France

Things to do

Things to do

  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
  • Stroll grand Parisian Boulevards
  • Climb Montmartre Hill in Paris
  • See the Gothic monuments on the Île de la Cité, in particular the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame
  • See some of the world-famous art in the Louvre, or visit the equally stunning Musée d'Orsay, installed in a former railway terminus
  • See the modern architecture in the business district of La Defense
  • See the Science Museum in Villette Park, and the other odd attractions assembled there
  • Stroll an old train viaduct on the Promenade Plantée in Paris
  • See the stunning, but crowded, Versailles Palace
  • Ride the TGV, the train which holds the speed record for a conventional (wheel-on-rails) train, from Paris to Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg or Lille.
  • See the "D-Day beaches" of Normandy
  • Climb to the top of Mont Saint Michel
  • Explore Chartres Cathedral
  • See the quaintness of the Alsace
  • Sunbathe on the beaches of the French Riviera

Classical music

Like neighbouring Germany and Italy, France is also known for having a very strong classical music tradition. French composers who are well-known among classical music circles, and even to many members of the general public, include the likes of Lully, Rameau, Berlioz, Fauré, Gounod, Debussy, Bizet, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Massenet, Delibes and Messiaen. Even if you have never heard of these composers, chances are that you are already familiar with their compositions to a certain extent, as some of these pieces have found their way into popular culture, and are commonly heard in advertising and film scores.

France is famous for its ballets, and most of the modern-day terms used by ballerinas originate from French. French composers have, unsurprisingly, contributed many famous ballet scores. To this day, the Paris Opera Ballet remains one of the most famous ballet companies in the world.

Similarly, French opera is also regarded as one of the greatest operatic traditions in Europe. During the Baroque period, while Italian opera which was taking much of Europe by storm, it never gained a strong foothold in France, where the French developed their own unique operatic tradition, partly thanks to the Italian Jean-Baptiste Lully (né Giovanni Battista Lulli), who was hired by Louis XIV for that purpose. The 19th century gave rise to some new French operatic styles such as the grand opera, which combined opera and ballet into a single performance. In fact, even foreign composers such as Rossini, Verdi and Meyerbeer are famous for their contributions to the French operatic stage. Another genre of opera that developed in 19th century France was the operetta, essentially a comedic opera with light-hearted music and subject matter, which was created by the German-born composer Jacques Offenbach. For those who are interested in watching French opera, the Paris Opera remains one of the premier opera companies in the world, though there are also good opera houses in some of the smaller cities.


Spectator sports

Without a doubt the most popular spectator team sports in France (though not necessarily in that order) are Rugby Union, Soccer and (European/team/olympic) Handball with both strong domestic competition and a national side that has variously won six nations, world cups and European championships and is usually to be reckoned with on a global level.

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France - Travel guide

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