France is situated in Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain, southeast of the UK; bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain. It consists of 22 regions: Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur and Rhone-Alpes.
Spring offers the best weather to visitors to France, with beach tourism picking up in May. Temperatures can be quite high in Autumn, although the short days mean limited sunlight and the cold starts to feel towards the end of the season, even along the Côte d'Azur. Winter means playing in the snow in France's Alps and Pyrenees, though the Christmas school holidays send hordes of tadpoles in uniform scurrying for the slopes. Mid-July through the end of August is when most city dwellers take their annual five weeks' vacation to the coasts and mountains, and the half-desolate cities tend to shut down a bit accordingly. Likewise during February and March.
The French are a festive bunch, with many cities hosting music, dance, theatre, cinema or art events each year. Rural villages hold fairs and fêtes, which celebrate everything from local saints to agricultural progress.
The landscapes range from the fretted coasts of Brittany and the limestone hills of Provence to the canyons of the Pyrenees and the half-moon bays of Corsica, and from the lushly wooded valleys of the Dordogne and the gentle fields of the Loire Valley to the glaciated peaks of the Alps. Each region looks and feels different, has its own style of architecture, its own characteristic food and often its own dialect.
In terms of culture and historic heritage, France offers from prehistoric caves to the standing stones of Carnac; from the finest art collections in the Louvre or Orsay museums, to parks and gardens that offer a moment of reverie; from the architectural masterpieces of the past abbeys, cathedrals and châteaux such as Chenonceau, Blois and Chantilly, to today's impressive monuments like the Arch at La Défense, or the Centre Georges Pompidou; from sites of intimate charm like the Clos-Lucé d'Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived, to the château of Auvers-sur-Oise where Impressionism blossomed, each tells its own story - its traditions, its residents, its character.
Although France was ultimately a winner in WW II, and I it suffered extensive losses in its empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation-state. Since 1958, it has constructed a presidential democracy resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier parliamentary democracies. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the advent of the euro in January 1999. Today, France is at the forefront of European states seeking to exploit the momentum of monetary union to advance the creation of a more unified and capable European defense and security apparatus. France economically is in the midst of a gradual transition, from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms.
Capital of France, Paris, like all the world's great capitals, lives at a fast pace, by day, by night and especially at rush hours. Paris, world capital of art and culture, gathers some of the most famous museums and monuments in the world. Not to be missed are: The Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée Picasso, Musée Rodin, Musée Carnavalet, Musée Marmottan and the Arab Institute are just a few. Essential Paris monuments: the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe or the Grande Arche de la Défense. With its history and architectural patrimony, Paris is living, moving and evolving every day. Paris is a historic, economical, architectural, cultural, artistic and academic capital, and, as such, understandably remains the most visited city in the world.
Champagne, the very symbol of sophistication, graceful living and celebration, is produced nowhere else in the world, but in France. All champagnes are made within a few miles of each other outside Reims and Epernay, near the Abbey of Saint-Pierre.
With all this in mind, no wonder why some just fall in love with France.... Book a short break to Paris, Lille or Other French Destinations