France: Cultural Richness

France, thanks to its unique heritage of art, culture and history, is one of the most famousEugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People countries around the World. Each 13 regions have unique features (think for example about the differences between Burgundy, well known all over the world for its top wine production and Corsica the island in the Mediterranean Sea above Sardinia famous for its wild and uncontaminated nature) and make this country the gem that it is in the eyes of the world. This cultural richness attracts lot of people passionate by travels who want to discover the secret facets of History, Gastronomy and Art of France. Not to forget about the Caribbean islands (Guadeloupe and Martinique) and the South-American continental Guyana that represent the ancient heritage of the colonial imperialism of the nineteenth century.

History

Although France is one of the oldest nations of Europe, it is configured as such only since the Middle Ages.After the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) Peace of Etaples (1492) marks the beginning of the modern age in France. In Renaissance France he evolved from a feudal country to a state highly centralized in the hands of a single person (absolute monarchy). This was followed by important monarchs in court surround themselves with art and aristocracy, born French patronage. In this period he was also rebuilt the old castle of the Louvre in Paris. In six hundred rooms Louis XIV (the Sun King) who built the Palace of Versailles and moved them to the court and the political center to get away from the capital and its citizens, feared and considered difficult to keep under control. This intuition subsequently was proved farsighted as in 1978 the popular revolution overturned the monarchy establishing the Republic that was considered even more sanguinary of its predecessor. Napoleon, army commander, in this political chaos took power himself establishing the new Empire 1804, that last just 10 years when Napoleon abdicated and exiled to Elba’s island. After his final defeat in Waterloo 1815 the monarchy was restored just until 1948 when the second Republic was proclaimed.

Gastronomy

In 2010, UNESCO added French cuisine to the list of cultural objects that are called ‘intangible cultural heritage’. The most typical fresh products are: cheese (Brie, Camembert, Emmental..), bread (Baguette, Pain au chocolat), wine (the main grape varieties are Chardonnay and Sauvignon). Main dishes are: quiche, ratatouille, soupe a l’oignon, gratin dauphinois and main desserts are: tarte tatin, Saint Honorè’s cake and l’éclair that is a fine pastry made with choux pastry, filled with cream and cover with glaze.

Art

France has contributed during the centuries to develop and refine what is defined as “western culture”. From Middle Ages forwards, its close relationship with the Roman Catholic Church elevated France as a defender of the Sacred (Divine) Art. Among the 50 most visited tourist sites in the world we can find: the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris (19º) built in a Gothic style and UNESCO’s world heritage since 1991, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (27º),  the Louvre Museum (35º) and the Palace of Versailles (43º).

Not surprisingly, France is thus an incredibly rich destination for cultural tourism. Its churches and palaces, castles and fortresses, museums and galleries are a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

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