Regions of France
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A region that values its idiosyncrasies, Brittany is a world of its own at the edge of the country. At the westernmost tip of France, Brittany extends out to the sea where the Atlantic Ocean and English Channel meet. Rooted in its Celtic past, Brittany presents visitors with a special personality: an ancient countryside with quiet beaches, rugged capes, melancholic moors, small fishing villages, walled cities and prehistoric megaliths.
During the American assault of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, the Second Ranger Battalion scaled the 100-foot cliff of the Pointe-du-Hoc and seized the German artillery pieces. Normandy echoes the history of past struggles: the Norman Conquest woven into the tapestry at Bayeux; the perils of Jeanne d'Arc recorded in Rouen; and the drama of the D-Day landings recorded along the Normandy beaches.
A region of festivities and human warmth where joie de vivre is a communal affair. Just over the border from Belgium and a tunnel ride across the Channel from England lies the Nord/Pas-de-Calais region. Its major city is Lille, the captivating crossroads of TGV Paris - Brussels and London.
France itself was born in this northern province located between the Marne and the Somme, for it was here that the Franks - ancestors of the French - settled down. Picardy is the first region and the historical beginning of France; it is a veritable treasure-trove of art and natural beauty.
Crossed by the Loire, Centre is lit up by the light of the river - the source of inspiration for the great artists who were summoned throughout history to work on some of the gems of French architecture. The Loire is the longest river (635 miles) in France, flowing north from its source in central France, then west to the Atlantic. But it is the 150-mile stretch from Angers to Orléans that for centuries was the favorite abode of pleasure-loving nobility who built feudal fortresses to protect them in an age of constant war.
Centre is one of the 27 regions of France, around the Loire Valley, northwest of the geographical centre of the country. The capital is Orléans but the largest city is Tours.
Norman abbeys, châteaux with glazed rooves, ducal towns and charming villages make Burgundy a historic region with a glorious heritage. Bienvenue to Burgundy, where every day is a celebration of world-famous wines and fond memories often recorded on bottles labeled Gevrey-Chambertin, Pommard, Romanee-Conti or Montrachet.
The Louvre Museum, Versailles Château, Orsay Museum, Saint-Denis Basilica and the Fontainebleau Château are all just a small part of what makes Paris Ile-de-France the most beautiful museum in the world. Between cultural visits and entertainment possibilities, there are ample opportunities to take advantage of your stay and discover the very best in festive entertainment and leisure activity: shows, Parisian reviews, operas, not to mention shopping, sports and more.
The home of champagne could only be welcoming. Accept its invitation and feast your eyes and taste buds! Champagne country, birthplace of le champagne, the world's most festive wine. La Champagne, the region where this fine bubbly is made, holds so many treasures: a rolling countryside, dotted medieval churches, timeless castles and villages along winding waterways, historic fortifications in the forested Ardennes, and vineyards as far as the eye can see between Reims and Epernay.
Lorraine is proud of its strategic position at the border of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. A strategic position at the crossroads of Europe explains Lorraine's long, colorful and often turbulent history, which has endowed two major cities with diverse artistic wealth: Metz, once a Gallo-Roman stronghold; and Nancy, whose elegant 18th-century buildings make artwork out of urban architecture.
A region situated at the crossroads of Europe, Alsace is a frontier land both open to the world and attached to its own traditions. Alsace is renowned for its geranium-filled villages, its medieval capital of Strasbourg, its tasty "choucroute garni" dishes and its crispy dry white wines. Nestled between the mighty Rhine and the Vosges mountains, picturesque Alsace is fiercely French in its social and political attitudes, but ever so slightly German in its tastes and appetites.
Located in north-east France, along the Swiss border, Franche-Comté is made up of four counties: le Doubs, le Jura, la Haute Saône and the Territoire of Belfort. The region is criss-crossed by the Doubs and Saône rivers, bordered by the Jura and Vosges mountains, and boasts vineyards and many lakes.
A region flagged by the peaks of it mountains where hiking and winter sports are king. Springing from a glacier, the Rhône River flows south through France toward the sunshine of the Mediterranean. Its broad valley embraces thriving cities, Roman ruins, medieval castles, fabled vineyards and the snowy peaks of the French Alps.
With its feet in the Mediterranean and its head in the Alps, the region has an extensive palette of colorful landscapes. Provence, the Midi, these are magical names in a luminous landscape that inspired Van Gogh and Cézanne, and changed the course of modern painting. They have also created a new current in contemporary travel.
In 19th-century European high society, people would often talk of a magical land where winter never came - that land of unending sunshine and azur waters. A few miles back from the shore is a less publicized side of the Riviera - a world of romantic hill towns and perched villages balanced on craggy peaks. Worn-down stone stairs and cobbled byways lead through modest hamlets crowding around ancient châteaux.
The Ancient Greeks called it Kallisté, “the most beautiful”. With high-altitude lakes bordered with pines, fine sandy creeks with crystal-clear waters, porphyry-red or chalk-white cliffs, granite canyons and impenetrable maquis [scrub], Corsica is the greenest, best-preserved, most mountainous and most varied of the Mediterranean islands.
Poitou is a historic region in west central France. Poitiers, the former capital of the region, is its chief city, although the port of La Rochelle rivals it in economic importance. Farming is important to the economy; wheat, corn and cattle are raised. Industries produce machinery, chemicals and dairy products.
An immense line of golden sandy beaches, bastides and châteaux, an abundance of vineyards, mountains and countryside - that's Aquitaine. Bountiful Aquitaine - what landscapes, culture and heritage! A generosity that is also hinted at in the diversity of its countryside: the sloping Bordeaux vineyards, the sandy heathland along the coasts of the Basque country, the plateaux of the Périgord.
Make a getaway to Limousin and plunge into the most lush vacation destination you could imagine - a land of trees, water and pure, clean air. The Limousin region, on the western slopes of the Massif Central, attracts visitors in search of unspoiled countryside. Almost entirely covered by a thick carpet of vegetation, lit up by a large number of rivers and lakes, Limousin is a haven of profoundly harmonious landscapes.
In the heart of France and far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the Auvergne region features breathtaking landscapes and makes an ideal setting for “green tourism”. Rich cultural heritage has left Romanesque churches and stunning castles.
The Midi-Pyrénées is made up of eight departments set in the heart of southwestern France. It has an incredibly wide range of natural sites: from the Pyrenees to the valley of the Dordogne and from Gascony to the Gorges du Tarn; the diversity of its landscapes is equalled only by the wealth of its heritage. One of France's most enticing and enchanting regions, the Midi-Pyrénées boasts a rich cultural, historical and natural heritage.
Miles of fine sandy beaches, a hinterland rising up the foothills of the Massif Central and the Pyrénées - Languedoc-Roussillon is a land of sun-filled charm. The Languedoc-Roussillon region, where the Pyrénées Mountains plunge into the Mediterranean, has come into its own with a sparkling group of new yacht-port resorts.