Updated June 2018
A IS FOR AGRICULTURE, ARCHAEOLOGY, & ART
ARCHAEOLOGY plays an important part in the history of France. The country has many Archaeological Sites and Archaeological Museums. The second-oldest known cave art is that of Chauvet Cave in France, the paintings of which date to earlier than 30,000 BCE (Upper Paleolithic). The Lascaux Caves is a complex of caves in southwestern France famous for its Paleolithic cave paintings. The Carmac Stones in Brittany are the largest collection of megalithic standing stones in the world. In 1970, the body of an adult man buried in the 5th millennium BC in Avignon was excaveted. In 2017 the body and its 7,000-year-old garments were studied with modern techniques.
French ART consists of the visual and plastic arts (including architecture, woodwork, textiles, and ceramics) originating from the geographical area of the country. Historical surveys of French art typically begin with Pre-Romanesque art, Romanesqueart, and Gothic art. France has many Art Museums and Galleries.
France has many species of BIRDS. Sea birds and coastal birds are found along the coast. Grey herons and Cormorants, once fairly rare, are now found on rivers and lakes. Most of rural France is rich in birds of prey, notably Buzzards (buses) and kites (milans). Sparsely-inhabited upland areas are home to many more raptors, including several different types of Eagle. storks (cigognes) can be seen in Alsace. Some fifty thousand Pink Flamingoes live in the Camargue wetlands at the mouth of the Rhone. Bird watching is popular and there are many Birding Hotspots. The Gallic Rooster is the national symbol of France. The French society for the protection of birds has been actively campaigning to protect the country's rich birdlife for over 100 years.
France has a variety of BRIDGES including Midieval Bridges and Historic Bridges. The Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world. The Pont de Rohan in Landerneau is one of 45 inhabited bridges in Europe. There are 37 bridges within Paris and dozens more spanning the river outside the city. Pont Neuf is the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine. Pont de Normandie is a motorway toll bridge with a footpath and a narrow cycle lane in each direction allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross the bridge free of charge. The country also has suspension bridgesand foot bridges . The Aiguille du Midi Chamonix has 2 cable cars and a bridge.
France has all forms of COMMUNICATION including newspapers, magazine, radio, and television. The state has several Telephone Area Codes and Internet Service Providers. Webcams are located throughout the country.
The livre was the CURRENCY of the Kingdom of France from 781 to 1794. The French francwas a currency of France between 1360 and 1641. It was reintroduced in decimal form in 1795 and the first one-franc coin was struck in 1803. The word livre continued until the middle of the 19th century and was used alongside the word franc. The French continued to value items in terms of the old franc until the introduction of the euro in 1999 (for accounting purposes) and 2002 (for coins and banknotes). The Bank of France was founded in 1800. The French Euro is issued and managed by the European Central Bank. The national central banks of all the member states of the European Union, constitute the European System of Central Banks.
There is evidence that DINOSAURS roamed what is now France. In 2004, Sauropod tracks were found at Coisia, about 25 miles from Plagne, and on the floor of the Loulle quarry in 2006. The first excavations in the Charente retion have confirmed that the site is one of the richest dinosaur fossil deposits in the country. Grès à Reptiles is a French fossil site in the département of Var preserving the remains of several types of dinosaurs and other extinct organisms. In 1859, the first scientifically documented dinosaur egg fossils were discovered in France. In 2010, one of the largest dinosaur fossil deposits in France was found in the Charente region. In 2002, paleontologists began a dig at Velaux. By 2012, they were able to piece together the skeleton of an Atsinganosaurus velauciensis a member of the Titanosaurus family. In November 2012 scientists began excavating an almost complete fossil of a Woolly Mammoth found near the river Marne. In May 2017, a fossil discovered in 1934, was identified as a brachiosaurid sauropod and named Vouivria damparisensis. A collection of the biggest dinosaur footprints ever recorded has been found by near the Jura mountains. A life-sized chrome Tyrannosaurus Rex has been erected on the bank of the Seine River.
EDUCATION in France is divided into three stages: Primary education, Secondary education, and Higher education. All educational programmes in France are regulated by the Ministry of National Education. Education is compulsory from the ages of 6 to 16, but a large majority of children start school well before the minimum age and over 50% of 18-21 year olds in France are still in full-time education, or else following a vocational training course. The teachers in public primary and secondary schools are all state civil servants, making the ministère the largest employer in the country. There are also many private schools and homeschooling is popular.
A variety of EVENTS are held in France. One of the most important events is Bastille Day. The Bastille Day Military Parade has been held on the morning of 14 July each year in Paris since 1880, almost without exception, and is one of the oldest regular military parades in the world. France has a number of holidays and observances.
The national FLAG of France was adopted on February 15, 1794. It is a tricolour featuring 3 vertical bands coloured royal blue, white, and red. It is known to English speakers as the French Tricolour or simply the Tricolour. Each region has its own flag.
Food in France has a long history. In 2010, French gastronomy was added by the UNESCO to its lists of the world's "intangible cultural heritage". French Bread (Baguettes) are closely connected to France though they are made around the world. French Toast dates to the 4th or 5th century. In France it may be eaten as a dessert, an afternoon tea snack or more as a breakfast. The country has a variety of dishes. Here are the top ten foods of France. For the first time in France, Fast Food has overtaken traditional restaurant spending, and there are several French Fast Food Restaurants. The country has Food Shows, Exhibitions, Expos, and Festivals. France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks. The country has several Food Museums. The history of French winespans a period of at least 2600 years with the possibility that it existed much earlier.
France has had many FORTS. Some of them are in ruins, but some are open to the public. Fort de Bregancon is a presidential retreat. Fort Mahon, and Fort Saint-Jean Marseille, and Fort Salses are Historical Monuments. The spacious hall at Fort Fleur depee hosts temporary art exhibitions. Fort Bourlement has tours. Fort de Joux has a museum of arms that exhibits more than 600 rare weapons dating from the early 18th to the 20th centuries, including a rare 1717 rifle. It also has one of the deepest wells in Europe. Fort Louvois has a museum of oyster farming, and there are oyster beds next to the causeway that joins the fort to the shore. The fort also houses a permanent exhibition that describes the history of the fort and contains models of fortifications on the Charente coast. Fort de Seclin has a museum dedicated to the cavalry.
The GLOBAL POSTION of France is approximately 46 latitude north and 2 longitude east. The geographic center is Bruere-Allichamps. The highest point is Mont Blanc and the lowest point is The Rhone River Delta. Geocaching is a high-tech sport using a Global Positioning Finder and France has many Geocaches.
The HISTORY of France dates back at least 1.57 million years ago. Prehistoric France is the period in the human occupation (including early hominids) of the geographical area covered by present-day France which extended through prehistory and ended in the Iron Age with the Celtic "La Tène culture". The first modern humans appeared in the area 40,000 years ago. The first written records for the history of France appear in the Iron Age. There were 3 main ethno-linguistic groups in the area that is now France: the Gauls, the Aquitani, and the Belgae. Current French History began in the 3rd century. During the current Fifth Republic, the Prime Minister is the Head of government and of the Cabinet of France, and the Head of state is the President.
France has a variety of INSECTS including many butterflies. There are also several species of spiders. France has over 800 species of bees. Bees are essential for pollination and there are thousands of beekeepers in France.
France has many ISLANDS in rivers and lakes and many islands off the Atlantic coast. The Glénan islands are an archipelago located off the coast. The country also has islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Corsica is the largest French Island. Napoléon Bonaparte was born in the Corsican capital of Ajaccio and his ancestral home, Casa Buonaparte, is used as a museum.
JUDICIAL appointments must be approved by a special panel, the High Council of the Judiciary, made up of other judges from receiving court. Once appointed, judges serve for life and cannot be removed without specific disciplinary proceedings conducted before the Council conducted in due process. At the basic level, the courts can be seen as organized into: ordinary courts which handle criminal and civil litigation, administrative courts which supervise the government and handle complaints. The structure of the French judiciary is divided into three tiers: Inferior courts of original and general jurisdiction, Intermediate appellate courts , and Courts of last resort.
The LANGUAGES of France include the French language and some regional languages. French is the official language and is the most widely spoken. In April 2001, the Minister of Education announced that bilingual education would, for the first time, be recognised, and bilingual teachers recruited in French public schools. Some of the languages of France are also cross-border languages some of which have a recognised or official status in the respective neighbouring state or territory. French itself is also a cross-border language, being spoken in neighbouring Andorra, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Switzerland.
Public LIBRARIES are located throughout France. The National Library of France traces its origin to the royal library founded at the Louvre Palace by Charles V in 1368. It is intended to be the repository of all that is published in France. The Pompidou Centre houses the Public Information Library, the Musée National d'Art Moderne, the largest museum for modern art in Europe; and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research.
