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France Travel Guide

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France Travel Guide

The France Traveler’s Guide to Make The Most Out of Your Trip

By The Non Fiction Author

Published by The Non Fiction Author

Shakespir Edition

Copyright ©2017 The Non Fiction Author

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. All pictures are held by commercial license and may not be duplicated by anyone without express permission.

Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

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This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this book is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. The author’s books are only meant to provide the reader with the basics travel guidelines of a certain location, without any warranties regarding the accuracy of the information and advice provided. Each traveler should do their own research before departing.

[]Table of Contents

Introduction: Are You Ready for an Amazing Journey?

Chapter 1: France at a Glance (North, South, East, West)

Chapter 2: When to Go & Where to Stay In France

Chapter 3: How to Get Around France (Without Getting Lost!)

Chapter 4: Planning Your Trip Ahead (Sample Itineraries)

Chapter 5: Paris and Versailles

Chapter 6: The North of France

Chapter 7: Champagne and the Ardennes

Chapter 8: Alsace-Lorraine

Chapter 9: Normandy

Chapter 10: The Loire Valley

Chapter 11: Burgundy

Chapter 12: Poitou-Charentes and the Atlantic coast

Chapter 13: Limousin, Dordogne and the Lot

Chapter 14: The Pyrenees

Chapter 15: Languedoc-Roussillon

Chapter 16: The Massif Central

Chapter 17: The Alps

Chapter 18: Rhône valley

Chapter 19: Provence and the Côte d’Azur

Chapter 20: Corsica

Conclusion: Aren’t You Excited? Your Journey Is About to Begin!

Introduction:[
**]Are You Ready for an Amazing Journey?

From world class wine and delectable delicacies, to iconic structures and a culture of brooding romance; whether it’s described as chic, rude, sexy or snobby, everyone has an opinion about France. As French general and writer Charles de Gaulle once famously said, “how can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six kinds of cheese?” Beyond a reference to France’s famous cheese spectrum, running the gamut from wheels of creamy camembert to ripened Roquefort, de Gaulle’s words perfectly capture the lure of this country’s timeless and multi-faceted culture, a tapestry constantly changing from region to region, from north to south, and yet filled with a very distinctive ‘je ne sais quois’, or ‘I don’t know what’, a seduction which keeps the world travelling back for more, year after year. So, what is that certain something?

Maybe it’s France’s architecture known the world over, entrenched in history and folklore: here, you can fulfil dreams of scaling the Eiffel Tower, its looming iron lattice anchoring the whole of Paris together as the capital’s stoic, structural symbol; you can marvel at royal Châteaux in the Loire Valley and stay at a restored farmhouse in the sunny south of France. Whichever way you turn here, you’re bound to be faced with an iconic piece of history, standing tall, or all the way down to face level with the unfalteringly familiar, France’s smaller towns, with their cute, village square markets and lace-curtained bistros.

Maybe it’s the allure of French café culture. Going back centuries, cafés, or coffee houses, were a place to meet for intellectuals, and where philosophical debates were held – and this vision of Hemingway, Picasso and Sartre mulling over a dark, rich expresso, contemplating the nature of existentialism and surrounded by dramatic clouds of tobacco smoke on a cafe terrace, is deeply engrained in the cultural musings associated with France – and still stands strong today.

Those who fall prey to the picture perfect might go weak at the knees for the lavender field landscapes of Provence, unspoilt rural panoramas and the spectacular looming mountains of the Alps, where you can sit at the foot of the Mont Blanc chain, gazing at your reflection in a crystal clear, glacier lake, quietly contemplating the fact that you never want to leave. The sheer physical diversity of France would be hard to exhaust in a lifetime of visits.

Or it might be that people flock to this fabled land of good food and wine. Champagne-quaffing, chocolate sampling and cheese chomping are all a quintessential part of the French experience, and whether you’re in France for the weekend, or for four weeks, picking at warm croissants by the River Seine or tearing apart a fresh, crusty French loaf and a doorstop of local cheese whilst walking on the beach in Brittany, is a rite of passage rather than an optional extra. This is gastronomy at its finest.

Is it the art? Much more than perusing famous works by Cezanne, French art is found in the simplest of things – the rhythm of daily life in rural France, gently shifting with the seasons, or mastering the art of strolling the cities as French philosophers have, taking in the every-day beauties or meandering through a lily pond garden, like a live enactment of a Monet painting.

