Exploring FranceOur Travel Guide
Kati used to live in France for a bit, and loves the country. For myself, having written a few books, I feel that 1920’s Paris would have been a great time to live. I would have loved to be part of the “Lost Generation”. France is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Its history is ripe with continent-defining cultures that have spread across Europe, the Americas, and even Africa. With iconic structures like the Eifel Tower and unique cuisines, the Mediterranean country brims with tasty adventures to be had. In large modern museums spotted across Paris, Marseilles, Nantes, and Lille, one of Western Europe’s foremost civilizations takes roots from the dark pasts through the revolution to the future of what is to become.
France is a mesmerizing country. Its spectacular beaches come alive during the summer, like a collection of gems scattered along its undulating coast. A series of secluded resorts perfect for clandestine romances and rocky cliffs jutting out of hidden caves make for a roller coaster of experience for daring adventurist.
France is Europe’s third largest economy after Germany and the UK. In addition to having a population of more than 65 million people, France shares borders with up to 11 countries. Such a large number of neighbors has led to an influx and exchange of cultures. This has turned France into a cornucopia of cultures, with Europeans and Africans taking turns to dip and to share in the complexities that is the French way of life.
The French are a proud people, and who would blame them. They have shared their histories with the world in ways that few have. Their role in Europe’s great civilizations can’t be emphasized enough, and the openness with which they welcome the world is unique and special. Visiting France is an experience that would linger in your mind for a long time. The people are welcoming, the food is unparalleled, and the weather is fine when the sun is up and the gardens are in bloom.
France at a Glance
Currency: The Euro is the currency of France.
VISA: US visitors don’t need a visa before travelling to France for tourist purposes. With an American passport, you can visit any of the EU member countries for three months. Visitors from EU member states don’t need visas to travel to France.
Language: The official language in France is French. Many border towns and cities also speak languages from neighboring countries. However, a large contingent of French nationals speaks English, making it easier for visitors to move around without trouble.
- Sight Seeing 90% 90%
- Cost 90% 90%
- Ease of Travel 85% 85%
- Activities 90% 90%
As Ernest Hemingway said “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Just remember, Paris is not all of France. Go out. Check out Provence. Head to the south of France along the sea. France is filled with experiences to enjoy. Or just walk along with a baguette under your arm and stop to have a coffee. Enjoying France is enjoying your life. Go. See. Explore.
Top Experiences in France
The best time to visit France
The best time to travel to France is between April and October. The spring, summer and autumn months offer visitors better opportunities to see the beauty of the Mediterranean country.
Visiting France during spring allows you to browse some of the exclusive activities scheduled for that time of the year. The Cannes Film Festival, for example, is a perfect opportunity to mingle with movie celebrities from around the world. Before that, Easter offers visitors to France a unique experience with popup Easter markets. You could join the fun as 40 chefs crack 15,000 fresh eggs to make the largest omelet on a 4-meter pan.
France truly comes alive during the summer. With the sun up and the wind rich with the smell of a thousand flower fragrances, visitors to France can enjoy festivals, sun bathe at the beaches, and take long walks in the many gardens that dot the ancient country.
Fall is a perfect time to visit France. Kids are back in school and fewer visitors make the trip due to falling temperatures. Because of these, those who manage to visit France in the fall find an open country with endless exploring possibilities. More importantly, there are interesting activities and attractions that are best experienced during autumn in France. For instance, you can be among the first tasters of Beaujolais Nouveau; the grapes are pressed into bottles for the first time around this time, giving visitors a chance to taste France as it should be.
Popular Tourist Regions
Visiting France can be overwhelming for the newbie traveler. This is because there is so much to do in so little time you might end up not doing anything at all. Luckily, there are a few site attractions that you can put in your bucket list to ensure you have a true taste of France.
The legendary charm of Paris makes it one of the most visited cities in the world. More than the Eiffel Tower, the city of Paris offers guests charming sidewalk cafes, historic museums, and mouth-watering cuisine. Upscale fashion retail houses spread along gleaming streets are one of the enduring memories you will have after your trip to France. Paris is the city of love, but so too the home of many wonders of the world. The Louvre Museum, for example, lets you browse through the world’s largest art museum including the legendary Mona Lisa and the Wedding Feast at Cana.
At the Luxembourg Gardens, you see another side to Paris and of France that is exclusive and magnificent. An inner-city oasis spanning some 23 hectares, the Garden is rich with lush lawns, graceful orchards, and wooden sailboats to sail across the silent Grand Basin pond. The gardens were dedicated to the children of Paris by Napoleon himself.
