Cheese, the Eiffel Tower, snooty waiters – France is famous for a lot of things and for good reason. It’s beautiful with stunning coastlines, valleys, forests, and beaches; has some of the best food in the world; historic towns and chateaus, and a long and rich history. And, despite what you might hear, the French are a wonderful people who love to stop and smell the roses. There’s nothing like a picnic along the Seine or a day through the French countryside to make life seem beautiful. Its long history lends itself to beautiful ruins, castles, architecture, and culture. Traveling France is a very expensive affair, second only to traveling through Italy in mainland Europe.
Top Cities in France: –
Paris – Strasbourg – Corsica – Nice – Marseilles
Lingering over pain au chocolat in a sidewalk café, relaxing after a day of strolling along the Seine and marveling at icons like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe… the perfect Paris experience combines leisure and liveliness with enough time to savor both an exquisite meal and exhibits at the Louvre.
However well you think you know Paris, there’s always something new to discover. Districts change, old ones get restored, whole new areas go up. There’s always a new bar or restaurant to check out, a new star baker, the latest gallery. Behind its grand palaces and boulevards, you can discover intimate courtyards and gardens; behind historic façades are craft workshops and eminent research institutions. Perhaps the true clue to Paris’s appeal is that despite being one of the most visited cities in the world it is also intensely lived-in. With its flats, playgrounds, food markets and cafés, there is no empty heart in the center.
A charming city on the western banks of the Rhine River, Strasbourg’s strategic location on the Franco-German border has made it a nexus of culture and a highly-sought territory for much of its history. First inhabited by humans in the Neolithic era, and settled around 1300 B.C.E., it’s been ruled by Celts, Romans, Attila the Hun, the Holy Roman Empire, and annexed twice by Germany in its time, before returning to the French. One of the few French cities surrounded by water (the old city center is set upon an island), Strasbourg is where Gutenberg first invented the printing press, is home to one of the largest and most impressive Christmas markets in all of Europe.
Corsica is a laid-back French island, with a breezy vibe that’s part European weekend and part tropical honeymoon. The port city of Bastia flings its arms wide open to weary travelers disembarking from a long ferry trip. For a truly charming Corsican experience, catch a train through the mountains to the beach, passing by rustic villages and grazing cows along the way. Take a few hours or even a few weeks to explore the island’s famous walking trails.
Corsica is a wild and beautiful place, a mountain in the sea, a world of her own. High granite peaks, rising over cork and holm oaks and tall Lariccio pines, gaze down on the Tyrrhenian sea below. Tafoni, fantastical wind- and rain-sculpted granite formations, emerge from the heady scent of the maquis shrubland, its everlasting lavender and cystus providing bright dots of color in the spring. Pure and fresh, the incredible shades of the azure blue sea mirror the sky and invite you in.
The deep blue waters of the Cote d’Azur are the dramatic backdrop for elegant Nice. Breathe in the fresh Mediterranean air as you stroll the waterfront promenade, or get an eagle eye of the whole city from atop Castle Hill. The pedestrians-only Place Rossetti is the heart of the city, with a grand fountain, vibrant buildings, and the beautiful Sainte-Réparate cathedral giving it a provincial French feel. But you’ll also need to see Nice Old Town, where the real Niçois re-colonise their city, hosting the south’s finest flower market on the Cours Saleya.
Travelers visit the port city of Marseille, the third largest city in France, for the meeting of style and history. The bay, flanked by Fort Saint-Nicolas, and Fort Saint-Jean, from Count of Monte Cristo fame. Marseille is France’s oldest city. All Marseille life still focuses on the Old Port. Marseille is an anytime destination. Spring and autumn are generally perfect for outdoor moments – say, walking along the glorious calanques (limestone creeks).