed scuba diving flippers and early-edition monogrammed luggage, there is a contemporary art space which features incredible related exhibits. Black and white photographs line the staircase and a Gucci-upholstered car from the 70’s complete the picture here.
1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
It is the world’s largest museum dedicated to art and design and contains an incredible collection of costumes and applied arts from all over the world. It can be overwhelming at times to decide what to look at and taking the one-hour tour is a good way to get acquainted. The collections here range from Indian textiles to painful footwear but for the fashion lovers, heading to the fashion section should be first on the list.
It is here where you will find a 400-year span of men and women’s clothing and one gigantic collection of hats, after all this is Britain. Except for occasional special exhibits, this museum is actually free to visit as well. Check out 17th-century gowns, samurai armor and medieval love rings, all on display here at this incredible museum.
Stairways have the ability to be beautiful, graceful and elegant but not all stairs are created equally. There are hundreds of thousands of staircases around the world that are downright scary, for many different reasons. Some have caused death, many are falling apart and others lead to eerie experiences. From the depths of Paris to the peaks in Yosemite to the tops of temples; here are 12 of the world’s scariest staircases.
12. Inca Stairs, Peru
The Inca Stairs leads up to one of the most famous photographed peaks, carved into the side of Huayna Picchu and they are among the scariest stairs in the world. If you want to ascend these stairs you will have to be one of the first 400 visitors to the ruins, as in recent years the park has capped the number of climbers.
A total of about 600 feet of steep granite rocks create the stairs and in recent years metal chains have been added to some parts that are especially dangerous. The stairs lead to the Moon Temple, one of the least visited worship places in Machu Picchu and many do not make it all the way up them as they are that scary. The views from the top are surreal, overlooking the Urubamba River and the ruins below.
11. Moaning Cavern Stairs, California, USA
The bones of approximately 100 prehistoric humans were once found at the bottom of these stairs, in this largest single-chamber public cave in California. In order to reach this cave, that is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in, climbers must descend 235 stairs, 144 of which are on a spiral staircase.
This damp cave is known for its eeriness, sounds of moaning and wailing are often heard as visitors make their way down. Back in the early 1900’s before the stairs were built visitors were actually lowered into the cavern in buckets with only candles or whale oil lamps to light the way. The history of this place, along with the creepy sounds will surely make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.
10. Cape Horn Stairs, Chile
Cape Horn is known as the last piece of land on earth before Antarctica and this tiny little piece of land is visited by few people. Most people come here to visit the Albatross Monument, a monument dedicated to the thousands of sailors that lost their lives in the treacherous seas. To climb these stairs you must first be able to get here, a harrowing thought considering only seven cruise ships disembark at the Island.
Grab your rain gear and some water as you land on the island to face 162 slippery ocean sprayed stairs. By the time you reach the top you will most likely be soaked, cold and wind whipped. The hardest part of the stairs comes at the top when the stairs flatten into tiers of wooden boardwalk, slippery, soaked and covered in mist. The reward when you climb these stairs is access to a place that few ever get to visit.
9. Sagrada Familia, Spain
It was clear when architects built this Roman Catholic Church they did not consider the number of people who would be coming here to worship. Gaudi has envisioned a forest canopy when designing the rooftop here but didn’t quite think of what the stairs would look like when more and more people came.
The spiral staircase to the top is downright scary, void of any banisters or handrails. It coils high and long against the tightly enclosed walls and at anytime hordes of people are trying to ascend and descend. Many people avoid this church simply because of the stairs and if you think are brave enough to challenge it, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
8. Flørli Stairs, Norway
These stairs pride themselves on being the longest wooden staircase on earth, made up of 4,444 steps that ascend 2,427 feet from the bottom. They start at the edge of Lysefjord and run to the top of the mountain in the small village of Flørli. The stairs run alongside the former water pipes as the now abandoned village of Flørli used to be a power plant village.
The stairs seemingly cling to the side of the mountain and provide breathtaking views all the way up. Count on questioning every creak you hear as you ascend up as these stairs, as they are both old and noisy, due in large part to the fact they are wooden. The hike up will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours and at the top, you will be rewarded with fantastic views and a history lesson from the historic hydropower hall that still exists.
7. Angkor Wat Temple Stairs, Cambodia
These stairs were supposedly created to be steep, in order to remind climbers that heaven is hard to reach. Therefore it seems there is no shame in hanging your head, dropping down to your hands and knees or pulling yourself up with the ropes provided to reach the uppermost temples. The stairs are actually inclined at a 70 degree angle and are known to be some of the steepest stairs in the world.
