France is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting countries not only in Europe but throughout the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that about 80 million tourists visit France every year, who are interested in local attractions, beach resorts on the Cote d’Azur, as well as upscale ski resorts. For each of these tourists, France is not only an “eternally cute image”, as the Russian poet Nikolai Gumilyov thought about this country, but also an amazing vacation.
Geography of France
France is located in Western Europe. To the north, the English Channel (“English Channel”) separates France from Great Britain. France borders Spain and Andorra in the southwest, Switzerland and Italy in the southeast, and Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium in the northeast. In the West, the coast of France is washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the south by the Mediterranean Sea.
France also includes 5 overseas territories (the islands of Guadeloupe, Mayotte, Martinique, Reunion, and Guiana in South America), as well as overseas communities (St. Barthelemy, St. Maarten, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia ), and overseas territories with special status (Clipperton, New Caledonia and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories).
The total area of France in Europe is 547,030 sq. km., including the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. If we take into account the French overseas territories, then the area of France is 674,843 square kilometers.
France’s landscape is very diverse, ranging from the coastal plains in the north and west, to the Alps in the southeast, the Massif Central, and the Pyrenees in the southwest. The highest peak in France is Mont Blanc in the Alps (4810 m).
Several large (Seine, Loire, Garron and Rhone) and hundreds of small rivers flow through France.
Approximately 27% of the territory of France is occupied by forests.
According to itypejob.com, the capital of France is Paris, which is now home to more than 2.3 million people. According to archaeological finds, on the site of modern Paris, a settlement of people (Celts) existed already in the 3rd century BC.
The official language in France is French, which belongs to the Romance group of the Indo-European language family.
About 65% of the population of France are Catholics, adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. However, only about 4.5% of French Catholics go to church every week (or more often).
In addition, about 4% of the French population are Muslims, and 3% are Protestants.
State structure of France
According to computerminus.com, France is a parliamentary republic in which the head of state is the President.
The President is elected by direct universal suffrage for a term of 5 years.
The source of legislative power is the bicameral Parliament, consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate. The legislative powers of the Senate are limited, and the National Assembly has the final vote.
The main political parties in France are the Socialist Party and the Union for a Popular Movement.
Climate and weather
In general, the climate of France can be divided into three main climatic zones:
- Oceanic climate in the west;
- Mediterranean climate in the south and southeast (Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and the island of Corsica);
- Continental climate in the central regions of the country and in the east.
In the southeast of France, in the Alps, the climate is alpine. Winter in the mountains of France, including the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, is cold, often with heavy snowfalls.
Average air temperature in Paris:
- January – +3С
- February – +5С
- March – +9C
- April – +10С
- May – +15C
- June – +18С
- July – +19C
- August – +19C
- september – +17C
- october – +13С
- November – +7С
- December – +5C
Seas and oceans
The coast of France is washed by the Mediterranean Sea in the south, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
The average temperature of the Mediterranean Sea near Nice (“Cote d’Azur”):
- January – +13С
- February – +12С
- March – +13С
- April – +14С
- May – +17С
- June – +20С
- July – +22C
- August – +22С
- september – +21C
- october – +18C
- November – +15С
- december – +14C
Rivers and lakes
On the European territory of France, there are 119 rivers that flow into the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The largest rivers in France are the Seine, Loire, Garron and Rhone.
Lakes in France are not very large, but very beautiful. The largest of them are Bourget, Egblett and Annecy.
History of France
People on the territory of modern France appeared 10 thousand years ago. Around the VI century BC. on the Mediterranean coast of France, colonies of the Phoenicians and ancient Greeks were formed. Later, the territory of modern France was settled by Celtic tribes. In the era of Ancient Rome, France was called Gaul. In the middle of the 1st century BC. Most of Gaul was conquered by Gaius Julius Caesar.
In the 5th century AD the Frankish tribes invaded France, who formed their empire in the 8th century (this was done by Charlemagne, who took the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire).
