France is a sophisticated powerhouse of architecture, art, cinema, cuisine, fashion, literature, music and wine. Its countless attractions, enchanting culture and pastoral countryside attract more than 79 million tourist each year, receiving more visitors than any other country on the planet.
It is bordered to the north by the English Channel (La Manche), the northeast by Belgium and Luxembourg, the east by Germany, Switzerland and Italy, the south by the Mediterranean (with Monaco as a coastal enclave between Nice and the Italian frontier), the southwest by Spain and Andorra, and the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The island of Corsica, southeast of Nice, is made up of two départements. While Metropolitan France is located in Western Europe, France also has a number of territories in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the southern Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and Antarctica. These territories have varying forms of government ranging from overseas department to overseas collectivity. Metropolitan France covers 547,030 square kilometres, having the largest area among European Union members and slightly larger than Spain. France is one of the founding members of the European Union and the United Nations and is a strong economic force and a consequential leader in Europe with a a stable presidential democracy.
The country possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the south-east, the Massif Central in the south-central and Pyrenees in the south-west. It also has extensive river systems such as the Loire, the Garonne, the Seine and the Rhône.
The North of France consists of the flatlands around the town of Lille and the Channel. The area will remind visitors in many ways of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Grand' Place in Lille for example is very similar to Brussels.
Paris, the city of light and its surroundings are one of the most visited areas. West of France is situated along the Atlantic Coast. In the north Normandy &Brittany have rolling hills, sandy beaches, quiet little harbour towns and a more rugged coast with numerous neolithic sites. It has quite a distinct atmosphere from the rest of the country; you can still sense the Celtic origin of the region and its inhabitants.
The eastern part of France consists of the Alsace, Lorraine, Franche Comté andBurgundy regions. The landscape has rolling hills and many beautiful cities such as Metz, Strasbourg, Nancy and Dijon. This region produces many famous wines, including magnificent pinot noirs and chardonnays valued the world over, as well as the famous "Yellow wine" from the Jura mountain vineyard.
The Center of France is known as the quieter part of the country. The great treasure of this region is the Loire valley ,with great castles and beautiful towns. Chartres with its famous cathedral and Tours rate among the most beautiful French cities.
The Alps are great for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Albertville, Grenoble and Chamonix have all hosted the Olympic games. Chambéry, Annecy or Grenoble are beautiful towns to visit in this region.
The South, with its lovely nature, good food, roman ruins and of course the Riviera draws thousands of visitors every year. Towns like Orange, and Arles and the big cities of Marseille and Toulon are must sees. TheProvence area is dotted with pleasant small villages. In the South west of France the Dordogne is one of the most quintessential French regions. The valley is so pretty, the towns are so cute and the food is so good, that it is hard to believe that the people who live here go somewhere else for their holidays. The Languedoc has its own language and culture. In the south of the Languedoc you find the Pyrenees, a great mountain range separating France from Spain, where you can hike and ski. The towns of Toulouse and Montpellier are well worth a visit and the medieval town of Carcassone is a top destination.
Location: Western Europe
Population: 60.9 million
Language Spoken: French is the official language, but there are many regional dialects. Basque is spoken as a first language by some people in the southwest, and Breton by some in Brittany.
Country Dialling Code: +33
Currency & Money:
Euro (EUR; symbol €)
Some first-class hotels are authorised to exchange foreign currency. Shops and hotels are prohibited from accepting foreign currency by law. Travellers should check with their banks for details and current rates. American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted. Traveller's cheques are accepted nearly everywhere.
Weather: A temperate climate in the north; northeastern areas have a more continental climate with warm summers and colder winters. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year with some snow likely in winter. The Jura Mountains have an alpine climate. Lorraine, sheltered by bordering hills, has a relatively mild climate. Mediterranean climate in the south; mountains are cooler with heavy snow in winter.