Many people have actually spoken out about these stairs, proclaiming that it’s not right to have tempting stairs in a worship area. Take extreme caution if you choose to climb these stairs as one missed step can lead to you tumbling down them, sure to cause injury and maybe even death.
6. Half Dome Stairs, California, USA
Located in Yosemite National Park, these next stairs lead up to the most iconic peak in Yosemite Valley but getting up here is only possible for about 400 people a day. Snag one of these hard to get permits between Memorial Day and October to attempt this gruesome seven mile all-incline hike. What awaits climbers is a climb up a rock face along a cable ladder, for more than 400 vertical feet. It is absolutely essential that climbers check the weather forecast before attempting this hike as people have fallen to their death.
Proper footwear and gear is a necessity and be aware that if you try and climb these stairs without a permit, you will face possible jail time and fines. Hikers will be rewarded at the top with incredible panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.
5. Catacombs, Paris
Most everyone has heard of the Catacombs, the home of the remains of more than six million people, and if visiting isn’t scary enough, one has to contend with the creepy staircases. To reach the actual catacombs visitors will have to descend 130 steps, a narrow spiral stone staircase that leaves many claustrophobic. The sun and light quickly fade away as you descend into the darkness where bones and skulls await.
There is another set of stairs that await visitors on the way out, this one made up of only 83 stairs and most people ascend them quickly, wanting to get back into the fresh air and sunlight. A dizzying spiral staircase leading to rooms of bones; yup we think that qualifies as one of the scariest sets of stairs in the world.
4. Taihang Mountains Spiral Staircase, China
Far southwest of Beijing is a 300-foot tall spiral staircase that draws visitors from all over the world. That, in fact, was the goal of this incredible staircase when it was built, to encourage visitors to come to the Taihang Mountains in Linzhou. This so called “Stairway to Heaven” is built right on the side of the mountain and offers incredible views. But not just anyone is allowed to climb this staircase.
All potential climbers here have to sign a form stating that they have no heart or lung problems and that they are under 60 years of age. Looking more like a beanstalk, this dizzying staircase is not meant for the weak and visitors who plan on going on should be in good shape. No one quite knows what will happen if you lie about your age, but we suggest sticking to the rules and getting here before you turn 60.
3. Pailon del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador
Translate the name of this waterfall into English and you get “The Devil’s Cauldron”, therefore it should come as no surprise that these stairs are extremely scary! They were built to blend into the landscape and at first glance, you won’t even notice them but be aware, these steps can play tricks on you. The steps themselves are made out of smooth, oversize pebbles that become slippery from the mist of the waterfalls and offer extremely little traction.
When looking down at them they create an illusion of a slippery stone slide and the chance of falling off is high. For those of you who want something to hold onto, there is a metal railing that runs the length of the stairs. Don’t depend too much on it though, it gets slippery from all the water droplets and some say it’s really not that sturdy. The view of the waterfall from the top though is totally worth trekking up and down these stairs.
2. Haiku Stairs, Oahu, Hawaii
These stairs are actually so scary that they have been banned, as in no one is allowed to use them anymore. This rickety set of 3,922 stairs lead half a mile up Oahu’s Koolau Mountain Range. These stairs were actually contrasted in 1942 by the U.S Navy as a means to install communication wires and were nicknamed the “Highway to Heaven”. Daredevil hikers quickly discovered them after WWII and started to climb them for their absolutely incredible views.
In the 1980’s the stairs were officially closed to the public due to safety reasons, although many chose to ignore it and still climbed them. Nowadays there is a guard placed at the bottom of the stairs and many of them were destroyed when a storm blew through in 2015. It is unsure what the future of these stairs is, but if they ever happen to reopen we suggest tackling them, as even though they are scary, the views are beyond words.
1. Mount Huashan Heavenly Stairs, China
It is considered one of the most dangerous walks in the world and although the name deceives you with the word “heaven”, these stairs are more like hell. No one in history has actually even counted the number of steps, perhaps they lost count as they peered over the edge and were faced with a deathly drop. The stairs are carved into a sacred Taoist mountain and go so high up into the mountainside you lose track of them.
The side stone steps are supported by a single railing in which many trekkers hang on to as they ascend up. Unfortunately, if you thought these steps were the most dangerous part, you would be wrong. What awaits climbers after these steps is a trail known as the most dangerous on earth, a horizontal walkway consisting of planks fastened to the side of the mountain with just a single chain.
