Daily Escape

Place de la Bastille

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Place de la Bastille

Paris, France

Journey to Place de la Bastille in the heart of Paris, and you’ll find yourself in the shadow of history. It was here that the notorious Bastille fortress -- used by many kings of France as a prison -- refused to cede power. But on the fateful day of July 14, 1789, it was stormed by a mutinous crowd, triggering the French Revolution. Feel that spirit of liberté, egalité, fraternité as you walk the square, brimming with a colorful scene of open-air markets, a marina filled with lounging seafarers and the July Column-- a monument that stands in remembrance of a later call for liberty.


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Seine River
Seine River

Seine River

Begin your tour of Paris with a stroll along the Seine River. Explore Île Saint-Louis and Île de la Cité, 2 small islands linked to the banks of the Seine by a series of bridges. Head to Île de la Cité to see the Notre Dame Cathedral or head east to visit the charming hotels, cozy restaurants and small shops. 960 1280

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The Louvre

The Louvre

Be one of 8 million people who flock to the Louvre each year. This grand art museum houses 35,000 masterpieces, including the great Venus de Milo, Leonardo da Vinci’s "Mona Lisa," Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” and, in the Egyptian wing, “The Seated Scribe.” If it’s your first visit, we recommend taking the introductory guided tour for an overview of the museum’s most famous works. 960 1280

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Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

Eat dinner and see a show at the Moulin Rouge -- the birthplace of can-can in its modern form. Located in Paris’ Pigalle district, this tourist attraction was co-founded in 1889 by businessmen Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller. Artists of all stripes soon flocked to the cabaret, including French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and, in the decades to come, singer Edith Piaf. 960 1280

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Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

Take a day trip outside of Paris and explore the Palace of Versailles. This enormous castle and gardens was once home to 3 generations of French kings and queens, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the last reigning king and queen of France. See the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapelle Royale, the Grand Trianon, estate of Marie-Antoinette and beautiful gardens. Between April and October, the Musical Fountains Show is worth seeing. 960 1280

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Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica

Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur Basilica

Walk the cobblestone streets of Montmartre and make the steep climb to visit the Sacre Coeur Basilica, also known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. The basilica is located at the highest point in the city, making it the perfect place for panoramic views of Paris. 960 1280

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Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

French engineer Gustave Eiffel spent 2 years trying to erect the Eiffel Tower for the World’s Fair in 1889. And once he did, Parisians were not immediate fans of the metal monument. Today, of course, it has become part of the city’s familiar landscape. We recommend making a stop at the tower at night to see the amazing light show that usually ends at 1 a.m. 960 1280

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Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

For tourists looking for some amusement park fun, we recommend visiting Disneyland Paris. Although the park has been molded to appeal to European tastes (it has plenty of patio seats for outdoor eating), it is still styled similar to the original theme park, with a Main Street U.S.A., Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. 960 1280

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Pont Alexandre III and Grand Palais

Pont Alexandre III and Grand Palais

Cross over the River Seine, by walking along the ornate Pont Alexandre III bridge, to see Grand Palais. The main exhibition space hosts large-scale shows. Previous must-see art shows included an Edward Hopper retrospective, “Marie Antoinette,” and “Picasso and the Masters.” We suggest you book tickets online before you go. 960 1280

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Musee d'Orsay

Musee d'Orsay

For art lovers, we suggest a visit to the Musée d'Orsay. Once a railway station, this museum now holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world. Monet, Degas, Renoir and van Gogh are just a few painters whose works are on display at the museum. 960 1280

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Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

One of the most famous monuments in Paris, the Arc de Triomphe honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. Located in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle -- at the west end of the Champs-Elysees -- the monument has the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its surface. There is a vault beneath the arc that holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. 960 1280

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Champ-Elysees

Champ-Elysees

Champs-Elysees is to Paris what Times Square is to New York City. This famous avenue is a popular destination for shoppers with deep pockets, but shopping isn’t the only reason why people flock to this area. Stop by the statue-lined plaza-terrace at the Place du Trocadero for the city’s best view of the Eiffel Tower. Check out a world-class collection of art from all over Asia at the Musee Guimet. Choose from more than 2 dozen flavors of macaroons at Laduree. 960 1280

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Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

The bishop of Paris from 1160 to 1196, Maurice de Sully spearheaded the movement to rebuild a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Located on the Île de la Cité, Notre Dame Cathedral offers guided tours, but the 360-degree views of the city are what’s really amazing and not to be missed. 960 1280

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Palais Garnier Opera House of Paris

