When it comes to noteworthy sites of interest, France has been richly blessed. Paris is usually the first place that springs to mind at the mention of visiting France. With one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower shares this scenic city with the gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, the mighty Arc de Triomphe, and the monumental Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Paris is also home to the Louvre - a grand, 12th century palace that has since been converted into a museum, displaying fascinating collections that date back to ancient civilisations.
The walled city of St-Malo sits on Brittany’s stunning coastline and is a decidedly popular destination. Sightseeing and strolling around the grey granite ramparts and narrowed cobbled streets will give you incredible views of both the sea and the old town; the latter held within the encircling walls of the ramparts. Visiting Saint Vincent Cathedral, a 12th century historic monument will reveal a colourful history that has led to its multiple reconstructions. Similarly, Château de St-Malo and the delightful Musée d'Histoire de St-Malo contained within it gives further insights into the city’s fascinating history.
Not far from Brittany is Normandy’s jewel in the sea - Mont-St-Michel. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its glorious abbey and has been a place of sanctuary dating back to the 6th century. Here you can marvel at its iconic spires and the architectural mastery required to build such an impressive structure.
At the Loire Valley, you will have your pick of fulfilling pastimes. With plenty of chatueax, cathedrals, picturesque towns and villages, bustling markets and truly incredible gardens and parks, including several zoo parks, there’s undoubtedly activities to appeal to all tastes. Wine tasting is a particular favourite, given the exceptional selection of distinct wines that originate in this area; Savignon blanc, Chenin blanc and Cabernet Franc to name only a few.
Paris, St-Malo, Mont-St-Michel and the Loire Valley are just some of the enticing locations that you will encounter while travelling through France with Luxury Gold.
The French are renowned for their impeccable palates, with emphasis on rich, indulgent foods that once tasted, will leave you longing for more. Meat-eaters will be spoilt with: coq au vin – a dish of rooster or chicken braised in red Burgundy wine, mushrooms, lardons and sweet onions; and steak tartare – comprised of finely chopped raw beef or horsemeat, accompanied by onions, capers, and often a raw egg yolk. Frogs legs or ‘des cuisses de grenouille’ are a national delicacy in France, as are snails (escargots) – typically cooked in parsley butter and garlic, while still in the shell. Seafood-lovers can look forward to traditional dishes such as: Coquilles Saint-Jacques - wine-poached scallops on a bed of pureed mushrooms, served within the shell; and moules marinières – a classic originating in Normandy, consisting of fresh mussels cooked in white wine, butter and whipping cream. Cheese is one of France’s specialities; each region has its own kinds of cheese, amounting to a total of more than 400 distinct varieties that generally belong to either the pressed, soft or blue cheese ‘families’. Brie, Camembert and Roquefort are particular favourites that are lovingly exported across the world. Savoury buckwheat galettes and both sweet and savoury crepes are firm favourites that can be served with all manner of accompaniments. Be sure to leave room for dessert though as France has the most wonderful selection of sweet pastries, cakes, tarts and ice creams. Treats like pain-au-chocolat, chocolate éclairs, macarons (brightly-coloured meringue cookies), madeleines (little sponge cakes), meringues and crème brûlée will do wonders for your taste buds.
Much like cheese production, wine is produced also across France and each region has its own specialities, from humble dinner wines to extravagant high-end delights, and everything in between. Many grape varieties that originated in France are now grown in other countries, including Chardonnay and Pinot noir. Meanwhile, wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux are especially sought-after. The Champagne region produces both white and rosé wines, with the white sparkling wine named after this destination being the go-to celebratory beverage at special occasions. The art of pairing wine with food is a favourable skill to have to bring out the best in your French dining experience.
From the picture-perfect heights of the snow-capped Alps to the crystal-blue waters lapping the French Riviera, France has truly diverse landscapes made up of attractive coastlines, scenic canyons and gorges, majestic mountain ranges, multiple vineyards, vast valleys and luscious forests. These varied habitats make the perfect home for a wide range of wildlife. Red deer, wild boars, brown bears, foxes, wolves, badgers, lynxes, pine martens, polecats, red squirrels and peregrine falcons are just a few of the animals inhabiting this beautiful country.