France is not only Paris, stealing your heart at first glance, but also a variety of different cities, landscapes and cultures. When exploring the best of France, you’ll encounter UNESCO World Heritage sites, world-class shopping, cultural events, gastronomy and renown wines, or the simply joy of watching daily life from the terrace of a café. France, encompasses medieval cities, alpine villages and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, home of Fashion, has an endless choice of outstanding museums and amazing monuments. Special sites like Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, the vast Palace of Versailles, the Loire Valley’s majestic chateaux, the Roman Amphitheatre in Lyon or the Normandy’s WWII sites attest to its rich history.
Bordeaux and Burgundy produce renowned wines, while Champagne gives the bubbly stuff its name. Be ready for the French Way of Life!
The Regions of France
Paris & Ile-de-France
The Ile-de-France region offers sophistication, history and …relax. From the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame, the emblematic monuments of Paris rival the châteaux, landscapes, and forests of its surrounding areas. View the rooftops of Paris from the steps of Sacré Cœur in Montmartre, or visit famous sites throughout the region, outside of Paris, like the National Museum of Archeology in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the unique Château de Versailles, and after a stroll through the boutiques in Rue Saint Honoré’, relax in the Forest of Fontainebleau, or at the Jardin des Tuileries. Ile-de-France region combines the excitement of Paris with nature and relaxation and offers the true sceneries that you can also discover through the eyes of painters like Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Pissarro, in the top museums of the world, such as the Louvre and the Museum d’Orsay.
Provence – Côte d’Azur
in southeastern France, bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps and Camargue plains to rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields. After visiting Avignon or the Medieval village of The Baux de Provence, the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera), will show glamorous resort towns such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes along the coast. Antibes has a huge marina and a museum dedicated to Picasso, who found inspiration there. Nice, the regional capital, has several art museums, a medieval old town and Italian-influenced cuisine. Tiny Monaco -Monte Carlo, is renowned for its Casino, the glamour of it’s venues and the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix
Aquitaine, a great historic region of France. Stretching from the foothills of the Massif Central in the north, to the Spanish border in the south, in the Middle Ages, Aquitaine, was allied with the Plantagenet kings of England, and presents many historic connections with the British Isles, notably through the wine trade. Prehistoric sites can be found around the area of Lascaux (remarkable caves, a UNESCO world heritage site) and Les Eyzies. Bordeaux, and its area is famous for its renowned wines and gastronomic specialties. Truffles, foie-gras, and other mouth-watering delicacies, are offered by “le Périgord”, the area around the departmental capital of Périgueux
With its 350 miles of coastline and various landscapes, Normandy offers a wonderful choice of scenery and culture: the stunning beauty of the cliffs in Etretat or the long historical sandy beaches, the Seine Valley winding between wooded hills and chalk escarpments, the metropolitan excitement of Rouen and the beauty of its Cathedral, and the patchwork of fields and apples orchards of the Calvados county and timber-framed cottages of villages.
Enjoy Normandy and Bretagne, unique blend of maritime traditions and rural way of life. Marvel at its historic towns like Saint Malo, amazing sites like Mont Saint Michel. Stroll down quiet country lanes and enjoy local dishes in picturesque small towns, or sip a drink by the quayside of one of its old fishermen harbors.
Burgundy is home to a rich heritage from a mix of styles and periods. Its natural sites are outstanding, and its canals, which extend over some 1,000 km, are breath-taking. You can travel along them in barges, by foot or bicycle to discover the secret Burgundy. Sometimes religious, sometimes medieval, the inheritance shows through small towns and their monuments, like Beaune and the Fontenay Abbey. But wherever you go, your involvement with Burgundy gastronomy and wines will be full experience, from Boeuf Bourguignon to Coq au vin, paired with a Nuits Saint Georges or a Chassagne -Montrachet.
Alsace-Lorraine is a border region separated from Germany by the Rhine River. Its geographic location, and recent history give the region a distinct personality and when World War II ended, after being part of the German Empire for years, it returned to France. Even if the towns names sound German, and the small villages style look German, the French flair shows everywhere. Strasbourg, also Capital of the European Union, is as cosmopolitan and sophisticated as Paris, and the small towns and villages will charm you with half timber houses, bearing wood carved and flowered balconies. Touring this region and its main cities, Strasbourg, Colmar and Nancy, will give you warm and genuine memories
Northeast France is an area covering the new regions of Hauts de France and Grand Est. It stretches from the English Channel to the river Rhine, and includes popular tourist destinations such as Meuse, Aisne, Somme & Pas-de-Calais. It also includes many historic sites, notably many of France’s great mediaeval cathedrals, and most of the First World War memorial sites. Mostly low-lying in the north, with gentle hills, it also includes part of the Ardennes hills, which extend into Belgium, and the Vosges mountains in the southeast of the area.
The northeast of France is not well known as a tourist region; but it is part of France that is certainly worth considering for short break holidays from south-east England or Belgium. Thanks to the Channel Tunnel, you can leave work in the London area, escape from the M25, and two to three hours later find yourself in the deep rolling countryside of the “Pas de Calais” department. From Brussels, it’s even nearer.
South and southwest of Calais, North East France is undulating country, with small towns like Montreuil sur Mer, lots of rivers, and plenty of attractive countryside. The central part of the region is flatter and, near the Belgian border, between Dunkerque (Dunkirk) Lille, Tourcoing and Valenciennes the area is partly industrial. Yet this is a part of France that has plenty of history – some magnificent cathedrals and impressive monuments from the two world wars.
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