A month in France was far too short for our family. From Paris to Provence we loved virtually every minute. Well, excepting the holiday traffic on the autoroute and the unsympathetic ticket inspector in Paris – every other minute! With so much to like, here are some of our favourite picks.
Picture perfect villages
Arriving in France we were almost immediately struck by the care and attention to detail its people give to all visible aspects of French life. The French have a reputation for being well-groomed, but we found their food to be exquisite and their homes tasteful and immaculately kept. The landscapes look manicured, with a pleasing pattern of fields, village, woods, fields, village, woods. Even French farms are well-presented, with perfectly rolled haystacks and no rusting mechanical debris in sight.
We have seen a lot of picturesque villages in our travels, but in France each village looks primed, ready for the film crew to start rolling.
Berry delicious desserts
Our timing in France (late May into June) was perfect to experience peak berry season. And what great fruit France has. Unlike Australia, where berries appear to be bred primarily for their ability to travel long distances without disintegrating, in France the focus is taste. We bought the sweetest strawberries, most flavoursome raspberries and the juiciest cherries at local markets, greengrocers and even supermarkets.
In terms of desserts, we started with raspberry tartlets from our favourite Paris boulangerie, before moving into rural France and on to a heady selection of berrylicious concoctions, including panacottas, meringues, mousses and other puddings. Simple strawberries with Normandy cream was just as divine!
Whether we were picking wildflowers along the borders of giant wheat fields in the Loire, escaping from the heat into the leafy woods of the Dordogne or climbing the steep hills of the Alpes-Maritimes we were happy to stretch our legs and enjoy the vistas of country France.
Fun in the sun on the French Riviera
We were lucky to spend a week in Menton, the last, but not least beautiful town, before you reach Italy. Our timing was great – in mid-June the weather was lovely but the summer rush had not yet commenced. Menton is perfect for strolling along the esplanade, relaxing at the beach, exploring the windy streets of the pastel-coloured old town, sampling lemon-flavoured drinks at alfresco cafes or even visiting the local cemetery. In the cooler months we hear that there’s an amazing lemon festival, which is well worth a visit. It’s very easy to jump on a train for visits to Monaco, Italy or another riviera village, but apart from one hike up to beautiful Eze we preferred to stay right where we were.