Whether it's gastronomic greatness, artistic endeavour or cultural cachet you're looking for, there's no doubt that France still sits right at the top of the European heap. France is the country for which the word was invented-seductive and aloof, old-fashioned and forward-looking, but always characterised by a certain. Read more...
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Whether it's gastronomic greatness, artistic endeavour or cultural cachet you're looking for, there's no doubt that France still sits right at the top of the European heap. France is the country for which the word was invented-seductive and aloof, old-fashioned and forward-looking, but always characterised by a certain.
France is divided into 22 administrative regions, which themselves can be grouped into 7 main cultural regions, which share common points.
The Ile de France is the region surrounding the French capital, Paris. Northern France is one region where the world wars have left many scars. It includes Nord-Pas de Calais, Picardie, and Haute-Normandie. Northeast France is a region where wider European culture (and especially Germany German culture) has merged with the French, giving interesting results. It includes Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne-Ardenne and Franche-Comté. The Great West is an oceanic region, with a culture greatly influenced by the ancient Celtic peoples. It includes Brittany (French: Bretagne), Basse-Normandie, and Pays de la Loire. Central France is a largely agricultural and vinicultural region, featuring river valleys, chateaux and historic towns. It includes Centre-Val de Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Burgundy (French: Bourgogne), Limousin, and Auvergne. Southwestern France is a region of sea and wine, with nice beaches over the Atlantic ocean, as well as young, high mountains close to Spain. It includes Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrenees. Southeastern France is the primary tourist region of the country outside of Paris, with a warm climate and azure sea, contrasting with the mountainous French Alps. It includes Rhône-Alpes, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and the Mediterranean island of Corsica (French: Corse).the main surrounding one is isle de alpes.
The world-famous Loire Valley-best known for its wines and chateaux-extends across two regions in west and central France.
Corsica is a large French island located to the south-east of mainland France in the west Mediterranean Sea (close to Nice on one side and Livorno, Italy.
The main international airport, Roissy-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) http://www.easycdg.com, is likely to be your port of entry if you fly into France from outside Europe. CDG is the home of Air France (AF), the national company, for most intercontinental flights. AF and the companies forming the SkyTeam Alliance (Dutch KLM, AeroMexico, Alitalia, US Continental, NorthWest and Delta Airlines, Korean Air) use Terminal 2 while most other foreign airlines use Terminal 1. A third terminal is used for charter flights. If transferring through CDG (especially between the various terminals) it is important to leave substantial time between flights. Ensure you have no less than one hour between transfers. Add more if you have to change terminals as you will need to clear through security.
Transfers to another flight in France: AF operates domestic flights from CDG too, but a lot of domestic flights, and also some internal European flights, use Orly, the second Paris airport. For transfers within CDG you can use the free bus shuttle linking all terminals, train station, parking lots and hotels on the platform. For transfers to Orly there is a (free for AF passengers) bus link operated by AF. The two airports are also linked by a local train (RER) which is slightly less expensive, runs faster but is much more cumbersome to use with heavy luggage. AF has agreements with the SNCF, the national rail company, which operates TGVs (see below) out of CDG airports (some trains carry flight numbers). The TGV station is located in Terminal 2 and is on the route of the free shuttle. For transfer to Paris see Paris.
Other airports have international destinations: Paris-Orly, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse have flights to cities in western Europe and North-Africa; those airports are hubs to smaller airports in France and may be useful to avoid the transfer between the two Paris airports. Two airports, Bâle-Mulhouse and Geneva, are shared by France and Switzerland and can allow entry into either country.
Some low-cost airlines, including Ryanair and Volare, fly to Beauvais airport situated about 80 km northwest of Paris. Buses to Paris are provided by the airlines. Check schedules and fares on their websites.
Shuttle service in Paris: Paris Star Shuttle
The French rail company, SNCF, provides direct service from most European countries using regular trains. French train tickets can be purchased directly in the US from RailEurope a subsidiary of the SNCF. The Eurostar service uses high-speed to connect Lille and Paris with London, the later via the Calais-Dover channel tunnel. The Thalys service uses high-speed TGV trains to connect Paris to Brussels and onward to cities in the Netherlands and Germany.
There is no single national bus service. Furthermore, buses are limited to local mass transit or departmental/regional service. You must therefore check for the peculiarities of bus service in the actual region you are in. However, bus tickets in the region of Ile De France generally cost about 1.40€.
Eurolines is a private bus service that connects over 500 destinations, covering the whole of the continent and Morocco. Eurolines allows traveling from Sicily to Helsinki and from Casablanca to Moscow.
The following carriers offer domestic flights within France:
Air France (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Annecy-Meythet Airport, Avignon-Caum Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Biarritz Parme Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Caen (Carpiquet Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Clermont-Ferrand (Aulnat Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lannion (Servel Airport), Le Havre (Octeville Airport), Lille (Lesquin Airport), Limoges (Bellegarde Airport), Lorient (Lann Bihoue Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Montpellier (Mediterranee Airport), Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Pau (Uzein Airport), Perpignan (Llabanere Airport), Quimper (Pluguffan Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Rodez (Marcillac Airport), Rouen (Boos Airport), Strasbourg (Entzheim Airport), Tarbes Ossun Lourdes Airport, Toulon (Hyeres Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
Airlinair (Aurillac Airport, Bastia (Poretta Airport), Beziers Vias Airport, Bordeaux Airport, Brest (Guipavas Airport), Brive-La-Gaillarde (Laroche Airport), La Rochelle (Laleu Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Mulhouse/Basel (EuroAirport French), Nantes Atlantique Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Poitiers (Biard Airport), Rennes (St Jacques Airport), Saint Nazaire (Montoir Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
CCM (Ajaccio (Campo Dell Oro Airport), Bastia (Poretta Airport), Calvi (Sainte Catherine Airport), Figari (Sud Corse Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport, Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
Twin Jet (Cherbourg (Maupertus Airport), Marseille Airport, Metz/Nancy (Metz-Nancy-Lorraine Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Saint Etienne (Boutheon Airport), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))easyJet (Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport), Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport), Paris (Orly Field), Toulouse (Blagnac Airport))
Hex'Air (Le Puy (Loudes Airport), Lyon Satolas Airport, Paris (Orly Field), Rodez (Marcillac Airport))
Air Austral (Lyon Satolas Airport, Marseille Airport)
Heli Securite (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
Nice Helicopteres (Cannes (Croisette Heliport), Nice (Cote D'Azur Airport))
France has a well-developed system of highways. Most of the freeway (autoroute) links are toll roads. Some have toll station giving you access to a section, others have entrance and exit toll stations. Don't lose your entrance ticket or you will be charged for the longest distance. All toll stations accept major credit cards, or you can use the automatic booth, but only if your card is equipped with a chip.
Roads range from the narrow single-lane roads in the countryside to major highways. Most towns and cities were built before the general availability of the automobile and thus city centers tend to be unwieldy for cars. Keep this in mind when renting: large cars can be very unwieldy. It often makes sense to just park and then use public transportation.
France drives on the right.
France is a good country for Tips for hitchhiking hitchhiking. Be patient, prepare yourself for a long wait or walk and in the meantime enjoy the landscape. A ride will come along. People who stop are usually friendly and not dangerous. They will like you more if you speak a little French. They never expect any money for the ride.
Remember that getting out of Paris by thumb is almost impossible. You can try your luck at the portes, but heavy traffic and limited areas for stopping will try your patience. It's a good idea to take the local train to a nearby suburb as your chance of being picked up will increase dramatically.
Outside Paris, it's advisable to try your luck after roundabouts. As it's illegal to hitchhike on the motorways (autoroutes) and they are well observed by the police, you may try on a motorway entry. The greatest chance is at toll plazas (stations de péage), some of which require all cars to stop and are thus great places to catch a lift. Some tollbooths are really good, some not so good. If you've been waiting for a while with an indication of where to go, drop it and try with your thumb only. And also, you can try to get a ride to the next good spot in the wrong direction.
Note, though, that hitching from a péage, while a common practice, isn't legal and French police or highway security, who are normally very tolerant of hitchhikers, may stop and force you to leave. You can get free maps in the toll offices-these also indicate where you can find the all-stop-Péage.
Trains are a great way to get around in France. You can get pretty much from anywhere to anywhere else by train. For long distances, use the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse-High-Speed Train). Reservations are obligatory. But, if you have time, take the slow train and enjoy the scenery. The landscape is part of what makes France one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
The French national railway network is managed by the SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français). For interregional trains you can get schedules and book tickets online at voyages-sncf.com. For regional trains, schedules can be found at ter-sncf.com (choose your region, then Carte and horaires for maps and timetables). Booking is available in two classes: première classe (First Class) is less crowded and more comfortable but can also be about 50% more expensive than deuxième classe (Second Class). Note that if your TGV is fully-booked, step aboard seconds before the doors close, and look for the guard (contrôleur). He will find you a seat somewhere.
