France: welcome to the world of fairytale

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Main facts:

  • Capital city: Paris

  • Language(s): French

  • Currency: Euro, EUR

  • Population: 66,991,000

  • Timezone: UTC+1

  • Main religion: Catholicism (43%)

  • Standard of living (subjectively): high

  • Information will be updated

Top 10 interesting places and activities:

Approximate costs (person/day):

~€ 20-70

~€ 1-5

~€ 5-13

~€ 5-15

Sights map of France

Travel around France

France has a long significant history, full of military, political and cultural events. Since the Romans turn this territory into their Gaul province, a lot of events have happened that determined the direction of development of Europe and the world. After the collapse of the Roman Empire under King Charles the Great, the Francia reached its greatest prosperity, owned all of Western and Southern Europe, and after his death was divided into three separate states. One of them became France in the 10th century. The invasions of the Danish Vikings in the 10-11 centuries greatly reduced the strength of the young state; for some time it even almost ceased to exist. Only by the 15th century the country was able to get back on its feet and begin to claim its rights to other European territories.

Italian Wars, participation in the Thirty Years' War (against the Swedes), the war against Spain and the Netherlands... the French definitely claimed the role of hegemon in Western Europe. After the French Revolution of 1789, the country acquired its first Constitution, guaranteeing relative equality of rights and freedoms for the majority of residents; so the country moved from absolute monarchy to building democracy. However, Napoleon came to power and decide to make France a great country, which led the country to serious economic and human losses after the defeat in the war with Russia. The further fate of France was often determined by its colonial interests: colonies were established in Africa, on the Pacific Islands and in Asia. The First and Second World Wars strongly affected France, as a result of it the French colonial empire was destroyed (including through military conflicts), and the country experienced one of the largest tributaries of migrants to its territory. It continues to this day, mainly from the countries of the former colonies of France, as a result the country is filled with African and Asian ethnic minorities.

Today, France is a multinational democratic state, in which about 10% of its residents are migrants; there are large Muslim, Jewish and other diasporas here. Because of the unstable position regarding religious freedoms and ethnic tolerance, riots and terrorist attacks on these soils occur periodically in the country. Society is strongly divided between indigenous French people who want a mono-ethnic state, and supporters of liberalism and freedoms for all comers (usually including members of minorities). Although the official language in the country is French, you can often hear a completely unfamiliar speech in African or Asian dialects, which indicates a large number of migrants who have moved here but poorly assimilated to the local population. However, there are several regions where the indigenous French reside natively and are poorly affected by migration. One of them is Alsace - the birthplace of famous French wines and one of the most fabulous landscapes in Europe! Thanks to a competent policy in the field of cultural heritage and preservation of historical monuments, the region managed to create an excellent tourist landscape, which millions of people from all over the world come to admire every year. And believe me, they know what they come for!

The capital of the Alsace region is Strasbourg, the historical center of which is fully listed in the UNESCO World Heritage. It is also the "capital of the European Union", since the European Parliament has the quarter here since 1992. Strasbourg is literally on the border of France and Germany, and therefore you can literally cross the border by crossing the Rhine river. This city is an amazing combination of a large French city and a traditional Alsatian village. Moving away from the center, one can observe high apartment buildings in the French and German style, large palaces (the University of Strasbourg, the European Parliament, the court building, etc.). The railway station of Strasbourg is also should be mentioned, as the whose building after the restoration was covered with a glass dome that looks extremely futuristic. If you move towards the center, the houses become smaller and lower, bright facades appear and a large number of pastel colors, the terrain becomes more and more like cozy streets of Alsatian villages. Moving to the market square, there are more and more pedestrian streets and alleys, romantic quays and embankments, cafes and verandas with adorable views.

In the center rises the highest building of the city - the Strasbourg Cathedral (150 m height), which is included in the list of the highest cathedrals in the world. The city is crossed by five water canals, one of which is the location of the famous "La Petite France" quarter. Compared to “La Petite Venice” in Colmar, it looks stricter and more solid (only because of its coloring), but definitely worthseeing. This quarter is especially beautiful at sunset, when the sun illuminates the embankment with a quiet warm light, on which peaceful citizens (and tourists, of course) rest from the city rush for a glass of wine...

