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France

Sometimes called the hexagon due to its somewhat hexagonal shape, France is the largest country in Western Europe and one of the most visited.  French is the second most common language in Western Europe.  France has been inhabited by human-like species for hundreds of thousands of years.  Neanderthal habitation has been found as far back as 200,000 years ago. About 40,000 years ago, a species of human beings called Cro-Magnon started living in the area. Later in 3rd century BC, France became part of a settlement of the Celtic people. In the 1st century BC, the Romans led by Julius Caesar, conquered this area and called it Gaul.  In the 5th century AD, France was again conquered, this time by a Germanic tribe called the Franks, who eventually gave France it's present day name.

United States of America (USA)

USA is an awesome place to explore.  Lacking much of the known history that Europe has, United States has a diversity of natural landscape that is hard to beat.  From red rock canyons to massive granite rock formations, to volcanoes, to rocky columns and towers, to amazing waterfalls, to fossil beds and amazing coastlines, United States has something for every nature lover, and every so often, a few things for a history lover.  Here are our recent explorations by state:

California, USA

I am learning that California is pleasantly diverse and geologically quite remarkable.  From volcanoes - both active and ancient, to earthquake geology to fossil beds  to deep blue glacial lakes, scenic rugged coastlines, natural rock columns and towering granite domes and walls, California is one place I can spend many years exploring and still not be completely satisfied that I have seen it all.  Here are our explorations thus far....

Annecy and Dijon

Annecy 

Known as "Little Venice of the Alps", those turquoise waters has been luring me in since I saw a picture a few years ago. Annecy has many waterways, turquoise in color in both the lake and the main canal. There were many shops lining the canals, many with colorful flowering pots upfront.  There is a beach on the west side of the Lake Annecy. We noticed there were a few other beaches along the westside as we drove along towards Albertville. We spotted some white swans swimming in the lake. It looked like there was a pedal boat rental area too.

Brittany (Walled Cities and Ancient Rock Alignments) and Mont Saint Michel

Dinan, my favorite of the three walled cities we visited in Bretagne, is a walled city that people actually live in.  It's city walls date back to the 13th century and has survived many attacks since then. Many of its half-timbered homes also date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Dinan also has a fortified chateau. More on all that Dinan has to offer in the website at the end of this section.