We’re in that sweet spot between the winter thaw and the sweltering summer heat, and it’s giving us an itch to get out and travel. So we asked Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, to share some of her favorite spring getaways. Read on for 5 of her top choices across the globe.
In the 1860s, young artists such as Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro rode the new train lines from Paris north to the pretty towns and striking coastline of Normandy. Dubbed the Impressionists, after Monet’s early Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise), they strove to capture the beauty and changing light en plein air (“in the open air”) of this picturesque landscape, and their radical work altered the course of 19th- and 20th-century art.
An Impressionist pilgrimage in Normandy should start in Giverny, at the home of Claude Monet. He lived and worked here from 1883 until his death in 1926, capturing the beauty of his gardens in paintings, including his famous Water Lily series. You can tour his house, now a museum, and view the still-splendid lily ponds. Works by other artists are on display at the new Museum of Impressionisms.
Nearby Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431, is now a bustling port city. The elaborate façade of its grand cathedral inspired more than 30 of Monet’s paintings, and a few hang in the city’s Fine Arts Museum, along with works by Pissarro, Renoir, and Sisley, who all spent time here.
Though the pretty port town of Honfleur, where the sea and the river Seine meet, attracted artists long before the Impressionists, in the 1860s it was base camp for the burgeoning movement. Monet, Boudin, Courbet, Corot, Sisley, and Renoir would head to the St-Siméon Farm to paint the Seine and its surroundings; some of those works, considered the forerunner to Impressionism, are displayed in Honfleur’s Eugène Boudin Museum. Today La Ferme St-Siméon is a rustic yet elegant hotel and spa. Its restaurant serves Normandy specialties such as mussels and oysters and calvados (apple brandy). In the center of Honfleur, stay at the romantic, handsomely renovated La Petite Folie, a short stroll from the picturesque harbor.
Impressionists Degas, Matisse, and Courbet would travel from Honfleur along the coast to Étretat, painting its dramatic white cliffs and tall rock archways along the shoreline known as the Alabaster Coast. Artists also found inspiration along La Côte Fleurie, the 30 miles of coastline linking Honfleur and more than a dozen small towns and resorts. Trouville, the oldest seaside resort in France, has a subdued, family atmosphere, while its glamorous neighbor Deauville offers casinos, racetracks, expensive shops, and a beautiful boardwalk. Hollywood camps out at the elegant Grande Normandy Barrière and Royal Barrière hotels during the annual American Film Festival in early September. To steep yourself in local atmosphere, stay at the Hôtel Villa Joséphine, a Tudor-style country home about a block from the water, built in the late 1800s as the home of Deauville’s mayor.
Where: Giverny is 50 miles/80 km northwest of Paris. House of Claude Monet: Tel 33/2-32-512821. Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny: Tel 33/2-32-519465. When: closed Nov–Mar. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen: Tel 33/2-35-712840. La Ferme St-Siméon: Tel 33/2-31-817800. Cost: from $260; prix-fixe dinner $200. La Petite Folie: Tel 33/6-74-394646. Cost: $200. Hôtel Villa Joséphine: Tel 33/2-31-141800. Cost: from $170. Best times: in Giverny: May–Aug for flowers in Monet’s gardens; late Aug for International Chamber Music Festival. In Rouen: last Sun in May for Joan of Arc Festival. In Honfleur: May for Sailor’s Festival; mid-Sep for Shrimp Festival. In Deauville: early Sep for American Film Festival.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Ashland, Oregon, United States
“Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show; but wonder on, till truth make all things plain,” wrote William Shakespeare about the magic of theater—abundantly on display each year at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), the largest and longest-running celebration of the Bard in America. Today, upwards of 400,000 theater lovers come to Ashland each year to attend performances at the festival’s three venues, including the outdoor Elizabethan Theatre, which seats 1,200 and is fashioned after a 17th-century English theater. The Tony Award-winning festival, which has staged performances in Ashland since the 1930s, is home to the biggest rotating repertory theater in the country. The festival’s success unquestionably derives from the excellence of its productions, but is aided too by the charm of Ashland, a small, colorful city 15 miles north of the California border that has become the cultural—and gastronomic—center of southern Oregon.
