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France: On The Road

Paris, the city of love and a thousand other clichés, still holds a certain mystic. But no matter how many written words this great city has commanded - however familiar this town may appear - Paris will always remain an enigma, a magnet for millions of visitors from around the world.

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Full Name French Republic
Capital City Paris

547,030 sq km
211,208 sq miles

Population 60,400,000
Time Zone GMT/UTC +1(Central European Time)
Daylight Saving Start last Sunday in March
Daylight Saving End last Sunday in October
Languages French (official)
Religion 86% Roman Catholic, 8% Muslim, 2% Protestant 1% Jewish, 3% unaffiliated
Currency Euro (Euro)
Electricity 230V 50HzHz
Country Dialing Code 33


Latvia An Undiscovered Paradise

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall many parts of Eastern Europe have become widely accessible to tourists for the first time. Cities such as Prague and Budapest had been a mystery for so long but now take centre stage on the European tourism map. Riga, the capital city of Latvia, seems sure to follow suit. No longer part of the Soviet Union, Latvia has opened its borders and embraced incomers. This has had a dramatic effect on many parts of the country, but perhaps most noticeably on its capital city. Riga retains much of its old charm, yet has become much more "tourist friendly".

Many visitors have arrived here as tourists but then decided to say - the expat community is growing and investing in the country's future. So what is it about Riga that seems to be enchanting foreigners? For one thing, it's the atmosphere of the place. Riga has retained its architectural gems, making the city a wonderful place to stroll through. The art nouveau architecture that survives from the 19th century is a joy to behold - the sheer beauty of some parts of this city (and this country) never cease to amaze.

Latvians are renowned for their free spirits and enjoyment of life. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than when spending a night in one of the city's many bars, clubs and pubs. There's a vibrancy to Riga that lives long in the memory. Though residents of Vilnius and Tallinn may disagree, many would feel that Riga is the real jewel of the Baltic. You could be forgiven for thinking that visiting a country where the main city has beautiful architecture, a wonderful atmosphere and great nightlife might involve great expense. Thankfully, that's not the case.

This is a place that you can undoubtedly visit on a budget, as prices in Latvia are far below those experienced in western Europe. You'll find that your largest expense will almost certainly be your flight - accommodation can be found that is reasonably priced, while living costs will probably be a lot lower than you are used to at home. So what are you waiting for?! Latvia awaits! .

By: Keith Barrett

Discover France

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