France Key Facts
640, 679 km²
66, 616, 416
For France travel insurance, select Europe Region
International Calling Codes
35% No religion
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In France they drive on the right side of the road
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to travel to France is in the months from March until late October. Do make sure to avoid the peak travelling season of the summer months (July and August), as there are a lot of people everywhere around this time of year. May and early June are very pleasant months weather-wise as is September, and in these months crowds are not a big problem. If your aim is to go skiing, obviously winter will be best!
Airports (35 international, 432 domestic and military), rail (from local rail to high-speed TGV), bus, highways, ports and harbours, trams.
World Heritage Sites
- Abbey Church of Saint-Saving sur Gartempe, containing beautiful murals from the 11th and 12th centuries
- Amiens Cathedral, one of the largest Gothic churches of the 13th century
- Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments, containing Roman monuments dating back to the 1st century BC
- Belfries of Belgium and France, which are local signs of the winning of civil liberties
- Bordeaux, Port of the moon, a truly spectacular historic city created during the age of Enlightenment
- Bourges Cathedral, a renowned masterpiece of Gothic art and design
- Canal du Midi, a network of canals that link the Mediterranean to the Atlantic
- Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims, an iconic piece of Gothic art
- Chartres Cathedral, built during a high point of French Gothic art in the 12th century
- Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay, founded in 1119 and a great example of the self-sufficiency preached by Cistercian monks
- Decorated Cave of Pont d'Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc, Ardèche, containing the earliest-known and best-preserved figurative drawings in the world
- Episcopal City of Albi, a stunning ensemble of monuments and quarters that has remained largely unchanged over many centuries
- Fortifications of Vauban, created by famed military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauband during the 17th century
- From the Great Saltowrks of Salins-les-Bains to the Royal Saltworks of Arc-et Senans, the Production of Open-pan Salt, these sites bear witness to the importance of the region in salt mining, with evidence of use during prehistoric times already
- Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge, this city was the seat of the papacy in the 14th century
- Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne, a great example of a medieval fortified town with history dating back to the pre-Roman period
- Historic Site of Lyons, founded by the Romans in the first century BC as the capital of the Three Gauls
- Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion, a gorgeous wine-growing area with a rich history going back to Roman times
- Le Havre, the City Rebuilt by Auguste Perret is a great example of post-war reconstruction, urban planning and architecture
- Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay, a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael constructed between the 11th and 16th centuries
- Palace and Park of Fontainebleau, a spectacular palace that combines Renaissance and French art set in a vast forest
- Palace and Parks of Versailles, home to the French kings and a model of the ideal royal residence
- Paris, Banks of the Seine, with so many masterpieces along this famous river UNESCO has decided to make this entire area one large Heritage Site
- Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place dalliance in Nancy, an impressive example of combining a regent's need for prestige and functionality in one city design
- Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct), a masterpiece of Roman engineering built shortly before the Christian era
- Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, a site containing 111 individual sites built between 5000 to 500 BC
- Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley, the cave paintings date back to the Paleolithic era and are known for their detail and rich color
- Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs, was specifically designed to host fairs and related activities
- Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the 'Triumphal Arch' of Orange, one of the best preserved of all Roman theatres and a great example of architecture from the reign of Augustus
- Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France, marked by a group of monuments important to pilgrims on their way to Santiago
- Strasbourg - Grande île, the historic center of the capital of Alsace
- The Causes and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape shaped over 3 millennia and a wonderful example of culture/environment interaction
- The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loir and Chalonnes, containing a great many historic towns, villages, architectural monuments all set in a landscape of amazing beauty
- Vézelay, Church and Hills, home to the remains of St Mary Magdalene, this is site is of great religious and historical importance
- Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve; this area is a nature reserve with outstanding examples of scrubland and home to a rich marine life
- Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems; this site is one the three most extensive reef systems in the world and home to an amazingly diverse coral reef ecosystem
- Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island, are part of La Réunion National Park, home to 2 towering volcanic peaks surrounded by a highly bio diverse and ruggedly beautiful area
- Pyrénées - Mont Perdu, home to two of Europe's deepest and largest canyons
- Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, an impressive landscape shaped by the extraction of coal between the end of the 18th century and the last quarter of the 20th century
Average Annual Temperature
Average Annual Rainfall
France generally enjoys temperate winters and warm summers. Along the Mediterranean, winters are still mild but summer can become rather hot. Mountainous regions such as the Alps, Pyrenees and Auvergne offer lots of snow in winter, making it a good destination for any skiing vacation. In the north around Brittany, winters tend to bring lots of rain.
- January 1 - New Year's Day
- March/April - Easter Monday
- May 1 - Labor Day
- May 8 - WWII Victory Day
- May 14 - Ascension Day
- May 25 - Whit Monday
- July 14 - Bastille Day
- August 15 - Assumption of Mary
- November 1 - All Saint's Day
- November 11 - Armistice Day
- December 25 - Christmas Day
Why Visit France?
France offers great food, a lot of history, a rich culture, and it is very easy to move around the cities and the countryside. France is popular for many European holidaymakers during the peak summer vacations in July and August as it represents great value for money.
Things To Do In France
- Stroll along the Seine in Paris.
