France, often called L’hexagone, occupies a unique position in Europe as well as the world. Situated at the edge of western Europe overlooking the Atlantic, yet connected to Germany, Span, Italy and the United Kingdom (through the English Channel) among many others, it serves as the unofficial gateway to Europe. The number one tourist destination of the world, The Land of Earthly Pleasures, France is a bustling yet tranquil, beautiful and enigmatic, traditional and yet progressive country that is and has always been a powerful and yet non-oppressive force in this world.
France has an awe-inspiringly diverse history, that is often as bloody as it is intellectually stimulating. It is rich in culture, ideas, conquests, wars and revolutions; France has really been through hell and back to get where it is now, and remnants of a glorious past are still minutely visible to those who look for it. Always the centre of cultural development, art and ideas; France has been the earliest to implement a democratic government, participated in both the World Wars, suffered one of the worst economic crisis in modern history and still has territories all over the globe that are a humble reminder of its years of world conquest. Currently one of the most progressive societies in the modern world, it is globally the most networked country, supplies a staggering 75% of its electricity through nuclear power, and is the centre of artistic creation in the world.
The French language is renowned all over the world for its lilting and mellifluous tones, and the french people are notorious for being monolingual. Often called the most romantic language, it is widely used across Europe and beyond. In Healthcare and Education, France is one of the most progressive states. It has one of the best healthcare systems in the world primarily because heavy central governmental support with an impressive 77% of all healthcare expenditure covered by the government. Its Education system is also centralised and government funded upto the level of High school. Religiously speaking, France is a secular country with a strict distinction between Church and State. Although, comprised of Catholics by majority, it also has the highest Atheist population in all of Europe. It has deep historical ties with the evolution of Christianity through the middle ages and that is still clearly visible in its architectural landscape.
As a tourist destination, France has a lot to offer. There are beautiful villages like Vienne and Sainte-Enimie, collectively known as Les plus beaux villages de France scattered throughout the country that offer picturesque views and a sense of tranquility on the banks of beautiful rivers, among rolling landscapes, nestled between beautiful mountains. For the adventurous, there are spectacular mountain ranges such as the Massif Central that provide the perfect opportunity for trekking and climbing. The coastline is dotted with numerous beaches such as the one in Saint-Malo that offer stunning natural scenery of mountains, plateaus, cliffs, and beautiful sunset views. Just like the landscape, the climate in France is also diverse. The areas around the South-eastern coastline, especially along the Mediterranean and along the German border have relatively hot summers, while the region along the Alps – which incidentally, is home to Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe – can get pretty cold. However, mostly, and especially in the major cities including Paris, the climate is temperate and pleasant all year round.
France remains world renowned for its rich cultural tradition. The cuisine is regarded as the best in the world, and almost every place has a specialty of its own. The Bordeaux wines, Champagne, and the bemusingly large varieties of cheese are some of its unique varieties. Paris is the art and fashion capital of the world, with some of the biggest global brands such as L’Oréal and Chanel headquartered there. It is also known as the ‘City of Light’ because historically it has been the center of development, a place of education, philosophy and learning. The Louvre is the world’s biggest and the most visited museum, and a historic and a monumental landmark of France. It houses Egyptian and Eastern antiquities, Islamic art, medieval sculptures, legendary paintings and of course, the mysterious smile of The Mona Lisa. The Eiffel Tower hardly needs mentioning and the city is planned in such a way that it is visible at all times from anywhere in the city. France is also home to numerous historical sites which include many religious buildings such as cathedrals and basilicas but also museums, monuments and memorals; and many of these are world heritage sites, as declared by UNESCO.
The French Riviera along the Côte d’Azur, i.e., the southern coastline overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is an elite tourist region notable for its ski resorts, yachts, high end restaurants, golf courses and stunning beaches. Premier among here is the sovereign state of Monaco, notoriously known as the playground of the rich, famous for its mild climate, beautiful scenery, gambling establishments and race courses. Off the coast, lies the island of Corsica, famous for its heterogeneous culture, diverse ecology and stylish towns; all nestled within the beautiful lap of nature. In the northeast, Lille is a very academic city with an strong industrial background located close to the Belgium border. It is known for its dynamic city life and active culture. In the West, Nantes is a city overlooking the Atlantic with an immersing and rich history and a landscape known as the greenest in the world. It is claimed by many to be the greatest place to live in the world.
All in all, France is almost a model prototype of modern civilization. Its medieval cities, picturesque villages, diverse culture, architectural excellence and scenic beauty make it a must-see for tourists and the culturally dynamic life make it an attraction to the whole world.