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Overview of France

France Travel Guide

Often regarded as Europe's most important travel destination, France has a tremendous number of cultural, architectural, natural and other sorts of attractions.

The country is overwhelmingly rich in attractions for most sorts of tourism: rich urban attractions, mountain tourism, it has warm beaches in the south, intense nigh-life and it's a great place for event tourism as well.

 

Paris is the core of French tourism, the "Cultural Capital of Europe", it attracts most travelers arriving to the country. the city seduces with its romantic atmosphere, its beautiful old architecture and its many museums.

France is full of spectacular castles, many of which are now hotels or other types of public places that you can visit and get close to their rich past.

French cuisine is also very famous, let's just mention the famous wines and the cheese products.

 

In case you visit France in winter, you can go to the Alps, the Massif Central Mountains or the Pyrenees in the south and ski or snowboard.

 

Let us see the main aspects of visiting this country in this guide!

 

 

 

France Travel Factsheet

State, geography 

Official name:

République Française (French Republic)

Government type:

Unitary semi-presidential republic

Location:

Western Europe, between the United Kingdom, Germany and the Iberian Peninsula.

Area/surface:

551.695 km² or 213,010 sq mi (overseas territories not included)

Geography overview:

Mixed terrain types cover the territory: primarily hilly regions, vast plains used for agriculture, high mountains in the south and the in the east of the country.

France is also an important Mediterranean country with many ports and cities along the coast, while its western shores are washed by the Atlantic Ocean.

Has numerous outlaying-, overseas territories, such as the islands in the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean etc.

Demographics, population

Official language(s):

French

Locally used languages:

Arabic, Basque, German, Italian, Turkish, etc.

Other widely spoken languages:

-

Nationalities, ethnic groups, races:

Estimates (no official statistics): over 75 % French; approximately 20 % other (mostly immigrant Arab, Berber, Turkish and Asian, but also German, Basque, Italian, Spanish)

Population:

65,07 million

Population density:

115/km² or 297/sq mi

Capital city & population:

Paris (central area: 2.203.800; urban area: 10.200.000; metropolitan area: 12.000.000)

Largest city & population:

Paris (central area: 2.203.800; urban area: 10.200.000; metropolitan area: 12.000.000)

Other large cities & population:

Lyon (central area: 1.245.000, urban area: 1.783.000 metropolitan area: 4.415.000)

Marseille (central area: 839.000, urban area: 1.400.000; metropolitan area: 1.600.000)

Toulouse (central area: 437.000, metropolitan area: 1.182.000)

Nice/Nizza (central area: 347.000)

Bordeaux (central area: 250.000, metropolitan area: 1.000.000)

Religion(s):

51 % Roman Catholic; 4 % Muslim; 3 % Protestant; 1 % Jewish; 31 % atheist; 10 % other (no answer and other religions)

Economy

Currency:

1 Euro (EUR) = 100 Euro Cents

Symbol/sign: €

Foreign currencies widely used:

CFP Franc (XPF)

GDP (nominal):

2.867 billion USD

GDP per capita (nominal):

46.037 USD

Other data

Time zone:

Central European Time (CET): UTC/GMT +1 h

Country telephone calling code:

+33

Internet TLD(s):

.fr

Electric power system:

Voltage & frequency: 220-240V/50Hz

..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Plugs/sockets/outlets: C, E

Driving system:

Right-hand drive

 

France Interactive Map

 


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Places to Visit & Things to Do in France

Paris

Of, course, Paris! the cultural capital of Europe, a city with very well preserved old buildings, romantic streets, cafés...

Among the primary attractions in Paris you will find the Sacré Coeur Basilica, Eiffel Tower, Musée d'Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou (building with interesting pipe architecture), Musée Rodin, Musée Picasso, Versailles Castle/Palace - in it you will find the Louvre Museum (where you can see Leonardo's Mona Lisa), Chartres Cathedral, the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Axe Historique (a towering needle-like creation close to the Arc de Triomphe), the hypermodern Défense quarter and also the Basilica of Saint-Denis (Basilique de Saint-Denis), of course the famous Notre Dame Church, which is located on a small island.

French National Day Parade

Held on July 14th, on the Champs-Élysées Avenue, it is a pompous military parade with marching cavalry, but also modern heavy military vehicles and airplanes in the sky.

Rennes

A beautiful city with a well preserved old town. Rennes is located in the western part of the country and is the capital of Brittany (Bretagne).

Lyon

The city's core is surrounded by a fortress wall, a rare thing indeed. You might not even notice that you're inside a fortress when you're in the old town.

