white and gray castle and buildings

A Taste of France in Europe & Beyond

The storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, marked the start of the French Revolution. Today, France’s national holiday is celebrated in Paris with citywide parties, a military parade, a concert and fireworks.

While Paris is a center of attention on Bastille Day, if you’re thinking about a trip to France, you’ll find much to explore in every region of the country. Here are a few examples:

Lyon, about 4½ hours south of the capital, is a center of French gastronomy, known for its fine restaurants serving regional specialties. Les Halles-Paul Bocuse, named for the legendary chef, is a popular indoor market where you can find local products. Normandy is famous for its majestic cliffs, seaside towns immortalized by Impressionist painters and the beaches where Allied troops landed during World War II. Provence, to the southeast, borders Italy and the Mediterranean. It has a diverse landscape, from the Southern Alps to pine forests, as well as the glamorous resorts of the French Riviera. Bordeaux, to the southwest, is home to vineyards that produce world-famous wines. At the City of Wine museum, you can explore the history of the region’s famous beverage.

If you’re not ready to travel to Europe, you can get a taste of francophone culture in destinations closer to home, like New Orleans, Montreal or Quebec City.

The historic streets of Old Montreal are terrific for strolling, browsing and people watching. Many of the 19th-century buildings have been renovated and turned into shops, galleries, clubs and sidewalk cafes. Must-see attractions include the majestic Notre-Dame Basilica and the Chateau Ramezay, built in 1705 as the residence of the governor of Montreal. Bonsecours Market is home to boutiques that feature “made in Quebec” creations like artwork, clothing, jewelry and furniture.

You can also head three hours north of Montreal to Quebec City. Situated on the St. Lawrence River, it’s one of North America’s oldest settlements. The cobblestone streets of Old Town are filled with 17th- and 18th-century houses, as well as churches, museums, bistros and shops. In the summer, you’ll often find street performers, including actors in period costume, acrobats and musicians. Towering above Quebec City is the luxurious Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac hotel, which opened in 1893.

New Orleans, founded by the French and later ceded to Spain before becoming part of the United States, revels in a vibrant mix of cultures. This diversity is reflected in its architecture, Cajun and Creole cuisine and musical traditions. Spend some time in the French Quarter, famous for its cafes, bars and restaurants, to enjoy a beignet and listen to New Orleans jazz. The city’s noteworthy restaurants include Antoine’s, which has been serving up French-Creole cuisine since 1840. Historic Jackson Square is home to St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere, which houses a collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia, and the elegant Spanish-style Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase ceremony was held in 1803.