The charms of France are irresistible...the wine, the food, the chateaux, the landscape and, of course, the proximity to our own shores.
With the Channel Tunnel, an excellent ferry service and regular flights, hopping over to the Continent has never been easier and thousands of Brits are finding that France is the ideal foreign holiday destination.
High-speed trains and empty motorways make the country so accessible and the hardest part is often deciding where to start. Do you head for a section of the 3,000 miles of coastline, opt for one of the many mountain ranges or explore the rivers and chateaux?
To help you make the most of this beautiful country, Insight Guides have published a new and fully updated book which not only offers practical help on exploring the different regions but also gives a real understanding of their workings and culture.
Illustrated with hundreds of colour photographs, full of information on everything from potted histories and festivals to transport and sports facilities, this is the first item you should pack before leaving home.
There are inspirational ideas on visiting the top attractions whether it’s romantic Paris, picturesque Picardy in the North, the stunning Loire Valley in the West or the historic Auvergne in the South.
Discover how climbing the dome of the Pantheon will give you one of the best panoramic views of Paris, don’t visit the Basque country without trying their delicious Jambon de Bayonne and arrive early at the famous Les Eyzies caves in the Dordogne because tickets sell out fast.
The photographs capture France’s diverse natural scenery, cities, culture and food and 23 ‘place’ chapters combine local knowledge with maps, places of interest, lesser known sights to visit and information on shops, nightlife, restaurants and accommodation for all budgets.
A special Best of France section helps you to prioritise where to visit and what to do, and top tips include advice on best attractions for children, the best wine regions, great viewpoints and easy, classic walks.
Architecture and the arts are fully covered and there are unmissable sections on quirky things to see and do, French cheeses, Gallic design and Paris fashion.
There are also useful contact numbers, mini features on history, local people, sport and art and an A-Z on practicalities like admission charges and visas.
And if you struggle with the language, there’s a glossary at the back of the book with useful words and phrases.
Practical, easy-to-use and brimming with invaluable advice, Insight Guide to France is the perfect travelling companion.
(APA Publications, paperback, £15.99)