Given the countless delights that await those who enter its welcoming borders, it's no wonder that France easily attracts hoardes of tourists each year.
The storied history and pervasive elegance of Paris, overflowing with cultural treasures; the sun-washed coast and soothing waters of the French Riviera; the mountainous snow-covered folds of the Alps and the Pyrenees, perfect for hiking or skiing; the voluminous vineyards, churning out the most and best wine in the world: all these traits, each fantastic in itself, make France a compulsory item on anyone's checklist of lifelong travel goals.
Destinations in France:
Paris: The city that needs no introduction is consistently the most popular attraction in the entire world, sheltering countless cultural and scenic treasures within its city limits.
Bordeaux: More than just a wine town, this city in the southwest of France boasts a consistently enchanting cityscape and a thriving nightlife and culinary scene.
Lyon: The former Roman capital of Gaul now hosts some excellent remains of the late imperial conquerors, as well as ample evidence of the wealth that passed through its walls at the height of its burgeoning silk trade.
Marseilles: A sprawling port city, Marseilles is an eclectic hodgepodge of diverse Mediterranean influences, centred around the bustling harbour.
Nice: The prime destination for anyone searching for the pleasures of the French Riviera, Nice houses an alluring old town wrapped around an ascending central castle hill layered with natural beauty.
Getting to France:
With over 100 airports operating around the country, France maintains strong connections to the rest of the world by air. The largest airport is the Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in Paris. It serves nearly every airline imaginable, including British Airways, Air France, and easyJet. The CÃ´te D'Azur Airport (NCE) in Nice also greets an enormous amount of travellers annually, from a large number of airlines including British Airways, Air France, and easyJet. Satolas Airport (LYS) in Lyon, Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS) outside Blagnac and Toulouse, and Marseille Airport (MRS) are other major airports with a similar but narrower selection of airlines.
Convenient travel by rail from the UK is made possible by Eurostar, which offers hourly services from London's St Pancras International station to the Gare du Nord station in Paris. The journey takes just two and a half hours. Eurostar also offers direct services to Calais and Lille in the north of France; Bourg St Maurice, Aime la Plagne, and Moutiers in the southeast, near the Italian border; and seasonal trips to Avignon in the south on Saturday mornings from July to September. Rail travel in France is quick and efficient. For travelling within France, the country's high speed rail service TGV offers a good quality service at exceptionally high speeds to all parts France. Talk to RailEurope to book train fares throughout France.
Though slower and less comfortable, buses offer a more affordable option for. The numerous bus companies run under the umbrella organisation Eurolines offer services to most, if not all, regions of France. Regional, private bus companies also offer bus services in France. Bus lines are less popular for travelling between regions, but are used quite frequently for inter-regional travel, though service in rural areas can be slow and unreliable. French national rail company SNCF (which operates TGV) runs the most convenient buses, particularly to areas not accessible by rail.
A number of ferry services run between the UK and France, though frequency and cost of service varies according to season. Sea France and P&O Ferries travel every couple hours from Dover to Calaise, while Norfolk Lines runs from Dover to Dunkirk, in northeast France. LD Lines operates from Dover, Newhaven, and Portsmouth to Boulogne, Dieppe, and Le Havre. Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries run from Plymouth, Portsmouth, Weymouth and Poole to various sites in Brittany, to the northwest of France. Ferry Savers is an excellent search engine for finding the cheapest routes among the multitude of options available.
France Essential Information:
Currency: France uses the Euro. For up-to-date exchange rates see: www.xe.com/ucc
Languages: French. English is spoken by members of the tourism industry and by others whose jobs regularly require a working knowledge of English. To learn the basics of French visit www.bbc.co.uk
International dialling code: +33
Time zone: GMT +1
France telephone codes: To make a phone call to someone in France dial: 0033 + area code + telephone number.
Electricity in France: France uses type E plugs on 230 volts, 50Hz.
France entry requirements: British nationals do not need a visa to travel to France.
France health: European travellers to France should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which does not replace travel insurance, but allows you to receive emergency treatment on the same terms as a French person. The EHIC can be obtained for free from the Post Office.
Official France travel advice: For up-to-date and official travel advice on France see the Foreign Office website at www.fco.gov.uk
British embassy contact details in France: British Embassy 35 rue du Faubourg St HonorÃ© 75383 Paris Cedex 08 Tel: (33) 1 44 51 31 00
Given the countless delights that await those who enter its welcoming borders, it's no wonder that France easily attracts the largest number of tourists in the world each year.