Dijon is one of the oldest cities in France, and one of the most storied cities as well. The former home to the Dukes of Burgundy is now the capital of a well-established wine region, and is also home to world-renown cooking and food. Dijon, however, also has a more surreal side, with one of its oldest buildings, the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon having not one, but two sculptures reputed to have magic or mystical powers. The first, the Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir (Our Lady of Good Hope) is located in the church, and is one of the oldest, if not the oldest statues of the Virgin Mary in France, dating to around the eleventh or twelfth century. Over the centuries, many miracles have been attributed to the statute, which remains a popular pilgrimage point.
Although almost every town of France is charming and picturesque in its own way, one of the best towns, if not the best, is Annecy, which is known as both the “Pearl of the Alps” and the “Venice of the Alps”. Located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Annecy sits in a unique location with river canals, an alpine lake, and easy access to the foothills of the Alps along with the larger peaks of the range. Annecy is also a historic town, with roots stretching back to the tenth century, the Duchy of Savoy, and a number of items that affected French history, such as the counter-reformation and the French Revolution. With its old town, expansive lakeside park, and associated outdoor activities, Annecy is a town a visitor could spend numerous days in easily; but whether one is spending a day or longer there, these locations in and around Annecy will keep one busy no matter the time of year.
Annecy is one of the more picturesque towns in France, and a charming destination in the Haute Savoie region. With a beautiful lakefront park along Lake Annecy, an old town with historic structures, and expansive trail networks bordering the town, the town presents a plethora of options for visitors who are looking for outdoor activities. The most popular hike(s) near the town is to the summit of Mont Veyrier (and its companion, Mont Baron), which is a mid-sized mountain that dominates the lake’s Eastern shore. At 4,236 feet in elevation (1,291 meters), Mont Veyrier is hard to miss, but what makes the mountain really stand out is a prominent limestone band near the summit. While Mount Veyrier is not the largest mountain in the French Alps, it is a great hike that is suitable for all levels of experience, and one that has a bonus of providing great views of Annecy, and the Haute Savoie region from the top.
Annecy is a charming town at the base of the French Alps. Sometimes called the “Venice of the Alps”, Annecy has a number of historic structures and activities for the traveler. One of the more unique structures in the old town of Annecy is the Palais de l’Île, which sits in the middle of the River Thiou. Built in the mid-twelfth century to control access to the river, and house prisoners, this small castle was later used as a mint in the fourteenth century. From the fourteenth century on, this castle was used for a number of things, including a prison through the Second World War. Following an extensive renovation, the Palais de l’Île now houses a museum featuring permanent exhibits about the history of the region, along with various traveling exhibits.
While the Catacombs proper comprise a small portion of the tunnel and mine network under the city, small is a relative term. At one hundred and eighty six miles of tunnel length, the Paris Catacombs – or as it is officially known, the “l'Ossuaire Municipal” or “Catacombes officiels” is the world’s largest grave. What the Catacombs are, is a large underground ossuary, which is a place designed to serve as a final resting place for human remains. The Catacombs were opened in response to two separate but simultaneous crises in the city of Paris in 1774. At that time, the city first had a lack of space to bury the dead; and second, had a number of cave-ins and collapses in the mine and tunnel network. The Catacombs were devised as a solution to address the tunnel instability problem, and as a place to store the city’s many dead. From 1774 onward, over six million bodies were moved into the Catacombs from the city’s old cemeteries. If an ancient underground tunnel and mine system that has over six million bodies in it wasn’t interesting enough, it is also worth noting that tours of the Catacombs have been going on since 1814.
Chamonix, France is one of the top adventure tourism destinations not just in Europe, but around the world as well. Located in the Southeast of France, the town is located in a valley that is bordered by high mountains. The northern spur of mountains features Mount Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe; and the south spur of mountains features an a number of equally impressive peaks. The town itself is a gateway to a number of activities that vary depending on the time of year, but include skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, and mountain biking. However, it is important to note that the region has a number of things to do that are accessible to even the casual traveler.