The European part of France stretches over more than 550.000 square kilometres, and offers a lot of experiences. The climate varies from the cool, temperate climate in the north to the Mediterranean climate in the south – and, of course the alpine climate of the mountains. Some of the world’s best ski resorts are located in the French mountains, which are also a popular destination for mountain holidays in the summer.
To the north, west and south you will find long stretches of coast, and inland you will find a varied landscape. Three large mountain ranges, the Alps, the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, dominate the southern and eastern part of France. France is home to some of finest wine districts in the world, so your stay in France is an excellent starting point for an unforgettable wine holiday.
France has a long and dramatic history as kingdom, empire and republic. The three kinds of government have replaced each other, as revolutions have changed the political landscape of France. However, since the beginning of the Fifth Republic in 1958, there have been no changes. The turbulent past becomes obvious during any holiday France. The castles in and around Paris, firstly the Palace of Versailles, bear witness to the grandness of the French kings, whose influence reached far beyond the borders of France.
In the northern part of France, Normandy is a very popular destination. The region is an obvious choice if you want to go on a first class gastronomic holiday. Delicacies such as Camembert, Livarot and Boursin are made in Normandy, which is also known for its exquisite fish and oysters. During your stay here you will have the opportunity to visit the famous painter Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, which inspired him to several masterpieces. The area, which is located in picturesque surroundings along the Seine, is definitely worth the trip during your stay in Normandy.
Another opportunity is to visit the Loire Valley, an incredibly beautiful landscape, which is situated in the French Région Centre, about 130 kilometers to the southwest of Paris. The beautiful surroundings along the banks of the Loire River are also known as “the Garden of France”. There are more than 300 castles in the Loire Valley, which makes it a unique cultural landscape. UNESCO has recognized the major importance of the area by declaring it a World Heritage Site.
The largest castle in the Loire Valley is the Châteaux de Chambord. It originally served as a hunting lodge for King Francois I, who ruled France from 1515-1547. Nowadays, the castle and the beautiful park which surrounds it, belong to the French state. The castle is one of the most popular attractions in the Loire Valley.
The coastline of the southern region of Provence is famous for its mild climate and its wonderful beaches. Each year, the warm, azure Mediterranean, the sandy beaches and the palms attract guests from all over Europe. Here are located the French Riviera, the cities of Cannes and Nice as well as the Principality of Monaco. Further, one of France’s biggest cities, Marseilles, is situated in this part of the country.
The city of Cannes is not only known for its unique beaches but also for the annual Cannes Film Festival – and for the prestigious “Golden Palm”, which is awarded to the best film. Likewise, the city of Nice, which is situated close to the border of Italy, is a well known resort.
More than 2000 years ago, the region was conquered by the Roman Empire. As it was one of the first conquests outside of Italy, the Romans named the area “Nostra Provincia”, which means “Our Province”. The Romans, who ruled the area for centuries, constructed a wide range of impressive buildings which you can experience even today. In time, the Roman Empire disappeared, but the name they had given the area remained.