Aside from wine and the popular Eiffel Tower, what else do you know about France? Bernshtam is betting not much, unless you’ve spent a few weeks there, and without any purpose other than to experience the local culture. Indeed, it’s hard to get to know a place until you’ve lived there for a time, interacting with the locals and what not. Bernshtam believes everyone must visit France at least once in their life. This is because Paris, and the rest of France for that matter, has what they say in French, “je ne sais quoi,” or a trait that’s simply hard to put into words and uniquely France’s.
It could be the food, the idyllic lifestyle, or the country’s rich history fighting for social reform. Whichever the case, there’s no doubt that France leads as one of the world’s best tourist spots. In fact, in 2011, more than 80 million people visited France. If you think tens of millions of tourists flying in or sailing to France makes for a crowded vacation, Bernshtam shares that it’s part of the charm. While you’re free to seek ways to beat the crowd, just know that your efforts may not be worth it as France attracts all sorts of crowds throughout the year. This means if you can’t beat them, then just join them.
If you speak French, you may have an easier time in the country. French is the second most widely learned language in the world, with as many as 120 million students, so it may be prudent to pick up a few phrases, rather than expect locals to speak English. Whether your vocabulary is for beginners or enough to make you fluent, Bernshtam advises learning words that have to do with food. After all, food and wine are at the center of France’s social settings and is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience what France is all about.