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France Facts

France

France is the largest country in Europe and the most popular destination for tourists. The French people are proud of everything about their country including their heritage, their culture and their food.

The French people love to speak their language and keep their traditions. The official name of France is the French Republic.

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Quick Facts

Capital: Paris

Population: 67,25 million

Key Cities: Lyon, Nice, Marseilles

Official Language: French

Major religions: Roman Catholic

Geography

Bordering countries: Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg

Size: 210 000 sq. miles

Lowest Point: Rhone River Delta -2m

Highest Point: Mt. Blanc 4808.7m (15,777ft)

france-map

France is a large European country, sometimes known at ‘The Hexagon’ because it has six geographical sides. Three sides bordered the sea and three inland sides.

France shares her border with Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg. The Pyrenees mountains make a natural border between France and Spain.

There are twenty-seven different regions in France and the country includes the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean.

The country has access to the sea from the Mediterranean to the English Channel and the North Sea as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

France has the joy of mountains in the Alps and the Pyrenees. The beauty of the sea and holiday beaches like the French Rivera. France has a very long river called the Loire. You will find fertile planes and forests too.

France is interested in preserving natural open spaces and 10% of the country is dedicated to open space for wildlife.

History

The French History began with a warrior tribe of people known as the Gauls. Rome and the Romans conquered the Gauls and they were followed by the Franks from Germany. The Franks called this country France.

France was a major power in Europe in the Middle Ages and the French built a global empire. During the Renaissance years, French culture was important to the nation.

When Louis XVI came into power France was ready for a change. The common people were growing tired of being taxed and seeing the rich lords and ladies living a grand life.

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Many beautiful palaces were built at that time. The country was the most powerful in Europe. France was involved in different wars to keep hold of their power, but the people were unhappy.

The French revolutionaries overthrew the king and stormed the Bastille, the state prison, in Paris. There was a lot of bloodshed and the King Louis VXI was beheaded as well as his wife the queen, Marie Antoinette.

This changed the course of history for France and established the first Republic of France.

In the nineteenth Century Napoleon, an amazing general and commander of the French army, came into power. He led the country into many battles and made France even stronger.

Napoleon became the Emperor. His time as Emperor ended after he lost the Battle of Waterloo. He was sent to the island of Elba and finally to St Helena to be sure he would not escape. He died on the island.

France joined other countries called allies to fight in the First World War and they were victorious. When the second World War started France was occupied by Germany until the country was liberated in 1944.

The fourth Republic was started at this stage and then Charles de Gaulle formed the fifth Republic in 1958. That is the Republic that remains today.

Economy

The French economy is  very stable and attracts many investors. The French are one of the world’s largest exporters of luxury products with famous names in the fashion world like Cartier, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.

These companies are worth billions.

France exports machinery, aircraft, chemicals, iron and steel, Electronics, vehicles and pharmaceuticals. That is an impressive line-up of exports.

arms-industry

France is a world leader in launching space satellites. They are a high-flying economy, but still produce products from ground level, like their beautiful cheeses.

Culture

The French culture is part of their identity and they pride themselves on having an abundance of cultural activities. The French cuisine is always a highlight to visitors and restaurants serve speciality dishes like snails, escargot.

If you are in France you will have to visit a boulangerie, the French word for bakery. You could learn many French words through knowing their food.

french-food

The culture of the French can be seen all around the cities in the art galleries, castles and museums. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomph and the Palace of Versailles are just a few of the main attractions where you can see French art, décor and culture.

The French are very keen on sports and they often win at rugby and soccer, but are most famous for the Tour de France, a very well-known cycling race, that goes round France over twenty-three days.

The French have some interesting holidays. Bastille Day is a celebration of the French Revolution on the 14th July. They have a public holiday for Armistice day, Labour day, and Victory Day.

There are many religious holidays too, including Easter and Christmas Day.

April Fool’s Day is celebrated with the traditional ‘Poison d’Avril, the April fish. The joke is to see who you can fool by sticking a funny fish on their back. The funny fish joke may last all day if the person does not notice.

Famous People

Gustave Eiffel built the Eiffel Tower that France is so famous for, and he helped to design the Statue of Liberty in America.

gustave-eiffel

Several famous composers came from France, Maurice Ravel who composed Bolero and George Bizet the composer of Carmen, a famous opera.

The French artists Claude Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cezanne have made France famous because of their paintings.

Alexander Dumas was famous for writing the Three Musketeers. This quote ‘all for one and one for all’ is a well -known line from the story.

Fun Facts

The French army was the first to use camouflage. The name camouflage comes from the French word ‘camofleurs.’

The special alphabet used for the blind was invented by a French man called Louis Braille who was blind as a child.

The Montgolfier brothers were the first to launch a hot air balloon in France.

The Louvre Museum in Paris is the most visited museum in the world. French culture and tourist attractions make it a popular holiday destination – ‘très bien’ the French would say!