While the festival repertory here is rooted in Shakespeare, it also features revivals and contemporary theater from around the world. In addition to 11 plays presented annually, from mid-February through October, there are also backstage tours, lectures and discussions led by actors and scholars, and alfresco concerts of Renaissance music and dance.
Ashland’s main streets buzz with well-heeled shoppers and youthful bohemians. From the town’s central plaza, lovely Lithia Park winds up along Ashland Creek; park trails meander for miles past swans, picnickers, and declaiming thespians, and there are day trips galore in the mountainous region of southern Oregon, from visits to nearby vineyards to skiing at Mount Ashland in the white months.
Of Ashland’s dozens of historic B&Bs and small inns, the Peerless Hotel is a favorite. Built in 1900 as a railroad workers’ boardinghouse, the beautifully updated Peerless now offers tastefully appointed rooms with luxurious comforts. These take a backseat to the eponymous restaurant next door, one of the best in town. An inventive cuisine fashioned from the bounty of local farms and ranches is paired with an award-winning wine list heavy with Oregon’s finest.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Where: 285 miles south of Portland. Tel 541-482-4331. Cost: tickets from $30. When: Feb–Oct. Peerless Hotel & Restaurant: Tel 541-488-1082 (hotel), 541-488-6067 (restaurant). Cost: from $92 (off-peak), from $174 (peak); dinner $45. Best times: May–Oct for weather; July 4th for live music, a food and crafts fair, an old-fashioned parade, and fireworks.
Considerably cooler than the Caribbean islands that lie south of here, Bermuda is best known for its stunning pink sand beaches (the result of sand mixed with the crushed red skeletons of reef-dwelling protozoa), Bermuda shorts (standard business dress for men when worn with a blazer, tie, and knee socks), and “the Bermuda Triangle” (a debunked myth about the not-so-mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft in a huge swath of ocean that includes Bermuda).
Bermuda is a 21-square-mile archipelago of 7 major islands and 143 smaller ones interconnected by bridges and causeways. When the British sailing ship Sea Venture wrecked here in 1609 en route to Jamestown, Virginia. (very likely inspiring Shakespeare’s play The Tempest ), a few stalwarts stayed on to claim it, making it England’s oldest colony.
The beaches alone were reason enough to stay behind. Typically, South Shore beaches—postcard-perfect Horseshoe Bay is one of the most popular—are more scenic than those on the north side. No hotels sit directly on Bermuda’s beaches, but the venerable 50-acre Elbow Beach Hotel, built in 1908, is as close as you can come. Now a Mandarin Oriental, the 235-room property has the island’s finest spa, afternoon tea, and excellent dining that runs from the romantic Lido restaurant to Mickey’s, the best bistro-on-the-beach—sample the island’s signature Dark ’n’ Stormy (Black Seal rum and Barritt’s ginger beer) here.
For utter serenity from sunrise to sunset, set off by scooter (there are no car rentals in Bermuda) to the soft and truly pink Warwick Long Bay. With over 200 square miles of near-virgin reef and clear waters, Bermuda offers excellent diving and is one of the world’s great shipwreck diving capitals. Easily reached historic wrecks include everything from the Sea Venture to Civil War paddle wheelers and the 1930s luxury cruise liner Cristóbal Colón.
But it is perhaps golf that Bermuda is most famous for: There are more golf courses per square mile here than anywhere else in the world. Six public and two private golf clubs offer spectacular scenery, challenging courses (seven are championship standard), and wind—plenty of wind—plus a tradition of excellence not easy to find outside Scotland. Riddell’s Bay, established in 1922, is the island’s oldest and most picturesque club. Belmont Hills, challenging and undulating, opened a year later. The private Mid Ocean Club, long considered the island’s finest, has a rival in beauty and challenge in the Tucker’s Point Golf Course, dramatically refashioned out of a 1932 champion course at Castle Harbour. Next door is the 88-room Rosewood Tucker’s Point, the first luxury hotel to be built in Bermuda since 1970. The flawless Point restaurant and some of Bermuda’s most beautiful seafront are two of its many boons.
