Your first visit to France won't be your last - tourists are
drawn back time and time again. Whether you are swept off your feet
by the charm and romance of Paris, or you fall gently for the
sleepy pace of life in Provence, France is a place for lovers, and
will leave you spellbound.
Notre Dame -
Paris is undoubtedly one of the world's great cities, with
enough monuments, museums, restaurants, theatres and shows to keep
you enthralled throughout your stay. But, even if a Paris city break means the
capital makes the first claim on your affections, you should try to
drag yourself away - France has so much more on offer.
The northern provinces of Normandy and Brittany are steeped in
history both ancient and modern while the Loire Valley is world
famous for its châteaux and the French Riviera's Nice is the epitome of chic.
Meanwhile winter and mountain sports enthusiasts flock to the
country's resorts in its five mountain ranges, namely the Alps, the
Pyrenees, Jura, Vosges and Massif Central.
French culture is diverse and rich - it has made numerous
contributions to philosophy, art, literature and architectural
wonders with examples such as Notre Dame and Mont St Michel.
However this high-artistic pedigree does not detract from a love of
sport, especially football, cycling and rugby, which are all
supported with a patriotic fervour.
Food and drink
France's gastronomic centre is Lyon where some of the
world's finest chefs design superb culinary creations. French
cuisine is amongst the world's best - and reason itself to visit
the country. What is typically known as French cooking is
haute cuisine a collection of mainly rich and complex
traditional dishes using lots of meat. A heavy emphasis is put on
the sauces used in each dish and much of the preparation time is
spent on this one element.
Champagne is the most famous wine producing region in the world,
and even if you forego the fizz, the allure of Bordeaux's rich reds
are bound to tempt.
Post Second World War France has regained its political prestige
as one of the central states of Europe. The nation is still
considered to be at the forefront of intellectual and artistic
culture in the world and celebrates its varied history with pride -
from the grandeur of Louis XIV's palace at Versailles to the
post-modern functionalist landscape that is the Pompidou
Did you know?
The name "France" comes from "Frank", a Germanic tribe that
invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 6th century and founded the
first independent kingdom covering most of today's France.
Facts and figures
||Central European Time
|Accession to the EU
||25 March 1957
||674,843 sq km / 260,558 sq miles