Mention the country France and romantic notions instantly pop into the mind. That is why, when visiting Europe many people cannot go past the most romantic city in the world, of course I am referring to PARIS - the city of luuuuuuurve! The capital and gem in France's tourist crown, Paris offers many tourist attractions and exquisite places that will ensure your trip is truly a memorable occasion. Including monuments, museums, parks and gardens, squares, bridges, the canals of Paris or trade fairs and conferences, whatever your interests, Paris has a lot to offer.FACTS AT A GLANCE:
- Full Country Name: The French Republic
- Population: 58.3 million
- France is made up of 92% French, 3% North African, 2% German, 1% Breton, 2% other (incl. Provencial, Catalan, Basque)
- France is renowned for its epicurean delights - foie gras, truffles, Roquefort cheese and succulent snails!CLIMATE:
France has predominantly a temperate climate with mild winters, brief sudden downpours in Spring and Autumn and Summer is virtually without rain.
The best time to visit France is in the Spring with the beach resorts beginning to pick up in May. Winter is great for snow sports in the Alps, Pyrenees and other mountain areas.TRAVEL:
Paris is the country's main bus and rail hubs, with services to/from every part of Europe. France has a terrific rail network that reaches almost every part of the country. If you would prefer to navigate around France by bus, inter-regional bus services are limited but buses are used extensively for short distance travel within regions.
Having your own vehicle can be expensive and is inconvenient in city centres where parking and traffic are problematic. Renting a car is expensive if you book on the spot but pre-booked and prepaid promotional rates are reasonable.
France is a superb country for motorcycle touring, with winding roads and lots of stunning scenery. Another relaxing way to take in the sights is to cruise its canals and rivers by houseboat. These usually accommodate 4-12 passengers and can be rented for a weekend or several weeks.
Local transport includes the cheap and efficient Metro and Underground networks in Paris, trams, buses, river shuttles taxis, which are very pricey!ACTIVITIES:
France's varied geography and climate allows for a wide range of outdoor pursuits.
Hiking, cycling and skiing is also huge in France with popular areas being the Alps, Brittany and the Pyrenees.
The best swimming spots are found along the Atlantic coast, southern Brittany, the Mediterranean as well as lakes including Lake Geneva.
Other activities include rock climbing in the Alps and the Pyrenees, horseriding, surfing, rafting and hang gliding.FESTIVALS:
The French are a festive bunch with many cities hosting music, dance, theatre, cinema or art events each year. So whatever your taste in culture, there is something for everyone to enjoy.ATTRACTIONS:
One of the most popular tourist attractions and famous buildings in the world is of course the Eiffel Tower. Built by the engineer Gustav Eiffel in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower with its three floors, is 317 meters high and carries the capital's radio and television transmitters. From the Eiffel Tower an outstanding panoramic view of Paris and its surroundings can be seen both day and night.
Another great is the Notre-Dame-de-Paris, built between 1163 and 1330. A masterpiece of French Gothic art, it was restored in the 19th century by Viollet-Le-Duc, and is a testimony to the great moments in the history of France.
Cannes continues to be the favourite among the wealthy folk and is better known as the shop 'til you drop scene. During the International Film Festival, which is held annually, Cannes is crammed with more money, champagne and cleavage than anywhere else in the world!
If you want to have a spot of celebrity gazing, then the famous Boulevard de la Croisette is the place to be.
So if you are planning to embark on a European holiday in the near future, ensure you include France in your travel plans and see what holiday-makers all over the world are raving on about! - Annemarie Failla