The Atlantic influences the climate of the western coastal areas from the Loire to the Basque region where the weather is temperate and relatively mild with rainfall throughout the year. Summers can be very hot and sunny. Inland areas are mild and the French slopes of the Pyrenees are renowned for their sunshine record. A Mediterranean climate exists on the Riviera, and in Provence and Roussillon. Weather in the French Alps is variable. Continental weather is present in Auvergne, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. Very strong winds (such as the Mistral) can occur throughout the entire region.
WHEN TO GO
Spring offers the best weather to visitors, and between May and October you can go to the Mediterranean beaches of France. Mid-July through to the end of August is when most city dwellers take their annual five weeks' vacation to the coasts and mountains, and the half-desolate cities tend to shut down a bit accordingly. The same happens during February and March. Cannes and Nice have France's best beaches, they are all surrounded by cafés and restaurants that complete a beautiful sunny day, and don't forget to visit the Corsica Island the best place to practice water sports. Sandy beaches, water sports, excellent food and reasonable prices are a good option to have the best relaxing vacations.
Temperatures aren't too bad in autumn, although the short days mean limited sunlight and the cold starts to make itself felt towards the end of the season, even along the Côte d'Azur.
If you are a skier you should go to the France's Alps and Pyrenees between November and May; the Pyrenees mountain is less crowded and expensive than other resorts in winter season. The Christmas school holidays is very busy with hordes of french children scurrying for the slopes.
There are also museums like the Louvre of Paris, open all the year, and other monuments like churches, cathedrals, châteaux, France is an architectural country and you will find a lot to see across all the country, surely a good destination to visit.
TOP THINGS TO DO
• Delve into Paris' 80 museums and 200 art galleries: visit the Musée d'Orsay, located in a beautifully restored railway station, the Palais du Louvre, the Georges Pompidou Centre of Modern Art or Musée Rodin.
• Relax in the Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris, close to the Latin Quarter (Boulevards St Michel and St Germain), which is the focus of most student activity (the Sorbonne University is here).
• Discover the future at the City of Science and Technology in la Villette or at Futuroscope Poitiers.
• Visit Mickey Mouse at the Disneyland Resort Paris theme park in Marne la Vallée.
• Enjoy a wide range of watersports at France's 3,000km (1,860 miles) of coastline. Famous resorts include St Enogat and St Jacut on the Emerald coast in Brittany, and Cannes, Nice, St Tropez, Antibes and Menton on the south coast.
• Enjoy the jetsetting lifestyle of the Côte d'Azur: stroll on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, famous for its Flower Carnival in January, or mingle with celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival held in May.
• Sail from/to La Rochelle, a popular sailing port in the Charente Maritime region. Close by, the islands of Oléron and Ré are connected to the mainland by bridges.
• Enjoy a wide range of winter sports in the French Alps or the Pyrenees.
• Be pampered at a spa in Biarritz, Contréxeville or Vittel.
• Go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, in the southwest, famous since the visions of Bernadette Soubirous in the mid 19th century.
• See a bull fight at the Arènes d'Arles in the southwest.
• Hit the jackpot at the casino of Monaco or the casino of Deauville, also famous for its golf course and race track.
• Have a go at a traditional game of boules (also called pétanque), played in public squares, especially in the south of France. The game requires as much social skill as manual dexterity.
• Enjoy a wine tour or take part in harvesting the grapes: there are 10 principal wine regions including Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône Valley, each with its own identity based on grape varieties and terroir (soil). Many vineyards offer free tours.
• Follow the Tour de France cycling race, attend the French Open at Roland Garros near Paris, go to the 24-hour motor race at Le Mans; or place your bets on a horse at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
TOP THINGS TO SEE
• Fall for Paris and its famous Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cité , the Arc de Triomphe leading to Champs Elysées, the Sacré Coeur in the heart of Montmartre and the Louvre's Pyramid.
• Step back in time at the Château de Versailles and enjoy magnificent fireworks in the summer months.
• Visit one of the numerous Loire valley chateaux (castles) including Blois, Chambord, Chenonceaux, Azay le Rideau and Chinon.
