France is the undisputed leader in international visitors, totaling up of 84 million a year, additional resources. This surpasses the US, with around 75 million, and far outpaces Britain with approximately 32 million. What are a few of the reasons France is on so many travelers’ bucket lists? And which of those reasons might motivate you to follow suit? As a start, consider these three motivations for taking a trip to France.
Reason #1: Cultural Discovery
A trip to France is endlessly entertaining and fascinating. France is proud of its heritage and celebrates its foundation. Everywhere you go you’ll discover atmosphere and old-world charm and historic buildings with tales to tell. You will constantly be reminded that you’re walking in the footsteps of artists and kings, conquerors and queens. Every day will be filled with 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 amazing national debts so as to live large and well. There are the huge round turrets, with broad spiral roadways inside to allow horse-drawn carriages to ride up into the castle grounds to provide its passengers-especially handy when one of the queens was pregnant. Da Vinci himself lived out the last years of his life throughout the street from the king, in a fascinating mansion that’s now full of versions 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 friend.
In Blois, Françoise added an elegant wing to the already impressive palace, accessed 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 supplied her with secret hiding places for her acclaimed group of poisons, the political”solutions” of these perilous times.
Then there’s the magnificent Chenonceau, with its glorious gardens and the vast ballrooms that stretch out over the river. Originally this gem was home to King Henri’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers. 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 build an even more glorious garden on the other side of the chateau from Diane’s, and an even grander balcony compared to Diane’s to miss it. She put a huge, glaring portrait of herself, looming over the bed in what had once been Diane’s bedroom. This was a girl decided to make her point. As you enter these lives from long ago, and experience their luxurious surroundings, you will gain a true and immediate sense of the culture and the history.
And on it goes. The people, the history, the passion, 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 visit will be intensely interesting, as well as surrounded by carefully orchestrated beauty.
Your senses will be stunned for the entire time you are in France. At night the tower is set aglow, best to be viewed from a ship as it drifts along 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 visitors into the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle, now houses a startling collection of impressionist art – Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Dégas, Gauguin, Cézanne, Seurat – inside a building that is itself an historic, architectural treasure. Here you will have the ability to lunch at the grand ballroom of the former grand hotel attached to the train station, and look through the glass of the giant clock that faces the river and leaves this construction distinctively easy to spot.
There’s more and more to come… The glories of Notre Dame. The remarkable stained-glass windows of Saint Chapelle Chapel… The gorgeous blossoms and statuary of Tuileries Gardens… The onslaught of visual expressions of this Champs-Élysées… The towering Arch de Triomphe, facing the smaller Arch in front of the Louvre in the opposite end of this five-mile grand boulevard where Napoleon pictured himself directing a march of his victorious armies.
There’ll be the glorious tastes of the food and wine. You will hear marvelous music of all sorts, from the Vivaldi in Saint Chapelle, to the lively piano bars and boat bars along the left bank of the Seine in Paris and atop Mont St. Michel, to the mighty organ of Notre Dame. You will walk through flower markets, vivid with colours and scents, and store 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 least, reason to visit France is that it will introduce one to another, and a much better, way of life. You may experience a different manner of social interaction in France – more engaged, curious, outgoing, and animated. The French genuinely 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 ideal wines to enhance the meal. Waiters take pride in their work, trying to make dining a memorable occasion 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. Cordiality is not just suggested in France, it’s expected and omnipresent. You will soon grow to anticipate and appreciate this.
From the very first moment you walk down a street passing all the umbrella-shielded outdoor tables of the cafés, you will notice that this is a culture where people gather together to enjoy each other’s company. Old, young, families, singles, wealthy, modest, fashionable, artistic, intellectual – everyone is out in the squares and along the paths, drinking in cafés and eating in restaurants. It becomes simple to join in and be aroused by the lively, friendly atmosphere. Musicians wander the streets, from old guys playing accordions outside the restaurants, to full jazz bands playing in town squares. And since the house wine is so cheap, stopping off for a glass or a carafe is a habitual, not an exceptional, event.
At the tables that surround you in these cafés, you’ll notice couples engaged in animated conversation, looking intently into each other’s eyes. France is a culture of art and philosophy, science and engineering, style and literature, and of love. As you take all this in, you may start to find it has an impact on you and how you relate to others. You’ll notice yourself listening more actively, expressing yourself more earnestly and obviously, paying closer attention, acting more considerately, demonstrating more interest and curiosity.
The luxury of time for this gathering together is in part because of the French commitment to maintaining an optimal balance between work and life. Shops close for lunch so workers can concentrate their attention on enjoying a good meal and the company of friends and colleagues. Employees who work 39 or more hours a week must get more than the legally-required five weeks of vacation annually.
As you are traveling in France, you may come to enjoy and to anticipate this higher level of connection, this enhanced appreciation of wine and food, this better balance between life and work. You won’t ever forget what you’ve learned about a different, and better, way of living life.
The Sum of those Three Parts
Taken together, the cultural discovery in addition to the feast for the senses in addition to the introduction to the good life, create a travel opportunity that’s second to none. You will have a great trip to France, particularly if you travel independently and prevent the bus, possibly by using a preplanned trip-in-a-book to guide your explorations and adventures, and to ensure that you have the full experience when you are there.
Your excursion will enrich you. And it’ll change you. When you return home, you’ll find yourself incorporating elements from your journeys into your lifestyle, and plotting to return to France.