"FRANCE" France by pedroswift

France Travel Guide: 59,689 reviews and 163,290 photos

France - Like a Magnet, it draws us in .........

photo above: Pont Canal Briare - Eiffel involved in design

France is the Number One tourist destination in the world.
75 million plus visitors can’t be wrong?
As an inhabitant of the New World, I find France so fascinating. I’m drawn back every other year to get another taste of the enigma of France and the French.
Enigma? .......Enigma = something that baffles understanding.
When in France, I’m constantly bombarded by questions.
I visit the Dordogne & note the farmer next door heading out into the fields with a shovel each morning at the same time. Stupidly, I ask, “Is he truffle hunting?” No. He does not have internal plumbing in his house. There is no toilet. His mission is very basic. This... In a country that produces the Airbus!?
Napoleon, son of an obscure Italian speaking official in Corsica becomes Emperor of France (& a lot more). How can this happen?
Anyway, I’m hooked and am constantly thinking about my next visit.
Where to go next? What aspects to research? The natural beauty, the turbulent history, the culture.

The photo above is taken on the approaches to the canal crossing the Loire River at Briare. For a Primer on Canal Cruising in France.see my Bourgogne Page.

One thing I try to do in preparation for my holidays is to immerse myself in France and the French before I leave home.
We check the weather in Paris on a daily basis. (other places as well). Celebrate the French National Days. Bastille Day especially. Each July, we avidly watch the TV coverage of the Tour de France for glimpses of the countryside.
Language: Out comes the French Course for Beginners. Learn some French - tip#251!!!
TV programmes. SBS our ethnic channel often has French orientated stuff like Rick Stein's Midi Barge Trip & French Regional cooking on Global Village etc
Movies: Off to the video shop to get some French Movies
Reading: My Reading List
French History Link
Always on the look out for new books on France or French Canal Cruising seeing we do go boating in France .
Eating: We dine out at local French Restaurants.
Out come my French Cook Books to make some typical dishes and my Patricia Wells “Food Lovers Guide” books get thumbed some more.
Can you read a French Carte(menu)?? Link to printable Glossary of French/English Food Terminology
Drinking: More wines of France get drunk. If Wine tastings of French or French styles are held locally, we go.
Music: Bizet, Ravel etal get played more often while dining. French Radio stations play in background while at computer or Madeleine Peyroux is playing in the car. I now have four albums thanks to GuyExParis's recommendation. Check out Paul's France pages....top stuff.
Best piece of advice on France picked up via VT.
Beausoleil's recommendation that I get a copy of Ina Caro's: "The Road from the Past: Traveling Through History in France".
It's a must for anyone visiting chateaux in France.

Caro's book concentrates on five regions of France: Provence, Languedoc, The Dordogne, The Loire Valley and The Ile-de-France. Improve your understanding of the history of France and the influences dictating the choice of building styles in a book that is far from being a musty tome on history. It has contemporary references, personal anecdotes of touristy experiences as well as well researched historical stuff. I purchased our copy from a book store in Texas via the web and I've read it through once and refer to it often as well. My wife has read it from cover to cover twice before we revisited the Loire in 2008 and says she is very glad that she did so.
We also have Ina Caro's "Paris to the Past....Travelling through French History by Train" - 25 day trips from Paris to THE places of Historical significance.
Check the Reading List in travelogue below for more.

Doing Road Trips in France? Check out Mandatory Equipment to be carried in the car while driving in France. in transport tips below.

Driving in France for those used to right-hand drive vehicles & driving on the left plus road map advice and Parking info in "Travelogues" located down the page. click "next" to find travelogues 6 , 7 & 8.

Internet Cafes (usually feature the word "Cyber" in their name or advertising: check for a list & bookmark

Tips: Hope I can keep my lowly contributions in this page generic. ie Logically postable under title "France" rather than specific to a place listed under regional headings.

French Icons

Think of France (other than Paris) and what do you think of?? What elements make the place different from boring suburbia at home?
For me the number one icon is the baguette. Even in the smallest of rural villages not big enough to support a boulangerie, baguettes are available via a bakers van. Since the Revolutionary puppeteers attributed the words "Let them eat cake" to Marie Antoinette, one can not get between a Frenchman and his bagette without getting the chop!
more French icons 1

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The natural beauty, the turbulent history, the culture.
  • Cons:an occasional transport strike
  • In a nutshell:"Imagination rules the world......" Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Last visit to France: Jun 2010
  • Intro Updated Feb 26, 2013
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Reviews (29)

Comments (7)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Oct 1, 2011 at 4:28 PM

    Hi Peter, thanks for adding that useful cycling tip. Several years ago in Paris I was given a reflective vest which I still wear every night when I'm on my bike. It says Tous à Vélo! on the back.

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Feb 15, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      I see you have updated most of your tips, and added some new ones, since I last looked at this page in 2011. Good advice for travelling in France!

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Dec 4, 2008 at 6:00 AM

    Good page though I am NOT a Francophile. Could never even think about eating horse ( I love horses and like to see mine alive- - in fact after reading about it I think it's time to become a vegetarian).

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Nov 21, 2008 at 7:28 AM

    Bonjour Peter, I should put my tip about wine prices at "dangers & warnings" but as you know you can buy many wines at less than 5 € but not in Beaune! I liked your local customs tips. Very well observed.

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Jul 29, 2008 at 5:06 PM

    Love your opening pic Peter!! And very interesting tips. I saved your lingo one :o) Didn't know about the horse burgers though....amazing what you learn here on vt :o) Cheers, Ann.

  • diosh's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2008 at 5:43 AM

    Great to meet an Francophile:-)I go every year. I feel at home there.Perhaps I was French in another life?? D. p.s. I collect photos of 'hand' door knockers and street water hydrants!

  • christine.j's Profile Photo
    Nov 21, 2007 at 1:19 AM

    A great page! I have to look for plastic buckets next time I'm in a Cora. So far I've bought lots of things in France, but no plastic buckets. Mostly it's food, of course.

  • mariev's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2007 at 6:43 AM

    If you want to visit all the 'Cheval Blanc' you'd better consider to stay here for several years - there must be indeed one in each village (i know one with TWO of them)

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