The first image that comes to mind when we talk about China is of course the Great Wall. This masterpiece of more than 6,000 km in length makes sense in this immensity. The few steps you take, the few steps you climb, will give you the impression of reliving the era of dynastic wars. From north to south, from east to west, Chinese historic sites benefit from exceptional conservation. Beijing, the capital, was once a flourishing imperial city where the various dynasties that dominated China in turn succeeded each other. Marked by these multiple footprints, the city retains an impressive number of vestiges of its history. Many temples and palaces revolve around the heart of this city, the Forbidden City. Xi'an, in the heart of the loess country, is a real open-air museum, one of the most remarkable sites of which is the one of the Emperor Qin's buried army. Several thousand life-size terracotta soldiers and horses were buried there until the discovery of this real marvel in 1974. Luoyang, in Henan, is full of exceptional sites. Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai, meeting points between China and the West, are witnesses to a cultural clash that gives their urban landscapes contrasting faces. Tradition and modernity coexist here, old Chinatowns, old quarters of foreign legations built after the opium wars and colossal buildings. These two prosperous economic cities are symbols of China's rapid modernization. In contrast to these modern cities, there are still more traditional cities such as the fortified city of Pingyao, or the former seaside resort of Lushan. Finally, we will not fail to visit the remains of China's contemporary communist history by visiting Zunyi, Shaoshan or even Yan'an. Not to mention the remains of the Silk Road, a real umbilical cord linking China to the West, with fabulous sites, particularly in Gansu (Dunhuang)
The richness of natural sites :
China's richness also lies in the multitude of landscapes with striking contrasts that it offers to those who take the time to penetrate its heart. This vast country, with its many natural attractions listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a veritable mosaic of colours. Tibet, in the west, is a land of mysteries with infinite peaks. From salt lakes to vast wilderness, the discovery of Shangri-La (the land of snow) is an experience that will forever leave its mark on travellers who dare to venture there. Qinghai or western Sichuan, historically Tibetan, offer breathtaking landscapes. Further north, between steppes and sand dunes, the Gobi Desert, home of Genghis Khan, will amaze you with its landscapes of shades of gold and ochre. To the south, the mountainous province of Yunnan offers a multitude of breathtaking panoramas that draw on the green of the rice fields. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the tropical forests of the South, the "land of eternal spring" is one of the most pleasant provinces for individual tourism. As you will have understood, China is such a contrasting land that it would be impossible to describe it in a few lines. It will also be necessary to take your time to discover all the natural wonders of this country.
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette