France Travel Guide

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Photo: Courtesy Fabrice Rambert

It is a fabled land of unmatched food and sublime wine that has inspired many to gasp in satisfied contentment—“We all have two countries—our own and France!” But it is not just a country for those who worship at the altar of gastronomy. The sheer beauty of the rose-color rooftops, the immaculately restored farm houses, architecture, cultivated scenery, and historic hearts give justice to the sentiment. Not to mention those glorious hidden landscapes that only those lucky few in the know ever discover.

Who can resist the allure of Paris? Even the grumpy waiters have a certain charm. Especially if you can try a little bit of French—a simple “bonjour” or “parlez-vous anglais?” will take you a long way and you’ll find out how quickly a surly waiter will melt if you smile and say hello.

But if you want to visit France at its most French, and have already visited Paris—at least for the first time—head to the Loire Valley and the Ile de France, just south and north of Paris. Here, at the heart of the country, you’ll find French culture at its most elegant, pure, and refined—even the language here is fabled for its refined beauty and grace. Farther afield this “Frenchiness” becomes mixed (delightfully so) with other cultures.

If you go west to solidly Norse Normandy, you’ll find D-Day landings, with the dramatic Mont-St-Michel overlooking La Manche (the English Channel). In Provence and Cote d’Azur, you'll learn the most important thing in France—to slow down—and you can easily linger over a bottle of wonderful local vintage and watch the sun go down over the magnificent bay and make your visit all the more authentic and satisfying.

Cities in France

Islands in France

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