Five ways to take a virtual trip around France

Five ways to take a virtual trip around France
Louvre is closed, but you can still check out what's inside. Photo: AFP
So travel to and from France, and within the country itself, is pretty much out of bounds while the country is on lockdown - but that doesn't mean you can't see the sights.

With museums, galleries and all tourist attractions closed during the coronavirus lockdown, many are instead offering virtual tours.

So from your own home you can gaze on fabulous artworks and visit some of France's most spectacular sights, while planning your next trip once the epidemic is over.

Here is our pick of some of the best virtual tours on offer.

Louvre

Paris' most famous museum has a spectacular collection – including of course Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. But it can also get pretty crowded especially in the summer when more than 15,000 people visit every day.

Its virtual tours, however, take place in spacious empty galleries and involve no shoving tourists and selfie sticks.

There are four online tours – three in galleries, which you control, stopping every now and again to read the information provided (in English) about the artworks you are passing, and one that takes you underground to the remains of the moat of the historic building.

Find out more here.

The distinctive exterior of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Photo: AFP

Pompidou Centre

If you like your art a little more modern, the Pompidou centre is offering virtual tours of certain exhibitions.

The museum's site also offers podcasts (in French) on such weighty topics as Art and utopia, Art and feminism and Art and consumerism.

Click here.

Eiffel Tower

If you want to check out some of Paris' most spectacular views while pretending you are atop la dame de fer, there is a website for that.

The 'virtual visit' option on the Eiffel Tower's website isn't quite a virtual tour of the whole tower, it's more a fun website of facts and games, but if you head to the 'panorama' section you will find yourself on top of the world famous landscape, and able to enjoy the virtual views over Paris.

Click here.

Enjoy podcasts of archive interviews with French stars including Serge Gainsbourg. Photo: AFP

Musée Sacem

As a museum dedicated to music, the museum of the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Éditeurs de Musique (society of musical authors, composers and editors) adapts well to an online experience.

Browse through the info from one of its selected exhibitions while listening to the specially selected playlist (we particularly enjoyed the French disco playlist).

There are also podcasts (in French) featuring archive interviews with some of the greatest names in French musical history, from Serge Gainsbourg to Johnny Hallyday.

Click here.

Mucem

Marseille's Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations offers a properly immersive 3D tour of its galleries, with colour-coded dots you can click on to get more information about the exhibits you are passing.

It's very atmospheric, even offering a virtual guest book for comments at the end, but the majority of the labels are only available in French.

Click here.

Fly away on a virtual tour. Photo: AFP

Air France Museum

The only flights most of us will be taking in the foreseeable future will be in our imaginations, so this might be a good time to check out Air France's museum on the history of flight. A full interactive tour which you control via the arrow keys on your keyboard, it also has music in some locations, making for a fuller experience.

Go and make yourself a cup of coffee while the site loads up though (or pretend you're in an airport by hurling back a pint at 9am).

Click here.


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