Bonjour! When we think of France, we think of Madeline, croissants, Louboutins, the Eiffel tower, escargot and Louis Vuitton luggage. But did you know that this leg of Europe is one that is filled to the brink with political intrigue and culture? As a matter of fact there is really more to France than meets the eye. Here are a few facts about France you may have never heard before. Oh, and if you are planning a visit to France sometime soon or just love French culture, here is a course called Speak French which could help blend you in with the locals the moment you land on Parisian soil.
One of Europe’s Oldest
France is one of the oldest countries in the European continent. It is an independent country found in Western Europe and happens to be one of the few countries in the world that have both the Atlantic and Mediterranean as part of its coastlines. It is part of the group of European countries called the European Union that happen to share the same currency called the Euro as well as open trade with each other.
And Now the Numbers
France has a population of about sixty seven million people and because of this, is one of the most populated countries in the whole of Europe. When it comes to its size, it comes third in the whole of Europe, but is the largest country in the European Union. France is not only limited to its location within Europe as it includes in its territory the French Guiana. The French Guiana includes Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion, and Mayotte. In the European continent, France is bordered by Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, Spain, and Belgium. Not only does France make up a massive land area, it also has broad and wide river systems like the famous river Seine, the Loire, the Garonne, and the river Rhone. Its land area including its territories abroad totals to about 674,000 square kilometers. Traveling to France by air is made easy as it has a couple of international airports with hundreds of flights coming in from different parts of the world. Getting into France can also be done by car, train, or bus, from its neighboring European countries. Planning a trip? Here is a course on French conversation for beginners to help get you started.
Different Climates, One Country
France is a big country covering different areas that reaches all the way up to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Naturally, unlike other countries, its climates are not the same in all its different parts. This makes for a unique experience in this country of diverse climates making travel in France really on a world of its own. With the differences in climate, it is normal to expect varying cultures as well. This includes different products, different cuisine, and different sights to experience in every corner of France. Expect a mild Mediterranean climate in the Southern Part. For example, the areas of Provence have a lush Mediterranean vegetation and landscape. Here you may enjoy the scent of herbs such as lavender wafting through the air. In Burgundy, in the Cote de Nuits, expect to see vineyards turning out great wines. In sharp contrast, if you are in the area of the French Alps, be sure to bring warm clothes for you to bundle up as it may get extremely cold. One of the territories of France includes the island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Here it is time to put on lighter clothes and sandals as it has a very tropical climate under the sun. Other examples include Corsica with its dry climate and an oceanic climate in France’s Arcachon Bay. In the capital called Paris, expect the four seasons just like in other major European cities. Prepare for extremes in weather depending on what time of the year you travel to France.
Truly a Melting Pot
With a massive land area including territories abroad, France is not only an important player for trade and business in the whole world, but it is also a very influential country especially with is highly developed workforce, a prosperous economy, wonderful tourism, and a vibrant culture of arts and music. France has become a melting pot of different people with different ethnic backgrounds who have made France their home. It is not uncommon to see people of different races walking in the streets of Paris or in other more remote towns and cities as people from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, America, and from other European countries have started migration to this country early on. Again, the country is populated by about 67 million people, with about 2.2 million people living in Paris. Having a very rich French and European culture, expect Asian, American, African, and other ethnic influences among the French as well. This goes out to all aspects of life in France like food, music, attitudes, and behaviors of the populace. Putting all of this together, this makes for France as a major force in the world pushing its power and might.
And Now Some History
France has a very long history which has helped shaped the way things are in the world now. French history has become a major influence in the histories of other European countries, and other countries in the world as well. To give a glimpse of how old the country is, it was in the period as early as 700 to 500 B.C. that the Celtic Gauls came to this land. In 58 to 50 B.C. up until 467 A.D., it became a part of the Roman Empire under the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar when he overthrew the Gauls. From then on, the country has been ruled by Kings up until 1789 when it became a Republic after the famous French Revolution. From then on up until now, France has built itself up as a major political and economic power in the world.
France is a beautiful country and makes for a wonderful and worthwhile visit. There are so many things you can do in France but it is important not to miss out on some. While in Paris, visit the Eiffel Tower which symbolizes the city and the whole of France as well. Visit also the Notre Dame which is one of the older structures in the City. The Louvre is famous worldwide as it houses a vast collection of art pieces from the different periods and artists in the art period. More often than not, the most visited piece of art in the Louvre will be the famous painting called the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Take a walk around the city and visit the Montmarte, the Arc de Triomphe, and the banks of the river Seine to get a feel of what Paris is all about apart from the wining and dining of which the city is famous for. Again, go to Provence to visit some historic towns and to envelope yourself in the fields of lavender. The island of Corsica boasts of fresh seafood and excellent dining with the Mediterranean Sea as your backdrop.
Yearning to order from a French café in their language? Here is a course on conversational French that could get you started. For a bit of an adventure, visit the Lascaux Caves which showcases rock paintings that are about 17000 years old and also do not miss the French Alps to experience the thrill of skiing and snowboarding. Here is an article called Learning French Online: Speaking, Reading and Vocabulary that might help you become familiar with French vocabulary which you may need when you do visit.
Good to Know
Here are a few other facts about France:
- Worth an experience being in the country during the Tour de France. This is considered as the world’s most famous bicycling race and dates all the way back to 1903.
- France is the most visited country in the world.
- In the capital Paris, there is only one stop sign.
- Beer is a luxury for most of the French, but wine usually comes free with most meals.
- Stilts were invented in France by farmers who needed to navigate deep marshes.
- France is home to the TGV Train which is considered the fastest train in the world.
- The Louvre is actually the world’s largest castle or palace.
- France makes more than 300 kinds of cheeses.
- The Charles de Gaulle International in Paris is Europe’s busiest airport.
Now Some Facts about the French Themselves
The French people happen to greet each other by cheek-kissing especially among friends and family and even among men. The number of kisses on the cheek varies by region, such as five kisses simultaneously in Corsica, four in the North and in Paris and just on in Brittany’s tip. In the EU, men from France have the lowest obesity incidence with the women coming second after Denmark. Oh and did I mention they speak French? Speaking of which, here is a course on beginner French that may get you speaking like a local in less time than it takes to say, “Cafe Au Lait S’ill Vous Plait!”