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Meet the Château that Inspired Versailles

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Nearly six million people traipse through the gardens and Hall of Mirrors at Versailles annually, braving lines and elbowing through crowds.

Let us tip you off to an alternative: before Versailles, there was Vaux le Vicomte, a lesser-known château that makes an easy day trip from Paris and offers a more blissful, intimate experience. It’s been cared for by the same family for five generations.

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Samurai Rabbit! Japanese History Gets Interactive at Boston's MFA

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If your summer vacation takes you through Boston and you find that you can't decide which of the city's impressive cultural institutions to take the family to, the Museum of Fine Art has made the choice easier for you with Samurai. The exhibition, open through August 4th, marries Japanese history with pop culture to bring new life to the fabled warriors of feudal Japan. More than 140 objects, ranging from the 12th to the 19th centuries, are on display, including meticulously adorned lacquered helmets, weapons used for combat and ceremony and as a piece de resistance, two fully-armored horses carrying Samurai warriors, ready for battle.

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Organists Compete in Philadephia's Longwood Gardens

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Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, near Philadelphia and equidistant from Washington, D.C. and New York City, is one of the world's spectacular botanical parks, with more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, gardens, flowers, and fountains.  Vibrant in all four seasons, Longwood takes on a particular hue in summer with a concert season that features performers ranging from Lyle Lovett to Tony Bennett to the Philadelphia Orchestra.   In a grand ballroom, it also houses one of the world's largest concert organs with more than 10,000 pipes (music was a passion of Pierre S. du Pont, whose family legacy supports the gardens) that give full aural dimension to grand 19th and 20th symphonic organ music.

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55th Venice Biennale: The Encyclopedic Palace

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Part wunderkammer, part memory palace, this year’s 55th Venice Biennale is an introspective investigation into contemporary art.  Through November 24, the Biennale will dance around the Renaissance as an “Encyclopedic Palace,” a conceptual skyscraper and memory palace based on a 1955 model by Italian-born artist Marino Auriti.

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Titanic Nostalgia Will Go On

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With the 101st anniversary of the Titanic sinking a few months behind us, some of you may be thinking that you'd heard the last of that fated ship for a while. Think again. The passenger liner that sank in April, 1912 continues to make waves in the 21st century, and Titaniacs the world over make treks to see and experience anything related to the ship and its sinking.

Just this month, in Belfast, a tender that ferried passengers boarding the Titanic in Cherbourg, France, reopened as a museum. The S.S. Nomadic (pictured) had spent years languishing – I saw her moored across the Seine from Paris's Eiffel Tower in 1999, windows broken and a plastic palm tree ingloriously placed on the top deck. In 2006, the Northern Irish city of Belfast purchased the Nomadic and transported it back to the Irish port where it was built in 1911. The ship, fully restored, now resides in Belfast’s new Titanic Quarter, a massive new development built on former docklands.

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Q+A with Founder of Adventures in Art

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This month and next, art—Old Masters to Impressionists to contemporary—is on the auction block at the major auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, in New York, London, and beyond. They coincide with art fairs, Frieze New York, Art Basel in Switzerland (June 13-16), and the granddaddy of all international art exhibitions, the Venice Biennale (June 1-November 24)). T+L spoke with Karen Stone Talwar, founder of Adventures in Art, about this high season for art and what it means for the traveler.

Q: What is the allure of the art sales?
A: First, admission to the previews at the auction houses is free, and second, although the viewings take place during five to eight days, they often offer the only opportunity to see works that have been in private collections and likely little exhibited.  Depending on the purchaser they may never be lent for public exhibition.  So this could be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to see that rare Picasso, just as it is for the collectors, gallery owners, and museum directors.

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Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're in Waikiki, Hawaii


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We asked true travel pros what to do near in Waikiki, Hawaii. Want to share your advice? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

“Have a li hing mui (salty plum) margarita at Duke’s at sunset. You won’t be disappointed!” —Michael Capelli, via Facebook

“Surfing lessons by hot firefighters from Hawaiian Fire (3318 Campbell Ave., Kapahulu)…what could be better?” —@thegaytraveler

“Make a reservation for afternoon tea on the veranda at the Moana Surfrider hotel ($$$$).” —Kristen Corpolongo, via Facebook

“Hike to the top of Diamond Head—the view of #Waikiki is spectacular.” —@krissyvanntn

“See Doris Duke’s collection of Islamic art at Shangri La museum (4055 Papu Circle, Kahala).” —@rebeccapang

Festival degli Scrittori Kicks Off in Florence

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The much-anticipated Festival degli Scrittori (Festival of Writers) begins tomorrow in Florence, Italy. Now in its third year, the highly praised literary event is the city’s hot ticket this week—and arguably this year.

From June 12–14, 2013, the international culturatti and the intellectually curious will mingle in the heart of old Firenze with some of today’s top authors, translators, critics, and boldface names—all with the high-minded ghosts of the Rennaissance, fittingly, looking on.

Dreamed up by Baronessa Beatrice Monti della Corte, widow of the writer Gregor von Rezzori and founder of the Santa Maddalena Foundation writers’ retreat, the Festival aims to promote and celebrate international literature and the nuanced talents of translation. And this year's line-up promises to be animated—Pulitzer prize-winners Jennifer Egan and Michael Cunningham in conversation; lectures with titles like “Reading and Translating Virgil in the era of Facebook”; even a recital by Jeremy Irons.

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Rite of Spring Redux: 100 Years of a Stravinsky Masterpiece

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One hundred years ago on May 29, 1913, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring exploded onto the European scene in a celebrated, riotous premiere at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. Ever since, dance companies have taken up the challenge to stage a work that captures the power and the sweep of Stravinsky’s revolutionary masterpiece. 

On the day of the centennial anniversary, May 29, 2013, the Richmond Ballet, as part of the Virginia Arts Festival, presents the Rite, in Salvatore Aiello’s sensual staging. While in Paris, the Mariinsky Ballet returns to the scene of the crime, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, with a reconstruction of the imagined, original production, choreography and décor newly realized by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer.

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World's Piano Virtuosos Head to Texas

Every four years, 30 of the most talented musicians from around the world arrive in Fort Worth, Texas to participate in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, May 24-June 9.  The young pianists, whose ages range from 19 to 30 and hail from Russia, Poland, Italy, Chile, China, and the U.S., among other countries, are gifted, of course, armed with prodigious technique, and musical personalities that belie their years.  They also possess the energy of thoroughbreds.

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