An American in Paris part 2: Beyond the city

FIGO's President, Dr Jeanne Conry, lives in Paris, France, six months of every year. An American in Paris is a special blog series from Dr Conry that explores the highlights of Paris as a destination for the FIGO 2023 World Congress. The second blog of the series takes you on a brief tour of some of Dr Conry’s favourite places to visit outside of Paris.


I am so looking forward to greeting you, the members of our Member Societies, to the FIGO World Congress in Paris, 9–12 October 2023. It might make sense with my monthly blog series to look at sightseeing in Paris, museums, food or even shopping. By this time, I hope you are registered and have seen the fantastic scientific programme.  

But, a caveat. The Rugby World Cup is taking place around France in the weeks before and after the FIGO World Congress, so that means if you are hoping to take a side trip to the many wonderful locations in and around Paris, now is the time to plan and book reservations.  

I thought I would focus here on a few of my favourites. Of course, it depends on the time you might have, so I am mentioning day trips and a few that take longer. 

Versailles and Giverny 

Paris is travel central. The trains are easy, even for the inexperienced. They are comfortable and you can plan trips almost anywhere. However, sometimes it is easier to arrange a tour with a guide from Paris – with the convenience that they pick you up at your hotel. It is a very personal choice, but if you only have one day, it might be easier to sign up for a guided tour.  

What have been some of my personal favourites? Ah Mais oui! A combined trip to Versailles and Giverny is perfect, and it truly benefits from a guide with knowledge of the history and details of Versailles and Monet’s Gardens in Giverny. The flowers will still be lovely in October, with some of the colour changes taking place in early autumn. And of course, the Palace of Versailles is elegant and steeped in the history of France. It is a World Heritage Site of some of the greatest achievements in French 17th century art and history, including Louis XIII’s hunting pavilion and Louis XIV’s Court and Government. This is an easy one-day trip. 


We have also been to Normandy in one very full day, but Normandy and its history can be appreciated over a few days, again time and interests depending. My daughter and I did a self-guided tour by car, taking in the American Cemetery and Memorial, and Omaha beach. However, our family definitely appreciated the one-day guided tour more – for that, they took the train and the guide met them in Normandy and escorted them around for the day. It was complete, easy and truly an experience to be appreciated. 

Château de Chantilly 

For the horse enthusiasts, a day at Château de Chantilly is fabulous – and I am not one who is knowledgeable about horses. We had a wonderful day trip from Paris, enjoyed lunch in the town and toured this spectacular chateau only 50 kilometres north of Paris. It has an art gallery, parks and stables, and has been the site of memorable movie sets! 


And what is a trip to Paris without a visit to Champagne? Reims is a short trip, and I can guarantee our French colleagues can provide the most detailed and accurate information. I have had three trips, and each one has been a treat. Visiting the Champagne houses and some of the small estates can be a one- or two-day trip. Going into the cellars is an experience; caves more than 30 metres underground, immersed in history and hiding the champagne during wars! The Champagne region is legally defined. Reims is famous for the cathedral and coronation of French Kings. It is a UNESCO heritage site. Le terroir with the chalky subsoil is part of this famous region. This is a very easy and delightful trip that captures the essence of France. 

Multi-day trips 

There are some multi-day trips for those allowing more time. I have visited Bordeaux at least four times and find the city absolutely engaging: it has food and wine, and great tours or tasting on the town square. We have not yet visited Dordogne, much to my frustration, but it also is a multi-day trip for food and wine. Another site with a multi-day focus might be Annecy, which is at the foot of the Alps of south-eastern France. It is easy to reach by train and easy to navigate on foot. There is a restored castle, Chateau d’Annecy, a beautiful lake, cycling – and cheeses that are a wonder.  

We have also enjoyed Colmar in North-east France – an easy train ride and walkable town. It is beautiful in the Alsace region: imagine white wines, picturesque homes and canals. And finally, Mont Saint-Michel offers a haunting view of the seas and is an easy trip by train. It can be combined with Normandy; or I spent a very enjoyable weekend at the Monastery and the island. Sorry – because my experiences are still growing – but I have not yet been to Burgundy or the Loire Valley. I do love Provence and the southern part of France, again to be appreciated over several days as the olive and grape harvest takes place. 

Join me in Paris 

So, whether you confine your visit to Paris or are able to explore further from this exciting city, enjoy all, spend time just to sit and appreciate the beauty, discover the variety and, most importantly, enjoy our FIGO and CNGOF hospitality.  

PPT slide registration FIGO Paris 2023