In the X century, the Vikings began to raid the coast of France, gradually colonizing Normandy. From 987, the kings of France were from the Capetian family, and from 1328 – Valois.
During the Middle Ages, France waged constant wars with its neighbors, gradually expanding its territory. So, in 1337, the so-called. The “Hundred Years War” between France and England, as a result of which the British were expelled from French lands (only the port of Calais remained behind them). Joan of Arc became famous during the Hundred Years War.
In the middle of the 16th century, under the influence of the Protestant Reformation, the teachings of John Calvin began to spread in France, which led to a long-term civil war. The Edict of Nantes in 1598 granted French Protestants (Huguenots) equal rights with Catholics.
As a result of the French Revolution (1789-94), the monarchy was abolished in France and a republic was proclaimed. However, after some time, the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte was established in France. Under Napoleon Bonaparte, France extended its power over almost all European countries. In 1815, after the defeat at Waterloo, the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte was liquidated.
In the 20th century, France took an active part in all two world wars, suffering millions of human losses in them. After the Second World War in 1946-1958 in France there was a so-called. “Fourth Republic”, and in 1958, after the adoption of the Constitution, the “Fifth Republic” was established.
Now France is part of the NATO military bloc and is a member of the EU.
The history of France has many hundreds of years, and therefore the French, of course, have a very rich culture, which had a great influence on the cultures of other peoples.
Thanks to France, the world received a large number of brilliant writers, artists, philosophers and scientists:
- Literature (Pierre Beaumarchais, Alexandre Dumas père, Anatole France, Victor Hugo, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Anne Golon, Jules Verne, and Georges Simenon);
- Art (Jean-Antoine Watteau, Delacroix, Degas, and Jean Paul Cezanne);
- Philosophy (Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Comte, Henri Bergson, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre).
Every year France celebrates a wide variety of folk festivals and carnivals. The most popular carnival takes place every year in March, welcoming spring.
The French have always been proud of their art of cooking. Now French cuisine is considered the most diverse and sophisticated in the world.
Each region of France has its own special culinary tradition. So, in the north-west of the country in Brittany pancakes with cider are popular, in Alsace (near the border with Germany) they often make “la choucroute” (stewed cabbage with pieces of sausage), in the Loire Valley they eat a special dish of fish Lotte (monk fish), which is found only in the Loire River. Seafood dishes (mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp, squid) are very popular on the coast of France.
In some regions of France, exotic dishes are prepared for you and me – snails in garlic and oil, as well as frog legs in sauce.
France is famous for its wines. Winemaking in France dates back to around the 6th century BC. In the Middle Ages, French wines from Burgundy, Champagne and Bordeaux became known throughout Europe. Now wine is produced in almost every region of France.
Sights of France
A person who has been to France can probably talk for hours about its sights, because this country has a very rich history. The top ten attractions in France, in our opinion, include the following:
- Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 by French engineer Gustave Eiffel. More than 6 million people climb the Eiffel Tower every year.
- Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard in Provence. The Pont du Gard aqueduct, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built by the Romans in 19 AD. The aqueduct was used by the Romans as a system for transporting spring water to a nearby city. In the 19th century, the Pont du Gard aqueduct was restored.
- Castle of Mont Saint-Michel. Mont Saint-Michel Castle is located in the sea on a small island. It is connected to the mainland by a dam built in 1877. A fortress appeared on this island in the 12th century.
- Chenonceau castle in the Loire Valley. Chenonceau Castle is often called the “Ladies’ Castle” because its history is connected with the names of several famous women. Chenonceau was built in 1513. Diana de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici lived in it at different times.
- Medieval walled city of Carcassonne. The fortress of Carcassonne was built in the 13th century by King Louis IX. In the 19th century, the fortified city of Carcassonne was restored on the initiative of the famous French architect Viollet-le-Duc.
- Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims. The construction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Reims lasted about 100 years, and was completed in 1275. Until the 19th century, all the kings of France were crowned in this cathedral.
