Moret-sur-Loing. Photo, thearkofgrace

This picturesque medieval town lies along the banks of the tranquil waters of the river Loing, a tributary of the Seine, just a little over 9 kms from the south–east edge of the forest surrounding the Chateau de Fontainebleau.  The town is postcard pretty, offering many opportunities for keen photographers.  It also inspired many Impressionist painters such as Monet, Renoir and in particular Alfred Sisley, who spent the last 20 years of his life there.

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Exhibition poster for Musee Marmottan-Monet’s winter exhibition. Photo, visitparisregion

Although winter has well and truly settled in for a while, this doesn’t mean that that Paris is quietly slumbering or even slowing down.  On the contrary, during the winter months the city is abuzz with fabulous exhibitions, imaginative concert programs and other great things to do, such as the eagerly awaited start of the end-of-winter-sales, which this year kicked off on 09 January.

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The Cathedral’s main facade during the Illuminations. Photo, Paris + Plus

Just 50 kms southwest from Paris, Chartres is within easy reach if you’re visiting the capital.  Notre-Dame de Chartres looms over the surrounding countryside and its tall spires are clearly visible as you approach the town.  Its inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 describes it as being “the high point of French Gothic art”. After recent restoration to both the interior and exterior, Chartres and its delightful town is a must-visit for all lovers of medieval architecture.

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Spectacular fresh produce display, rue Poncelet. Photo, pinterest

According to the Mairie de Paris, there are more than 82 markets in Paris.  This equates to at least one market in every one of the 20 arrondissements of Paris, and the number increases the further out you head from the centre.

One of the best-loved markets for Parisians is located in the rue Poncelet in the 17th arrondissement.

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Beautiful Lake Como. Photo, TripHobo

Northern Italy offers a wonderful series of lakes, and Lake Como is generally regarded as the most spectacular of them all.  Its unmistakable upturned Y shape was carved out of a glacier that was forced to split into two by the mountain that stood in its path.  Today, the dramatic Dolomites surround the lake, with often a dusting of snow at the highest peaks visible even in high summer.

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