France is one of the top five tourist destinations in the world. It has everything that you could ever want to see on your holidays: a great city like Paris, good beaches, more monuments than any other country, lovely nature, incredible mountain scenery; need I go on? France is also a very pleasant place to stay. It has good food, great wines and people enjoy their lives. And the best thing is, maybe apart from Paris, living in France does not have to be expensive.
The North of France consists of the flatlands around the town of Lille and the Channel. The area will remind visitors in many ways of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Grand' Place in Lille for example is a lot like that of Brussels.
Paris, the city of light and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas. Paris is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.
The West of France is turned towards the Atlantic Coast. In the north Normandy & Brittany have rolling hills, sandy beaches and quiet little harbour towns. Normandy & Brittany have a more rugged coast and many neolithic sites. It has quite a distinct atmosphere from the rest of the country; you can still sense the Celtic origin of the region and its inhabitants. Nantes and Bordeaux are the biggest cities on the west coast. Bordeaux, capital of the south west, is a stylish city famous for its wines and its 18-th century architecture. The Pays Basque is the southernmost part of the Atlantic Coast of France. The resort of Biarritz is posh, but pretty.
The eastern part of France consists of the Alsace, Lorraine, Franche Comté and Burgundy regions. The landscape has rolling hills and many beautiful cities, such as Metz, Strasbourg, Nancy and Dijon. This region produces many famous wines, including magnificent pinot noirs and chardonnays valued the world over, as well as the famous "Yellow wine" from the Jura mountain vineyard.
The Center is in many ways the most quiet part of France. But the great treasure of this region is the Loire valley , with many great castles and beautiful towns. Chartres with its famous cathedral and Tours rate among the most beautiful French cities.
The Auvergne, centered on the Massif Central mountains that culminate at about 6000 ft, is one of the most beautiful regions of France. Much of it is upland, traversed by wild river valleys and an unspoiled natural environment. The north of the region stretches towards the flatter Loire valley. The regional capital is Clermont Ferrand, and the small city of Le Puy en Velay, with its historic churches perched on volcanic pinnacles, is one of the most surprising cities in France.
The Alps are great for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Albertville, Grenoble and Chamonix have all hosted the Olympic games. But the Alps also have nice towns to visit, such as Chambéry, Annecy or Grenoble.
The South with its lovely nature, good food, roman ruins and of course the Riviera draws a lot of visitors every year. Towns like Orange, and Arles but also big cities like Marseille and Toulon are must sees. The Provence is dotted with pleasant small villages. In the South west of France the Dordogne is one of the most quintessential French regions. The valley is so pretty, the towns are so cute and the food is so good, that it is hard to believe that the people who live here go somewhere else for their holidays. The Languedoc has its own language and culture. In the south of the Languedoc you find the Pyrenees, a great mountain range separating France from Spain, where you can hike and ski. The towns of Toulouse and Montpellier are nice and the medieval town of Carcassone is a top destination.
The island of Corsica has beautiful nature and a very special atmosphere. The Corsicans speak their own language and have a great sense of freedom.
The Autoroutes of France are a great way of getting to one part of the country to another. They are in perfect shape, the places to stop (aire de répos) are always very well organized - in Summer they often have activities for children - but there is one backdraw: péage. That means that you have to pay to use the autoroute, you get a ticket when you go on the autoroute and have to give the ticket and pay when you get off. It is always possible to pay with creditcard so you don't have to have small change in your wallet.
Freeways (autoroutes) are mostly more..
France has the fastest trains in Europe. The TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse i.e. Very Fast Train) take you from Paris to Lille, Marseille or Lyon at an average speed of some 240 km an hour. Nantes, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Brussels, Amsterdam (by Thalys) and more..
The Grand Randonee is a footpath that takes you from one end to France to the other. In every region of France there are branches of the GR. The total length of the footpaths is 140000 km, that's about 4 times around the globe.
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