France is a fascinating country, with a mix of fairytale medieval castles and modern architectural masterpieces. It is a country of interesting nature, unique attractions and a rich history. People of different nationalities live here, but they are all very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to France, she is looking forward to seeing you!
France on the map
Geographical location of the country
France is situated in Western Europe. Its coasts are washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Its maritime border is over 5,000 kilometres long.
On land, France borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the north, Italy and Switzerland to the east, Spain and Andorra to the south. Also in the south is the dwarf principality of Monaco, famous for its casinos and Formula 1 races.
The narrow Channel Tunnel separates mainland France from the British Isles. There is a tunnel underneath this strait which connects England and France.
Dangers for tourists
As one of the most advanced countries in the world, France is considered to be a safe haven for tourists. Several million tourists visit it every year, and almost no one is left disappointed.
The main danger which can be waiting for you in France, especially in Paris, is pickpockets. They operate in train stations, subways and crowded places. So do not carry large amounts of cash, and documents and bank cards should be kept in places that are difficult for thieves.
In big cities, there are dangerous areas, which are better to stay away from in the evening and not alone. These areas are usually home to African, Asian and migrant populations. A careless tourist can easily become a victim of robbery.
Traffic in France is dense, high-speed, but drivers are very disciplined, and the only hazards are electric scooters and bicycles.
France’s nature has also been altered by humans for such a long time that it may hardly be called wild. Sometimes there are wolves and bears in the forests, but they have not been attacked by humans for decades. There are venomous snakes and several species of vipers in France, so be careful when travelling in the countryside.
Marine fauna poses a greater threat. Poisonous jellyfish attack the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea in the hot season, but dangerous sharks rarely venture here.
The French love and know how to have a good time. They celebrate quite a few national as well as regional holidays.
National holidays include secular and religious holidays. Religious ones are Easter, Christmas, Purification, Assumption and a number of others. Secular holidays include Victory Day, the Conquest of the Bastille and the end of World War I, amongst others.
There are also many festivals and carnivals in France every year. The most famous are: The Lemon Festival, Carnival in Nice and the Chestnut Festival.
Things to do in France
France is a magnet for millions of tourists. It is a beautiful and sophisticated country with ancient castles, magnificent beaches, modern architectural marvels, museums and festivals. The real gem of the country is Paris, its capital. There is a belief that it is enough to see Paris once, and you can die in peace.
- Paris. The capital of France. City of palaces, museums and bistros. Its symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is known to everyone, and the main museum, the Louvre, is one of the largest and richest in the world.
- French cuisine. It is sophisticated and simple at the same time, strange and unusual, but very tasty and memorable. Who doesn’t know famous French cheeses, wines, croissants, sauces or ratatouille! Any restaurant or bistro will treat you to the most delicious local dishes.
- Old castles. The most popular chateaux are in the Loire valley and are called the magic word Chateaux. Tour operators offer special tours to this land of wonders and princesses, or you can walk around the castles on your own.
- Beaches. The best, most fashionable and warmest beaches are on the French Riviera and the Côte d’Azur. But beaches on the Atlantic coast are also attractive.
- Disneyland. Not far from Paris, there is Europe’s largest amusement park, which is easily accessible on its own or as part of a tour.
- Cabaret, dance and circus shows. France is famous among tourists for captivating dances of beauties in bright costumes. The famous Moulin Rouge cabaret is especially popular.
- Yachting, surfing and other nautical activities. While yachting is best done in the Mediterranean and Marseille is the yachting capital, surfing is best done on the steep ocean waves of Biarritz.
- Alpine skiing. To the east is Europe’s highest mountain system, the Alps, with many ski resorts. Thousands of tourists come here for skiing and snowboarding. Names like Chamonix or Courchevel have become symbols of luxury holidays and beautiful mountain slopes.
- Shopping. France is considered the centre of world fashion and is often a destination for the latest fashions and perfumes.
Information on France
If you are planning to visit France, here are some of the most important things to know:
The country’s official language is French. It is spoken by 327 million people in the world and is one of the official languages of the United Nations. Several regions have preserved their own indigenous languages: Basque, Alsatian, Breton, Flemish and several others.
France currently has a population of over 65 million. The areas with the highest population density are the Paris area, the Riviera and the Côte d’Azur, and the industrialised north.
Most of the population is ethnic French. Small indigenous peoples include the Bretons, Corsicans, Basques and others from historic regions.
Lately, there has been an increased flow of migrants from Africa and Asia into France. Their share of the population is already 10%, and is predicted to reach 30% in a few decades.
For more facts about the French, their personality and local colouring, read this article.
France is part of the European Union, and the Euro is the official currency. It replaced the French franc, which was no longer accepted by banks in 2002.
The Euro is one of the world’s reserve currencies and is widely used in all countries, and there is no point in taking any other currencies with you to France.
