Map of France
Humans have been living in France for an estimated 1.8 million years. There are many cave drawings in France from the Paleolithic era. The first colony in France was founded by Greeks in 600 BC in the modern city Marseille, then known as Massalia.
The spread of Gallic Celtic tribes in France occurred between the third and fifth century BC, when the borders of modern-day state map of France were mostly defined.
The Franks, a Germanic pagan tribe that gave France its name, settled in Gaul and took it over, dividing the region into four parts for the sons of Frankish King Clovis I. These kingdoms were later reunited by Charlemagne (Charles the Great).
France played a major role during the Crusades between 1095 and 1291.
From 1337 to 1453, the Hundred Years’ War was fought between France and England. Between the years 1648 and 1653, France witnessed a series of civil wars. Known as Fronde, these civil wars were fought in the midst of the Franco Spanish War, which began in 1635 and lasted till 1659.
During the period of European exploration, France established colonies in the New World. The Seven Years War (1756-1763) in the New World resulted in the loss of New France territories to Britain, under the rule of Louis XV. As a result, France was a major ally of American colonists seeking independence from Britain during the American Revolution, leading to the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
The French Revolution took place from around 1789 to 1799, culminating in the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, which ended France’s absolute monarchy and replaced it with a constitutional monarchy. The French Revolutionary wars began in 1792, the same year France became a republic. King Louis XVI was executed in 1793 for treason, as was his wife Marie Antoinette.
Napoleon Bonaparte took over the Republic in 1799, eventually becoming Emperor. The French empire led by Napoleon began conquering Europe, until his defeat in 1815.
During the nineteenth century, France became the second largest colonial power of all times, with colonies in North America, Southeast Asia, North, West & Central Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Islands. Many of these colonies are still part of the Republic of France. France was an integral part in both World War I and World War II, and was a founding member of NATO in 1949.
As shown in the map of France, it is the largest country in western Europe, bordering Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Spain, Monaco, and Andorra. The major bodies of water around France are the Mediterranean Sea, English Channel, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Rhine River as shown in the France Map. Other major geographic features of France as shown on the map of France are the Alps, the Pyrenees Mountains, and the Massif Central. France’s other five territories are considered part of the Republic of France.
Because France takes up a large area, the climate varies from one place to another. Areas closer to the Mediterranean have a Mediterranean climate, while the inland climate is typical continental, and the Alps have much more extreme temperatures.
France has been under the Fifth Republic’s constitution since September 28, 1958. The government is headed by a President, who is elected by the people and the Prime Minister, who in turn is appointed by the President. France has a parliament with a National Assembly and a Senate.
With effect from January 1, 2016, France is divided into 13 metropolitan regions, after its Parliament passed a law reforming the total number of regions. In addition, 5 regions of France are overseas, away from the main or metropolitan part of France. These five regions are French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion. France also has other overseas territories like French Polynesia that are considered collectivities.
Regions are administratively divided into 102 departments, then further into arrondissements (342), cantons and finally communes or municipalities. Paris, Lyon, and Marseille are three of the major communes in France which are also located on the map of France and these communes are divided into municipal arrondissements.
Travel to France
Paris, Normandy, the Rhone Valley, Provence, the Cote d’Azur, the Alps, Languedoc, the Pyrenees, Burgundy, the Loire, Brittany, Lorraine, and Alsace are counted among the most visited places in the country. Each region proudly boasts of its rich history, mind-blowing cuisine, festive revelries, and quintessential bistros & brasseries. A vacation to France is an unsaid promise of a lifetime of memories, excellent learning, and unbridled fun.
Eiffel Tower, which is situated in Paris of course, is the prime attraction of the country and is marked on the France Map. However, Bastille Day celebrations, too, attract tourists from all over the globe in legions. France is also the place where wine connoisseurs turn up to indulge in the delirious wine right from the breweries. For architects and historians, Châteaux of the Loire Valley is their favorite spot to look into the advanced engineering techniques in old France. Plus, the French Revolution, World Wars, and the history of crusades add the necessary layer of shine to the charm of France.
There are various travel opportunities as well in France. From wine tasting to beach holidays, from romantic honeymoons to religious pilgrimages, from art & culture travel to ecotourism and from business travel to natural expeditions, France ranks first in every aspect.
For getting around Paris, Paris Métro is considered the best transport service. Other viable options are RER suburban trains, the tram, and the bus. Those looking for an inexpensive way of traveling in the city can get Mobilis tickets, which are passes valid for one complete day in the city. For other cities, bus services and trams are excellent ways to explore them in and out.
Tip: One important thing to know is that all the tourists have to pay Tourism Tax while they are staying in the country. This tax is generally added to the apartment rent or the hotel bill. So, while making arrangements, prior checking with your hotel will come handy.
The bus network is excellent here, for it connects Avignon, Nice, and Paris with more than 36 cities in Europe. For those on a tight budget, discounted passes are also available. Those who want to enjoy the landscape of the country on road can have motorcycles and cars on rent at affordable prices.
There are also train services that connect France with countries like Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, and Belgium which are depicted on the map of France. Connecting Paris and London, Eurostar is a popular train service. Talking about air links, France is connected with virtually all the major cities of the world. Paris-Orly airport and Charles De Gaulle airport are the two major airports in the country.
Rouen, Paris, Nantes, Marseille, Le Havre, Dunkerque, and Calaisa are major ports which are located on the map of France. From Ireland and across the English Channel, there are ferry services available to get to France.
Culture in France
Culture is an important part of the French experience, with food and wine playing a central role. The French are known for being proud of their language and often expect tourists to make some effort in speaking the language during their visit. So, it’s a good idea to study some commonly used expressions before traveling to France.
