France – Around the World from A to Z – F
France – Around the World from A to Z – F
This week’s featured destination is France. In this post I will let the photos do most of the talking. I will however share a few tidbits on a few places worth visiting, including the region of Provence, as well as a few fun facts you may not know about France. I have visited France many times and find it a fascinating country. I have been to some of the places mentioned, but some I have yet to explore. Scroll through the pics to see some of the places worth visiting on a trip to France. Some you may have heard of while others may be totally new to you.
Monet's Gardens, Giverny, France
Located just outside of Paris, this beautiful water garden looks like a painting…that’s because it is a painting.
This is where Claude Monet, one of France’s 19th century impressionist artists, painted his pond series of paintings. It hasn’t changed much since then or has it? After Monet’s death in 1926, his beautiful garden and house became neglected.
Now owned and operated by the Monet Foundation, both Monet’s house and gardens have been restored to their former glory. Under normal circumstances it’s possible to explore the peaceful gardens and take a tour of Monet’s colourful house, but at the time of writing, you can only visit virtually.
Dune of Pilat, Arcachon basin region, New Aquitaine, France
I bet you would never have guessed this photo was taken in France!
The tallest dune in Europe, you can find the Dûne du Pilat on the west coast of France, just 60 km from Bordeaux! Sometimes referred to as a “menacing sand wall” or even a “sand monster,” the Dûne du Pilat is located between the Atlantic Ocean, a huge pine forest, the Arcachon Bay, a sandbank and a peninsula, all the makings of a unique sandy landscape you’d expect to find further south, not in France.
The dune is open to the public and can be explored any time of day or season free of charge.
The Chalk Cliffs at Côte d’Albâtre, Normandy, France
At first glance you might think these are the white cliffs of Dover. However, these white chalk cliffs are in France. If you’re an art lover, you might even recognize them from paintings by Monet, Boudin and Pissaro.
You’ll discover them the French side of the EnglishChannel, on Normandy’s Côte d’Albâtre (or Alabaster Coast). You can tell by the similarity in geology that southern England and northern France were once connected.
These chalk cliffs won’t be there forever. They are constantly being worn away by the power of the ocean! They won’t disappear in your lifetime, but they are definitely worth exploring if you’re visiting northern France.
A must-visit region of France: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
When you think of France the first thing that probably comes to mind is Paris, and of course if you’re visiting France from Canada, Paris is a must see and do experience before you head anywhere else. But there’s more to France than its famous capital city.
A region of France that is definitely worth visiting is Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Located in southeastern France, this region is bordered by the Rhône river in the east, Italy to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
Consisting of seven departements, the region’s landscapes range from the snow capped mountains and crystal clear lakes of the Alps to the beautiful palm fringed sandy beaches on the Mediterranean coast, with gentle rolling hills and meandering river valleys interspersed with familiar lavender fields, terraced vineyards, cypress trees and medieval artefacts and buildings in between.
The region is a historical, cultural and gastronomical hotpot of quaint villages with picturesque stone buildings, iconic Romanesque bridges, aqueducts and other ancient monuments made famous by such artists as Cezanne, Van Gogh and Chagall, and a rich and diverse cuisine that blends passion, tradition and elegance.
Due to its geographical location in the south and its mountainous geology, the climate can range from winter to summer all in the same season. You can be skiing on the slopes of the High Alps one day and bathing on the beach on the French Riviera the next!
Its capital and largest city is Marseilles, but other noteworthy towns include Arles (where I briefly stayed as an exchange student before being whisked off to Biarritz), Aix-en-Provence, Avignon (of course), Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Roussillon, Gordes, Vaison-la-Romaine, Uzès, Venasque, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Lacoste.
Renowned for its lavender fields, a visit to one is simply magical and is a must if you’re visiting the region in the summer months (end of June through August). A cruise along the Rhone river is an ideal way to visit Provence. Relax as you take in the stunning scenery while enjoying a glass of local Beaujolais wine. Learn how the delicious local cheeses are made. Cycle alongside the river for part of the journey visiting sites along the route.
A few fun facts about France you may or may not know…
- Mont Blanc in the French Alps is the highest mountain in Western Europe at 15,774 ft (4,808 m) ASL. However, since it lies on the border with Italy, ownership of the summit has long been disputed by both countries.
- France is the largest country in the European Union, the third largest in Europe after Ukraine and the European part of Russia. But did you know it is also the fourth most forested country in the EU, after Sweden, Finland and Spain?
- France doesn’t have an official nickname. But did you know it is sometimes referred to as “the hexagon country” due to its six-sided shape? Going clockwise starting in the north east, the first side is bordered by Belgium and Luxembourg, the next by Germany, Switzerland and Italy, then the Mediterranean Sea, followed by Spain in the southwest, then the Bay of Biscay and lastly the English Channel which separates it from England.
- France invented a lot of stuff we use today! Camouflage for instance was first used by the French army in 1915 during World War I. Hot air balloons, denim (from the town of Nîmes) and, of course, Crêpes, pasteurization and braille, were all invented in France. But did you know we also have the French to thank for the stethoscope, the modern parachute, the hairdryer, and the canning process and preserving food by boiling it in sealed glass jars?
- Did you know, France was the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying surplus food? Since 2016, all supermarkets in France must donate unsold food to a charity or food bank. Way to go France!
- France has 45 properties on the UNESCO World Heritage list. But did you know the Gastronomic meal of the French was also inscribed on UNESCO’s “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” in 2010? Bon appétit!
Did this blog post inspire you to add France to your bucket list or to revisit?
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Solo Female Traveller in Paris, France.