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Car Hire France - France in Brief

France has a sheer diversity that it hard to exhaust. The landscapes range from the fretted coasts of Brittany and the limestone hills of the Province to the canyons of the Pyrenees and the half-moon bays of Corsica, and from the lushly wooded valleys of the Dordogne and the gentle fields of the Loire Valley to the glaciated peaks of the Alps.

Each region has its own look and feel, its own style of architecture, its own characteristic food and often its own dialect. The strong sense of French regional identity has persisted despite centuries of centralizing governments from Louis XIV to de Gaulle.

Industrialization came relatively late to France, and for all the millions of French people that live in cities, the idea persists that theirs is a rural country. Perhaps the most striking feature of the French countryside is the sense of space. There are huge tracts of woodland and undeveloped land without a house in sight, and, away from the urban centres hundreds of towns and villages have only changed slowly and organically over the years, their old houses and streets intact, as much a part of the landscape as the rivers, hills and fields.

Despite this image of pastoral tranquillity, France's history is notable for its extraordinary vigour. For over a thousand years the country has been at the vanguard of European development, and the accumulation of wealth and experience is evident everywhere in the astonishing variety if things to see, from the Dordogne's prehistoric cave-paintings and the Roman monuments of the south, to the Gothic cathedrals of the north, the Châteaux of the Loire, and the cutting edge architecture of the grands projets in Paris.

The importance of these traditions is felt deeply by the French state, which fights to preserve and develop its national culture perhaps harder than any other country in the world, and the private companies, who also strive to maintain French traditions in areas as diverse as haute couture, pottery and, of course, food.

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