France is one of the world's great travel destinations. From Paris to Provence and Brittany to Burgundy, Alsace to Auvergne, there's something for everyone – and so it's little surprise that France consistently rates as one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. And from the UK it's right on our doorstep, a mere hop across the Channel - making it the perfect place for a short break or a longer self-drive or tailor-made tour.
Whether you're visiting the countless grand cathedrals and bastions of France's ancient cities or surfing the Atlantic breakers on the Côte d'Argent in Aquitaine, skiing the pure-white slopes of Chamonix or catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris, France holidays are endlessly diverse and constantly inspiring.
Historically, France is one of Europe's most fascinating countries. Neanderthal civilisations are said to have been established here as long ago as 50,000 BC and, since then, empires have come and gone, kings have been crowned and some beheaded, and numerous wars have been won and lost - all of which have left behind landmarks and traditions that have shaped the French identity.
Today, her influence stretches way beyond her borders, whether through the country's leading role in the European Union or in former colonies in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, in which the French language and traditions remain. French food is one of the most familiar exports, the likes of tarte tartin, moules frites, duck confit and endless varieties of cheese enjoyed in many countries, but best enjoyed in France than anywhere else. And then of course there's the small matter of French wine – Bordeaux, Bourgueil, Burgundy and Champagne to name a few – each and every one iconic, distinct, and truly French.
The English playwright Charles Morgan once said ‘France is an idea necessary to civilisation'. Think of farmers' markets in the Loire Valley, artists working along the Seine in Paris, rowing boats in the La Venise Verte in Poitou-Charentes and the glamorous bars of the French Riviera and it'd be near impossible to disagree with him.