About France

France is the number one tourist destination in the world. It has everything that you could ever want to see on your holidays: a great city like Paris, good beaches, more monuments than any other country, lovely nature, incredible mountain scenery, need I go on. France is also a very pleasant place to stay. It has good food, great wines and people enjoy their lives. And the best thing is, maybe apart from Paris, living in France does not have to be expensive.

The North of France consists of the flatlands around the town of Lille and the Channel. The area will remind visitors in many ways of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Grand’ Place in Lille for example is a lot like that of Brussels.

Paris, the city of light and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas. Paris is without a doubt one of the most pretty cities on the planet.

The West of France is turned towards the Atlantic Coast. In the north Normandy & Brittany has rolling hills, sandy beaches and quiet little harbour towns. Normandy & Brittany have a more rugged coast and many neolithic sites. It has quite a distinct atmosphere from the rest of the country; you can still sense the Celtic origin of the region and its inhabitants.

Nantes and Bordeaux are the biggest cities on the west coast. Bordeaux, capital of the south west, is a stylish city famous for its wines and its 18-th century architecture. The Pays Basque is the southernmost part of the Atlantic Coast of France.

The resort of Biarritz is posh, but pretty.
The East Timor of France consists of the Alsace, Lorraine and Burgundy and the Franche Comté region. The landscape has rolling hills and many beautiful cities, such as Besançon Metz , Strasbourg, Nancy and Dijon . This region produces many famous wines, including magnificent pinot noirs and chardonnays valued the world over, as well as the famous “Yellow wine” from the Jura mountain vineyard.

The Center is in many ways the most quiet part of France. But the great treasure of this region is the Loire valley , with many great castles and beautiful towns. Chartres with its famous cathedral and Tours rate among the most beautiful French cities.
The Auvergne, centered on the Massif Central mountains that culminate at about 6000 ft, is one of the most beautiful regions of France. Much of it is upland, traversed by wild river valleys and an unspoilt natural environment. The north of the region stretches towards the flatter Loire valley. The regional capital is Clermont Ferrand, and the small city of Le Puy, with its historic churches perched on volcanic pinnacles, is one of the most surprising cities in France

The Alpes are great for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Albertville, Grenoble and Chamonix have all hosted the Olympic games. But the Alps also have nice towns to visit, such as Chambéry, Annecy or Grenoble .

The South with its lovely nature, good food, roman ruins and of course the Riviera draws a lot of visitors every year. Towns like Orange , Arles but also big cities like Marseille and Toulon are must sees. The Provence is dotted with pleasant small villages. In the South west of France the Dordogne is one of the most quintessential French regions. The valley is so pretty, the towns are so cute and the food is so good, that it is hard to believe that the people who live here go somewhere else for their holidays. The Languedoc has its own language and culture. In the south of the Languedoc you find the Pyrenees , a great mountain range separating France from Spain, where you can hike and ski. The towns of Toulouse and Montpellier are nice and the medieval town of Carcassone is a top destination.

The island of Corsica has beautiful nature and a very special atmosphere. The Corsicans speak their own language and have a great sense of freedom.

Paris is known as The City of Light and absolutely deserves this name. But it is much more than just the City of Light. Paris is one of the best travel destinations. It has everything a traveller could possibly wish for.

Eating Out (both expensive and cheap), good accommodation at moderate prices, some of the best museums in the world, as well as a couple of landmarks you must have seen at least once in your life.

A stay in Paris should at least include a visit to the Louvre, one of the best museums in the world, a climb of the Eiffel tower, a climb to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral, a day of shopping frenzy, a night out on the town and time to relax to sit in a parks or visit one of the squares.

In the neighborhood of Paris you can visit, Fontainebleau, Versailles with its magnificent palace of Louis XIV, Vaux-le-Vicomteand the inspiration for Versailles Disneyland Paris . All of these make perfect daytrips.

Paris has more sights than can be visited in one trip. Here we show a menu of all the different possibilities. Check out Museums – in any case be sure not to miss the Louvre, but the centre Pompidou, the Musee Rodin and the Musee d’Orsay also deserve special attention.

The beautiful Churches among them the Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur with its great views over the city should be on every itinerary.
The famous Landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe are absolute highlights npo traveler would want to miss.
If you are a bit tired of all that you can relax in one of the many parks .

Landmarks

Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel tower (Tour Eiffel in French) was built in 1889 for the World Exposition, which was held in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution. The architect and builder of the tower, Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) is also famous as the architect who designed the iron backbone of the Statue more..

La Defense
This is the new Paris. Like it or not, it certainly is something special and the view from the New Arch to the old Arc de Triomphe is a fine one. This alone merits the trip with the metro. For 40 FF you can go up the Arche. It’s open from 9.00 to 20.00 but they stop selling tickets an hour before more..

Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is the most famous university of Paris. This is not a museum, allthough it is a very beautiful building, but the atmosphere with all the students is nice, especially on a summer day.

