France is the most romantic country on the planet. From the idyllic and luxurious capital of Paris to the flowing wine of the Loire Valley, it has everything. France is a lover’s paradise; the perfect place for a honeymoon, or somewhere to rekindle the fire. The sun-kissed coasts are stunning, and the old towns are filled with character. If you’re planning your first trip to the wonderful country, you’re probably wondering where to start!
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We have spent years in France and seen everything it has to offer. Today we’re pulling together all of our favourite parts, just for you. We believe that France has four perfect regions. We know you can’t see everything, but try to visit as much as you can. The country is rich, diverse and thick with culture. We’ll start in the capital.
Few cities in the world boast as much beauty and culture as Paris. It has birthed some of the best painters and writers the world has ever seen. It is the stage for some of the greatest love stories ever told, and you can be part of it. Everyone has their own reasons for falling in love with the city. It could be the cobbled streets of Montmartre or the gothic presence of Notre Dame. It might be the luxurious shopping at Galerie Lafayette or coffee and pastry in any one of the beautiful cafes.
First of all, you can’t visit Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower. Like any major sight, you’ve seen it a million times on postcards and in movies. But, nothing quite prepares you for the majesty of the real thing. During the day, it rises above the quaint renaissance houses as a powerful monument against the sky. In the evening, it twinkles and shines like nothing else. Yes, it’s cheesy and romantic, but it’s also perfect.
You’d be remiss if you didn’t explore the city’s cultural heart. It is home to some of the world’s most fantastic galleries. The modern design of the Pompidou is quite a spectacle. The entire building is inside-out, with elevators above the streets. Of course, the most famous of them all is the Louvre; home to the Mona Lisa. The Louvre is also well placed to take a walk west along the Champs-Élysées. It’s home to all the best designer shops and incredible storefront decorations. In the winter, they also have a stunning market here.
Finally, it’s well worth making the trek up the hill to Montmartre. Countless famous writers and painters graced its streets. In fact, many lived here while composing their masterpieces. Picasso, Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Ernest Hemingway are just a few of these names. Rising above Montmartre is the Sacré-Cœur; a brilliant white basilica. You’ll also find great views over the entire city; perfect for a photo opportunity!
Now, we move into the second region in our short tour of France. Though, wine country could refer to any one of the seven incredible wine regions France has on offer. The most famous, of course, is Champagne. It is the place where the original, and the best, is created. Depending on where you’re staying, you could also visit the Loire Valley, Burgundy or Bordeaux. If you make it out into the country, we suggest finding a villa in the classic French style. It will complete the rustic feel of traditional France. There is nothing better than immersing yourself in the history and culture of real France.
Now all that’s left to do is schedule the wine tasting events, savour the grapes and walk through the country. We suggest exploring the towns and villages and sampling the rustic life on offer. It is worth brushing up on your French language skills though. In Paris, you’ll get away with English, but you’ll struggle to find English speakers here.
The Alps aren’t for everyone, but if you’re an explorer at heart, you’ll love it. Europe’s biggest mountain range is an awesome sight, in the truest sense of the word. You’ll be awed and amazed at the size and steepness of the mountains. The Alps is renowned the world over for the sheer cragginess of its peaks. They are sharp and piercing. If you’re a skier, there is no better place than Val D’Isere or Chamonix to hit the powder. The Alps are notorious for their alpine skiing, actively encouraging off-piste trails. If you’re used to skiing in the Rockies, you’ll find it quite different. As for apres ski, you’ll find quaint towns dotted around and typical French chalets.
For the more adventurous, there are plenty of rock climbing and mountaineering opportunities. The hiking here is magnificent too. We suggest hiring a guide and following their tracks. You’ll discover unexplored areas of the mountain and beautiful lakes. If you love nothing more than breathing in the mountain air and embracing nature, come to the Alps.
The French Riviera has a reputation for luxury, and with good reason! When you arrive in the region, the first thing you’ll notice is boats. Lots of them, and each one expensive beyond your wildest dreams. The French Riviera is a millionaire’s playground, and dropping in for a short while is a must. Simply wander along the seafront and take in the sights.
Of course, no trip to the Riviera is complete without hitting the casinos. There are plenty to choose from here, and Monte Carlo has the finest on offer. It may not be on par with Las Vegas, but you can play at being James Bond for the night!
If you’re looking for something a little quieter, head to the market towns of Antibes. You’ll find traditional French food, wine and crafts along the shore. You can get lost in rustic architecture and beautiful ocean views. Settle in for the evening with a romantic meal by the sea to finish your trip. Just be sure to bring your chequebook as it can get expensive on the Riviera!
Thanks for joining us on our short journey through France. If you’re planning a trip this year, take as long as possible. See everything that France has to offer and visit each of the four regions we mentioned here. Seasoned travellers, what is your favourite part of France?