France receives more foreign visitors than any other country in the world. It is not hard to see why; aside from its spectacular capital city, it offers tracts of exquisite countryside, Europe’s highest mountain and, of course, some of the world’s finest cuisine (even though some travelers grumble that the general standard of food is not as high as it used to be). Perhaps the most remarkable thing about France is its astonishing variety within a relatively small area. European countries tend to be either northern or southern in character, with the Alps and Pyrenees being the principal dividing lines. France is both: The coast of Pas-de-Calais is just 29 miles from Kent in southern England, while the shores of Provence are part of the warm, classical world of the Mediterranean.