Arc de Triomphe
One of the most famous monuments of Paris. When you walk away from it over the Champs, it seems like the Arc is following you.
The Arc was built by Percier and Fontaine, between 1806 and 1808. The construction was ordered by Napoleon I.

Grenoble

Grenoble is a thriving mélange of modern hustle and bustle on the one hand and historical treasures on the other hand. As many other town in the region, such as Annecy, the city can be divided in the modern part, prepared for and meeting the demands of the visitor when it comes down to accommodation and entertainment facilities, and the historic Old Town. In the case of Grenoble, one can still see the remains of the city wall dating back to the third century altered with 17th century townhouses. The first action of the French Revolution in 1788 took also place in Grenoble.

Grenoble has a rich cultural life which does not seem strange considering the fact that it is one of the five largest cities in France. Besides several cultural festivals and a booming theatre life, Grenoble has several interesting museums to offer. A must-see for Stendhal lovers is his birthplace and the museum dedicated to his life and career.
Ski resorts, such as Tignes, Val d’Iseres and La Plagne, are only a one hour’s drive to the South away. At most of these places, one can ski all year round.

Alp dHuez

In summer Alpe d’Huez is famous for its spectacular bicycle courses up hills. The stage of Alpe d’Huez is always one of the most important ones in the tour de France. In winter the Alpe becomes a good skiing resort.

Marseille

Marseille is the second biggest city of France. The city is located on the shores of the Mediterranean coast. It was founded by the Greeks some 2 500 years ago. Nowadays, it is a lively, picturesque and rundown industrial port city.

Sights include the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the Cathedral Museum of the Roman Docks, the Puget sculptures at the town hall and 5th-century St.
“The rise of Marseille as a genuine destination for tourists cannot be ignored and has been the most striking feature of 1998”. Although the effects of the World Cup cannot be ignored, these effects were only felt the dates on which matches were played. The increases due to the World Cup only account for 15% of the increased number of visitors in 1998.Setting aside the “World Cup effect”, it remains clear that the number of tourists has increased over previous years. Sectors such as cruises, business travel, cultural theme-based holidays and marine holidays are being given priority.

The image of the city is changing profoundly and, shedding old stereotypes, Marseille now finds itself fashionable in fields such as cinema, theatre, music, sport, fashion, cruises and congresses. Without abandoning anything of its rich history, Marseille is now presenting a new face to the world.As the President of the Marseille Board of Tourism and Congresses Domnique Vlasto wrote “Our objective is to make Marseille the new tourist venue in the Mediterranean.” This objective is now being achieved.

Montpellier

Montpellier is the capital of the Hérault “department.” Although not terribly large, it is a vibrant city thanks to its student population. It is also home to a thriving gay community. The old city is lovely, bursting with history from Roman times on up, and where the action is: for shopping, pubs and people watching. Plus it’s largely a pedestrian zone. There’s a market every morning on the Place de la Comédie: farmer’s market + clothing, etc. Next to the market is the traveller’s bureau (office de tourisme), with a helpful and bilingual staff that will provide you with maps and tips on places to visit or stay. Further up in the old town there’s an English bookshop that has second-hand paperbacks for sale (and occassionally swaps, depending on the owner’s mood that day). Any cravings for junk food from back home (peanut butter, marmite, etc.) can be satisfied at the Inno grocery store in the Polygone shopping mall. To the south, there are the beaches of the Mediterranean. In the summer, there are boating jousts in Palavas – an event that dates back to Medieval times, fun but always dark with throngs. Those who’d rather escape the crowds can make their way along the coast road and find more isolated beaches (fewer people in the morning).

Montpellier is a gorgeous, shining and welcoming city, with a history kept within each of its stones. Founded from the 10th to the 12th century by Jews, Muslims, and Christians, it values tolerance and fraternity and has since developed a very special Mediterranean “art de vivre”.
In Montpellier you will find interseting architecture from all periods of France’s history . Sights include an 18th- century water tower, an aqueduct, narrow streets lined with tall narrow houses and a medieval-styled Ancien Courrier (where the shopping’s great).
Montpellier is an excellent base for daytrips.
Some information courtesy of ot-montpellier.fr

Bordeaux

This elegant city on the banks of the Garonne near the Bay of Biscay is in the heart of the justly famed Bordeaux wine region. Tour the area wineries sample some of their products and in October watch the grape harvest.
Don’t however neglect the city of Bordeaux itself: it’s a stylish city with a lively cosmopolitan air and some of the best examples of 18th-century architecture in the whole of France. To see the nicest buildings stroll along the river near the Quai de la Douane (Customs House Quay). The city also has a major fine-arts museum.
Bordeau is also a great place to make day trips from. Arcachon or Les eyzies are very good options. Bordeaux 360 mi/580 km southwest of Paris.

Nice

Nice is really one of these places everybody has heard of or has seen in television and cinema. James Bond was here of course and the most of the rich and beautiful, the jet set, from the fifties through the sixties and seventies. Some say it is not the hottest spot anymore but many stars have bought houses and villas along the coast (‘French Riviera’ is one of the most beautiful coast lines in Europe).
Especially in spring it is a great place to be due to its mild climate…

And there is much more to do. There’s a higher density of museums in Nice than in many comparable French cities. If you decide to forgo the pleasures of the pebbly beach and devote your time to visiting some of the best-respected museums in the south of France.
The “authentic” Nicoise live in Vieille Ville, the Old Town, beginning at the foot of “the Rock” and stretching out from place Massena. Sheltered by sienna-tiled roofs, many of the Italianate facades suggest 17th-century Genoese palaces. The old town is a maze of narrow streets, teeming with local life and studded with the least expensive restaurants in Nice. Buy an onion pizza (la pissaladiere) from one of the local vendors. Many of the old buildings are painted a faded Roman gold, and their banners are multicolored laundry flapping in the sea breezes. And there are many more sights not to be missed.

Lyon

Lyon the third-largest city in the nation (pop. 413 000) is set in the Burgundy region on the Rhone and Soane Rivers. Get a sweeping view of the city and its waterways from the Basilica of Fourviere which contains a fine collection of 19th-century Byzantine art (the basilica is reached by cable car). Other attractions are Roman ruins the Italian Renaissance architecture and cobblestone streets of the vieux quartier (old quarter) and a fabric museum with a collection of some of the world’s finest silks (the Jacquard loom was invented in Lyon). Don’t neglect the puppet museum (in the Hotel de Gadagne) or the admirable Gallo-Roman and art museums. End the day by relaxing at a sidewalk cafe. Nearby Collonges boasts Paul Bocuse’s restaurant (it once won the nearly unheard-of rating of four Michelin stars!). If time permits spend an extra day and visit Perouges a medieval-era weaver’s village where the Richard Lester version of the movie The Three Musketeers was filmed.

Le havre

Le Havre (pop. 255 000) is usually thought of as a place to get on or off a ship. There is a bit more to this major seaport however.
The Granville Abbey is worth a visit and the view from St. Adresse Fort is great. The Seine estuary is an impressive sight as well.
If you want to spend some more time you should consider a visit to the Ocean Dock, the Town Hall or the fine-arts museum, which has a good collection of paintings including a good 16th-century collection.
A stroll down Avenue Foch is pleasant especially on a lazy summer afternoon.
If you want to make a day trip, at a distance of only 30 km of Le Havre you will find Etretat with its superlative and often-photographed cliffs.
Nearly 2 000 feet of the mile-long beach belong to the Le Havre commune. The yachting harbour is freely accessible 24 hours a day and has a total of 1 300 mooring spaces. Le Havre is the nearest deep water yachting harbour to Paris. The high chalk cliffs of Côte d’Albâtre stretch from the Seine estuary to the Somme estuary.
Le Havre is less than 200 km northwest of Paris.

Lille

To many people Lille sounds like a boring, industrial, coal mining town. Are they in for a suprise! Lille has got a vey nice historic centre, with old houses and mansions that look like those of Brussels or Amsterdam , it’s got narrow streets with nice bars and restaurants and it is very much alive.
Although the north of France still suffers high unemployemnt rates this region is getting back to its feet. Lille is becoming an important regional hub again, with fast trains connecting it to Brussels , Paris and London . Lille has been designated a “European City of Culture” for 2004.

Tours

Tours is located on the banks of the Cher and the Loire river. But it’s not just the setting that’s great, the whole town is pretty. On the south bank of the Loire you find most of the sights close together in a small pedestrian area. Many charming old houses, old churches, a few interesting museums, nice quaint shops, bars and restaurants are all here.
The Cathedral is worth a visit as well. It is a ten minute walk form the pedestrian area in the old centre, along the Loire. It’s at the other side of the Rue Nationale, the main street for shopping. On your way there you can also follow rue Colbert which has many trendy restaurants.
Tours also has a very impressive train station, a very grand palais de justice and many other interesting 19-th century government buildings.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, is loacted on the banks of the Rhine on the border with Germany. The city has changed hands between the Germans and the French a couple of times. Today it is a properous, beautiful and modern city, big enough to have a metropolitain air. You could call Strasbourg a truly European city: it is the seat of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights.
The town itself is extremely pretty. The city’s cathedral, with its famed astronomical clock and the old towers, is most lovely. The Pharmacy de Cerf is the oldest pharmacy in France and Strasbourg’s university is one of the oldest and most active ones of the country.
The older quarters of Strasbourg include “La Petite France”, notable for its medieval half-timbered houses situated along the canals. You can take a boat trip on these canals. Also worth seeing are the Cathedral’s two museums: Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame and the Musée Alsacien. Gastronomy is an important part of the culture here; the city’s winstubs (wine taverns) are a staple of Alsatian art de vivre.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.