There really is something for everyone in France, something
that will delight and enthrall each visitor, whether they come in search of
good food and fine wines, or simply to enjoy a relaxing holiday on golden-sand
beaches (with or without your clothes).
Here you can absorb the culture and outstanding
architectural heritage, from amazing chateaux to World Heritage Sites, from
beautiful villages where a game of boules is about as energetic as it gets, to
the vibrant scenes of Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg...and many more.
For those with energy to burn the winters offer excellent
skiing and hard mountain climbs, while the warm breezes of summer are perfect
for rambling, cycling, horse riding and the tendencies of those who like to
launch themselves into the air attached to little more than an over-sized item
of ladies' underclothing...they call it parapente.
With such a large country, the geology is diverse, and that
means constantly changing countryside as you pass through, from the
agricultural plains of the north to the river- and volcano-fashioned landscapes
farther south, and the high mountains – the Alps and the Pyrenees – that frame
the country east and south.
Whatever your desires, there is a good chance they will be
satisfied in France. Bienvenue!
Ttraditionally, the country has been divided into 22 administrative regions: Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse,
Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrénées, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charente, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, Rhone-Alpes.
In 2014, however, the French Parliament (the National Assembly and
the Senate) passed a law that reduced the number of regions in Metropolitan
France from 22 to 13. The new regions took effect on 1 January 2016.
Each region is divided into départements, with a total of
96. There are 38,851 cities, towns and villages, across a land area of 551,695
sq km. The highest point is Mont Blanc (4,810m/15,780 feet), and the coastline
is 5,500km (3,438 miles) long.
- Mont Blanc (Alps)
- La Barre des
Écrins (Alps) 4,102m
- Pic d'Aneto
- Crêt de la Neige
- Puy de Sancy
(Massif Central) 1,885m
- Plomb du Cantal
(Massif Central) 1,855m
- Ballon de
Guebwiller (Vosges) 1,424m
- The Loire runs for 1,020km from its source on Mont
Gerbier-de-Jonc in Ardèche, at an altitude of 1,408m
- The Seine (776km) rises on the plateau de Langres in Côte
d'Or, at an altitude of 471m
- The Garonne (575m, of which 524km are in France) has its
source in Spain in the massif de la Maladeta
- The Rhône (812km, of which 522km is in France) rises in the
massif du Saint-Gothard in Switzerland
New regions from 2016
Until 2 January 2002, the currency was the Franc. It has since changed to European currency, and now the Euro is the legal tender. 1 Euro (€) = 100 Euro centimes.
On January 1, 2012 there were 65.35 million people in the country, with more of them living for longer, and more of them being over 65 years old.
Some political stuff
The country is a republic with a written constitution (5th Republic).
The President is François Hollande (who has a 5-year mandate, from 2012).
The Prime Minister is Bernard Cazeneuve.
France is a secular republic, although about two-thirds of the population say they are Catholic, and only 2% Protestant. But fewer than 10% of the Catholics are regular church-goers, and the incidence of those admitting to being atheist or agnostic is on the increase.
schooling starts at six years in France, although in reality little children
are learning from four years old
school uniform in French schools
emphasis in France on the core subjects, i.e. French and Maths, and less time
given to imaginative/creative subjects (story-writing, drama) in primary
school, but paradoxically more time given to learning poems and texts by heart
a year is more common in France, should the child be consistently
headmaster or headmistress in French schools – teachers are answerable direct
to the regional education authority and a teacher is designated ‘director’ for
administrative tasks each year. Secondary schools have a non-teaching,
full-time director at the helm
packed lunch in most French schools – it’s either the canteen or home for lunch
celebration of religious festivals, so no nativity play: schools are strictly
secular except for the private Catholic schools
still operates what is effectively a primary, middle and upper school system,
with pupils entering secondary middle school (collège) aged 11, before going to
sixth-form college or high school (lycée) at 15 years old
must take out annual insurance – called assurance scolaire – for their children
attending school in France, but on the upside, parents receive an annual
allowance per child for the ‘rentrée’ to help pay for school essentials
education is far less prevalent in France – Catholic schools are deemed
‘private’, but teachers are paid by the state as in secular schools, and fees
are around €100 per term. there is also a relatively small network of high
fee-paying private schools