My very first trip to France was with school to Paris many years ago, where the boys went off and got drunk in a bar that was perfectly happy to serve 15 and 16 year olds. The girls kept wandering off to look in shops and giggle at the handsome French guys. The teachers struggled to herd pupils round sights they weren’t that bothered about seeing and at night went to each other’s rooms to drink cheap plonk and try to unwind … I know that because I was one of those teachers and I vowed one day to return to Paris and see the sights properly, without playing the role of reluctant sheep dog.
It was 20 years before I got back to Paris and this time we did all the sights without student distraction. The Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, the Louvre, the Tuilleries Gardens, Notre Dame and even out to the glorious Palace of Versailles – all magical and beautiful even with lots of other tourists around. Another time we took the car over and explored charming Northern France, with its lush pasturelands and historic towns. More recently I went to see World War One sites in the footsteps of WW1 poet Wilfred Owen.
If you plan a trip to France, you may be wondering how on earth to organise what to see, when to go and where to stay in such a diverse and big country. There are lots of guidebooks and websites, blogs and articles for you to trawl through, but ideally what you want is a one-stop solution, where everything you need to know is all in one place. Well, I came across France-Voyage.com recently and it’s perfect for planning every aspect of a trip to France, whether it’s French chateaux, ancient cathedrals or to follow the Tour de France.
As well as lots of information on all the regions of France, it’s a goldmine of practical and cultural tips to help make the best use of time on holiday. Other plus points include:
- Complete, detailed content for tourists covering the whole country;
- Daily updates in cooperation with official organisations;
- Multiple illustrations and virtual tours;
- Easy planning with creation of tailor-made itineraries and mini-guidebooks;
- Ease of access via an intuitive, user-friendly interface that works on all devices, from smartphones to desktop computers;
- Geolocated, personalised mobile interface;
- Multilingual information giving easy access to foreign tourists;
- Completely free for holidaymakers.
My favourite trip to France was staying with my boyfriend on a yacht in Cannes; we spent three weeks exploring the south of France. Antibes, St Tropez, Villefranche, Monaco – evocative names on the French Riviera. The smell of lavender takes me back immediately to that lovely holiday. I’m hoping to return for a long weekend on the Côte d’Azur in the autumn so decided to use the site to plan a long weekend in the Alpes Maritime. As a foodie I love the tips on regional food as well as recommendations for places to eat and drink. There are helpful suggestions for coastal and inland walks and so much info on each village and town that I think we’re going to need a lot more than a weekend to see it all.
This article was written in collaboration with France-Voyage.com.