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France

Visa Requirements:

Schengen Visa

Languages Spoken:

French

Currency Used:

Euro

General Information

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in western Europe, as well as several overseas regions and territories.[XIII] The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (5 of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) which, as of October 2017, has a population of 67.15 million people.

France is a highly urbanized country, with its largest cities (in terms of metropolitan area population in 2013 being Paris (12,405,426 inhabitants), Lyon (2,237,676), Marseille (1,734,277), Toulouse (1,291,517), Bordeaux (1,178,335), Lille (1,175,828), Nice (1,004,826), Nantes (908,815), Strasbourg (773,447) and Rennes (700,675).

Fashion has been an important industry and cultural export of France since the 17th century, and modern "haute couture" originated in Paris in the 1860s. Today, Paris, along with London, Milan, and New York City, is considered one of the world's fashion capitals, and the city is home or headquarters to many of the premier fashion houses. The expression Haute couture is, in France, a legally protected name, guaranteeing certain quality standards.

French cuisine is renowned for being one of the finest in the world. French cuisine is also regarded as a key element of the quality of life and the attractiveness, and France's most renowned products are wines, including Champagne, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, and Beaujolais as well as a large variety of different cheeses, such as Camembert, Roquefort and Brie. There are more than 400 different varieties.

France

Places To Go

With its outstanding history, culture, architecture, museums, castles, gastronomy, iconic landmarks and landscapes, France has long been the world’s most visited country with over 80 million arrivals every year. The French “Art de vivre” (quality of life) has seduced tourists from over the world who come to France to eat croissants in boulangeries, shop its high-end fashion stores and drink a coffee on a Parisian terrace. Its coasts and mountains also offer a lot of outdoor activities and adventures throughout the year.

Paris

France's capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its café culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

Nice

Capital of the Alpes-Maritimes department on the French Riviera, sits on the pebbly shores of the Baie des Anges. Founded by the Greeks and later a retreat for 19th-century European elite, the city has also long attracted artists. Former resident Henri Matisse is honored with a career-spanning collection of paintings at Musée Matisse. Musée Marc Chagall features some of its namesake's major religious works.

The French Riviera (or Côte d'Azur)

The French Rivera is the Mediterranean coast of southeastern France. It includes famously glamorous beach resorts such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes, and the independent microstate of Monaco. A health retreat in the 18th century, the area later attracted aristocrats, artists and the 1960s "jet set." Today it’s an established holiday destination, with paths connecting many coastal villages and towns.

Marseille

A port city in southern France, has been a crossroads of immigration and trade since its founding by the Greeks circa 600 B.C. At its heart is the Vieux-Port (Old Port), where fishmongers sell their catch along the boat-lined quay. Basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde is a Romanesque-Byzantine church. Modern landmarks include Le Corbusier’s influential Cité Radieuse complex and Zaha Hadid’s CMA CGM Tower.

Lyon

The capital city in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, sits at the junction of the Rhône and Saône rivers. Its center reflects 2,000 years of history from the Roman Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules, medieval and Renaissance architecture in Vieux (Old) Lyon, to the modern Confluence district on Presqu'île peninsula. Traboules, covered passageways between buildings, connect Vieux Lyon and La Croix-Rousse hill.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Usually shortened to Chamonix is a resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. At the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps, it's renowned for its skiing. Year-round, cable cars take visitors up to several nearby peaks with panoramic views, including Aiguille du Midi above town, and Pointe Helbronner, across vast glacier fields on the Italian border.

Tours

A university town between France's Cher and Loire rivers. Once a Gallic-Roman settlement, today it's a university town and a traditional gateway for exploring the chateaux of the Loire Valley region. Major landmarks include the cathedral, Saint-Gatien, whose flamboyant Gothic façade is flanked by towers with 12th-century bases and Renaissance tops.

