France’s renown lies as much in its pastoral beauty and gastronomic flair as it does it’s gilded history and culture. From the tranquil Loire valley to the lush Dordogne, the numerous regions of France revel in their deep connections to the Earth and the countryside. This connection is shown in many ways, not least of which is the food, famed for its rustic heartiness as much as its intricate flair.
The history of this country is as grand and opulent as anywhere in Europe, and this rich cultural heritage is intrinsic to the spirit of France, with strong and vibrant regional identities still existing.
Whether you want a romantic city break, a countryside retreat, outdoor activities or haute couture shopping and culture, then France will not fail to disappoint.
The French vigorously fight for and protect their culture and traditions as much as – if not more so – than any other country on earth, and the stereotype of proud, passionate but often haughty people is not exactly undeserved.
Most visitors will get by in France with very few cultural problems. Learning a little of the language will help immeasurable but English is also widely spoken as well as a few other European languages to a much lesser extent, especially amongst the younger generations. Although if you are struggling with your French you may get a few glares of condescension as if you are forcing them to switch to English or another language.
Citizens of the EU including the UK, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway do not need a visa to enter, live or work in France.
Citizens of many non EU countries, including Australia, New Zealand and many others, do not need a visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
Citizens of most other countries will have to apply for a Schengen visa which allows you to visit any of the countries in the Schengen zone, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden for up to 90 days.
There are no vaccinations necessary for any visit to France, and the country has an excellent health care system that is easily accessible. Health insurance is absolutely essential, and members of the EU should carry an EHIC card for access to any reciprocal healthcare.
Crime and Safety.
France is generally very safe with relatively low crime rates. This does not mean that crime does not occur at all, but reasonable common sense precautions for your personal health and safety are enough to keep you safe.
Costs and money.
The unit of currency in France is the Euro. France is one of the more expensive cities in Europe and the more touristy the region or city, the more you will pay, especially if you visit in the high seasons of Summer and Christmas. A midrange budget will still set you back at least £100 – £150 GBP upwards a day depending on where you stay and how much you travel, eat out and drink. It is possible for budget travellers to travel on roughly £50 – £100 GBP a day if they budget well.
When to go.
Any time is a good time to visit France. Each season brings with it a different feel to each different region and there is plenty to do year round, although it goes without saying that Spring, Summer and Autumn are often the most popular times to visit for the weather.
This city needs no introduction or fanfare, it really is as magical as people say. Paris is perfect for a romantic break, but for those wishing to get a good dose of cuisine, culture and history too, they won’t be disappointed.
The Loire Valley.
Best visited during the Spring or Summer, the Loire is a lush valley with a string of vineyards, chateaus and farms, perfect for having a gastronomic tour of the region.
This is a popular tourist destination for all the traditional reasons. Gorgeous weather, quaint seaside feel complete with average beach and plenty of restaurants and activities.
This UNESCO world heritage site is absolutely stunning, with medieval villages and castles that instantly transport you back in time and beautiful French countryside. What more do you need?
Visit the Louvre.
This should be self explanatory with it’s almost unmatched collection of Renaissance art and museum pieces from around the world. Of course you should go and see the Mona Lisa too, but don’t act like every other tourist and make a beeline for it, set aside a whole day to enjoy the rest of the exhibits, you won’t regret it. Normally there is a charge to enter, but it is free on the first Sunday of every month.
Take a wine tour.
France is famous for its vineyards and taking a wine tour in Bordeaux or the Loire Valley is an excellent way to explore these regions.