That’s how many people live in France today. It’s a population roughly equal to England’s. And though our two cultures have shared a similar thread, and a tumultuous history, there’s plenty to distinguish this great nation. Let’s explore:
1) It has a historical legacy
France was a major stage in the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, which means there are lots of ancient buildings and remnants of art and culture, all left for you to see. This is evident particularly in the southern part of the country, where old Roman circuses still host bullfights, parties and concerts.
2) It’s forever featuring in films
Here are just a few, from the past 100 years:
- The Darling of Paris (1917), by J. Gordon Edwards
- A Woman of Paris (1923), by Charlie Chaplin
- A Tale of Two Cities (1935), by Jack Conway
- The Three Musketeers (1948), by George Sidney
- The Sun Also Rises (1957), by Henry King
- The Pink Panther (1963), by Blake Edwards
- The Aristocats (1970), by Wolfgang Reitherman
- A View to a Kill (1985), by John Glen
- Everyone Says I Love You (1996), by Woody Allen
- Amelie (2001), by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
- Hugo (2011), by Martin Scorsese
3) Its wine is delicious
The French consume 60 litres of wine per person a year.
That’s more than any other country in the world. Reds account for 60% of French supermarket wine sales, compared with 15% for whites and 25% for rosés.
So it must be pretty good stuff.
The history of French wine goes back over 2,600 years. But it was the Romans who spread viticulture across the land they knew as Gaul, planting vines in areas that would become the famous wine regions: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Languedoc, Loire Valley and the Rhone.
4) It’s full of natural beauty
Take the French Alps, for example: home to Europe’s highest mountain.
At 4,810m, Mont Blanc takes a long 10 to 12 hours to climb. Or you can take a quick 20-minute trip up on Europe’s highest cable car to see the brilliant views.
Then down on the ground, look to the hills of Provence. Every summer, purple lavender blooms across these rolling landscapes. It’s a simple, enjoyable delight.
5) French quirks are lovely
Bon coeur ne peut mentir.
That’s an old French saying. It means “the heart sees further than the head”.
And as much as the French romanticism seems clichéd, this is a nation which often trusts the heart. Romantic notions are certainly still entertained.
The 500-year-old Académie Française aims to preserve the French language. It tries to stop – somewhat unsuccessfully – foreign words such as blog, hashtag, parking, email, and weekend from entering the vernacular.
A charming example of thinking with the heart and not the head.
That’s how all the best adventures start.
Find out where to start yours today.