Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Why Americans travel to Europe for what?

Americans go to London for social triumph, to Rome for art’s sake, and to Berlin to study music and to economize; but they go to Paris to enjoy themselves. And there are no young men of any nation who enter into the accomplishment of this so heartily and so completely as does the young American.

Paris determined to see all that any one else has ever seen, and to outdo all that any one else has ever done, and to stir that city to its suburbs. He saves his time, his money, and his superfluous energy for this visit, and the most amusing part of it is that he always leaves Paris fully assured that he has enjoyed himself while there more thoroughly than any one else has ever done, and that the city will require two or three months’ rest before it can read just itself after the shock and wonder due to his meteoric flight through its limits. Paris, he tells you, ecstatically, when he meets you on the boulevards is “the greatest place on earth,” and he adds, as evidence of the truth of this, that he has not slept in three weeks. He is unsurpassed in his omnivorous capacity for sight-seeing, and in his ability to make himself immediately and contentedly at home.

The American visitor is not only undaunted by the strange language, but unimpressed by the signs of years of vivid history about him. He sandwiches a glimpse at the tomb of Napoleon, and a trip on a penny steamer up the Seine, and back again to the Morgue, with a rush through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, between the hours of his breakfast and the race-meeting at Longchamps the same afternoon. Nothing of present interest escapes him, and nothing bores him. He assimilates and grasps the method of Parisian existence with a rapidity that leaves you wondering in the rear, and at the end of a week can tell you that you should go to one side of the Grand Hôtel for cigars, and to the other to have your hat blocked. He knows at what hour Yvette Guilbert comes on at the Ambassadeurs’, and on which mornings of the week the flower-market is held around the Madeleine.

While you are still hunting for apartments he has visited the sewers under the earth, and the Eiffel Tower over the earth, and eaten his dinner in a tree at Robinson’s, and driven a coach to Versailles over the same road upon which the mob tramped to bring Marie Antoinette back to Paris, without being the least impressed by the contrast which this offers to his own progress. He develops also a daring and reckless spirit of adventure, which would never have found vent in his native city or town, or in any other foreign city or town. It is in the air, and he enters into the childish goodnature of the place and of the people after the same mariner that the head of a family grows young again at his class reunion.

The Château Rouge was originally the house of some stately family in the time of Louis XIV. They will tell you there that it was one of the mistresses of this monarch who occupied it, and will point to the frescos of one room to show how magnificent her abode then was. This tradition may or may not be true, but it adds an interest to the house, and furnishes the dramatic contrast to its present wretchedness.

The Supremacy of Paris

The Supremacy of Paris

One of the most distinctive features of France is the great importance of Paris in the life of the country as a whole. The location of Paris is almost ideal. Orleans alone among the cities is more central, but it lacks the waterways of Paris and the surrounding fertile soil.

Located originally on an island where it is easy to cross the Seine River, Paris has become not only the capital of France, but also one of the world’s greatest cities. The term “greatest” applies not so much to the number of inhabitants as to cultural influence. In this respect no other city rises to such a level, and no other city attracts so many visitors, temporary as well as permanent, to enjoy that culture.

Paris exerts an almost mystical attraction not only on Europe but on the rest of the world as well. Its architecture may be rather oldfashioned, its general appearance far from clean, and its entertainments not always of the highest, but the visitor forgets all this.

The Supremacy of Paris

The wide tree-bordered boulevards with their sidewalk cafes, the crooked streets of the Montmarte, and the Latin Quarter, where little shops offer all sorts of products from paintings to bad-smelling cheese, the quiet border of the Seine River where open-air bookstalls invite the literary enthusiast, the public gardens and parks where children, guarded by uniformed nurses, sail tiny boats on the grass-bordered ponds, all this is the Paris which one learns to love.

Nevertheless, the educational, social, and political attraction of Paris has been a tremendous drain on the rest of France. No other city has had a chance to become even locally a cultural center. Today, as for many centuries, Paris is the focus of all ambitions, the magnet attracting the country’s brains and energy.

Val de Loire: The land of the nobility, partisans and revolutionaries

Val de Loire: The land of the nobility, partisans and revolutionaries

The river Loire flows through the Chateau Country: five centuries of the history of France beautifully preserved in magnificent castles, fortresses and abbeys. Kings and Queens and the nobility, partisans and revolutionaries come to life again in the gorgeous son et lumiere spectacles.

Traveling south by car along the N10 highways, you will come to the fortress castle of Chateaudun; follow the same route and you will reach the Loire and the city of Tours, the center of this region. To the east, along the valley (upstream) you will find Amboise, in whose chateau Charles VIII died and where 1,500 Huguenot conspirators were massacred in 1560; Blois, where you will be shown the death chamber of Catherine de Medici; Chambord, which has 440 rooms, walled-in gardens and the largest estate in France.

Westward along the walley towards the Atlantic, you will come to Azy le Rideau, with one of the most beautiful castles of early Renaissance; Saumur, renowned for the Cavalry School and its Cadre Noir (Black Squadron); Angers, whose chateau with 190-ft high towers is surrounded with 30-ft deep moats and where you shouldsee the Cathedral Saint Maurice and the Museum of Tapestry. There are 120 castles to visit. You must see the vineyards of Vouvray, where some of the finest wines in the world come from, and the Cognac country. If you are in France on 7 and 8 May, go to Orleans for the annual festival of Joan of Arc.

France: The Mountain Border

rance: The Mountain Border

The outermost ring of France consists of young Alpine ranges. These are represented by three units, the Pyrenees on the south, and the Alps and Jura on the east. The high mountain meadows of the lofty Pyrenees are used for cattle in summer. On their northern flank and passing over into the Aquitaine Basin, a succession of tremendous alluvial fans forms a foreland which can be regarded as part of the Garonne Basin.

The Alps to the cast of the Rhone show a young rugged topography, while the high parts are covered with glaciers. Here, as elsewhere, several subdivisions stand out. The Massif of the Maures along the coast of the Riviera, belongs geologically with the Pyrenees. The Alpine chains themselves can be divided, as in Switzerland, into the High Alps and the Pre-Alps separated by the longitudinal upper valleys of the Isère and the Durance. Finally, the Jura is an Alpine offshoot, the regular limestone folds of which mark the boundary between France and Switzerland.

Subtropical agriculture is typical of the Riviera, the Mediterranean coast of this Alpine section. Fields of early vegetables, winter flowers for perfumes, and groves of oranges, lemons, and figs reflect the mild winter and warm summers. Olives and grapes invade the mountain valleys. The dry summers, however, are not favorable for cattle, and goats are the most common domestic animals. On the higher slopes the forest prevails. Farther north the use of the land changes.

The broad valleys, well protected climatically, are used for grain, especially wheat, while fruit trees grow on the lower slopes. Higher up cattle-raising is the main source of income, a result of lower temperature and more abundant summer rains. In Savoie, the French province south of Lake Geneva, dairying is carried on as intensively as in similar parts of Switzerland. The Jura is also important as a dairy region, but here forests cover a great deal of the ranges and limit the meadows to the valleys and the high summits.