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Your guide to France
All About France
From its scenic beaches and cinematic alps to its rich historic and cultural sites, France is a country steeped in natural, architectural, and artistic beauty. The European country houses 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including medieval towns, towering castles, sacred cathedrals, and spectacular landscapes. Paris, the capital of France, has been one of the world’s great cultural centers for centuries now, home to famous museums such as the Louvre and Musée d'Orsay, iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, and the Champs-Élysées, a stately avenue lined with exclusive fashion boutiques.
Outside of the metropolis, you can bask in the sun on the glittering coastline of the French Riviera, or head high up into the French Alps for a few days of amazing skiing in Mont Blanc or Chamonix. Explore the Loire Valley’s ornate castles, inhale the crisp saline air as you wander along the rocky coast of Brittany, and drive from vineyard to vineyard in the wine-producing towns of Burgundy and Champagne.
The elegance of French cuisine is famous the world over, and at cozy family-owned bistros or bustling brasseries you’ll be able to taste classics such as duck confit, coq au vin, or choucroute garnie. Almost every village or neighborhood has a market where you’ll admire impeccably arranged fruits at the height of season and taste local charcuterie and delectable artisan cheese. And few people can resist passing by the window of a patisserie without darting in for pains au chocolat or tiny, jewel-toned macaron cookies.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in France
Northern France generally experiences warm summers and cold winters, while in the South of France, the summers are hot and the winters are mild. The most pleasant time to stay in a vacation rental in France is during spring and early fall, when you can expect mostly sunny and mild conditions for exploring both the cities and the countryside, as well as enjoying the many annual festivals and events. In late February and early March, the Carnival of Nice brings out parades, music, fireworks, and the famous Batailles des Fleurs (Battles of the Flowers).
In April the International Garden Festival showcases the best in garden design in the picturesque town of Amboise in the Loire Valley. In May, a world-famous film festival takes over the coastal city of Cannes, while In July, visitors descend on the small town of Menton for two weeks of concerts under the stars.
Top things to do in France
Mont Saint Michel
On the edge of a rocky island above the Normandy coastline in Northern France, Mont Saint Michel is a medieval town that looks from a distance like it’s straight out of a fairytale. At the heart of its narrow cobbled streets is the spectacular Benedictine Abbey, which is on the famous Way of Saint James pilgrimage — a spiritual journey that many still undertake today. The pathways here are windy and include many stairways, so wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
The French Riviera
Head to the South of France for beautiful coastal cities and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Nice is the biggest city with glorious sea views, great shopping, and a selection of art museums. Cannes is famous for its film festival, while the coast's most popular stretch of beaches are in Antibes. Saint-Tropez also has beautiful beaches and attracts the rich and famous, while the quieter town of Villefranche-sur-Mer offers a more traditional Provencal experience.
In the south of France, the city of Carcassonne is one of the finest examples of a medieval walled city in Europe. There are 52 towers and nearly two miles of ramparts, as well as the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander the narrow streets full of historic buildings, charming cafes, and small shops. The city also hosts a famous festival of music, dance, and theater in July.