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France

France is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and is full of excellent cities for tourists to explore. Whether you’re visiting to sample the country’s amazing culture and history or simply wanting to soak up the sun in the southern areas, there’s plenty to explore in this amazing nation.

Here is some guidance to help you settle into the French way of life:

Currency: Euros are used here and £1 is equal to around 1.26 at the moment, though the rate is subject to change.

Climate: The weather around France varies depending on location. The northern, central and eastern areas tend to enjoy a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. South eastern regions enjoy Mediterranean conditions with warm summers and damp, mild winters.

Customs and etiquette: French is the dominant language across the country, but many residents have a strong command of English. To pay respect, it is advisable to say “bonjour” when entering retail outlets. Handshakes will also be well appreciated by locals, who commonly use the gesture to greet people.  

Tipping is not obligatory in most French restaurants, but it is greatly appreciated. If you feel the service was good, give them up to five per cent on top of your bill.

Lens

France

It may not have the appeal of Paris, but Lens is a fantastic place to visit. Boasting plenty of art and culture without the large crowds and hectic atmosphere associated in major European cities.

Originally, Lens was an industrial city famous for coal mining and was badly damaged by the impact of the First World War. However, years of transformation have now turned it into a blossoming location, with plenty of attractions for curious football fans to explore.

History buffs will be sure to love this destination, with plenty of fascinating sites to explore. One of these is The Remembrance Trails, where visitors can walk down the battlefields of WW1 and gain a captivating insight into one of the most volatile periods of France’s history.

Must see: The beauty of Louvre Lens museum must be seen to be believed. The venue boasts a wide selection of French and international art pieces and is sure to be a great attraction for history buffs.

Shopping: For something a little different, try the Fromagerie cheese shop for some one-of-a-kind dairy products.

Getting around: Public transport in Lens is managed by Tadeo and trains are operated by the TGV-Nord rail link, with six services to Paris every day.

Marseille

Marseille

With a vast selection of cultures, sights and sounds lined along the city’s exuberant streets, Marseille is one of Europe’s most unique cities.

The port city has developed a strong reputation as a tourist attraction in recent years, resulting in it being named the European Capital of Culture in 2013. Once a key location for commercial shipping, the riverside destination now carries an eccentric and sophisticated vibe, with plenty of delightful bars and restaurants based in the Historic Old Port.

Marseille is packed with exciting attractions. Whether you want to gain an insight into its history at the Musee d’Historie de Marseille, or simply relax and admire the amazing scenery from Basilque Notre Dame de la Garde and Parc National Des Calanques, you are bound to find something unforgettable.

Must see: The Old Port and Calanque de Morgiou are two of the best places to visit for astonishing views of coastal beauty.

Shopping: Rue Paradis is one of the top shopping spots, with a number of high street stores to explore.

Getting around: Marseille is a great city to wander around by foot, but if you want to take public transport, the RTM is a great option. It covers buses, the metro and the tramway and there are frequent services throughout the day.

Lyon

Lyon

Boasting wondrous architecture, fantastic shops and a cosy, romantic vibe, Lyon is the ideal spot for a quiet weekend away and you’ll be left with plenty to do here as you wait to cheer your team on.

Historical landmarks such as Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere and Theatres Romains de Fourviere are coupled with wonderful modern attractions such as the glorious Parc de la Tete D’or and the unique film museum Musee Miniature et Cinema.

Must see: Vieux Lyon provides a breathtaking view across the entire city and makes for some amazing photo opportunities.

Shopping: Lyon Part Dieu Mall is the place to visit for all the latest designer trends.

Getting around: By buying a Lyon City Card, visitors can access underground lines, tramway and bus routes.

Lille

Lille

Just one hour and-a-half away from London, Lille makes for a great day trip and is sure to provide plenty of entertainment for football fans.

There’s architecture galore across the city, which is full of artful streets and boasts a wonderfully creative atmosphere that makes it stand out among other European cities. It is the home of the Musee d’Art Moderne and the Palais des Beax Arts, where tourists can see some of the country’s most astonishing art works.

Must see: The Grand Place is packed with some stunning 17th century architecture and plenty of restaurants and shops to explore.

