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Alumni Travel Reading: The French Countryside

A Land of Art

Portrait of an Artist

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Full Story. Channel Four (Great Britain), 2006. Run time: 120 minutes.

Art critic Waldemar Januszczak presents an in-depth biography of the controversial French painter. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s life encompassed aristocracy, obsession, and alcoholic and sexual excess. He is also responsible for a huge body of work, revolutionary in blurring the boundaries between high and low art. A century after his death, Januszczak argues that the artist remains the perennial outsider, undervalued by art historians.

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The Provincial French Countryside

Chateau above water

Chateau de Chenonceaux. Courtesy of

Experience the essence of France through its rich culture, beautiful countryside, and stirring history. Discover medieval Carcassonne and the market town of Albi with its Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. Stay in charming Sarlat to explore the remote Dordogne, including a visit to the famous caves at Lascaux II and a leisurely afternoon cruise on the Dordogne River. Tour the Loire Valley's impressive Chateau de Chenonceaux. Visit dramatic Mont St. Michel, the famous D-Day landing beaches, and the medieval town of Bayeux in Normandy. Walk amid Monet's painterly gardens in Giverny. Conclude your journey in Paris with a walking tour and visit to the Louvre. (Description from the Penn Alumni Travel webpage).

Medieval chateau overlooking town

Carcassonne. Courtesy of


Selected and Annotated By: 

Nancy Shawcross
Bibliographer for French and Francophone Language and Literature

For more information about this and other excursions, visit the Penn Alumni Travel webpage.

France in the Middle Ages

Castle in moat

Castle Sully. Courtesy of

Visiting Paris

Avenue des Champs-Elysées as soon from Arc de Triomphe. Courtesy of

France in the Second World War

Band of Brothers. HBO Home Video, 2002. 10 episodes. Running time: 705 minutes.

The HBO miniseries is universally acclaimed as the best film representation of D-Day. It is based on two books by Stephen E. Ambrose: Band of Brothers (1992) and D-Day (1994), which take a personal approach to the historic event by focusing on the viewpoints of individual soldiers in World War II. Directed by David Frankel as well as by Tom Hanks, the series stars Damian Lewis (currently seen on Homeland), Ron Livingston (currently seen on Boardwalk Empire), and Donnie Wahlberg (currently seen on Blue Bloods), among others.

View the trailer below: 

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