France

  • 1232 hotels

  • 151 hotels

  • 760 hotels

  • 2770 hotels

  • 1323 hotels

  • 187 hotels

6423 hotels in this place

France, officially the French Republic , is a country that almost every traveller has a relationship with. Many appreciate its joie de vivre shown by the countless restaurants, picturesque villages and world-famous gastronomy. Some come to follow the trail of France's great philosophers, writers and artists. And others still are drawn to the country's geographical diversity with its long coastlines, massive mountain ranges and beautiful farmland vistas. France has been the world's most popular tourist destination for over twenty years. It received 83 million visitors in 2012, although these figures are highly skewed by the number of people who frequent the country for the weekend (particularly to visit Disneyland Paris, Europe's most popular visitor attraction). They come to France for a reason: its cities contain some of the greatest treasures on the continent, its countryside is prosperous and well-tended and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions. France is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe, shown in areas as different from each other as Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sports resorts of the French Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, rugged Celtic Brittany and historian's dream Normandy. France is a country of rich emotions and turbulent politics but also one associated with rational thinking and the Enlightenment. Above all, it is renowned for its cuisine, history and culture. Whatever you're after, you're about to find it in France. (less...) (more...)

Population: 65,951,611 people
Area: 551,500 km2
Highest point: 4,807 m
Coastline: 4,853 km
Life expectancy: 81.56 years
GDP per capita: $36,100
Sort by:

No rooms are available for given criteria.

Sort by:

Interactive map

interactive map

Welcome to our interactive map!

Accommodation

Room 1:
Child age:

Filter the result


Legend

Hotels

  • 5 star hotels 5 star hotel
  • 4 star hotels 4 star hotel
  • 3 star hotels 3 star hotel
  • 2 star hotels 2 star hotel
  • 1 star hotels 1 star hotel

Cities

  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
  • Big city 50-100 hotels
  • Medium city 20-50 hotels
  • Small city 5-20 hotels
  • Village below 5 hotels

Points of Interest

  • Beach Beach
  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
  • Entertainment Entertainment
  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
  • Interesting place Interesting place
  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
  • Skiing Skiing
  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

About France

History

France has been populated since the Neolithic period. The Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, while others as temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, such as those found at Lascaux.

Rise and fall of the Roman empire

Written history began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. The territory which is today called France was made a part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls (a name given to local Celts by the Romans), who lived there before the Roman invasions, became accultured "Gallo-Romans".

With the fall of the Western Roman empire in the 5th century AD, what was left were areas inhabited by the descendants of intermarriages between Gallo-Romans and "barbaric" Easterners (mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the "Burgondes").

The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll concerts. Some of France's main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2,000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centres still transcript the cardo and the decumanus of the former Roman camp (especially Paris). The other main legacy is the Catholic Church which can be arguably considered as the only remnants of the civilisation of that time period.

Middle-Ages

Clovis, who died in 511, is considered to be the first French king, although his realm did not extent much further than the area of the present Ile de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the new Western Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. Under his rule, he united territories which extend today to Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle (now in Germany, known as Aachen).

During this period, France was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated the rivers upstream to plunder cities and abbeys and it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory (today's Normandy) in 911 and quickly imposed the Feudal System of serfdom upon the native peasants. The Saracens were halted in 732 at Poitiers by Charles Martel, grandfather of Charlemagne and a rather rough warrior who was later celebrated as a national hero.

Starting with Charlemagne, a new society was established, based on the system of feudalism. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can be more aptly described as a period of economic and cultural developments (the music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, the building of the Romanesque and later Gothic cathedrals) being followed by recession due to pandemic disease and wars.

In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France; he is the root of the royal families who would later govern France. In 1154 much of the western part of France came under English rule with the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the English King Henry II (Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans). Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I 'the Lionheart', of Walter Scott fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years' War and its most famous figure is Joan of Arc, now considered a French national heroine.

The making of a modern nation-state

The beginning of the sixteenth century saw the demise of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a 'modern' state with its borders relatively close to the present-day boundaries (although the Alsace, Corsica, Savoy and the Nice region weren't yet French). Louis XIV, king from 1643 to 1715 (72 years), was probably the most powerful monarch of his day. French influence extended deep into the rest of Europe, even spreading as far as Russia; its language was used in many European courts, becoming the international language of diplomacy, and its culture was exported all over the continent.

That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France's global influence. This colonial expansion sparked a whole series of wars with other colonial empires, mainly England (later Britain) and Spain over the control of the Americas.

The French Revolution started in 1789. The king, Louis XVI, and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were arrested and ultimately executed by guillotine, and the first French Republic was established in place of the 1000-year-old monarchy. Although this was a bloody period, it was and remains an inspiration for many other liberation struggles around the world.

Napoleon Bonaparte reunited the country and restored the French monarchy by having himself crowned emperor in 1804, but his militaristic ambition which made him the ruler of most of western Europe was his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated at Waterloo (Belgium) by an alliance of British and Prussian forces. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as his armies and government brought with them the ideas of French philosophers.

France went back to monarchy until another revolution in 1848 allowed a nephew of Napoleon to be elected president and then become emperor under the name of Napoleon III. The end of the nineteenth century saw the industrialisation of the country and the development of the railways but also the start of the bitter wars with Prussia and later Germany.

20th and 21st centuries

1905 saw the separation of Church and State, under an initiative known as 'laïcité' ('secularism'). This was a traumatic process, especially in rural areas. Since then, French state has carefully avoided any religious recognition. Under a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, the law forbids French students and civil servants from displaying any sign explicitly showing their religion. This policy applies to wearing Christian crosses, and has recently been applied to the Muslim hijab. In the early 21st century, statistics for Church-going and belief in God were among the lowest in Europe.

