France Destination Guide

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France Destination Guide

Regions

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Metropolitan France is divided into 13 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into seven cultural regions:

Regions of France

Île-de-France
The region surrounding the French capital, Paris.
Northern France (Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardy, Normandy)
A region where the world wars have left many scars.
Northeastern France (Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comté)
A region where wider European culture (and especially Germanic culture) has merged with the French, giving rise to interesting results.
Great West (Brittany, Pays de la Loire)
An agriculture-based oceanic region with a culture greatly influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples.
Central France (Centre-Val de Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Burgundy, Limousin, Auvergne)
A largely agricultural and vinicultural region, featuring river valleys, châteaux and historic towns.
Southwestern France (Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrenees)
A region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the Atlantic Ocean and young high mountains close to Spain.
Southeastern France (Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica)
The primary tourist region of the country outside of Paris, with a warm climate and azure sea, contrasting with the mountainous French Alps.

Chantilly gardens, Paris, Île-de-France

St Joseph’s Church by August Peret, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France

Hotel de Ville decorated to celebrate its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Le Havre, Normandy, Northern France

Place du General de Gaulle, Lille, Nord-Pas de Calais, Northern France

Each administrative region is divided into a number of departments. Each department is allocated a 2 digit number. This number forms the first 2 digits of the 5 digit French postcode.

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Overseas departments

Overseas territories

  • French Polynesia (Polynésie Française) — post-card tropical islands in Oceania
  • New Caledonia (Nouvelle Caledonie) — long-shaped island in Oceania

The following overseas territories are remote possessions kept as natural reservations:

A very limited form of tourism is available in the TAAF islands.

Cities

France has numerous cities of interest to travellers, below is a list of nine of the most notable:

  • Paris — the “City of Light”, romance and the Eiffel Tower
  • Bordeaux — city of wine, traditional stone mansions and smart terraces
  • Bourges — gardens, canals and a cathedral listed as a UNESCO heritage site
  • Lille — a dynamic northern city known for its handsome centre and active cultural life
  • Lyon — France’s second city with a history from Roman times to the Resistance
  • Marseille — Third largest French city with a harbour as big as its place as the heart of Provence
  • Nantes — the “Greenest City” and, according to some, the best place to live in Europe
  • Strasbourg — famous for its historical centre, and home to many European institutions
  • Toulouse — the “Pink City”, for its distinctive brick architecture, main city of Occitania

Other destinations

  • Camargue — one of Europe’s largest river deltas and wetlands
  • Corsica — the birthplace of Napoleon, a unique island with a distinct culture and language
  • French Alps — home to the highest mountain in Western Europe, the Mont Blanc
  • French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) — Mediterranean coastline of France with plenty of upper class seaside resorts, yachts and golf courses
  • Loire Valley — the world-famous Loire Valley, best known for its wines and chateaux
  • Luberon — the stereotypical Provence of picturesque villages, joie de vivre and wine
  • Mont Saint Michel — second most-visited sight in France, a monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide
  • Verdon Gorge — beautiful river canyon in a turquoise-green, great for kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing or just driving around the limestone cliffs

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