• Mind the tide when visiting Mont St Michel
• Enjoy the rugged and unspoilt atmosphere of Corsica, a French island made up of two French departments, with the picturesque towns of Bastia and Ajaccio, famous for its Napoleonic memorabilia.
• Discover the recently built Millau bridge, over the Tarn Gorges, designed by British Architect Norman Foster.
• Visit the 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard: the Roman aqueduct is one of humanity's greatest architectural accomplishments, which merits a special trip.
• Head south and discover magnificent Roman (and some Gallic) ruins in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The Maison Carré, Diana's Temple and the Roman Arena in Nîmes, 'the Rome of the Gauls', are among the finest examples of Greco-Roman architecture to be found.
• Discover traces of the Greek and Roman domination in Provence
where many monuments from that period are still scattered across the countryside. They include walled hill towns, triumphal arches, theatres, colosseums, arenas, bridges and aqueducts.
• See what Christianity brought to Provence in the form of the Palace of the Popes
. Near Avignon is Orange
with its stunning Roman ampitheatre
and Roman ruins.
• Check out Marseille
France's most important commercial port on the Mediterranean. There are many sites of interest - the old port, the hilltop church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde
, several museums, Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation
, the Hospice de la Vieille Charité
and the Château d'If
• Visit France's numerous cathedrals
, including Reims
, where Clovis (the first French king) was baptised, Chartres
TRAVEL TO FRANCE
The national airline is Air France (AF). From London to Paris is 1 hour, and from New York is 7 hours.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) is 23km (14 miles) northeast of the city. To/from the airport: Coaches to the city run at least every 20 minutes. Taxis are readily available. Roissybus services operate from the airport to Place de l'Opéra. Air France coaches run to Étoile via Porte Maillot, to Montparnasse via Gare de Lyon and to Orly Airport. Services run every 12 to 20 minutes and take 40 to 50 minutes. The airport is also easily accessible by train on the RER B line or SNCF with connecting ADP shuttle bus. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.
Paris-Orly (ORY is 14km (9 miles) south of the city. To/from the airport: Coaches and buses run to the city every 12 minutes (journey time - 25 minutes) from outside Orly Ouest. Taxis are available. RER B and C line trains run every 15 minutes via Saint-Michel (journey time - 30 minutes). Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.
Lyon (LYS) (Lyon-Saint-Exupéry) is 25km (15 miles) east of the city. To/from the airport: Coaches or taxis are available to the city. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.
Marseille (MRS) (Marseille-Marignane) is 30km (19 miles) northwest of the city. To/from the airport: A coach service departs to the city and taxis are available. Facilities: Banks/bureaux de change, duty-free shops, restaurants, bars and car hire.
Atlantic: La Rochelle: leisure boating.
North Sea: Boulogne: leisure boating and cross channel services; Calais: cross-channel services; Le Havre: scheduled services and cruise lines to national and international destinations.
Mediterranean: Marseille: cruises and scheduled services to Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria and Tunisia; Nice: leisure boating and ferries to Corsica.
The popular Channel passenger services connect the English port of Dover with Calais. Major operators include P&O Ferries (tel: 0870 598 0333, in the UK and SeaFrance (tel: 0870 443 1653, in the UK. In the Mediterranean Corsica Ferries/Sardinia service Sardinia from the French mainland.
Cruise ships regularly stop at various French ports.
International trains run from the channel ports and Paris to destinations throughout Europe. For up-to-date routes and timetables, contact French Railways (SNCF) or Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK. Eurostar (tel: 0870 518 6186, in the UK; is a service provided by the railways of Belgium, the UK and France, operating direct high-speed trains from London (St Pancras International) to Paris (Gare du Nord) and to Brussels (Midi/Zuid). It takes 2 hours 15 minutes from London to Paris (via Lille) and 1 hour 51 minutes to Brussels.
InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, one month, five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK.
