Take in Paris’ inside-out Pompidou Centre and skyscraping Eiffel Tower before heading the South to Renaissance Lyon and Spanish-influenced Toulouse. France’s SNCF train network takes you the West to neo-classical Bordeaux, East to canal-crossed Strasbourg and North to Rouen’s inspiring Gothic cathedral.
Travel by train through France’s lush Provence region, chateau-hop in the Loire Valley or touch prehistoric stones in wind-swept Brittany. Run with wild horses on the Camargue plateau or go blueberry-picking in the Alps. Paraglide in the Pyrenees, canoe along Ardèche’s river or swim in Corsica’s clear waters.
Buy olive oil in Provence, foie gras in Dordogne and blue-veined Roquefort cheese. Bag designer labels in Paris, Saint-Tropez and Cannes, bargains at Lille’s outlets, handmade gloves in Millau or Limoges porcelain. Stock up on Loire, Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, and pear cider from Normandy.
Eat & Drink
Take the train around France to sample cassoulet (pork and bean stew) in the southwest, Normandy’s galettes (savoury pancakes), and Marseille’s bouillabaisse (fish soup), washed down with anise-flavoured Pastis or good-value Languedoc vintages.
Hang out at contemporary art venues like Abattoires in Toulouse or Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, or swoop along the Millau viaduct, Norman Foster’s breathtaking bridge.