France is huge – much bigger than you would think and what makes it such a great place to take a vacation is that you can have any kind of holiday you want.
Whether it is just the two of you, the entire family or a group of friends, France has something to offer everyone.
From mountains to beaches, lakes, water parks and cities, France is a big country with a huge heart.
Cities in France have modern areas but going a little away from the commercial centre of Paris, Lyon or Marseilles will lead you to the more hidden areas where history can be seen at every turn in the architecture and the little shops that still thrive.
French markets are a great way to see culture and meet local people and they still sell vegetables and fruit picked fresh from the fields and orchards- they may not look pristine like you would buy in a supermarket but, boy they taste good!
French food is to die for – because they have tradition which is strong, the local cuisine of each area is special and the people are so proud of it, whether it is gallettes in Vannes or Coq au vin in Paris, the best food is the local dish.
The French personality is a warm and welcoming one- French people love to talk – about almost anything. What will really win them over is if you try to speak French. They really appreciate it when you make an attempt to speak some French- even if it is not very good. Many french people are taught English from a very early age in school so they can usually understand you but they much prefer it if you try to speak some french. If you do, they may well speak to you in English but if you make no attempt to try and instead, speak slowly and loudly – the age-old tourist give away, then they will stick resolutely to French and shrug their shoulders making that particular Gallic face which says ‘ I cannot be bothered!’ at you until you go away.
Manners maketh man and they certainly make the French man. The french are loud but courteous, They have hearts of gold and will cherish and welcome you in restaurants and small cafes alike. They adore children and rarely are children so welcome in restaurants as in France. So long as you act with parental control, they welcome children to eat with adults – indeed eating is a big familial affair in France. Don’t expect to be able to rush a meal , however. Food is served slowly and eaten slower. A meal can take a couple of hours and chit chat is expected – with the staff too!
You can, of course, find places which are commercial and brash and many of the larger seaside resorts are similar to any you find anywhere where the sun is hot and the sea warm. However, even here, take a walk through the town and go down smaller streets and you will find the still beating heart of the community.
Communal games like boules and petanque are played regularly and age groups mix freely.
The old are respected still and even the coolest youth still obeys his Maman.
The youths are cherished and the old respected – just like society should be.
One thing that is really good about France is how they have embraced new technology and yet still held on to their traditional culture. The markets are very traditional but the stall holders will have a mobile phone and sell MP3 players- still goods, just different and the joyful exuberance of the sellers does not diminish whether it is a peach or I-pod they are selling to you.
Views from beaches are stunning and the views from the hills and mountains even more so. Some parts, like the Central Masiffe may be barren and empty so for a taste of solitude, France can offer this too.
France is huge and varied so give it a go- La Vie en France, C’est magnifique!