Prepare for a roller coaster of feasts, treats and temptations as you take in Germany's soul-stirring scenery, spirit-lifting culture, big-city beauties, romantic palaces and half-timbered towns.
There’s something undeniably artistic in the way Germany’s scenery unfolds – the corrugated, dune-fringed coasts of the north; the moody forests, romantic river valleys and vast vineyards of the centre, and the off-the-charts splendour of the Alps, carved into rugged glory by glaciers and the elements. All are integral parts of a magical natural matrix that’s bound to give your camera batteries a workout. Get off the highway and into the great outdoors to soak up the epic landscapes that makes each delicious, slow, winding mile so precious.
Pleasures of Civilisation
You’ll encounter history in towns where streets were laid out long before Columbus set sail, and in castles that loom above prim, half-timbered villages where flower boxes billow with crimson geraniums. The great cities – Berlin, Munich and Hamburg among them – come in more flavours than a jar of jelly beans but will all wow you with a cultural kaleidoscope that spans the arc from art museums and high-brow opera to naughty cabaret and underground clubs. And wherever you go, Romanesque, Gothic and baroque classics rub rafters with architectural creations from modern masters such as Daniel Libeskind, David Chipperfield and Frank Gehry.
Experiencing Germany through its food and drink will add a rich layer to your memories (and possibly your belly!). You’ll quickly discover that the local food is so much more than sausages and pretzels, schnitzel and roast pork accompanied by big mugs of foamy beer. Beyond the clichés awaits a cornucopia of regional and seasonal palate-teasers. Share the German people’s obsession with white asparagus in springtime, chanterelle mushrooms in summer and game in autumn. Sample not only the famous beer but also world-class wines, most notably the noble Riesling.
High on History
Few countries have had as much impact on the world as Germany, which has given us the Hanseatic League, the Reformation and yes, Hitler and the Holocaust, but also the printing press, the automobile, aspirin and MP3 technology. It is the birthplace of Martin Luther, Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, of Goethe, Beethoven, the Brothers Grimm and other heavyweights who, each in their own way, have left their mark on human history. You can stand in a Roman amphitheatre, sleep in a medieval castle and walk along remnants of the Berlin Wall – in Germany the past is very much present wherever you go.
Art de Vivre
The rhythm of daily life – dictated by the seasons in the depths of la France profonde (rural France) – exudes an intimacy that gets under your skin. Don’t resist. Rather, live the French lifestyle. Embrace the luxury of simple, everyday rituals being transformed into unforgettable moments, be it a coffee and croissant in the Parisian cafe where Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir met to philosophise, a stroll through the lily-clad gardens Monet painted, or a walk on a beach in Brittany scented with the subtle infusion of language, music and mythology brought by 5th-century Celtic invaders.
The terroir (land) of France weaves a varied journey from northern France’s cliffs and sand dunes to the piercing blue sea of the French Riviera and Corsica’s green oak forests. Outdoor action is what France’s lyrical landscape demands – and there’s something for everybody. Whether you end up walking barefoot across wave-rippled sand to Mont St-Michel, riding a cable car to glacial panoramas above Chamonix, or cartwheeling down Europe’s highest sand dune, France does not disappoint. Its great outdoors is thrilling, with endless opportunities and the next adventure begging to be had. Allez!