During the winter months, cheaper flights and discounted hotel rooms are easier on your budget. The Michelin Must See guides, such as Michelin's Most Famous Places Italy and France editions, will help you gather all the details necessary to plan your intimate European getaway even in the depths of winter. Colder weather also means indulging in the decadent cuisine and bold wines, so cozying up in a picturesque café won't be unseasonable.
If you are looking for a low-key getaway with all the culture and luxury that the region offers, consider visiting two of Europe's most breathtaking cities in winter. Each offers a rich history to feed the mind and lavish sights that will arouse your psyche.
Situated just north of the French Alps, Annecy offers the perfect backdrop for an ethereal French adventure. Surrounded by a lake, river and mountains, Annecy has quintessential French charm. The old town is speckled with colorful markets, arcaded architecture and inviting cafes that will transport you into a French dream world.
'Annecy is one of my favorite places in France,' says Michelin editorial director, Cynthia Ochterbeck. 'A great way to get there is to fly directly to Geneva, Switzerland, as it is not far away. Then rent a car, and make your way south. That way you can enjoy the beauty of Annecy as well as get out in the Alps for some breathtaking drives.'
From the old town, the River Thiou runs into Lake Annecy, which offers stunning views. Take a stroll or ride around the edge of the lake via the Avenue d'Albigny. While the boats may be out of the lake for the winter, there is no reason to miss the beautiful Chateau d'Annecy. And if you are traveling with a special someone, steal a kiss on the middle of the Pont des Amours.
If a cold wind brings in freezing temperatures, take the opportunity to view some on the most beautiful Basilicas and mausoleums that the city has to offer. The warm gold and shimmering jewel tones will quickly warm your senses. Let the intricate mosaics tell the story of the city with their striking patterns, colors and rich symbolism. Don't miss those in the Basillica di San Vitale, which is an architectural piece of art itself. You will feel as though you are royalty as you walk in awe through the ornate structure filled with dazzling carved Byzantine capitals, frescos and mosaics. These beautiful works of art fleck the city, telling of a time when the city was the capital of the Western Empire.
If you cannot imagine a trip to Europe without making a stop in one of the landmark cities, visit the beautiful island city of Venice after your stay in Ravenna. As the temperatures drop, the major sites offer photo opportunities free of fellow tourists. Crowds and prices will spike during Christmas and again during the festival of Carnevale, so avoid those times if a serene, budget-friendly vacation is your objective.
Once you return from your vacation, you will be eager to discover all the other areas of the world that offer beautiful winter escapes with great deals.
Visit the www.MichelinTravel.com for more travel tips for your next escape.