Lyon's churches are numerous and you'll also find a large number of museums, art galleries to spend your time in. There's even an ancient Roman Amphitheatre in the city.

What you should do first is to find the Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) and take a walk there and make photographs.

As top destinations of Lyon, we should mention: Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste, Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Institut & Musée Lumière.

Bordeaux

The city was built on the banks of the Garronne River. Bordeaux is renowned for its wines, in fact it's sometimes called "The Wine Capital of the World".

Walk around and visit its most important attractions (churches, museums), wander the streets. It's a big city of 660.000 people, but not too big, so you won't get easily lost in it.

What you must do while in Bordeaux is to taste wine! Here are several good places for that: Chateau Petrus, Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac), Château Margaux, Chateau Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc, Saint-André Cathedral, Porte Cailhau, Saint Pierre Church, the beautiful old bridge across the Garronne - Pont de Pierre.

Toulouse

Toulouse is also located on the Garronne River, just like Bordeaux.

Some of the most important attractions in Toulouse: the Saint-Sernin Basilica (Basilique Saint Sernin), Hotel Dieu Saint-Jacques, the Capitol (Town Hall), Les Augustins (monastery before, museum today), Les Abattoirs (modern arts museum), Pont-Neuf (the only old bridge over the Garronne, its age is about 500 years).

Mont Saint Michel

Fortification the size of a small town located in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of France. The island is connected to France with road.

It's a spectacular place, a dreamlike place, but it's crowded with tourists. Sometimes it is so full that one can hardly walk around and take photos.

If you're in France, however, this is a "must see". Perhaps if you rent a car and you get there early in the morning, you can avoid the huge crowds of tourists

The French Alps

Very popular winter travel destination among Europeans. If you can ski or snowboard or just want to visit the place, then you can head either to the Rhône-Alpes or the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

Of course, the most famous mountain in the French Alps is the Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak.

Among the top resorts, travel hotspots in the French Alps, are: Chamonix, Chartreuse, Vercors, La Clusaz, Le Grande Massif, Portes du Soleil.

Annecy is a small town in the French Alps with a beautiful old quarter, well preserved old dwellings. Worth visiting if you're in the area. Annecy is popular among travelers who come to these parts of France.

Côte d'Azur

"The French Riviera", it's where you'll find the famous Saint Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and other popular destinations.

Cannes is an exotic, luxurious city, home to the Cannes Film Festival, attracts many foreign tourists. Perhaps it has most notoriety in the whole Côte d'Azur.

The Cannes Castle is worth seeing and also the old town with its winding streets and many souvenir shops.

You can go to Cannes by air, rail, road, but it's perhaps more exciting by sea: either with a cruise ship or yacht.

Corsica (Corse)

A big island in the Mediterranean Sea. It's a picturesque province of France, which was once part of Italy.

Corsica is strongly different from continental France, both culturally and economically. Not to mention the landscape...

The best way to see Corsica is to rent a car or travel individually or in small groups by taking buses from one place to another.


Transportation

By Air

The most popular way to get there is to fly in right to Paris' Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Most major European and American Airlines fly to Paris, it's one of the top destination cities in Europe.

Also, many low cost airlines operate in Europe, linking French cities to the rest of Europe.

By Road

France has a very good road system, by road you can reach the country from the Benelux States, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, but also from the UK through the Eurotunnel. In the latter situation you will have to enter a train with your car - this will bring you through the long tunnel.

By Rail

Through the Eurotunnel you can travel between France and Britain easily.

Other rail connections are possible to many European countries with intermediate stops.

The best connections are towards Germany and towards Belgium, few intermediate stops if you travel to those 2 countries.

On Water

France can be reached from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, but it's less likely for someone to reach shore from the Atlantic. The most popular way to reach France by sea is to arrive to its Mediterranean coast in the south.


Best Time for Visiting France

Depends on the type of tourism.

If you want to go sightseeing, then May - September is the best time. Avoid autumn because of grey sky, cold winds, rain.

For winter, it's good to travel in the December - February interval. January is best for skiers.


Risks & Precautions in France

Important: We present you some of the most common risks and precautions for you to take in this country, however our list does not cover the whole typology and details of these problems that might occur.

Pickpockets, Theft

Problem on subway, buses, some parts of big cities, such as Paris, this is a serious problem. Take extra caution when travelling on public transportation vehicles and in crowded areas.


Interesting Things About France

France has one of the biggest cultivations of lavender in the World, they're also sold as flowers, but are a great source of perfumes and other beautification products.
 

France was the World's most visited country in 2006.

 

France has Europe's largest Jewish community, numbering about 600.000.

  

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