Vaux-le-Vicomte NOT Versailles

When 17th-century finance minister Nicolas Fouquet set about building his château in what’s now the Paris suburbs, he spared no expense. He hired the best architect of the day, Louis Le Vau, to build the best money could buy. Painter Charles Le Brun and landscape architect André le Nôtre were tapped as well. And then Fouquet hosted a lavish housewarming party … his mistake.

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Five Fun Things I Discovered While Walking in Washington, D.C.

When writing the National Geographic Walking Washington, D.C., guidebook this past year, I walked the entire city. It was the most fun I've ever had on a job! I've lived in Washington for more than 20 years, and felt like I knew the place inside-out. Little did I know how wrong I was. Here are five things I discovered on my recent perambulations around the capital city.

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Laughter in Zambia

Meet Chris, Henry, and Evans, from Lord's Mountain Orphanage in Zambezi, Zambia. They never have the chance to go to the beach, or to swim, although the river is less than a mile away. When my husband and I stayed at the orphanage in August 2015, we took them, and their 32 fellow orphans, to the shores of the Zambezi River. This is how they reacted. Sometimes I like to play the videos just to remember what pure, unadulterated joy is all about.

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Paris: Rue Mouffetard

A narrow cobblestone pedestrian street with cafés, shops, and a glorious open-air market, La Mouffe feels like coming home to me, a place to mingle with the locals. Street musicians serenade diners on weekend nights. Specialty shops spill over with cheeses, wines, produce, and other kinds of ooh-la-la. Ernest Hemingway described this scene in A Moveable Feast: "That wonderful narrow crowded market street."

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Bringing the world closer through travels and stories, with a bit of fun along the way