information for France
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in a nutshell
France is a modern European state
a republic, and
is one of the world's top
six economies. The French head of state is the President,
currently François Hollande, elected by universal suffrage (►
: the president governs through a Council of Ministers and a parliament
made up of two chambers, the National Assembly (lower house) and the
Senate (upper house).
Metropolitan France (France in Europe) has a population of slightly
over 62 million, a little more than that of the United Kingdom. For
more key data see facts and
with a surface area of 547,030 km², or 211,209 sq. miles,
France is twice the size of the UK, and slightly smaller than the state
of Texas. It is the biggest nation in western Europe.. France has land
borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain
and Andorra. It is also bordered by the North Sea, the English Channel,
the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. See coasts
and the nation's largest city is Paris.
Apart from Paris by far the largest urban area in France, other major
cities are Lyon, Marseille, Lille and
Toulouse. For city populations
and more details see French
city ranking tables.
Metropolitan France (France in Europe) is divided, administratively,
into 13 regions, and 96
counties, known as departments. See maps
of France. The number of regions was reduced from
22 to 13 on 1st January 2016.
The official language
though regional languages such as Breton and Alsacian are making a
One of the oldest nations in Europe, France - which the Romans called
Gaul - is also a country with a very rich cultural and environmental
There is no official religion in France; France is a secular republic.
However about about half of French people say they are Catholics,
and 2% Protestants. Less than 10% of French Catholics are regular
church-goers. Some 3% to 4% of the French population are Muslims. There
in all French towns and most villages. More information: Religion in France
France's currency is the Euro, and most garages, hotels and shops in France
accept credit cards, though may not always accept swipe cards without a
microchip. Click here for advice
about currency exchange.
The cost of living
in France is fairly similar to neighbouring countries, though some
things (like supermarket food) may be more expensive. Staying in Paris can be expensive - as can
staying on the Riviera, particularly during the peak tourist periods.
On the other hand, fruit, wine, travel, hotels and restaurants tend to
be cheaper than they are in the United Kingdom, particularly in rural
areas, and there are plenty of ways of avoiding tourist traps.
in France is quite varied, but generally west European - on the whole a
bit warmer than the UK, a bit cooler than Spain . Don't expect to find
summer in winter in the South of France!
Food and drink
- Bread and wine
In spite of the great variety of food
and cuisine to be found in France, some things like the "baguette"
the famous French bread stick, change little from one region to
another; you'll find baguettes of all qualities in all regions, varying
from the absolutely delicious, to the hard and tasteless. Yet a fresh
baguette, coming warm from a traditional bakery, is surely one of the
most delicious forms of bread to be found anywhere in the world! There
are many different types of
but tasty baguettes can be bought all over France, and a trip to the
local "boulangerie" is often one of the daily highlights of a holiday
in France. But do not confuse the "boulangerie" with the bread-counter
in a supermarket! Indeed, the pre-frozen "fresh-baked" bread counters
in supermarkets are not even allowed, by law, to call themselves "boulangeries".
Then there's wine.
France is one of the world's great wine producing countries, and a
country with a vast range of wines, from heavy Mediterranean reds to
light fruity sparkling whites, via less well known varieties including
"grey wine" (vin gris) and "yellow wine" (vin jaune). The
About-France.com French wines
pages are there
to help you learn about the wines of France; Bordeaux, Burgundy and
Champagne are just the tip of the iceberg; our wine guide takes you
through these and all the other wine regions of France.
a trip to France:
France is one of the world's leading tourist destinations. If you have
all the time in the world, you may not need to plan your holiday in
France, you can just wander along at your own leisurely pace, and it
will be a wonderful and varied experience. Whether you plan to drive or
fly to France, you may find it useful to check out our words of warning
tips on booking
your travel to France.
About-France.com provides information to help you choose a destination, or travel through France, check
through France, discover the things to visit in
France and its regions, hire
a car, find a place to stay, for example a holiday cottage, or a
place to study French, and
much more. There's even a page on medical
cover for your stay in France, and what to do if you get
taken ill or have an accident, as well as some advice and information
for people interested in buying
property in France.
City-breaks and short trips: Paris
is Paris ... Staying in Paris for a couple of nights is a great way to
discover France for the first time... or the second, or the third...
Paris is a city that people easily fall in love with, and with
city-centre to city-centre transport from Brussels or London, thanks to
Paris is just a short train ride away, and a real break; it has masses
of opportunities for cultural tourism, with some of the world's finest museums and monuments;
it is one of the world's great shopping
cities, and also arguably the finest city in Europe, a place where you
can easily spend days just walking around, savouring the atmosphere,
enjoying the life. But don't be caught out by France's closing hours and public holidays.
About-France.com provides information on Paris tourist
attractions including things to do for free, Paris visitor passes and tips on
how to save money during your stay. And staying in a hotel
in Paris for a couple of nights won't break the bank But, as they say
in the rest of France, Paris is Paris, it is not the whole of France.
So what about the rest of France?
rest of France - summer or winter - a wealth of experiences to choose
The largest country in Western Europe, France is also the most varied
in terms of scenery and climate. From Brittany to Provence, the
, the Loire Valley,
or the Alps, Burgundy
to the Languedoc
and the Pyrenees, each region is special, each is a holiday in itself.
It is also a country with over 2000 miles of beaches and seashores,
plenty of space for even the most demanding of holidaymakers! So what
are you waiting for?
CLOSED TODAY .........
Foreign visitors in France are sometimes surprised to find themselves
faced with closed doors, on reaching a museum or a famous monument. So
it is not a bad idea, before visiting France, to learn what is closed
in France, and when? On Sundays, public holidays and holiday periods in
general, shops, museums, businesses and public services may be closed.
Museums are often closed on Tuesdays. See the About-France.com guide to
holidays, Sundays and other holidays for more information.
contact About-France.com, use the form
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