Country in Europe
France, in Western Europe, encompasses medieval cities, alpine villages and Mediterranean beaches. Paris, its capital, is famed for its fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is also renowned for its wines and sophisticated cuisine. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman theater and the vast Palace of Versailles attest to its rich history.
Northern highlights include the Loire Valley’s majestic chateaux; Normandy’s WWII sites and iconic Mont-St-Michel; WWI Western Front battlefields; and Brittany’s rugged coast. To the east are German-influenced architecture and food, and the French Alps’ ski resorts. In the south, Provence is home to lavender fields, and the Riviera glitters with glamorous towns and beaches. Bordeaux and Burgundy produce renowned wines, while Champagne gives the bubbly stuff its name. Along with cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and Roquefort, local fare includes Brittany’s crêpes and Burgundy’s coq au vin.
When to visit
Many travelers visit in spring (Apr–late-Jun) or summer (late-Jun–Aug). Weather varies by region but is generally temperate. In Aug, many shops and restaurants close as locals head to the countryside or beach. Mountain areas receive winter snow, and northern regions can be rainy throughout the year. Along the Mediterranean, winters are mild and summers dry and hot. Major events include the Cannes Film Festival (May), the Tour de France cycling race (Jul) and the national Bastille Day celebration (Jul).