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About My Trips to France

France has completely stolen my heart! It all started with Paris, a city that lives up to all the hype. I spent days wandering the charming streets, marveling at iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to Versailles, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The grandeur of the palace and the sprawling gardens left me speechless. 

France, however, is so much more than just Paris. On a return trip, I completely switched gears and explored the stunning French Riviera. Nice’s relaxed pace was a welcome change, and I spent sunny days strolling along the Promenade des Anglais and soaking up the Mediterranean atmosphere. And of course, no visit to the Riviera is complete without a peek into the world of glitz and glamour in Monaco. Monte Carlo with its fancy cars and luxurious casinos was an experience I won’t soon forget. From the bustling streets of Paris to the sunshine-soaked shores of Nice, France has something for everyone, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more!

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Wow! I stood in awe at the Eiffel Tower, a marvel of engineering. It’s hard to believe that this grand structure, the most-visited paid monument in the world, was originally meant to be temporary! Built in 1889, it towers over Paris at 1,063 feet, making it the second-tallest building in the city. I purchased a ticket and ascended to the observation deck, taking in the breathtaking views of the City of Lights.

The beauty of Notre Dame Basilica left me breathless. The stained glass windows were like paintings shimmering with light, and the intricate facade and sculptures were a testament to the skill of the artisans. While the dim lighting made capturing the basilica’s grandeur in photos a challenge, I managed to snag a few keepers. Back in 2016, a visit cost only €5, making it an affordable way to experience this architectural wonder. It saddens me to know that a fire ravaged the cathedral in April 2019, and future generations won’t be able to witness its splendor in the same way I did.

I visited Sainte-Chapelle, a famous stained glass chapel in Paris. It is located on the Île de la Cité, which was once home to the King of France. The chapel was built in the 13th century and is known for its beautiful stained glass windows.

The most difficult part of my visit was waiting in the security line due to a recent terror attack in Belgium. The line was slow because it was shared with people entering the Palace of Justice. Once inside, I was amazed by the vibrant colors of the stained-glass windows. It was smaller than many other churches I had visited, but the windows were the most spectacular. Overall, I would recommend a visit to Sainte-Chapelle, but be prepared to wait in line.

The view from Sacré-Cœur Basilica was incredible! I could see all of Paris sprawled out beneath me. The inside of the basilica was beautiful, too. There was this giant painting of Jesus that was really impressive. I even got lucky and heard the organ being played – it sounded amazing! Overall, I had a great time visiting Sacré-Cœur Basilica.

Wow, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was even more impressive than I imagined! This giant arch was built to honor French soldiers and it’s covered in the names of all their victories. There’s even a tomb of an unknown soldier right there at the base. I climbed all the way up to the observation deck for some pretty amazing views of Paris. Definitely worth the climb!

Louvre! I was so excited to finally be there, but quickly realized I was in way over my head. The place is massive, and with no plan, I ended up wandering around for hours feeling lost. I definitely wish I had booked a tour. A guide could have shown me the highlights and helped me understand all the amazing art. Everyone knows the Mona Lisa, but let me tell you, it’s way smaller than I thought it would be! If you’re going to the Louvre, do yourself a favor and book a tour – especially if you’re short on time.

I stood in awe before the grand Palace of Versailles, a testament to the grandeur of French royalty. The history whispered from its very walls, transporting me back to a time when it served as the royal residence of the King of France. I learned that King Louis XIII originally built it as a hunting lodge, but his son, Louis XIV, transformed it into a magnificent palace. Over his reign, the palace underwent four major expansions, each adding new wonders. I envisioned grand banquets held in the new banquet room, the royal family settling into their new residences, and the clatter of hooves in the royal stable. 

The most breathtaking addition, for me, was the Hall of Mirrors, a dazzling expanse of glass and light. I could almost picture myself walking amongst French aristocracy, catching their reflections in the mirrored walls. The palace’s grandeur today is a direct result of the work completed during Louis XIV’s reign. The Palace of Versailles stands as a powerful reminder of the extravagance and artistry of a bygone era.


In a stroke of travel genius, I  secured a remarkably priced flight to Nice, France. Utilizing Google Flights, I cast a wide net for deals departing from both Chicago and Minneapolis. My patience was rewarded with a roundtrip ticket on SAS, a consistently reliable European airline I favor, for under $600. The itinerary included a stopover in Stockholm, adding another intriguing destination to the journey. This fortuitous find also presented the opportunity to visit Monaco, a principality that had long piqued my travel curiosity.

The good fortune continued just days before departure when I received an email offering participation in an upgrade auction for either SAS Business Class or SAS Plus. Embracing a spirit of possibility, I bypassed SAS Plus and placed a bid directly for Business Class. To my delight, the bid was successful! This unexpected upgrade elevated the travel experience considerably. Beyond the undeniable comfort of a lie-flat seat and ample legroom, SAS Business Class provided a suite of additional benefits, including priority boarding, access to the SAS Lounge at Chicago O’Hare, expedited security clearance, and enhanced in-flight dining options. Needless to say, this trip to Nice proved to be a thoroughly rewarding experience.

Wow, Nice was a whirlwind! I sure packed a lot into just 12 hours. One of the coolest things I saw was the Russian Orthodox Cathedral – it looked like something straight out of a storybook. And of course, you can’t go to Nice without checking out the Mediterranean coast. The water was amazing, and I even managed to squeeze in some relaxation time on the beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer. 

Although it was a short visit, I definitely got a taste of why people love Nice! If you’re thinking about going, be sure to check out the tours linked in the article – they look like a great way to see more of the area.


Monaco in one day? Challenge accepted! It turns out, this tiny country is perfect for a quick exploration. I started my day at Monte Carlo Station, and from there it was just a walk east to see the famous Monte Carlo Casino up close. Seriously swanky place! After that, I decided to head west and check out Port Hercule, their main harbor. The whole day was like a snapshot of luxury living. Of course, I snapped a ton of pictures along the way to capture it all! Monaco might be small, but it packs a punch!