According to a recent survey from the World Bank, France is the most visited country in the world, ahead of the United States and China!

France is also the first country I visited overseas (back in 1992), and the European country to which I have returned most often (five trips to far). I guess that sort of makes sense since my mother tongue is French and this is where my ancestors came from. And now I have a friend living in Paris, so I’ll be back for sure!

 Here are 10 things I learned in France:

  1. A kir is a cocktail made from white wine and fruit liquor (typically cassis) drunk as an aperitif (that is, before a meal).
  2. Walls do not have to meet at a right angle. (My first hotel in Paris.)
  3. The French will serve you a pizza with cream and an egg on top like this is the most natural thing in the world.
  4. A meal that doesn’t have cheese, cream, eggs, meat, or anything with a substantial amount of fat can’t possibly be French.
  5. If somebody’s cigarette smoke bothers you, it’s obviously your problem.
  6. Storks do build their nests on pointy roofs (or other tall vertical objects).
  7. The most decadent hot chocolate is found in Paris.
  8. You can never have too many macarons.
  9. The idea that harmful bacteria may be passed from your hands to food after you’ve handled money is a North American fallacy.
  10. Nice IS nice.

Have I made you curious about France?

Everybody has a mental picture of Paris by now, what with all the movies, books and friend’s photos! But plenty of towns and villages in France exude romanticism for a lower price and with less crowds. You have your pick between the Mediterranean coast (French Riviera), Provence, the Alps, Brittany (Atlantic side), Alsace (near Germany), and many more.

France has excellent infrastructure, super-fast trains (TGV), history, culture, food, wine, architecture, and art. It is a modern western country, so the main challenge may come down to deciphering the menu if you don’t know French.

Who should visit France

Everybody really, unless you’re fazed out by the French language, or the rich food. One thing to note: the French are extremely proud of their language, so even more than in other countries, you should make an effort to speak a little. (If you can’t, why not take a class while you’re there?)

Best time to visit

As with most of Europe, spring and fall are the best times to visit France. Airfares will also be cheaper if you depart before mid-June or after September. In August, a lot of French people take off for les vacances. At this time, many businesses shut down in the cities, and the seaside gets crowded.

Now it’s your turn. What have you learned in France?

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