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From Normandy to Champagne: Explore regions near Paris

For new and seasoned travelers, sometimes a step off the beaten path is needed. While the iconic city of Paris is worth visiting, there are many enchanting regions within easy reach of the city to sample a different side of French life.
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History, culture, haute couture and haute cuisine aren’t all that France is famous for this year. The country’s iconic capital, Paris, may be warming up for the world’s largest sporting event this summer, but beyond the bustling boulevards, there are plenty of hidden gems for travelers to explore. With the enchanting regions of Champagne, Normandy, the Loire Valley and Burgundy, within easy reach, travelers can escape the crowds, enjoy the countryside and sample a different side of French life.  

Delta shares the most-searched destinations for summer 2024, highlighting where travelers are eyeing for international getaways.

POP THE CORKS 

Approximately an hour and 45 minutes by car, travelers can escape the busy city life and gently roll into the Champagne region to immerse themselves in the art of champagne-making. Reims, the capital of the region famous for the world’s favorite fizz, is home to the city’s cathedral Notre-Dame, a UNESCO World Heritage site where French Kings were crowned.  

Red flowers in a field in the Champagne region of France

Zip off on e-bike and take to the lush, rolling hills and explore one of the many Champagne vineyards on offer. From the historic cellars of the renowned champagne houses to the smaller family-owned producers, most offer tours and tastings, washed down with the region’s famous pink cookie that complements the delicious bubbles.  

LIVING HISTORY 

Home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry, 70 meters of intricate stitching that depicts the 1066 Norman conquest of Britain, Normandy holds special significance this year. June 6 marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings that changed the course of the Second World War. Visitors can pay their respects at the hallowed beaches of Omaha and Utah, where Allied forces made their historic landings, or at the moving American Cemetery.   

In partnership with Best Defense Foundation and the support of Michelin North America, Inc., Delta will provide a special charter flight directly to Deauville, Normandy Airport from Atlanta on June 2 to support the veterans as they are recognized and celebrated with parades, school visits, ceremonies, the official D-Day Commemoration and more.

Virginie Durr, Enterprise Sales Manager at Delta, was born and raised in Normandy and visits every year for the D-Day commemorations. 

“Normandy offers the perfect blend of scenery, history, culture and gastronomy,” said Durr. “What makes Normandy so special is the legacy of William the Conqueror, the historic scars left by WWII, the settings immortalized by the Impressionist artists, its distinctive local cuisine and its world-famous sites such as the Mont-Saint-Michel, Monet’s gardens in Giverny, the D-Day Landing Beaches or the dramatic cliffs of Etretat.” 

A scenic photo of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France

For those wanting to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, which is the second most-visited monument in France after the Eiffel Tower, Durr has valuable tips for getting the most out of your experience: “Visit on weekdays rather than weekends, outside of holiday periods and long weekends, in autumn or winter.” 

Travelers looking to further their exploration of Normandy should visit Honfleur, which is known for attracting artists over many centuries and features colorful half-timbered houses that line the picturesque harbor, providing the perfect backdrop for leisurely strolls along the waterfront.  

Sylvie Poidevin, a Delta Red Coat stationed at CDG, says her favorite place in the city is "Les Maisons de Léa,” a charming hotel in the heart of Honfleur with a majestic view of Église Sainte Catherine – one of the oldest and largest wooden churches in France. 

A photo of Église Sainte Catherine – one of the oldest and largest wooden churches in France

“If visiting, I would also recommend doing a boat tour led by a captain and having a coffee and croissant in front of the Vieux Bassin – one of the most frequently painted harbors in the world,” said Poidevin. 

Deauville is around two hours and 45 minutes from central Paris.  

CHATEAU LIFE 

Around two and a half hours’ drive from Paris lies the Loire Valley. This UNESCO area of great cultural beauty is peppered with hundreds of castles – or chateaux – and produces some of France’s most delicious white wines, including Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Crémant – the region’s sparkling wine.  

A walkway lined with potted trees leading to one of the many chateaus in Loire Valley, France

The area is perfect to explore by bike, especially as it’s mostly flat, and the 900km Loire à Vélo route is enjoyable for cycle pros and novices alike. In the summer months, pop up restaurants known as guignettes offer local specialties, while nights can be comfortably spent in four-poster beds in the many chateaux that offer accommodation along the route.  

Famous Loire Valley towns not to miss include Samur, where an imposing castle towers over the flowing river and hundreds of underground caves, including an underground cathedral, lie under your feet. Tours, which was once a bustling Roman town, still boasts the ruins of an amphitheater.  

MEDIEVAL MASTERPIECE 

With its half-timbered buildings, gothic cathedrals and cobbled streets, the medieval city of Dijon casts visitors back in time. This laid-back university city offers a mix of history and delicious cuisine and is too often overlooked by American visitors.  

A cobblestone street in the medieval city of Dijon, France

Small in size, Dijon is packed with sites of interest that visitors can easily discover on a self-guided walking tour following the Parcours de la Chouette, or Owl Trail. Marked by little owls, the tour includes every historical monument with explanations at every stop.  

Foodies will be in food heaven in Dijon. Aside from the eponymous mustard (Dijon had exclusive mustard-making rights in France during the 17th century), the region is known for Burgundy wines and Boeuf Bourguignon, a rich beef casserole. It is also home to several Michelin-starred restaurants, for travelers wanting to splash out.  

Dijon is located between Paris and Lyon (another city famous for cuisine), around four hours from the French capital.  

GETTING THERE WITH DELTA 

Delta is the No. 1 U.S. airline serving France, leading with more than 20% of capacity between the two countries during peak-summer.  

This provides customers with ample choices to travel to CDG through Delta’s extensive network, offering 16 daily flights from various U.S. cities including Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG), Detroit (DTW), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP), Seattle (SEA), and Salt Lake City (SLC). 

Customers looking to venture beyond Paris can also enjoy flights to Nice from Atlanta and New York-JFK.    

Additionally, Delta’s partners Air France and KLM offer nearly 650 peak-day departures to over 150 cities across Europe, Middle East, Africa and India. 

As part of Delta’s $12 billion airport terminal investments, Delta will be opening its first-ever Delta One Lounge at New York’s JFK airport in late June. The expansive 38,000-square-foot Lounge will feature both a full-service brasserie and a casual, chef-assisted market with open kitchens, dedicated wellness areas and more. Connecting customers will also benefit from the upgrades at Delta’s JFK Terminal 4, enabling easier transfer to over 60 onward connections. 

Delta’s new premium lounge experience will launch in JFK, LAX and BOS. In addition, Delta Sky Club will debut in Charlotte, add a second Club in Seattle, and expand the existing Miami and LGA Clubs.

Customers will have a choice of four product experiences including Delta One, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin. Delta One customers can stretch out in a lie-flat seat and enjoy premium amenities like plush bedding made from recycled plastic bottles, more beverage options and a regularly refreshed and seasonally inspired onboard menu. Customers flying in Delta Premium Select will have more space to relax and stretch out, with a wider seat, deeper recline, an adjustable footrest and leg rest.  

And before you touch down in the romantic landscapes of France, you can immerse yourself in the language and artistry of French culture. With more than 161,000 seatback screens across more than 850 aircraft—the most seatback screens of any U.S.-based carrier—Delta’s in-house curation team takes pride in hand-picking the best content to bring onboard each month, including a curated selection of French titles and audio collections. So bid bon voyage with Delta, where your journey is just as important as your destination. 

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