Bermuda’s popular “cottage colonies” are a local tradition best exemplified by the hillside 1920s-era Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, a refined country-club–like property on the island’s extreme western edge. It occupies a 30-acre peninsula edged with coves and four powder (but not pink) sand beaches. Daily afternoon tea is observed punctiliously, and the formal Tamarisk Restaurant is a long-time favorite.
Situated on a dramatic limestone cliff overlooking a perfect pink beach, the Reefs is small, all-inclusive, and boasts a fanatically loyal following. A reservation-with-a-view at Coconuts is among the most coveted on the island, while its Royston’s restaurant is a more formal choice.
Staying right in the small capital city of Hamilton is an unexpected delight when you’ve checked into the Rosedon Hotel, a 1906 home expanded into an impeccable 44-room inn that serves a large teatime spread and an equally wonderful breakfast. All it lacks is a pink beach—but Elbow Beach is just a 10-minute scooter ride away.
Visitor info. Elbow Beach Hotel: Tel 800-223-7434 or 441-236-3535. Cost: from $295 (off-peak), from $715 (peak). Bermuda Golf Association: Tel 441-295-9972. Rosewood Tucker’s Point: Tel 888-767-3966 or 441-298-4010. Cost: from $395 (off-peak), from $650 (peak); dinner at the Point $70. Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa: Tel 800-468-7300 or 441-234-0331. Cost: from $385 (off-peak), from $475 (peak). The Reefs: Tel 800-742-2008 or 441-238-0222. Cost: from $410 (off-peak), from $650 (peak), inclusive. Rosedon Hotel: Tel 441-295-1640. Cost: from $250 (off-peak), from $290 (peak). Best times: May–Oct for nice weather; Jan–Feb for Bermuda Festival; Jun for sailboat racing; late Sep–early Oct for Bermuda Music Festival; late Oct for Bermuda Tattoo.
In Croatia’s northwest corner, just south of Trieste, Italy, the peninsula of Istria juts into the Adriatic Sea. With rolling vineyards, olive groves, and ancient, walled hill towns, it resembles Tuscany in both looks and spirit as well as boasting a gleaming, beach-lined coast. The Romans colonized Istria in the 2nd century b.c., and the arena they left behind at Pula, near its southern tip, testifies to the peninsula’s importance in ancient times. Designed for gladiatorial combat, with seating for 22,000 spectators, the amphitheater is one of Europe’s largest and best preserved and is used today for rock concerts, operas, and film festivals.
You’ll find authentic medieval charm farther north. Rovinj, a coastal town thrusting thumblike into the sea, is a tangle of steep, narrow streets and centuries-old stone houses, crowned by the imposing 18th-century Church of St. Euphemia. The saint’s 6th-century marble sarcophagus is said to have floated here from Constantinople in about a.d. 800. It’s not far to the inviting Hotel Monte Mulini, set in a forested park overlooking the beach. It has large rooms, a three-story spa, and the Wine Vault Restaurant, which serves contemporary French and Mediterranean cuisine.
Pore¸ invites exploration with an ancient town center and the magnificent 6th-century St. Euphrasius Basilica, whose intricate mosaics are considered among the finest examples of Byzantine art. Surrounded by beach resorts, the newly restored Grand Hotel Palazzo, built above the harbor in 1910, is Pore’s top choice, combining period charm and up-to-date luxury.
Leave the coast and journey into Istria’s verdant heartland, a rolling patchwork where oak forests yield pungent truffles and excellent wines from traditional Malvasia and Teran grapes. The fortified town of Motovun is a medieval time capsule of winding cobblestone streets, bell towers, and a hilltop 17th-century Venetian palazzo. The last is now the family-run Hotel Kaštel, complete with a spa and charming historical quirks. If you don’t have time for a wine tour, savor local specialties in Palladio, the hotel’s restaurant.
