Paris, France, Europe
France Pictures | France Beaches | Côte d'Azur | France Map
France's Main Attractions
travel in France?
Style, culture, architecture, food, wine and fashion all exist in
multiple layers of excellence, with Paris in particular capturing
and displaying these assets to great advantage.
This is the largest country in Europe and has an incredible diversity
of landscapes offering a vast variety of holidays in gorgeous villages, world-famous resorts, on soft warm beaches or on
spectacular romantic escapes.
On top of that, French love anything to do with bodies, so there is
no better place for fulfilling your physical dreams, whether it's
paragliding off the Alps, boating through the Dordogne, cycling the Loire Valley tracks or stuffing
yourself with foie gras and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé.
The language is one of the most beautiful things about the country
so let's forgive the French for being sniffy about it.
- Traffic. The French are no longer insane drivers on autoroutes,
having been tamed by a draconian and successful anti-speed campaigns,
but they are still hairy and careless around towns. France is also
a convenient thoroughfare for North-South Europe road deliveries,
so some cross-France routes suffer truck overdose.
- Sudden, disruptive strikes.
- Local attitudes to foreign travellers could be improved in Paris
though in many other areas the French are charming and friendly.
Best tourism seasons: March- early October for sightseeing. January-March for wintersports.
But beware July and August when the country is packed with foreign and local tourists. Avoid driving on the weekend at the beginning of August, it's hell on wheels, bumper-to-bumper even on autoroutes. Some services in Paris - even museums and restaurants - are
closed. The big Atlantic beaches are warm and useable though the Mediterranean coast can get too hot and the warm waters may be visited by stinging jellies.
November-February can be bitterly cold in mountain areas and in the north including
Paris, though the Cote d'Azur may well see blue skies and daytime T-shirt weather, but...rain is equally likely in winter.
Current Paris temperature and time.
Hiking in the French Alps, Europe
Hiking/Climbing: With more than 60,000
km (37,500 miles)of well-marked long-distance footpaths to hike
on, France is a superb walking country. Also see Walking
Cycling: the most French of activities;
the first modern bike was French!
France - a country where car drivers respect cyclists - has 28,000km of marked cycle routes, as well as good city
and town cycle lanes. The lush and lovely Loire Valley for example, flat and full of châteaux and rural scenery has 650 kms of dedicated cycle track. Loire Valley Cycling Pictures.
Camping: Plenty of choice of places
and facilities from basic campsites to luxury holiday parks throughout
the country, especially along west coast beaches. Efficient, stress-free
and perfect for the family.
Skiing: France is one of world's finest
and most popular destinations for both downhill and cross-country
Caving: The limestone caves along
Spanish border or the Southwest are ideal.
Golfing: There are over 500 golf courses
in the country, with several world-class ones. Relatively inexpensive
Hangliding and paragliding: The
Hautes-Alpes of Provence, the Pyrenees and Corsica are considered
to be best places for high times.
Rafting /canoeing: rental boats and
organised excursions are available just about everywhere by the
water in summertime. The gorges in the Pyrenees (esp. Verdon),
the Alpes and the Massif Central are particularly suited for this
Swimming/sunbathing: From Normandy, down to Biarritz, across to the Côte d'Azur and across the water
to Corsica there's no shortage of French beaches and swimming spots in the summer.
Driving to France from the UK, hints and links on ferries, tolls, speeding controls, insurance.
St Jean de Luz, near Biarritz, southwest France
Sailing: The Atlantic coast has solid
winds, and an interesting coastline though the water and weather can be brutal; there are plenty of delightful and welcoming ports such as La Rochelle, Cherbourg, Biarritz and St Jean de Luz. On the the Mediterranean side the sea is safer and warmer but ports are expensive and crowded, such as Monaco, Cannes, Nice and Antibes.
Diving/snorkelling: Excellent diving available in Corsica and pretty good off Cannes and Antibes too, especially around the islands off the coast.
Surfing: often good waves along the
Atlantic coast, such as Biarritz, Anglet and Hossegor.
Wind/Kitesurfing is most popular on
the western end of the Mediterranean coast.Many rivers as well as on lakes such as Lac d'Annecy and Lake Geneva
have leisure centres offering a wide rage of watersports.
Fishing: Available on rivers and lakes
with permits. Try Brittany for carp fishing, River Loire and Brittany/
Normandy for trout and salmon, but the best and most scenic rivers
for salmon fishing are in the western Pyrenees.
Get a licence at the local tourist office. Sea-fishing, including
night-fishing, is popular and available at most seaside resorts.
