France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world. France features cities of high cultural interest, beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquility. It is the largest country in western Europe with a coastline on the English Channel, the Mediterranean Sea and on the Atlantic Ocean.
Officially the French Republic, is a member state of the European Union located in its western region, with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and has been a major power for many centuries with strong economic, cultural, military and political influence. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonised great parts of North America, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second largest empire of the time, including large portions of North, West and Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific islands, its global overseas colonial empire was the second largest in the world behind the British Empire.
Its cities contain some of the greatest treasures in Europe and it boasts dozens of major tourist attractions, and is renowned for its gastronomy, particularly wines and cheeses, history, culture and fashion.
France went through a period of reconstruction and prosperity, back with the development of industry and a new sense of nationalism. Today France is a leading nation in the European Union.
A grand city with over 30 million visitors per year, its impossible to cover it in a short stay but worth the visit to understand what 'over the top' really means. Enjoy outdoor cafes, great scenery and avenues.Lille
Lille is the largest city in French Flanders, situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium.
Situated in the French Riviera on the south east coast of France and the capital of Côte d'Azur is a popular destination that brings in the rich and famous the world over.Eze
A medieval town near Nice. Described as an "eagle's nest" because of its location overlooking a high cliff located 427m above sea level on the French Mediterranean. Highly recommended, this medieval village with its narrow lanes at the top of a hill overlooking the sea.
The borders of modern France are approximately the same as those of ancient Gaul, which was inhabited by Celtic Gauls. Gaul was conquered for Rome by Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC, and the Gauls eventually adopted Roman speech, Latin, from which the French language evolved. In the 4th century AD, the eastern frontier along the Rhine was overrun by Germanic tribes, principally the Franks, from whom the ancient name of "Francie" was derived. The Franks were the first tribe among the Germanic conquerors of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire to convert to Catholic Christianity, thus France obtained the title "Eldest daughter of the Church". Existence as a separate entity began in 843, with the division of Charlemagne's Carolingian Empire into East Francia, Middle Francia and Western Francia. Western Francia approximated the area occupied by modern France.
The Carolingian dynasty ruled France until 987 when Hugh Capet was crowned King of France. His descendants progressively unified the country through a series of wars and dynastic inheritance. In 1066, the Duke of Normandy became King of England, and separated Normandy from France and marked it as English territory. The Wars of the Roses made England weak, and France won back the territory, the last territory England held in France was Calais, but this was lost to the Spanish Netherlands.
Charles IV died without heir in 1328. Under the rule adopted in 1316, known as the Salic Law, the crown of France could not pass to a woman, nor could the line pass through the female line. The crown passed to Phillip Valois, under his monarchy France reached the height of its medieval power. However, Philip's seat on the throne was contested by Edward III of England and in 1337, England and France went to war in what would become known as the Hundred Years' War.
The monarchy reached its height during the 17th century and the reign of Louis XIV, was the most powerful monarch of his time, at this time France possessed the largest population in Europe and had tremendous influence over European politics, economy, and culture. French became, and remained until the 20th century, the common language of diplomacy in international affairs. In addition, France obtained many overseas possessions in the Americas, Africa and Asia. That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England and Spain over the control of North America.
The monarchy ruled France until the French Revolution, but endured until the creation of the First Republic in September 1792. Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were executed in 1793, along with thousands of other French citizens during the Reign of Terror. A guerrilla war and counterrevolution, known as the Revolt in the Vendée, cost more than 100,000 lives before it was crushed in 1796. After a series of short-lived governmental schemes, Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of the Republic in 1799, making himself First Consul, and later Emperor of what is now known as the First Empire in 1804-1814. In the course of several wars, his armies conquered most of continental Europe, with members of the Bonaparte family being appointed as monarchs of newly established kingdoms.
Following Napoleon's final defeat in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, the French monarchy was re-established, but with new constitutional limitations.The short-lived Second Republic ended in 1852 when Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte proclaimed the Second Empire. Louis-Napoléon was unseated following defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and his regime was replaced by the Third Republic.
The end of the 19th century was the start of the industrialization of the country, the development of the railways but also the start of the bitter wars with Prussia and later Germany. France was an occupied nation in World War I and World War II. Following the German blitz campaign in World War II, France was divided in an occupation zone in the north and Vichy France, a regime loyal to Germany, in the south.
The Fourth Republic was established after World War II and, despite spectacular economic growth, it struggled to maintain its political status as a dominant nation state. France attempted to hold on to its colonial empire, but soon ran into trouble. The half-hearted 1946 attempt at regaining control of French Indochina resulted in the First Indochina War, which ended in French defeat in 1954. Months later, France faced a new conflict in Algeria, the debate over whether or not to keep control of Algeria, then home to over one million European settlers, wracked the country and nearly led to civil war. In 1958, the weak and unstable Fourth Republic gave way to the Fifth Republic, which contained a strengthened Presidency which managed to keep the country together while taking steps to end the Algerian War, concluded in 1962 that led to Algerian independence.
|Area||551,500 sq miles