With its constantly evolving cultural scene and arguably the world’s most celebrated gourmet dining, France holidays are the gift that keeps on giving. Paris is a glittering highlight – home to the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland and countless famous attractions – but the country’s many varied regions and landscapes offer up local specialities and experiences that make it a treasure trove for travellers of all persuasions. Snow-capped Alpine peaks and sun-drenched shorelines, rolling vineyards and hidden grottos are just the beginning.
With coasts on the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, and mountain ranges to the east and west, the natural landscape is as varied as the wine list at a local café. Cities like Lyon and Marseille rival Paris for culture and gastronomy, while Nice is a must for anyone exploring the French Riviera. Smaller towns like Nantes and Toulouse have strong local personalities, and La Rochelle is a sleepy port where oyster fans can slurp some of the world’s best varieties. Then there’s the profusion of regional cheeses, buttery pastries, flavourful charcuterie and all those wines, beers and ciders that many a thirsty visitor will want to sample.
Visitors will do more than eat, of course – though there’s plenty of opportunity for that. The castles of the Loire Valley, and sites like the extraordinary island of the Mont-Saint-Michel or the opulent palace of Versailles will keep culture seekers satiated – France is ranked fifth worldwide in terms of the number of Unesco sites. From the medieval walls of Carcassonne to Napoleon’s birthplace in Corsica, it’s easy to understand why holidays to France attract more international travellers than any other country.
Springtime in Paris
A picnic in Paris as the trees begin to blossom is the stuff of dreams, and they will all come true if you visit in April or May.
December in Lyon
Aside from its superb festive holiday markets, Lyon hosts the Fête des Lumières in early December, when the city sparkles for several days with illuminated installations.
Cannes Film Festival
The French Riviera overflows with the film industry’s finest during this star-studded event in May each year – lavish parties, film screenings and celebrity-spotting abound.
Pull up a pavement seat
There’s something wonderful about sitting in a French café, sipping an espresso and watching the world go by. A quintessential moment anywhere in the country.
Soak up the sun
Whether it’s off the coast of edgy Marseille or on the pristine pebble beaches of Nice, sun bathing on the Côte d’Azur is a national tradition.
Capture the culture
From the world-famous Louvre to the lesser-known towers of La Rochelle, France is overflowing with museums and cultural landmarks that make it a playground for heritage seekers.