Top Monuments of Paris

Posted on Monday, December 04, 2017

Paris is the most visited capital city in the world. Itâ??s not surprising as it has many monuments that make it an enchanting place to visit. These are 5 of top monuments that you should visit in Paris if you are able too.

The Eiffel Tower

This is one of the most recognizable monuments in the world. Known as the iron lady, it receives over 7 million visitors every year. First constructed in 1889 as part of the Paris International Exhibition, today its become the world's most visited monument that charges an entrance fee.

The Arc de Triomphe

Located at the top of Avenue des Champs-Elys�©es, the Arc de Triomphe was built for the French Imperial army of Napoleon to show honor. This monument is very recognizable for its triumphal arch. It can easily be seen from either the Esplanade de la Defense or Place de la Concorde.

The Louvre

Its speculated that the Louvre is the largest museum in the world. It is pretty massive as it used to be the former residence to the Kings of France. Currently it displays more than 38,000 pieces of art. These include the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. On the lower ground floor visitors can also see what remains of the medieval foundations. One of the highlights of visiting the Louvre is the glass pyramid that opens to the garden. It leaves a very memorable impression on visitors. One of the things that attracts visitors from near and far to the Louvre is that you don't have to be a lover of art to appreciate the uniqueness of the building and the vast amount of artwork located here.


Filled with Gothic architecture, this is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. Construction started on it in the Middle Ages and its been well preserved. A must see for visitors is the South Tower. While you will have to climb up 380 stairs to get to the top, the view of Paris is incredible. Plus there are gargoyles and chimeras to marvel at.

The Pantheon

Located in the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon is situated on the top of the hill Sainte-Genevieve. It was once a church, but has now become a national monument and is fairly recognizable thanks in part to its large dome tops. If you climb to the top of it you can see a lot of other monuments such as Notre-Dame and the Eiffel Tower.

The Day At Versailles

Posted on Wednesday, November 08, 2017

I'm in France for a series of meetings. Before my first appointment on Monday, today I spent the day at Versailles. I have to confess I had not been to Versailles in ages, fearing wall to wall tourists and little to see within the palace itself. I had thought of returning for some time, and also figured that since we're in November, the palace and grounds would be a lot less crowded than during the peak summer season. I'm happy to report that Versailles looks better than ever. Many rooms and interior spaces have been renovated and opened to the public.

Versailles started out as a simple hunting lodge for King Louis XIII. Over the years, his successors (principally Louis XIV and Louis XV) added wings and structures on both sides of the original lodge, and transformed the original building into a colossal, breathtaking palace. Versailles is the space that gives you the best idea of what royal life was like in the 17th and 18th century France. Within Versailles, you can visit the royal apartments, various grand salons and of course, the piÃ?¨ce de rÃ?©sistance - the Hall of Mirrors, or Galerie des Glaces, where many important historical events took place, including the signing of the treaty that ended World War I. From Versailles, you can take a tram that takes you to the Grand Trianon, a smaller, simpler , and very beautiful palace built by Louis XIV, as a place to escape the nobility and the courtiers at Versailles. This is a one story palace, now decorated mostly with furniture from the time of Napoleon, which over the years has hosted the Queen of England, as well as JFK and Jackie Kennedy. From the Grand Trianon you can walk to the Petit Trianon, originally built by Louis XV and eventually given to Marie Antoinette. Marie Antoinette loved the idea of the 'simple country life' (simple when you have a zillion servants taking care of everything) and Le Petit Trianon was her favorite retreat. The gardens, grounds and fountains of Versailles are phenomenal. In the Spring and Summer, the grounds come alive with beautiful trees and flowers in bloom. During summer, the park is open until 11pm and it's a fantastic place to come for long walks or a sunset picnic .

If your clients have seen Versailles and are looking for another chateau to visit near Paris for the day, I highly recommend Fontainebleau castle, South of Paris and easily visited in 1 day via public transportation. Take the SNCF train from Gare de Lyons to the town of Fontainebleau (less than 1 hour), and then when you exit the station, board the bus named 'Chateau', which drops you off at the entrance of Fontainebleau. Of all the palaces and castles in the Paris region, my favorite by far is the chateau of Vaux Le Vicomte, near the town of Melun. Unfortunately, getting to this castle by public transportation is not an option, but our destination specialists in France can arrange a car and driver for the 1 hour or so drive to the chateau -- well worth the trip.

Practical information: The easiest and least expensive way to get to Versailles is to take the RER train from either Orsay (opposite the museum) or Invalides stations. The ride takes about 30 minutes and drops you off at Versailles-Rive Gauche station, which is about 10 minutes' walk from the main entrance of Versailles. If you can, try to get to Versailles at 9am, when the Palace opens. This way you will avoid the crunch of the groups and motorcoaches, who start arriving around 10am and into the afternoon. If you want to see the palace, grounds, and Grand Trianon, buy a ticket called 'Acces total'. If you only want to see the exteriors, gardens, and fountains, then ask for a 'Acces Partiel' ticket. The town of Versailles has a great hotel, part of the Waldorf-Astoria collection, called The Trianon Palace. The hotel is perfect for anyone who wants to spend a night or two in Versailles and be able to explore the grounds (which are vast) and have a more leisurely visit. The Trianon Palace Hotel is known for its dining and has a gourmet restaurant by Gordon Ramsay that is a destination in its own right.