And, if you have the stomach for it, the skull-lined underground Catacombs might just be the macabre sight to behold during your visit to France. If not, then Paris still has you covered with a breathtaking tour of the glittering white-washed towers of Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. A sharp contrast to the festival of colors that is the surrounding landscape, the dome of the basilica can be reached via some 300 winding steps from which you have a wonderful view of the rest city come day or night.
Marseilles is France’s oldest city. A port city and a rare one of its kind, Marseilles has a solid reputation for being a melting pot of cultures. It attracts visitors from all over the world due to its charming mingle of old culture and new, exciting adventure spots. A lot of these cultural histories can be seen at the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. Here, you get to understand the ancient pillars that built and influenced the Mediterranean economies over a period of more than a hundred years.
Besides hosting one of the most famous football clubs in Europe, Marseilles’ old harbor offers you a perfect view of fishermen coming back from sea with fresh catch in their cargo hold. This old city is also home to some of the best secluded beaches in western Europe. The rocky cliffs are picturesque during the summer, and the cool waters are perfect for snorkeling and boating.
Burgundy is a territory in eastern France best known for its red and white wines. Its unique location between Paris and Lyon makes it easy for visitors to travel to and around France. The rural regions in Burgundy especially are popular truffle hunting grounds. Truffles are delicacies in France and beyond, and locals use specially trained dogs and pigs to hunt these ‘black golds’. When you visit these areas, it is always a beautiful experience to join a truffle hunting expedition to see how those rare gems are cultivated and prepared.
You might have heard of claret before. The other, more suitable name is Red Bordeaux wine. Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world. It also has amazing food with many restaurants dotting its graceful streets underneath bright lights. Besides its winery attributes, Bordeaux’s spectacular beauty was such that even the Queen of England referred to the city as “the very essence of elegance.”
Bordeaux has more than 350 tourist destination sites dotted around its historic landscape. With castles along the hillsides and Romanesque architectural marvels that attract movie producers, there is never a dull moment in the ‘City of Art and History.’
Popular site attractions in France
France has some of the biggest site attractions in Europe. Like its counterparts along the Mediterranean coast, it offers a great variety of historical sites, wide boulevards, and seaside resorts.
The Eiffel Tower is the biggest site attraction in France. Designed by Gustav Eiffel, the symbol of Paris is both a historic and romantic destination for adventurers. The 320-meter high Iron Lady offers visitors a sweeping vista of Paris. With your head in the cloud as you take in the spectacular views of Paris, you wouldn’t know that many were critical of the tower when it was first constructed in 1889. Over time, though, the iconic structure has become not only a symbol of the French Republic, but a destination for romantics and lovers of the aerial views.
While France touts itself as a secularist country, it has many iconic religious architecture and sites that would literally fill you with inspiration. The Mont Saint-Michel is an imposing tidal island off the Normandy coast. The architecture features soaring gothic spires rising out of a rocky island and rising some 80 meters above sea level. The Pyramid of the Sea, as it is affectionately called, has served as a pilgrimage destination since its construction in the 11th century. If you are fortunate enough to visit Normandy during low tide, you can make the one kilometer journey by foot to what many refer to as the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Château de Versailles
Île-de-France, located some 20km southwest of Paris, houses the Palace of Versailles. A historic home of kings, the Palace of Versailles was home to King Louis XIV. It was the royal residence of France’s kings until the start of the French revolution in 1789 under Louis XVI. Today, the UNESCO-Heritage Site is open throughout the year for those see the beauty in its remarkable façade.
The Louvre Museum
The Louvre Museum is one of the highlights of European and French art. It houses some of the most popular art collections gathered from around the world. The Louvre Museum is the largest art museum in the world. The museum is housed in royal palace, and it is the old kings in Paris who helped build its collection to become one of the most important monuments in France.
Its collections include Egyptian antiquities spanning Coptic art, Ancient Egypt and the Middle Kingdom. There are collections dedicated to Greek and Roman histories, including the limestone Lady of Auxerre, Venus di Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. There are many historic pieces of art from the Islamic world, sculptures, and decorative arts from all over the world.
Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon is the largest canyon in Europe. It is surrounded by the French Alps and spans some 25 kilometers across. The turquoise river that runs through the canyon attracts visitors from all over the world each year. For adventurists, Gorges du Verdon is perfect for rock climbing, paragliding, and fly fishing.
Whatever you choose to do and wherever you choose to go, you will enjoy your time in France. Do not believe all the stories about rude people and rude waiters. We have never experienced that at all. Have fun. The monuments are great. And just enjoy life.
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