My Favorite Springtime Destinations in France and Monaco

There are many wonderful places to visit in France as warm weather arrives. We’ve done it many ways, on a group tour, family excursion and as lone wanderers. A key tip: before we went, we made sure to learn basic French words and phrases. While the people are normally friendly to visitors, when they hear travelers speak their language, they happily make a visit even more enjoyable.

Experiencing Paris is an adventure of a lifetime. The city is full of world-famous historic sights that shouldn’t be missed, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Napoleon’s Tomb, Notre Dame Cathedral and hundreds more. We love to take night-time cruises along the River Seine, and appreciate why Paris is called the City of Light. Departures are from the Square du Vert Galant on the Ile de la Cite right in the center of Paris.

Our favorite place to stay is the Hotel de la Sorbonne, located in the St. Germain Quarter. After checking in, we rode a tiny elevator up to our small, but comfortable room. Our windows looked across a narrow street into university classrooms of the Sorbonne. Just a short walk away were Notre Dame Cathedral, the Luxemboug Gardens and the Pantheon. Rates from $129, some including breakfast.

Hotel de la Sorbonne, 6 Rue Victor Cousin, 75005 Paris

Our favorite nearby brasserie is L’ecritoire, located in a park-like square at 3 place de la Sorbonne, ( The area is bustling day and night with university students and other young Parisians and provides a real glimpse into authentic (non-tourist) Paris life. Our meal choice is normally Formule de Boucher, consisting of steak in pepper sauce with pomme frites (French fries). It includes salad and dessert for about $18. We sat at an outside table with views of all the local activities.

Aix au Provence

This rural area 25 miles north of Marseilles, is in beautiful Southern France. Aix, as its known, is where Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gaugin and other artists found their springtime inspiration in the people, groves, fields and quaint towns. The pace here is more relaxed than in Paris, and the natives friendlier to foreign tourists who don’t speak the language.

We spent a day roaming the sunny streets of the town, exploring the many shops and markets. Since Roman times, locals and tourists have bathed in the town’s natural hot springs spas. We relaxed from our busy day with a pleasantly soaking evening at the modernized, 2000-year-old Thermes Sextius, located at 55 Avenue des Thermes (

For our overnight stay, we booked the nearby Cezanne Hotel. As in most hotels in the region, the rooms were small, but comfortable. Soft drinks, fresh fruit and snacks in our room mini bar were free. Double rooms start at $240 per night.

Cezanne Hotel, 40 Avenue Victor Hugo, Aix-en-Provence, 13100 France

We had dinner at the nearby Les Deux Frères restaurant, (4 Rue de la Reine Astrid, Aix-en-Provence). We started with a local red wine, then saffron mussels soup and for the main course, duck (canard) on a bed of mashed potatoes, it was one of the greatest meals of our lives, though still simple and not overly pretentious. Dinner was about $200 for two people, including a bottle of local red wine.


This tiny storybook principality on the Riviera coast isn’t officially part of France. The language is French and it ‘s totally surrounded by France. When we were there, it seemed like a Las Vegas by the sea. We enjoyed the casinos, where ordinary people mix with European royalty and 007-types and their ladies.
Monaco today is ruled by Prince Albert, whose mom was American movie star Grace Kelly.

We stayed for two nights at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort as part of their Monte-Carlo Experience package. The package costs about $700 for two nights, but includes buffet breakfast each morning, champagne and chocolates on arrival and a $65 (50 EURO) gift card good for anything at the resort. Guests get free admission to the Casino de Monte-Carlo and the use of the hotel shuttle which can take you anywhere in Monte-Carlo.

Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort 40 Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco

For the best Italian food in Monte-Carlo, we love Mozza (11 rue du Portier, Monte-Carlo). Eat out on the terrace and watch the valet guys parking Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentleys all night long. It’s great for a casual pizza meal or a fancy, romantic dinner. The restaurant will provide a great experience for families and kids too, and they will love the pizza.

You can follow travel writer Ted Sherman on twitter, @travel4seniors and check out his blog,

More from this contributor:

What is an International Driving Permit?

A Dream Trip to Capri in Italy

Macau Travel Guide

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *