For people living outside of Europe, France is the quintessential European country. It’s what most people picture the continent is like when they dream of having a holiday abroad. Well, many people on the mainland would agree. France is the country that has all the things that makes the continent brilliant. The marvelous architecture, the absolutely astonishing food, the love of music and theater and of course, the staggering natural beauty of the countryside. France is perhaps the most unique in the mainland concerning weather. In the South of France, you have glorious sunshine and plenty of heat. In Northern France you have regular drizzles and plenty of snow in the Alps. All this begs the question then, why isn’t the country considered as part of the Mediterranean? Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal are the family of the Med. They have a seafood culture, coastal cities and a classical history in the Mediterranean Sea. So why does France not appear to have the same kind of relationship or history with this part of Europe even though geographically, it’s in the exact same location?
The undeniable symbol
The city of Paris, pronounced Pa-ree, is a massive symbol of not just the country but of Europe. We all know the iconic Eiffel Tower and it’s incredibly high structure, we all know about Notre-Dame the Medieval Catholic Cathedral and of course Arc De Triomphe. These are the structures that make the city what it is to many people around the world. To those that live within it’s boundaries, it’s also known as the city of lights. During the night, the city from top to bottom is lit up with street lights, shop windows, museum searchlights and office room lights in the many commercial offices. New York is known as the city that doesn’t sleep, but with all these lights the same can be said for Paris. Here you will also find that the weather is a little cold, and it’s common for the city to be drenched with a night time shower from the heavens. Some of the best restaurants in the entire world are situated right here in this 40 square mile area. With a population of around 12 million, almost every kind of talented and skilled professional under the sun is living here. Yet, the weather and the urbanization of the city is also a symbol of more western and northern European cultures. Can it be considered as part of a Mediterranean country? The short answer is no.
This is more like it
Well, we know that the capital doesn’t hold the answer to the question of whether or not France can be considered a Mediterranean nation. We can only go off to the southern coast to see if there is a change of culture. Montpellier is a southern central city and immediately when you enter you can see that this is more like it. You see, the thing about Mediterranean nations is that they have a lot of space in their cities, they don’t urbanize so rapidly and they try to keep them as they are because they offer tourists the chance to explore easily. As soon as you go into the city center you can see this because the pavements are wider than normal. They are also made of individual stones and bricks rather than tarmac or concrete. It’s just 10 kilometers from the coast, which means you get plenty of sun and sea breeze heading all throughout the streets.
If there’s one thing about any city that wants to be seen as Mediterranean, the food is the shining savior. What of Montpellier in this regard? Well there’s a restaurant called Le Pat’ Daniel’s which services incredible hearty food. Freshly baked bread, serviced with olive oil is coupled with pate served with scrambled eggs. They also have pork shoulders smothered in a rich tomato and red wine sauce. The usual pomme puree is served with a few herbs and salads if you so choose. It’s not quite traditional Mediterranean food, but it does have a slight twist of the Med.
The proof is in the water
Okay, so far France doesn’t look like it’s part of the Mediterranean family but there’s still hope. France has some of the most mesmerizing natural beauty in the entire continent. Take for example Verdon Gorge which looks like a Mediterranean paradise. The proof is so often in the water itself and you can see that the turquoise shade is more like something you would find off the coast of Spain. Without a doubt it’s one of the most beautiful travel destinations in all of southern France. Here you can canoe up and down the still waters, explore the coves that litter the entire gorge and if you feel like it, climb the rock faces that look down into the water. The most notable places are L’imbut and Pont Du Galetas if you want to explore at ground level. However there are public walkways you can explore also such as, Point Sublime, Point Du Sentier Blanc-Martel and the bridge that is Pont de Chauliere. If you go a little further inland, there are some white water rapids which you can take on if you feel like a challenge. On the eastern side, Verdon Gorge breaks out into Lac De Sainte-Croix. It has a cruise ship lane that goes all the way through. However, a stereotypical Mediterranean paradise wouldn’t be so far off from the coast. Verdon Gorge is actually separated from the coast by mountains and rocky cliffs. For this reason alone, it’s a little too far fetched to call this a great Mediterranean getaway.
No, France isn’t a part of the Mediterranean family but that doesn’t matter. It’s got the best of both worlds as it’s urban interiors, northern Alps and coastal cities in the south are in and of themselves. Besides we’ve already got plenty of Mediterranean options, France itself is quite a unique nation in all of mainland Europe. The city of lights still stands despite its history in the 20th century, it also has an incredible amount of people with all kinds of backgrounds. Montpellier is just 10 kilometers from the coast, yet the culture of the north is still present in the food. Thankfully, the architecture and the design of the city for pedestrians is true to the Med culture.