Traveling through a country the size of France is definitely not the same experience as traveling through a country the size of the United States! First of all, France is only the size of Texas meaning that there is much less ground to cover. Second, France has a large system of high speed trains, known as the TGV, which make is easy and fairly cheap to travel throughout the country.
When deciding where to travel in France, it is important to be aware of the culture you are traveling into. Even though France is fairly small, the culture varies greatly depending on which part of the country to which you travel. Keep this in mind when booking your next trip! The people you find in southern France will not be anything like the people in eastern France who won’t be anything like the people in northwestern France and none of them are anything like the Parisians!
The Parisians have a culture of their own. Even though Paris is not the only large city in France, tourists flock to see “France” in Paris. People who go to Paris tend to be disappointed in the behavior of the people and their unfriendliness towards Americans. Don’t be discouraged! The Parisians are a minority in France! They see Americans as threatening because they are proud to be French and afraid that American influence will take over their culture.
If you’re planning on going to southern France, Marseille for example, expect to see a large immigrant population. Marseille is a hub for North African immigrants and you will find a large North African influence, both socially and religiously, on the culture of the people of Marseille.
However, if you’re looking to travel east, you should expect to see a large German influence. The Germans occupied the Alsace region of France from the late 1800’s until the end of World War I. Today there is still a large presence of German culture, in terms of food, architecture and personality.
What you will find in northwestern France, Brittany, is a very proud group of Bretons. The Bretons were originally a Celtic people who were forced into becoming French in the 1500’s. You will still find schools taught only in the Breton language in Brittany. You will also find a traditional dish known as Galettes. These are similar to Crêpes, only they are made with buckwheat flour and are always served as a savory dish, not a sweet dish.
On your next trip to France, don’t be afraid to hop on that TGV and discover a side of France you never would have guessed was out there!