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Whether you fancy hiking in the Alps, tasting wine in the Loire, chugging down the waterways of the Canal du Midi or walking the long-distance footpath in Corsica, France has much to offer the 80 million visitors who come here every year. It’s not only the most popular destination for Brits, it’s also the most-visited country in the world.
France has some of the most varied landscape in Europe, including sun-baked Mediterranean beaches and chilly glacier-covered peaks. There is a wealth of activities on offer from snowshoeing to cycling and kayaking to kite surfing.
France’s mountain ranges have world-class Alpine and cross-country skiing as well as other winter sports such as snowboarding and sledging. The most famous resorts are in the Alps; in the region of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak is the long-established ski resort of Chamonix. In the Pyrenees the summits aren’t quite as record-breaking but the slopes are less crowded and prices are lower.
Home of the Tour de France, it’s no surprise that France has some great cycling options. Explore the 800-km-long Loire à vélo which follows the gently rolling Loire Valley, or pedal the towpaths of the Canal du Midi, through elegant avenues shaded by plane trees lining the waterways.
France has a culturally rich heritage, from the Renaissance chateaux strung like precious beads along the Loire to magnificent and ornate cathedrals such as the world-famous one in Chartres. Corsica has many cultural relics from past invasions and occupations by the Romans, the Moors and the Genoese, who all left their mark in the baroque churches, citadels and watchtowers you can see today.
For many people, France is the gastronomic capital of the world. Sampling the incredibly diverse dishes from the varied regions of France is a highlight on many visitors’ itineraries. Local produce is piled high on stalls in the country’s markets, while restaurants serve exceptional dishes using the freshest of seasonal ingredients. Cheese and wine are the cornerstones of French cuisine.
The French are so serious about these that they have assigned an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC, meaning controlled domination of origin) stamp on their most important products, reflecting the geographical region where they are produced. Over 300 wines now have the AOC label, from Ajaccio wine produced in Corsica to Vouvray in the Loire. Some 40 cheeses have the same status, including the sheep’s milk cheese brocciu, considered to the national food of Corsica.
Places of interest in France
Activities in France
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