France has been influencing global culture throughout the centuries, its towns and cities filled with character. There are few countries in the world which inspire such enthusiasm, nostalgia and romance. Fashion, art, music, food and fine dining are all synonymous with France. From Paris to the Riviera, Toulouse to Normandy, every inch of this country offers something worth discovering.
• The Loire Valley
France can be visited all year round but our favourite months are December/January for an alpine Christmas or April – September for a summer holiday.
I have cruised many oceans but a river cruise was completely new to me – but now I am total convert! Sailing from Lyon we sailed north along the Rhone where our first stop was the small town of Viviers – we walked off the ship and into the historic centre where life continues as it has for centuries. Today was market day and as a complete foodie I was in heaven – the smell of fresh baguettes from the boulangerie, the unbelievable selection of cheeses, the fruit & vegetables straight from the garden and local winemakers wanting you to sample their special vintages! Later in the week we sailed to the south of France on the Saone passing fields of lavender, tiny villages and vineyards – France is a gourmand’s dream! Brett
Why we love it France offers such a diversity of stunning landscapes and charming villages. We love the food, the wine and shopping at the local markets. And of course there is Paris, a cosmopolitan city with a well-deserved joie de vivre!
Weather France can be visited year round. In winter (December to February) the mountains are covered in powdery snow. In summer (June to August) it can be very warm particularly in the South. Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November) can be a wonderful time to visit.
Social customs and quirks France takes great pride in their language and appreciate you speaking French to them. When shopping or dining say ‘bonjour’ (good morning) or ‘bonsoir’ (good evening), Monsieur (or Madame) is polite, ‘merci’ (thank you) and ‘au revoir’ upon leaving the shop / restaurant. In July and August you can expect a lot of the stores to be closed, as the entire country goes on holiday. It’s best to wait until you’re invited to do so before you call a Frenchman by his first name, and handshakes are the most common form of greeting.
Festivals & events Bastille Day on the 14th of July celebrates the founding of the modern Republic of France with festivities throughout the country and a major parade along the Champs Elysees.