It is an art form most associated with holy places, mostly Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages but stained glass can be found in so many different venues around the world. If you are lucky the sun will hit the glass just right, giving way to indescribable beauty and illumination. Stained glass windows aren’t just there for beauty but they most often tell a story, educate and inspire people. From the largest stained glass window in the world to medieval churches to modern-day takes on this art form, here are seven examples of incredible stained glass throughout our world.
7. Chapel of Thanks-Giving, Dallas, Texas
The most prominent and recognizable feature of the Thanks-Giving Square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, thanks to the Glory Window; one of the largest horizontally mounted stained-glass pieces in the world. The chapel is a small spiral tower and the window was designed by Gabriel Loire who designed it to feature brighter colors as the spiral reaches its apex, becoming brighter as it reaches the center.
The spiral shape of the window was inspired by the spiraled shape of the chambered nautilus, a squid that lives inside a shell. The spiral is made up of 73 panels of glass and is one of the most unique stained glass features around the world. The chapel is part of a three-acre complex that also includes a garden and museum, dedicated to how Thanksgiving is celebrated around the world.
6. Erawan Museum, Bangkok
There are thousands of temples to discover in Bangkok but if you are looking for incredible stained glass, the Erawan Museum is the place to find just that. This whimsical museum is actually a sculpture of the three-headed elephant, Erawan, from the Hindu mythology and boasts an amazing stained glass ceiling. German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf was in charge of the project and took a traditional approach to the job, asking glass companies to use the ancient procedure of blowing the glass to produce the stained glass.
The stained glass is semi-abstract although it represents the story of the earth and consists of the five continents at the middle with the sun shining to provide energy to all life forms. Surrounding this is the ring of 12 zodiac signs and the human figure depicted in various gestures. Awe-inspiring to look at, don’t forget to explore the rest of this awesome museum.
5. Resurrection Cemetery, Illinois
It is here where you will find the world’s largest stained glass window, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Pickel Studio created this window that sits over 22,000 square feet of faceted glass and contains 2,448 panels. Work on this stained glass started in the 1960’s and since then over 1,000 new and exciting windows and walls of glass have been added. One of the most impressive places in the world to see such an extraordinary amount of stained glass.
4. Winchester Cathedral, England
In 1642 the cathedrals huge medieval stained glass West Window was deliberately smashed by Cromwell’s forces following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, a tragedy to the beautiful works of art. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the broken glass was actually gathered up and used again.
But this time there was no rhyme or reason to the design, the glass was placed randomly after it was determined it would be too hard to put back together. What results is a collection of colorful pieces that shine in the sunlight and tell a story of history, tragedy, and rebuilding.
3. Chicago Cultural Center, Illinois
Hundreds of thousands of visitor’s flock here each year, not just to marvel at the beautifully stained glass domes but also because of the many free public events it hosts. The landmark building is indeed home to two magnificent stained glass dome though, one that claims to be the largest stained glass Tiffany Dome in the world. In the south side of the building is that claim to fame, the Tiffany dome that stands 38 feet in diameter with some 30,000 pieces of glass.
This dome was restored in 2008, bringing even more visitors to gaze at its beauty. The second dome is located on the north side of the building and is a whopping 40 feet in diameter and features over 50,000 pieces of glass designed in an intricate Renaissance pattern. Whether you are coming here for the free festivals, art exhibits or family events, make sure to check out these two incredible stained glass works.
2. Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
This royal medieval Gothic chapel located in the heart of Paris boasts some of the most impressive stained glass in the world. There are a total of fifteen huge 13th-century windows that fill the nave and apse and despite some damage, are still in incredible condition. The windows are practically floor to ceiling and display a clear iconographical program.
A painstaking seven-year restoration of the windows was completed in early 2015, a process that removed centuries of dirt from the thousands of panels. It is best to visit on a sunny day when the deep blues and red stand out best, in images that depict Old Testament scenes and the Crucifixion. One does not need to be religious to appreciate this incredible artwork.
1. Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Netherlands
This building features a modern take on stained glass, according to designers the buildings façade is a screen of colored relief glass that depicts famous images from Dutch television. There are hundreds of panels of glass that represent images from all genres and eras and although difficult to see the images clearly from all angles, they can be seen more clearly from the inside. Described as cathedral-like, this is one of the most impressive modern stained glass displays out there.
The building itself is actually housed both underground and above ground, 10 stories’ in total with five of them being below the surface. Inside the building houses the national broadcasting archives which encompass over 700,000 hours of television, film, music and radio footage.