Art and Architecture
France is widely considered as Europe’s cultural capital. Under the rule of French monarchs, architecture and fine arts flourished. France’s neighbor Italy played a key role in influencing its art. Monet, Renoir, Manet, and Pissarro are world renowned French painters. Many of the french painters worked and lived out of France. Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and Picasso produced highly valued pieces of art.
The title of the most Romanesque and Gothic architecture of Europe goes to Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse and the Cathédrale St-Lazare in Autun. The best palace-residences is Châteaus in the Loire valley. Although they are now converted to luxury hotels, they still carry the splendor and grace of the bygone era. The Château d’Amboise and the Château de Chambord are timeless architectural marvels. The post Revolution French architecture is represented by Arc de Triomphe and the Palace of Versailles which was constructed in the Baroque era. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. In current time, French architecture is seen as an exquisite blend of great structural engineering and innovative design.
Trivia: Leonardo da Vinci and Francis I were said to share a friendly relation. It was Francis who brought Leonardo to France and gave him a healthy pension. Leonardo also spent his last years in France at Château de Cloux, teaching art techniques to French artists.
Language, Literature and Media
French is the official language of the country; however, European languages including German and Italian are also spoken quite frequently. English is also spoken in most tourist centers. The French are very courteous people. A few greetings in French, and a warm smile, help tourists in most cities. The origin of French literature can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages, and the use of regional dialects was pronounced in the literature of this time. While Langue d’oïl was more popular with court poets and scribes, Langue d’oc was preferred by the troubadours who immortalized the love stories in their works. The 16th and 17th centuries saw the rise of great thinkers such as Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Jean de La Fontaine. Descartes’ mathematical and philosophical treatises are studied all over the world. Later, critiques by Voltaire and JJ Rousseau were clear expositions in popular political philosophy and are known in intellectual spheres across the world.
Here’s a list of 10 famous books by authors either born or based in France:
- Les Miserables: Victor Hugo
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Victor Hugo
- The Three Musketeers: Alexandre Dumas
- The Count of Monte-Cristo: Alexandre Dumas
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Jules Verne
- Around The World In 80 Days: Jules Verne
- Madame Bovary: Gustave Flaubert
- Being and Nothingness: Jean-Paul Sartre
- Little Prince: Antoine de Saint Exupery
- All Things Are Lights: Robert Shea
The most popular French daily is the Le Monde. Other dailies that enjoy a high circulation in France are the Le Figaro, Liberation (founded by Jean-Paul Sartre), L’Humanite and Aujourd’hui. English newspapers such as The Washington Post, New York Times, and The European are available in most cities. Radio France is the public radio service available and owns seven stations in the country. British, Canadian and American radio stations also operate in France.
Trivia: Although written by American author, Robert Shea, ‘All Things Are Lights’ is believed to be one of the best fictional accounts of the fall of Montségur. The book describes Catharism, the forbidden religion of 13th century France. The novel builds around the legend of alchemical books and the chalice, popularly known as the ‘Holy Grail’, being whisked away before the Cathar Perfectii, singing, entered a fire to escape conversion. It also describes graphically, the intrigues, politics and l’amour courtois of the French courts in the early 13th century.
French Music and Cinema
Music in France originated from the rich tradition of troubadours. Renaissance France saw several court musicians such as François Couperin, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and Jean-Baptiste Lully enjoy stature and wealth. Classical music flourished in France and maestros such as Jean-Philippe Rameau, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Pierre Boulez, and Francis Poulenc are known for their exceptional contribution to music. Opera thrived in France and operatic music became famous in the 19th century. The late 20th and the 21st centuries have seen an upsurge in pop, jazz, and rock culture. France hosts a number of pop and jazz festivals every year and these are very popular with the country’s youth.
The history of cinema in France is as old as the history of cinema itself. The Lumière brothers are credited with screening the earliest cinema at the Grand Cafe on Boulevard des Capucines in Paris. This event in December 1895 marks the advent of movie screenings in history. The launch of Cinémathèque Française (1936) and Les Cahiers du Cinéma are significant events that mark the evolution of French cinema.
L’exception Culturelle allows for French cinema to be treated differently from the cinema of other countries. Such a cultural exception was negotiated by France as part of the GATT. France advocated the exclusion of culture from the WTO designated liberalized sectors. The country won a huge mandate in favor of such cultural exception in the UNESCO in 2005.
Trivia: The Le Festival de Cannes (The Cannes Film Festival) was scheduled to be launched in the year 1939. The outbreak of World War II halted the launch. The determined French patiently waited and launched the festival on September 20, 1946, marking the indomitable spirit of cultural victory over warfare. The festival is held in the city of Cannes which is located on map of France. The much-coveted Palme d’Or was first given away in 1955.
- France is the most visited country in the world – an estimated 90 million tourists travel to France every year (2018).
- Almost one-fifth of France’s territory is not in Europe.
- About one-fifth of France’s population resides near Paris.
- The French have one of the highest life expectancies in the EU.
- French toast and French fries did not originate in France.More Facts…
Facts About France
|Official Name||French Republic|
|Lat Long||48.866667, 2.333056|
|Major Religion||Catholic Church, Islam|
|National day||Fete de la Federation – July 14 (1790)|
|Form of Government||Unitary semi-presidential republic|
|Prime Minister||Manuel Valls|
|Currency||Euro & CFP franc|
|GDP||$2.613 Trillions (2012)|
|Time Zone||(UTC+1) ,(UTC+2)|