FRANCE  |  France Travel Guide
Friday, December 15, 2017
images

France

Destinations

French wine, France (cc)
Photo: PRA
 

France

France is the birthplace of the grand notion of bon vivant. For if there's one thing the French do well, it is enjoy life. Here is the home of wine and haute cuisine, of perfume and haute couture, of cinema and jazz. It is where the Impressionists and Fauves came alive, where surrealists and existentialists coexisted, where Baudelaire and Rimbaud held sway, where Pablo Picasso spent the last 15 years of his life, and where Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve redefined sex symbol and beauty respectively. And the French have a way of putting it all together: They call it, Joie de vivre!

The French Republic spans 549,183 square km, making it western Europe’s largest state. The geography consists of flat plains and gently rolling hills in north and west, and mountainous terrain in the Pyrenees to the south and the Alps in the east. The Alps run almost the entire length of the eastern border, starting just north of the Mediterranean coast and extending up to the nation’s border with Switzerland. The nation shares frontiers with Spain and Andorra to the south; Italy, Switzerland, and Monaco to the east; and Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany to the north and northeast.

France is composed of 22 administrative regions, or states, and several dependent territories. Its capital is Paris. The republic maintains a multi-party system of government, with a president presiding as chief of state and a prime minister operating as head of government. Although the country has long pursued an active policy of integrating immigrants, recent unemployment rates remain among the highest in Europe – and frustration has led to a backlash of anti-immigration sentiment. Youth crime rates have risen dramatically as well, and gang violence is now problematic in the urban low-income housing developments. Unemployment rates now sit at 10%.

The population of France is a mix of ethnicities, just as it has been for the past millennium – but some 91% share a Celtic or Latin origin. Approximately 76% of the population claims the Roman Catholic faith; 5% are Muslims; and just 2% say they are Protestants. Three-quarters of France’s people live in urban areas, the largest of which are Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, and Strasbourg. The population density is approximately 110 people per square kilometer.

 

Destinations in France (65)

  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France

    Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, quite simply, is Upper Provence. Along the Côte d’Azur and the Riviera, this region is usually referred to as l’arrière pays – the back country. And, like “the sticks” the world over, it isn’t...

    Read More
  • Alpilles and Garrigues, France

    The Alpilles are the essence of Provence. In fact, if you have ever dreamed of Provence, it probably looked like Vincent Van Gogh’s wheat fields and cypress trees, stony white hills and starry nights, tumbling clouds in brilliant...

    Read More
  • Bayeux, France

    Bayeux is mostly famous for the Bayeux Tapestry which fairly recounts the historic events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Originally housed in the large, 11th-century Gothic Notre-Dame de Bayeux, it...

    Read More
  • Bayonne, France

    Bayonne, the capital of French Basque Country, has timbered row houses lining its river. If you have been elsewhere in Southwest France, the architecture can be a shocking contrast. Instead of sandy stonewashed buildings with...

    Read More
  • Best Small Towns in France

    Best Small Towns in France. France, particularly southern France, is brimming with charming little towns and villages, among them medieval bastides, each more atmospheric than the other. But since one must be selective...

    Read More
  • Bordeaux, France

    Bordeaux is an absolute paradise for shopaholics and wine aficionados. Easily one of France’s most beautiful and interesting cities, Bordeaux’s pedestrian shopping zone is constantly filled with tourists and locals alike. As a...

    Read More
  • Cahors, France

    Cahors is a delightful medieval city in the heart of wine country. It is actually tucked into a bend of the Lot River, almost entirely surrounded by water. And fittingly, its most memorable landmark is the Valentré bridge,...

    Read More
  • Carcassonne, France

    Carcassonne is France's claim to medieval fame. Cité de Carcassonne, or simply La Cité, is a glorious, fortified castle-city, perched on a small hill above the river Aude in the south of France, its ramparts...

    Read More
  • Côte d’Azur, France

    Côte d’Azur, or the Riviera, is that grand sweep of Mediterranean coast that stretches from just east of la Ciotat, all the way to the Italian border. It is a large area with dozens of beaches and, despite the coast’s reputation...

    Read More
  • Foix, France

    Foix is a small city, practically a village, yet important as the capital of France's picturesque, albeit sparsely populated, Ariège department. It is also, in many ways, the gateway to the Pyrénées, situated smack in the midst...

    Read More
  • French Riviera, France

    The French Riviera is famous the world over as the playground of the rich and illustrious. Here, at places such as Cap Ferrat, in mansions tucked away behind walls and tall, well-trimmed hedges, one can find virtually anything...

    Read More
  • Great Castles of France

    France's Castles. France has some of the loveliest castles in Europe, with a diversity in architectural styles and themes that is unparalleled. The French castles, also known as châteaux, are sprinkled throughout the...