Where: Pula is 73 miles/118 km south of Trieste. Hotel Monte Mulini: Tel 385/52-636-000. Cost: from $375 (off-peak), from $730 (peak); dinner $60. Grand Hotel Palazzo: Tel 385/52-858-800. Cost: $125 (off-peak), from $300 (peak). When: closed late Oct–Feb. Hotel Kaštel: Tel 385/52-681-607. Cost: from $120; dinner $20. Best times: Apr–Jun and Sep–Oct for nicest weather; Jun–Aug for Pula’s Histria Festival with concerts at the amphitheater; late Jul or Aug for Motovun Film Festival; Sep–Nov for truffles.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017. Expect festivities to be even more amped up in Montreal—particularly in its old-world enclave—where a large roster of special events will help commemorate the city’s 375th birthday.
Montreal got its start in 1642, when a group of French missionaries arrived by river and set up camp, intent on converting the local Iroquois to Christianity. By 1759, after the British defeated the French for the rule of Canada, the growing city was centered along a narrow stretch of headland above the busy port on the St. Lawrence River. Today, this is Montreal’s old city center, known as Vieux-Montréal, and despite almost 250 years of British rule and the influence of anglais-speaking Canada and the United States, it remains a bastion of French diaspora culture. After Paris, Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world.
Place Jacques-Cartier is the epicenter of Montreal summer life, with its street performers, cafés, flower merchants, and horse-drawn caleches—you’ll see why it is commonly used by North American film crews as a stand-in location for Europe. Place d’Armes is another popular gathering spot, with views of some of the city’s most beautiful and historic sites, including the 1829 Basilica of Notre Dame, and the adjacent Sulpician Seminary, Montreal’s oldest building. Amid all this history, the Place d’Armes Hôtel and Suites strikes a note of majestic refinement, with swanky modern rooms and chic dining options all behind a grand and stately façade.
Near the riverfront, Rue St-Paul is the city’s oldest, a winding street lined with gaslights and early-19th-century storefronts, now housing art galleries and boutiques. Along the St. Lawrence, the Old Port has been transformed from a gritty warehouse district into a promenade full of parks, exhibition spaces, skating rinks, and playgrounds. In keeping with the spirit of transformation is the stylish Auberge du Vieux-Port, an 1882-warehouse-turned-hotel with brass beds and luxury bedding, as well as an elegant bistro and wine bar.
A short distance from the busy Vieux-Port is the always popular Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy, a fur warehouse built in 1723, now converted into a delightful B&B whose nine rooms—with their stone walls, polished wood floors, and traditional Quebecois furniture—also have all the modern comforts. Nearby, Toqué! is one of Montreal’s most acclaimed contemporary French restaurants, serving up dazzling food and friendly, unpretentious service. Celebrity chef Normand Laprise’s constantly changing menu reflects the long-standing relationships he has built with local purveyors. For a quick bite, head north of the Old Quarter and join tout Montréal at L’Express, a popular spot for authentic French bistro fare.
Visitor info: www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca. Place d’Armes Hôtel: Tel 888-450-1887 or 514-842-1887. Cost: from $160 (off-peak), from $230 (peak). Auberge du Vieux-Port: Tel 888-660-7678 or 514-876-0081. Cost: from $180. Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy: Tel 514-842-2634. Cost: from $135. Toqué!: Tel 514-499-2084. Cost: dinner $70. L’Express: Tel 514-845-5333. Cost: dinner $35. Best times: Feb–Mar for High Lights Winter Festival; Jun–Sep for nice weather.
Want more? Check out Patricia Schultz’s perennial bestseller below.
About the Book:
The world’s bestselling travel book is back in a more informative, more experiential, more budget-friendly full-color edition. A #1 New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places reinvented the idea of travel book as both wish list and practical guide. As Newsweek wrote, it “tells you what’s beautiful, what’s fun, and what’s just unforgettable—everywhere on earth.” And now the best is better. There are 600 full-color photographs. Over 200 entirely new entries, including visits to 28 countries like Lebanon, Croatia, Estonia, and Nicaragua, that were not in the original edition. There is an emphasis on experiences: an entry covers not just Positano or Ravello, but the full 30-mile stretch along the Amalfi Coast.
Every entry from the original edition has been readdressed, rewritten, and made fuller, with more suggestions for places to stay, restaurants to visit, festivals to check out. And throughout, the book is more budget-conscious, with starred restaurants and historic hotels such as the Ritz, but also moderately priced gems that don’t compromise on atmosphere or charm.
The world is calling. Time to answer.