Key Country Facts

Population: 66 million
Historical & Interesting Facts:

Hot Tip for Winter Travelers: Once inside the Eiffel Tower, there is free(!) ice skating in wintertime! Travelers can ice skate on the Eiffel Tower for as long as they want!

Top Activities and Places to Visit:

L’Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées street, Le Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), Musée D’Orsay, Notre Dame, Fontaine Saint-Michel, Le Havre, Montmartre

Other Information:

main exports: steel, machinery, pharmaceutical products, consumer products, petroleum, chemicals, iron, and transportation equipment

France, was founded around the 9th century! About 66 million people live here (2013) and the capital is Paris. The official language is French. The primary religion is Roman Catholic, though there is a small Islamic population due t the immigrant population in lower-income suburban regions. The time zone is 5 hours ahead of EST.

One cannot visit France without experiencing Paris, where there are amazing sights to see such as the L’Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées street, Le Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower), the many beautiful parks and museums such as the Musée D’Orsay, various churches, and, of course, the wonderful cuisine. Try seeing the famous Notre Dame on a weekday when it is less busy; the church is absolutely breathtaking and should be seen. Right nearby there is also the Fontaine Saint-Michel, where there are cheaper shops and eateries for those willing to wander the alleys. Paris is very safe and walkable; one should not worry too much about crime as long as travelers take care to keep their money, passport, and other safe-keepings stowed on their person and to avoid certain street vendors looking to pickpocket.

Travelers visiting in the wintertime should try to visit both Paris and, up north, Le Havre. Paris has a Christmastime market where lots of fun trinkets, food, and other souvenirs can be purchased, and the ferris wheel in Paris is decorated with lights for the occasion. In Le Havre, visitors can try the roasted chestnuts, ride the ferris wheel, see the lights, or go to the beach to see the beautiful stones smoothed by the ocean. For history buffs, Normandy nearby hosts WWII sites and a large cemetery with nearby war bunkers on the beautiful coastline.

A wacky fact about France is that, special circumstances and with presidential approval, it is legal to marry someone after they have died so long as you can prove that the deceased intended to marry you. Also interesting is that the Louvre in 2014 was the most visited museum in the world – be sure to plan long morning or afternoon for it; the museum is truly huge!

As a personal suggestion on sights to see, Montmartre is incredible. The church located there (Sacre-Coeur) is situated high up overlooking a beautiful green park, a merry-go-round that is free to use, and the oh so delicious Musée du Chocolat (Chocolate Museum) where, yes, everything is made of chocolate. Montmartre is a center of local art and food, making it a wonderful place to go and view contemporary art while snacking on a crêpe or a mouthwateringly good sandwich cooked to order in front of you.

Hot Tip: If you speak French well enough to get around, try going up to the Notre Dame guards at the entrance and saying “Je suis fidèle” or, if visiting with a group, “Nous sommes fidèles.” This essentially means, [I am/We are] faithful members who regularly attend services at this church. A friendly guard may let you bypass the line and head on in.

Hot Tip for Winter Travelers: Once inside the Eiffel Tower, there is free(!) ice skating in wintertime! Travelers can ice skate on the Eiffel Tower for as long as they want. There is fun music and free skates are offered there by a worker at the kiosk.

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