La Belle France is a country of complex contrasts. On the one hand you have the lively metropolitan centres of Paris, Bordeaux and glitzy coastal resorts of Nice or St Tropez and on the other you can find some of the most rugged natural beauty or isolated spots in Europe.
Many visitors to France don’t realise the size of the country. From the wild landscape of Brittany in the North West to the gentle lavender fields and glorious blue skies in Provence in the South, the country can offer natural delights to suit the tastes of all its visitors.
If you are considering exploring France one of the best ways to really get to the heart of the country is to select one of the many experienced European Cruise Operators and then gently sail down one of France’s beautiful rivers, stopping off to discover its natural beauty on the way.
You cannot visit France without visiting a vineyard and each wine producing county is fiercely proud of its winemaking tradition. Burgundy in the east of the country is famous for Meursault and Burgundy, whereas Bordeaux in the West is the home of beautiful clarets.
The vineyards are set in a beautiful landscape right in the heart of the French countryside. A visit to Charente, north of Bordeaux is a great way to explore the region and also sample some fine brandy or cognac.
Those who love the Impressionist school of painting will want to venture further south and visit Provence; most French cruises will give the opportunity to visit some of the region’s major towns including the ancient city of Avignon.
The area surrounding Avignon is famous for its lavender fields and small villages and towns nestling in the surrounding hills. Try and visit a local market and then just sit in the village square enjoying a refreshing citron presse.
France is still very rural and 7% of the country’s workforce earns a living from the land so do not be surprised to spot donkeys cows and goats at some of these markets.
The border between France and Spain consists of the Pyrenees Mountains. Wolves are still reputed to live here and if you are considering exploring this remote area walking boots are highly recommended. The mountains are still relatively unspoilt so those that want to escape modern civilisation will be able to do so, making it an ideal choice of rural location.