The French wrote the book on la vie en rose and gave the world champagne and camembert, de Beauvoir and Debussy, the Tour de France and the Tour Eiffel. So if they have a finely tuned sense of national pride, who are we to point fingers? Although the ubiquity of Levis and Le Big Mac flusters the country's cultural purists, anything from a year in Provence to a weekend in Paris will explain why half the world grows dreamy over stalking the streets of Cyrano or picnicking Manet-style sur l'herbe. France has been synonymous with Romance for longer than your grandmother cares to remember, so whether you visit Paris or the Pyrenees, the Côte d'Azur or the auberge de jeunesse, be sure to keep your fantasies in check, your expectations in line and your joie in your vivre.
Tips and Tricks for a better trip
What to Pack
Photocopy of your passport that is kept in a secure place to make a replacement passport if yours gets stolen
Passport holder that can hold your most important documents under your clothing (whether around the waist or around the neck).
Swiss Army knife with a corkscrew, a can opener, and a sharp knife
Backpack for day trips
Credit cards with the assigned pin number so you can withdraw money easily from the ATM's. Bring your ATM card too-- they usually work. Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted credit cards in France.
Phone card that calls internationally back to the US. ATT has a good one.
Train passes-- they can be much cheaper if you buy them before you leave in a pass, such as 3 days of travel for a set price.
Any medicines that you may need. Medicine in France is much different, and seeing a doctor overseas can be difficult.
First aid kit, complete with adhesives, Neosporin, anti-diarrhea medicine, Tums, aspirin, etc.
Travel guide book that covers the areas you may want to visit