Travelling to France for Euro 2016? If so we have the top ten tips on what to do - outside of the football - from a man who knows a thing or two, French Ambassador to Ireland Jean-Pierre Thebault.
Ireland will play Sweden in Paris on June 13, Belgium in Bordeaux on June 18, and Italy in Lille on June 22, and the French diplomat has told the Herald there is plenty on offer to make the experience an unforgettable one.
1 Paris, city of arts. Along with the more traditional sights (Eiffel Tower, Chateau de Versailles, Montmartre, Grand/Petit Palais), I would not miss a tour of Le Louvre - the world's largest museum - and a visit to the Centre Pompidou to get a coffee or a meal in one of our best-located terraces, offering a stunning view of Paris.
2 Beer. Irish fans should make sure to check French northern craft beers as I am sure they would be surprised by their quality. Among my favourites are Jenlain, 3 Monts or 3 Brasseurs, but fans should discover the wide variety of French beers...always with moderation though.
3 Get a taste of a new pastry invented in Lille - 'Le Merveilleux' is a meringue full of flavour and cream - or go for a more traditional sweet such as the Gauffres fourrees, which means "stuffed waffles".
4 For any children travelling to Paris, check out the Zoological Park (http://www.parczoologiquedeparis.fr/en) which is newly renovated and even open during evenings in June and July. Another good atrraction is the The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (http://www.cite-sciences.fr/en/home/), which is great to learn about science.
5 In Bordeaux enjoy the summer weather by strolling along the river-front and gazing into the 'miroir d'eau' - a beautiful water-mirror which reflects the wonderful architecture of the city. Kids love to play there when the weather is good.
6 Bordeaux and wine. As one of the top cities in France for wine, use this opportunity to discover the multiple chateaux around Bordeaux. Particularly, keep an eye open for the chateaux with Irish origin such as Kirwan, Lynch-Bages, Clarke, Boyd-Cantenac, Siran, Pichon-Lalande, Dillon and Phelan Ségur. Irish fans should not miss the newly-designed 'Cite Internationale du Vin - International City of Wine' opening on June 1. visit http://www.laciteduvin.com/en.
7 In Lille, wander through the streets of Vieux Lille. La Grand-Place, la Bourse (the stock market) and the Belfry. This historic area of the city will give you a sense of France's northern capital and the wealth of a city which was famous for its fairs during the Middle Ages.
8 Visit the oldest pastry shop in Paris - 'Stohrer' in Rue Montorgueil. Established in 1730 and located in a lovely street, reminiscent of Old Paris, near Les Halles. Here they invented the 'baba au rhum' (pastry soaked in rum) more than 250 years ago for the Sun King, Louis XIV.
9 Make sure to taste a delicious 'entrecote Bordelaise', a grilled sirloin steak with a Bordeaux wine sauce. There are many delicious small food places serving it in the streets of the old city. You can also try the delicious canneles, a typical Bordeaux pastry made with sugar cane and rum.
10 Finally, June 21st is la Fete de la Musique, or national day for music in France. Join the crowds in the streets to listen to free concerts, artistic and theatrical performances.