Basic Facts About France

From the lively, sophisticated city of Paris to tiny, peaceful villages tucked away in the countryside, from the flat plains of the north to the mountain peaks of the south, France is a country of many contrasting landscapes. Here are some basic facts about France.

  • France is a central western European country. The French Republic is its official name.
  • France borders seven other European countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Andorra and Spain.
  • The large island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea belongs to France, as do many small islands off the coast of France.
  • Several overseas territories and islands are also part of the French Republic. These include French Guiana in South America, Réunion in the Indian Ocean, and Martinique and Guadeloupe in the West Indies.
  • France’s coastline extends for 1,951 miles (3,140 kilometers), along the north, west and south-east of the country. The south-east coastline is also known as the French Riviera.
  • The French coastline borders the North Sea and English Channel in the north, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, and the Mediterranean Sea in the south-east.
  • France’s climate varies from temperate in the north to Mediterranean in the south-east.
  • Paris is the capital city of France. It is located in a fairly central position in the north of France.
  • Other major cities include Lille, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nice and Strasbourg.
  • The Loire is the longest river in France. It is 628 miles (1,012 kilometers) long.
  • There are five mountain ranges in France: Massif Central, Alps, Pyrenees, Jura and Vosges.
  • At 15,770 feet (4,807 meters) Mont Blanc is the tallest mountain peak in France. It is situated in the Alps.
  • Outside the cities, agriculture is still a major source of income throughout France. Other important industries are construction, automotive, insurance and tourism.
  • French is the official language of France.
  • The official currency of France is the euro.
  • The French flag consists of three vertical stripes of blue, white and red.
  • France’s national holiday is on July 14th. It is also known as Bastille Day.
  • In 2012, France’s population was an estimated 65.3 million people.
  • Although France is a secular country, over 80 percent of the population state that their religion is Roman Catholic.
  • Popular sporting activities in France include soccer, rugby, tennis, motor sports (especially Formula One), and the annual Tour de France cycling race.


France is a delightful country to visit. You will be amazed by the beauty of the landscape, the politeness of the people, and the extensive range of delicious, locally-produced food and wine available everywhere from farmers’ markets to chic restaurants. You will want to sample more of the delights of France on numerous visits.