France - all things to all people
What is it that makes France the most popular tourist destination in the world? Is it the beautiful landscapes, the lovely beaches, the gourmet food, the charming cities, the luminous lakes or the magnificent mountains? The most likely answer is that it is a combination of all these things - making France all things to all people. France’s main cities - Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Reims - all have their own distinct flavour. Paris is elegant, Marseille cosmopolitan, Lyon and Bordeaux gastronomic, and Reims the home of champagne. The country’s landscape changes from one region to the next. From the flat north where the symmetrical white headstones of the war graves are visible across the plains, to the hilly south where the Mediterranean sun warms the sandy beaches and bougainvillea. On the west coast the castles of the Loire Valley and the beaches of Brittany and the Vendee keep visitors returning year after year.
The food is fabulous, the beaches are clean, the atmosphere convivial, the cities, towns and villages delightful and the countryside beautiful. Add to this the opportunity to see some enchanting castles, imbibe fine local wines and eat divine pastries and fresh baguettes, and you’ve got yourself a terrific destination.
When to Go?
France’s climate differs from region to region. The nicest time to visit the north of France is from spring to autumn as winters can be biting. In the south the winter is shorter and milder than in the north, and summers are hot and dry. France’s popular coastal areas are extremely busy during July and August, so visits outside of this time can be more pleasant – especially in the overcrowded Cote d’Azur.
How to get there?
There are numerous direct flights to France. Important hubs with a number of routes to the UK include Brest, Dinard and Nantes serving northwest France; La Rochelle and Bordeaux serving the Atlantic Coast; Biarritz, Pau and Carcassonne serving the Pyrenees; Nice, Perpignan and Marseille on the south coast; Bergerac serving The Dordogne; Lyon serving the Alps; Poitiers serving the Loire.
In the north, visit the D-Day beaches in Normandy and the War Graves of the Somme. They are incredibly moving. In the Loire, drive along the river from Blois to Tours taking in the castles, stopping for a picnic and doing a spot of wine tasting. In Champagne, take a tour at one of the champagne houses in Epernay. In the Dordogne see the incredible 17,000 year-old cave drawings at Lasceaux. In the south visit the glorious perfume-centre of the world, Grasse, and have lunch in one of its lovely squares.