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La belle France! Our neighbour, some might say our nemesis, but none can dispute the fact that France boasts some of the most beautiful countryside, glorious beaches, iconic sights and amazing cuisine that the world has to offer. Being so close makes it the perfect destination for those with only a few days to spare as much as for people with the freedom of a long summer holiday. What's more, most of us can get by with a little school-learned French.
While it's a giant and contrasting country, here are a few quick suggestions for places to go and things to do:
Things to do
Recommended for families, Argeles Plage in Languedoc-Rousillon in the Pyrenees is a long ribbon of sandy beach and blue waters that are frequented by French families; many tourists remain unaware of this gem. Paloma Plage on the French Rivera is the place to go for some celebrity spotting, according to 'The Guardian', on which sandy shores the likes of Brad and Angelina have been seen. Divers might like to head to L'lle de Riou in Marseilles, a small but carefully preserved beach from which many scuba divers begin their aquatic explorations of the Parc National des Calanques, which has been described as an 'undersea forest'. Alternatively, those that might not want to travel too far south can always enjoy the waters in the Dordogne. The eponymous river allows for all manner of water sports which can occupy young children and grandparents alike.
Provence remains a firm favourite with holiday-makers seeking beautiful surroundings - and with good reason. It comprises lots of charming little villages, undulating hills and the dramatic Gorges du Verdon - a huge canyon along which it's possible to take walking tours, or voyage downstream in a pedalo. Those dreaming of snow-capped mountains might prefer the Savoy Alps region, which is home to Mont Blanc on the Italian border, the beautiful town of Annecy and Lake Geneva.
France is a country strewn with important architecture and incredible sights, but if iconic is what you're going for, then Paris is naturally the place to head. With the Eiffel Tour, Champs Elysees, Louvre, Montmartre, the Seine and Notre Dame to choose from - to name but a few - you'll need some study walking shoes.
As with any country, certain regions are famous for particular delicacies. Brittany is famous for oysters, Burgundy for wine, Alsace for its German-influenced strudels and Picardie for its fresh vegetables. If you're a foodie, it's well worth trying to catch a farmer's market and sample the delicious local produce. These are held throughout the week and your local tourism office will no doubt have details. If you've got the use of a hire car, you may be able to attend one a bit further out or even try a night market, where there's usually entertainment in addition to eating and socialising.
Those with time of their hands might like to head to the south east island of Corsica, which combines both French and Italian influences. As the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean, Corsica has some stunning scenery that includes many forests but also some amazing beaches. Porto-Vecchio is one such area - a busy port with a white sandy beach and lots of lovely seafood restaurants. Nicknamed the San Tropez of Corsica, Porto-Vecchio is a 'sexy resort' that's perfect for people watching but is difficult to reach without a hire car.