Paris offers the largest number of international connections, but if you are headed directly to the French Riviera, you should fly instead to Nice’s impressively scenic airport. If your destination is the Alps, Lyon is the best entry point. When flying a private jet, you can land in many regional airports. Should you want to move around with less speed and more spontaneity, a private car is a great option, but if you want to cover larger distances without wasting time, you can do it by helicopter or the TGV, France’s high-speed train.
Climate & seasons
Whatever time of the year you go to France, there’s something to do somewhere. From December through to April, the weather is generally grey and wet, so the snow-covered Alps are your safest choice. Summer, though inevitably the season of crowds, is the best time for yachting and to enjoy the glamour of the Riviera. In the shoulder seasons, you can explore smaller places and little villages, go wine and oyster tasting, and go on more active excursions like biking and hiking. And Paris shines all year round.
Where to go
If you want to, of course you should visit the obvious destinations — Paris, the French Riviera, the Alps. Then there’s Provence, and the regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux for wine lovers. But France is so much more than this. Don’t miss the palaces of the Loire Valley if you like art and architecture. Explore Brittany, with its unique language and seafaring culture, and the impressive monastery-citadel of Mont Saint-Michel. Right next to Brittany, Normandy is the region where Impressionism was born, and Claude Monet painted his masterpieces. It’s also where the Camembert cheese was created. You’ve probably never heard of the French Basque Country, and that’s a great reason to go discover it, particularly the town of Biarritz. The island of Corsica has beautiful nature and beaches (but beware of calling a Corsican a Frenchman!) while towns like Avignon and Carcassonne are must-sees for lovers of history.
What to do
Don’t think too much — the options are so many you won’t know where to start. Instead, follow your heart. Do you love history? Do an after-hours tour of the best museums, go behind the scenes at historical sites, and visit the D-Day beaches in Normandy. If food and wine are your thing, taste champagnes like Ruinart and Krug and visit world-renowned wineries such as Petrus and Romanée Conti — but discover small local producers too. Taste cognac in Cognac, oysters in Cancale and Arcachon, and French cheeses wherever you go. Michelin-starred restaurants and typical local bistros are both unmissable experiences. If you are into fashion, the Champs-Élysées is the best place in the world to shop for exclusive French designer clothes. Sports? There’s the thrill of the F1 Monaco GP, the Roland-Garros Grand Slam, the Tour de France. Go yachting in the Cote d’Azur and skiing in the Alps. Enjoy the incomparable glamour of the Riviera’s hotels. And when you leave, make a list of everything you didn’t do — it will be the start of your next trip to France.