Style, culture, architecture, food, wine and fashion all exist in multiple layers of excellence, with Paris in particular capturing and displaying these assets to great advantage.
This is the largest country in Europe, has an incredible diversity of soaring landscapes, gorgeous villages, world-famous resorts, beaches and spectacular romantic escapes.
Guide to Nice's main attractions:
***Promenade des Anglais - 6km [3.75 miles] long, wide and beautifully lined with palm trees, many elegant buildings, slowly moving cars and giving access to the attractive beach; the promenade is superb for people watching be they glamorous Milanese, stuffy Parisians, heavy Muscovites, overdressed Nicoises, or pasty and underdressed Londoners. Biking and inline skating along the prom is excellent, with a dedicated cycle track running past the airport and on to pleasant Cagnes-sur-Mer.
***The Cours Saleya, the huge, lively and mostly inexpensive outdoor eating and market area of Cours Saleya.
Most of the Cours Saleya establishments are busy but cheerful and serve good meals at reasonable prices, as do most in the pedestrianised - and touristy - Rue de France with the definite exception of the pretentious, ill-mannered, over-priced and incompetent Italian restaurant, Borraccio.
On the left side of the image above is the start of the Old Town [aka the Vielle Ville, photo below], to the right is the Promenade des Anglais and dead ahead is Castle Hill [Colline du Chateau] the city's best viewpoint. Mornings are market time, a totally awesome and very French experience, loaded with strange mushrooms, exotic flowers, 365 kinds of cheeses or more, 28 kinds of olives...
***Vielle Ville [Old Town], a narrow medieval ambience that's good for wandering, shopping, Irish pubs, Sky TV and wild night moves at a reasonable price. It's also conveniently close to the Cours Saleya market and dining area as well as the beaches and Nice's best shopping street ***Jean Medecin where there is terrific shopping, a wafting new tram system and attractive street redesign. We give the city council a 10 for style and execution, even if it's completion was way overdue.
Arcachon Beach, western France, Atlantic OceanNice, with the curve of the Quai des Etats-Unis street becoming the 6km [3.75 miles] Promenade des Anglais and various pebbly beaches below them - all the beaches on the same shore but sporting different names.
The French mainland has water on more or less three sides - the Atlantic, the English Channel - or La Manche as the French prefer to call it - and the Mediterranean so France has beaches to suit just about everyone everyone, from families to super stars, world class surfers to naturists.
The Côte d'Azur [the blue coast] stretches the whole length of south-facing Meditarranean coast from Marseilles in the west to Menton in the east, while the French Riviera is the posh eastern section from Cannes to Menton.
Basic advice is travel to France's Riviera [east Mediterranean coast] to get a tan in a busy social hot-spot, around Brittany [north Atlantic coast] for family oriented holidays with lots of kid's attractions, to the south Atlantic coast [e.g. bay of Biscay] for space or surfing and to Corsica island [in the Mediterranean] for the France's best beaches, hiking and wilderness. See the Map of France.
France is the largest country in Europe with an incredible diversity of dramatic landscapes, medieval hill villages, world-famous resorts and spectacular romantic escapes. Style, culture, architecture, food, wine and fashion all exist in multiple layers of excellence in France, with Paris in particular capturing and displaying these assets to great advantage.
There is no better place than France to fulfil your physical dreams, whether it's paragliding off the Alps, boating through the Dordogne, romancing your lover in Paris, hiking Corsica, staring open-mouthed at the Pope's Avignon Palace, skiing in Courchevel or stuffing yourself with foie gras and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé in a Nice beach restaurant.
Most of France's beaches are well-developed with plenty of amenities and few hazards, though northwest Atlantic beaches tend to have colder, rougher, less clear water while the Mediterranean [southeast] strands of sand - except Corsica - tend to be small, crowded and expensive with the best stretches taken by pay-parasol operators.
Plage des Graniers, St Tropez, Côte d'Azur, France
***St Jean de Luz, an incredibly lovely old Basque town just 20 minutes drive south of Biarritz and about as far south as you can get on France's Atlantic coast, is tranquil and pedestrian friendly, sports an absolutely stunning sea front of ancient basque houses and fine sand. Downsides, however, as Biarritz.
***Seignosse is a newish beach resort 3 kms from old Seignosse village and stretches along 6 kms of surf-pounded, dune-embraced sand, offering all the necessary facilities for families and surfers alike, from surf schools, kid's beach club, water park and forested cycle trails to a fine golf course of the same name.
Seignosse is south of Bordeaux and north of Biarritz, accessed via TGV to Bayonne, then bus or taxi.
**La Rochelle, a charming Atlantic port town is one of the most handsome seaside resorts in France. The area has miles of safe sandy beaches especially on nearby islands, and with shallow water they are great for young families.
*La Baules, an 8 mile crescent beach in Brittany is the longest sand stretch in Europe. Nowhere near as elegant as the French Riviera, but its good value facilities are ideal for families.
*La Sauzair, at Bretignolles-sur-Mer on the Vendée coast is the best for surf, while the resort of Bretignolles has wide sandy beaches and rocky coves.
* Belle-île-en, an island off the coast near Brittany has fine sandy bays and charming coves.
Saleccia Beach, Corsica, France [Mediterranean]