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The beautiful city of Strasbourg lies to the east of France and borders Germany – thus it has elements of both French and German culture. The city plays a prominent role in European Political Administration, as it is the home of the European Parliament, and home to many diplomats and impressive buildings with conference centres.

There is much to see and do in the city – you will be astounded by the quality of the architecture, which is Germanic in flavour. Take a cruise along the Ill River, and taking such a trip is like travelling through the Italian City of Venice! Make sure to take a trip to the area known as “La Petite France”- an area bordered to the front by the Ill River, and the timber buildings are peppered with delightful window boxes of flowers. Take a trip to the Cathedral, the Gothic architecture is sure to dazzle you with its beauty. If shopping is your passion, check out Place Kleber, the square area home to some wonderful stores.

No trip to Strasbourg is complete without sampling the local food and drink – the dishes have authentic French flavour but have their roots in the German culture. Check out white wines such as the Reislings and Gewurztraminers at a local winstub (bar). The Alsatian beer is also recommended. Some of the most popular food to savour is Baeckoffe and Coq au Reisling. Baeckoffe is like a stew of local meat, potatoes and spices. Coq au Reisling is similar to coq au vin but is made with Reisling instead! Check out the Germanic noodles known as Spaetzle.

Any time of the year is perfect to visit the city, but especially at Christmas time, when the lights and decorations transform the city into a magical winter wonderland. The Christmas Market is well worth visiting if you are in the city come December.

Lyon is located to the south of the country and combines culture, gastronomy, great nightlife and shopping all in one location! Close to the Alps, the city is a great base for also touring other local towns such as the skiing haven of Grenoble, and the charming town of Vienne.

In terms of attractions, the city is awash with Roman ruins, one of which being the Amphitheatre des Tres Gauls. Two rivers (the Rhône and the Saône) wind a path through Lyon, so why not explore these rivers on a cruise? Visit Vieux Lyon (Old Town) for the World Heritage Attractions of La Croix-Rousse, Saint Jean and the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This is a late 19th century cathedral adorned with mosaics and fabulous stained glass designs. Also, check out the Basilica of St-Martin-d’Ainay and the Opera Nouvel if you are fan of the performing arts!

Lyon is home to wonderful restaurants catering for all tastebuds, and great nightlife. And for those holiday gifts, check out Le Carré D’Or which has many hight street and brand name stores. Similarly Rue Edouard Herriot has some wonderful chain stores such as Dior and Escada.

This city is a bustling place, which ticks all the boxes in terms of things to do and see. Bordeaux is located in the heart of wine country, and also home to some outstanding historical attractions. Check out the cool sidewalk cafes and bars – a real youthful vibe is ever present in the city. The local cuisine is divine, and it is complemented perfectly by the delicious local wines.

Associated with wine production since the 1st century AD, Bordeaux is world renowned for its magnificent wines. For the wine buff, no visit to Bordeaux is complete without taking a trip the local Wine Museums, of which Vinorama is one, along with the Chartrons Museum. A trip to the local wine school will teach you all you need to know about making wine! You could also visit the Bordeaux Wine Chateaux, or indulge in vinotherapie spa treatments at local hotels.
Bordeaux is also known as a shopper’s paradise. Some of the most popular brand names in the market are for sale in the city, from Hugo Boss, Lacroiz, Rolex and Louis Vuitton. It’s fair to say that Bordeaux has something for everyone.

The southern France city of Montpellier is the capital of the Languedoc Region. The city is wonderful, with attractive architecture and has a rich and varied history. Adorned with boutique shops and sidewalk cafes, and magnificent squares, the city has much to please the discerning visitor. Check out La Place de la Comedie, which is located at the heart of the city, and lined with cafes and plenty of shops. Here you will also find some wonderful markets. Check out the Opera and the Three Graces Statue.

The city is home to many students, due to the presence of a large university. Try and get to visit the Faculty of Medicine – this was established since the 12th century and still in place! If you want some relaxation and some solitude away from the busy streets check out La Promenade Royale du Peyrou – a local park which is situated right next door to Montpellier’s replica of the Arc de Triomphe!

Located 130 km south west of Paris is Orleans – the hometown of St Joan of Arc, one of the most revered French icons. It is located at a bend of the River Loire and a total of 5 major bridges cross the Loire in Orleans. The city has many Roman ruins which bear testimony to its importance along the river in Roman and later in Medieval times. Check out Maison de Jeanne d’Arc and the magnificent 9th century cathedral. Orleans is a good base for exploring the entire Loire Valley Region.

John writes for – an independent car hire reservation website where you can book low cost car hire at over 5000 locations worldwide.

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