Posts in Cultural History
Paris for Book Lovers

France has long produced a steady stream of talented writers, thinkers, and philosophers and has served as a beacon luring expats to its literary center.

From the romance of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers to Victor Hugo’s woeful, colorful characters of Les Miserables to France-at-war tales like Sabastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement or Romain Gary’s The Kites to more stylistically unique works like Albert Camus’ existentialist novels and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s noveau roman novels in the 1960s, Paris has played a substantial role in the literary world.

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Off the Beaten Path in Paris: 6 Amazing Destinations

Paris is a popular destination with a long list of spots on most travelers’ must-see lists from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre. If you’re looking to go a little off the beaten path and see some great but less well known spots, which are also usually less crowded, these are some places that may be of interest to you. From a unique art museum to underground early Paris city ruins to the northernmost Roman ruins and more, find a spot in Paris of interest to you!

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Paris: Visiting Crypte archéologique de l'île de la Cité

Crypte archéologique is a fascinating underground museum that holds the ruins of the early city center of Paris. Found on site and displayed in the museum are coins that show the breadth of early trade routes. The museum shows the evolution of buildings and the city’s development over time. Visiting this site helped broaden our view of the city and its residents over the centuries.

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Paris: Visiting Sainte-Chapelle

You will find yourself dwarfed by over 1100 stained glass windows at Sainte-Chapelle. With windows depicting religious scenes and rising to epic heights in astonishing proportions, this 13th century chapel was built by King Louis IX to house religious relics and enhance his political stature. Of all the churches we have visited in our travels, this one definitely stands out among the most beautiful.

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Paris: Visiting Notre-Dame de Paris

We had the good fortune to visit Notre-Dame de Paris about a week before the April 15, 2019 fire engulfed its roof. During our week-long trip in Paris, our apartment was basically right across the Seine from the cathedral and just a few minutes’ walk. We could hear the tolling of the bells that rang out at what appeared to be random intervals, and we walked by the cathedral multiple times a day.

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Paris: Visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery

This 110-acre, cobblestone- and tree-lined homage to many of Paris’ important historic figures is a change of pace from the rest of the city of Paris. Spend your time exploring interesting mausoleums and tombs and searching for specific graves.

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Paris: Visiting Musée de Cluny (Museum of the Middle Ages)

We decided to visit Musée de Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, because I have always been particularly fascinated by that time period and wanted to see the famous tapestry housed at this museum, the Lady and the Unicorn, that I had studied and fallen in love with in an art history class in college. The museum is located in the vicinity of the Latin Quarter of Paris nearby the Pantheon, so if you plan on visiting both, you should do so back-to-back.

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A Day at Montpelier

Since James Madison died at his home, Montpelier, in 1836, the home has gone through renovations and updates - most notoriously by the DuPont family. In more recent years, time has been unraveled as archaeologists and historians have sought to remove the more modern updates and return the home to the most accurate version of James and Dolley Madison’s home.

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A Day at Monticello

Monticello is more than a quick house tour - we spent most of a day there exploring the house, museum, gardens, and Mulberry Row, the center of the world for Monticello’s enslaved population. Read more about our visit and discover tips for yours.

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A path through Virginia presidential history

In April 2018, I spent a long weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, with my mom. We both have an affinity for history and archaeology. If you have similar interests, you will find this itinerary to your liking and a long weekend a perfect amount of time!

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Read Before You Go - Books about the Blue Ridge Mountain Area

Want to better understand the Appalachian culture and history? Here are 3 books to read - both fiction and non-fiction - to bring the region to life through the eyes of historic figures, literary characters, and historical research.

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Peaks of Otter - Johnson Farm & Harkening Hill Hiking Trail and Living History

As a lover of hiking, the outdoors, and history, the Harkening Hills and Johnson Farm trails near Peaks of Otter along the Blue Ridge Parkway are a perfect blend for a perfect day!

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The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill construction began around 1903 by Edwin Mabry. Within a few short years, it was an operating gristmill. Today, the mill sits off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is one of the most photographed mills with large numbers of people visiting it per year.

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Mount Vernon: The Home of the First U.S. President

High on a bank looking eastward over the Potomac River sits Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. The setting is so beautiful, it’s a wonder he was ever lured from there to engage in the founding of and leading a new country. Washington’s father owned the land, which had some smaller buildings on it. By 1758, Washington started building an expansion to the existing building and by 1774, he started adding the wings onto the house, the cupola, and other elements that define it today.

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Antietam Battlefield: A Walk Through the Bloodiest Day of the Civil War

The Battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg? The battle is referred to both ways, and it’s not uncommon for Civil War battles to have two names, one named by the North, one by the South. Learn more about our trip to the site, how photography impacted our experience of the hiking trails we took, and why Antietam is known as the bloodiest day of the Civil War.

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Waterford, VA: Traveling Back in Time

Due to the aligning of certain factors, Waterford ended up uniquely preserved with many homes and buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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A California Honeymoon: 11 days in San Francisco, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Monterey, and Half Moon Bay

The eleven days of our trip were spent with a perfect variety of activities - hiking along the coast and picnicking on the beach at sunset, touring Napa and Sonoma valley wineries, exploring several Spanish Missions, visiting the Monterey Aquarium, and more. The best part was that feeling of familiarity that you only get in a place that reminds you of where you grew up - where the visage of the rocky coast and the smell and cushioned forest floor of pine needles on hikes just feel right.

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What's the deal with these missions in California anyway?

In our California honeymoon blog series, we described visiting three missions: San Francisco Solano, San Juan Bautista, and Carmel. This blog explains a bit of the history that led to the building of the missions in California and what their impact was on the native and newly arrived communities there.

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