The civilization and history of France and the French way of life -- the savoir-faire of its people -- lures travelers from all over the world to this country that covers an area smaller than Texas.

You can get lost in France, lost in the sense that each region is so intriguing and varied that you may immerse yourself in one province for so long that you'll never have time to go on to see what's on the other side. France, often referred to as "the garden of Europe," is -- perhaps more than any country in the world -- a land to be savored. It's better to get to know intimately one, two, or three regions than trying to explore them all. This is not a country to rush through on one of those quick bus tours ("If it's Tuesday, it must be Nice"). It is ideally explored by car, allowing you to stop whenever and wherever you wish.

No European country, not even England, can beat France in its pageantry of personalities, from Madame de Pompadour to Charles de Gaulle, from Jean-Luc Godard to Françoise Hardy, from Catherine de Médicis to Joan of Arc, from Napoleon to Victor Hugo. You'll be introduced to some of these figures in the pages ahead. Seeing where they lived, worked, loved, and became legends is part of the experience of going to France.

This guide is meant to help you decide where to go in France, but ultimately the most gratifying experience will be your own serendipitous discovery of France -- sunflowers, a picnic in a poppy field, an hour spent chatting with a small winemaker -- whatever it is that stays in your memory for years to come.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.