France, the third-largest country in Europe, with a land area of 543,965 km2 and a population of 67.06 million people (as of 2019). France is strategically located for international trade, with the English Channel to the northwest, the Atlantic to the west, and the Mediterranean to the southeast. It is also a country that understands how to blend elegance, the art of living, and outstanding gourmet experiences, and it has always been able to use its material, cultural, and scientific assets to exert tremendous power throughout its history.
Aside from agriculture, livestock, and tourism, France has had a successful industrial revolution, particularly in new technology, the food industry, communications, and transportation. In this regard, the major French achievements in aeronautics — the Airbus — and rail transportation — with the TGV (high-speed trains) — as well as the outstanding road networks, will allow everyone involved in the 1998 World Cup to arrive in record time in the locations hosting the 64 matches.
LANGUAGE: French is recognized as the official language of France with 93.28% of the population has it as the their mother tongue. 3% of the population speak German dialects, predominantly in the eastern provinces of Alsace-Lorraine and Moselle. Flemish is spoken by around 90,000 people in the north-east, which is 0.2% of the French population. Around 1 million people near the Italian border, roughly 1.7% of the population, speaks Italian. Many French people also learn some English in school. In some places, like Paris, you might be able to get by, especially in tourist-heavy areas. Keep in mind that the French will always appreciate it if you speak to them in French first.
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VISA POLICY: France is listed among the Schengen zone of the European Union, whether you are planning to go on a visit, study or work and reside in France permanently, you will have to apply for a different France Schengen Visa, accordingly. There are 36 countries that are free to travel without a French Visa for a short stays (up to 3 months) unfortunately, the Philippines isn’t included therefore, Philippine Passport holders should undergo the French Visa Application procedure and secure the appropriate French Visa.
Entry visas can be broken down into two main categories:
Short-Stay Visa (Category C) – Authorizes foreign nationals to enter and stay in French territory for up to 3 months.
Long-Stay Visa (Category D)– Allows foreign nationals to stay in France for longer than three months.
CURRENCY: Euro is the official currency that you will use in France, meaning you will have to make sure that you convert it in the right way and you have ample cash to move around the city and to pay for food and services and to shop as well. It’s short name is EUR and it’s symbol is €. It’s denominations are: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent; and 1 and 2 euro coins. While Euro banknotes are: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
BANKS AND ATMS: ATMs are plentiful in France where they are known as DABs or Distributeur Automatique de Billet. Do be careful though that if you are staying in a small village or rural area an ATM machine may not be that close to hand. Make sure that you know the limit for cash withdrawals from your account so you don’t get caught out if you need more money. The ATM machines in France are much the same as anywhere else – fortunately for English language speakers most of them offer an English language option for transactions. You can use your French card or non-French card in the ATMs – your bank may charge you for this service.
SOCKETS AND ADAPTERS: There are two associated plug types, types C and E. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type E is the plug which has two round pins and a hole for the socket’s male earthing pin. France operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
CONNECTIVITY: France currently has 4 mobile networks, Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free with Orange as the leading mobile operator in terms of both population and territory coverage. As of 2020, the four major French mobile operators offer comparable and almost total 4G coverage. More than 95 percent of the French population was covered by mobile broadband no matter which operator they chose.
TRANSPORTATION: Transport in France is comfortable, quick, usually reliable and reasonably priced. The four common transportation are: Train, Bus, Car and Bike.
Train: If you want to get between French cities, you can comfortably take SNCF trains. It has extensive coverage of the country and frequent departures.
Buses are are cheaper and slower than trains. Useful for more remote villages that aren’t serviced by trains.
Bicycles: The expanses of gorgeous countryside and mountain regions have numerous cycle trails that are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike, for exercise, day trips, and tours of the country. Most French cities and towns have at least one bike shop that rents out vélos tout terrains (mountain bikes; around €15 a day), known as VTTs, as well as more road-oriented vélos tout chemin (VTCs), or cheaper city bikes.
WEATHER: France has a mostly temperate climate, although there are many regional differences. France generally enjoys cool winters and mild summers except along the Mediterranean where mild winters and hot summers are the norm. Average winter temperatures range from 32° F to 46° F and average summer temperatures from 61° F to 75° F. The oceanic climate of western France brings average rainfall spread over many days, and modest annual temperature variations (Brittany, Normandy, Atlantic Loire, Loire Valley).
Central and eastern France’s continental climate harbors cold winters and hot summers (the Champagne region, Burgundy, Alsace). The Mediterranean climate of south-eastern France is responsible for hot, dry summers, with rainfall from October to April (when the weather is damp but mild) and ample sunshine all year round (Provence, Côte d’Azur and Corsica). Above 600-800m altitudes, France’s mountain climate brings heavy rainfall, and snow three to six months per year.
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