Eurailpass: offers unlimited first-class train travel in 17 European countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months or three months. The Eurailpass Saver ticket offers discounts for two or more people travelling together. The Eurailpass Youth ticket is available to those aged under 26 and offers unlimited second-class train travel. The Eurailpass Flexi allows either 10 or 15 travel days within a two-month period. The Eurail Selectpass is valid in three, four or five bordering countries and allows five, six, eight or 10 travel days (15 for five countries) in a two-month period. The Eurail Regional Pass allows four to 10 travel days in a two-month period in one of nine regions (usually two or more countries). The passes cannot be sold to residents of Europe, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or the Russian Federation. Available from The Eurail Group.
There are numerous and excellent road links with all neighbouring countries.
Eurolines (tel: 0870 580 8080, in the UK runs regular coach services from the UK to France. Passes: Travellers can buy a 15- or 30-day pass.
The Channel Tunnel: Eurotunnel runs shuttle trains for cars, bicycles, motorcycles, coaches, minibuses, caravans and campervans between Folkestone in Kent, UK, with direct road access from the M20, and Calais, with links to the A16/A26 motorway (Exit 13). All road vehicles are carried through the tunnel in shuttle trains running between the two terminals. The journey takes about 35 minutes from platform to platform and around 1 hour from motorway to motorway. Fares are charged according to length of stay and time of year and whether or not you have a reservation. For further information, contact Eurotunnel (tel: 0870 535 3535, in the UK.
TRAVEL AROUND FRANCE
The main airline connecting towns and cities within France is Air France.
Ferry and Boat
State-run car ferries known as ‘BACs' connect the larger islands on the Atlantic coast with the mainland; they also sail regularly across the mouth of the Gironde. The island of Corsica is served by ferries operated by the Société Nationale Maritime Corse-Mediterranée (SNCM). Services run from Marseille, Toulon and Nice to Ajaccio, Propriano, Porto Vecchio and Bastia on the island.
There are almost 9,000km (5,600 miles) of navigable waterways in France, and all of these present excellent opportunities for holidays. The main canal areas are the north (north and northeast of Paris) where most of the navigable rivers are connected with canals; the Seine (from Auxerre to Le Havre, but sharing space with commercial traffic); the east, where the Rhine and Moselle and their tributaries are connected by canals; in Burgundy, where the Saône and many old and picturesque canals crisscross the region; the Rhône (a pilot is recommended below Avignon); the Midi (including the Canal du Midi, connecting the Atlantic with the Mediterranean); and Brittany and the Loire on the rivers Vilaine, Loire, Mayenne and Sarthe, and the connecting canals. Each of these waterways offers a magnificent variety of scenery, a means of visiting many historic towns, villages and sites and an opportunity to learn much about rural France, at a very leisurely pace.
Cruising boats may be chartered with or without crews, ranging in size from the smallest cabin cruiser up to converted commercial barges (péniches), which can accommodate up to 24 people and require a crew of eight. Hotel boats, large converted barges with accommodation and restaurant, are also available in some areas, with a wide choice of price and comfort. For further information, contact the national or regional tourist board.
French Railways (SNCF) operates a nationwide network with 34,200km (21,250 miles) of line, over 12,000km (7,500 miles) of which has been electrified. The TGV (train à grande vitesse) runs from Paris to Brittany and southwest France at 300kph (186mph), to Lyon and the southeast at 270kph (168mph) and to Strasbourg and the east at 320kph (199mph).
The SNCF is divided into five systems (East, North, West, Southeast and Southwest). The transport in and around Paris is the responsibility of a separate body, the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP). This organisation provides a fully integrated bus, rail and underground métro network for the capital. Motorail car sleeper services are operated from Boulogne, Calais, Dieppe and Paris to all main holiday areas in both summer and winter. Motorail information and booking is available from Rail Europe.
InterRail One-Country Pass: offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month within France. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK. Note: This has replaced the France Railpass.
Cheap Fares: It is possible to buy various kinds of tickets in France (including Family and Young Person's Tickets) offering reductions. In general, the fares charged will depend on what day of the week and what time of the day one is travelling; timetables giving further details are available from SNCF offices.
