As well as a being an
is website filled with hundreds of pages of relevant and useful
information about France. The practical travel information pages on
Paris and the regions of France are
just part of a much wider exploration of modern France.
Other pages of this website cover a wide range of topics of interest to
students and anyone wanting to understand French life, culture
but also the nation's institutions
and the French language.
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France - a thematic guide:
to the regions of France
Paris, a guide to the French regions and their tourist attractions.
and useful information on driving in and through France - motorways,
tolls, where to stay....
a trip to
on things to do before starting your trip to France.
round France without a
means of transport and travel in France - train
, plane, canal
and even on foot.
|Maps of France
towns, departments, regions, climate, wine areas and other themes.
French way of life
A mine of information
life and living in France, including
working in France, living in France, food and eating, education,
dictionary of France
dictionary of modern France - key figures, institutions, acronyms,
culture, icons, etc.
|►► Other key
day weather forecast for France
weather to expect in different regions of France
map of France
holiday calendars 2013,
French for visitors
Other main travel pages
south from Calais
and maps for driving south avoiding the heavy traffic round Paris.
tunnel to France
safe in France
A guide to the main institutions of France - politics, administration,
justice, education, health system, etc.
& learning French in France
|Online French grammar
introduction to France - 2013
France - more than just the world's leading tourist destination
About France - the country
a starting point for essential facts about France as a country, jump to
France in brief.
Or for key data on France, visit Facts
as a tourist destination
For independent travellers, France is the world's number one tourist
destination, and it's not hard
to understand why. France has it all - or more or less. It has tourist
sights for all tastes; it has some of the greatest beaches in
Europe, as well as the highest mountains and the finest historic monuments,
the most beautiful cities, the most idyllic countryside, the most
magnificent castles, the finest rivers, and
plenty more, not to mention some of the best restaurants and the
and more hotels
than any other country in Europe.
Mont Saint Michel, Normandy
France has something for everyone,
which is one of
the reasons why it remains the world's number one tourist destination.
It has magnificent holiday opportunities for everything from a short
weekend city break, in places such as Paris,
Nice or Bordeaux, to a relaxed family holiday in a gite
in the countryside, a week or two's relaxation by the seaside, or an
energetic break hiking, climbing, kayaking or cycling in France's great outdoors.
tourism in France
and art galleries
- which contrary to popular belief are not all located in Paris - offer
a magnificent collection of works of art and artefacts; and for those
for whom a holiday is an opportunity to discover Europe's historic
heritage, France's great cathedrals, medieval castles, and thousands of
other ancient monuments are a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.
For themed breaks, the châteaux of the Loire (in the Centre region of
France) are an obvious choice; among the many other historic sites,
consider discovering the Roman remains of Provence ,
the medieval bastide
towns of the southwest, or the castles and caves of the Dordogne.
There are even some scenic
for people who enjoy a trip down memory lane. Check out the regional
guides for information on sights, monuments and tourist attractions in
July and August, France's Mediterranean beaches tend to be pretty
packed; this is particularly the case in the famous resorts of Provence and
the French Riviera. By contrast, the long sandy beaches of the Languedoc offer much
more legroom. Away from the resorts, Brittany
offers plenty of good beaches, with the added fun of tides and good
waves; and France's Atlantic coast, south of the Loire, has plenty of
long sandy beaches, in the regions of Poitou-Charentes
South of Bordeaux, there are mile upon mile of fine beaches.
For more information see guide to the French coast.
off the beaten track:
you want the life, culture and bustle of the big city, go to Paris.
But France is a lot more than Paris. There are plenty of
places in deepest rural France that are still very
much off the beaten track; and for camping
holidays, or for those who are content to put up in small rural inns,
several regions in France offer wonderful holiday opportunities away
from it all. Five French departments (counties) that are particularly
worth checking out are the Aveyron (Midi Pyrenees
region), the Haute Loire (Auvergne),
the Corrèze (Limousin),
the Jura (Franche
and the Vosges (Lorraine):
all these departments include sparsely populated areas, attractive
scenery, and plenty of leisure opportunities - or just some great
places to sit back with a glass of wine, relax, and enjoy the peace and
France has an extensive network of motorways, and many of them offer
relatively relaxed driving conditions, except at peak periods. Off the
motorways, driving on France's backroads can be a way to discover
motoring as it used to be, a pleasurable experience and a way to
discover the country. For more information click for our
guide - driving
tips and advice. and our checklist
of things not to forget before you leave.
culture and institutions
Finally, for those who are looking for deeper information about
France, this website contains pages explaining the main French
institutions and the functioning of French
life, including the
, plus pages on the French way of politics,
the French economy
and the press.
