It’s known as the best ski resort in Europe—but you have to be a millionaire just to get up the lift. This luxurious ski community in the French Alps boasts some of France’s best restaurants and hotels, and is frequented by guests such as Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Paris has long been known as the city of love, but one can also easily say that France is the country of love—love of good food, wine, fashion and fine art. From north to south, the landscape of this country is diverse; France has a lush countryside, one of the world’s most famous cities, the Alps and the glamorous French Riviera. France has long been one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and is renowned for its history, politics, gastronomy and fashion.
France is also a major player in Europe, as it is the second largest economy and often takes the lead in political matters involving the European Union. The people of France are proud and the country is one of the most diverse on the continent.
Currency: Euro (EUR)
DID YOU KNOW?
- The love for cheese in France is legendary—the country produces more than 400 types of cheese! Some of these include Camembert, Brie de Meaux, Roquefort, Chevre and Epoisses.
- There is a Victor Hugo street in every town in France. Victor Hugo was a prolific French author, best known for his 1862 novel, Les Miserables, which is widely recognized as one of the greatest works of the 19th century.
- France has a long history of academics. The country has won more Nobel Prizes for Literature than any other country in the world, and ranks second for most awards in mathematics.
- The region in and around Paris is home to 20 percent of France’s population. Anything outside the city of Paris is known as the countryside.
- France is home to 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
France’s climate varies on location, but the country is noted for its temperate winters and mild summers in the north, and its mild winters and hot summers near the Mediterranean. In the northwest, in places such as Brittany, the climate is comparable to that of England: cool summers and mild, rainy winters. Cold, snowy winters characterize the mountainous areas of the Alps, the Auvergne and the Pyrenees. Truly, the country has every possible type of climate!
- Winter: October–April
- Summer: June–September
- Spring: April–May
- Autumn: October–early November
France’s history truly began with the entry of the Romans, who brought with them the written word, cultural change, government and infrastructure. Following the fall of Rome, France’s Gallo-Romans (previously known as the Gauls) integrated with the “barbaric” tribes of the east and the Franks.
The Franks populated and set up monarchies. Charlemagne is one of the most notable of the kings of this time; in 800 CE, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor. His reign was characterized by expansion and constant wars in the north by Vikings and the south by the Spanish Muslim Saracens. Charlemagne’s reign also coincides with the start of feudalism and the Middle Ages. This period gave way to many years of strife between France and England; from 1337 to 1435, the Hundred Years’ War resulted in a one-third reduction in the French population.
By the end of the 15th century, France was an entirely different place—the political ideology of feudalism had disappeared and France was a modern nation state with borders akin to those existing today. The 16th century introduced the age of absolutism, during which time King Louis XIV created a prosperous France, with a strong economic and political system revered across the continent. The glory found in the age of absolutism was followed by another prosperous time period, known as the age of exploration and colonialism, where France grew its land holdings in other parts of the world, specifically in North America and the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, France’s fortune was not to be everlasting, as external wars with Spain and England led for a weakened internal state of affairs. In 1789, the French Revolution took place, sparked by poor leadership on the part of the monarchy, and the people rebelled against the oppressive ways of the government.
Sweeping in to mend the fractured France, Napoleon brought growth of the Empire, and amassed massive land holdings across Western Europe. Napoleon’s influential legacy came to an end when he was defeated in Waterloo, Belgium, and France returned to a monarchy. This was the industrialization era, which built the roots for the France we know today.
The 20th and 21st centuries have been tumultuous at best for France—losing their footing as they were ravaged by war after war. Both World Wars severely crippled France—economically, socially and politically. Issues of secularism, religious rights and marginalization due to colonialism and growth were at the forefront of social matters in the country.
However, after recovering from the losses of the World Wars, France and Germany became the most prosperous countries in Europe. Both have been influential in creating and implementing the euro, a financial currency that encompasses all the member states of the European Union.
Paris speaks for itself. The epicentre of fashion, art and politics, this city is a beautiful mélange of old and new. Home to the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and other fine institutions, Paris is a favourite of travellers around the globe. Culture dots every part of the city, from the gorgeous pubic works (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame) to the array of brasseries, cafés and restaurants.
The Notre Dame of the city Chartres is a gothic-style cathedral dating back to the 12th century. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits in the small city of Chartres, which is known as the “Capital of Light and Perfume.”
One of the most stunning sites in the world, this Abbey sits on a rock formation in Southern Normandy. The charm in this Abbey is that it is surrounded by rising tidal flows and boasts beautiful and mysterious architecture. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
CANNES AND MONACO (THE FRENCH RIVIERA)
One of the biggest draw factors to France is the French Riviera. A favourite beach destination for the rich and famous, it is home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities. Besides showcasing beautiful blue-watered beaches, the Riviera is also home to the famous Cannes Film Festival.
France’s “City of Love” is the epicentre of fashion, art, politics, gastronomy and, of course, romance. Cozy up with your loved one in a cafe, stroll hand-in-hand along the Seine or make a date to visit some of the world’s most iconic museums, art galleries and architecture.
A trip to Paris doesn’t have to break your bank—unless you want it to. Here are two places to stay for two budgets: one on the affordable end, and one reaching the heights of luxury and price.
No visit to France would be complete without visiting at least one of these lavish, historic and romantic palaces.
It’s the city of love and lights, and home to some of the most recognizable sites in the world. Check out our photo gallery of the top destinations to see in Paris, France.
New Age fanatics are preparing for the end of the Mayan calendar by flocking to an unlikely place with an even unlikelier story: A mountain in southwestern France where they believe an alien spaceship will carry them to safety.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? And what could be better than tasting chocolate around the world? Doreen Pendgracs, a globe-trotting chocolate connoisseur, lists her top picks for best chocolate destinations.
In France, fall marks the end of the lavendar harvest, and locals garnish their salads and fill their tea pots with the purple flowers. Ilona Kauremszky tells you where to celebrate this and other foods of the French harvest season.
Where are the most culturally rich cities in the world? The World Cities Culture Report has named its Top 12 choices. Do you agree with the picks?
Which films inspired you to travel? Here are FacingTheStreet.com’s top picks. Share yours!
When Jennifer Krissilas had her wallet and camera stolen in Nice, France, she felt like giving up and going home. Instead, she said yes to a travel adventure and found herself in the charming city of Toulouse — and the home of new-found friends.
Think the French Riviera is just for jet-setters and movie stars? Not so, says Veronica Leonard, who’s found foodies, art lovers, history buffs and yes, even those endearing beach bums, all gracing the sunny Mediterranean coastline.
Looking for the ultimate luxury travel experience in Europe with the right mix of sun, beach and sand? Here’s some expert picks from EuropeUpClose.com’s Terri Fogarty.
What do you look for in a ski resort? Reliable snow cover? Easy access and affordability? Rockin’ aprés-ski parties? If you’re planning a European ski vacation, we’ve got you covered.
As you would only expect, Paris celebrates large when it comes New Year’s Eve, usually with a feast called le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. Special dishes like foie gras and seafood – think oysters, lobster and crab – are served; and champagne is the drink of choice, followed by la gallette des rois and gâteau glacé all sure to reign in the New Year with some serious ooh la la!
It’s nearly impossible to fit this impressive city into one minute, but leave it to TravelYourself.ca’s Cailin O’Neil to make it happen.