France has been a major center of European culture and civilization for centuries. Its political and social ideals were the origin of important reform movements in the Enlightenment and French Revolution, and it has been an important power on the world stage throughout modern history, leading to the development of a global network of alliances and international institutions. It is also a world leader in scientific research and technological innovation. Its cuisine is renowned for its sophistication and style, its art and literature are famous throughout the world, and its people are known for their sense of style and beauty.
While the majority of the population speaks French, there are numerous regional variations in language and culture, reflecting the diverse regions of France. In addition, many people have at least some knowledge of one or more other languages, including German in the east, Flemish in the northeast, and Italian in the south.
In the past, France was a highly centralised State with two levels of local government: Departments (départements) and Municipalities (communes). However, the 1958 Constitution introduced decentralisation. The national Assembly and the Senate were given a more flexible division of powers, giving more autonomy to local authorities. The States were gradually turned into territories with their own legislatures, executive councils and budgetary authority.
France is a secular, democratic republic, and its constitution guarantees the rights of individuals, a free press, and public freedoms. It is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, and the OECD, and is part of the G7 group of developed countries.
The country’s cultural heritage was shaped by Celtic, Roman, and Germanic influences, with an emphasis on individualism and secularity. While this has contributed to a more centralized culture, it is still possible to find smaller communities that maintain their distinct traditions, especially in rural areas.
A high level of caution has been in place for travel to France due to the elevated threat of terrorism. France remains a safe destination for tourists, but you should continue to take reasonable precautions and follow our travel tips.
Paris is the most visited city in Europe and is a major hub for international air travel. It is also the capital of France, and is home to a large number of historic buildings, museums, art galleries, theaters, restaurants, and other attractions.
There is a wide variety of accommodations available in Paris, including luxury hotels and affordable hostels. You should book your accommodation well in advance to ensure your preferred dates are available.
The best way to get around Paris is by public transportation. Paris has a comprehensive subway and bus system, as well as a fast rail connection to other major cities in the country. Taxis are also available, but should be booked in advance. Be sure to validate your ticket before boarding and keep it with you until the end of your journey. You should avoid taking unlicensed taxis, which may charge much higher rates than those authorized by the city.