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Not far from Strasbourg is the county town of Obernai, lost somewhere in the endless fields of the Lower Rhine land in France. This is the first forerunner of the famous Alsatian architecture, which inspired hundreds of creative individuals, from the creators of the Disney cartoon "Beauty and the Beast" to Hayao Miyazaki ("Howl's Moving Castle"). The size of the historical part of the city is so small that it can be bypassed in a walking step for an hour! But be prepared to spend half a day here (or even the whole one), strolling along quiet streets and enjoying fabulous houses combining German fachwerk and French passion for bright colors. Surprisingly, the architectural style of timber framing appeared just in the region on the border of Germany and France in the X century! Most of the houses that can be seen here have in their history 200, 300, or even 400 years. Local people take care of their buildings, because they not only satisfy the aesthetic sense of beauty, but also constitute the most important source of income for ten thousand inhabitants: these gingerbread-like houses attract thousands of tourists annually!

The first association that comes to mind at the sight of these houses is “gingerbread”, and it is impossible to get rid of it. In the German fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" the main characters traveled through a dark forest, where they found the gingerbread house. It seems to me that the thicket there directly reflected the Black Forest in Baden-Württemberg, and the gingerbread house, of course, had a close relationship with the architecture of small towns and villages of Alsace, because all these places are very close to each other! However, the real beauty opens to the south, in the Lower Rhine region, one of the most romantic and (deservedly) beautiful regions of France. It is famous not only for its winemaking traditions, rooted in history, but also for its incredible architecture, the like of which can not be found elsewhere in the world. The city of Colmar, the capital of the region, is a jumble of small narrow streets with half-timbered houses, which inevitably lead to a cozy river, on which is located the most beautiful quarter of the city - “La Petite Venice”. It is difficult to find words to describe these houses (in which local people really live!), made many centuries ago and in which life is still maintained. Careful care and unique aesthetics of the city attracts tourists from all over the world. Colmar is the capital of the famous Alsace wines and the main point of the most "romantic" route of France.

This route passes through small settlements surrounded by endless vineyards. Small cozy villages are located at a distance of several kilometers from each other and surrounded by endless vineyards, and the houses in these villages are designed to satisfy the most sophisticated aesthetic feeling! I do not have enough words to describe this beauty, there is not even worth trying. There is only one word that fits these species: fabulous. Here you literally find yourself in the fabulous Middle Ages, where time stopped a few centuries ago. People here are calm and friendly, each house is decorated with flowers and skillful handicrafts, and the streets resemble ancient pavements. For example, Eguisheim - the most beautiful village of France in 2013 - is amazing. This is a must see point for any connoisseur of beauty!

To get to some of the villages is problematic, since they are quite far from Colmar, and buses go to them 1-2 times a day. But it will not be difficult for those who are ready to arrange a car (or by foot) tour between the villages. One of these villages is Kaysersberg. Medieval houses surround a small river, and on their background rise the mountain slopes. Overcoming the nearest mountain range, you get into Riquewihr - one of the oldest villages in France, which has not changed its appearance since the end of the 16th century. This is undoubtedly one of the pearls of Alsace. Next to it, Ribeauvillé is a classic example of French half-timbered houses, with a castle towering over the village. It gives a special atmosphere to this place, which is a must-see for all tourists in the region. There are dozens of villages around Colmar, each of which is unique. If you wish, come for a week or two to Colmar and every day go for a walk in one of the villages. Believe me, this you never have seen. I sincerely recommend everyone to visit these places at least once in a lifetime. At least for the sake of impressions, which is enough for a lifetime!

Unfortunately, during my short trip to France, I managed to visit only the Alsace region. However, with great hope, I look forward to a trip to other beautiful regions of this large country: the Mediterranean coast (Cannes, Nice, etc.), the Alpine landscapes of Chamonix and Annecy, the famous lavender fields in Provence, the province of the Loire castles, the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel. .. and, of course, the one and only Paris. As soon as everything happens, this page will be updated. In the meantime, I invite you to visit the fabulous Alsace region, taste the best French wines and fill with a sea of inspiration for life!

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