The First World War (1914 -18) was a traumatic period in France's history. Despite victory being achieved by France and her allies, almost 1.7 million French people were killed and many towns and villages and large tracts of countryside were destroyed. Much of the infamous trench warfare was fought across the eastern half of France. After the war, France took control of the formerly German areas of Alsace and Lorraine, as well as several of Germany's overseas colonies, and became a leading force in Europe for the next decade.

The Second World War (1939 - 45) saw France occupied for much of the war by Nazi Germany. With northern France under direct German control and the south ruled by a puppet government (known as the Vichy regime), many totalitarian measures were introduced, including the forced deportation of Jews to concentration camps. Despite the Vichy regime being officially collaborationist with the Nazis, many ordinary French citizens engaged in both active and passive resistance against the regime. In 1944, after Allied landings (including exiled French soldiers and those from France's imperial colonies) in Normandy and on the Mediterranean Coast, France was liberated from German control.

After the end of the Second World War, France went through a period of reconstruction and a new prosperity was achieved with the development of industry, and has since grown into Europe's second largest economy after Germany. France and Germany were among the first members of the Treaties which eventually evolved into the European Union. One of the most visible consequences of France's EU membership was the introduction of the Euro (€) in 2002. It is now the common currency of sixteen European countries, which together make up the 'Eurozone'.

Today, France is a republic with a President elected for a 5-year term. The incumbent President of the Republic is François Hollande. Current issues that face the country include the further integration of France into the EU and the adoption of common standards for the economy, defence and other fields.

Climate

A lot of variety, but temperate winters and mild summers on most of the territory, and especially in Paris and in Normandy. Mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean and in the southwest (the latter has lots of rain in winter). Mild winters (with lots of rain) and cool summers in the northwest (Brittany). Cool to cold winters and hot summers along the German border (Alsace). Along the Rhône Valley, occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as the mistral. Cold winters with lots of the snow in the Mountainous regions: the Alps, Pyrenees and Auvergne. However, sometimes the winters can be mild.

Activities

  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Stroll grand Parisian Boulevards
  • Climb Montmartre Hill in Paris
  • See the Gothic monuments on the Île de la Cité, in particular the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame
  • See some of the world-famous art in the Louvre, or visit the equally stunning Musée d'Orsay, installed in a former railway terminus
  • See the modern architecture in the business district of La Defense
  • See the Science Museum in Villette Park, and the other odd attractions assembled there
  • Stroll an old train viaduct on the Promenade Plantée in Paris
  • See the stunning, but crowded, Versailles Palace
  • Ride the TGV, the fastest train in the world, from Paris to Lyon
  • See the "D-Day beaches" of Normandy
  • Climb to the top of Mont Saint Michel
  • Explore Chartres Cathedral
  • See the quaintness of the Alsace
  • Sunbathe on the beaches of the French Riviera

Classical music

Like neighbouring Germany and Italy, France is also known for having a very strong classical music tradition. French composers who are well-known among classical music circles, and even to many members of the general public, include the likes of Debussy, Bizet, Saint-Saëns, Massenet and Delibes. Even if you have never heard of these composers, chances are that you are already familiar with their compositions to a certain extent, as some of these pieces have found their way into popular culture, and are commonly heard in advertising and film scores.

France is famous for its ballets, and most of the modern-day terms used by ballerinas originate from French. French composers have, unsurprisingly, contributed many famous ballet scores. To this day, the Paris Opera Ballet remains one of the most famous ballet companies in the world.

Similarly, French opera is also regarded as one of greatest operatic traditions in Europe. During the Baroque period, while Italian opera which was taking much of Europe by storm, it never gained a strong foothold in France, where the French developed their own unique operatic tradition, partly thanks to the Italian Jean-Baptiste Lully (né Giovanni Battista Lulli), who was hired by Louis XIV for that purpose. The 19th century gave rise to some new French operatic styles such as the grand opera, which combined opera and ballet into a single performance. In fact, even foreign composers such as Rossini, Verdi and Meyerbeer are famous for their contributions to the French operatic stage. Another genre of opera that developed in 19th century France was the operetta, essentially a comedic opera with light-hearted music and subject matter, which was created by the German-born composer Jacques Offenbach. For those who are interested in watching French opera, the Paris Opera remains one of the premier opera companies in the world, though there are also good opera houses in some of the smaller cities.

Food

With its international reputation for fine dining, few people would be surprised to hear that French cuisine can certainly be very good. As a testament to this, France is tied with Japan for first place as the country with the most Michelin star restuarants. Unfortunately, it can also be quite disappointing; many restaurants serve very ordinary fare, and some in touristy areas are rip-offs. Finding the right restaurant is therefore very important - try asking locals, hotel staff or even browsing restaurant guides for recommendations as simply walking in off the street can be a hit and miss affair.

There are many places to try French food in France, from three-star Michelin restaurants to French "brasseries" or "bistros" that you can find at almost every corner, especially in big cities. These usually offer a relatively consistent and virtually standardised menu of relatively inexpensive cuisine. To obtain a greater variety of dishes, a larger outlay of money is often necessary. In general, one should try to eat where the locals do for the best chance of a memorable meal. Most small cities or even villages have local restaurants which are sometimes listed in the most reliable guides. In fact, many fine dining restaurants are located in rural villages rather than in the big cities, and French people often drive to those villages to dine during special occasions. There are also specific local restaurants, like "bouchons lyonnais" in Lyons, "crêperies" in Brittany (or in the Montparnasse area of Paris), etc.

