France travel guide
France is a multifaceted country where art, architecture, food and fashion merge with snow-covered Alps and sun-soaked Riviera coastlines.
Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With its style and atmosphere, its intimate cafes and chic patisseries, inspiring architecture, world-famous museums, the Eiffel Tower and trend-setting fashion scene, Paris is a city to be reckoned with.
And the rest of France is packed full of adventures too – all accompanied with welcome helpings of excellent French cuisine. If it’s history you’re after, the cities of Marseille, Brittany and Salzburg will not disappoint. If you’re set on a bikini-wearing, celebrity spotting retreat, look no further than Nice, Cannes or St Tropez (although perhaps venturing as far as the neighbouring province of Monaco will increase your chances). Perhaps winter sports are your thing? Well the plentiful ski resorts and chalets lining the Alps will hit the spot.
For city breaks or beach holidays, for art-lovers or hideaway chasers, for rural landscapes or urban cityscapes, for easygoing culture to controversial politics, France has something for everyone.
France is a large enough country to accommodate for various types of holiday. In the south, summer temperatures can reach 30°C, with pleasant weather lasting far into September, making it a perfect destination for Riviera breaks. From December to March, the French Alps are a top skiing destination.
Paris and the rest of central and eastern France have a continental climate, with temperatures reaching a satisfactory 25°C in July/August and falling as low as -15°C in January/February. Rain in these regions is common all year round.
France is filled with tourists throughout the year, from snow-seekers and sun-chasers to culture vultures who will visit Paris come rain or shine.
For the latest weather info use the Pampo weather forecast tool.
EU nationals, as well as candidate countries (except Turkey), Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan and Canada need only a valid passport to enter France.
Tourists of other nationalities need to apply for a “Schengen” visa from a French embassy or consulate. Prices vary but it can cost around £30.
French cuisine is possibly the most famous cuisine in the world. From the time of the French Revolution, French cooking moved towards an increased use of herbs and less spices, refining their culinary techniques. French cuisine used to be very regional, although now many regional dishes have become accepted as national dishes.
Among the most well-known French foods and dishes are baguettes (long loaves of bread with a crispy crust), coq au vin (duck in a wine sauce), foie gras (duck or goose liver), crêpes (thin pancakes), Boeuf Bourguignon (beef in a red wine sauce), escargots (snails baked in butter) and ratatouille (stewed aubergine, courgette, pepper and onion in tomato sauce).
Regionally, the north eastern provinces of Champagne and Lorraine eat a lot of game and ham, often influenced by foods from the neighboring Germany, while regions along the north west coast, including Brittany and Normandy eat a lot of seafood. Central France is known for the high quality fruits from the Loire valley, as well as its wild game and lamb, and goat cheese. Central cuisine often utilises vegetables from the region, most famous are the mushrooms, the champignons de Paris.
Food in the south eastern Rhône-Alpes region consists of a lot cheeses, including Beaufort, Reblochon and Vacherin, as well as poultry and guinea fowl. South western cuisine relies a lot on the resources of the Bay of Biscay and the surrounding land. Fish is commonly eaten, as is lamb, grazed in the Pyrenees, and free-range poultry. Foie gras from this region is especially famous. Along the Côte d’Azur, citrus fruits, herbs and olives are grown and supplied to the rest of the country, as is honey. Seafood is eaten a lot in this region, as are sausages, beef and goat cheeses.
As the nation’s capital, Paris has always been the most cosmopolitan city in France. With travel routes running through the city, Paris cuisine is a mixture of everything and anything from all over France. It is well known to contain some of the world’s best retaurants.
France is most famous for its wine. Vineyards are ubiquitous throughout various regions, including Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Burgundy also produces blackcurrents that are used to produce Crème de Cassis and Ker.
Corsica produces a lot of wine and fruit liqueurs, while the wild cherries grown in the Loire Valley are used to make the cherry liqeuer Guignolet. The herb-infused liqeuer Chartreuse is distilled in a monastery in the Chartreuse Mountains in south eastern France.
Although wine is still the most popular alcoholic beverage ordered to accompany a meal, other alcoholic drinks are becoming popular. Beer is now widely consumed, especially by younger people, as is pastis, an aniseed-flavoured drink, and cider.
The currency in France is the euro (€), which is comprised of 100 cents. Coins come in €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c. Banknotes are issued in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10, €5 bills.
For the lastest info on your rates, please use the Pampo exchange rates calculator.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is France’s main airport, situated 16 miles north-east of Paris
Paris-Orly Airport (ORY) is the country’s second busiest, with both domestic and international flights, located 13 miles south of Paris
Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (BOD) serves Bordeaux, the capital of the Aquitaine region of southwest France
Lille Airport (LIL) serves Lille in northern France. It handles a small number of routes, mainly domestic and north African flights, as well as some Spanish
Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS) handles flights to and from the east-central Rhône-Alpes region of France
Marseille Provence Airport (MRS) is a busy international hub, handling local, international and budget routes
Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE) serves Nantes and the surrounding area along the Loire River in western France
Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE) is located very close to the centre of Nice, and serves as the third most important international airport in France, after the Paris airports, due to its handling of routes to and from the Côte d'Azur and Monaco
Strasbourg Airport (SXB) is a small airport, serving Strasbourg and the Alsace region of northeast France
Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS) serves Toulouse in the Midi-Pyrénéés region of southwest France
French President Charles de Gaulle survived 32 assassination attempts
The stethoscope, parachute, sewing machine and bikini are all French inventions
France borders an impressive eight countries
The town of Rennes is the smallest in the world to have its own metro system
In Paris, a metro station is always within 400 metres from any given point
The French tooth fairy takes the form of a mouse
Frenchman Georges Perec wrote a book called La Disparition which does not use the letter ‘e’
It is illegal to name a pig Napoleon