France is the largest country in the European Union, covering an area of 551,100 km². Most of France is located in Western Europe, its mainland borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany in the northeast, Germany and Switzerland in the east, Monaco and Italy in the southeast, Spain and Andorra in the southwest. In the west and north, the territory of the country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean ( the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel ), in the south – by the Mediterranean Sea(Gulf of Lion and Ligurian Sea). The state also includes the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea and more than twenty overseas departments and dependent territories.
In general, the climate in the European territory of France is temperate maritime, turning to temperate continental in the east, and on the south coastto subtropical. The territory of France is divided into 4 climatic zones: in the west of the country, a temperate maritime climate prevails – with mild winters, cool summers, frequent but not heavy precipitation. In the interior of the country, a drier continental climate prevails – with hot summers and harsher winters. At higher elevations (600-800 m above sea level and above) there is a mountain climate – with cold and long winters and heavy precipitation (snow lies for 3- 6 months a year). In the southeast of France, along the Mediterranean coastline, there is a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot, dry summers, mild and wet winters, and few rainy days per year.
A bit of history
The name of the country “France” comes from the name of the Germanic tribe Franks ( Franken ). France is one of the first European countries. About four hundred tribes originally lived on its territory, calling themselves Gauls, but in 51 BC. e. Roman emperor Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. Numerous Roman ruins can still be seen in France today: the Pont du Gard aqueduct is located in Arles, Roman arenas are in Nimes, and the Cluny Museum is located in the Latin quarter of Paris, in an old building of Roman baths.
In the 5th century AD the Romans left France, and it was conquered by the Germanic tribes – the Franks. The first Frankish king, Holdwig, is considered the founder of France. He ruled from 481 and went down in history as a wise ruler and a brave warrior, as well as the first ruler of France to convert to Christianity. It is in his honor that seventeen rulers of France are named after Louis (Louis). The Frankish state reached its peak under Charlemagne, who ruled from 768. The Carolingian dynasty was replaced by the Capetian dynasty, then the Valois and the Bourbons, which was founded by Henry IV. Numerous successions of kings and dynasties, wars and revolutions, including the Seven Years’ War and the bourgeois revolution of 1789-1799, the proclamation of the First French Republic in 1792, the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799-1814, the Second Republic and the Second Empire, the Third Republic, The First and Second World Wars, the Fourth and, finally, the Fifth Republic proclaimed in 1958…France is famous for its rich history, sung by writers, poets and musicians. And today this amazing country is rightfully considered one of the most advanced and significant countries in the world.
France is the cradle of culture and art, embracing all genres and trends: architecture, painting, sculpture, literature, music, fashion, cinema. It is simply impossible to cover the entire invaluable contribution of France to world culture, just as it is impossible to list all the names and titles. Here are just a few of them. Architecture: The Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Opera Garnier, monuments of ancient architecture in Nimes, the Saint-Denis Basilica, the cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens and Reims, castles in the Loire Valley – Chambord, Chenonceau, Cheverny, Blois, Aze-le-Rideau and others, the Fontainebleau Palace, the palace and park ensembles of Versailles and the Luxembourg Gardens, the domed buildings of Val-de-Grasse and Les Invalides, the Pantheon, the Arc de Triomphe and much more.
Painting: Jean Fouquet, Jacques Louis David, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Theodore Gericault, Eugene Delacroix, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Henri Matisse, natives of Russia Wassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall and many others.
Sculpture: Jean Baptiste Pigalle, Etienne Maurice Falcone, Francois Rude, Auguste Rodin and others.
Literature: Voltaire, Jean de La Fontaine, François Villon, Corneille, Racine, Molière, Charles Perrault, Alexandre Dumas, Chateaubriand, Marquise de Sade, Madame de Stael, Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Prosper Mérimée, Marcel Proust, Albert Camus, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Emile Zola, Francois Morica, André Gide, Anatole France, Romain Rolland and many others.
Music: Jean Baptiste Lully, Louis Couperin, Jean Philippe Rameau, Camille Saint-Saens, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Hector Berlioz and others.
Cinematography: Gerard Philippe, Bourville, Jean Marais, Marie Casares, Louis de Funes, Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Alain Delon, Annie Girardot. Pierre Richard, Jean Reno, Luc Besson, Jean Luc Godard and many others.
For the French, cuisine is comparable to love. It is unsurpassed in sophistication and originality. She, like fashion, is the European flagship for new trends and directions. But at the same time, the French do not forget about the richness of their traditions, which go deep into the Middle Ages. French cuisine is associated with an exquisitely served table and classics of the culinary genre – frog legs, foie gras, oysters on ice, a board with cheeses, delicious wines, cognacs and champagne. But French cuisine also differs by region. This is Provencal cuisine, filled with the flavors of the south and the Mediterranean – the fresh smell of herbs and garlic, juicy olives and freshly caught fish. Or Breton cuisine – with hearty dishes, an abundance of crustaceans and mollusks, including the famous oysters, of which there are 12 main species in Brittany. It is impossible not to recall the famous Burgundy cuisine – with excellent meat and dairy products, cheeses (“Shaurs”, “Wezeley”, “Macon”, “Epuas”, “Charolais”, “Sumantran”), “Burgundy fondue” with beef and, of course, excellent wines. Norman cuisine is famous for its variety and nutritional value. It is in Normandy that the famous Camembert cheese and Calvados, invented here in 1553, are produced. The cuisine of Alsace and Lorraine reflects German influences and is known for such dishes as pork and salted cabbage, baeckeoffe – goulash of pickled meat and vegetables, choucroute alsacienne – pickled cabbage with juniper, served with hot sausages, bacon or pork. And it is simply impossible to resist the foie gras prepared here – goose liver pate in dough or with truffles!
French holidays and festivals
January 1 – New Year
‘s Day May 1 – Labor Day
May 8 – Victory Day
July 14 – Bastille Day
August 15 – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1 – All Saints Day
November 11 – Armistice Day
December 25 – Christmas Day
December 26 – Day 2 Christmas