Chinese, Vietnamese, even Thai eateries are readily available in Paris, either as regular restaurants or "traiteurs" (fast-food). They are not so common, and are more expensive, in smaller French cities. Many places have "Italian" restaurants though these are often little more than unimaginative pizza and pasta parlors. You will also find North African (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian) as well as Greek and Lebanese food. The ubiquitous hamburger eateries (US original or their French copies) are also available; note that McDonalds is more upmarket in France than in the US.

In France, taxes (7 per cent of the total in restaurants) and service (usually 15 per cent) are always included in the bill, so anything patrons add to the bill amount is an "extra-tip". French people usually leave one or two coins if they were happy with the service.

Fixed price menus seldom include beverages. If you want water, waiters will often try to sell you mineral water (Évian, Thonon) or fizzy water (Badoit, Perrier), at a premium; ask for a carafe d'eau for tap water, which is free and safe to drink. Water never comes with ice in it unless so requested (and water with ice may not be available).

As in other countries, restaurants tend to make a large profit off beverages. Expect wine to cost much more than it would in a supermarket.

Ordering is made either from fixed price menus (menu fixe) or à la carte.

A typical fixed price menu will comprise:

  • appetiser, called entrées or hors d'œuvres
  • main dish, called a plat
  • dessert (dessert) or cheese (fromage)

Sometimes, restaurants offer the option to take only two of the three courses, at a reduced price.

Coffee is always served as a final step (though it may be followed by liquors). Coffee will always be served black unless requested otherwise (for white coffee, ask for "café au lait"). A request for coffee during the meal will be considered strange.

Not all restaurants are open for both lunch and dinner, nor are they always open all year around. It is therefore advisable to carefully check the opening times and days. A restaurant open for lunch will usually start service at noon and accept patrons until 13:30. Dinner begins at around 19:30 and patrons are accepted until 21:30. Restaurants with longer service hours are usually found only in the larger cities and in town centres. Finding a restaurant open on Saturday and especially Sunday can be a challenge unless you stay close to the tourist areas.

In a reasonable number of restaurants, especially outside tourist areas, a booking is compulsory and people may be turned away without one, even if the restaurant is clearly not filled to capacity. For this reason, it can be worthwhile to research potential eateries in advance and make the necessary reservations to avoid disappointment, especially if the restaurant you're considering is specially advised in guide books.

A lunch or dinner for two on the "menu" including wine and coffee will cost you (as of 2004) €70 to €100 in a listed restaurant in Paris. The same with beer in a local "bistro" or a "crêperie" around €50. A lunch or dinner for one person in a decent Chinese restaurant in Paris can cost as little as €8 if one looks carefully.

Outside of Paris and the main cities, prices are not always lower but the menu will often include a fourth course, usually cheese. As with everywhere beware of the tourist traps which are numerous around the heavy travelled spots and may offer a nice view but not much to remember on your plate.

Bread

Bakeries (boulangeries) are something of a French institution and are to be found all over the country from the smallest villages to city streets. All white bread variants keep for only a short time and must be eaten the same day, or else saved for dunking in soup or hot chocolate the following morning. Hence bakers bake at least twice a day.

  • The famous baguette: a long, thin loaf;
  • Variants of the baguette : la ficelle (even thinner), la flûte, la tradition (a baguette with a generally more delicate taste but also more expensive);
  • Pain de campagne or Pain complet: made from whole grain which keeps relatively well.

Pastries

Pastries are a large part of French cooking. Hotel breakfasts tend to be light, consisting of tartines (pieces of bread with butter or jam) or the famous croissants and pains au chocolat, not dissimilar to a chocolate-filled croissant (but square rather than crescent shaped).

Pastries can be found in a pâtisserie but also in most boulangeries.

Regional dishes

Every French region has dishes all its own. These dishes follow the resources (game, fish, agriculture, etc.) of the region, the vegetables (cabbage, turnip, endives, etc.) which they grow there. Here is a small list of regional dishes which you can find easily in France. Generally each region has a unique and widespread dish (usually because it was food for the masses):

  • Cassoulet (in the south west) : beans, duck, pork & sausages
  • Choucroute, or sauerkraut (in Alsace) : stripped fermented cabbage + pork
  • Fondue Savoyarde (central Alps) : melted/hot cheese with alcohol
  • Fondue Bourguignonne (in Burgundy) : pieces of beef (in boiled oil), usually served with a selection of various sauces.
  • Raclette (central Alps) : melted cheese & potatoes/meat
  • Pot-au-feu (found all over France) : boiled beef with vegetables
  • Boeuf Bourguignon (Burgundy) : slow cooked beef with red wine gravy
  • Gratin dauphinois (Rhone-Alpes) : oven roasted slices of potatoes
  • Aligot (Aveyron) : melted cheese mixed with a puree of potatoes
  • Bouillabaisse (fish + saffron) (Marseille and the French Riviera). Don't be fooled! A real bouillabaisse is a really expensive dish due to the amount of fresh fish it requires. Be prepared to pay at least €30 per person. If you find restaurants claiming serving bouillabaisse for something like €15 per person, you'll find it to be of a very poor quality.
  • Tartiflette (Savoie) : Reblochon cheese, potatoes and pork or bacon.
  • Confit de Canard (south west) : Duck Confit, consists of legs and wings bathing in grease. That grease is actually very healthy and, with red wine, is one of the identified sources of the so-called "French Paradox" (eat richly, live long).
  • Foie Gras (south west) : The liver of a duck or goose. Although usually quite expensive, foie gras can be found in supermarkets for a lower price (because of their purchasing power) around the Christmas season. It is the time of year when most of foie gras is consumed in France. It goes very well with Champagne.

