PARIS — With the City of Light hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games – and with the promise that the towers of the Notre-Dame de Paris that suffered so greatly after a devastating fire will reopen next year as well – all eyes are on France.
But recognizing important anniversaries – from revolutionary ideas in art, to remembrance travel, as well as food, wonderful food, in Normandy, the Paris region beyond the Eiffel Tower and Northern France, in particular – also serve as good rationale to book France next year.
Earlier this spring Travelweek had a chance to take in a few days of French highlights following the 2023 edition of Rendez-Vous en France, hosted by Atout France.
Beyond the Olympics, here’s a look at three reasons to book France for 2024 …
For the Art: 150th anniversary of Impressionism (May to September 2024)
From the Paris region to the shores of Normandy, this area that is considered the birthplace of Impressionism is having a party. Covering the humble and much critically panned beginnings of the art movement, from Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir to Berthe Morisot and Edgar Degas, starts in Le Havre, the UNESCO-listed city where Monet was raised, and where his eye first caught the light that he so stunningly captured on canvas.
Of course, many French journeys commence in Paris. Begin the Impressionist adventure at the city’s L’Orangerie museum, where Monet’s Water Lilies is on permanent display, housed in curved rooms the artist himself approved; the evening should be spent in Montmartre, where Renoir painted some of his most iconic works.
Take a detour and book the secret tour of Paris’s rooftop saffron culture – Le Safran de Paris – on the roof of the Opéra Bastille, where you can meet the sisters from Safranières behind the saffron plantation, Bien élevées (firstname.lastname@example.org) and take in a panoramic view of the city that’s not from the Eiffel Tower.
As you make your way through the Paris Region along the Seine river toward Normandy, lesser-known stops include the House of Claude Monet at Argenteuil and Chatou, a favourite of Renoir, and where he painted ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party,’ en route to the gardens at Giverny, Monet’s home for more than 60 years. Impressionistadventures.com
In Le Havre, Travelweek stayed at the fairly new Hilton Garden Inn. The local operator’s well-honed take on this global brand made it a four-star stay – and a pleasant surprise.
Don’t miss: the MuMa, the museum of modern art André Malraux, in Le Havre.
For War & Remembrance: 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy (June 2024)
France has long invested in remembrance travel as a motivator for visitors. Canadians have a longstanding military history and our country played an important role in the First and Second World Wars.
At Normandy, Juno Beach will be the site of Canadian commemorations, but if clients choose to book before June, there are plenty of other reasons to visit.
The landing beaches are open year-round, the city of Rouen (where Joan of Arc was put to death) is like a step back in time, with its preserved medieval cathedral, gothic churches and half timbered houses, and Honfleur, another base for Impressionism, sparkles with its colourful narrow rowhouses reflecting in the harbour waters.
Did you know? Camembert is actually a place as well as a cheese. Normans would argue that their cheeses are the best in France, as it’s also the home of delicious Neufchâtel and Pont L’Evêque, washed down with a local cider or calvados. Plus, the SNCF Nomad trains from Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare or Gare Montparnasse travel to the region several times a day, are equipped with Wifi, travellers can take their bikes on board, and will accept group reservations.
For the Food, bien sûr!
It’s France, so travel plans motivated by delicious food may seem obvious. But did you know that this year, Hauts-de-France in northern France was designated the European Region of Gastronomy? Believe it or not, France has never received this designation; the Hauts-de-France region gained notice from the judges due to its hyper-local focus on ingredients and products.
And, although it was designated in 2023, it doesn’t mean that the region will skimp on the gastronomic offerings in 2024. Winning this accolade will allow the region to further promote itself as a culinary travel destination. Because of its proximity to Belgium, there’s a Flemish influence to some of the cuisine; and local cheeses and pastries also rank high on a foodie’s list. Try the Flamiche, a cross between a deep dish leek pie and a quiche Lorraine – but without the cheese. For that, have a slice of Tarte aux Maroilles, as the main ingredient is slices of maroilles, a soft, cow’s milk cheese.
The Bonus: Bouygues Telecom offers many options to keep clients connected while travelling through France and beyond. The prepaid offer, ‘My European eSIM,’ comes with 30GB of Internet, unlimited calls in France and in Europe, 25 Euros of international calls and a digital travel guide. The offer for the card is 39.90 Euros, including VAT, and agents earn 10 % on each sale. For more, email email@example.com
More information about travel to France can be found at https://ca.france.fr.en.