Paris - we visited Paris a few summers ago. It was like a surreal dream, ancient mingling with avant-garde, beauty everywhere. Some of my favorite memories are from that visit, and included a very special evening in which we visited my French penpal and her family and had dinner at her house. When you go to Paris, two must-sees are La Conciergerie and Giverny which is about forty-seven miles outside the city.
La Conciergerie, which dates back to Roman times, was built as a Roman fort, torn down and rebuilt as a castle around 1300 A.D., and was used as a prison to hold artistocrats and royalty during the French Revolution before they were guillotined. On the Conciergerie tour, we were able to walk through the prison up and down the ancient stone steps and view the prison cells. The cell where Marie Antoinette lived during her captivity has been recreated. The feeling of past history was overwhelming there.
Giverny, the beautiful home and garden of Monet is about forty-seven miles outside of Paris.
Giverny is a magical place, worthy of spending a full day exploring there. The best time to visit, of course, is the summer. In June or July, you can fully experience the magnificence of the garden. The garden is full of color, with flowers spilling out onto the paths. And across the road is Monet's famous water garden. The dream-like lusciousness is breathtaking.
Monet's simple, but exquisite house, has a pink exterior with green shutters. Ivy vines climb over the walls. His love of color extends from the garden to the house exterior and continues inside with each room painted a different striking color.
There is an lovely blog written by one of Giverny's guides that you may like to check out, Giverny Impression.