France is conveniently situated in the heart of Europe, it’s a well-known holiday destination and sightseeing spot. It is one of the most visited countries in the world with some 89 million visiting year on year. Whether you prefer the Châteaux’s in northern and southern France, the excitement of Cannes in the south or indeed the delights of Paris, France is a treat to visit anytime of year. We must not forget the wonderful ski resorts of Val d’Isère, Megève and Méribel plus Courchevel, these vibrant ski resorts are not only scenic they are magical to visit throughout the year too. One of the biggest misconceptions there is, is that ski resorts are only open in the winter months. This isn’t the case, many of the ski resorts are open year round and cater for the summer crowd. France is divided into 18 regions with the English Channel to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and to the south is the Mediterranean.
France is as diverse as a country you can get, made up of beaches along the Mediterranean, alpine ski villages and its enchanting medieval towns and hamlets. Then we head to the cosmopolitan cities such as its capital Paris, the iconic Eiffel Tower is possibly its most famous landmark along with the Louvre. Add in to the mix the elite fashion designers and houses, jewellers and designer labels, Paris is a sheer delight to discover. Even if you don’t have the cash to splash, you can window shop for free. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is an iconic tree lined avenue in Paris, its 1.9 km long and 70 metres wide. This is where the high class stores and boutiques are found and where you will see women dressed in haute couture and men in smart suits looking very dapper.
The small villages and hamlets throughout France, give us a clue as to what France was like in mediaeval times. Beautiful market squares serving up traditional stalls, where one can buy a range of cheese and fresh bread, meat and wine make for an idyllic lifestyle in France. For those that have bought a property for sale in France this lifestyle in the countryside is superb, whether it’s a holiday home or a permanent residence, its perfect for those wanting a peaceful life.
Grand Châteaux’s have been renovated to make wonderful accommodation. Some, sadly are left unloved and uncared for, however, increasingly we are seeing buyers investing in these magnificent homes and turning them into successful businesses or large family homes. Throughout France you will find these imposing castles, full of character with sprawling gardens and out buildings simply waiting to be loved.
Why do you want to visit France? For the sun soaked beaches in the south on the French Riviera? The exclusive resorts here are Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice plus Monaco. St Tropez became the most popular resort to visit in the 1960s and this is where the rich and famous spent their summer holidays. Popular for its golden beaches and vibrant nightlife it’s still a super resort with expensive yachts moored up at the old port. Cannes is known for the Cannes Film Festival where each year the latest films are screened with a plethora of film stars walking the red carpet. Beautiful Nice was founded by the Greeks and has been a favourite haunt for artists attracted to the area to paint the picturesque beaches and landscape. Henri Matisse was a resident here and his collection of modern art paintings are exhibited at the Musée Matisse. Monaco is the Principality of Monaco located on the French Riviera. It’s a sovereign state and is bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea and is just 15 km from the Italian border. This rich country is small and perfectly formed and is visited by thousands of people each year, although most visit for just one day. The casino at Monte Carlo is where most tourists head to, it was made famous by appearing in several James Bond films and it’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the area.
Maybe you want to go skiing in the winter months to France, or how about spending your summer in the well-known ski resorts? Not all, but many of the ski resorts are open year round offering cold wintery wonderlands and the perfect summer retreat. Tignes makes a great summer destination with plenty of activities to keep the whole family happy and you can visit from the end of June to the beginning of September. Everything from swimming, walking, hiking, mountain bike riding, pedal boat, trampoline, archery, crazy airbag and hot jumping. You can even ski on the Grande Motte glacier in the Alps. Thrill seekers can enjoy paragliding over the mountains and lakes and take in the panoramic views. Or if you prefer, go horse riding along the lake. Summer in the ski resorts offer lots of things to do, and is ideal especially for those who prefer to be active rather than lie on a beach all day. The views are to die for and the fresh air is invigorating.
Sightseers and history buffs can visit The Palace of Versailles, which was the main royal residence of French royalty from 1682 until the French Revolution in 1789, it’s about 20 km southwest of the centre of Paris. It’s a truly impressive and opulent building which features French baroque architecture with beautiful landscaped gardens, statues and fountains. No visit to Paris would be complete without a visit to the imposing French gothic style cathedral of Notre Dame. Built in the 13th century this was the setting for Victor Hugo’s classic, the Hunchback of Notre Dame which was published in 1831. There are so many places of interest to see in Paris especially, it’s almost impossible to list them.
What else is France known for? We have to mention its first rate cuisine, delicious wine and champagne. French cuisine is known for its gastronomic excellence and of course we have all heard of the Michelin Guide for upmarket restaurants that deliver outstanding dishes. Its amazing architecture, romantic lifestyle and its pleasant weather are what lures tourists and holiday home hunters to this lovely country.
Entertainment in the evening is wonderful, whether you choose to sit at the base of the Eiffel Tower at midnight with a loved one and drink champagne or take a river boat ride along the Seine with a gourmet dinner included. Dinner under the stars is a romantic setting indeed and they do say Paris is the most romantic city in the world. If you like cabaret a must see is the Moulin Rouge, it was originally built in 1885 and was the place high society, would go to enjoy champagne filled evenings out. The French cancan is still performed there today, keeping the traditional dance alive. It is one of the most prestigious cabaret shows in the world with spectacular costumes and dancers. The venue is easily recognizable by its illuminated windmill and is a spectacular venue. For a more cultured night out visit the Opera or Ballet at the Garnier.
Maybe you just want to enjoy a traditional French dinner at a bistro and soak up the atmosphere. There are eateries galore, or head to one of the many roof top bars for a nightcap and admire the views. If you want more, there are many live music venues and nightclubs it’s your choice. Discover France this year and fall in love.