France Destination Guide & Country Overview
French Republic | République française
France is a country in central Europe which borders Spain and Andorra to its west, Belgium and Luxembourg in the northeast, Germany and Switzerland in the east, and Italy and Monaco in the southeast. It is just across the English Channel from the United Kingdom, and a bit further from Ireland.
A member of the European Union, France is also part of the Euro currency and a part of the borderless Schengen Area. France has numerous overseas regions and territories, including French Guiana in South America, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy in the Caribbean, Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the North Atlantic off Canada, and several more in the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Antartica.
The French seem to live a very refined lifestyle, and they like to show it. They know how to eat, drink, appreciate art and architecture, and keep things in perspective, and they do this all with class. There are no small number of museums to visit throughout the country, and France has a very good grasp on their relatively-dated history.
Paris, with its numerous cafes, boutiques, and restaurants where many an artist and author got their starts, needs no introduction. But France is much, much more than Paris. There are so many things to do and see for any kind of traveler throughout the country. There is that bastion of the wealthy, the French Riviera, popular for glamorous (read: expensive, pretentious) Saint-Tropez and the Cannes Film Festival. There are many beautiful resorts in the French Alps, and many great vinicultural activities in the valleys of Central France. Castles dot the countryside and add to the beauty of the country.
The French know their food, and that can almost be said objectively. They have a very sophisticated way of cooking and eating, and have elevated both to a near art form. From common fare such as their cheese, champagnes, baguettes, crêpes, and quiches, French standards have been adopted all over the world. French food is very diverse, rivaling the Chinese in the myriad styles and options available. It is said that to understand the French culture and people, you must first understand their food.