Let’s be honest. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s creepy. It’s filled with millions of human bones and yet it’s a pretty popular site for tourists. I never cared about going yet went because a friend wanted to see the macabre attraction. In the end, it wasn’t the skulls and bones that I remembered. It was the Sculptures de Décure–the wall sculptures in the Paris catacombs.
The Ardèche region, often overlooked by visitors to France, is located in the southeastern area. It has the largest canyon in Europe, numerous opportunities for outdoor activities (ie. kayaking under Pont d’Arc), and villages designated “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (most beautiful villages of France). But what really stands out are the prehistoric sites and caves, some dating back over 35,000 years. The most famous: the caves at Aven d’Orgnac.
For years I’ve been interested in visiting the Relief Map Museum in Paris. Before you say, “BORING!” you should realize that these are 3D maps and during my recent visit I was treated to an extra special feature: augmented reality. I “experienced” Mont Saint-Michel inside and out using a unique headset where I learned about the history and development of the Abbey through visuals and audio narration.
I’m not sure about where you live, but where I live, very few French movies (with English subtitles) are shown. I can get my “fix” when the International Film Festival comes to Toronto but that only happens for 2 weeks every September. What if you’re in the mood to see some good French films with English subtitles in Paris? Yes, they exist! An organization called, “Lost In Frenchlation” holds special evenings where French films with English subtitles are shown. I attended Comedy Night when I was last in Paris and it was a really enjoyable evening with more than just “watching a movie”. There was stand up comedy and cocktails too!
Throughout France, there are hundreds of abbeys, communities where monks lived and worked, and if you’re traveling between Étretat and Paris, primarily along the Seine River, you might consider taking the Route des Abbayes In Normandy, where you will see not only some famous abbeys but also some pretty spectacular ruins.
I never really cared for the sciences when I was an adolescent. In high school, I almost failed chemistry and at home, my chemical engineer father would bug me by using chemical terms all the time. Instead of saying, “Pass me the salt”, he’d say, “Pass me the NaCl (Sodium Chloride).” He liked the periodic table of elements whereas I preferred pop music. Had he taken me to the Marie Curie Museum in Paris during my first trip to France, I might have had a greater appreciation for the sciences. This free museum is worth a visit, especially for young women. They will be inspired by the story of one of the greatest scientists in the world.
If I hadn’t read about these unique gardens in Etretat, I would likely not have visited them and that would have been a shame. These hidden gardens in Etretat, simply called, “Jardins d’Etretat”, are rather unusual, to say the least, but they also offer amazing views of the town and the Etretat Cliffs. I highly recommend a visit to the gardens and fortunately, they are located right by Falaise d’Amont, Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Gard, and Monument “L’Oiseau Blanc” (which honors the two French pilots who disappeared near Etretat during their flight from Paris to New York City), so you’ll have other sights to see nearby.