Perhaps more than any country in the world, France strives to preserve and develop its distinctive culture and traditions, and it does so with pride. So whether you’re scaling the limestone hills of Provence, marvelling at the canyons of the Pyrenees or exploring the wooded valleys of the Dordogne, you’ll find it easy to embrace the French way of joie de vivre – an enjoyment of life.

Chapter 1:[
**]France at a Glance (North, South, East, West)

Before we dive in and explore its essence, culture and how to make the most of your time in France, let’s take a bird’s eye snapshot to show you the diversity each of the country’s regions to get a feel for them, and what they have to offer.

Metropolitan France is split up into 22 different regions, including the island of Corsica. In this guide, we’ll break the 22 down into key areas which have been grouped for ease of travel and regional interest.

Geographically, France is big – in fact it’s the largest country in Western Europe – and its size can be both a curse and a blessing when it comes to travelling around it: on the one hand, you can spend several lifetimes exploring and unearthing this country’s grand attractions and secret idiosyncracies, and on the other, travelling France with any kind of time limit will leave anyone returning home only to plan their next trip.

A quick tour would take you over fifty percent of lush plains, a sizeable patch of dazzling mountains including Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, in the Alps of southern France, and over to beautiful coastline on both the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay) and La Manche (the English Channel) sandwiched between Belgium and Spain, and the Mediterranean sea. In fact, France shares borders with eight different nations, which means that travel is easy for neighbouring Francophiles (people who love France – there are so many they even have their own word) to pop over from different parts of Europe, and for anyone to visit France as part of a larger European trip.

France’s vast diversity from region-to-region means that moving from one to the other is almost like travelling to several different countries, and no two experiences are the same. On the coast running from Cerbère on the Spanish border, to Menton on the Italian frontier, regions like the Côte d’Azur are a ribbon of sunshine and sand which is noticeably kissed by its Mediterranean influences, and yet the chic towns which dot the coastline are still unmistakeably French.

Alsace-Lorraine, France’s two most easterly provinces, hug the border of Germany, and a unique Franco-Germanic cultural fusion can be found here. Locals speak French with a decidedly German accent, cuisine is a blend of the two country’s influences, and architecture in the villages has a noticeable and pronounced Germanic style.

Each region looks and feels different, has its own style of architecture, its own regional dishes, and often its own dialect too. Although pays is the word for ‘country’ in French, people frequently refer to their own region as mon pays – my country – and this strong sense of regional identity has persisted despite centuries of centralising governments, from Louis XIV to de Gaulle.

How to use this guide

This guide is split into two sections: the first part, getting started, will help you to prepare for your trip to France, providing essential information and advice on the geography of this huge country, getting there, getting around, beginning to identify with French culture and customs, and offering a pick of sample itineraries designed to help you maximise your experience within a given time frame or area of interest.

In the second section, France by region, the guide gets into the essence of regions in France, sometimes grouped for ease of travel, and covering the highlights and quintessential experiences you will find in each.

As a whole, this guide helps to capture France’s poetry without polluting essential information with the unnecessary, showcasing a selection of France’s greatest, timeless assets and orientating you before and whilst you travel, without honing in on quickly dating details such as entry prices or hotels. France is screaming with superlatives, but this guide will act as your honest companion – a nationally proud but direct friend which will open up France’s possibilities to every visitor – allowing you to discover authentic France, your own way, sidestepping over-hyped attractions.

This guide will help you to plan your trip for the year round, with an events and holidays resource referenced to help you plan when to go. Use this calendar alongside some typical themed itineraries, which have been featured for their uniqueness and specificity to the country, or a typical one or two week itinerary around France Through the next pages you’ll find foodie adventures offered up by locals, pinpointing France’s gastronomic delights. You’ll find the heavily trodden, popular ski season itineraries along with some tips to diverge off the snowy beaten track. Then you might want to dabble in the arts with some of the country’s most inspiring creatives. Let’s get started.

Chapter 2:[
**]When to Go & Where to Stay In France

You can revel in the pleasure of France at any time, but some destinations are more popular in certain seasons. For many, Spring is best throughout the country, but remember France is a place of many climates. Things get hot in the south for summer from June to September, so save the dates and enjoy if you’re a sun worshipper. Expect a mixture of humidity, biting westerly winds and rain in the northwest of France. Winter sports enthusiasts will jump at the chance to soar down snow-covered mountains during the ski season in winter – typically from mid-December to late March.

