France is the world's number one tourist destination. Famed for its cuisine, sports, fashion and culture, the country offers a diverse range of areas for property investment and holiday homes.
France is the world's sixth largest economy in USD exchange rate terms. It also shows the lowest poverty rate amongst the large economies. As France is the most popular tourist country in the world, tourism is a significant contributor to the French Economy. In the 1960s the government heavily promoted the development of skiing in the French Alps through the development of new high level resorts including some of the world's most extensive ski trails. Paris, the capital of France, is also the most visited city in the world.
France attracted over 75 million tourists in 2004 (surpassing its population), making it the most popular tourist destination in the world. It is one of the classics among tourist countries. It offers mountain ranges, coastlines, cities, countryside, and vineyards.
The French health service is excellent. Waiting lists are short, doctor numbers are high, and a survey conducted in 2000 by the World Health Organisation ranked the French health service number one in the world. Every treatment has a fee, but patients contributing to social security through their wages can reclaim up to 70% of this cost.
France is a very active country and boasts some great sporting events like the Tour de France and French Open, as well as some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
Whether you want to Ski in the Alps or Pyrenees, surf in Biarritz, take a river boat down the Canal du Midi, cheer on some of Europe's best rugby teams, sail or dive in the Mediterranean, France has it all and much more.
Golf is a major sport in France, dating back to the 19th century. There are more than 500 courses to choose from, details of which can be found with the regional tourist office.
In the south-east a Mediterranean climate prevails. In the west, the climate is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and cool summers. Inland the climate becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters and less rain. The climate of the Alps and other mountainous regions are mainly alpine in nature with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months.
France is easily accessible from the UK and other European countries with many airlines flying to various regional airports. The Eurostar makes France just a train ride away or a ferry may be another option.
According to your nationality, time and purpose of travel you may require a visa. EU citizens do not need a visa.
Those not exempt need a Schengen Visa, named after the agreement that abolished passport controls between Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. It allows unlimited travel throughout the entire zone within a 90-day period.
Applications are made with the consulate of the country you are entering first, or that will be your main destination. Among other things, you will need medical insurance and proof of sufficient funds to support yourself.
If you enter France overland, it is unlikely that your visa will be checked at the border, but major problems can arise if you don't have one later on.
Tourist visas cannot be extended except in emergencies (such as medical problems); you'll need to leave and reapply from outside France when your visa expires.
The capital has the highest property prices in the country, but there are some up-and-coming inner districts where a property bargain can still be found in one of the world's greatest cities.
Property in Provence
This area comprises both costal and inland areas so there's a vast choice of property for sale in Provence.
Cote d'Azur Property
Cote d'Azur properties are second only to Paris in price. However, you don't necessarily need a fortune to buy a Cote d'Azur property and with so many tourists, rental potential is good.
Midi Pyrenees property
Midi Pyrenees is an area of diverse landscapes and an increasing number of property buyers are drawn to the north of the region with it's dry, hot summer climate and short winters and many cheap character properties.
Having 300 days of sunshine, it's no wonder that Languedoc is so popular with both tourists and buyers of holiday homes. Properties in the charming harbours tend to be the most expensive - but you get a climate similar to that of Provence at a lower cost.
Boasting world-renowned regions of Alsace, Champagne, Provence, the Loire Valley and wine capital of the world, Bordeaux, visitors who decide to indulge in a spot of wine tasting in France can sip on some of the world's finest wines while soaking up the luxuriant landscape and dining on magnificent food - a bourgeois paradise!
Visitors with a penchant for bubbly should head for Epernay in the centre of the Champagne region where it is possible to visit the vineyards and cellars of the top producers.
Wine connoisseurs can also sample Bordeaux's finest wines at several exporters premises in the city, which serve tourists as a stopover and central transport hub, handy for accessing this famous region which produces arguably some of the world's finest wines.
Many of the vineyards in France are fairly small family run businesses lacking in staff to cater for tourists, but the more famous ones, such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild arrange tastings and tours of the cellars and vineyards while appointments need to be made with other farms, such as Chateau Margaux.