An estuary of the river Seine, Le Havre is the gateway to northern France. From this port, Paris, Normandy, Etretat and Fecamp are all within easy driving distance. These cities encompass the finest in food, art and landscape -- all in a breathtaking countryside. The beauty of Northern France can only be compared in significance to the region's remarkable history -- from the opulent palaces of famous kings to the landing beaches of Normandy.
Paris, the "City of Light," is a spectacle of historic sights. At the heart of the city is the Notre Dame Cathedral, a dazzling display of French Gothic art with its vast interior, stained glass windows and majestic facade. Another feast for the eyes is the world-famous Musée du Louvre, originally a royal palace, now home to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and other priceless treasures. Explore the spacious Champs-Elysees, leading from the charming Tuileries Gardens, through the Place de la Concorde where Louis XVI was guillotined, to the amazing Arc de Triomphe and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Eiffel Tower, the omnipresent symbol of Paris, and the Versailles Palace, a symbol of classical French architecture and the power of the monarchy, will no doubt be highlights of your visit to this marvelous city.
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In Paris, shop to your heart's content with the world's finest perfumes, antiques, accessories and fashions at your fingertips. Stroll the elegant boulevards and rues to take in the legendary fashion houses of Chanel, Yves St. Laurent and other leaders in haute-couture, then enjoy une tasse de café at an outdoor bistro while soaking up the local scenery and ambiance of the world's most romantic city.
Although peaceful today, Normandy will forever be remembered as the site of the D-Day invasion, the turning point in World War II that led to the liberation of Western Europe. At the American Cemetery of Colleville-Saint Laurent near Omaha Beach, visitors may pay homage to the white tombstones marking the final resting-place for nearly 10,000 Americans. The Museum of the Landing Day displays models, dioramas and a short film depicting the monumental exploits and sacrifices of the Allied forces.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: FÉCAMP AND ETRETATIn Fécamp, one of the largest and most significant cod-fishing ports in France, visit the Palais Benedictine, a Gothic- and Renaissance-inspired building actually constructed in the19th century, and now a distillery for the famous liquor Benedictine. At nearby Etretat, watch the light play along gardens and ocean waves and imagine how Impressionist painters Isabey, Boudin and Monet, and writers Hugo, Dumas and Beckett captured the shoreline on canvas and in verse.