The grandeur of the Alps, or the only slightly gentler mountains of the Pyrenees; the sophisticated chic and monuments of Paris, or the thriving sea-port of Marseilles; the sun-warmed elegance of Nice and Cannes – the original Riviera, remember – or the rugged Atlantic coast of Brittany. That’s La Belle France as you might capture it on camera. But the real essence of France is in its tastes, its smells, its eating and drinking. Go to Provence and you can scent the hill-side perfumes of fresh herbs before you taste them in the cooking. Take a serious palate to Burgundy, where the blend of classic dishes and wine reaches a perfection unattained anywhere else in the world. Follow the lazily flowing Loire for its literally fairy-tale chateaux, or the Gironde for the equally spellbinding Bordeaux wines. (Oh, and we almost, impossibly, forgot Champagne) But if that’s still not enough variety, Napoleon’s island of Corsica (more wild-herb scents) or the tourist-neglected Alsace are almost stand-alone separate countries.
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