Horse riding: widespread but particularly
favoured in Burgandy and the Camargue at the Rhône Delta (in
Provence), a nature reserve famous for not only its indigenous horses but also mosquito saturation.
Another horse friendly area is the north; Parc International de
la Canche in Le Touquet has 112km of forest riding routes and 26km
of beach trails.
River/Canal Cruises: A large and sophisticated
network of canals and rivers can take you all over the country in
peace and quiet, and you still see the sights, but you don't have
to book a room ahead.
Attractions in France
EU citizens do not need visas, nor do many other country's residents
- including USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel for
visits up to 90 days.
Electric sockets are 230v and take 2 (thin) round pin plugs.
Minimum worthwhile holiday, not including flights is: Paris and île
de France (a short excursion) - 4 days. Weekend trips to just Paris
are fine too.
Recommended: At least 2 weeks to take in Paris as well as and some country/mountain/beach
activities, but you'll need months to discover how diverse the country's
A few kilometres along the coast towards Italy, Menton has a little Orange Festival at the same time as Nice's Carnival.
Apart from Bastille Day and Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Aug
15th), which are celebrated nationwide, there are regional folk
festivals and arts festivals, as well as Catholic events throughout
the country, especially around July. Most of the events involve
food, wine and extreme dyspepsia.
Jan. 1st: Grand Parade Paris, twinned event with London for
New Year celebrations. Massive and colourful.
Feb-March: Nice Carnival, one of the biggest and the most original
carnivals in the world, a two week event with colourful parades,
street parties, fireworks, and monster illuminations.
mid May: Cannes Film Festival - No need to be a celebrity to
enjoy Europe's high profile film fiesta. Loads of public
screenings are available, as well as a small chance of bumping into
stars. No better place for people watching.
mid May/mid Oct: Gypsy Festival (Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in
Provence), a gypsy gathering; historic, unique and kaleidoscopic.
June: International Music Festival (Strasbourg in Alsace, the
North), contemporary music.
July 14th: Bastille Day (nationwide), France's biggest street
festival, with parties, parades and fireworks to remember the French
July: Tour de France, a three-week cycling race for 3,500km
(2000 miles) over the country (route changes annually). The world's
most famous French sporting event.
mid July-mid Aug: Festival d'Avignon - a dynamic and
diverse Arts festival, boasting over 50 official productions and
many more fringes. For classical music, try Festival International
d'Art Lyrique in Aix-en-Provence in July, too.
early Aug: Festival Interceltique (Lorient in Brittany), a worthy
folk event (Celtic music and culture).
Oct: Jazz Festival (Nancy), one of the country's best jazz events.
Traditional French cuisine of the protein-covered-with-heavy duty sauce
kind has been top of the gastronomic world since Romans went
there to eat wild boar with cranberries in 34AD.
But it's finally
out of fashion - too heavy, too fattening, too taste-limited; these days the kind of French cuisine tourists are more likely to find will be varied, healthy, entertaining and perhaps even competitively priced, with all things fishy being especially appetising in contrast to classic Anglo-Saxon marine fare.
Aix-en-Provence, a lovely, romantic city in the summertime, with great shopping.
Pricewise France is not so brilliant due to the €uro's
enduring strength, but French style and taste is still irresistible.
If designer labels are not your thing, try French eccentricity at
smaller boutiques in trendy areas, or cheap chic stuff at flea-markets.
Bargain shopping for any French products at huge malls in places
such as Calais or Lille is very popular (with mainly British tourists).
Visiting local open-air food markets for regional cheese, pastries
and wine, especially in Provence, is a fun way to make lunch.
France tourism is relatively safe but always use common sense. Pickpockets operate
on the metro and around some tourist sights.
Cars with foreign number plates are possible targets
for theft, ranging from smash 'n' grab by motorcycle while in motion,
'Mister your wheel look funny' trickery, and parked break-ins.
Always hide luggage, especially valuables, and park in a conspicuous
area if possible.
Not France, but in France! Monaco, Monte Carlo Casino.
Attractions in France
Nowadays more locals understand English, but do not expect them to speak it, even if they are in service. If you can throw
together a few words it will help when travelling in most places
in France, except possibly Paris, where city dwellers are notoriously
sniffy about their gorgeous language being tortured by foreigners.
Do, at least try to say 'Bonjour Madame/monsieur' when you enter
a small shop and 'Au revoir' when you leave, this will show that
you have some appreciation of their culture, even if you don't speak
any other French.