Cooking and drinking is a notable part of the French culture, take time to eat and discover new dishes...

Unusual foods

Contrary to stereotype, snails and frog legs are quite infrequent foods in France, with many French people enjoying neither, or sometimes having never even tasted them. Quality restaurants sometimes have them on their menu: if you're curious about trying new foods, go ahead.

  • Frogs' legs have a very fine and delicate taste with flesh that is not unlike chicken. They are often served in a garlic dressing and are no weirder to eat than, say, crab.
  • Most of the taste of Burgundy snails (escargots de bourgogne) comes from the generous amount of butter, garlic and parsley in which they are cooked. They have a very particular spongy-leathery texture and, for obvious reasons, a strong garlicky flavour. Catalan-style snails ("cargols") are made a completely different way, and taste even weirder!

Let us also cite:

  • Rillettes sarthoises also known as Rillettes du Mans. A sort of potted meat, made from finely shredded and spiced pork. A delicious speciality of the Sarthe area in the north of the Pays de la Loire and not to be confused with rillettes from other areas, which are more like a rough pâté.
  • Beef bone marrow (os à moelle). Generally served in small quantities, with a large side. So go ahead: if you don't like it, you'll have something else to eat on your plate!
  • Veal sweetbread (ris de Veau), is a very fine (and generally expensive) delicacy, often served with morels, or in more elaborates dishes like "bouchées à la reine".
  • Beef bowels (tripes) is served either "à la mode de Caen" (with a white wine sauce, named after the town in Normandy) or "à la catalane" (with a slightly spiced tomato sauce)
  • Andouillettes are sausages made from tripe, a specialty of Lyon
  • Tricandilles are seasoned and grilled pork tripe from the Bordeaux region
  • Beef tongue (langue de bœuf) and beef nose(museau) and Veal head (tête de veau) are generally eaten cold (but thoroughly cooked!) as an appetizer.
  • Oysters (Huîtres) are most commonly served raw in a half shell. They are often graded by size, No1 being the largest (and most expensive).
  • Oursins (sea urchins), for those who like concentrated iodine.
  • Steak tartare a big patty of ground beef cured in acid as opposed to cooked, frequently served with a raw egg. Good steak tartare will be prepared to order at tableside. A similar dish is boeuf carpaccio, which is thin slices or strips of raw steak drizzled with olive oil and herbs.
  • Cervelle (pronounced ser-VELL), lamb brain.

Cheese

France is certainly THE country for cheese, with nearly 400 different kinds. Indeed, former president General Charles De Gaulle was quoted as saying "How can you govern a country which has 365 varieties of cheese?".

Here is a far from exhaustive list of what one can find:

Dietary restrictions

Vegetarianism is not as uncommon as it used to be, especially in larger cities. Still, very few restaurants offer vegetarian menus, thus if you ask for something vegetarian the only things they may have available are salad and vegetable side dishes.

There may still be confusions between vegetarianism and pescetarianism. Vegetarian and organic food restaurants are starting to appear. However, "traditional" French restaurants may not have anything vegetarian on the "menu fixe", so you may have to pick something "à la carte", which is usually more expensive.

Luckily North African cuisine is very popular in France, couscous is one of the most popular dishes in France (especially in Eastern France) and is widely available.

Veganism is still very uncommon and it may be difficult to find vegan eateries.

Breakfast

Breakfast in France isn't the most important meal of the day and is usually very light. The most typical breakfast consists of a coffee and a croissant or some other "viennoiserie", but since it implies going to the boulangerie early in the morning to buy fresh croissants, it's typically reserved for somewhat special occasions. On normal days most people have a beverage (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice) and either toast ("tartines" made of baguette or toast bread with butter and jam/honey/Nutella) that can be dipped in the hot beverage, or cereals with milk. People who eat healthy may go for fruit and yoghurt. As a general rule, the French breakfast is mostly sweet, but anything can change and you can have savoury breakfasts everywhere today.

Drinks

Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone, the Loire Valley... France is the home of wine. It can be found cheaply just about anywhere. Beer (lager) is also extremely popular, in particular in northern France, where "Bière de Garde" can be found. The alcohol purchase age was recently raised to 18 for all drinks, but this is not always strictly enforced; however, laws against drink driving are strictly enforced, with stiff penalties.

Wine and spirits may be purchased from supermarkets, or from specialised stores such as the Nicolas chain. Nicolas offers good advice on what to buy (specify the kind of wine and the price range you desire). In general, only French wines are available unless a foreign wine is a "speciality" with no equivalent in France (such as port), and they are classified by region of origin, not by grape.

Etiquette-wise, you shouldn't drink alcoholic beverages (especially red wine or strong alcohol such as cognac) directly from a 70 cl bottle. Such behaviour is generally associated with drunkards (though if you are surrounded by college students, you may be OK). Drinking beer from a 25 to 50cl can or bottle is OK.

Prices of food and beverages will vary on whether they're served to you at the bar or sitting at a table - the same cup of espresso might cost €0.50 more if served at a table than at the bar, and €0.50 more again if served out on the terrace. Really, you're not paying so much for the beverage as for the table spot. Do consider the bar, though - while you will have to stand, café bars are often where a great deal of public discourse and interaction happens. In any event, cafés are required by law to post their prices somewhere in the establishment, usually either in the window or on the wall by the bar.

