France is the undisputed leader in international visitors, totaling up of 84 million a year. This surpasses the US, (pop over to this site) with approximately 75 million, and far outpaces Britain with around 32 million. What are some of the reasons France is on so many travelers’ bucket lists? And which of those reasons might inspire you to follow suit? As a start, consider these three motives for taking a trip to France.
A trip to France is endlessly entertaining and fascinating. France is proud of its heritage and celebrates its history. Everywhere you go you’ll discover atmosphere and old-world charm and historical buildings with stories to tell. You will always be reminded that you are walking in the footsteps of artists and kings, conquerors and queens. Every day will be full of discoveries.
A trip around the Loire Valley to see Châteaux will take you along the travel route of the extravagant 16th century King Françoise I, who mounted up astonishing national debts in order to live large also. There are the huge round turrets, with broad spiral roadways inside to allow horse-drawn carriages to ride up into the castle grounds to deliver its passengers-especially handy when one of the queens was pregnant. Da Vinci himself lived out the final years of his life throughout the street from the king, in a fascinating mansion that’s now filled with models of his many ground-breaking inventions. A secret tunnel connects the abodes of these two close friends, used for late-night visits between the king and his brilliant buddy.
In Blois, Françoise added an elegant wing into the already impressive palace, obtained via an exquisite outside stone staircase. Here you will see the study of Catherine de Medici, wife to Françoise’s son and successor, Henri. The wood paneled walls provided her with secret hiding places for her acclaimed group of poisons, the political”solutions” of those perilous times.
Then there is the magnificent Chenonceau, with its glorious gardens and the huge ballrooms that extend out over the river. But when Henri was murdered by a large splinter in the eye in a joust, his wife, Catherine de Medici, threw Diane out of her Château and took it over for herself. Not to be outdone by the mistress, Catherine then proceeded to construct an even more glorious garden on the other side of the chateau from Diane’s, and an even grander balcony than Diane’s to miss it. And she had the initials on the tiles reengraved, substituting the”D” for”Diane,” intertwined with an”H” for”Henri,” with a”C” for”Catherine.” This was a girl determined to make her point. As you enter these lives from long ago, and experience their luxurious surroundings, you will acquire a true and immediate sense of the culture and the history.
And on it goes. The people, the history, the fire, and the humanity… All of these surround you on a trip to France. You’ll be intrigued and awed, captivated and enthralled. Every day of your trip will be intensely interesting, in addition to surrounded by carefully orchestrated beauty.
Your senses will be stunned for the entire time you’re in France. At night the tower is set aglow, best to be seen from a ship as it drifts across the Seine, passing under one lovely bridge after another.
The Orsay, once an elegant turn-of-the-century train station that was built to welcome guests into the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle, now houses a startling collection of impressionist art – Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Dégas, Gauguin, Cézanne, Seurat – within a building that is itself an historic, architectural treasure. Here you will be able to lunch in the grand ballroom of the former grand hotel connected to the train station, and look through the glass of the giant clock that faces the river and leaves this construction distinctively simple to spot.
The remarkable stained-glass windows of Saint Chapelle Chapel… The gorgeous blossoms and statuary of Tuileries Gardens… The onslaught of visual sensations of this Champs-Élysées… The towering Arch de Triomphe, facing the smaller Arch in front of the Louvre at the other end of the five-mile grand boulevard where Napoleon envisioned himself leading a march of his victorious armies.
There will be the glorious tastes of the wine and food. You may hear marvelous music of all sorts, from the Vivaldi at Saint Chapelle, to the lively piano bars and ship bars along the left bank of the Seine in Paris and atop Mont St. Michel, to the mighty organ of Notre Dame. You may walk through flower markets, vibrant with colours and scents, and shop at weekly markets, living with people and all manner of tempting offerings.
This assault to the senses will remain with you in memory long after your travels are over.
Reason #3: Intro to the Fantastic Life
The last, but certainly not the leastreason to see France is that it will introduce one to another, and a much better, way of life. You will experience a different way of interpersonal interaction in France – more engaged, curious, outgoing, and animated. The French truly recognize the value of enjoying the best of life.
Here dining is a beautiful experience, not merely a stop to refuel. Food is an art form, combined consistently with the perfect wines to enhance the meal. Waiters enjoy their work, striving to make dining a memorable event by offering up their expertise, and carefully guarding your best to take all the time you will need to enjoy your meal without feeling rushed.
People in France are closely polite with one another, and will be with you. You always will be addressed as ma’am or sir, and asked with a please, followed by a thank you. Cordiality is not only suggested in France, it is expected and omnipresent. You will soon grow to expect and appreciate this.
From the very first moment you walk down a road passing all the umbrella-shielded outside tables of the cafés, you’ll notice that this is a culture where people gather together to enjoy each other’s company. Old, young, families, singles, wealthy, small, stylish, artistic, intellectual – everyone is out in the squares and along the avenues, drinking in cafés and eating in restaurants. It becomes simple to join in and be stimulated by the lively, friendly atmosphere. Musicians wander the streets, from old men playing accordions outside the restaurants, to full jazz bands playing in town squares. And since the house wine is so inexpensive, stopping off for a glass or a carafe is a customary, not an exceptional, occurrence.
At the tables that surround you in these cafés, you will notice couples engaged in animated conversation, looking intently into each other’s eyes. France is a culture of philosophy and art, science and technology, style and literature, and of love. As you take all this in, you might begin to find it has a direct effect on you and how you relate to others. You will notice yourself listening actively, expressing yourself more earnestly and clearly, paying closer attention, behaving more considerately, showing more interest and curiosity.
The luxury of time for all this collecting together is in part thanks to the French commitment to keeping an optimal balance between work and life. Shops close for lunch so workers can concentrate their attention on enjoying a fantastic meal and the company of friends and colleagues. Employees who operate 39 or more hours per week must receive more than the legally-required five weeks of vacation per year.
As you are traveling in France, you will come to enjoy and to expect this higher level of connection, this enhanced appreciation of food and wine, this better balance between life and work. You will never forget what you’ve learned about another, and better, way of living life.
The Sum of those 3 Parts
Taken together, the cultural discovery plus the feast for the senses plus the introduction to the fantastic life, create a travel opportunity that’s second to none. You’ll have a excellent trip to France, particularly if you travel independently and prevent the bus, possibly using a preplanned trip-in-a-book to guide your explorations and adventures, and to make certain you have the full experience when you are there.
Your trip will enrich you. It will refresh you. And it’ll change you. When you return home, you’ll end up incorporating elements from your journeys into your lifestyle, and plotting to return to France.