There is a range of special tickets on offer to foreign visitors; they usually have to be bought before entering France and some are only available in North America; others are unique to Australia and New Zealand. There are also special European Rail and Drive packages.
Note: It is essential to validate (composter) tickets bought in France by using the orange automatic date-stamping machine at the platform entrance.
Traffic drives on the right. Motorways (autoroutes) bear the prefix ‘A'; some are free whilst others are toll roads (autoroutes à péage). National roads (routes nationales) are marked ‘N'. Minor roads are maintained by the départements (departments) rather than by the government and are classed as ‘D' roads.
Coach: Domestic long distances are very limited given the excellent SNCF rail network. In some areas SNCF buses cover unprofitable routes.
Car hire: Available from international and domestic companies.
Regulations: The minimum age to drive a car in France is 18 and 15 for a motorcycle under 125cc. The minimum age for hiring a car in France ranges from 21 to 25. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas, 110kph (68mph) on dual carriageways separated by a central reservation, and 130kph (81mph) on motorways. Visitors who have held a driving licence for less than two years may not travel faster than 80kph (56mph) on normal roads, 100kph (62mph) on dual carriageways and 110kph (68mph) on motorways. Random breath tests for drinking and driving are common. All passengers must wear seat belts. Under-10s may not travel in the front seat. Drivers must carry a red warning triangle for use in the event of a breakdown. UK drivers must adjust all headlamp beams for rightside driving by use of beam deflectors or (on some cars) by tilting the headlamp bulbholder.
Documentation: A national driving licence is acceptable. An international sign, distinguishing your country of origin (eg GB sticker or plate), should be positioned clearly on the vehicle. EU nationals taking their own cars to France are strongly advised to obtain a Green Card. The car's registration document must also be carried. UK registered vehicles displaying Euro plates (circle of 12 stars above the national identifier on a blue background) no longer need a GB sticker when driving in EU countries.
Travelling from Towns and Cities
Urban public transport is excellent. There are comprehensive public transport systems in all the larger towns and cities.
Paris: RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) controls the underground (métro), rail (RER) and bus services in and around Paris. The public transport network is split into several different fare zones and a single ticket will allow travel on any of the systems within that zone (although interchange is only permitted on the métro and RER, and not on buses). Other useful transport links provided by the RATP include Orlybus and Roissybus (special airport buses), Orlyval (rail service linking RER stations of Antony and Orly airport) and Montmartre funicular (special railway connecting the foot of Montmartre to the top, near the Sacré-Coeur church). For the Orlybus and Roissybus travellers need a special ticket which is on sale on buses and airport terminals. The Metro was built during the Paris Exhibition in 1900. Its dense network of 14 lines in the central area makes the métro the ideal way to get about in Paris. The RER (fast suburban services) operate five main lines connecting most areas of the capital. There is also an extensive network of conventional suburban services run by French Railways (SNCF), with fare structure and ticketing integrated with the other modes of public transport. A comprehensive bus network operates within the city and taxis are reliable if expensive.
Other cities: There are tramways, trolleybuses and an underground in Marseille; trolleybuses, an underground and a funicular in Lyon; and a tramway and automated driverless trains in Lille. There are tramway services in St Etienne, Nantes and Grenoble and trolleybuses in Limoges and Nancy. The systems are easy to use, with pre-purchase tickets and passes. Good publicity material and maps are usually available.
POPULAR PLACES TO VISIT
Bordeaux: Home to one of France's seven key wine regions and known for its award-winning big reds. You can tour the chateaux, imbibe the world-class wines and indulge in the regional cuisine. The city has excellent museums, lively nightlife and beaches close by. Wide avenues, neoclassical architecture and well-tended parks all give the city a certain 18th-century grandeur. An ethnically diverse population and a lively university community of some 60,000 students complete the picture.