Between Christmas and New Year, and from mid-February to mid-March, are school holidays (though this can vary from region to region). If you dislike congested roads, pricey accommodation and sardine-packed beaches and ski slopes, avoid the high season. On Sundays and public holidays, everything is closed in France, and many local shops take their annual closure, or congé annuel, in August, but this quiet period can be a good time to explore Paris, since hotel rates are generally lower then.

Festivals, events and public holidays

Good news and bad news: the bad news is that France has 11 public holidays, which may dramatically affect transport and public services. The extent of other closures and celebrations depends on region, and sometimes whim.

The good news is that France has numerous other cultural and traditional festivals, which may of course also affect public services, but will definitely add colour and celebration to your visit. Details change year on year, but detailed information is available on this web-page:

[+ http://www.france.fr/en/celebrations-and-festivals/festivals-france.html+]

Where to stay

Since this is the world’s most visited country, booking your French accommodation way in advance pays – depending on where you want to go. Naturally, the pit stops appearing on more tried-and-tested itineraries are going to fill up quickly; so to make sure you get the best room in the house, hostel, hotel, tree house, farmhouse or chateau, try to plan months in advance.

Other destinations, which either don’t make an appearance in this guide – possibly because they are very rural and infrequently visited rather than being undesirable in any way – will welcome happy go lucky, spontaneous travellers at most times of year.

Whether you’ve budgeted €25 for a night’s stay, or you’re looking for something more upmarket, there are backpacker digs, lavish country retreats and Parisian eco pads to keep everyone happy and on track.

Rather than inundating you with a list of different places you can rest your head by region, this section will give you grounding on what types of accommodation you might find, for what price, what to expect from each, and some local terminology to help you negotiate what you want.

Hôtels

There is a huge range in France when it comes to hotels, and some research is required to identify whether you have chosen an ostentatious Hôtel fit for an aristocrat in central Paris right next to The Louvre, or a one-star dump behind a suburban train station. If you are willing to stay further from the city centre, budget stretches further for cheaper rooms with high quality – but do deal hunt: there are some real bargains to be found if you plan carefully, depending on the time of year.

France also uses a star system completely different to the one you might be familiar with. This is a standardised system created by the government to categorise accommodation on the same basis, but – unlike the UK and the US – this basis is not quality, but rather hotel features and facilities, like a check list: room sizes and numbers, sound proofing, air ventilation, electrical equipment and lifts are all considered in the star rating. Cleanliness and a designer décor are not, so check guest reviews.

Hostels (Auberges)

Gone are the days of hostels being solely for backpackers, the youth of the 1950s, stag parties or any other stereotypes or associations used to pigeonhole this kind of accommodation. Now, many people flock to hostels because they offer private rooms, can be found in some great locations for very affordable prices, and are clean, high quality, and often bohemian and boutique in design too. Hostels are even becoming popular options for couples and families. For those on a tight budget, go for a hostel further from the city centre: since transport is now so excellent in France’s major cities, it’s easy to get around even if you are in a cool but distant suburb of Strasbourg.

Chambres d’Hotes

Chambres d’hotes are France’s equivalent to bed-and-breakfast accommodation, which are part of a growing network throughout France. They vary from sky top apartments in big cities, to pub inns in rural villages. Although most travel websites will direct you to a chambre d’Hotes using the term Bed and Breakfasts, knowing the local term certainly helps if you’re booking along the way whilst in France.

Gîtes

Cabins, villas, rooms in a house, self-catering apartments, bed and breakfasts, this is another mildly confusing, all-encompassing phrase: the difference is that Gîtes are quintessentially French, very affordable, and allow you to immerse yourself in a richer cultural experience than staying in a 13th floor apartment in your own bubble. This is because gîtes, as well as chambres d’hotes, are normally run by French locals privately, providing anyone keen to brush on their French the perfect opportunity to do so.

Villas and Apartments

If you’re staying on the French Riviera, renting an apartment is the thing to do. There are huge price differences in renting a cottage or a luxury villa for 4-8 people, depending on when you go, but are much cheaper in low season (winter). Even in the peak season, however, this will save you money compared to the extortionate ascent in hotel prices when the tourists come into town. Think well ahead in bigger resorts or towns to save your cents. The good news is that France has numerous other cultural and traditional festivals, which may of course also affect public services, but will definitely add colour and celebration to your visit. Details change year on year, but detailed information is available on this web-page:

[+ http://www.france.fr/en/celebrations-and-festivals/festivals-france.html+]

Where to stay

Since this is the world’s most visited country, booking your French accommodation way in advance pays – depending on where you want to go. Naturally, the pit stops appearing on more tried-and-tested itineraries are going to fill up quickly; so to make sure you get the best room in the house, hostel, hotel, tree house, farmhouse or chateau, try to plan months in advance.