    Read More
  • Great Cathedrals of France

    France's Cathedrals If there's one thing France is famous for, architecturally speaking, it's its cathedrals, particularly Gothic ones. And here are the 10 best and most famous cathedrals of France.

    Read More
  • Marseille, France

    Marseille and Aix en Provence, couldn’t be more different. Marseille, an industrial, trade and transport capital, is a genuine crossroads of the world – and has been for thousands of years. Here, gigantic ocean liners and massive cargo ships...

    Read More
  • Mende, France

    Mende, in the rural and mountainous Lozère, is a small city of about 12,000 people. This is a wonderful destination for anyone who wants to be in a town, but in the midst of nature at its finest, unique wildlife and outdoor...

    Read More
  • Montpellier, France

    Montpellier is at once a trendy, hip college town and a medieval village filled with grandiose historic sites. There are ultra-hip designer boutiques and art galleries, alongside ancient churches and sculptures. It can be so jam-...

    Read More
  • Paris, France

    Paris has attitude. It has culture. It has style. It has visitors arriving by the millions. It has iconic landmarks coming out of its ears – think Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame, to name just a few. It has...

    Read More
  • Perpignan, France

    Perpignan is the last major stop on the rail route to Spain, and Perpignan's railway station, Gare de Perpignan, is "le Centre du Monde" – "the Center of the World" – at least according to Salvador Dali, the...

    Read More
  • Rodez, France

    Rodez is a veritable surprise, situated smack in the middle of the mountains. It is a tiny city, yet unexpectedly urban, with superb shopping and dinning. Its centerpiece is its stunning cathedral that features a 250-foot-high...

    Read More
  • Tarbes, France

    One would be hard-pressed to find a better base than Tarbes for exploring the Pyrenees. While the city itself is drab and uninspiring, it is right at the foot of the mountain range. The second-largest city in the region, it is a short distance...

    Read More
  • The Camargue, France

    Broad, flat and sunburnt, the Camargue is an almost surreal web of shallow, lakes (étangs), meandering rivers, canals, marshes and dunes. Part-desert, part-irrigated plain, part-grassland, part-nature reserve, it is an area of France truly...

    Read More
  • The Vaucluse, France

    The Vaucluse. Vineyards, olive groves and orchards spread across valley floors. Three wine growing areas contribute to the region’s prosperity. Both the Côtes du Ventoux and the Côtes du Lubéron produce delicate young wines,...

    Read More
  • Toulouse, France

    Toulouse’s Place du Capitole serves as a hub for this diverse city. Not simply a government center, the square out front of the capitol building hosts an enormous market. Hotels, shops and cafés are situated along the rim of the...

    Read More

PhotoImpression

What's New?

New and Updated Travel Guides

  • Cuzco is the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and the epicenter of the Andean Quechua culture. It has a monumental... Read More

  • Thimphu is the seat of the last of the Himalayan kingdoms. It sits in splendid isolation in a long, high valley in the... Read More

  • Mostar is where Christians converted to Islam, and where moussaka – consisting of sliced eggplants sautéed in... Read More

  • Santiago is Chile's capital of cool. It's mostly a modern metropolis, but with more than 500 years of history and relics... Read More

  • Tampere is a city of rock. In fact, Tampere, Finland, like Manchester, England, evolved from a market town into a major... Read More

Trending Themes:

Guides to Popular Ski Resorts

  • Ischgl is a small mountain village turned hip ski resort, with massive appeal among the party-hearty young crowds. It is... Read More

  • Andorra la Vella is its own little world, and not just because it’s a 290-square-mile independent principality (a fifth the... Read More

  • Bariloche (officially San Carlos de Bariloche) is the place to be seen. It is to Argentina what Aspen is to the... Read More

  • Aspen is America's most famous ski resort. And that's an understatement. For, as a ski complex, Aspen is unsurpassed. Its... Read More

  • Zermatt is a small but glamorous mountain resort town, with a population of approximately 5,700. It is one of Switzerland's... Read More

  • St. Moritz is a glitzy, alpine resort town in the celebrated Engadin Valley of Switzerland, with huge notoriety as the... Read More

  • Lake Tahoe is the premier lake resort of America, and the largest alpine lake in all of North America. It is an absolutely... Read More

  • St. Anton, Sankt Anton am Arlberg in German, is Austria's premier ski-bum resort! It's actually a small village cum... Read More

  • Kitzbühel, a small, Tyrolian resort town in the Kitzbüheler Alps, comes with international renown and huge snob appeal, and... Read More

 

Copyright © 2010-2013 Indian Chief Travel Guides. Images tagged as (cc) are licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.