Mon rêve est de visiter la France un jour … je l’espère en 2016!
No, I don’t speak French. Just practicing.
It has been on my bucket list for quite a while to truly visit France someday. The closest I’ve come to really visiting France was via a brief layover in Paris with Air France on my way to Liberia. It’s one country that has always appealed to me for many different reasons – from its rich culture, to its complex history, to its food and wine, and so much more. I’ve imagined myself living there someday – perhaps after the kids are off to college, you’ll find my hubby and I in a French villa sipping wine and eating croissants. You know…the good life.
A few weeks ago, however, I was given the opportunity to attend a fabulous luncheon and presentation from Visit France hosted at none other than The Four Seasons Hotel here in Atlanta. There, I had the chance to meet several representatives from the Air France, Rail Europe, Normandy Tourism Board, Le Martinique, among others. I also had a chance to hear about all of the fascinating new updates and events coming to France in 2016, so you can see for yourself just 10 reasons I’ve made it my mission (or at least my vision) to visit France in 2016.
Transportation Made Easier
Besides the fact that the dollar is now almost at parity with the Euro, there are several new developments that make travel through France much easier and cost efficient for travelers. Here are 2 of the most exciting ones:
Norwegian non-stop flights to Martinique & the Guadeloupe Islands
Starting December 3, 2015
Can you picture yourself traveling to Martinique and the Guadeloupe Islands? Starting this season, the award-winning low-cost airline Norwegian is flying non-stop and very affordably to both islands from three East Coast locations: New York’s JFK, Baltimore’s BWI and Boston’s Logan airports. It is the first time in 20 years that residents of the Northeast will enjoy direct service to these French Caribbean Islands.
Kids Ride Free on Rail Europe
This was an exciting update for those traveling with kids (myself included should I decide to take them along on my dream vacation). Any adult traveling with a France Rail Pass can have up to 2 children under the age of 12 travel for free!
New Products & Innovation on Air France
As I mentioned earlier, I traveled with Air France for my trip to Liberia a few years ago and had a wonderful experience. It was a very comfortable airline and the service was quite ideal. I shared my experience with the representative from Air France, when he shared with me the great news that Air France has since introduced new products with upgrades to every cabin! These upgrades include an exclusive La Premiere suite: a luxurious experience with 32 square feet of personal space. The new, full-flat Business Class seat is a “Cocoon in the sky” with a flatbed seat, direct aisle access for all, and enhanced privacy. I was blown away! These products are now available out of the following locations: New York-JFK, Washington Dulles, Boston-BOS and Los Angeles-LAX, with even more US gateways soon to come!
Travelers taking off from JFK Airport can also enjoy a fully renovated Air France lounge at Terminal 1, featuring nearly 9,687 square feet on two levels, a unique view of the New York City skyline, optimal comfort, relaxation and meals.
2016 Major Anniversaries
2016 is also a monumental year because of several major anniversaries taking place in France, including:
100th Anniversary of WWI – 1914-1918
500th Anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s arrival in France with the Mona Lisa in tow.
European soccer tournament, Euro 2016 – June 10 to July 10.
Historic New Openings
France is a nation very rich in culture, including some of the most breathtaking museums and exhibits. Several renovations were made this year and are still celebrating their inaugural year in 2016. A life changing moment for me might be a visit to the Memorial Acte in Pointe a Pitre, a memorial dedicated to honoring the lives and preserving the memories of those who suffered during slavery. I get chills just thinking about that experience! Here are a few other recent and upcoming new openings:
Louis Vuitton Foundation – Asnieres-sur-Seine (Ile-de-France) – Opened: July 4, 2015
Rebirth of the Verdun Memorial – Opening: February 2016
La Cité du Vin à Bordeaux (The Wine Museum & Cultural Center) – Bordeaux (Aquitaine) – Opening: June 2nd, 2016
I learned about some truly fascinating art exhibits happening in France currently and starting in the new year. These exhibits appeal to people with just about any interest imaginable, from history buffs – to film lovers. Here’s an ongoing list of the upcoming exhibits, but here are some that I know I’d be most excited about if I had the chance to visit France next year:
Masterpieces from Africa in the Dapper Museum collection (Chefs-d’oeuvre d’Afrique dans les collections du musée Dapper) – Musée Dapper – September 30, 2015 to July 17, 2016
Founding Myths: from Hercules to Darth Vader (Les mythes fondateurs: d’Hercule à Dark Vador) –
Louvre Museum, La Petite Galerie du Louvre, Richelieu – October 17, 2015 to July 4, 2016
All About Dinosaurs: A Journey from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous (Autour des dinosaures: un voyage du Jurassique au Crétacé) – Palais de la Découverte – September 29, 2015 to August 16, 2016
STARTING IN 2016
Explore Mars (Explorer Mars)– Palais de la Découverte – February 9 to August 28, 2016
Yoko Ono: Light (Yoko Ono: Lumière) – Musée d’Art contemporain – March 9 to July 10, 2016
Scenes of Impressionist Life – Musée des Beaux-Arts – April 16 to September 26, 2016
While I’ve been fortunate enough to have stayed in some lovely and pretty cool hotels, learning about the many new or renovated hotels coming to France for 2016 took my breath away. One really cool one I loved is the photo below opened earlier this year. It’s called the Joke Hotel and is located in Paris.
Food and Wine
We absolutely cannot talk about France without mentioning its amazing food and wine! Many new restaurants and new chefs are on scene in numerous French cities. While maintaining the same gourmet experience, the focus has been on healthier options, natural foods, and locally grown produce. Several restaurants are now also offering gluten-free options, popularized by France’s current Prime Minister.
So as you can see, there are so many exciting reasons to visit France in 2016 and it would be an absolute dream for me! Placing in on my vision board for 2015!
For more information and travel updates, visit us.france.fr/.
Have any of my readers been to France? What were some of your highlights?