- Cathedral in Chartres. The cathedral in Chartres was built in 1020, but in 1194 it was destroyed by fire. It was restored in the 13th century. Now Chartres Cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world.
- Megalithic Karnak stones in Brittany. Archaeologists believe that the accumulation of stones in Brittany appeared around 4000 BC. It is assumed that this construction of stones was of a religious nature. However, some historians believe that the Karnak stones are an ancient astronomical calendar.
- Palace of Versailles. The Palace of Versailles was built in the 16th century for King Louis XIV. After the French Revolution, the Palace of Versailles became a museum.
- Palace Museum Louvre in Paris. The Louvre Palace Museum has been the residence of the French kings for several centuries. Now the Louvre is the most famous museum in the world, where more than 35 thousand paintings by great painters from around the world are stored.
Cities and resorts
The largest French cities are Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Lille.
France is washed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The total coastline of mainland France is 3,427 kilometers. On the southeastern coast of France (this is the Mediterranean Sea) is the famous “Côte d’Azur” (French Riviera), where tourists can relax in popular beach resorts. The most famous of them are Nice, Cannes, Saint-Tropez, Hyères, Ile-du-Levent, and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
In winter, hundreds of thousands of tourists come to France to ski in the local ski resorts.
Top 10 best French ski resorts:
- Brides-les-Bains (Bride Le Bains)
- Argentière (Argentière)
- Les Arcs (Les Arcs)
- Tignes (Tignes)
- Saint Martin de Belleville
- Paradiski (Paradiski)
- Courchevel (Courchevel)
- Alpe d’Huez
- Val d’Isère (Val d’Isère)
Tourists from France usually bring various souvenirs with the image of the Eiffel Tower. However, we advise you to buy scarves and ties, chocolate, coffee cups, lavender tea (made in Provence), Dijon mustard (there are 50 types of this mustard), French perfumes, French wine in France.
Mon-Fri: 10:00-17:00 (in Paris, banks open at 09:00 am)
Some banks are also open on Saturdays.
Shop opening hours:
Mon-Sat: from 09:00 to 19.00.
In big cities, shops are open until 22:00. Many supermarkets are open around the clock.
Ukrainians need a visa to enter France.
France to the European Union, and this means that the euro is used as currency in the territory of this country. All major payment cards are widely used in the country.
Tourists in France can import currency without restrictions, but the amount of 10 thousand euros must be included in the declaration. Customs regulations in France are the same as in other EU countries.
Useful phone numbers and addresses
Address of the French Embassy in Ukraine:
Index – 01034, Kiev, st. Reitarskaya, 39
Т: (044) 590-36-00
F: (044) 590-36-24
Email. address: [email protected]
Address of the Embassy of Ukraine in France:
France, Paris 75007, avenue de Saxe, 21 T: ( 10-331
) 43 06 07 37
F: (10-331) 43 06 02 94
address: [email protected]
All emergencies – 112
Ambulance – 15
Police – 17
Fire department – 18
The difference with time in Kyiv is -1 hour. Those. if in Paris, for example, it is 09:00 am, then in Kyiv it is 10:00 am.
In restaurants and bars in France, tips (at a rate of 15%) are already included in the bill. However, in expensive restaurants it is customary to leave a tip of 5% of the bill. In addition, in French restaurants and bars it is customary to round the bill up.
In hotels, it is customary to give maids an additional 1.5 euros per day. The same amount of tip is given to the porter. After the tour it is customary to give the guide 1.5-3 euros.
No special vaccinations are required to enter France, but health insurance for 30,000 euros is required.
Tourists in France are advised to take the usual precautions. Remember that pickpockets can “work” at train stations, airports, trains, subways, shopping centers, and on the beach.
If you are traveling in France by car, never leave valuables in it. It’s best to keep the windows of your car closed while you’re on the road so that criminals on motorcycles can’t steal anything.