Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Do you have plans for celebrating Father’s Day this weekend? We will be gathering with extended family like normal times for a traditional BBQ. Nothing special but post-covid it feels like any gathering is special. We’ll be missing one of our sons who’s working in the Bahamas this summer (yes, he’s living his best life and is an avid traveler).
The good news continues about more of Europe’s doors reopening to vaccinated American travelers! On Tuesday, Portugal reopened, and Switzerland is set to reopen in a little over a week. My colleagues at Switzerland Tourism shared this heartfelt message:
We are very pleased to announce that Switzerland will open to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. as of June 28, 2021. Neither quarantine nor a negative Covid-19 test will be requiredto enter Switzerland. Note this will be ratified by parliament on June 23rd. “I’m not only thrilled but also feel quite emotional that we finally can go back to what we do best; host guests from North America in our magnificent country. I have long believed that Switzerland, with its small boutique towns, rustic villages dotted along picturesque valleys, and wide-open alpine landscapes is the natural choice for a post-Covid holiday. Now that the borders will be open, together with everybody in the Swiss Tourism Industry, we can’t wait to welcome each one of you.” says Claudio Zemp, Director Americas for Switzerland Tourism.
If you missed the two May 2021 newsletters highlighting the wonders of Switzerland, you may read them on the website’s blog section. I wholeheartedly agree with Claudio that Switzerland is ideal for a post-covid European vacation – families, empty nesters, honeymooners, solo travelers… truly for everyone and year-round! Their intrinsic focus on cleanliness and efficiency will help them avoid some of the issues that other destinations are facing with the rebound.
When I was last in Switzerland, I took a day trip by train from Geneva to Lyon, France – what a special city! France reopened to vaccinated Americans last week to loud applause from Francophiles. France is a country that can’t be seen in a one-week vacation so prompts repeat visits. I work with some wonderful on-site travel suppliers who maximize my client’s vacation time and customize the trip to their exact interests.
Decouvertes is one of those suppliers, and they have a handy regional map of France (below). Because France offers so much for travelers, this newsletter will be in two parts based on this map. This week, we begin with Paris and briefly highlight the regions to its west (both north and south). Read on for the scoop a la Francaise!
Paris is Everything!
Like all the world’s great capitals, Paris is an incredible city worthy of 100 newsletters. During covid, I watched Emily in Paris which reminded me why I adore Paris and need to return as soon as possible.
The city is divided into 20 districts that spiral out like a snail shell centered around the Louvre. Its regal buildings, stunning gardens, majestic fountains, historical places, delectable restaurants (yes, I could go on) enchant families and couples alike.
Calendar note – Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics, and in preparation transform the Champs- Elysée to be greener and more pedestrian-friendly.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Fans of Paris should watch the Netflix series, Lupin. It’s a retelling of a classic French story about a world-famous gentleman thief Arsène Lupin and gets great reviews. If you love France, this series will inspire you to return!
Castles & Wines in the Loire Valley
Only 100 kilometers southwest of Paris, the Loire Valley is magical! Live a fairy tale visiting the spectacular French Castles of the Loire Valley and immerse yourself in centuries of history and culture.
The well-preserved castles are jewels of unequaled architectural beauty. The Loire Valley also has pretty villages along the banks of the Loire River, amidst the harmony of surrounding landscapes and gardens. Foodies will relish in the local cuisine and wonderful wines, superb examples of the richness of this region.
Drawn to Centre’s Natural Wonders
Situated in Central France the Centre region offers breathtaking views and scenery, an incredible landscape of extinct volcanoes, plateaus, and deep valleys. The region is a paradise for those who love nature, and unspoiled countryside, and outdoor activities, including bird watching, rafting, biking, golfing, hiking, and hang-gliding.
In Normandy, you’ll see breathtaking landing beaches like Omaha Beach, the hollowed-out rock at Etretat, Honfleur and its flowery harbor, Mont St. Michel’s granite perch overlooking the English Channel, and the village of Giverny made famous by the artist Claude Monet.
Megaliths in Brittany
The myths and legends of the region of the Druids with its prehistoric megaliths are waiting to be discovered in Brittany. Follow in the footsteps of painters such as Gauguin and be delighted with the Celtic heritage of this region, where the “Breton” language is still spoken and customs are well preserved.
This “land of the sea” will charm you with its rich folklore and culture. With Decouvertes you can take part in the genuine Breton lifestyle and visit the picturesque ports and the oyster farms, so traditional to Brittany.
Wine Nirvana in Bordeaux
UNESCO world heritage site, Bordeaux is found on the border of Spain in southwest France. World-famous wines, ancient villages, and a rich history await.
Wine lovers alert – fifty-seven appellations in approximately 120,000 hectares of vines, the Bordeaux vineyards are the largest “appellation d’origine contrôlée” vineyards in France, where a diverse and comprehensive range of wines are found: reds, dry whites, mellow and sweet whites, rosés, clarets, Crémant de Bordeaux and Fine Bordeaux.
Next week, I’ll be highlighting more regions of France so stay tuned!
Wishing you and your family continued good health,