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Michael and Mariana speak with Protestant loyalist about "the Troubles."
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A Journey Through Time

Every city, state and country has historic sites that tell a story, whether it’s as significant as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or as simple as the childhood of a famous author. And when you connect with those stories, you can truly connect with your destination.

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Palace and Park of Versailles
Palace and Park of Versailles

Palace and Park of Versailles

Palace and Park of Versailles
The magnificent Palace of Versailles was home to French kings from Louis XIV to Louis XVI. The grounds include this “Orangerie” garden, built between 1684 and 1686, to showcase one of the day’s most expensive food items: the orange.
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Urban, Wikimedia Commons  

Decorated Caves, Vézère Valley, Lascaux Cave, France

Decorated Caves, Vézère Valley, Lascaux Cave, France

Decorated Caves, Vezere Valley
In 1940, these Paleolithic paintings -- nearly 20,000 years old -- were discovered in one of 25 caves in southwestern France’s Vezere Valley. The most notable were found in the Lascaux Cave. Here’s an image of aurochs (the ancestor of domestic cattle) painted with mineral pigments.
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Prof saxx, Wikimedia Commons  

Carcassonne

Carcassonne

Carcassonne
Time for dungeons and dragons! Travel back to medieval times at Carcassonne, a fortified French town in the south of France. Its mighty walls stretch nearly 5 miles, and once kept out invaders such as King Pepin the Short -- take that!
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Gabriele, flickr  

Roman Theatre of Orange in France

Roman Theatre of Orange in France

Roman Theater of Orange
This ancient Roman theater stands in France’s Rhone Valley. The remarkably well-preserved structure -- now 2,000 years old -- was built during the reign of Augustus, whose Roman Empire stretched from the Atlantic to the Euphrates.
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Carlton Browne, flickr  

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, in France

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon, in France

Bordeaux, Port of the Moon
Ah, the glow of Bordeaux. In southwest France see the “Port of the Moon,” a town situated along the Garonne River. (The town owes its nickname to the moon-shaped bending of the river.) Here’s a view of the town’s stone bridge, built on Napoleon’s orders to modernize the ancient Roman city.
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Thinkstock  

Fontainebleau Palace and Park

Fontainebleau Palace and Park

Fontainebleau Palace and Park
Where did French kings go to escape the city? The Palace of Fontainebleau, of course. About 34 miles from Paris, the palace was built in the 16th century, surrounded by formal gardens, orchards, woods and this sleepy lake.
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Thinkstock  

The Cevennes, France

The Cevennes, France

The Cevennes Region
Journey to the southern part of central France for a stunning mountain landscape: In the Cevennes, you’ll find deep valleys dotted with stone farmhouses like this. The area also inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes, a trail-blazing classic of outdoor literature.
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Georges Seguin, Wikimedia Commons  

Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, France

Roman Amphitheatre in Arles, France

Roman Amphitheater in Arles
Wanna see a gladiator fight? There were once plenty at this amphitheater in Arles, a city in the south of France, in the first century A.D. Through the centuries, Arles made the graceful transition from ancient to medieval city, retaining mighty markers of the past like this.
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Thinkstock   

Pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island

Pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island

Pitons, cirques and ramparts of Reunion Island
France has 27 overseas regions -- including Reunion Island, in the southwest Indian Ocean. The island is a natural wonderland: pitons (that's volcanic plugs), cirques (valleys formed by glaciers) and ramparts (wall-like stone ridges) make up 40% of the island.
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Jennifer_greatoutdoors, flickr   

Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans

Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans

Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans
In the 18th century, salt was super-valuable. The salt was extracted by boiling water over wood fires. This building, Saline Royale (Royal Saltworks), in eastern France, was the hub of that activity. It’s also notable as an important achievement in industrial architecture.
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Rolf Sussbrich, Wikimedia Commons  

Paris, Banks of the Seine

Paris, Banks of the Seine

Paris, Banks of the Seine
A great city begins by the banks of a great river. View Paris’s evolution, from prehistoric days to its wide-scale development between the 16th and 17th centuries, in a walk along the Seine River. Among the classical architecture you’ll see: the Institute of France (pictured here), built as a college around 1670.
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Thinkstock  

Vezelay Church, France

Vezelay Church, France

Vezelay Church
More than one crusade was launched from this church. A monk named St. Bernard called for the Second Crusade from here. Later, English king Richard the Lionheart joined forces with French king Philip Augustus to launch an invasion of the Holy Land. On the more tame side, the church is said to house the relics of Mary Magdalene.
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Thinkstock  

Gulf of Porto, Calanche of Piana

Gulf of Porto, Calanche of Piana

Scandola Reserve, Corsica
Journey to the central western coast of Corsica island. Within this French territory, a nature reserve is home to porphyritic rock masses (when one group of crystals is clearly larger than the other group). The reserve also includes seagulls, sea eagles, cormorants (a bird species) and nearby islets with abundant marine life.
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Thinkstock  

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris
You’re looking at one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It took nearly 100 years to build Notre Dame. Later, during the French Revolution, a few rowdy revolutionaries damaged and, in some cases, destroyed its religious imagery. An extensive restoration followed.
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Thinkstock  

Lagoons of New Caledonia

Lagoons of New Caledonia

Lagoons of New Caledonia
Long ago, New Caledonia was part of a super-continent. Then it separated from Australia 65 million years ago, and eventually reached its present position in the southwest Pacific. Today, the archipelago (and French territory) is home to one of the 3 most extensive reef systems in the world.
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Travail personnel, Wikimedia Commons   

City Center in Le Havre, France

City Center in Le Havre, France

City Center in Le Havre
The port city of Le Havre, in northwestern France, suffered the most damage of any other French city during World War II. Then a 70-year-old architect named Auguste Perret led the city’s reconstruction. The result: out of the ashes, a rebirth … with a little help from the innovative use of concrete.
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Getty Images  

Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Palace of the Popes in Avignon
The Pope didn’t always live in Rome. In the 14th century, the seat of papacy moved to Avignon, in southeastern France. Why? Turns out, when Gascon Bertrand de Goth was elected Pope, violent clashes erupted in Rome. Suddenly, moving to Palais des Papes, a fortress surrounded by ramparts, seemed like a nice idea.
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Getty Images  

Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion

Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion

Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
Wine grows here. Lots of it. The Romans introduced wine-making to the fertile area of southwestern France known today as Saint-Emilion. The area has another big draw: It’s on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Drink up.
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Getty Images  


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