This is the fabled land of fashion, good food and wine, of royal chateaux and perfectly restored farmhouses, of landmarks known the world over and hidden landscapes few really know. Savor art and romance in the shining capital on the River Seine. See the glorious past at Versailles.
Travel south for Roman civilization and the sparkling blue Med; indulge your jet-set fantasies in balmy Nice and St-Tropez. Ski the Alps. Sense the subtle infusion of language, music and mythology in Brittany brought by 5th-century Celtic invaders. Smell ignominy on the beaches of Normandy and battlefields of Verdun and the Somme. And know that this is but the tip of that gargantuan iceberg the French call culture.
- Capital: Paris
- Official Languages: French
- Government: Unitary Semi-Presidential Republic
- Currency: Euro
- Time Zone: +1 GMT. (4 ½ hours behind India) Like most states in Europe, Summer (Daylight-Saving) Time is observed in France, where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour; so +2 GMT.
- Telephone Calling Code: 0033
When To Go
Best time to visit: France has three types of climates-oceanic, continental, and Mediterranean.
The oceanic climate in the western parts of the country is one of small temperature range, ample rainfall, cool summers, and cool but seldom very cold winters.
The continental (transition) type of climate, found over much of eastern and central France, is characterized by warmer summers and colder winters, rainfall is ample, and winters tend to be snowy, especially in the higher areas.
The Mediterranean climate, widespread throughout the south of France, is one of cool winters, hot summers, and limited rainfall.
The mean temperature is about 11° C at Paris and 15° C at Nice.
What To Do
Indisputably, one of modern France's greatest treasures is its rich cuisine. The French have an ongoing love affair with food, and their reverence for time spent eating is evident everywhere.
What to eat and drink
- Common breads:
- Baguette: A long thin loaf of French bread that is commonly made from basic lean dough
- Flute: A tubular shaped loaf
- Pain Poilane: Large thick crusted sourdough circular loaf
- Common savory dishes:
- Pot au feu: French beef stew with vegetables and herbs
- Blanquette de veau: Blanquette of veal
- Coq au vin: Chicken and mushrooms in red wine
- Cassoulet: Duck with different sausages served with white beans
- Boudin blanc: Delicate flavored sausage similar to bockwurst
- Foie de veau: Calf's liver
- Foie gras: Fatty duck or goose liver
- Quiche Lorraine: An oven-baked dish made with eggs and milk or cream in a pastry crust. Can have different fillings.
- Carbonnade: Meat stewed in beer
- Matelote: Fish stewed in cider
- Moules à la crème Normande: Mussels cooked with white wine, Normandy cider, garlic and cream
- Boeuf Bourguignon: Beef stewed in red wine
- Escargots de Bourgogne: (snails baked in their shells with parsley butter)
- Fondue Bourguignonne: Fondue made with oil in which pieces of meat are cooked
- Bouillabaisse: A stew of mixed Mediterranean fish, tomatoes, and herbs
- Ratatouille: A vegetable stew with olive oil, aubergine, courgette, bell pepper, tomato, onion and garlic
- Desserts and pastries
- Mille-feuille: Traditionally, a Mille-feuille is made up of three layers of puff pastry, alternating with two layers of pastry cream but sometimes whipped cream, or jam
- Mousse au chocolat: Chocolate mousse
- Crème Brûlée: A dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served cold. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla
- Choux à la Crème: Cream puffs
- Madeleine: A small cake-like cookie
- Tarte Tatin: Caramelized apple tart
- Eclairs: A pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with icing
- Profiteroles: Baked puff pastries (choux) filled with cream or confectioner's cream
- Baba au rhum: A small yeast cake saturated in liquor, usually rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream or pastry cream
- Apéritifs: Suze, Calvados, Armagnac, but also Kir, and Champagne
- Dry whites wines: Alsace, Sauvignon. These commonly marry well with sea food
- Red wines: are perfect with meats and moreover with red meats, and also cheese. For examples Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Merlot, Anjou
- Mild sugared wines: Good with most of the desserts, among them Sauternes, Coteaux du Layon, but also Champagne Brut
Shop for antiques, art, wine, porcelain, enamel, high fashion and clothing, gloves, scarves, perfumes, cheese, tapestries, cognac, champagne and pottery.
The best and easiest way to see the highlights is on an escorted tour, where all your travel, accommodation and sightseeing arrangements are well taken care of. A knowledgeable local guide brings history and culture to life as you travel in the comfort of your deluxe coach.
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