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Overview website for France

www.letsgo.com/europe/france

Overview. Think of a famous idea. Any famous idea. Or for that matter any brushstroke, article of clothing, architectural style, camera technique, great thinker that …

www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/998481.stm

Overview : A key player on the world stage and a country at the political heart of Europe, France paid a high price in both …

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world…/geos/fr.html

Flag of France. (CONTAINS DESCRIPTION). Location of France. Click flag or map to enlarge … Map of France. Click map to … Photos of France …

www.eubusiness.com

France was transitioning from an economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on …

www.nationsencyclopedia.com

By the 18th century, France was one of the richest nations of the world. The potential for industrial development made France a rival to England, perhaps the …

For the last two decades, fabulous France has been the world’s favorite tourism destination, seeing no less than 81 million visitors on average every year. Foodies, shopaholics, history buffs, culture vultures, beach bunnies, winter sports lovers, families, and eco-tourists all flock to France for their vacation, knowing they won’t be disappointed with something for everyone. The country is one of Europe’s most geographically diverse, with its cities home to unrivalled cultural treasures and superb architecture. The countryside is dotted with ancient castles and chateaux, set in stunning natural beauty, and the French wines and cuisine are among the finest in the world.

A lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to explore all France has to offer. Most visitors to this iconic land choose a region in which to spend their holiday, topped off with a mandatory few days in the alpha world city of Paris with its landmarks, monuments, museums, art galleries, sophisticated nightlife, and fine dining. The country is divided into six regions, each with its own unique charm, activities, and attractions, but Paris is undoubtedly at its heart in north-central surrounded by the historic Ile de France region. Other favorite destinations are the French Alps and the Pyrenees, the glorious Loire Valley, Provence and the Mediterranean coastline, and Brittany with its ancient Celtic heritage.

French cuisine is arguably the best in the world, whether it’s found in Michelin-starred restaurants, roadside auberges (inns), or small-town bistros. The French way with food has spread across the world, and is one of the major attractions of a vacation here. Service in France is friendly and professional across the board, ensuring a warm welcome awaits visitors at lodgings large and small. France is by far not the cheapest European country to visit, but it offers quality and value, especially in the food and wine sectors. Accommodation ranges from world-famous luxury resorts to charming country inns, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering cottages.

Given the vast variety of things to do and see in France, a vacation here can be anything from sightseeing by day and partying until the early hours to walking, trekking, beach life, water sports, skiing, adventure sports, or just lazing in the southern sunshine. Whether by rental car or France’s excellent public transport, daytrips around the chosen region are easily arranged, and visitors basing themselves in the southwest can easily combine it with a visit to Andorra or Spain, while those in the southeast can spend a day in northern Italy or Switzerland. One of the beauties of a French holiday is that, even in remote rural districts, it’s comparatively easy to get around.

France’s modern rail system includes express service linking all major cities. Combined with the comprehensive domestic flight network, the rail service makes it possible for visitors to plan a whistle-stop tour around all the country’s most famous sights during a single vacation. The discount rail card Carte 12-25 gives those under 25 up to 60 percent reductions on train tickets and is valid for a year. Intercity flights are comparatively inexpensive as there’s a lot of competition between the airlines and routes. For a more leisurely and economic view of France’s stunning and varied landscape, slower train services are the answer.

Highlights

Paris – for the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, and Versailles Palace

The French Riviera and Monaco for upscale beaches and casinos

The Loire Valley for its chateaux, wine, and sheer beauty

Lyon for its Roman amphitheater and other 2,000-year old remnants

The UNESCO-listed Mont St Michel

Provence, for its lavender fields and the Verdon Gorge

Cannes Film Festival

Brittany for its megalith monuments and Celtic heritage

Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc, Europe’s tallest peak

France is the largest country in the EU, stretching from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The landscape is diverse, with mountains in the east and south, including the Alpine peak of Mont Blanc (4 810 m) which is western Europe’s highest point. Lowland France consists of four river basins, the Seine in the north, the Loire and the Garonne flowing westwards and the Rhône, which flows from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea.

The president of the Republic has an important political role. He chairs the meetings of the Council of Ministers (cabinet), and retains overall responsibility in key areas of foreign affairs and defence. The day-to-day running of the country is in the hands of the prime minister. The president is elected by direct popular vote for a period of five years. The parliament consists of a National Assembly, directly elected every five years, and a Senate whose members are chosen by an electoral college.

France has an advanced industrial economy and an efficient farm sector. Main activities include automobile manufacture, aerospace, information technology, electronics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and fashion.

France has produced some of the continent’s most influential writers and thinkers from Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, to Rousseau and Voltaire in the 18th, Balzac, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th and Sartre and Camus in the 20th. In the last two centuries it has given the art world the works of Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Gauguin, Matisse and Braque, to name but a few.

French cuisine is one of the finest in Europe; cooking and eating are part of French culture and lifestyle.

Economy overview

The French economy is diversified across all sectors. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, including Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. However, the government maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries. With at least 79 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism. France’s leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. France’s real GDP contracted 2.6% in 2009, but recovered somewhat in 2010 and 2011, before stagnating in 2012. The unemployment rate increased from 7.4% in 2008 and has remained above 9% per year since then. Lower-than-expected growth and increased unemployment have strained France’s public finances. The budget deficit rose sharply from 3.4% of GDP in 2008 to 7.5% of GDP in 2009 before improving to 4.5% of GDP in 2012, while France’s public debt rose from 68% of GDP to 89% over the same period. Under President SARKOZY, Paris implemented some austerity measures to bring the budget deficit under the 3% euro-zone ceiling by 2013 and to highlight France’s commitment to fiscal discipline at a time of intense financial market scrutiny of euro-zone debt. Socialist Party candidate Francois HOLLANDE won the May 2012 presidential election, after advocating pro-growth economic policies, the separation of banks’ traditional deposit taking and lending activities from more speculative businesses, increasing the top corporate and personal tax rates, and hiring an additional 60,000 teachers during his five-year term. France ratified the EU fiscal stability treaty in October 2012 and HOLLANDE’s government has maintained France’s commitment to meeting the budget deficit target of 3% of GDP during 2013 even amid signs that economic growth will be lower than the government’s forecast of 0.8%. Despite stagnant growth and fiscal challenges, France’s borrowing costs declined during the second half of 2012 to euro-era lows.

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