France occupies a distinct place in our collective imagination. From the urbane sophistication and history of its cities, to its legendary food and wine, to the spectacular scenery – think rugged mountains and verdant forests, golden beaches and azure seas, rolling pastures and mighty rivers – everyone has their own idealized conception of France. Consequently, it is also the world’s most popular tourist destination by far, according to the United Nations World Tourist Organization.
Perhaps your personal image of France involves its proud intellectual and artistic heritage. This is the nation, after all, which produced thinkers such as René Descartes and Jean-Paul Sartre, authors like Marcel Proust and Albert Camus, filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Jean Renoir, and artists like Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne.On top of these names we can add a whole host of scientists, mathematicians and other researchers, whose names are slightly less familiar, but whose achievements are no less spectacular for it. A total of 49 Nobel laureates places France fourth in the world.
So is France for you then? Well, if you want to attend a high-quality institution in a nation with a proud intellectual heritage which will have the added benefit of making everyone you know jealous, then is the answer could well be ‘yes’.
Facts about France
- Presidential republic with bicameral legislature
- President is head of state, while government is headed by prime minister
- Capital city (and largest city by far): Paris
- Official language: French
- As well as metropolitan France, which borders Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra and Monaco, France owns a number of overseas territories, some of which – such as French Guiana in South America – are considered to be part of France (i.e. its citizens belong to the European Union)
- Most popular tourist destination in the world – in 2010, France was visited by 76.8 million people
- Population of 65,312,249 (July 2011 estimate), 62,814,233 of whom live in metropolitan France
- Comparable to Kansas in terms of area
- International dialling code: +33
- Currency: Euro (€)
- Uses Central European Time (UCT+1), shifting to Daylight Savings Time (UTC+2)
- France produces around 400 distinct varieties of cheese (possibly more, depending on how you count them) and the average French person drinks just over 70 bottles of wine a year
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