France is the largest country in Western Europe and one of the most visited. French is the second most common language in Western Europe. France has been inhabited by human-like species for hundreds of thousands of years. In the 1st century BC, the Romans led by Julius Caesar, conquered this land and called it Gaul. In the 5th century AD, France was again conquered, this time by a Germanic tribe called the Franks, who eventually gave France it's present day name.

As the first country I visited as an adult, France holds a special place in my heart. It has a variety of experiences to offer; from medieval walled cities, to 5000 year old rock alignments, to 15,000 year old cave paintings, art museums, pink flamingos to hikes to the sea, in the mountains and in gorges. It was also a perfect way to remember a language we learned in high school more than twenty years ago. Ours was a road trip of 4125 miles in 3 weeks across most of the French countryside. We stayed in the Loire Valley, Brittany (Dinan and Vannes), Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nimes, Provence, the Alps, Dijon and finally Paris. In some places the lodging host spoke some English, though not many, so my minimal French language skills came in handy.

Here are some quirks and perks we learned while in France, and some budget travel ideas we found useful. Feel free to check out our family travels in France: