France could be considered as the most popular tourist destination in the world with over 85 million visitors each year. It is a dreamed land to those looking for romance, gastronomy, culture fashion or an epicurean lifestyle. Some are attracted by writings and pictures produced by famous artists, painters, philosophers or writers; others will search the diversity of each regions due to the ever changing landscape between coastlines, high mountains, rolling hills covered with vineyards, small rivers, quaint villages, or chateaux and fortresses. The specific character of each region with its very own cuisine and culture is due to the tumultuous history and the turbulent politics of the country along times. Wars and marriages, treaties and revolutions have created, along the centuries, the actual diversity that can be peacefully enjoyed to day by the curious traveler.
The Divisions of France
As of 2016 Mainland France has been reorganized in 13 administrative regions, each having its own traditions, cuisine, folklore and even dialect. Metropolitan France is also called the Hexagon, in opposition to Overseas France composed of 5 regions which enjoy the same political status as the “Metropole”: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Reunion, French Guiana and Mayotte. This does not include overseas collectivities and territories which have more autonomy than the overseas departments, such as French Polynesia and New Caledonia.
This map shows the 13 administrative regions of France in Europe, as in 2018. (Twelve continental regions, plus the island of Corsica.) It does not include the overseas regions such as Guadaloupe and Martinique. Pre-2016 regions that have been merged into larger regions are shown in red type. On Jan 1st. 2016, the number of regions in continental France was reduced to 12.
With regard to the pre 2016 regions:
Normandy is no longer divided administratively into two regions, upper Normandy and lower Normandy.
France and Francophilia
Celestial Voyagers will customize trips to all parts of France, Metropolitan or Overseas France, as you wish. To find the sample trips which hopefully will inspire you to travel, you need to consider that under the France section you will find samples to the 13 regions of the mainland which include Corsica, but for the Overseas Regions and territories you will find suggested journeys in Celestial Voyagers world section called Francophilia.
Francophilia will also include francophone countries or regions where French is widely spoken such Quebec in Canada or African now independent countries which used to be French colonies and where French is still widely spoken like Morocco.
Gastronomy and Wines
France is known for its gastronomy and its wines. From 3 Michelin Star rating restaurants to the unknown local little auberge you will find exquisite cuisine all around. France is the home of the “Bon Vivant” who enjoys each meal with a good glass of wine. From the novice to the educated oenologue Celestial Voyagers will be glad to plan wine tasting experiences for all levels of knowledge and budget.
Art, History, & Culture
Specially tailored trips can be focussing on many various cultural themes such as:
- Impressionists in Paris Museums and in Normandy.
- World War II and the Landing Beaches of Normandy
- Modern Art on the French Riviera
- Philosophy in Paris: The Enlightenment and Existentialism
- Antibes Jazz Festival
- The Great Cathedrals of France
- Romanesque Burgundy
- The Cannes Film Festival
Spirituality is the motivation of many journeys to France and France offers opportunities to various religious or spiritual travelers. Celestial Voyagers can offer choices of itineraries in reference to a Jewish Heritage tour, a Catholic pilgrimage to Lourdes, La Salette or Paray-Le-Monial, a hike along the “Trail to Saint Jacques de Compostelle” or a mystic experience in the “Cathare Country” of Occitanie.
Sports & Leisure
Skiing in the French Alps is appealing to all skiers. Beach vacations are superb in the summer either on the Atlantic or the Mediterranean coast. Sport events such as “Le Mans’ 24 hours” car race, the cycling Tour de France each July are events you may want to experience. Hiking, cycling, sailing, boating along the French canals are all thrilling opportunities in various regions.
You may want to include the experience of a soccer game to see the PSG team (Paris Saint German) playing in Paris or be among the spectators supporting their favorite rugby men at a rugby match in the Southwest. Festival are available all year around and Celestial Voyagers has the contacts for you to get tickets and accommodation during these special events such as The Theatre Festival of Avignon or the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence. It is highly recommended to book early!