An Introduction to the Cities of France

Paris is the capital of France and is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world. During the last century, it has grown rapidly and now is home to almost one-fifth of the nation’s total population. To many visitors, the city itself is like a museum. But the city does not have the claustrophobic feel of many large cities as you will always be close to one of its many gardens or a tree lined boulevard. Despite the size of the city it is very easy to get around and visit all the major attractions. Paris centre itself is relatively compact and the surrounding areas of Paris are connected by a highly efficient public transport system, which includes an underground Metro system and an over-ground suburban rail network. If you plan to visit other major cities in France Paris is also the hub of the much acclaimed TGV rail system which offers routes to all the major regions of France.

Popular tourist attractions in Paris include the Eiffel Tower built between the years 1887-1889, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Bastille and the Louvre, the home of da Vinci’s famous painting the ‘Mona Lisa’. If you just want to take in the ambience of this fantastic city, then a stroll along the Champs-Élysées or a boat cruise is called for. The night life, with the world famous cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge, Lido and Crazy Horse, offer a rich variety of entertainment. You will find restaurants offering fine cuisine in all price ranges all over the city, and the food and service in the smaller bar-brassieres is a match to them all.

Lille

Lille is one of the major cities of France, located in the north in the France it is also a major traffic hub with major autoroutes and rail links all passing through it. The Eurostar makes an important halt here and provides high speed trains with many other important destinations in France so it’s an easy destination to visit. Lille and its surrounding area have a unique style. It can be seen as something between those of the Flemish and the baroque. Since the 17th century Lille has been enlarged three times, giving the town its present day look, which is that of a fairly new town

It is also known as one of the friendliest cities in France. In this part of France, you’ll notice a very strong local accent, the people also known to like a beer or three. Thousands of visitors descend on Lille for its annual flea market where all the streets are occupied with stands selling anything and everything.

Lyon

Lyon is the third largest city in France. The city is of geographical and economical importance, and is a major centre of business. It has the reputation of being the French capital of gastronomy and is registered as a World Heritage site. Communication links to Lyon are numerous as it has developed an impressive infrastructure, including an ultra-modern Metro system, two main line stations that play host to the TGV train system, and has an international airport.

But do not overlook Lyon thinking it is just a cloned business city that you find all over the world. This French city is full of Roman attractions, including a great amphitheatre, history, incredible restaurants and a great shopping area. The Rhône and Saône rivers flow through the city and the Roman ruins and other historic attractions can be found on the right bank of the Saone. The fertile valleys of the two rivers and the surrounding steep hillsides have been found to be ideal for wine production, another introduction of the Romans..

Marseille

Marseille is one of the most exhilarating cities in France, offering a mix of cultures and races, and some of the best restaurants in the country. Marseille is one of France’s oldest cities dating back more than 2000 years. Marseille was one of the ancient Mediterranean ports and played an important part in maritime history, and has now grown into a large cosmopolitans city. With two ports, there functions have been divided, the new port handles the cargo traffic, whilst the old port usually used to be the scene for pleasure cruises and a great place to have a drink and watch the world go by.

Toulouse

Located in the region of Midi-Pyrenees, the provincial city of Toulouse, with its beautiful historic centre, is one of the most vibrant and metropolitan in France. The city is set half way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Pyrenees Mountains are to the south and mark the border between France and Spain. As well as being a well located historic city it has developed into the home for major high-tech companies, including the French Space research program SNIAS.

For food lovers Toulouse is no different to the rest of France, it has it’s own local delicacy in the “Saucisse de Toulouse”, a traditional sausage made with pork, smoked bacon and red wine. Another local specialty is the Cassoulet, well worth try. It is made with beans in a tomato sauce and various meats

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the most important cities in south-western France and is in the region of Aquitaine. It is the capital of what is probably the most famous wine producing region in the world. Surprisingly Bordeaux goes relatively unnoticed by tourists, as the agreeable climate and rich history make this thriving city an interesting place to explore. It offers all the culture and shopping that you would expect from a large and sophisticated city associated with the centuries old wine trade. It also boasts vinotherapie (wine therapy) spas. A youthful culture abounds in Bordeaux as the influx of college students inject it with a young attitude that contrasts and complements its rich history. The city has an abundance of pavement cafés and bars where you can enjoy the divine food of the region accompanied by one of the fabulous Bordeaux wines. Bordeaux is, quite simply combines a luscious, lively and lovely lifestyle.

It is hard to imagine that Bordeaux was once part the English kingdom. The French retook possession, in the 15th century, but then was left to decline for more than 200 years. Prosperity did not return to the city until Louis XI came to the throne and installed a parliament.