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France is a country located in Western Europe. It has been the world's most popular tourist destination for over twenty years (81.9 million in 2007) and it's geographically one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Its cities contain some of the greatest treasures in Europe, its countryside is prosperous and well tended and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions, like Paris, the French Riviera, the Atlantic beaches, the winter sport resorts of the French Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, Brittany and Normandy. The country is renowned for its gastronomy (particularly wines and cheeses), history, culture and fashion.
A lot of variety, but on most of the territory winters are temperate and summers are mild, and especially in Paris. Mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean and in the southwest (the latter has lots of rain in winter). Mild winters (with lots of rain) and cool summers in the northwest (Brittany). Cool to cold winters and hot summer along the German border (Alsace). Along the Rhône Valley, occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as the mistral. Cold winters with lots of the snow in the Mountainous regions: Alps, Pyrenees, Auvergne.
When to go
In the hot south sun-worshippers bake from June to early September (summer) while winter-sports enthusiasts soar down snow-covered mountains mid-December to late March (winter).
Inside city centers, you will find smaller stores, chain grocery stores (Casino) as well as, occasionally, department stores and small shopping malls. Residential areas will often have small supermarkets (Champion, Intermarché). Large supermarkets (hypermarchés such as Géant Casino or Carrefour) are mostly located on the outskirts of towns and are probably not useful unless you have a car.
France is extremely well equipped in accommodation facilities, it has the largest number of hotels of any western country outside the USA, and a range of hotels varying from the exclusive and expensive to the cheap and friendly.... even sometimes the cheap and unfriendly!
France's Accor group is the largest hotel chain in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. France also has plenty of backpacker hostels and youth hostels, as well as a good network of holiday villages - though these usually cater essentially to French tourists.
In rural France, many local residentsrun friendly and attractive bed and breakfasts. And throughout French countryside, there are thousands of "gites", the French word used to describe holiday rental cottages. For hikers and cyclists in particular, there are also "gites d'étape", cheap and simple accommodation often fairly similar to the youth hostels of bygone years.