As one of the top destinations for UK holidaymakers, France welcomes over 12 million British visitors every year.
The population of France at July 2006 was estimated at 60.9 million people, of a total world population of 6.5 billion people. This makes it the 23rd most populated country in the world. 16.4% of the population of France are 65 years old or more.
Almost 85% of the population of France are Roman Catholic.
The overall size of France is 547,030 square kilometres.
France shares it's borders with 8 countries: Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland
France has 3,427 kilometres of coastline.
France is divided into 22 administrative regions: Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse,
Franche-Comte, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrenees, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de la Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur and Rhone-Alpes. It is then further divided into 96 'departments', largely as established under Napoleon.
The Capital of France is Paris!
Highest Mountain: The highest mountain in France is Mont Blanc, at 4,807 metres high.
France has 14 Public Holidays during the year. Whit Monday was abolished from 2005, in principle to raise extra funds for elderly and handicapped causes which were motivated by the thousands of elderly people who died during the earlier heatwave. This caused widespread strikes in the country. Back to holiday rentals in France
There is an enormous range sports activities in France, due to the country's wealth of coastal beaches, the actual length of its coastline, the sheltered waters of the inland waterways, the dual holiday destinations for both Summer and winter that include Walking, Mountain climbing, Golf, Balloning, Para-gliding, Fishing and many more.
Skiing is hugely popular in France and visitors from all over the world are attracted to a multitude of skiing resorts from holiday destinations like the Rhone Alps and the Savoie region.
The highest mountain in France is Mont Blanc.
The currency in France is the Euro and has been since 2002.
Credit and international payment cards are accepted almost everywhere.
Please Note:French cards have a microchip so UK cards may take longer to process.
Check that your card will work in cash machines before travelling and how much commission your bank will charge. Eurocheques are no longer accepted.
Keep a separate note of emergency UK numbers, just in case of theft.
Bank opening hours are from 09.00 to 12.15 and 13.45 to 17.30 Tuesday - Saturday
Banks are usually closed Mondays and close about 16.00 on Saturdays.
Food / Eating Out
Food is of great importance to the French, and forms a great part of the French tradition.
The best recipes are those that best represent the food that French people eat day in and day out, made with local ingredients, and are quick and easy to make as well as being extremely tasty.
It's worth remembering also, that in France plenty of bread should be served with the main course. It is usual, even in polite company, to wipe the plate clean with a final piece of bread.
Some of the most traditional recipes, have of course been well tried and tested! The principal here is always to provide recipes that are traditional - that is, as would have been eaten in France, and still are eaten in France - rather than exotic variations that may have emerged in recent years. As with many things, the best results are obtained by omitting the fancy and the unnecessary, and getting back to basics. This has the added benefit of making recipes more straightforward.
Some typical main meals to look out for and to enjoy in France:
1- cassoulet recipe - confit de canard based recipe
2- boeuf bourguignon recipe - traditional rich beef stew
3- coq au vin recipe - chicken in red wine navarin recipe
4- lamb and vegetable stew
5- choucroute garnie - pickled cabbage, pork and sausage
Driving is the most popular way to travel and it is commonplace especially with UK & other European drivers.
Car Rental: Keep all your paperwork with you in case of query or accident.
Cycling: France loves cyclists, plenty of cyle-paths too.check to see if you visit coincides with the 'Tour de France' as certain areas will be closed during race times.
Flights: Low cost flights to numerous local airports.
Rail: The main high-speed rail networks all offer regular services throughout France. They are mostly available to all the major cities and coastal areas.
French is the first language of France.
Immigration has for years brought an influx of British, German, East European and Turkish people to France, and their languages will always remain in each community.
Other languages including English are widely taught in schools.
When driving in France, take note that you drive on the right side and all distance and speed measurements are in kms, not MPH.
Minimum age for driving is 18.
Keep driving licence and all car paperwork with you as it must be produced on the spot if requested by the police.
Driving licence must be a ‘pink’ one or pink and green – not an old green one.
A letter giving authority to drive the car must be kept with the paperwork if the car is not yours – including company cars.
Get an international accident declaration form from your insurance broker. It is simple to follow and will help when sorting out any mishaps. Be sure before signing anything in French.
A set of spare bulbs is compulsory – pick one up from the nearest hypermarket if you forget before travelling.
A warning triangle is a good idea – compulsory if you’re towing.
Make sure headlights are adjusted to avoid dazzling other drivers or being pulled over by the police.
Always stop completely at STOP signs – or the police can fine you.
Never drink and drive. Tests are random and common. Fines are very heavy and instant
Never speed. Speeding fines are heavy and must be paid on the spot. The police can impound the car in extreme cases.
Beware of Priorité à droite – drivers from the right having priority. Still used in town centres and famously at the Arc de Triomphe.
Always pay and display – clamping is on the increase.
Seatbelts must be worn by all. No children under 10 in the front unless in a specially adapted rear-facing seat.
All UK cars in France must also display a GB sticker which is usually available from cross Channel operators.
Motorcyclists must wear crash helmets.
Instant fines exist for illegal of bus lanes.
130km/h on toll motorways (110 km/h when wet).
110km/h on dual carriageways and non toll motorways (110km/h when wet).
90 km/h on other main roads (80 km/h when wet).
50 km/h in towns and villages – sometimes slower so watch for signs.
Note: Portable speed cameras can flash from back and front.
Speeding fines are normally charged on the spot.
Always pay and display - clamping and towing is becoming more common and is very expensive.
If you need change head for a bakery and buy a baguette for a some cents or a Euro.
Check the details on the machines as parking is often free during lunchtimes and after 18.00
It is often safer to park in a hotel car park and explore on foot.
Never leave anything of value on view in the car.
Tolls can be expensive if travelling a lot by autoroute - but are often worth it to get to destinations quickly.
In France the winters are cool to cold –with mild summers. Colder conditions (and snow) in the Jura and Savoie regions.
The Mediterranean coast experiences very mild winters and very hot summers.
The North-West area, especially Brittany has higher rain falls.
The detailed weather forecast is provided for you by www.meteoconsult.fr
Further InformationFrance - Les Gets & Morzine in the French Alps
France 'Avignon – Great City Of The Popes'
France - Skiing in Les Gets & Morzine
Driving in Europe