France: What to know before your trip
France has everything an average tourist needs: the azure sea, Gothic cathedrals of the 11th century, ski resorts in the Alps, garlic snails and wine. I lived in France for two years and discovered a lot. I will tell about the main cities, attractions, prices for housing and transport.
The country is divided into 18 regions. 13 of them are in the European part of the country, and 5 – on the islands of Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique, Reunion and Mayotte. I will write only about mainland France.
What will you learn
It takes an average of 3.5 hours to travel from Moscow to Paris.
The difference with Moscow: 1 hour in summer, 2 hours in winter.
When is the season: In the south and central France in summer, in the Alps in winter, in Paris all year round.
Average temperature in the season: +22 ° C in summer, +10 ° C in spring, +14 ° C in fall, +7 ° C in winter. In the mountainous part -10 ° C.
Language : French, English is spoken in tourist areas.
Weather and climate
In France, a comfortable climate. For example, in winter in Paris it is -5 … +6 ° C, in summer +15 … 25 ° C.
In the north-east of France in Alsace and Lorraine winters are harsher, and summers are cooler. The average temperature is about 0 ° C in January, and +20 ° C in July.
It is warmest on the Mediterranean coast. Summer is hot there with rare rains, for example in July +22 … 35 ° C. The temperature is almost always plus in winter, in January it is +8 … 15 °С.
How to reach
Cities and attractions
Paris has hundreds of sights that need no introduction. In my opinion, in the capital you should definitely walk around Montmartre, walk up to the Sacré Coeur basilica, walk along the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe and take a bike ride along the banks of the Seine. Another option for the route is in the short T-G article.
You can also save on admission: in most museums of Paris tourists are allowed free of charge on certain days. For example, you can go to the Louvre on July 14, the first Saturday of each month and on Fridays after 18:00. Free days at the Orsay Museum and the Pompidou Center – the first Sunday of each month. Admission is always free for minors and people with disabilities. If you plan to visit the museum on a free day, be prepared for kilometer-long lines.
After the fire on April 15, 2019, Paris’ Notre Dame on the island of Cité is closed to the public. Pictured is the cathedral before the fire. According to the most optimistic forecasts, a full restoration will take 5 years
Marseille is a major Mediterranean port city, the second largest in terms of population after Paris. The main place in the city is the famous Old Port. There every day until 10:00 local fishermen sell their catch right from the boats.
The museum impressed me even before I entered the building: its facade is made of tinted glass and tracery concrete, which pierces the sunlight in clear weather. I suggest climbing up to the roof and taking in the picturesque views of the city and the port.
Local sunsets are the main attraction. This is an unprocessed photo my friend took with his iPhone
Also in Le Baux-de-Provence is the multimedia gallery Carrieres des Lumieres. In it, images of paintings are broadcast on high walls and all surfaces of the room are set in motion with three-dimensional sound. It’s like being inside a painting. You can see the canvases of Van Gogh in motion in the gallery until January 5, 2020.
During the exhibition, it seemed to me that only children could really enjoy it. While the adults rushed to take as many pictures as possible, the younger visitors tried to catch the tentacles of a giant octopus
Bormes-les-Mimosas is a town on the Côte d’Azur, where people go mainly for the sea. The main attraction of the city is considered a summer residence of the French presidents – the castle of Fort de Breganson. It opened not so long ago for tourists.
The residence is divided into two wings: one – for the president and his family, the other – for guests and guards. At first glance, nothing unusual inside: many bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living rooms, a hall of honor. But I like visiting such places more than the palaces of kings, whose faces I can vaguely imagine at best from history books. In this presidential residence, on the other hand, everything seems alive: all the objects and rooms are still being used for their intended purpose and have not yet managed to turn into museum exhibits. I particularly remember the presidential pavilion with the official gifts to President François Hollande, such as the mini oasis in gold from Saudi Arabia or the blown glass vase presented by Joe Biden.
Bordeaux is the center of Aquitaine and the wine capital of the world. You can walk around the historic center of the city in a day. I advise to visit the Gothic Cathedral Saint-André, walk along the waterfront and stay at the “Mirror of Water” – a large square made of granite slabs. Every 15 minutes it is filled with water for 2 cm, which then evaporates and creates a fog up to 2 m high.
Another must in Bordeaux is a walk along the pedestrian street St. Catherine, more than a kilometer long with many fashionable boutiques and cafes.
I love night walks along the Bordeaux Promenade, when the “Mirror of Water” reflects the beautiful buildings and the whole square in front of the Bourse across the street
The Romanesque sculpture room by contemporary Cuban artist Jorge Pardo at the Augustinian Museum features ancient Roman sculptures and bright lights
Strasbourg is called the parliamentary capital of Europe. Meetings of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights are held there. Inside you can see interactive exhibitions about the impact of Parliament on people’s lives and, if you are lucky with the weather, climb to the observation deck on the roof. From there you have a beautiful view of the city.
Individual tourists are allowed on a first-come, first-served basis a couple of hours a day; the schedule is on the website. Admission is for the first 75 visitors only. Take your passport with you.
Another reason to visit Strasbourg is the Christmas Market in December. It is one of the oldest in Europe and has been there for four centuries. All December the buildings and streets of the city are festively decorated, the central squares are filled with numerous shops with spicy sweets, hot mulled wine and handmade Christmas souvenirs.