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Loire Valley

Chateau de Chenonceau looks different from all the others. A castle that spans the width of the River Cher, it became a must-see for me after learning that it belonged to the mistress of King Henri, Diane de Portier. I was a fan of the TV show, Reign, which was part non-fiction, based on the royal family of King Henri in the 1500’s. His favorite mistress (and he had many), Diane de Portier, has been a source of intrigue for many because she was both married to another man and twenty years the king's senior. Though many years older, she looked amazingly youthful, thanks to her regimen of mercury and swimming in the cold River Cher. After Henri’s death, his queen, Catherine de Medici, took back this much coveted property from Diane, calling it her own, and was eventually passed down to her son's dowager queen to spend her mourning years in.

Brittany (Walled Cities and Ancient Rock Alignments) and Mont Saint Michel

Dinan, my favorite of the three walled cities we visited in Bretagne, is a walled city that people actually live in.  It's city walls date back to the 13th century and has survived many attacks since then. Many of its half-timbered homes also date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Dinan also has a fortified chateau. More on all that Dinan has to offer in the website at the end of this section.

Giverny (Monet's home and garden), France

After Dijon, we drove 4 hours to Giverny, to a house where a Monsieur Claude Monet spent a few decades of his life living.  Mr. Monet lived his life in a somewhat rural town with a beautiful lily pond across the street. We had lunch on a bench where his wife and (step) daughters sat to knit, walked into the tunnel to cross under the (now busy) country road to visit the now famous lily pond, and enjoyed a quick (and crowded) tour of his house.  The garden was beautiful, with lavender and many other colorful flowers.

Paris, France

Paris began as a fortified Celtic (also known as Gallic) settlement on the Ile de la Cite in the 3rd century BC.  It was called Parisii, after the name of the Celtic tribe known as the Parisii. In 52 BC, the Romans conquered it to build a city called Lutetia, which had a population of less than 10,000 people.  The Lutecians left an arena and Roman baths for us to visit today.  Paris' name today was adopted in the 5th century AD, after the first Celtic peoples who lived there, the Parisii.

Nimes and Pont du Gard

Nimes, France

Nimes is an ancient town in the south of France. It was known as the Rome of France in Roman times. Much is left of the Roman era here: a Roman arena, parts of a Roman wall, tower, city gates on a Roman road and a temple or two.