Other destinations, which either don’t make an appearance in this guide – possibly because they are very rural and infrequently visited rather than being undesirable in any way – will welcome happy go lucky, spontaneous travellers at most times of year.

Whether you’ve budgeted €25 for a night’s stay, or you’re looking for something more upmarket, there are backpacker digs, lavish country retreats and Parisian eco pads to keep everyone happy and on track.

Rather than inundating you with a list of different places you can rest your head by region, this section will give you grounding on what types of accommodation you might find, for what price, what to expect from each, and some local terminology to help you negotiate what you want.

Hôtels

There is a huge range in France when it comes to hotels, and some research is required to identify whether you have chosen an ostentatious Hôtel fit for an aristocrat in central Paris right next to The Louvre, or a one-star dump behind a suburban train station. If you are willing to stay further from the city centre, budget stretches further for cheaper rooms with high quality – but do deal hunt: there are some real bargains to be found if you plan carefully, depending on the time of year.

France also uses a star system completely different to the one you might be familiar with. This is a standardised system created by the government to categorise accommodation on the same basis, but – unlike the UK and the US – this basis is not quality, but rather hotel features and facilities, like a check list: room sizes and numbers, sound proofing, air ventilation, electrical equipment and lifts are all considered in the star rating. Cleanliness and a designer décor are not, so check guest reviews.

Hostels (Auberges)

Gone are the days of hostels being solely for backpackers, the youth of the 1950s, stag parties or any other stereotypes or associations used to pigeonhole this kind of accommodation. Now, many people flock to hostels because they offer private rooms, can be found in some great locations for very affordable prices, and are clean, high quality, and often bohemian and boutique in design too. Hostels are even becoming popular options for couples and families. For those on a tight budget, go for a hostel further from the city centre: since transport is now so excellent in France’s major cities, it’s easy to get around even if you are in a cool but distant suburb of Strasbourg.

Chambres d’Hotes

Chambres d’hotes are France’s equivalent to bed-and-breakfast accommodation, which are part of a growing network throughout France. They vary from sky top apartments in big cities, to pub inns in rural villages. Although most travel websites will direct you to a chambre d’Hotes using the term Bed and Breakfasts, knowing the local term certainly helps if you’re booking along the way whilst in France.

Gîtes

Cabins, villas, rooms in a house, self-catering apartments, bed and breakfasts, this is another mildly confusing, all-encompassing phrase: the difference is that Gîtes are quintessentially French, very affordable, and allow you to immerse yourself in a richer cultural experience than staying in a 13th floor apartment in your own bubble. This is because gîtes, as well as chambres d’hotes, are normally run by French locals privately, providing anyone keen to brush on their French the perfect opportunity to do so.

Villas and Apartments

If you’re staying on the French Riviera, renting an apartment is the thing to do. There are huge price differences in renting a cottage or a luxury villa for 4-8 people, depending on when you go, but are much cheaper in low season (winter). Even in the peak season, however, this will save you money compared to the extortionate ascent in hotel prices when the tourists come into town. Think well ahead in bigger resorts or towns to save your cents.

Chapter 3:[
**]How to Get Around France (Without Getting Lost!)

France is an international hub with flights easily available to all of its major cities. From Europe, its bordering countries bridge the gap between France and the whole of Europe, making it easy to scale over land. From the UK, it’s hardly an arduous journey, with Eurostar, Eurotunnel, and a relentless procession of ferries linking to mainland Europe, with France as the first main stop.

Entry requirements

France is a member of the Schengen zone. This means that if you’re a European national, you may be able to travel here with little or no border controls. Please check here for up-to-date information:

http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/schengen-visa-countries-list/

If you are a national of another country, you may need to apply for a visa. Here are a few useful resources to check before you organise your trip:

• France Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affair and International Development -

http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/

• Visa France – http://www.visafrance.co.uk/

By air

Most of France’s major cities have international airports, and there are a competing flock of travel comparison websites which will swamp you with cheap deals when you browse. For those travelling on a budget, airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet are the best bets for within Europe, and there are around twenty French international airlines to choose from for a long-haul flight; Air France is a popular choice.

By sea

Some of the best routes to France, and with the best fares, are across the water by ferry.