France is a secular country and there is free exercise of religion. Approximately half of the French profess no religion at all. Catholics are traditionally strong in the country, about 40% of the population. Thanks to the influx of migrants, the number of Muslims is rising; they now constitute 8% of the population. Protestants, Orthodox, Jews and Buddhists are poorly represented in the country.
The French climate is quite mild and warm. The main climatic factor is the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream that flows through it. Thanks to this influence, the temperature rises above +23 – +25 degrees in most regions in summer and does not fall below +7 – +9 degrees in winter.
France is the largest country in the European Union, and therefore climatic conditions vary greatly by region. The northern provinces of Normandy, Picardy and Brittany have a colder maritime and moderate continental climate. The southern provinces of Provence and Languedoc have a maritime Mediterranean climate.
To the east of the country lie the largest mountains of Europe – the Alps, and the climatic zones there depend on the altitude belt.
The holiday season also varies from region to region. Whilst the Atlantic coast is open from June to August, the much warmer Mediterranean Sea is open from May to October. The sea warms up to +25 degrees throughout the summer, but on the Atlantic, the water temperature drops to +20 degrees in mid-August.
In France, there is no clear division into dry and rainy seasons. The simple fact is that in the summer, the rainfall is minimal, and the sun shines almost every day; there are up to ten rainy or snowy days per month in the autumn and winter.
France is located in a geologically quiet region, so disasters such as major earthquakes are largely unknown. Earthquakes do occur in the Alps, but of minor magnitude. Avalanches are more dangerous in the mountains.
There are no volcanoes here, but the long coastline is a definite hazard. There are violent storms and hurricanes. The sea winds bring wet air that brings heavy downpours. There are floods and landslides in France, but in recent years there have been more and more forest fires caused by global warming.
You can read about the most destructive disasters in French history in this article.
France is a presidential republic. It is headed by a president, elected every 5 years. The president appoints the prime minister, who forms the government. The legislature is a bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly.
The European part of the country is divided into 13 regions, including the island of Corsica. France also has five overseas regions.
The capital of the country is Paris, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, about which thousands of books were written and hundreds of films were made. Every inhabitant of the Earth dreams to visit Paris. Today it is home to 2.2 million people.
Major cities and resorts
Marseille is a major port and industrial centre on the Mediterranean coast, with a population of over 800,000 people. The city was founded in 600 BC by Greek sailors from Asia Minor.
It has many historic monuments including the Old Port, Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, St. Mary Major Cathedral, and lots of narrow streets with cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.
Nice is another port on the Côte d’Azur and is home to over 500,000 people. It was founded by the Greeks in the fourth century BC.
Nice is famous for its beaches which stretch for more than 5 km, its medieval castles and narrow streets and the Marc Chagall museum.
Cannes is a famous resort on the Côte d’Azur and hosts an annual film festival which attracts thousands of tourists. Cannes has a population of just over 70,000 people and was founded by the Romans in 42 BC.
Beharritz is a resort on the Atlantic coast, most popular with the French themselves. The city has a population of 25 000. Emperor Napoleon and writer Victor Hugo took a bath here, and from the end of the 19th century the Russian intelligentsia could also enjoy their holidays here.
Bear Bearrice is considered the best place in France for surfing.
Symbols of France
Many people think of France not only for its resorts, castles and rich history, but also for its many other national symbols. Here are some of the most famous:
The lily – long the emblem of French kings and adorned the country’s coat of arms.
The Marseillaise is the official anthem of the country and a symbol of the struggle for freedom. The melody of this song is widely known outside France.
The Gaul rooster is the name given by the Romans to the original inhabitants of France. The Gauls were mostly red-haired, and their hairstyles resembled scallops.
Phrygian cap – was the hallmark of the Jacobins and has since become a symbol of the struggle for freedom.
Champagne is a sparkling grape wine originating from the Champagne province. It has become popular all over the world.
Cognac is a strong grape drink, a kind of brandy. It takes its name from the town of Cognac in New Aquitaine. It is also unusually popular around the world.
How to get to France
There are all kinds of ways to reach France: by train, plane, bus, sea liner and even by your own car.
Dozens of airports connect the country to all continents. The largest of these is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
Rail links connect the country to Italy, Germany, the Benelux countries and Spain. The Eurotunnel under the English Channel also links France with Great Britain.
Many tourists enter the country via the major ports of Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulon, Nice and Brest. Others get here by shuttle bus, for example from Milan.
How much money to bring
France is a country of unimaginable temptations that only an empty wallet can help you resist. Therefore, no matter how much money you bring with you, it may not be enough.
The minimum amount a tourist should have starts at 50 Euros per day per person. But with such amount of money in France can not die of hunger and live wildly. Therefore, the amount of 200 euros per person per day is more practical. Decide for how many days to go to France – based on your capabilities and desire.
In conclusion of this article, I would like to say the following. Holidays in France, in any case, will leave an unforgettable impression in your memory, will be an event that you will remember with pleasure for many decades.
If you have already visited the country, please share your experiences in the comments. Please add your thoughts on what you found most enjoyable and memorable about the country, and what you would recommend to other travellers. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!