The world's number one tourist destination, France is a
country of contrasts with a multitude of landscapes, offering holidays to suit
all tastes and budgets.
Whether you fancy a spot of shopping on the chic boulevards of Paris or a winter sport break on the sparkling ski slopes of the Alps, a relaxing beach weekend on the sun-baked Riviera or a holiday exploring the fairy tale castles of the Loire Valley on a bike, the choice is vast.
Indeed it's the many attractions of this compelling country that draw millions of visitors back year after year, an increasing number of whom (not least Brits) purchase property there.
Perenially popular Provence, with its lavender fields and warm climate, and Paris, arguably the most romantic city in the world, top the list in terms of visitor numbers, but other less well-known regions are also well worth exploring.
Delightful Franche-Comté, Gascony or Berry, deep in the green heart of France, are firmly rooted in the land, with sleepy villages typical of provincial France, while unspoilt and rugged Corsica, also known as ‘l'île de beauté' ('the island of beauty'), offers all the charm of the Mediterranean without the crowds.
France is also famous for its culinary traditions, and the French take pride in their food. From freshly baked bread and croissants for breakfast, to a five course dinner in a gourmet restaurant (at a fraction of the price you'd pay back home), this savoir-faire is a way of life. A trip to France is also a trip for the tastebuds.
‘How could one describe a country which has 365 kinds of cheese?' once asked De Gaulle. Indeed. Sit back, relax, open a bottle of wine (French of course) and tuck in - you'll no doubt come back for more.
With thanks to World Travel Guide
Imagine living in a foreign
country for a whole year...
Imagine dreaming in a language other than English...
Imagine meeting people from all over the world...
When I left Australia in January I knew I was to discover and learn knew things this year, but never did I imagine that I would do all that I have done. I was a bit doubtful at the start as I thought that a year was a long time... Now I've suddenly found that it's November and I'm preparing for my return to Australia and I'm not ready to leave!!
I now have four French families and friends from all over the world.
I know when I get back to Australia I am going to be asked quite often "So, how was your year in France?" I do not know how I'm going to describe it... The things that I have experienced this year are not well put into words. I have met people from all over the world. I have spoken Japanese in front of a crowd of three hundred French people. I have spent a weekend at the beach with a girl from Thailand. I have danced with Mexicans, gone for jobs with Norwegians and participated in a celebration in Finland.
One thing, which I know I will never forget, is my life with my present host family. I have to say that when I first arrived in this host family I was uneasy. I found myself alone, with no host siblings but a couple in their late fifties. I was used to where I live in the South of Sydney where the beach and Sydney city are just a twenty minute drive away. I found myself in the real countryside, living in an old house, which resembles a château, which is surrounded by nothing but vines... I didn't really understand French and thought that my host mum was always angry at me... Now, it's three weeks before I'm meant to be changing host families and don’t want too leave this family!
As I live on a vineyard, my host dad gave me three rows of vines, which I had to look after from April to October. He told me that if I look after these three rows of vines, at the end of the year, I will have my own bottle of wine, 'Jessica' with the appellation 'Loupiac'. So, I looked after the vines...
On the night of Thursday the 16th October, my host parents told me that on Saturday we would harvest my grapes and that I could invite people to come and harvest them with me. I invited twenty people, and of all of them, two people could come because of the short notice... I was rather upset that not many people could come... As it turned out, my host mum had secretly invited people; exchange students, their host families and Rotarians. It was such an amazing experience. I had a feeling of euphoria throughout the whole day and a massive smile spread across my face.
We harvested my grapes and then three other rows of vines. Two of my 'French
dads' were there and they 'baptized me' in the grapes... They picked me up and
put me in one of the buckets of grapes.
We then put the grapes into the press and watched it turn, whilst drinking wine, which was in the process of fermenting as it had been pressed a week or so earlier.
We then had the "accabaille", which is the celebration after the harvesting. We all sat around the table eating lunch together and drinking wine.
My hostmum has designed a label for the wine and a model the bottle was shown at the celebration... When the wine is put into bottles, this time there will be a new type of wine produced from the "domaine du noble" and this one has my name on it.... literally.