Each year France has more visitors from overseas than any other country in the world. This is for various reasons: the country has magnificent scenery, great beaches, a large number of historic monuments and medieval villages; and of course Paris itself – the Eiffel Tower alone attracts 20,000 visitors each day!
So how best to discover France yourself? The perfect way is to stay in a French holiday rental property – these are known as French gites. These gites vary in size type and location, and can be anything from a small cottage in the country to a luxurious clifftop villa with a private swimming pool.
The main attraction is that you will be staying in exactly the same kind of property that French people themselves live in.
Check the location of your gite before you visit. Some are close to towns but some are really very rural, often several kilometres from the nearest shop or restaurant. In any case you will almost certainly need to hire a car in France if you want to make the most of your visit – public transport in rural areas is limited and there will be many places you can’t reach without your own transport..
If this is your first visit to France you will need to decide which region to visit, since the country is too large to explore properly on one trip. The most popular areas are Brittany and Normandy in the north, the Loire Valley in the centre of the country, and Provence on the Mediterranean coast. As a contrast to the crowds of Provence, you could try the Languedoc region a little to the west – cheaper and less busy than the French Riviera, the region has a great deal to offer, from mountains and crashing rivers to long beaches and cathar castles.