The sheer physical diversity of France would be hard to exhaust in a lifetime of visits. Each region looks and feels different, has its own style of architecture, its own characteristic food and often its own dialect.
Though the French word pays is the term for a whole country, people frequently refer to their own region as mon pays – my country – and this strong sense of regional identity has persisted despite centuries of centralizing governments, from Louis XIV to de Gaulle.
Industrialization came relatively late to France, and for all the millions of French people that live in cities, the idea persists that theirs is a rural country.
Despite this image of pastoral tranquility, France’s history is notable for its extraordinary vigour. For more than a thousand years the country has been in the vanguard of European development, and the accumulation of wealth and experience is evident everywhere in the astonishing variety of places to visit…from the Dordogne’s prehistoric cave paintings and the Roman monuments of the south, to the Gothic cathedrals of the north, the châteaux of the Loire, and the cutting-edge architecture of the grands projets in Paris. This legacy of history and culture – le patrimoine – is so widely dispersed across the land that even the briefest of stays will leave you with a powerful sense of France’s past.
On our 2017 Tour, we return to Le Puy-en-Velay. Even now this town is still an important landmark on the Camino - the pilgrimage undertaken by the faithful to Santiago de Compostela since the middle ages. Walk with us in history as we travel the same path as the centuries of pilgrims before us.