Charles Dickens wrote of France, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and this can apply to its history also. It has risen and fallen in power under the Guals, Romans, Franks, and Holy Roman Empire before becoming the nation we know it as now in the 9th century. Even after becoming a nation there were good times and bad. The French Revolution was a turbulent time. Napoleon nearly spread the French Empire across Europe only to have the country invaded itself by the Nazis less than 150 years later. During the colonial period, France was the second largest empire and even today is around the fifth most powerful nation in the world.
My first visit to France was originally conceived by planning to meet a couple friends for a Jimmy Buffett concert in Paris. I was in northern Italy at the time, so I took a bus to Chamonix, where I spent two days on Mont Blanc. I then hopped a train to Paris where I spent five days exploring the city, and of course chilling at the concert, with my friends.
Population – 67,350,000
Money – Euro (as of Sept 2018 US$1 = €0.85; current rate available at XE.com)
Religion – 51% Christian and 40% non-religious
When to go – Anytime but July & Aug are very busy
World Heritage Sites – 41 – Albi, Amiens Cathedral, Arles, Avignon, Belfries, Bordeaux, Bourges Cathedral, Canal du Midi, Carcassonne, Causses, Chaine des Puys, Champagne hillsides, Chartres Cathedral, Climats, Fontainebleau, Fontenay, Gulf of Porto, Le Havre, Loire Valley, Lyon, Mont-Saint-Michel, Nancy, Nord-Pas de Calais, Notre Dame, Open-pan salt, Orange, Paris, Pile dwellings, Pont d’Arc, Pont du Gard, Provins, Pyrénées, Saint-Emilion, Saint-Savin, Santiago de Compostela, Strasbourg, Vauban, Versailles, Vézelay, Vézère Valley, Work of Le Corbusier
Country formed – Kingdom of France established in 1190
Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations
Chamonix is one of the most romantic places you can go. If you take the lift to the top of the hill there is a lodge type of building that offers wonderful view (you can even see the Matterhorn on a clear day). If you do not have mountain climbing gear take the lift halfway down and you can hike down the mountain from there.
In Paris, you have all the usual sights that are more than worth your time, but my favorite site was the Catacombs. Super creepy and packed full of history! I know the Parisians get a bad reputation, but remember they are just going about their daily lives as tourist flock to this very busy capital. It is no different than being in New York City. The people there are trying to get to work, not act as a travel guide for the tourist.
Below you can get even more helpful hints by watching the travel videos I made for France. Also, you can read what all I did there in my blog posts located below the video.
All Blogs From France