Celebrated for its gastronomic greatness, inexhaustible cultural heritage, stunning natural scenery and the joie de vivre of its citizens, France has inspired visitors for centuries. But some folks become so enamored with Paris-savoring the cafe life, museums, architecture, and stylish boutiques in the glittering capitalthat they never venture outside the City of Light. If you hop on a TGV and depart the Ile-de-France, you'll be rewarded with just as many jaw-dropping sights and mouthwatering meals. In fact, the great Champagne vintners (like Taittinger and Piper-Heidsieck) are just an hour outside Paris in Reims.
Sprawling over 14 islands, where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea, the hip Scandinavian capital of Steeped in history and Old World charm, Stockholm showcases smart design in just about everything, especially the beautiful hotels.