ABOUT France is proud of the diversity and richness of its heritage. From prehistoric caves to the standing stones of Carnac; from the finest art collections in the Louvre or Orsay museums, to parks and gardens that offer a moment of reverie; from the architectural masterpieces of the past abbeys, cathedrals and châteaux such as Chenonceau, Blois and Chantilly, to today's impressive monuments like the Arch at La Défense, or the Centre Georges Pompidou; from sites of intimate charm like the Clos-Lucé d'Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci once lived, to the château of Auvers-sur-Oise where Impressionism blossomed, each tells its own story - its traditions, its residents, its character. Shows cinema, concerts, theatre or other activities festivals, flea markets, exhibitions are listed in specialist guides on sale at newspaper kiosks or in the local press, especially in the weekend editions. Tourist Offices also have available lists of events in the town and surrounding area. In Paris you can find guides for events in Paris at newspaper kiosks - Pariscope, L'Officiel des Spectacles, Zurban. They list all cinema programmes, museums, exhibitions, all types of shows. For the theatre, there are two kiosks, on the forecourt of the Montparnasse railway station and at the Place de la Madeleine, which offer tickets for that day at reduced rates.

CLIMATE France is a country with three climates. The climate with the smallest range is the oceanic climate characterised by cool summers and winters though winters may get very cold and ample rainfall. Eastern and central France mostly has continental climate with ample rainfall, warm summers and cold, mostly snowy winters. Southern France with its Mediterranean climate experiences limited rainfall, hot summers and cool winters.

BEWARE There have been several victims of serious assault on the RER line B, which serves Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports and Paris Gare du Nord Eurostar terminus. There have also been serious assaults on RER line D, which serves the Stade de France. Don’t be distracted around tourist attractions and cash points. Pickpockets can work in gangs: one to distract you while the other one goes into your bag. Keep your belongings close to you in restaurants and bars. Thieves and pickpockets operate on the Paris underground, RER lines and at mainline stations, for example Gare du Nord. Driving regulations in France are different from those in the UK. Speeding can result in heavy, on the spot fines, and your vehicle and licence could be confiscated. The maximum speed on autoroutes is 130kph (80mph) in good weather and 110kph (68mph) in poor weather.