Based on map by DigoPaul, France is the second largest country in Europe and borders on Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain, among others. The beautiful country is a popular travel destination – not least because of its diverse and varied landscapes and good cuisine.
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Fast facts to know
- Largest country in Europe by area.
- The landscape is very diverse and varied.
- France was the first modern European republic.
- Once owned the second largest colonial empire.
- Overseas territories belonging to France: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, French Southern and Antarctic Territories.
- The French are very proud of their culinary skills.
- It is common to arrive 15 minutes late for non-business appointments.
- 10 billion baguettes are sold in France every year.
- France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
- There are more than 40,000 castles in France.
Exciting cities in France
- Mont Saint Michel
- Aigues Mortes
history of France
- First settlement about 48,000 years ago.
- From 600 BC Founding of Phoenician and Greek merchant bases on the Mediterranean coast.
- Settlement by the Celts in the northwest.
- Celtic Gauls, with their Druidic religion, are considered the ancestors of the French.
- From the 5th century, increasing numbers of Germanic peoples immigrated to Gaul.
- French Middle Ages marked by the rise of royalty.
- Under Louis VII, a long series of armed conflicts with England began.
- 1337 Hundred Years War
- 1348 the plague wipes out a third of the population.
- 1572 Hundreds of thousands of Huguenots emigrate after St. Bartholomew’s Night.
- 1635 France actively intervenes in the Thirty Years’ War, leading to war with Spain.
- Beginning of the era of French dominance in Europe.
- Under the Sun King Louis XIV, absolutism reached its peak.
- 1793 First Republic is proclaimed.
- 1789 French Revolution.
- 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte seized power with a coup d’état and subsequently brought almost all of Europe under his control.
- After the defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon is exiled.
- 1848 Proclamation of the Second Republic after the bourgeois revolution.
- 1871 to 1940 Third Republic.
- late 19th century France and the UK fight for supremacy in Africa.
- 1946 Fourth Republic by referendum.
- Post-war period characterized by the collapse of the colonial empire.
- 1958 Fifth Republic.
- 1981, the seizure of power by the Socialist Party and the presidency of François Mitterrand, which lasts until May 1995.
Climate & travel weather in France
- North: moderate maritime climate (mild, rainy winters, moderately warm, rainy summers)
- Northeast: continental climate (winter with snow, summer quite warm but unstable)
- Atlantic coast: oceanic temperate climate (humid and cool winters, humid and warm summers)
- South coast: Mediterranean climate (hot summer with little precipitation, very mild winter, autumn with lots of rain)
- Alps: mountain climate (snowy, cold winters, dry summer)
- Recommended travel time:
- Attractive to travel all year round
- City tours: spring, autumn
- Bathing: Mediterranean (May-Oct), Atlantic (June-Sep), North Coast (June-July)
- Winter Sports: Dec-April
Ideas for trips in France
- eiffel tower
- Palace of Versailles
- triumphal arch
- Sacred Heart
- Our Lady
- Strasbourg Cathedral
- Disneyland Paris
- Mont Saint Michel
- Chartres Cathedral
- Avignon Papal Palace
- Loire Valley with its castles
- Marseille Cathedral
- Lascaux Cave
- Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
- Pont d’Arc
Eating & drinking in France
- For the French, eating does not mean eating, but enjoyment.
- Quality, taste and variety always come first.
- Simple breakfast: café au lait, baguette with jam, croissons.
- Lunch often consists of 3 courses, and business lunches are common.
- Most important meal: Dinner, usually 3-5 courses, often a little lighter than lunch.
- Baguette bread is often served with the meal.
- Red wine and water are usually drunk.
- After the meal, often strong coffee with some chocolate and a cognac or something similar.
- France is famous for its sauces: béchamel, béarnaise, hollandaise, velouté, vinaigrette.
- Land of wines, cheese and delicacies.
- Cooked mostly Mediterranean in the south, hearty dishes with cream sauces common in the interior and in the north.
- Many inns and restaurants are closed on Sundays, as this is a traditional day for family meals.
- Bistros and brasseries offer good alternatives (mostly home-style restaurants with home cooking).
- Typical dishes:
- Nicoise salad.
- Chocolate mousse.
- Bouillabaisse (fish soup).
- Barquette d’Huîtres à la Normande (gratinated puff pastry boats filled with oysters, shrimp and mushrooms in butter sauce).
- Cassoulet (white bean stew with pickled goose, duck and other meats).
- Confit de canard (duck cooked and canned in its own fat).
- Coq au vin (chicken in a thick red wine sauce enriched with bacon, onions and herbs).
- Provençal-style scallops (gedünstete Jakobsmuscheln in Knoblauchbutter).
- Croque-monsieur (toast with ham and cheese).
- Sautéed Lamb (Lammragout).
- Beef Bourguignon (Rindergulasch).
- Dune of Pilat
- Padirac chasm
- Chalk cliffs of Étretat in Normandy
- French Alps
- French Riviera
- Pink Granite Coast