France facts. It is the first destination for tourists in the world. It has it all : medieval cities and castles, Mediterranean beaches, alpine villages. Paris, its capital, is famed for fashion, art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. The country is renowned for its wines and cuisine. France is the world's fifth economic power. Visit France.
France is the largest country of Western Europe with 550 000 km2 and the second country in population behind Germany with 65 millions inhabitants. Since 508 A.D, Paris is the capital of France. Paris facts.
Paris has 2.275 million inhabitants (last census in 2011). She is the core of Grand Paris Metropolitan Area (7,2 million inhabitants) and Ile de France region (11.9 million people).
Paris is a dynamic city with 325 000 students studying at the Sorbonne and other educational institutions, 140 theaters, 100 nightclubs, 96 cabarets, 90 cinemas, 3 opera houses and 62 000 shops. There are 6 million jobs in the Ile de France region for a GDP of 612 billion euros (83% in services), the largest of any European region.
The victory of Rome in 52 BC (picture) over the Gauls started an era of prosperity until the 5th century AD. The Pont du Gard Roman Aqueduct (picture) and Arles Amphitheater (picture) are spectacular roman monuments in France.
The baptism of Clovis (picture) in 496 started a long era of alliance between the catholic church and the Kings until France became the most powerful Kingdom of christian Europe in the 13th century. Mont Saint Michel, Chartres and Sainte Chapelle are religious monuments of this time.
Its economy and population were the first in Europe until England and Germany gradually took over in the 19th century. The famous French revolution of 1789 and Napoleon's wars until 1815 had exhausted France with around 5 million French and European casualties.
Famous places in France include Paris, Versailles Palace, Mont Saint Michel, the Loire Castles, the Champagne wine country, the Bordeaux wine country, Nice and Lourdes.
In the 19th century, France developed the second empire in the world, mostly in Africa and Indochina (map).
In 2013, 83 million tourists from foreign countries visited France, the first tourist destination in the world ahead of the USA (67 million) and Spain (60 million). Tourism accounted for 7.3% of French GDP in 2013.
Each year, 44 million tourists visit Paris and the surrounding Ile de France region. Paris is the most visited city in the world. Lourdes, Mont Saint Michel and Loire Castles are among the most visited cultural and religious sights outside of Paris. Ski resorts in the Alps, seaside resorts on the French Riviera and in Brittany are quite popular.
Population: 65 million (July 2011 estimate)
Area of Metropolitan France: 212,935 square miles (550 000 km2)
Coastline: 2,129 miles (3,427 km)
Highest Point: Mont Blanc at 15,771 feet (4,807 m)
Time Zone: Central European Time (CET)
Coastal, continental, mountainous or Mediterranean, the climate in France is temperate. France enjoys mild temperatures throughout the year with a plentiful mix of rainfall and sunshine. In winter , there is plenty of snow in mountainous areas. More rarely, snow falls on the plains, mainly north of the Loire, and extremely rarely in Paris. In spring, temperatures quickly rise above 20 degrees C in the south. The days lengthen. Summers are hot, the sun shining across the country. Autumn marks the return of the rain. The weather turns cooler as Christmas approaches.
France has the world's fifth largest economy. It has the second largest economy in Europe (behind its main economic partner Germany), based on the dynamic industrial structure of the French economy.
With 31 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in 2013, France ranks 5th in the Fortune Global 500, behind the USA, China, Japan and the UK. Paris is the second most important location in the world for the headquarters of the world's 500 largest companies.
Tourism, luxury products (Dior, Vuitton, Chanel), aeronautics (Airbus, Ariane, Dassault, Safran), services (banking, insurance), agriculture products (Cognac, Champagne, Bordeaux, cheese, wheat, meat) are among the strongest sectors of the diversified French economy.
Good infrastructures (nuclear energy, trains, roads, hospitals), a skilled workforce, a good geographical position are among the key assets of the French economy. High taxes and the sometimes bureaucratic environment are mentioned on the minus side.