FIVE REASONS TO PLAN A TRIP TO FRANCE - Al Fresco Holidays
There are, of course, a million reasons why you should make the effort to take the family on a road-trip to France.
And yet, despite its near proximity to the UK, the land of the Gauls often gets overlooked in favour of its more showbiz-friendly Mediterranean cousin, Spain.
Time to set this right, isn’t it?
Forget the fact that us Brits have been at war, one way or the other, with the French for most of our history – there are some truly inspiring places to visit across this vast culinary capital of Europe.
Here’s a few of my personal favourites to whet your appetite and hopefully convince you that a jaunt across the Channel is well worth it.
Everyone knows France is the world capital of perfume. But Grasse, a lovely, pretty little town in the South of the country, is the capital of the French perfume industry. You’ll know you’ve arrived by the smell…and the amazing mile-after-mile of flower-filled fields on the approach to the town centre. A beautiful picture-postcard of a town. Take your camera.
Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat lies between Nice and Monaco and is the world’s most expensive peninsula. It is also among the most expensive places in the world to buy a house – with prices per square metre double that of Tokyo and three times higher than in Paris. Take plenty of money and go take a look how the other half-lives. Be prepared to regularly pick your jaw off the floor.
We English love our cheese and we’re pretty good at making it too – yummy Stilton and real Cheddar being just two of my favourites. But the French take cheese production to an entirely new level. There are more than 300 cheese regularly produced in the country. If you haven’t tried it already, try a cheeky taste of Boulette d’Avesnes – a soft and distinctly flavoured conical-shaped cheese from the Pas-de-Calais in northern France, coated in paprika and hand-moulded then enriched with tarragon, parsley, crushed cloves, salt and pepper. Almost impossible to get outside of France itself.
France has the most extensive railway system in Western Europe. High-speed trains – known as the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) travel at up to 200mph right across the length and breadth of this huge country. And they’re reliable too. It’s the world’s best train service and can get you anywhere throughout France (and some adjoining countries) in the blink of an eye.
Saint-Véran (Hautes-Alpes) is not quite on top of the world but it is definitely the highest village in Europe. The village, based in French Alps in the South-East of France, is located at an altitude of 2,042 metres and the highest point on its territory reaches up to 3,175 metres. It is, literally, breathtaking. Beautiful too. Worth a trip, if only to say you’ve been there.