The joys of France need little introduction: superb cuisine, fine
wines, stylish seaside towns, languid medieval villages and, quite
simply, a great quality of life. Where else would you find 345
types of cheese, over 1,000 appellations of wine, and such a
reverent appreciation of both?
There’s a deep passion for art of all kinds, from Tati films to techno music, and no shortage of contemporary talent to add to (and challenge) the masters. In Provence you can walk through the sunflower fields of Van Gogh before checking into the room where Picasso and Hemingway slept (not together, I hasten to add). In Paris, city of light, romance and art, you can read Le Monde in the café where Sartre and Beauvoir hung out, or wander the lanes of Amélie's Montmartre.
Its landscapes are incredibly diverse: the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast; the flamingo-filled floodplains of the Camargue; idyllic, lavender-scented Provencal hills chosen by the Romans; the rolling bucolic gastronomic countryside; the Côte d’Azur sunny playground of the rich and famous; the snowy peaks and vast valleys of the Alps. You can come every year for 20 years, and see a new pays each time.
The summer crowds, especially in August, when the whole country is on holiday (Paris, meanwhile, empties). The high prices and impossible parking of Paris and some Provencal towns. The formality and pride of some restaurants - not the place to ask for a quick burger and fries. The sheer style of the Côte d’Azur - not for shrinking violets. Don't expect your hosts to speak English - even if they can, it's only polite to start in French (however basic).
- Bordeaux & Charente: The home of fine wines - world-class claret, chateau tours, fragrant Cognac; plus Atlantic beaches and handsome towns reflected in teal rivers Read More >>
- Brittany: Jagged pink-grey coastlines, sandy coves, prehistoric menhirs, hiking, watersports and half-timbered towns - all with a touch of Celtic colour Read More >>
- Corsica: Beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, masses of history, and a stunning mountainous interior that's largely untouched by tourism Read More >>
- Cote d'Azur: The French Riviera - an epicentre of style, partying, dazzling light and renowned beaches, a veritable playground for the rich and famous Read More >>
- Dordogne & Lot: Weaving rivers and verdant valleys, prehistoric cave paintings, stately castles, medieval villages, leisurely boat trips and excellent hearty cuisine Read More >>
- French Alps: Skiing and boarding in the winter, mountain climbing, hiking and biking in the summer, the French Alps are stunning whatever the weather Read More >>
- Gascony: Glorious countryside, from rolling orchards to Pyrenean peaks; Cathar castles, Atlantic dunes, bustling Biarritz and the Basque hills Read More >>
- Ile de Re: Long sandy beaches, oyster farms, salt marshes, vibrant markets, cycle routes - popular with Parisians in summer, windswept in winter Read More >>
- Languedoc: Lots of sunshine, rolling vineyards, wooded mountains, long beaches and 3 lovely cities: arty Montpellier, pretty Beziers, crenellated Carcassonne Read More >>
- Loire Valley: Deservedly famous for its flamboyant chateaux and stunning abbeys that line the river Loire and little sister, the Loir Read More >>
- Normandy: The Bayeux Tapestry, sea-ringed Mont St. Michel, ancient abbeys and apple orchards - a mecca for history buffs, WW2 enthusiasts and cider drinkers Read More >>
- Paris: The city of light: world-famous museums, haute couture, divine restaurants, iconic landmarks and a simply inimitable stylishness Read More >>
- Provence: Rolling hills and Rhone vineyards, Van Gogh's sunflowers and jagged Alpilles, bustling markets, Roman theatres, idyllic villages and Camargue wetlands Read More >>