Paris' monument-lined boulevards, museums, classical bistros and boutiques are enhanced by a new wave of multimedia galleries, creative wine bars, design shops and tech start-ups. Stylish Shopping The word 'Parisian' is synonymous with style, and fashion shopping is the city’s forte.
Provence & the Côte d'Azur
Whether you're cruising the clifftop roads, sunbathing on the beaches or browsing the weekly markets, Provence and the Côte d'Azur are sexy, sun-drenched and seductive. Art Aplenty It wasn't just the scenery that drew artists like Rénoir, Chagall, Cézanne and Picasso here: it was the light, described by Matisse as 'soft and tender, despite its brilliance'.
Jutting from the foaming Mediterranean like an impregnable fortress, Corsica resembles a miniature continent, with astounding geographical diversity. Within half an hour's drive, the landscape ranges from glittering bays, vibrant coastal cities and fabulous beaches to sawtooth mountain ridges, verdant valleys, dense forests and time-forgotten hilltop villages.
French Alps & the Jura Mountains
High up in the French Alps, it's enthralling to imagine the forces that shaped these colossal peaks. The African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided some 35 million years ago, forcing the land skyward into a 1000km chain of saw-edged mountains. Rumbling across seven European countries, the Alps reach their maximum height in France, at Mont Blanc (4810m).
The 'mouths-of-the-Rhône', where one of Europe's great rivers splits before spilling its Swiss-Alpine snowmelt into the Mediterranean, is Provence's most populous département. Its palpitating heart is Marseille, a gritty former Greek colony, France's second-largest city, and a place of real cultural energy.
With quiet country roads winding through vine-striped hills and wild stretches of coastal sand interspersed with misty islands, the Atlantic coast is where France gets back to nature. Much more laid-back than the Med (but with almost as much sunshine), this is the place to slow the pace right down. But the Atlantic coast can do cities and culture as well.
Stretching from Provence to the Pyrenees, this sultry, sun-baked territory (now part of the greater Occitanie region) feels like a country in its own right. It’s been a strategic border since Roman times and is awash with historical reminders, from Roman aqueducts to hilltop Cathar castles.
Brittany is for explorers. Its wild, dramatic coastline, medieval towns and thick forests make an excursion here well worth the detour off the beaten track. This is a land of prehistoric mysticism, proud tradition and culinary wealth, where fiercely independent locals celebrate Breton culture, and Paris feels a long way away indeed.