France Republique Francaise
The quick travel guide to France and Paris
France is a large country in western Europe; half of France's border adjoins the Atlantic Ocean and it has a further coastline on the Mediterranean to the south. To the east France borders Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and to the south it has a border with Spain. France is linked to the United kingdom by a rail tunnel between Calais and Folkestone. France is the largest country in the EU with an area of 551,500 sq km. It is second only to the Ukraine in continental Europe.
As would be expected for a large country France's geography is very varied. It has a long coastline and a considerable area within the Alps including Mont Blanc the highest mountain in the EU at 4807m. The Pyrenees range forms the border with Spain. some 60% of France is fields and meadows, 27% forest and 10% is mountainous. The Massif Central, an area of high plateau, covers 15% of country; it is located in the south central region of Auvergne.
France was a founding member of the EEC in 1957 and the EU in 1993. It is part of the Eurozone and is part of the open borders arrangement within the EU Schengen Agreement). France is divided into 22 regions and 96 departments. The largest cities in France, in terms of metropolitan area population, are Paris (11,769,433), Lyon (1,748,271), Marseille (1,605,000), Lille (1,164,716), Nice (1,197,751), Toulouse (1,102,882), Bordeaux (999,149) and Nantes (804,000).
The climate is mild and varies considerably due to geography and the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean; cold and snow in mountains, hot and dry summers; mild and humid winters in the south along the Mediterranean coast.
With 81.9 million foreign tourists in 2007, France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead of Spain and the United States. France features cities of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity. France also attracts many religious pilgrims to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées département, that hosts a few million visitors a year. Disneyland Paris is France's and indeed Europe's most popular tourist site, with 15,405,000 combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in 2009.
Other popular tourist sites include: (according to a 2003 ranking): Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Louvre Museum (5.7 million), Palace of Versailles (2.8 million), Musée d'Orsay (2.1 million), Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Centre Pompidou (1.2 million), Mont-Saint-Michel (1 million), Château de Chambord (711,000), Sainte-Chapelle (683,000), Château du Haut-Knigsbourg (549,000), Puy de Dôme (500,000), Musée Picasso (441,000), Carcassonne (362,000).
Location Map of France
Interactive Map of France
Guide to Europe
|Travel Guide to the European Union 2013|