Chateaus, rolling valleys, picturesque Alpine mountains, and oh the food! Of all the destinations in the world, France consistently ranks at the top for tourism and visitors year after year. If you’re after romance, culinary heaven, or charming country villages France delivers in droves.
Background and History of France
Lengthy tomes have been written on the history of France, which still fail to do it justice. Archeological discoveries indicate humans lived in the region that is now France as many as 1.8 million years ago with the first written records on the history of France appearing during the Iron Age. The area was known to the Roman as Gaul and the early inhabitants spoke a Celtic language known as Gaulish. In the first millennium the Romans ruled this area but were later overtaken by Germanic tribes and reached their full power under the famous ruler Charlemagne in medieval times.
During the 1300-1700 a series of wars and monarchies had power in France changing hands regularly while strengthening nationalism. In the late 1700’s the French Revolution changed history and France became a republic. During the 19th and 20th centuries France became a strong colonial power throughout the world and faced multiple struggles in wars and conflicts to protect her own land as well as the colonial lands she governed. Today France is a member of the European Union, United Nations, and has one of the strongest economies in Europe.
What are 3 things you probably didn’t know about this country?
Lake Geneva is more French than Swiss. This lake is known as a highlight of Switzerland but in reality much of its southern shore is in France. Enjoy the lake, with fewer tourists, from this side.
France has a no tipping rule – service is included in restaurant bills.
The Millau Bridge in southern France is the world’s tallest bridge and France’s tallest structure.
What are some must-visit sites?
When the name France comes up, people automatically think of Paris, the capital city and hub of tourism but France is so much more!
The south of France is wonderful for those who love the sea. A visit to Marseille may make you feel more like you’re in North Africa than France. The western coast of France is slightly less popular than the south but has its own charm and uniqueness. Here you’ll see more of working class France, along with plenty of delicious seafood.
Throughout France you’ll find two things; wine and abbeys- and in some places you’ll find them together. The Abbaye de Valmagne in Languedoc was built in the 12th century where monks cultivated wine, after the French Revolution it was privately owned and became an epic wine cellar. Today it still functions as such.
Where can you see some hidden highlights of this country?
For many people who only visit Paris, any part of rural France is a delightful highlight. Provence and Burgundy are famous regions but consider some other areas like Alsace, Arbois, or Brittany to see how diverse France is.
Alesia MuseoParc in Alise-Sainte-Reine. This site opened recently and is a rebuilt fortification of a Roman camp. The site itself is where Julius Caesar defeated the Gauls. Roman actors dress up and provide reenactments.
Why this country should be on YOUR bucket list
If you love big cities and culture France has that. If you prefer long walks in the countryside France has that too. Good food? Check. Wine? Check. Amazing art, architecture, and scenery – yes it’s all here. Ski in the Alps or Pyrenees, take bike rides or sail. There’s no shortage of activities to do and things to see whether you’re young or old!
Mon chéri, is France on your travel bucket list? Have you visited France in the past?