The French wrote the book on la vie en rose and gave the world champagne and camembert, de Beauvoir and Debussy, the Tour de France and the Tour Eiffel. There’s a term for their seductive lifestyle – Douce France (Sweet France) and you’ll find yourself using it often.

This country has been synonymous with romance for longer than your grandmother cares to remember, so whether you visit Paris or the Pyrenees, the Côte d’Azur or the lavender fields of Provence you will have an unforgettable experience. France is a large country, two and a half times as big as Great Britain, extending for some 1,000 km/600 mi from north to south and from east to west.

Although much of northern and western France is low-lying and rather flat, there are some high mountain regions in the south and east: part of the western Alps, the Pyrenees, which form the border with Spain, and the Massif Central, which rises to over 1,800 m/6,000 ft in its southern and central parts. Consequently, there are considerable variations of climate within France.

Northern and northwestern France is most affected by the changeable weather brought in by Atlantic disturbances and its climate is rather similar to that of Britain. Southern France has a Mediterranean-type climate and is warmer than the north, particularly in summer. Hours of sunshine range from around 5 hours in the Winter to 9 or 10 hours during the Summer months.