France is one of Europe’s largest countries. It is bordered by six countries other nations: Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the southeast and Spain to the southwest. The United Kingdom borders France via the English Channel. The country is considered to be the gateway to Europe as there are several large international airports (two of these can be found in Paris), ferry terminals and the French rail service.
France is the most popular tourist destination in the world. There are many reasons why so many people enjoy visiting the diverse country, including the natural beauty, the amazing climate, outdoor recreational activities such as golf courses, art museums and galleries and so much more. There are many different activities that outline the history of the country which are enjoyable to visitors, especially considering its turbulent past.
Along with these things, France is enjoyed and well-known for its cuisine and wines. It is easy to say that French people love to cook and love their food. Meals in France are joyous, long events with families drawn close together for conversation. The typical French meal offers three to four courses which includes cheese before dessert. All meals are accompanied by freshly baked breads and wine. Popular foods in France include chicken in a red wine sauce, known as Coq au vin and sea scallops cooked in butter, or Coquilles Saint-Jacques. The food that is actually on the menu can also be quite diverse and vary according to the region of the country in which you are located.
People in France are courteous and very formal. People in the country are also known for being chic, taking great pride in their personal appearance and clothing. Some countries view France as an arrogant country because of these characteristics, although those in the country attribute this to simply being fashionable and cautious of the appearance.
France is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in western Europe, as well as several overseas regions and territories.[XIII] The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) which, as of October 2017, has a population of 67.15 million people. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban centres include Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Nice, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, and held the region until 486, when the Germanic Franks conquered the region and formed the Kingdom of France. France emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453). During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would be the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, and saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.
In the 19th century Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire, whose subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allied Powers in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and typically retained close economic and military connections with France.
France has long been a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts Europe's third-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually, the most of any country in the world. France is a developed country with the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, and human development. France remains a great power in the world, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone. It is also a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie.
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