France Host Country
Covering an area of 672,000 square kilometres, including the overseas departments and territories, France is the world’s 41st-largest country, while its 67.5 million inhabitants make it the 20th-most populous nation on the planet. Mainland France is flanked by the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Belgium and Luxembourg to the north-east, Germany and Switzerland to the east, Italy and Monaco to the south-east and Spain and Andorra to the south-west.
Though it has witnessed many political changes and upheavals during the course of its long and rich history, France is now a unitary constitutional republic with a semi-presidential form of government combining aspects of both a parliamentary and presidential system.
In terms of GDP, France is the world’s fifth largest economy and the second largest in the eurozone, behind neighbouring Germany and ahead of the UK. The French economy is essentially service-based, though agriculture and industry have always made significant contributions to it. In addition, its food processing, aerospace, automobile, luxury products, tourism and nuclear industries are particularly advanced.
Climate and tourism
Mainland France is located at the western edge of Europe, at the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator. Surrounded by sea to the north, west and south-east, it also boasts several mountain ranges, such as the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Massif Central, the Vosges and the Jura. France has a temperate climate, with winters that are relatively mild and summers that are warm but not overly hot. The country can be divided into four broad climatic zones: continental in the east, oceanic in the centre and south-west, Mediterranean in the south-east, and highland in mountainous areas.
France and tourism go hand in hand. According to the World Tourism Organization, it has been the world’s leading tourist destination in terms of foreign visitors since the 1990s. The country’s appeal lies not just in the beauty and diversity of its countryside, but also in its outstanding historical, cultural and artistic heritage. With its many landmarks and historical buildings, Paris is the jewel in the national crown, though France boasts many other gems that are well worth visiting, from north to south and
Paris, the capital city, is the third most visited city in the world. Paris has some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, but also the Musée d'Orsay, mostly devoted to impressionism, and Beaubourg, dedicated to Contemporary art. Paris hosts some of the world's most recognizable landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, which is the most-visited paid monument in the world, the Arc de Triomphe, the cathedral of Notre-Dame or the Sacré-Cœur. The Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie is the biggest science museum in Europe. Located in Parc de la Villette in Paris, France, it is at the heart of the Cultural Center of Science, Technology and Industry (CCSTI), a center promoting science and science culture. Near Paris is the Palace of Versailles, the former palace of the kings of France, now a museum.
Lyon has 2,000 years of history imprinted on its streets (yes, the cobblestone kind). Explore this history in Vieux Lyon (one of Europe's most extensive Renaissance neighborhoods) and Lyon's two Roman amphitheatres, which still stage rock concerts today. It's no wonder Lyon is a popular area for travelers, with its dynamic university, first-class shopping, antique markets, vibrant theatre and music festivals, and a range of interesting museums, such as the International Puppet Museum and the Museum of Miniatures and Film Sets.
Nice is home to Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, France's third-busiest airport (after Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris-Orly), which is on an area of partially reclaimed coastal land at the western end of the Promenade des Anglais. A second airport at Mandelieu was once the region's commercial airport, but is now mainly used by private and business aircraft. The A8 autoroute runs through the region, as does the old main road generally known as the Route nationale 7 (officially now the DN7 in the Var and the D6007 in the Alpes-Maritimes). Trains serve the coastal region and inland to Grasse, with the TGV Sud Est service reaching Nice-Ville station in five and a half hours from Paris.
Montpellier, the most seductive city in the French south at any time, is elegant and cultured, with an autumn sun warm enough to sit out on its squares. Montpellier is, at any time, the most seductive city in the French south – elegant, cultured and tolerant, with Mediterranean blood coursing through its veins and dynamism to spare. Lacking industry, the place has majored on brains and bravura. World-class architects are forever turning up to add showpieces. The trams – designed latterly by Christian Lacroix as moving tableaux – have been called “the sexiest in the world”. It takes a startling city to make trams sexy.
Rennes is the capital city of Brittany, northwest France. It's known for its medieval half-timbered houses and grand Rennes Cathedral. Parc du Thabor includes a rose garden and aviary. South of the Vilaine river, the Musée des Beaux-arts displays works by Botticelli, Rubens and Picasso. The Champs Libres cultural center houses the Musée de Bretagne (Brittany Museum) and Espace des Sciences, featuring a planetarium.
The modern city of Le Havre is your go-to destination! Now more than ever, the Porte Océane includes a number of cities on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. This honor has been accompanied, over the years, by a number of developments in the city: visit appartements témoins, Bains des Docks, Hanging Gardens, the Cruise Terminal, the Docks Vauban, shopping and relaxation areas, as well as the North Seawall. The city is overflowing with new attractions, guaranteed for a great trip. Other projects, like the development of a tramway, a new hotel facing the marina, the Grand Stade, and the Pointe de Caux area are also underway. If you want to spend your time and get a sense of history from this many-faceted place, it is important that you explore and visit the seaside resort of Sainte-Adresse, feel the medieval ambiance of Harfleur and Montivilliers, enjoy the unique freshness of the Hanging Gardens, know and get knowledge about the city’s trading traditions in Shipowner’s house or appreciating the modern structural designs which is the reason why Le Havre became part of the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites – if you can ignore the beauty of the beach and seafront promenade combined with the alluring café terraces. The marine metropolis of Le Havre – a vacation stop you'll want to see again and again!
Valenciennes is a town full of surprises. An unobtrusive town of charm. A city to explore on foot, as the alleyways, busy squares, and incredibly rich monuments take you. Valenciennes is not a showy town but it is sure of itself. It has preserved its long history with its share of good and bad times, its sense of rebirth. Here, Art is everywhere, like a second skin, memory rooted in the future.
A TOWN TO DISCOVER ON FOOT…It is as you walk through the heart of the old town that you will best capture the atmosphere and spot the hidden treasures of Valenciennes. To see Valenciennes, start at the Place d'Armes, at the imposing work sculptured by Jean-Bernard Métais. This 45m high needle symbolises the former bell tower, now disappeared. More than 2000 words spoken by the townspeople of Valenciennes were collected and carved into the metal. Go to the tourist office situated in one of the rare 16th century wooden houses to be seen in northern France. There are 3 in the town. Stroll calmly through the old town. As you follow the pretty cobbled streets, stop at the small squares, in the shade of the trees, or in the narrow alleys around the former Beguine convent.
Reims is a city in northeastern France's Grand Est region. It's the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region, and many of the well-known champagne houses headquartered there offer tastings and cellar tours. The 3rd-century Porte de Mars triumphal arch marks the town's time under Roman rule. For more than 1,000 years, French kings were crowned at its Cathédrale Notre-Dame.
Is Grenoble’s identity both sides of the coin? Indeed, we have it all – don’t be jealous! Grenoble’s personality was carved in its ancient heritage, unveiled thanks to its archaeological sites, but also has a large part of modern spirit thanks to many world class labs and international research institutes. As a “city in the mountains”, Grenoble goes bold, for a somewhat irreverent lifestyle: its is allowed to tickle surrounding mountain summits during the day, and attend a classy premiere at MC2 at night (formal is not always required, fleece are accepted). Grenoble cherishes its Dauphiné identity thanks to a large heritage and rich history, but warmly welcomes all visitors, foreign students or expatriates who want to taste Grenoble life.Grenoble conceives housings for the future in eco-neighbourhoods, keeping an architectural gimmick of large windows opening on Vercors mountain tops, so as to comply with Stendhal’s old motto “in Grenoble, every street ends with a mountain”.