France remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The reasons are obvious. From the bustling city of Paris to the French Riviera beaches, and French Alps, this beautiful country has so much to offer. Be sure and explore the castles in the Loire Valley and sip some wine in the countryside. Some people choose to visit one or two highlights in the region before continuing on to the rest of their European tour. Others spend a month or more in this country, soaking up everything it has to offer, from its small towns to its world renowned cuisine.
Because of its popularity, the price of travel here can be high, but there are some great tricks to help you save money. If you're on a particularly tight budget, couchsurfing can be an excellent opportunity. Particularly in the larger cities you'll find plenty of opportunities for couchsurfing. Many hosts speak English and they're often eager and willing to show you around. You can also save a lot of money by shopping at local markets and picking up local produce and cheese or bread. This will help you enjoy a great picnic of local specialties without the high cost of eating out. Dinner in particular can be quite expensive at restaurants. Consider eating a nice meal out at lunch and preparing your own dinner. Many restaurants has specials at lunch and you can enjoy a three course meal for a fraction of the cost that you would pay at dinner time. French food is acclaimed the world over with good reason. Taste the fresh cheeses and fruits. Settle down to a rich meal with a glass of wine, and don't miss the decadent desserts. If you plan ahead you can experience it all for far less money than you would expect.
Both transportation and hotels in the area can be expensive. It's best to book ahead at by at least several weeks. Prices go up with time and you may find yourself paying almost twice as much for train tickets on the day of your trip. While this doesn't allow you the flexibility you may desire, it is generally well worth the money savings.
Top Tourist Attractions
Pont du Gard This structure was built around 19 BC and is representative of Roman architecture. It was originallydesigned to carry water between Nimes and Uzes.
Eiffel Tower Probably the most famous French sight, the Eiffel Tower was originally built in 1889 for the Universal Exhibition in commemoration of the centennial of the French Revolution. Today it sees thousands of visitors every day, many of which make trip to the top for the views overlooking Paris.
Prehistoric Megaliths This is an arrangement of large granite rocks dating back possibly as far as 4000 BC. While the meaning is not known today, it is thought that they may be religious in nature or relate to the astronomical calendar.
Cassoulet: This slow cooked French style stew is similar to a casserole. It is usually made with a meat and white bean sauce which have cooked long enough that the flavors have intertwined. It's a popular dinner dish, but it can also be found on occasion in restaurants during lunch time.
Boudin blanc: This is a type of white pork sausage usually made with liver and heart parts and softened with milk. The sausages are usually prepared by either sauteing or grilling them.
Andouillette: This is a smaller version of andouille sausage made with pork, onions and seasoning. It often has a very smoky and spicy flavor. While many forms of andouille sausage is found around the world, true andouillette is rarely found outside of France.