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France Guide: Spend Less, Do More

Welcome to France

France-Biarritz-Beach-SceneGet ready to be seduced by this unique culture, cuisines, arts, history and countryside. This is a place like no other. Read on and consider how you can spend less to do more when you get there. Take your time, this country has it all.

Many countries claim to have the type of holiday on offer that caters for every taste and fancy, but France is one of the few that can uphold such a claim. Holidays can vary from basking in the sun to skiing in crisp snow, and all within a country steeped in history and culture, and with extravagant and exquisite cuisine, all within a varied range of accommodation.

If you can draw yourself away from the pleasures of the palate, France is also an incredible place to feast the eyes. From the thousand-year-old architecture on the rocky Mont Saint-Michel outcrop in Normandy, to the magnificent 440-room Renaissance chateau of Chambord in the Loire Valley, this truly is the country of castles and cathedrals. The sumptuous Palace of Versailles was Louis XIV's seat of absolute power from 1682. You can lose yourself in the glittering Mirror Room, a 75m-long reception hall opening out on to the gardens with 17 large windows, the panels of which contain 578 mirrors.

Travelling is easy in France as hotels are everywhere, for the French are well aware of the treasures in their care and the rest of the world's enduring desire to visit.

Top Things about France

France-Beaujolais-Vineyards-at-sunriseFrance holds a multitude of reasons to visit this cultured land, including a range of substantial and stunningly beautiful vineyards and wineries that not only allow visitors an insight into the manufacturing process, but also educate and train the taste buds to appreciate the flavours of a variety of grapes.

The Paris Euro Disney Park is a major tourist attraction, with over 14 million visitors a year experiencing the thrill of incredible themed rides and shows and the chance to meet many of the Disney characters with whom we, and our children, have grown up. Containing fantastic restaurants and hotels specifically catering for families, this is an unbelievable experience with additional water, sporting and relaxing activities also on site.

France-Traditional-Food-EscargotPossessing numerous landmarks famous the world over such as Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and the Arc De Triomphe, the opportunity to see stunning architecture which reflects the amazing history of this country’s remarkable heritage is unmissable.

For beaches and sun there is no more attractive destination in the world than the stunningly beautiful Cote D’Azur, with its clean, white sand and clear blue seas and serviced by incredible French restaurants and bars.

Best Cities to Visit in France

Paris, the capital city, is one of the most sensational cities in the world, with an amazingly colourful history and culture, stunning architecture and an aura of love and romance. Hosting some of the most incredible feats of engineering alongside museums and galleries that reflect the city’s glorious past, Paris will enthral and delight at every turn. On the outskirts of the city is Disneyland Paris, a hugely popular theme park that is perfect for families and children to enjoy the wonders of Disney in a safe and warm climate.

Another greatly historic city that presently holds the French Parliament is Strasbourg, steeped in Gothic tradition, with intricate architecture and old winding streets. Having superb restaurants and bars, fine wines and great nightlife, Strasbourg is a popular and thriving city.

Marseille is a beautiful, picture postcard Mediterranean port city that has a vibrant nightlife, stunning beaches and medieval architecture that makes you feel you have been transported back in time. Seeing the shoreline from the sea is a must, with numerous boat tours allowing a view of all the cities landmarks and the incredible cathedral take.

Toulouse, known as the pink city, is a distinctive and attractive city that also has incredible feats of architecture that date back centuries. A World Heritage Site, the church and building structures entice huge numbers of visitors each year with fine dining venues, vineyards and hotels ensuring that their stay is one to remember.    

Events in France

Each region in France has its own unique culture and annual events reflecting their local history, although some national events, such as Bastille Day, are celebrated countywide.

Bastille Day falls on 14th July and features street fairs and pageants, street feasts and parades, as well as traditional firework displays.

The Carnival of Nice is held every February and celebrates the city’s history and achievements with parades, extravagant floats, street music and masked balls.

Sports events such as the Tour de France and the Le Mans 24-hour car race are iconic events, celebrating France’s motoring history and attract visitors from all over the world.

To catch a glimpse of the rich and famous, The Cannes Film Festival in May is the place to see and be seen.

Local Cuisine and Wine

France is famous for its cuisine and wine production, with each region having distinct culinary favourites. The major cities tend to have the whole country’s menus available, with world famous dishes such as ratatouille, salad nicoise, boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin regular features. Along the coastline, fish dishes are unsurprisingly popular, and the Loire Valley, famed for its production of fruit and game as well as beef and mushrooms, tends to prepare sumptuous cuisine using its local reared produce.

Wine is produced within most regions and is distinctive to the area of fermentation. Burgundy produces smooth and fruity reds and whites full of character, as well as the world famous Beaujolais and Chablis brands. The Champagne region produces the world’s most famous sparkling wine, whilst the Loire Valley area is known for its Muscadet, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon wines, and hosts some of the most picturesque vineyards in the country.

French Culture

France was the birthplace of numerous famous philosophers, particularly within the humanist tradition, such as Montaigne, considered one of the most influential writers in world history, as he was responsible for establishing the essay as a recognised art form.

Traditionally stylish and fashion conscious, France holds a strong leaning to the design and production of clothing, with many leading brands showcasing their collections across the country. Chanel, Jean-Paul Gautier, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy are all world brands that attract the world’s fashion leaders to the country.

French food again features prominently within the country’s cultural life, utilising homegrown ingredients and washed down with quality French wines. Family life often revolves around mealtimes using homegrown or locally sourced ingredients.

With its rich history, France has developed into a multicultural nation with a variety of religions.

Hotels and Accommodation in France 

Accommodation in France caters for every wish, taste and budget, from sumptuous five-star hotels with every feature and luxury afforded to its visitors, to low cost student accommodation in hostels designed specifically for backpackers. Bed and breakfast accommodation is a superb way of discovering the real France and renting a chateau is a popular way to take control of your time and explore the country. Campsites are also extremely popular and very well appointed.

Getting around France

Driving between the big cities involves long distances.  Driving shorter distances out of the big cities can also be very rewarding, in fact a driving holiday is highly recommended. Either way France represents some of the best scenic driving experiences in the World.

Paris to Nice: 8 h 40 min (931.9 km) via A6 and A7

Paris to Bordeaux: 5 h 35 min (584.3 km) via A10

Paris to Toulouse: 6 h 22 min (679.2 km) via A20/L'Occitane

Paris to Lyon: 4 h 39 min (465.4 km) via A6

Top Scenic Drives in France

You could plan a 10 year drive holiday in France and never finish. Here are some ideas that we found to whet your appetite.

Route Napoleon: From Grenoble through the Alps. Stunning views and picturesque towns along the way.

Troyes to St Etienne via Dijon: A memorable drive through the Champagne region of France.

Bordeaux to Biarritz: Fresh air abounds as you drive down the Atlantic Ocean coastline, maybe stopping off for a swim here or there.

Cannes and the French Riviera: - best done outside of the August summer rush if you want to drive on clearer roads.

Accommodation, driving and car rental

At Cheaperthanhotels and Cheaperthancars we have a wide range of car rental discounts at convenient locations and accommodation to meet all budgets and taste across France. We really do believe that the less you spend, the more you will have to do when you get there.

Your Cheaperthanhotels Team