I highly recommend visiting Mont Saint-Michel. Located off the coast of Normandy in the mouth of the Couesnon River, this isolated commune boasts an impressive 11th-century Romanesque abbey at its heart surrounded by a medieval village complete with quaint shops and restaurants. Mont Saint-Michel has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical significance — it was an important place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages and also played a key role in both the Hundred Years’ War and the French Revolution. Standing at the top of the abbey, I could feel the history all around me and I was struck by the views, encompassing the tidal flats and green Norman coastline snaking off into the distance. At low tide, I watched people searching for shellfish in the shallow tidal pools of the bay and took a moment to reflect on the enduring significance of this truly magnificent place.
Aislyn, Europe Specialist
A Boston native, Aislyn grew up skiing in the White Mountains and spending summers on the shores of Cape Cod. When she is not traveling, she loves to go hiking, cycling and swimming. While obtaining her bachelor's degree in Art History, she spent a summer studying at the Sorbonne University in Paris and fell in love with France immediately. In her professional career, she has traveled throughout France, as well as the UK and Ireland extensively. Her favorite trips have included: biking up the coast of Scotland while tasting whisky along the way, skiing in the French Alps, champagne tasting in Champagne, and cycling throughout the countryside of Provence.
Aislyn has been fortunate to travel with Audley all over France including the busy streets of Paris, the famous beaches of Normandy, and the royal châteaux of the Loire Valley. Her most recent trip included a month long journey to the UK and Ireland where she had the opportunity to drive the Wild Atlantic Way and explore the jagged coastline as well as spend time adventuring into the Highlands of Scotland.
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My go to hotel in Paris is located in the legendary Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Le Saint is the perfect sanctuary, situated on a quaint sunny street away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The typical Haussmannian façade of what was once a private mansion creates the perfect atmosphere and charming surroundings typical of this area.
Inside the hotel there's a wellness room with a hammam (spa), a fitness room beneath a vaulted stone ceiling, and of course the Lounge St. Vincent with luxurious sofas and armchairs around a stone fireplace. Le Saint also has a great bar and bistro which offers gastronomic delights in a chic atmosphere. But the best aspect is the signature products and custom- created fragrances that you'll notice upon entering the lobby. In the solarium, there's a wonderful selection of potted flowers available for guests to bring to their rooms.
Le Saint is a subtle, sophisticated hotel with modern amenities, and deluxe guestrooms recreating classic Parisian style.
I'll never forget when…
My most memorable experience while visiting France would be hiking along the calanques of Cassis. A small Mediterranean fishing port and only a 45-minute ride from Aix-en-Provence, Cassis is the perfect spot for a day trip filled with shopping, hiking, swimming and the freshest seafood. The picturesque town is filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops overlooking the water. The marina offers a spectacular view of pastel-shaded buildings and an assortment of boats glistening in the sun. The real reason to visit Cassis is to hike in the famous calanques (coves), narrow inlets framed by steep limestone cliffs. There are three different coves to visit, depending on how much time you have. The hike itself is just challenging enough, allowing you to get the most incredible mountainous views of the sea without breaking too much a sweat. After your hike, there are several areas to swim in - I recommend Grande Mer Beach, in central Cassis. You'll see kayakers, windsurfers and local fisherman in the distance as you float in the cool refreshing water after an incredible day.