Personally, my only reason for even wanting or having a need to visit Europe would be to visit WWII historical sites. It is something I would like to do before I die.
Now more than ever, since my son-in-law is from Belgium, I may be able to make a trip like that. When traveling overseas, it's always more enjoyable when you have a close friend or relative who can be your personal tour guide. You get to see some really special places which are off the beaten path.
Several things about France. (I lived there for three years) First the French are not an aggressive people. The North African immigrants however can be. If you speak English in public you are targeted immediately. This only happens in the larger cities (Paris, Marseilles, Lille, Lyon). The most dangerous areas are the Metro at night. Most everywhere else this is not the case.
Petty crimes are common. If you leave something unattended you are tempting the devil to take it. This includes locked and guarded parking areas. Take everything of any value out of the car.
Parisians in my experience are nice to you if you have money to spend. If you are not willing to spend money they won't give you the time of day. Don't take it personal, they do this to everyone, even other Frenchmen.
If you know any French, use it. The people will appreciate your efforts in trying to speak their language. Most Frenchmen know how to speak English but they are brutalized as youngsters for screwing up French and therefore are terrified of making mistakes in any language.
Take the opportunity to visit Belgium and the Netherlands. These countries are very American friendly. There is a great deal of history and the people are great.
If you want any more info, let me know. I traveled all over the country in my three years there. (I moved seven times) There are parts of the experience that I would not trade for anything. Other parts I would never like to repeat.
Most of all..Enjoy. You will appreciate America with all of her faults, more for the experience.
I spent a week at the Club Med in Opio, near Nice a few years back. It's a gorgeous spot up in the hills in the olive groves.
It's a great place to spend a few days and unwind, if you get the chance.
Oh, and the Club Med food and entertainment?????
Actually, no, I have not. Most of the "French" that I have encountered leave me longing to stay in the United States of America for multitudes of reasons.
But if going to France is your thing, then more power to you. I prefer to stay home.
It's actually really not that bad. Everyone I have encountered has been very friendly and helpful. I haven't had one truly "negative" experience here yet. sure, there have been times where I thought "that wouldn't happen in the States", but that's more of a cultural thing than a personal thing. Really, don't knock it until you rock it.
I like it so far.
That said, I'll be happy to get home when it comes time.