If you'll be doing more than about 2 return journeys in France, and are younger than 26, getting a Carte 12-25 will save you money. They cost €49, last a year and generally give a 50% reduction on ticket prices.
If you've booked online on Voyages SNCF, you can pick up your ticket when you get to the train station. Contrary to a common misunderstanding, this web site allows you to order even if you live in the US; it is not concerned where you live, but where you will pick up the tickets or have them sent; thus if you wish to pick up the tickets at a SNCF train station or office, answer France. When at the station, just go to the counter ( Guichet ) and ask to have your ticket issued ( retirer votre billet ). You can ask Je voudrais retirer mon billet, s'il vous plait, or 'zhe voo dray ruh teer ay mon bee yay, sill voo play' and then hand them the paper with the reference number.
To find your train, locate your train number and the departure time on the departures board. There will be a track ( Voie ) number next to the train and departure time. Follow signs to that track to board the train. You will have a reserved seat on TGV trains, but you can pick any seat on other trains. To find your reserved seat, first look for the train coach number ( Voit. No ). Pay attention to the possible confusion between track number (Voie) and coach (voiture) number (abbreviated Voit) As you go down the track, the coach number will be displayed on an LCD screen on the car, or maybe just written in the window or right next to the doors.
The reserved seat rules are lax; you'll not be fined if you switch seats or use another seat if it is empty because the TGV is not fully booked, or if the other person agrees to switch with you.
On the main lines, TGVs often run in twos. There are two possibilities: either the two TGVs are considered as one train with one train number (in this case each coach has a different number); or the two TGVs are considered as separate trains which run together during a part of their journey, with two different train numbers (in this case, the two trains may have two close numbers such as 1527 and 1537), and each train will have its own coach numbering. So be sure you are in the right train (the train number is shown on the LCD screen, with the coach number).
If you are early, there is often a map somewhere on the track that will show how the train and car numbers will line up on the track according to letters that appear either on the ground or on signs above. That way, you can stand by the letter corresponding with your coach number and wait to board the train closest to your coach. You can easily go from one coach to another, so if you are very late, jump in any coach of the same class before the train starts, wait until most people are seated, then walk to your coach and seat number.
Beware: To avoid any form of fraud, your ticket must be punched by an automatic machine ( composteur ) to be valid. Older machines are bright orange, newer machines are yellow and gray. The machines are situated at the entrance of all platforms. Failure to punch the ticket may entitle you to a fine even if you are a foreigner with a limited French vocabulary, depending on how the conductor feels. Likewise if you step aboard a train without a ticket you MUST find the conductor ( contrôleur ) and tell him about your situation before he finds you.
French information booths, especially in larger train stations, can be quite unhelpful, especially if you do not understand much French. If something does not seem to make sense, just say excusez-moi or ex qu say mwa, and they should repeat it.
Night train services also exist. These include couchettes second class (6 bunk beds in a compartment), first class (4 bunks) and wagon-lit (real bedding with linen; you have to specify your sex when booking or travel as a couple). Night trains have occasionally been targeted by criminals, though this is not a widespread problem.
When to go
Crime-related emergencies can be reported to the toll-free number 17. Law enforcement forces are the National Police (Police Nationale) in urban area and the Gendarmerie in rural area, though for limited issues such as parking and traffic offenses some towns and villages also have a municipal police.
France is not a high crime area but large cities are plagued with the usual woes.
The inner city areas and a few select suburbs are usually safe at all hours. In large cities, especially Paris, there are a few areas which it is better to avoid. The outer ring of most cities and especially suburbs are sometimes grounds for youth gang violent activities and drug dealing. The subject is very touchy as it may easily have racist overtones.
If you are traveling alone, especially if you are a woman, you should avoid using public transportation at late hours especially on links between the city center and the suburbs.
Usual caution apply for tourists flocking around sights as they may become targets for pickpockets.
While it is not compulsory for French citizens to carry identification they usually do so. Foreigners are advised to carry some kind of official identity document. Although random checks are not the norm you may be asked for an ID in some kinds of situations, for example if you cannot show a valid ticket when using public transportation; not having one in such cases will result in your being taken to a police station for further checks. Again the subject is touchy as the police has been often accused of targeting people according to criteria of ethnicity : délit de sale gueule = odd face misdemeanor.