Palais Garnier Opera House of Paris

Built between 1861 and 1875, the Palais Garnier is known for its opulence and architecture, and, most notably, for being the setting for Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera. Palais Garnier does provide unaccompanied tours, which also include a walk through the Paris Opera Library-Museum. Designed by Charles Garnier, this palatial, nearly 2,000-seat opera house is now primarily used for ballet performances. 960 1280

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Les Marais

Les Marais

Les Marais is the cool neighborhood in Paris, with hip boutiques, art galleries, designer hotels and fashion houses. Although Les Marais is the hub of the city’s gay community, there are numerous must-see attractions here, including Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris, Musee Carnavalet, a museum that shows how Paris has evolved, Musee des Arts et Metiers, Europe’s oldest science museum, and Centre Pompidou, which houses a large public reading library and the National Museum of Modern Art. 960 1280

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Alleged burial site of Vlad the Impaler
Snagov Monastery

Snagov Monastery

On a tiny islet, surrounded by a lake, stands Snagov Monastery. Vlad enthusiasts have been claiming since the 19th century that Vlad himself is buried inside this monastery, more than 300 miles from Bucharest. While there’s no definitive proof of it, it sure makes for an intriguing story. 960 1280

fusion-of-horizons, flickr  

Count Dracula Club

Count Dracula Club

Inside this 19th-century house in Bucharest, visitors encounter a Dracula-inspired restaurant with some, um, newfangled twists. Dine on menu options like “Count Dracula’s Beefsteak” and the “Van Helsing Plate,” in honor of Dracula’s biggest enemy. But beware -- someone might sneak up on you, and take a bite out of your tasty neck! 960 1280

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Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

Brasov, Home to Dracula’s Castle

The medieval fortress, about 100 miles from Bucharest, was invaded by Vlad back in the day. Perched atop a 200-foot-tall rock, overlooking the village of Bran, Bran Castle yields panoramic views of the village below. 960 1280

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Poenari Fortress

Poenari Fortress

This weathered, cliff-side castle was Vlad’s main fortress. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in south-central Romania by the rulers of Wallachia (a principality in what is now Romania), the castle was later abandoned and fell into ruin, until Vlad stepped in and oversaw its repairs. 960 1280

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Chindia Tower in Targoviste

Chindia Tower in Targoviste

This military tower, in the Romanian city of Targoviste, was built by Vlad in the 15th century. Construction began during Vlad’s second reign (his first reign had been interrupted by a political coup and subsequent exile). Vlad came back strong with Chindia Tower, which stands at more than 88 feet. 960 1280

RomaniaTourism.com
  

Vlad's Old Princely Court

Vlad's Old Princely Court

This place of residence, located in Bucharest’s historic center, was built during the rule of Vlad III. But don’t let its regal arches and (1 remaining) Corinthian column fool you; the princely court was also likely a house of horrors. Local lore has it that Vlad kept his political enemies in dungeons beneath the court’s grounds. 960 1280

Nicubunu, Wikimedia Commons  

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Sibiu, Where the Impaling Began

Vlad’s gory legend was born in the Transylvania city of Sibiu. In 1459, thousands of people were impaled in the city, at Vlad’s orders, on St. Bartholomew’s Day. Vlad’s victims included women and children, along with merchants and the local aristocracy. While some justify Vlad’s gruesome acts as a defense of nationalism (many of his victims were German Saxons), his detractors note that many of his victims were also from his native Wallachia. 960 1280

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Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

Vlad's Birthplace, Sighisoara

See where Vlad III was born. In the winter of 1431, the future Prince of Wallachia was born in the present-day city of Sighisoara -- this yellow building is his supposed birthplace. Vlad’s father was Vlad II Dracul, who went on to become the voivode (warlord) of the area. No one really knows who Vlad III’s mother was; some speculate it was a princess from Moldavia, but Vlad’s father had several mistresses. 960 1280

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Borgo Pass

Borgo Pass

This high mountain pass, roughly 309 miles northwest of Bucharest, is actually known as the Tihuta Pass. Located in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, the area was made famous by Bram Stoker’s Dracula -- in the novel, he rechristened the area, “Borgo Pass,” depicting it as the gateway to Count Dracula’s lair of horrors.

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Richard Mortel, flickr  

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Hotel Coroana de Aur

Once you’ve checked out the Borgo Pass, settle down for the night at Hotel Coroana de Aur. The property comprises 109 rooms and 4 suites, with air-conditioning, mini-bars and free Wi-Fi among the amenities, making for a clean, streamlined environment to kick back and read up on Vlad and Dracula’s bloody exploits. 960 1280

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