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France

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France receives more visitors each year than is equal to the whole normal population of the country. An age old, traditional and romantic destination France is filled to bursting point with spectacular architecture, artistic quality and rustic enclaves. Sophistication is the order of the day throughout France from the original centre of romance Paris to chic Canned in the south and the whole route in between opportunities for high class living are in abundance. Each region of France has it's own unique customs, cuisines and landscape. Packed with hidden gems and undiscovered spots that don't appear in the guidebooks to enjoy France to its full potential a car, a map and a boot full of wine is the most relaxing and awarding way to do it.

Any springtime visit must factor in a visit to Cannes and the surrounding area any time in May for the prestigious annual film festival where big name stars and small time independent producers battle for the top Golden Palm prize. a visit at any time must be complimented with foods that are envied by nations throughout the world. 

The exported goods hold no torch to what the French like to keep for themselves. Cheeses with over 365 options, one for each day of the year, and wines are always the obvious choice. Champagne in Champagne, Dijon mustard in Dijon and Brie bought in Brie. Or be brave and give esgargot a try, farmed snails covered in garlicy butter. Smell the arm loads of baguettes cooked freshly each morning, crumble a warm buttery croissant with bucket loads of fresh strong morning coffee and simply sit back and enjoy the inviting ambiance of the French lifestyle.

France travel


From city chic to chilled out countryside and the exclusive French Alps France as a destination can offer you choices only usually available by spanning a few countries.
The main tourist zone is quite compact, making it an easy walk to take in the sights. Top of everyone's list is the Eiffel Tower , of course, but go early to avoid the queues in the summer months. The views from the first and second level are often better than the extreme top on cloudy days, so glance upwards and check its worth waiting for your turn in the lift before you line up. If you want a more comfortable view, try the Montparnasse Tower – Eiffel's modern air-conditioned and fully enclosed neighbour – that has equally panoramic views.

Across the Seine it's a short walk to the Arc de Triomphe, at the head of the Champs Elysee. A wonderful monument somewhat spoiled by being the centre point of a six lane roundabout. At the opposite end of this famous boulevard is La Louvre, where you can gaze into the eyes of the Mona Lisa. If architecture is more your thing, cross the bridge to the Cathedral Notre Dame, built on an island in the river, and without a hunchback in sight. This area has some of the best small restaurants in the city. France is much hailed for its cuisine, but do ask the waiters for a translation of the menu if your French isn't good, as some choices are very much an acquired taste.

From Paris, many families head east to Disneyland, but for a more relaxing exit to Paris, call in at the Palace of Versailles. The building itself may not be as beautiful as many other French stately homes, but is notable for its links to Louis XIV and Napoleon. It is a huge affair, lavish as you would expect, and with delights such as the hall of mirrors. But don't spend all your time on the interior, as the endless gardens also need exploring. The formal layout nearer the palace has beautifully tended beds, fountains, and most of the visitor attention, but wander further and you will discover the best parts.

If impressive buildings and lush green scenery impress you, then continue on to the Loire and Dordogne Valley regions. It's an area sadly missed by those intent on rushing south to the sunny beaches of the Mediterranean, but with a little planning can be a delight to sample.

It's easy to be overwhelmed when you look at the list of chateaus in the Loire valley, but if you make a stop to marvel at the beauty of Azay-le-Rideau, and take in the fortified medieval chateau at Loches, you won't be disappointed. If your schedule allows, Chenonceaux, built across the river, and home to Henry II's lover, has plenty so view. Its will need time though, so go if you're in a rush.

Further south in the Dordogne , it's the scenery that will have you reaching for your cameras. Pretty villages nestle amid every shade of green, and the rivers sparkle through gaps in the trees on every road. Upstream are the high cliffs and steep valleys, where you shouldn't miss the famous stone-age cave paintings Les Eyzies.

Monte Carlo is for the rich. There is little to keep you here if you can't dig deep in your pockets. However, it is an interesting stop for a few hours to marvel over the Ferrari's, Lamborghini's and other expensive marques, and spot the odd celebrity. It is also surprisingly friendly, and one of the safest places in Europe.

Further along the coast in resorts such as Cannes , and St Tropez, the welcome is more formal, and the glamour reserved for the areas close to the beach. Much of France 's Mediterranean coast is now covered with lines of tents and mobile homes, as the masses head to the area for their two weeks in the sun. As you approach the Spanish border it can sometimes feel like the whole world has moved into a tent, although inland the Pyrenees, and mountain locked Andorra , provide a welcome diversion, and a more rugged scenic appeal than the Alps.

 
 
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