You can get to Calais, France from Dover in the UK in just a couple of hours on a car ferry – see P&O Ferries for the most frequent service: http://www.poferries.com/splash

Get straight to Brittany by ferry from Portsmouth, England on the Western Channel. This is a very different experience, with the chance to relax, enjoy a meal and sleep overnight: http://www.brittanyferries.com/

By land

France is reachable by rail from some of its bordering countries, and interrailing is a popular way for people to see France as part of a larger European trip. With an interrailing pass valid in France you can travel from, and to, stations in cities such as Basel (Switzerland), Geneva (Switzerland), Portbou (Spain) and Ventimiglia (Italy).

Check out [+ http://www.interrail.eu/trains-europe/trains-country/trains-france+]

By tunnel

If you’d rather travel under the Channel than on it, you can drive your car or motorcycle onto a Eurotunnel train at Folkestone, England for the 35-minute trip to Calais.

The Eurostar line to Paris runs from St Pancras International through to Gare du Nord station, and takes two hours and fifteen minutes. Eurostar costs vary and can be a great option for the budget traveller, but those cheaper deals are only available for a limited number of tickets and are snapped up almost immediately.

You can even travel straight from London to Aix-en-Provence, which is just 30 minutes from Marseille on the French Riviera: [+ http://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/destinations/france/french-riviera/aix-en-provence+]

Getting around France

France may be an intimidating size, but it’s exceptionally well connected, and its cities and even smaller towns have public transport systems to rival all others. Métros are a popular way of getting from A to B within major cities – underground subway systems which you will find in Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Lille, among others. There’s something appealingly European about using the trams, or light-rail systems, which have become an iconic and integral part of the landscape in many French cities such as Bordeaux, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Nice, Reims and Strasbourg, and suburban areas of Paris, but to name a few.

A few local terms you may find useful:

• billet à l’unité – single ticket

• carnet – literally translates to booklet or bunch – 10 ticket passes are very popular

• pass journée – all-day pass

Trains

Trains in France are one of the country’s gems for travel, and you can experience not only efficiency and comfort, but also the country’s ever-changing scenery.

France’s high speed rail lines are called the TGV (pronounced ‘t eh zheh veh’), which mainly head north, east, southeast and southwest from Paris:

For up-to-date information on disruptions and delays (in French), see www.infolignes.com

Hitching and ride share

Hitching is never particularly safe wherever you go in the world, but unlike some countries, it’s not really part of French culture either. If you’re going to hitch a lift in France, make sure you’re in at least a pair, but remember, albeit small, you are potentially taking a serious risk.

Car sharing, though, is a more frequently used way of getting around France, and there are a number of organisations around France which can help you to share a ride safely and put you in touch with a driver going to the same destination. In Paris, opt for Allostop where it costs from €3 – 10 for a single journey of up to 200km. If you’re planning to car share internationally, head to Karzoo to carpool.

Getting to know French culture

One of the most widely perpetuated myths about French people is that they are rude and hostile. France always welcomes visitors, but the welcome may sometimes seem a little cool and reserved. The main hurdle for visitors to de-bunk these largely unfounded stereotypes is to understand French culture.

‘How can foreigners say they like France, but not the French? It’s the French who made the France they like—and keep it that way.’ – Gertrude Stein.

‘petit à petit’ as the French say

***

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France Travel Guide

From world class wine and delectable delicacies, to iconic structures and a culture of brooding romance; whether it's described as chic, rude, sexy or snobby, everyone has an opinion about France. As French general and writer Charles de Gaulle once famously said, “how can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six kinds of cheese?” Beyond a reference to France's famous cheese spectrum, running the gamut from wheels of creamy camembert to ripened Roquefort, de Gaulle's words perfectly capture the lure of this country's timeless and multi-faceted culture, a tapestry constantly changing from region to region, from north to south, and yet filled with a very distinctive 'je ne sais quois', or 'I don't know what', a seduction which keeps the world travelling back for more, year after year. So, what is that certain something? Maybe it's France's architecture known the world over, entrenched in history and folklore: here, you can fulfil dreams of scaling the Eiffel Tower, its looming iron lattice anchoring the whole of Paris together as the capital's stoic, structural symbol; you can marvel at royal Châteaux in the Loire Valley and stay at a restored farmhouse in the sunny south of France. Whichever way you turn here, you're bound to be faced with an iconic piece of history, standing tall, or all the way down to face level with the unfalteringly familiar, France's smaller towns, with their cute, village square markets and lace-curtained bistros.

  • ISBN: 9781370924066
  • Author: The Non Fiction Author
  • Published: 2017-04-19 15:05:10
  • Words: 27957
France Travel Guide France Travel Guide