Lyon: is between two hills: the Fourvière and Croix-Rousse and between two rivers: the turbulent Rhône and the tranquil Saône. Lyon is a very industrial city, textile manufacturing is one of the most important here, but not only that, this city is known as the capital of gastronomy, like Paris, this city has the largest number of Michelin-starred restaurants, the most famous chef Paul Bocuse has his restaurant in Lyon and this city can be called the cuisine's paradise.
Lyon is considered an UNESCO World Heritage List since December 1998, specifically the Saint-Jean and the Croix-Rousse areas. A very beautiful city with its architectural renaissance buildings and monuments.
Marseille: is the second largest city and one of the most visited cities in France. The cosmopolitan port of Marseille (sometimes known as 'Marseilles') is also France's oldest city and proudest. From its groundbreaking rap music to its ubiquitous football team, from its ancient traditions to its modern and dynamic cultural life, this is truly a city like no other. Since its founding 26 centuries ago by the Greeks of Phocaea, Marseille has always been proud of being different. One of the city's greatest assets is the wild natural beauty that surrounds it: shaggy islands, countless beaches, a superb marine life and eerily beautiful chalky fjords.
Nice: is a major tourist centre and a leading resort on the French Riviera, with wonderful attractions and sights. The seafront of Nice is one of the most beautiful along the Mediterranean coast. The Old Town is crowded with bars and cafés and museums and cathedrales of ancient times.
Many artists once lived in Nice, among them were Nietzsche, Apollinaire, Flaubert, Victor Hugo, George Sand, Stendhal, Chateaubriand, Picasso, and Mistral marvelling at the famed local light that has always made Nice a venue for artists. The city is also famous for its sunshine days, approximately 300 days a year, and in summer it can be a very suffocating city.
Avignon: is surrounded by some of France's most attractive countryside. It continues its traditional role as a patron of the arts, most notably through its performing-arts festival, held annually in the last three weeks of July. The historic centre of Avignon is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers visitors a bustling walled city, a number of interesting museums, a fabled bridge, Pont St-Bénéze, a massive medieval fortress and a papal palace, Palais des Papes .
Corsica: is a beautiful, wild playground and the ultimate combination destination - physical exertion in the elements by day, French wine and cuisine by evening. Proud, wild, defiantly independent and just a touch old-fashioned, Corsica is in many ways a separate nation to the rest of France. In fact, the island has been French for only 200 of its 4000-year history, and the island's unique culture, music and language have survived intact despite a couple of centuries of French rule.Paris
Antibes: is the quintessential Mediterranean town with it's ports, 16th-century ramparts and narrow cobblestone streets. Picasso, Max Ernst and Nicolas de Staël were captivated by Antibes, as was a restless Graham Greene (1904-91) who settled here with his lover, Yvonne Cloetta, from 1966 until the year before his death. Greater Antibes embraces Cap d'Antibes, an exclusive green cape studded with luxurious mansions, and the modern beach resort of Juan-les-Pins. The latter is known for its seemingly extra-sandy 2km-long beach and nightlife, a legacy of the sizzling 1920s when Americans swung into town with their jazz music and oh-so-brief swimsuits. Party madness peaks during Jazz à Juan, a week-long jazz festival in late July that attracts musicians and music lovers from all over the world.
Paris: the French capital is one of the world's truly great cities, a metropolis that lavishly satisfies the desires of tourists and business people alike and manages to retain a standard of living that makes becoming a Parisian so alluring. Though Paris is in flux culturally and socially, it lures travelers for the same reasons as always. You'll still find such classic sights as the Tour Eiffel, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacré-Coeur, and all those atmospheric cafes, as well as daringly futuristic projects such as the Grande Arche de La Défense, the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the Cité de la Musique, and the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand. Don't forget the parks, gardens, and squares; the Champs-Elysées and other grand boulevards; and the river Seine and its quays. Paris's beauty is still overwhelming, especially at night, when it truly is the City of Light.
Holiday Homes Direct advertises a large selection of villas in France and puts you in touch with the owners direct.