There is also a clearly written guide to the main points of French
Best websites for holidays in France -
online travel guide
recent pages and info on
News from France...
released by the French statistical office INSEE on May 15th show that
France is now officially in recession. The French economy contracted by
0.2% in the last quarter of 2012, and again by 0.2% in the first
quarter of 2013.
The news has been greeted with
glum resignation in France, and comes at a very bad time for president
François Hollande, whose ratings have slumped to a historic
Hollande was elected on a promise to turn round the French economy and
cut unemployment by the end of 2013, but the prospect of either
happening is receding by the month. In order for the French economy to
create jobs, economists estimate that a growth rate of +1.2% is needed.
At present, that target seems to have vanished over the horizon.
President Hollande is currently beset by problems,
latest issue being tensions in the Finance ministry between the social
democratic finance minister Pierre Moscovici, and the hard-left
"Minister for productive regeneration" Arnaud Montebourg, who are
pulling in opposite directions - an internal ministerial
that has been much commented in the French media. A ministerial
shake-up seems essential, but with Hollande having acquired a
reputation as a ditherer, trying to please everyone and ending up
pleasing noone, pundits are not expecting any big changes in
The European Union
– while allowing France, pragmatically, a bit more time to
its economy in shape – has called for stronger reforms,
stronger measures on retirement pensions and institutional reform.
Hollande has enacted a number of measures aimed in theory at
reviving the economy, but many of these have involved increasing
taxes and red tape . It is hard to see how this can help stimulate
economic growth, at a time when French business and households - who
face relatively high taxation and an increasingly complex bureaucracy -
are calling for less taxes and less red tape. As an example, French
business and taxpayers now have to pay up to FOUR
different types of income tax (not including any local taxes), all with
different names; IR, CSG, CRDS and another one too. As a French radio
commentator laconically remarked "In France, we don't do things by half
measures...." The great shake up and the great bureaucratic
simplification, which France desperately needs, show no sign of
As a nation, France is
currently going through one of its bouts of pessimism, and record
numberrs of people are leaving the country or thinking of doing so.
Magazines report record numbers of young entrepreneurial Frenchmen and
women fleeing in search of more opportunities and a more inspiring
environment in other countries, notably Canada, Switzerland, the USA
and the UK. Few people in France currently see their country
land of opportunity, and as long as this continues, the future will not
look good. The official French analysis suggests that France will
return to growth later this year; but in recent months, official growth
predictions have tended to be over-optimistic.
President's ratings plummet
French voters elected a new president in 2012, they did so with great
hopes; Hollande promised to solve the country's economic troubles,
reduce deficits and above all reduce the country's endemic
unemployment. Almost a year later, economic problems seem as great as
ever, the deficits are still stubbonly high, and unemployment has
reached new heights. And President Hollande's popularity ratings have
fallen faster than that of any other newly elected French president.
And as if the economic news was not bad enough, Hollande has
alienated the left wing of his own party, by taking measures to
liberalise some of France's arcane labour laws, and failing to
intervene to prevent planned factory closures and relocations, as
French industry loses out against competition from abroad. At the same
time, he has further angered the conservative opposition, by lowering
the retirement age for some categories of workers - while others are
having to work longer - and failing to deliver the improvements that he
pormised voters before the election.
In addition, after
promising an to have an irreproachably clean government, Hollande has
now had to sack his former Minister for the Budget, Jerome Cahuzac,
who, after many months of denial, finally admitted to possessing secret
undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore, with more than
half a million Euros deposited in them, out of sight of the French tax
authorities. Hollande's latest reaction is to suggest obliging all
French government ministers to publicly declare a list of all their
financial and non-financial capital assets, an idea that has met with
serious disapproval not just from the conservative opposition, but even
from some senior ministers in his own government.
Unfortunately in France, there is now a very serious crisis
confidence between ordinary French people and their politicians. To
remedy the situation, many major changes have been proposed, such as
limiting the number of elected positions that politicians can hold at
the same time, or the number of times they can stand for reelection.
According to a recent opinion poll, 93% of French people are in favour
of limiting the number of elected functions (parliamentarian, mayor,
regional councillor, county councillor, etc) that a politician can hold
down at the same time; but given that a majority of French elected
representatives have a vested interested in keeping the status-quo,
change in this matter, as in many other matters in France, is very hard
to engineer. Yet paradoxically, if Hollande's popularity falls much
further, he may become just the person to actually push through some
needed reforms such as this one. A president who sees he has no chance
of reelection at the end of his first term, is more likely to push for
unpopular reforms than one who will do anything not to displease his
own party, and the voters in general.
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