France has been rated for the last two decades as the most popular visitor destination in the world, and its the diverse regions offer delights ranging from great cities steeped in history, Mediterranean resorts, wild Atlantic beaches and Alpine winter sports to the supreme beauty of the Loire Valley with its ancient castles, wineries and quaint market towns. Paris with its long history and rich heritage is the heart of the country's gastronomy and culture, and is renowned world-wide as the home of designer fashion.
Touring the highlights of France with a rented motorhome gives you the freedom to roam at will without the hassle of booking accommodation in advance. Changing your itinerary to include yet another unmissable sight is easy and, although France is a large country, its ultra-modern autoroutes speed you from one region to the next. Rural roads can be single-lane and narrow, and the mountain passes need care, but roads in general are kept in fine condition.
The thousands of campsites here vary as regards facilities, with many providing all needs including entertainment, children's playgrounds, swimming pools, restaurants and bars, and most set in charming locations close to local attractions. Favourites are set in the grounds of historic chateaux, on lakeshores, in France's verdant forests, overlooking the Mediterranean or amongst the vineyards of the Loire Valley.
Paris and the Ile de France - Known as the romantic City of Lights, Paris is invariably number one on any itinerary. Even just a few days here is an unforgettable experience, and the city's sheer magnificence gives endless photo opportunities. From the breathtaking treasures of the Louvre Museum, soaring Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe to the Tuileries Gardens, the Palais Royal and the Champs Elysees, the highlights of Paris delight every visitor. The Palace of Versailles on the edge of the city and the ancient town of Fontainebleau in the Ile de France offer their own magic, while families will love Disneyland Paris.
Brittany and the Pays de la Loire -Bordered by the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, Brittany's unique culture was influenced by the Celtic Britons who arrived 1500 years ago, bringing with them their traditions and legends. Breton is still spoken, and St Malo port, once the haunt of pirates, boasts an atmospheric walled city, chateau and fort. The historic Pays de la Loire city of Le Mans with its tiny, cobbled alleyways is home to the world-famous 24-hour sports car race, and little Saumur town with its two spectacular chateaux and Abbaye de Fontrevaud is surrounded by vineyards and forests.
Champagne-Ardenne -Set along France's northeastern border, the region is the home of champagne, with its vineyards welcoming visitors and displaying the entire process including samples of the sparkling wine and the ancient chalk storage tunnels used for the vintages. Reims is the main city, with its Notre Dame Cathedral the coronation venue for a succession of French monarchs. One of the loveliest religious buildings in the whole of France, its medieval splendour is enhanced by many stained glass windows, several of which were designed by Marc Chagall
Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrenees -Home to the French portion of the mysterious, mountainous Basque Country, the region combines the peaks of the Midi-Pyrenees with its Atlantic coastline in a feast of stunning natural beauty. Les Landes boasts sand dunes and pine forest-backed beaches, and the capital, Bordeaux, is famed for its wines. The region holds traditional villages, historic market towns and ancient castles, and the coastal resort of Biarritz is the haunt of the wealthy and famous.
Signposting on all major roads gives the names of cities and towns en route, making it difficult to get lost, and most autoroutes here are toll roads. The French drive on the right, with drivers from other countries representing more of a risk than do the French themselves. Paris's roads are congested, with using the subway or overland rail the best idea.
- Speed limits on motorways: 130kph.
- Speed limits on national roads: 110kph.
- Help number: 112.