France is considered the home of style and sophistication, yet also for possessing considerable rustic charm in its rural regions. Mountains, sunshine and superb beaches can be found in this regionally very diverse nation. Paris, Nice and the Cote d'Azur, Toulouse, Chambery, Strasbourg with its European parliament and the Mediterranean island of Corsica are just some of the highlights.
France is a large country in the middle of Europe, sitting between Germany and Great Britain, two of its traditional political and military opponents in days gone by. The history of France is vast and rich, stretching back to the Ancient Gauls and hurtling through the Hundred Years War, the Revolution, the glory days of Napoleon's empire and onwards through World War Two and beyond.
Considered by many as the home of fine cuisine, its culinary culture has influenced many other cuisines worldwide and French chefs are still considered as some of the finest in the world. Food pervades every aspect of French life and some of the rural bistros really do serve up heavenly meals. Whether you want haute cuisine or a peasant stew, you can always find somewhere in France that does it very well.
France is also, of course, famous for its wine and its wine-making culture. Many people travel to France simply to tour vineyards and immerse themselves in as much of this lifestyle as possible. Whether you are in Normandy or Marseille, you can always find a good bottle of wine in France.
The country is also home to one of the world's most gripping and famous sporting events, the Tour de France. This epic cycling race occurs every summer and tests its participants with the full range of obstacles France's varied countryside can offer. Thousands of people travel to France from all over the world every year to be spectators along the route, adding to the carnival atmosphere the race attracts.
Anyone thinking of visiting will be relieved to know that hotels in France are immensely varied, with over 17,000 to choose from. Whilst the major chains such as Ibis and Novotel are well represented in France hotels of all kinds abound, with many being independently owned by families or individuals. There are busy holiday seasons though and for anyone journeying to France hotels are best booked well in advance.
The jewel of France is its capital, Paris. This city has some of the world's most famous landmarks, from the Cathedral of Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower and the Pompidou Centre. Other cities also offer great experiences for visitors. Marseille, down on the Mediterranean coast, is a sultry city, known for the passionate nature of its people. A spirit called pastis and fish stew are the things to try here.
Also on the coast is the French Riviera, where you can find glamorous resorts like Cannes, where the famous film festival is held and St. Tropez. Carcassone, in the south, offers a hazy summer idyll and many people opt for one of the many self-catering cottages or flats when they stay here.
The French Alps are good for a visit in summer, with their spectacular views and hiking and cycling routes, but it is in the winter when they come alive. Ski resorts like Chamonix-Mont-Blanc offer some of the best winter sports facilities in Europe.
France is still a predominately rural country and it is in the countryside that many people believe you will find the true France. Self-catering apartments are plentiful in rural areas, whilst gites and converted farmhouses offer other appealing options. Some locations, such as ski resorts, also have holiday villages, offering a great standard of accommodation as well as a ready-made community. Even some chateaux have been converted to accommodate tourists.
Whatever your preference for holiday accommodation or activities, France can offer so much. For gourmets who want to sit down all day, for skiers who want to fly over snow, or for glamorous sophisticates who follow high fashion, France really has it all. Compare the price of hotels in France using Travelsupermarket`s tool and save money by booking in advance.