France is all about world-class art and architecture, Roman temples and Renaissance châteaux, iconic landmarks known the world over, and rising stars few yet know. Stroll the lily-clad gardens Monet painted and savour un café at the Parisian café where Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir met to philosophise.
In this excerpt from Lonely Planet's new-look guide to France we recommend the top sights and experiences for visitors.
1. Bistro Dining, Paris
The latest buzzword in the capital is néo-bistro (new bistro), a small, casual address serving outstanding cuisine under the tutelage of a talented (and often ‘name’) chef. Take Christian Constant’s Les Cocottes, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, or Jadis, hidden on a little-known street in middle-of-nowhere. Tables are jammed as tight as ever, dishes of the day are still chalked on the blackboard, and cuisine is just as simple except for one new ingredient – a creative twist.
2. Eiffel Tower
Seven million people visit it annually but few disagree each visit is unique. From an evening ascent amid twinkling lights to lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel in the company of a staggering city panorama, there are 101 ways to ‘do’ it. Pedal beneath it, skip the lift and hike up, buy a crêpe from a stand here or a key ring from the street, snap yourself in front of it, visit it at night or – our favourite – on the odd special occasion when all 324m of the tower glows a different colour.
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