Cheers, Macron: Why you should visit France in 2017
A new beginning
As France ushers in Emmanuel Macron as their new president this weekend, the country is looking forward to positive political change. The 39-year-old Macron, France's youngest ever president, champions an increase in spending to fight terrorism, a strengthened EU external border, and a eurozone reform. It's been a tough last year for tourism given the multiple attacks on Paris, but fingers crossed, that's soon to change in this beautiful country. As summer draws near, the River Seine glitters under that bright, golden light, as do the pristinely white beaches in St. Tropez. How can anyone resist? Here's a slice of what's happening in the land of wine and croissants this year — do us a favour and make it part of your must-dos.
Stay at the Hôtel de Crillon, Paris
Following in the footsteps of Ritz Paris' grand opening last year is the landmark Hôtel de Crillon. Reopening on 5 July after a four-year transformation, the refurbished hotel is set to sweep famous personalities and hotel guests alike off their feet. Originally built in 1758, the hotel has dazzled generations of visitors in its glorious history, and has survived the French Revolution and the fall of the Napoleonic Empire. What can we expect beyond those storied doors? 124 impeccable rooms and suites, awash with a blend of contemporary sophistication and a traditional Parisian residence. Karl Lagerfeld has also designed two gorgeous suites at this legendary hotel. Once you've checked in, unwind at the gorgeous Sense Spa, and indulge in an elegant spread of culinary delights. Book now.
Hop on the TGV to Bordeaux
First-time visitors to France will not automatically consider Bordeaux as a tourist destination, but the port city definitely holds its own. Its understated charm reflects in its broad walkways, quaint shops and regal architecture. Bordeaux also boasts a vast number of famous wine appellations, such as Saint Emilion and Pomerol, making it a must-visit for wine lovers from all around the world. And here's why you should go soon — from 2 July, the Paris-Bordeaux TGV service will kick off, putting the two cities within a couple of hours of each other by train (at present, it takes 3 hours 11 minutes from Bordeaux to the City of Lights). A tipsy day trip, anybody?
Visit Porquerolles at least once in your life
Porque-what? We hear you. But once you've set your sights on Porquerolles' idyllic white beaches and woodland paths, it'll be a name you remember forever. The car-free island in the Port-Cros National Park, just off the French Riviera, is paradise. Turquoise waves crash lazily on the pearl-white sand, as people bake on the beach or take languid dips in the cool water. This seaside village is lined with unpaved forest trails, a varied selection of restaurants and bicycle rental shops — you'll never run out of things to do on this secret slice of heaven.
Be part of the International Garden Festival
Held yearly in the Chaumont-Sur-Loire castle, France's biggest garden festival showcases up to 30 themed gardens, created by different landscape architects, designers and artists. It's a true visual feast, as the chateau comes to life with contemporary garden art. Opt for a guided tour if you're interested in hearing more about each installation, or waltz through at your own leisure. Don't miss evenings in the garden, where the flora and fauna are bathed in colourful LED lights for that little bit of added magic.
Spend hours in the Yves Saint Laurent Museum
Here's one for the fashion crew and street style starlets — the Yves Saint Laurent Museum is scheduled to open on 3 October, as a revered space dedicated to his life and work. Visitors will be able to walk through the former haute couture salons and Yves Saint Laurent's studio, soak in over 5,000 haute couture garments on display and experience the essence of the creation process within the House. The museum will also show exhibitions, and mannequins will be on podiums so they can be viewed up close. We're beyond excited.