Due to the terrorist factor, police, with the help of military units, are patrolling monuments, the Paris subway, train stations and airports. Depending on the status of the Vigipirate plan (anti terrorist units) it is not uncommon to see armed patrols in those areas. This presence of police is a help for tourists, as it also deters pickpockets and the like; however, suspicious behaviour, public disturbances etc. may result in policemen asking to see an ID.
In France, failing to offer assistance to 'a person in danger' is illegal. This means that if you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentence and fines. The law does not apply in situations where to answer an appeal for help might endanger your life or the lives of others.
Carrying or using narcotic substances, from marijuana to hard drugs, is illegal whatever the quantity. The penalty can be severe especially if you are suspected of dealing. Trains and cars coming from countries which have a more lenient attitude (e.g. the Netherlands) are especially targeted.
France has a liberal policy with respect to alcohol; there are usually no ID checks for purchasing alcohol (if you look older than 18, of course!) However, causing problems due to public drunkenness is a misdemeanor and may result in a night in a police station until the person can behave themselves. Drunk driving is a severe offense and may result in heavy fines and jail sentences.
Pharmacies in France are denoted by a green cross, usually in neon. Contrary to the US habit, they don't double as general stores, and only sell medicine, contraceptives and often beauty and related products (though these can be very expensive). Medicines must be ordered from the counter, even for non-prescription medicines. The pharmacist is able to help you about various medicines and can propose you generic drugs.
Since drug brand names vary across countries even though the effective ingredients stay the same, it is better to carry prescriptions using the international nomenclature in addition to the commercial brand name. Prescription drugs, including oral contraceptives (aka the pill ), will only be delivered if a doctor's prescription is shown.
In addition, supermarkets sell condoms (préservatifs) and also often personal lubricant, bandages, disinfectant and other minor medical helps. Préservatif machines are often found outside pharmacies and in bar toilets etc.
Medical treatment can be obtained from self-employed physicians, clinics and hospitals. Most general practitioners, specialists (e.g. gynecologists), and dentists are self-employed; look for signs saying Docteur (médicine générale = general practitioner, etc.). The normal price for a consultation with a general practitioner is 21€, though some physicians charge more (this is the full price and not a co-payment). Physicians may also do home calls, but these are more expensive.
Residents of the European Union are covered by the French social security system, which will reimburse or directly pay for 70% of health expenses (30% co-payment) in general. Other travellers are not covered and will be billed the full price, even if at a public hospital; non-EU travellers should thus probably have a travel insurance covering medical costs. Note, however, that, in general, medical fees in France, even when paying the full price, are low compared to those in the United States.
Hospitals will have an emergency room signposted Urgences.
The following numbers are toll-free:15 Medical emergencies17 Law enforcement emergencies (for e.g. reporting a crime)18 Firefighters112 European standard emergency numbers.Operators at these numbers can transfer requests to other services if needed (e.g. some medical emergencies may be answered by firefighter groups).
Smoking is prohibited by law in all enclosed spaces accessible to the public (this includes train and subway cars, train and subway station enclosures, workplaces, restaurants and cafés) unless in areas specifically designated for smokers. There was an exception for restaurants and cafés, but since the 1st January 2008, the smoking ban law is also enforced. You may face a fine of 68€ if you are found smoking in these places.
Smoking is also banned in the Paris métro and SNCF train. Subway and train conductors do enforce the law and will fine you for smoking in non-designated places; if you encounter problems with a smoker in train, you may go find the conductor.
As hotels are not considered as public places, some offer smoking vs non-smoking rooms.
Only people over the age 16 may purchase tobacco products. Shopkeepers may request a photo ID.
France has been populated since the Neolithic period. the Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, others presumed to be temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, like those found at Lascaux.
Rise and fall of the Roman empire
Written History began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. Starting then, the territory which is today called France was part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls (name given to local Celts by the Romans), who lived there before Roman invasions, became accultured Gallo-romans.
With the fall of the Roman empire, what was left were areas inhabited by descendants of intermarriages between gallo-romans and barbaric easterners (Mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the burgondes ).
The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll shows. Some of the main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2, 000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centers still transcript the cardo and the decumanus of the former Roman camp (especially Paris ). The other main legacy was the Catholic Church which can be, arguably, considered as the only remnant of the civilization of that time.
Clovis, who died in 511, is considered as the first French king although his realm was not much more than the area of the present Ile de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. He united under his rule territories which extend today in Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle (now in Germany, known as Aachen ).
