Written by: Frédérique Vachon
Quebec is rich in magnificent landscapes, grandiose parks and charming hidden spots; there is no shortage of things to do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t escape to other parts of the world from the comfort of your living room! Brighten up rainy days and open up your family’s horizons with these ideas for virtual excursions around France.
All right, princesses and knights, take out your capes, swords and your most beautiful gowns! You are invited to the castle of Pierrefonds, located in the region of Oise. After a ride on imaginary horses around the kitchen table—no, sorry, through a dense forest—you dismount at the foot of this majestic castle, a true medieval fortress entirely renovated in the mid-19th century. Cross the drawbridge and start your visit in the main courtyard. The virtual tour is very user-friendly, allowing you to zoom in on details (observe how the sculptures are sometimes surprising), and listen to historical and architectural facts as you move along. And have no fear, you also have a map to keep you from getting lost! During your visit, don’t forget to find the eight hidden statues of the chivalrous military heroes of the Middle Ages, or you won’t be able to enter the chambers of the empress!
Today’s destination: The Eiffel Tower! First, stop at one of the many crepe stands around the city for a delicious lunch on the go. You’ll have to play the chef and tourist for this part, but it’s worth it. Cook bigger crepes, fold them in half, add cheese, ham, or whatever filling you want. Fold the crepes in half once more to make a triangle and wrap them in waxed paper: you can eat them on the subway.
Don’t forget to get out at the Champ-de-Mars Eiffel Tower Station. Then, skip the Eiffel Tower’s first 674 steps and go directly to the 2nd floor by clicking here.
You can get a fan going when you reach the highest setting for a more realistic visit! Go around, admire the panorama; you can easily spot the Seine, the Trocadero Gardens, the Champ-de-Mars, and the most observant can even glimpse the distant silhouette of the Notre-Dame Cathedral. To digest the crepes and complete this tour of Paris, simply use Google Street View to stroll around the city’s magnificent monuments. Take the opportunity to order a chocolate-banana dessert crepe when you walk past a new stand!
Put on your explorer clothes and head for the Lascaux Cave! Let yourself be guided through the maze of different galleries to discover the numerous prehistoric paintings adorning the walls. Bulls, horses, symbols, how many can you see? Can you find the famous red cow? By clicking on the “i” icon at the bottom left of your screen, you can pause the guided tour to observe the paintings more closely and obtain additional information.
After the visit, your children can create their own prehistoric cave. All they have to do is reproduce the paintings seen in the Lascaux cave or create their own drawings on paper and display them under a table or in a closet—or in any cave of their choice. You could even show them different techniques to paint like a cave man.
Many popular tourist attractions offer virtual tours like this. Search the web, be creative, and who knows, this sort of activity might just lead to favourites for travel destinations—this time out of the house!