France has many LIGHTHOUSES. The Cordouan Lighthouse is located near the mouth of the Gironde estuary and is the oldest lighthouse in the country and the 10th tallest "traditional lighthouse" in the world. It is something of a Renaissance masterpiece, an amalgam of royal palace, cathedral and fort. Started in 1584 and finished in 1611. A lighthouse is an important aspect to the mariner
France has a variety of MUSEUMS including Art Museums and Biographical Museums. The Louvre in Paris is one of largest and most visited museum in the world and a historic monument. The Louvre Pyramidhas become a landmark of the city of Paris. The Village des Bories, west of the village of Gordes, is an open-air museum.
France has many OBSERVATORIES. The Paris Observatory is the foremost astronomical observatory of France and one of the largest astronomical centres in the world. The Pic du Midi is an observatory at the top of the Pyrénées and home to the highest museum in Europe. it is also an International Dark Sky Reserve. The country also has planetariums. France has Astronomy Organizations.
France belongs to many International ORGANIZATIONS. including the European Union, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization. Many International Organizations are based in France.
Over 65 million PEOPLE live in France and a person from France and/or a citizen of France is called French. Many famous people have called France their home including Nostradamus who published collections of prophecies that have since become widely famous; Napoleon Bonaparte a French military and political leader and Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815; Jacques Custeau who studied the sea and all forms of life in water; and Pepe Le Pew a fictional character from a series of cartoons, first introduced in 1945. France has had many rulers including kings, emperors, and presidents. Napoleon I is probably the best known.
France has thousands of RIVERS and the major rivers are all natural waterways. Most of the French counties are named after one or two rivers flowing through them. The longest river is the Loire. The Rhone River is the biggest river in France in terms of depth and volume. The Seine River is dredged and ocean-going vessels can dock at Rouen 75 miles from the sea. The Gironde Estuary is formed with the meeting of the Dorgodne River and the Garonne River.
TRANSPORTATION in France relies on one of the densest networks in the world including a variety of Public Transportation. It also has a system of large navigable waterways. France has many airports. The Courchevel Altiport serves a ski resort in the French Alps. The airfield has a very short runway and is considered one of the scariest runways in the world. Vehicle Registration Plates in France are issued using the XX-NNN-ZZ format, composed of a series of 7 alphanumeric characters: 2 letters, 3 numbers, and then 2 letters (e.g. AB-123-CD).
France is a charter member of the UNITED NATIONS and one of 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The French public higher education system includes Universities and other higher education institutes, that provide both education curricula and related degrees up to doctoral degree and also contribute to research activities. Aside from the nationally funded public education system that provides recognized degrees to the vast majority of students in France and that keeps tuition fees low, there exist private institutes. The largest university is Aix-Marseille University dating back to 1409. Professors and researchers in French universities are employed by the state.
France has many extinct VOLCANOES. The Massif Central Region contains a large concentration of extinct approximately 450 volcanoes. The Auvergne Volcanoes National Park is in the Massif. The Puy de Sancy is the tallest volcano in the Massif. Puy de Dome is a large lava dome and one of the youngest volcanoes in the Massif. The Piton de la Fournaise, or Peak of the Furnace, volcano on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean erupted on September 12, 2016 -- the second time this year. Vulcania, the "European Park of Volcanism", is an educational Amusement park and museum with a volcano theme. Situated in Saint-Ours-les-Roches, Auvergne.
France benefits from great WEATHER in summer, but winters can be cold, especially in Brittany and the North of France. Places reputed for their outstanding weather are the south and south east of the country. In the west, the weather is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and cool to warm summers. Inland the weather becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters and less rain. The weather of the Alps and other mountainous regions is mainly alpine, with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months. Wunderground provides current weather conditions in the country.
France has a variety of WILDLIFE including The Wild Boar, the Brown Bear, the Ibex, the Chamois, and the Camargue Horse. Because of the large size of France, and the large percentage of the country that is still rural and/or forested, there are many intact natural WILDLIFE habitats. Some species are endangered. France has several Wildlife Rehabilitators.
France has a variety of ZOOS and aquariums. Many are members of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Haute Touche Zoological Park is the largest zoo in the country. The Nausicaa is the largest aquarium in France and in Europe.