There are a couple of mixed drinks which seem to be more or less unique to France, and nearby francophone countries.

  • Panaché is a mix of beer and lemonade, basically a beer shandy.
  • Monaco is a Panaché with some grenadine syrup added.
  • Kir is a pleasant aperitif of white wine (in theory, Bourgogne Aligoté) or, less frequently, of champagne (then named kir royal and about twice the price of regular kir) and cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), or peche (peach), or mûre (blackberry).
  • Pastis is an anise-based (licorice-flavored) spirit, similar in taste to Sambuca or Ouzo, that is served with a few lumps of sugar and a small pitcher of cold water to dilute the liquor. It is traditionally enjoyed on very hot days, and as such is more popular in the south of the country but available more or less everywhere.

There is a variety of bottled water, including:

  • Évian, Thonon, Contrex, Volvic: mineral water
  • Perrier: fizzy water
  • Badoit: slightly fizzy and salty water.

Shopping

Vacations

Many of the French take their vacations in August. As a result, outside of tourist areas, many of the smaller shops (butcher shops, bakeries...) will be closed during parts of August. This also applies to many corporations as well as physicians. Obviously, in touristy areas, shops will tend to be open when the tourists come, especially July and August. In contrast, many attractions will be awfully crowded during those months, and during the Easter weekend.

Some attractions, especially in rural areas, close or have reduced opening hours outside the tourist season.

Mountainous areas tend to have two tourist seasons: in the winter, for skiing, snowshoeing and other snow-related activities, and in the summer for sightseeing and hiking.

Money

France uses the euro (€, EUR) as its money. It is one of 24 European countries that use this common European currency: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (which are all eurozone countries of the European Union or EU) together with the six non-EU members Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican that also solely use euros but have no say in eurozone affairs. These 24 countries together have a population of more than 330 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. Except for Kosovo and Montenegro, all issue their own coins with a distinctive, national face. However, all the coins' obverse looks the same, as do all bills or banknotes and all are legal tender in all 24 countries.

Some foreign currencies such as the US Dollar and the British Pound are occasionally accepted, especially in tourist areas and in higher-end places, but one should not count on it; furthermore, the cashier may charge an unfavourable exchange rate. In general, shops will refuse transactions in foreign currency.

It is compulsory, for the large majority of businesses, to post prices in windows. Hotels and restaurants must have their rates visible from outside (note, however, that many hotels propose lower prices than the posted ones if they feel they will have a hard time filling up their rooms; the posted price is only a maximum).

Almost all stores, restaurants and hotels take the CB French debit card, and its foreign affiliations, Visa and MasterCard. American Express tends to be accepted only in high-end shops. Check with your bank for applicable fees (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee).

French CB cards (and CB/Visa and CB/MasterCard cards) have a "smart chip" on them allowing PIN authentication of transactions. This system, initiated in France, has now evolved to an international standard and newer British cards are compatible. Some automatic retail machines (such as those vending tickets) may be compatible only with cards with the microchip. In addition, cashiers unaccustomed to foreign cards possibly do not know that foreign Visa or MasterCard cards have to be swiped and a signature obtained, while French customers systematically use PIN and don't sign the transactions.

There is (practically) no way to get a cash advance from a credit card without a PIN in France.

Automatic teller machines (ATM) are by far the best way to get money in France. They all take CB, Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Plus and are plentiful throughout France. They may accept other kinds of card; check for the logos on the ATM and on your card (on the back, generally) if at least one matches. It is possible that some machines do not handle 6-digit PIN codes (only 4-digit ones), or that they do not offer the choice between different accounts (defaulting on the checking account). Check with your bank about applicable fees, which may vary greatly (typically, banks apply the wholesale inter-bank exchange rate, which is the best available, but may slap a proportional and/or a fixed fee; because of the fixed fee it is generally better to withdraw money in big chunks rather than €20 at a time). Also, check about applicable maximal withdrawal limits.

Traveller's cheques are difficult to use — most merchants will not accept them, and exchanging them may involve finding a bank that accepts to exchange them and possibly paying a fee.

Note that the postal service doubles as a bank, so often post offices will have an ATM. As a result, even minor towns will have ATMs usable with foreign cards.

Exchange offices (bureaux de change) are now rarer with the advent of the Euro - they will in general only be found in towns with a significant foreign tourist presence, such as Paris. Some banks exchange money, often with high fees. The Bank of France no longer does foreign exchange.

Do Put money into your checking account, carry an ATM card with a Cirrus or Plus logo on it and a 4-digit pin that does not start with '0' and withdraw cash from ATMs. Pay larger transactions (hotel, restaurants...) with Visa or MasterCard. Always carry some € cash for emergencies.

Don't Carry foreign currency ($, £...) or traveller's cheques, and exchange them on the go, or expect them to be accepted by shops.

Stores

In towns and city centres, you will find smaller shops, chain grocery stores (Casino) as well as, occasionally, department stores and small shopping malls. Residential areas will often have small supermarkets (such as Carrefour Market or Intermarché). Large supermarkets (hypermarchés such as Géant Casino, Carrefour or Auchan) are mostly located on the outskirts of towns and are probably not useful unless you have access to a car.

Prices are indicated with all taxes (namely, the TVA, or value-added tax) included. It is possible for non-EU residents to get a partial refund upon departure from certain stores that have a "tax-free shopping" sticker; inquire within. TVA is 19.6% on most things, but 7% on some things such as books, restaurant meals, and public transport and 5.5% on food purchased from grocery stores (except for sweets!). Alcoholic beverages are always taxed at 19.6%, regardless of where they're purchased.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article France on Wikivoyage.

Popular cities in France

  • 98 hotels

  • 3 hotels

  • 72 hotels

  • 483 hotels

  • 287 hotels

  • 54 hotels

997 hotels in this place

Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is one of the largest agglomerations in Europe, with 2.2 million people living in the dense (105 km²) central city and almost 12 million people living in the metropolitan area. In the north of the country on the river Seine, Paris has the reputation of being the most ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Pont d\'Arcole
  • Pont Notre-Dame
  • Conciergerie
  • Palais de Justice
  • Sainte Chapelle
  • 12 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 17 hotels

  • 34 hotels

  • 30 hotels

  • 4 hotels

97 hotels in this place

Lyon, also written Lyons in English, is the third largest city in France and centre of the second largest metropolitan area in the country. It is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region and the Rhône département. It is known as a gastronomic and historical city with a vibrant cultural scene. It is also the ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • St. Jean Cathedral
  • Bellecour Square
  • Lyon City Hall (Hotel De Ville)
  • Lyon History Museum (Musee Historique de Lyon)
  • Metallic Tower (Tour Metallique)
  • 10 hotels

  • 1 hotels

  • 2 hotels

  • 40 hotels

  • 32 hotels

  • 3 hotels

88 hotels in this place

Nice is a large city in France on the French Riviera. It's a popular destination for vacationers both young and old, with something to offer nearly everyone. It is well known for the beautiful view on the Promenade des Anglais, its famous waterfront, and is an ethnically diverse port city.

Interesting places:

  • Cours Saleya
  • Nice Cathedral
  • Place Massena
  • Castle Hill
  • Nice Opera
  • 12 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 12 hotels

  • 28 hotels

  • 6 hotels

62 hotels in this place

Once a small fishing village, Cannes in France on the French Riviera is now a glamorous and expensive seaside town considered to be one of the social hubs of Europe.

Interesting places:

  • Castre Museum
  • Palace of Festivals and Congress Hall
  • Forville Provencal Food Market
  • La Croisette
  • Cannes City Hall
  • 5 hotels

  • 2 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 30 hotels

  • 15 hotels

  • 2 hotels

58 hotels in this place

Marseille is the second most populated city of France (and third urban area) the biggest mediterranean port and the economic center of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. In 2013 the city (with its region) is the European Capital of Culture, a large series of cultural events will take place, and several ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Fort Saint Jean
  • Hotel de Ville
  • Vieux Port
  • Centre Bourse
  • Cathedral la Major (Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure)
  • 3 hotels

  • 1 hotels

  • 7 hotels

  • 25 hotels

  • 19 hotels

  • 3 hotels

58 hotels in this place

Toulouse is a city in southwestern France, near the Pyrenees, in the Midi-Pyrenees region, half way between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille and Lyon.

Interesting places:

  • Place du Capitole
  • Pont Neuf
  • Jacobins Church
  • Musee des Augustins
  • Capitole de Toulouse
  • 8 hotels

  • 1 hotels

  • 2 hotels

  • 20 hotels

  • 19 hotels

  • 3 hotels

53 hotels in this place

Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical centre - the Grande Île - which was the first city centre to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Interesting places:

  • Strasbourg Cathedral
  • Gutenberg Square
  • Kleber Square
  • Historical Museum
  • Alsatian Museum
  • 12 hotels

  • 1 hotels

  • 9 hotels

  • 17 hotels

  • 11 hotels

  • 0 hotels

50 hotels in this place

Nantes is the capital of the north-western French region of Pays de la Loire. That said, Nantes has strong historical connections with the adjoining region of Brittany, and is the historical capital of the region (though not its official capital since the days of Napoleon).

Interesting places:

  • Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne
  • Nantes Cathedral
  • Place du Marechal Foch
  • Place du Bouffray
  • Place Royale
  • 5 hotels

  • 2 hotels

  • 9 hotels

  • 24 hotels

  • 7 hotels

  • 1 hotels

48 hotels in this place

Lourdes is a large town in the French Pyrenees. It is a global centre of Marian pilgrimage, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appeared 18 times at the Grotto to a young girl, St Bernadette Soubirous. Originally a sleepy market ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
  • Sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes
  • Basilica of St. Pius X
  • Grotte de Massabielle
  • Chateau de Lourdes
  • 2 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 22 hotels

  • 10 hotels

  • 2 hotels

40 hotels in this place

You'll be raising your glass many times in Bordeaux, which is renowned for its wines, considered among the best in the world. As the capital of the department Gironde in the region Aquitaine, it has one million inhabitants in its metropolitan area at a 2008 estimate. After years of neglect, the former wet ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Place de la Bourse
  • The Water Mirror
  • Grand Theater Opera National of Bordeaux
  • Place des Quinconces
  • Quinconces Square
panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

States in France

  • 216 hotels

  • 31 hotels

  • 157 hotels

  • 724 hotels

  • 424 hotels

  • 59 hotels

1611 hotels in this place

  • 177 hotels

  • 8 hotels

  • 102 hotels

  • 298 hotels

  • 181 hotels

  • 23 hotels

789 hotels in this place

  • 148 hotels

  • 10 hotels

  • 60 hotels

  • 305 hotels

  • 191 hotels

  • 44 hotels

758 hotels in this place

Popular cities:

  • 80 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 55 hotels

  • 144 hotels

  • 54 hotels

  • 8 hotels

345 hotels in this place

  • 87 hotels

  • 7 hotels

  • 45 hotels

  • 130 hotels

  • 56 hotels

  • 6 hotels

331 hotels in this place

  • 74 hotels

  • 8 hotels

  • 33 hotels

  • 143 hotels

  • 56 hotels

  • 10 hotels

324 hotels in this place

Popular cities:

  • 55 hotels

  • 10 hotels

  • 31 hotels

  • 130 hotels

  • 45 hotels

  • 5 hotels

276 hotels in this place

  • 55 hotels

  • 6 hotels

  • 38 hotels

  • 110 hotels

  • 41 hotels

  • 5 hotels

255 hotels in this place

  • 33 hotels

  • 10 hotels

  • 31 hotels

  • 92 hotels

  • 31 hotels

  • 2 hotels

199 hotels in this place

  • 39 hotels

  • 5 hotels

  • 26 hotels

  • 81 hotels

  • 36 hotels

  • 2 hotels

189 hotels in this place

Popular cities:

  • 34 hotels

  • 5 hotels

  • 25 hotels

  • 74 hotels

  • 28 hotels

  • 4 hotels

170 hotels in this place

  • 29 hotels

  • 3 hotels

  • 19 hotels

  • 69 hotels

  • 42 hotels

  • 6 hotels

168 hotels in this place

  • 32 hotels

  • 11 hotels

  • 27 hotels

  • 71 hotels

  • 26 hotels

  • 1 hotels

168 hotels in this place

  • 20 hotels

  • 7 hotels

  • 22 hotels

  • 59 hotels

  • 25 hotels

  • 1 hotels

134 hotels in this place

  • 27 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 8 hotels

  • 61 hotels

  • 22 hotels

  • 5 hotels

123 hotels in this place

  • 30 hotels

  • 5 hotels

  • 14 hotels

  • 49 hotels

  • 13 hotels

  • 0 hotels

111 hotels in this place

  • 27 hotels

  • 3 hotels

  • 18 hotels

  • 45 hotels

  • 12 hotels

  • 1 hotels

106 hotels in this place

  • 20 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 18 hotels

  • 53 hotels

  • 7 hotels

  • 2 hotels

104 hotels in this place

  • 19 hotels

  • 5 hotels

  • 11 hotels

  • 38 hotels

  • 13 hotels

  • 0 hotels

86 hotels in this place

  • 13 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 9 hotels

  • 37 hotels

  • 11 hotels

  • 3 hotels

77 hotels in this place

  • 6 hotels

  • 3 hotels

  • 5 hotels

  • 34 hotels

  • 4 hotels

  • 0 hotels

52 hotels in this place

  • 11 hotels

  • 2 hotels

  • 6 hotels

  • 23 hotels

  • 5 hotels

  • 0 hotels

47 hotels in this place

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

0 hotels in this place

Popular cities:

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

0 hotels in this place

Popular cities:

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

  • 0 hotels

0 hotels in this place

Popular cities:

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in France

Thinking of France, you might imagine the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe or the famous smile of Mona Lisa. You might think of drinking coffee in the lively Paris cafés where great intellectuals lingered in past times, or of eating croissants in a local bistro of a sleepy but gorgeous village in the countryside. Probably, images of splendid châteaux will spring to your mind, of lavender fields or perhaps of vineyards as far as the eye can see. Or perhaps, you'd envisage the chic resorts of the Cote d'Azur. And you wouldn't be wrong. However, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to France's many sights and attractions.

Cities

Paris. the "City of Light" and the capital of romance has been a travellers' magnet for centuries and a real must-see. Of course, no visit would be complete without a glance at its world famous landmarks. The Eiffel Tower is hard to miss, especially when it is lit beautifully at night, but the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur are all famous and stunning sights too. With no less than 3,800 national monuments in and around Paris, history is literally around every corner. Stroll through the city's spacious green parks, with the Luxembourg Gardens as one of the favourites, and make sure to spend some time on the famous banks of the River Seine. Also, don't miss the magnificent Palace of Versailles, the grandest reminder of the Ancien Régime located just 20 km away from the capital.

Bordeaux is famous for its wine but is also a bustling city with lots of historic sights to discover. It is listed as a World Heritage Site for being "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble". Lyon, the country's second largest city, is listed too, and boasts a beautiful old centre as well as a number of Roman ruins. Strasbourg, one of the EU headquarters, has a character of its own, with clear German influences. Montpellier is one of the best places in the south, with lots of monumental buildings and nice cafés. In the west there's the beautiful historic city of Nantes, home to the Château des ducs de Bretagne and many other monuments. The Capitole de Toulouse is situated right at the heart that famous university city's street plan. Last but not least, don't overlook Arles, with its World Heritage Listed Roman and Romanesque Monuments.

French Riviera

And then there are the magnificent cities of the Côte d'Azur, once the place to be for the rich and famous but now equally popular with a mixed crowd. Its sandy beaches, beautiful bays, rocky cliffs and lovely towns has made it one of the world's premier yachting and cruising areas as well as popular destination for land-bound travellers. There's bustling Nice, where some 4 million tourists a year enjoy the stony beaches and stroll down the Promenade des Anglais. Avignon, with its splendid ramparts and the Palais-des-Papes, was once the seat of popes. Although Saint-Tropez gets overcrowded in summer, it's a delightful place in any other season. The same goes for Cannes, where the jet-set of the film industry gathers each year for the famous Cannes Film Festival. From there, you can hop on a boat to the much more peaceful Îles de Lérins.