When visiting the chateauxs and palaces throughout France, take a look at the websites of the castles and palaces. Many chateauxs offer extended hours in the Spring/Summer. For example, on certain Sundays Versailles turns on the fountains - an attraction in and of themselves, and Vaux le Vicomte offers  outdoor concerts in the evening that can be enjoyed sitting on the grounds -- simply magical. The website for the Palace of Versailles

In my next blog, I will be writing about some lesser-known museums in Paris and some favorite places in the City of Lights.

Learning Popular French Phrases

Posted on Sunday, November 05, 2017

Okay, Iâ??ll admit I had a little trouble learning Spanish in high school (and college) but I got through it. Since that time Iâ??ve developed an interest in new languages. Iâ??ve left Spanish behind for now and started digging into Latin. No one really speaks Latin anymore but itâ??s useful when you deal with words all day.

Before your next trip try learning a few words from the local language. Youâ??ll be amazed what a difference it makes. All of the sudden you are able to communicate with someone from the other side of the world. And it at least shows you are trying!

Picking up a few French phrases for example, is also a great way to keep your mind active and healthy before your trip.

Common French terms
Good Morning â?? Bonjour (bohn-ZHOORâ?)
Good Afternoon â?? Bonsoir (phonetics)
Hello, my name isâ?¦- Salut, Je mâ??appell (zhuh muh-PELL)
How are you? â?? Ã?a va? (sah vah)
Goodbye â?? Au revoir (oh ruh-VWAR)
Do you speak English â?? Parlez-vous anglais? (PAHR-lay voo zahn-GLAY)
How much? â?? combien? (co-by)
Where is the hotel? â?? Où se trouve lâ??Hôtel? (oo eh low tel)
Where is the bathroom? â?? Où sont les toilettes? (oo son lay twal ette)
Thank you â?? merci (mair-see)

Common French terms

  • Good Morning â?? Bonjour (bohn-ZHOORâ?)
  • Good Afternoon â?? Bonsoir (phonetics)
  • Hello, my name isâ?¦- Salut, Je mâ??appell (zhuh muh-PELL)
  • How are you? â?? Ã?a va? (sah vah)
  • Goodbye â?? Au revoir (oh ruh-VWAR)
  • Do you speak English â?? Parlez-vous anglais? (PAHR-lay voo zahn-GLAY)
  • How much? â?? combien? (co-by)
  • Where is the hotel? â?? Où se trouve lâ??Hôtel? (oo eh low tel)
  • Thank you â?? merci (mair-see)

Written by:  Johnny Quest, Collette Vacations

Nice ( A Local's Guide)

Posted on Thursday, November 02, 2017

Nice is full of things to see, do and eat. If this is your first time in the area you might find that you are a little overwhelmed with it all. For first time visitors, this is what locals would recommended partaking in while you are here.


What To See And Do


Promenade des Anglais- It's difficult to visit Nice without going to the Promenade des Anglais. Located along the beachfront, it also provides a great view of Chateau Hill. There are numerous chairs and cabanas available for visitors that just want to sit and do some people watching. The Promenade is home to a lot of different events every year including the Battle of Flowers and the Nice Carnival.


Vieux Nice- The old town has many streets that are brightly colored and form a maze of sorts. There are a variety of restaurants, shops and bars. The Collines du Chateau is also worth a visit as it used to be a military fortification, but is now a parkland.


Matisse Museum- This museum has free admission. It has a variety of collections of artwork from French artists.


Bellet- For those that like vineyards, they must visit Belet. Located in western Nice, 11 different vineyards can be found here. They feature two different grape varieties that canâ??t be found anywhere else: Folle Noire and Braquet.


What To Eat And Drink

La Rossettis

serie- If you are hungry, you must visit this bistro. Upstairs is a cellar like dining room. Locals swear by the delicious roasts and affordable prices.


Restaurant Jan- Diners can enjoy modern, French food at this restaurant. This is one of the best places to go for those looking for a more upscale environment.


Chez Rene Socca- For those looking for authentic local food, this is the place to go. The prices are good as well which makes it very popular, so make sure you reserve a table ahead of time.


Place Garibaldi- Locals go here for their happy hour. The location makes it good to people watch why you enjoy your drink.


Cave de la Tour- This bar has a great selection of local favorites. Visitors love being able to sit outside, around a vintage barrel to enjoy their wine.


Other Tips

Surprisingly, Nice isn't as expensive as you would imagine so you can do a lot for a little amount of money while you are here. It's also a short distance away from other cities like Cannes and Monaco, so it might also be worth taking a trip to other areas. While you are in Nice, make sure you chat up some of the locals. They will be more than happy to tell you some of the best places to go and to give you some tips to make the most of your visit.

Tags: france

Tips For Visiting The Eiffel Tower

Posted on Friday, October 27, 2017