Strasbourg

The capital city of the Grand Est region, formerly Alsace, in northeastern France. It's also the formal seat of the European Parliament and sits near the German border, with culture and architecture blending German and French influences. Its Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame features daily shows from its astronomical clock and sweeping views of the Rhine River from partway up its 142m spire.

Bordeaux

Hub of the famed wine-growing region, is a port city on the Garonne River in southwestern France. It’s known for its Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, 18th- to 19th-century mansions and notable art museums such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux. Public gardens line the curving river quays. The grand Place de la Bourse, centered on the Three Graces fountain, overlooks the Miroir d’Eau reflecting pool.

France

Climate

Most of the low-lying areas of metropolitan France excluding Corsica are located in the oceanic climate zone. A small part of the territory bordering the Mediterranean basin lies in the Csa and Csb zones. As the French metropolitan territory is relatively large, the climate is not uniform, giving rise to the following climate nuances:

The west of France has strictly oceanic climate – it extends from Flanders to the Basque Country in a coastal strip several tens of kilometers wide, narrower to the north and south but wider in Brittany, which is almost entirely in this climate zone. The climate of the South is also oceanic but warmer. The climate of the Northwest is oceanic but cooler and windier.

Away from the coast, the climate is oceanic throughout but its characteristics change somewhat. The Paris sedimentary basin and, more so, the basins protected by mountain chains show a stronger seasonal temperature variability and less rainfall during autumn and winter. Therefore, most of the territory has a semi-oceanic climate and forms a transition zone between strictly oceanic climate near the coasts and the Semi-continental climate of the north and center-east (Alsace, plains of the Saône, the middle part of the Rhône, Dauphiné, Auvergne and Savoy).
The Mediterranean and the lower Rhône valley experience a Mediterranean climate due to the effect of mountain chains isolating them from the rest of the country and the resulting Mistral and Tramontane winds.

The mountain (or alpine) climate is confined to the Alps, the Pyrenees and the summits of the Massif Central, the Jura and the Vosges.

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France

Safety Tips

Traveling in France is generally safe: it is ranked 58th out of 162 on the safest and most dangerous countries ranking. Burglary and property crime is a serious problem, but violent crime is rare; the main threats facing travelers are pickpockets, bag snatchers and scam artists.

Terrorism

Recent terrorist attacks and threats have occurred in France (and other countries such as Denmark or Belgium); and while tourists should raise their level of caution, the police presence has been greatly increased in large cities to deter further attacks. While very few tourists have been victims of these attacks, the terrorist threat is reflected in the safety ranking.

Street Crime

Be especially vigilant for bag and phone thieves at transport hubs like train stations, airports, restaurants, outdoor cafes, beaches and on public transport. Car-jacking and mugging when cars are stopped at red lights is sometimes a problem, especially in Marseille and Nice. Its it best to lock your car doors and roll up the windows when in these cities.

Touristic Areas

Protect your personal belongings at all times, especially your ID and passport. Petty crime, like bag snatching and pick pocketing, is a serious problem around touristic areas and on public transport.

For any emergency, call the free European-wide number 112

Risk Ratings

OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
France is an overall safe country with some more risks in certain urban areas. It is ranked 58th out of 162 on the safest and most dangerous countries ranking.

PICKPOCKETS RISK: HIGH
As a top tourist destination, pickpocketing is the major risk for tourists in France. A few simple precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

MUGGING RISK: HIGH
France is a safe country regarding risks of mugging and kidnapping, although some areas are best to be avoided at night.

SCAMS RISK: HIGH
There are a lot of scammers and con-artists trying to take advantage of tourists, particularly in large cities such as Paris or Marseilles and around major landmarks. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.

TRANSPORT AND TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
They often are pickpockets in the Parisian subway, and taxis are for the most part the safest transportation method.

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
There is very little risk regarding natural disasters in France, other than avalanches which can be a significant threat when skiing in the Alps.

TERRORISM RISK: HIGH
Recent terrorist attacks and threats have occurred in France (and other countries such as Denmark or Belgium), and France is still a target.

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
France is generally very safe for women travelers.