The landscapes are many and varied
France has them all, except a vast desert. Fancy mountains, rivers, hills, plains, lakes, flat coasts or creeks, cliffs, forests, volcanoes, large estuaries animated by birds, scrubland or endless fields of wheat, lavender and vines? France has world class contenders in almost every category. Driving from north-west to south-east, for example, you can start with the vast Bay of Somme – transport hub for William the Conqueror, seals and all the moving birds – continue via the Loire Valley, where the wildest river in France provides the current commentary, to the extraordinary volcanoes of Auvergne, to the limestone causses of Mongolian immensity, through the harsh hills of the Cévennes to the Languedoc plain, the Rhone valley and the highlands of Provence. And you would still have the Côte-d’Azur to come.
The weather is reliable
I am writing this in Languedoc where, currently, the sky is unimpeded blue and the temperature of 34 ° C in the shade. It will remain so, more or less, for most of the summer. In Preston, where I was writing, showers are forecast. Your choice, all the same.
The villages are charming
For reasons of too long drawn out, even for me, the French villages preserved a life of their own. Not all, of course. Some have become dormitories. Others have suffocated: if a particular village has more ceramists than grocers, it is clinically dead. But thousands remain vibrant and complete in themselves. They will have most of the following: a bakery, general store and weekly market; a mayor busy being important; a local wine, some cheese and maybe some micro-brazed beer; a tobacco bar with lottery tickets, old guys smoking under the no smoking sign, and photos of the football team c. 1971; a pétanque court; a castle, church or ramparts once visited by Joan of Arc, Henri IV or Vauban, and a summer party with food, drink and dancing for days on end.