- Eat French food from foie gras (fatty goose liver) to escargots (snails), drink French wine (any region).
- Visit Cannes and hang out with famous movie stars.
- Relax along the French Riviera.
Travel Tips For France
- Do make sure to try some of the more unusual foods in France, they are delicious!
- Check out farmers markets in smaller cities and the food market in Paris for some excellent food
- July and August are the worst months for travelling anywhere in France, so it is best to avoid these months completely
France is world famous for its amazing cuisine and no traveller will be disappointed by the food on offer here. Each region has its own specialties and influences, and usually the best place to sample the local cuisine is in a 'brasserie' (which is similar to the local pub). In the north around Alsace you will find more German inspired dishes, and a regional specialty to try is choucroute, which consists of fermented cabbage and sausage. Coastal areas tend to offer more seafood, and a specialty along the French Riviera you will find lots of restaurants offering bouillabaisse, a sea food and saffron soup. Bread is served with most meals in France, particularly baguette which is baked twice a day to ensure freshness. France is also home to some of the best cheeses in the world, and it pays to try cheese platters in different regions to really get a good overview. For more adventurous eaters, France also has a host of rather unusual dishes available: escargots de bourgogne (snails in garlic sauce), os à moelle (beef boen marrow), and the world famous frogs' legs. The best policy to follow in France is to order the local specialties and try as many different things as possible, as there is such a wide variety of delicious foods to try.
France Travel Safety and Warnings
France is generally quite safe for travellers, with the usual annoyances in bigger cities. Employ common sense when wandering through any city and you should be fine. Make sure to have adequate travel insurance for France.
From the Eiffel Tower to the Cannes Film Festival, France is an internationally famous travel destination. Apart from boasting to have the best food, wine and cheese in the world, France also has historical sites dating back to pre-history and some of the most iconic beaches in Europe are located here. Bring a big appetite, sort out your travel insurance for France, and get ready for your 'rendezvous en France!'
Paris, the nation's capital, is as romantic and quaint as years of Hollywood movies have made you expect it to be. Known as 'The City of Light' for its influence in the fields of culture, art, fashion, food, design and philosophy.
Paris not only has the second highest number of Michelin star restaurants in the world, but is also the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million visitors every year. Once you walk along the river Seine, it’s not difficult to see why!
Paris, similar to many historic European cities, follows a circular design spiraling out from its center. The different quarters are known as arrondissements and are numbered from 1-20. The first stop for most travellers to Paris is the first arrondissement, where you will find the famous Arc de Triomphe roundabout. Here is also where you will find the world famous Louvre museum, containing the iconic Mona Lisa.
Dividing the city center is the river Seine, along the banks of which you will find the:
A great way to explore this area is to get some good walking shoes and set forth on a meandering walk, wandering into their cafes for some pastries and coffee along the way.
Of course, there’s more to France than just Paris. Just 20kms from Paris is the Palace of Versailles, which was the seat of the French Emperors. With its spectacular architecture and huge gardens, Versailles became the standard for the ideal royal residence in Europe.
Also outside of Paris you’ll find the beautiful castle of Fontainebleau with its forest and iconic boulders. Organise France travel insurance before you set off exploring anywhere though.
The Northeast of France is where you must head to get your hands on something you can only get in France: Champagne. The Champagne-Ardenne region is world famous for its sparkling wine, and you can tour several wineries and taste their selections. The medieval city of Reims is also in this region, and it is here that French kings were traditionally crowned.
Should you be more interested in the coast, then you must head south from Paris. On your way, you will pass through the Burgundy region with its many quaint towns. It is well worth to stop in a few and try some of the local wines!
Southeast France is home to many towns where the rich and famous come to party and relax. Cannes is home to the world's film elite once a year during the Film Festival, and just around the corner is the famous Cote d'Azur, one of France's most popular holiday destinations.
The entire Southeast of France is a pleasure to explore, and should Cannes not be rich and famous enough for you, Monaco is just around the corner!
On the Atlantic side, you find Southwest France, another popular holiday destination. The town of Biarritz is famous for its waves and while very quiet in winter, springs to life in summer with thousands of tourists.
Just an hour north of Biarritz is Hosegor, easily France's most famous surfing location. Just 30 minutes drive from Biarritz is the Spanish border and you can explore San Sebastian and other cities of the Basque country.
Many people don't realize that French territory is not limited to Europe, and in fact Reunion islands still counts as France. Reunion is known as Europe's Hawaii, a beautiful volcanic island with sun, surf, sea and delicious French food!
The best way to find out why France is so popular is to get your flight ticket, buy your France travel insurance, and go explore this amazing country!
For more information on France, visit the France Tourism Website.
City Profile: Paris
Yes, yes, Paris again. But it has to be mentioned because it’s a great place to walk around and see the sights, as some of the cobblestone side streets and lanes are blocked off to traffic. There is also more to Paris than the Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. There are walkways along the Seine River, tree lined avenues, bridges to cross, side walk cafes to visit and the wonderful aroma of baking from the patisseries to savour. And be sure to take a walk along the 4.7km Promenade plantee (picture), an elevated linear tree lined walkway built on the old Vincennes Railway line, with shops, tunnels and lush greenery along the way.