The country was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated upstream the rivers to plunder the cities and abbeys, it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory (today's Normandy) in 911 and melted fast in the Feudal system. The Saracens were stopped in 732 in Poitiers by Charles Martel, grand father of Charlemagne, a rather rough warrior who was later painted as a national hero.
Starting with Charlemange, a new society starts to settle, based on the personal links of feudalism. This era is named middle age. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can more be described as a very complex mix of periods of economic and cultural developments (Music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, building of the Romanantic, then Gothic cathedrals), and recessions due to pandemic disease and wars.
In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France ; he is the root of the royal families who later governed France. In 1154 much of the western part of France went under English rule with the wedding of Alienor d'Aquitaine to Henry II (Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans). Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I, of Walter Scott's fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years War and the most famous figure, considered as a national heroine, is Joan of Arc.
The making of a modern state nation
The beginning of the XVIth century saw the end of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a modern state with its border relatively close to the present ones (Alsace, Corsica, Savoy, the Nice region weren't yet French). Louis XIV who was king from 1643 to 1715 (72 years) was probably the most powerful monarch of his time. French influence extended deep in western Europe, its language was used in the European courts and its culture was exported all over Europe.
That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England (later Britain) and Spain over the control of North America.
1789 saw the start of the French Revolution which led to the creation of the Republic. Although this period was also fertile in bloody excesses it was, and still is, a reference for many other liberation struggles.
Napoléon reunited the country but his militaristic ambition which, at first, made him the ruler of most of western Europe were finally his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated in Waterloo (Belgium) by an alliance of British and Prussian forces. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as its armies and its government brought with them the thinkings of the French philosophers.
France went back to monarchy and another revolution in 1848 which allowed a nephew of Napoleon to be elected president and then become emperor under the name of Napoléon III. The end of the XIX century was the start of the industrialization of the country, the development of the railways but also the start of the bitter wars with Prussia and later Germany.
XXth and XXIst centuries
1905 saw the separation of the Church from the State, a traumatic process specially in rural areas. The French state carefully avoids any religious recognition. Under a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy it is forbidden for French students and civil servants to display any sign showing explicitely their religion. This policy applies famously to the Muslim veil (and has been copied in countries like Tunisia and Turkey) but, for instance, to the Christian cross as well. In the early XXIst century, statistics for Church going and belief in God are among the lowest in Europe.
World War I (1914-18) was a disaster for France, even though the country was ultimately a victor. A significant part of the male workforce had been killed and disabled and a large part of the country and industry destroyed. World War II (1939-45) also destroyed a number of areas.
Since the end of WWII France went through a period of reconstruction and prosperity came back with the development of industry. France and Germany were at the start of the Treaties which eventually became the European Union. One of the most visible consequence being the introduction in 2002 of the Euro (€), the common currency of twelve European countries.
In 2004, France is a republic with a President elected for a 5-year term. Some current main issues are the further integration of the country into the EU and the adoption of common standards for the economy, defense, and so on.
Articles and Stories about France
Quick Facts about France
61,538,322 (April 2007) in non-overseas France
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All Nightlife in France:
out of 1 review
Bringing Australia to Paris, Cafe Oz is ideal for expats that will look in nostalgia the kangaroos and the australian road signs. There is also beer from Australia and special events like Australian Day Celebration and more. The place is crowded also from non Australians due to the party atmosphere and the nice drinks.
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A great concept for a bar. An auction system, modeled after the London Stock Exchange. Drink prices are displayed are sleek flat screens throughout the bar and are updated in real-time according to the demand from the patrons. Tres cool.
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This is a beautiful English pub with a busy little brewery in the cellar. It is a popular & busy live sports venue, and on weekend nights the bar is bursting with a young and international party crowd.
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The biggest and the only "real" club in Nice has hosted many famous djs as Benny Benassi, Big Ali, John Dahlback or Bob Sinclar.The entrance cost 10€ without a drink, a vodka redbull is about 10€ and a bottle of liquor 100€. The club is divided in 3. The biggest place is "High Club" where the music is mainly heavy Electro, while the "Studio 47" is smaller and friendly. Music is much more smooth, from disco to house passing by classic...
La Bellevilloise, Nightclub in Paris, France
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How to sum up La Bellevilloise, well starting with the basics never hurt! This nightclub, near metro stop Belle Ville, offers some of the best music in Paris in an atmosphere which you make, be it that you dance till feet fall off or that you take time to talk to the interesting clientele which frequents itself at this establishment, this place can only but offer a good experience. Good Music, Good People - Anymore need to be said?