Much smaller in size but just as gorgeous (and popular) are the perched villages of Gourdon and Èze, which is located on a 427 meter high cliff, much like an “eagle's nest”. Both offer some stunning panoramic views. From Èze, its a very short trip to the glitter and glamour of Monaco. For the world's millionaires and aristocracy, the green peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is an old time favourite with the impressive Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild full of impressionist art as its main sight. A bit more inland but well-worth a visit are the towns of Grasse, famous for its perfumeries, and Biot, known for its glass blowers. The huge city and arts-hub Marseille is usually not considered part of the Cote d'Azur, but is very close. It has plenty of historic sights and nearby are the stunning Calanques, a series of miniature fjords it shares with Cassis.

Countryside & villages

You haven't seen the best of France if you haven't had at least a taste of its amazing countryside, dotted with wonderful medieval villages and castles. There are great examples in any part of the country, but some 156 villages have been identified as the most beautiful in France, or "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France"[19]. The country's landscapes vary from the snow-covered peaks of the Alps and the Pyrenees with their many winter sports resorts to lush river valleys, dense forests and huge stretches of farmland and vineyards. The Provence, backing a good part of the Côte d'Azur, is one of the most beloved regions. It has a typical Mediterranean atmosphere and is famous for its lavender fields and rosé wines. It's also home to the stunning Verdon Gorge, one of the most beautiful gorges in Europe. The rolling riverine landscape of the Loire Valley is home to many great castles, of which Châteaux Amboise, Château de Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau, Chambord and Châteaux du Pin are some of the finest examples. The western region of Brittany reaches far into the Atlantic and boasts many megalithic monuments such as those near Carnac. The beaches of Normandy, also on the Atlantic coast, are famed for the D-Day Allied invasion on June 6, 1944. Although the humbling Normandy American Cemetery and countless museums, memorials and war time remains keep memory of those dark days alive, the region is now a pleasant and popular destination. Its picturesque coastline includes both long stretches of beach and steep limestone cliffs, such as those near Étretat). The region is also home to the splendid and World Heritage listed Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay. The lush hills of the Dordogne form another region famous for its castles, with over 1500 of them on its 9000 km2 area.

Art museums

As the French have a real taste for art, the country has numerous art galleries and museums. Several of them are widely considered to be among the finest museums in the world of art, art-history, and culture. The grandeur and fame of the Musée du Louvre in Paris can hardly be matched by any other museum in the world. It boasts a fabulous collection of art from antiquity to the 19th century and is home of the Mona Lisa and many other renowned works. At just a 15 minute walk from there is the Musée d'Orsay, another world class museum that picks up roughly where the Louvre's collections ends. It's located in an old railway station and houses the national collection of art works from the 1848 to 1914 period. Its excellent collection includes some of the best French Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Art Nouveau works, including Degas' ballerinas and Monet's water-lilies. The Musée National d'Art Moderne in Centre Pompidou, still in France's capital, is the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon has an excellent collection varying from ancient Egypt antiquities to Modern art paintings and sculptures. In Lille you'll find the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, one of the country's largest museums. Its varied collection is the second largest after the Louvre and boasts everything from antiquities to modern art. Smaller but still outstanding are the collections of the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi and the Picasso Museum in Paris. Marseille has many galleries and its Musée Cantini has a good collection of modern art associated with Marseille as well as several works by Picasso. Fondation Maeght houses modern art too and is situated in Saint-Paul de Vence.

Parks & natural attractions

Disneyland Resort Paris is by far France's most popular park, visited by families from all over Europe. The country's national parks have quite some visitors too though, due to their splendid scenery and great opportunities for outdoor sports. Vanoise National Park is the oldest and one of the largest parks, named after the Vanoise massif. Its highest peak is the Grande Casse at 3,855 m. The impressive natural landscapes of Parc national des Pyrénées are right on the southern border of France and extend well into Spain, where they are part of the Parc National Ordesa y Monte Perdido The whole area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the French part, the glacial cirques of Gavarnie, Estaubé and Troumouse are some of the best sights, as is the wall of Barroud. The again mountainous Cévennes National Park covers parts of the Languedoc-Roussillon (including the popular Ardèche), Midi-Pyrénées and the Rhône-Alpes regions. The park's main offices are in the castle of Florac, but there are towns all over the park. Donkey rides are available and the cave formation of Aven Armand is one of the park's best sights.

Not yet under a protected status but highly popular is Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe and attractive for climbing, hiking and skiing. From the French side, it is mostly explored from Chamonix, a well known resort at the foot of the mountain.

Pont Notre-Dame - Paris

Strasbourg Cathedral - Strasbourg

Cours Saleya - Nice

Pont d\'Avignon - Avignon

St. Jean Cathedral - Lyon

Les Quatre Temps Shopping Center - Puteaux

Aude Gate - Carcassonne

Fort Saint Jean - Marseille

Bartholdi Museum - Colmar

Bonifacio Citadel - Bonifacio

Amours Bridge - Annecy

Pont d\'Arcole - Paris

Sainte Chapelle - Paris

Conciergerie - Paris

Palais de Justice - Paris

Pont Saint-Michel - Paris

Pont au Change - Paris

Pont du Carrousel - Paris

Louvre Museum - Paris

La Carrousel du Louvre - Paris

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP:

UPCOMING EVENT:

loading...

Loading...