Top Reasons to Go

Louis XIV's Versailles: Famed as glorious testimony to the Sun King's megalomania, this is the world's most over-the-top palace and nature-tamed park.

Gorgeous Chantilly: Stately château and gardens, a stellar art collection, a fabulous forest, palatial stables . . . all within the same square mile.

Van Gogh in Auvers: The artist spent his last, manically productive three months here—you can see where he painted, where he got drunk, where he shot himself, and where he remains.

Chartres Cathedral: A pinnacle of Gothic achievement, this recently restored 13th-century masterpiece has peerless stained glass and a hilltop silhouette visible for miles around.

Monet's water lilies: Come to Giverny to see his lily pond—a half-acre 3-D "Monet"—then peek around his charming home and stroll the time-warped streets to the exceptional Musée des Impressionnismes.

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