France – Country of Castles, Wine, and History
France is known for its proud history and rich culture. Its area is 545,630 square km. Its official name is French Republic. The capital of the country is Paris. France shares borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Andorra. The Mediterranean Sea lies to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean lies to the west. The French Alps are in the southeast. Mont Blanc, which rises 4,807 meters, is the highest point. The Pyrenees Mountains lie in the southwest. France is separated from England by the English Channel.
France is one of the major economic powers of the world. French cooking has long been internationally appreciated. France is known for its wines. There are miles of green vineyards.
The French river valleys are full of historic and beautiful old castles, called chateaux.
In about 1200 BC the Gauls came to what is now France. By about 50 BC the ancient Romans had conquered the region. Later German tribes invaded the region. The Franks were the strongest of those tribes, and they gave France its name.
In 1066 the French duke of Normandy conquered England. In 1337 the Hundred Years’ War between England and France began. Peasant girl named Joan of Arc led the French army to victory. During the 1500s wars broke out between Protestants (known as Huguenots) and Roman Catholics. During the 1600s France became the greatest power in Europe. The king ruled France until he was overthrown in the French Revolution of 1789. Ten years later the famous leader Napoleon began his rule. Germany invaded France in 1914, at the beginning of World War I. Less than 30 years later Germany again invaded France, during World War II. In 1993 France became the member of the European Union.
Paris is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe. It has many lovely old buildings, monuments, gardens, plazas, cafés, boulevards, and bridges. Paris is called the City of Light. The Seine River flows through the center of the city. One of the most impressive sights is the Chaillot Palace, which now contains museums and theaters.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the most famous church buildings in the world.
The Louvre Museum is known throughout the world for its fine collection of art.
The Eiffel Tower is the best-known landmark of Paris. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel in 1889.
– France is the birthplace of Gothic art, which was originally known as the French art. It is also home to Baroque architecture.
– Iris is a national flower of France.
– French was the official language of England for over 300 years (from 1066 to the beginning of the XV century).
– Gavarnie Falls is the highest in the country. Its height is 422 meters!
– National anthem of France still enjoys great popularity in the world. It is called La Marseillaise. It was written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792.
– The Gallic rooster is the national animal of France.
– April Fools’ Day, which is celebrated on April 1, is believed to have originated in France.
– One of the most important national holidays in France is the 14th of July. This day is known as Bastille Day.
– French is the official language in 30 countries!
– Nicotine was named after Jean Nicot (1530-1600), a French diplomat and scholar, who imported tobacco to France from Portugal in 1559.