From the boulevards of Paris to the fashionable seaside resorts of the Côte d’Azur, France offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. There are fairy-tale castles, soaring cathedrals, and picture-perfect villages, as well as contemporary cities to explore. Paris, of course, is the world’s most explorable city, from the well-known museums and churches along the River Seine to the hidden brasseries and sidewalk cafes in the distant arrondissements. The French perhaps did not invent fine cuisine, they just elevated it into an art form–every region of the country boasts a distinctive flavor and offers the perfect accompanying wine.
There is a good reason why France is the most-visited country on the globe: No matter how many times you go there, there is always something else to experience.
Start with Paris. As the actress Aubrey Hepburn once famously said, “Paris is always a good idea.” Whether you go to the City of Light for the tourist spots, or the history, or the gastronomy, or the fashion, or the museums, or the shopping, or … well, you get the idea. No one is ever tired of Paris. It is impossible!
But that’s just one small slice of a very large country. The rocky coasts of Brittany and Normandy, the endless vineyards of Bordeaux, the crisp clean heights of the Pyrenees and the Alps, the beautiful people and the beautiful scenery of the Cote d’Azur and the Riviera, the lush greeney of the Loire, the lavender fields of Provence … throw a dart at the map and you’ll hit on a part of France begging to be explored and enjoyed.
Speaking of enjoyment, most of us eat for sustenance. The French eat in order to celebrate life itself. Go to the smallest French village you can find, and there will be a chef making something wonderful to eat. Served with just the right complementary wine, of course.
Finally, there are the French people. Despite a reputation for being a bit aloof, a bit reticent, a bit snooty, it does not take much to break through the shell and encounter the warm folk inside. Try to use their language–they like that, even if you make a mess of the verbs. Get together over a meal or even just a glass of wine or beer. You’ll soon see the essential French character–warm, hospitable, fiercely proud–come to the fore.
Vive la France!
French, of course, is the official language. English and other European languages are also understood in the main tourist areas.
The official currency is the Euro (€). The euro is divided by 100 cents. The U.S. dollar buys approximately € 0.88.
The electrical current in France is 220 to 240V AC and the cycle is 50Hz and you will need a converter if you have appliances that don't accept this voltage. Standard plugs have two round prongs and receive one round ground prong. Adapters may be required.
Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.
Visitors from the United States (and most other Western nations) are not required to have a tourist visa to enter France A valid passport is required for entry.
Tap water throughout France is treated and purified and is safe to drink.
France is in the Central European Time zone, which is GMT +1. France observes daylight savings time from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March. When it is noon in New York, it is 6 p.m. in Paris.
Although visitors arrive year-round, France’s peak tourist season is in the summer months: May through October.