Shopping: Wazemmes Market is full of boutique stalls and plenty of unique gifts to take home.

Getting around: There are lots of trains available to explore neighbouring towns and cities, while the city’s metro is reliable and efficient for any journeys in Lille.

Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Exciting attractions, wonderful history and a vibrant atmosphere make Bordeaux an extraordinary city to visit.

Based in southwestern France, the area is well-known for its wine vineyards and classy vibe. There is a bounty of attractions to explore here, ranging from Gothic architecture to expansive art museums.

The Water Mirror is one of the city’s most unique landmarks. There is nothing quite like seeing the beautiful night sky projected onto the pool across from the Place Royale, and its popularity has helped make it a qualified World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Must see: Wine lovers will love the trips to the city’s vineyards, while a walk near the stunning Porte Cailhau will be unforgettable.

Shopping: The Meriadeck shopping centre has a vast array of shops and restaurants. Perfect for visitors looking to find some bargains.

Getting around: There is a tramway and a bus network for travellers to explore all the wonderful sights and sounds of the city.

Toulouse

Toulouse

Based in the south of France, Toulouse has emerged as a fantastic holiday destination for Europeans wanting nice weather, breathtaking architecture and a romantic vibe.

As the country’s fourth biggest city, there is plenty to offer for visitors here. Many of its magnificent classic buildings have been here for 2,000 years, making the area a great place to wander around and soak up visual delights such as the Basilique St-Sernin church and the fascinating Museum of Toulouse.

Canal du Midi also presents a relaxing riverside walk or cycle across stunning plants and scenery, while there are plenty of fantastic shops and restaurants throughout this majestic destination.

Must see: There are plenty of excellent events at Theatre du Capitole, which is one of Europe’s leading opera houses.

Shopping: Rue de Rome is the main shopping street in the city, featuring some top designer brands.

Getting around: The bus, tram and metro lines in the city are operated by Tisseo.

St Etienne

St Etienne

St Etienne is not top of the list for tourists in France, but there is plenty here for people to enjoy and it’s a fantastic place to relax after games at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

The city is built on seven hills, making for a memorable landscape and some excellent photo opportunities. Place Jean Jaures is the main tourist hub here and acts as a green hub with plenty of shops and restaurants for visitors to choose from.

History enthusiasts will find much to explore here, too. The Musee Des Verts in particular is a favourite of sports fans, with a host of historic memorabilia on display.

Must see: Away from the shops and museums is Boulder House Salle D’escalade, which is a perfect high-energy activity for those wanting something a little different.

Shopping: The Place Deu People is the best location for shopping, with plenty of high street brands.

Getting around: The STAS public transport network provides tram and bus services across the city.

Nice

Nice

Located on the coast of the French Riviera, Nice has blossomed into one of Europe’s most desirable destinations.

With an artistic look and a laid-back liberal attitude, the city offers the perfect mix of traditional glamour and contemporary pazazz. There are plenty of extraordinary restaurants and shops here to explore and the weather is glorious in the summer.

Sitting on one of the bars on the shores of Baie des Anges is absolutely resplendent and the variety of culture in Nice is truly one-of-a-kind.

What to see: The Old Town is full of amazing surprises, with some brilliant artisan shops and aesthetically-pleasing windy streets.

Shopping: Rue Massena is full of amazing shops and restaurants, while Place Messena is where you will find the designer labels.

Getting around: Lignes d’Azur is the most popular bus system in the city and connects most areas.

Paris

Paris

Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world and it’s very easy to see why. Outstanding landmarks, exceptional food and glamorous buildings oozing with style make sure the tourists return year after year.

No trip to the capital of romance would be complete without visiting the Eiffel Tower, while museums such as Musee d’Orsay and Musee du Louvre provide a great insight into the artistic history of France’s capital.

With so much to do for all types of people, you will never run out of things to do in this magnificent city.

Must see: Luxembourg Gardens makes for a relaxing walk, surrounded by some stunning scenery.

Shopping: Avenue des Champs Elysees offers a wide range of amazing stores, with that incredible view of the Arc de Triomphe to top it off!

Getting around: The city’s subway will connect you to most of the major attractions, but Paris is a lovely destination to explore by foot, too.

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