Population

65,187,965 (2019)

Official language

French.

Languages spoken

There are a few different dialects across France including Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, West Flemish, Franco-Provençal, Occitan (Gascon, Languedoc, Provence, Auvergne Limousin) and the German dialect in Alsace and Moselle, or the Oïl languages ??such as Franche-Comté, Walloon, Picard, Norman, Gallo, Saintonge Poitevin, Morvan Burgundy and Lorraine. Berber- and Arabic-French dialects are practiced in Arabic and North African communities.

People

French cities are culturally diverse, and France in general is made up of different regional identities and communities including Basque, Breton, Catalan or Alsatian that maintain their identity through customs and regional traditions.

Religion

France is a secular state where Church and State are entirely separate. A large 27% of the population of France identified as atheists and 64.3% as Catholics.

National Holiday

July 14: Bastille Day, which commemorates the day of the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution in 1789.

Holiday Schedule

  • January 1: New Year's Day.
  • Easter is some time in March or April.
  • May 1: Labor Day traditionally the day of many union and political events in France.
  • May 8: Day of Commemoration for the Victory of the German surrender and the end of World War II in Europe in 1945. The Thursday 40 days after Easter is a Christian celebration for the rise of Jesus to Heaven.
  • The seventh Sunday after Easter and the following Monday are Pentecost and Whit Monday, which are Christian festivals celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit among the apostles.
  • August 15: the Assumption, a Catholic festival celebrating the rise of Virgin Mary into Heaven.
  • November 1: All Saints Day.
  • November 11: Armistice Day which commemorates the end of the First World War in 1918.
  • December 25: Christmas.

History

France today is named after the Franks, a Germanic people whose name means ""free men”. A key date in French history in the Revolution of 1789, when the monarchy was overthrown and the parliamentary monarchy was set up. However, a month later it was also overthrown and the First Republic was proclaimed on June 24, 1793. Under the First Empire, France controlled much of Europe but was exhausted in its struggle against the United Kingdom, Prussia, Austria and Russia.

At the end of this regime in 1814, the monarchy was restored with the Charter of June 4, 1814. In 1848 the monarchy was again reversed and the Second Republic was proclaimed on 4 November, and a presidential system was introduced. On 2 December 1851 the President of the Republic, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, commited a coup, then on January 14, 1852, he appointed himself emperor under the name of Napoleon III. Under the Second Empire, the country experienced the beginnings of the second industrialisation. The Second Empire ended in 1870 after the defeat at Sedan, with France against Prussia. February 1871 was when the Third Republic was proclaimed, which lasted for almost 70 years until July 10, 1940 when Marshal Pétain led the way for the republic to become the French State.

France went through turmoil during World War II, but following World War II, the Fourth Republic was proclaimed on October 27, 1946. However, this new area is marked by the decolonisation on many French-colonised countries - in particular Indochina and Algeria - and France struggled with this. The Constitution of the Fifth Republic, written under the influence of Charles de Gaulle and Michel Debré, was adopted on 4 October 1958. It set up a semi-parliamentary republic that proved to be very resilient to instability. Since the 1960s, reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have enabled France to play a leading role in European integration, especially with the European Economic Community, and today it is one of the leading countries of the European Union.

Policy

France is a member of the European Union, and part of the Euro-Zone and the Schengen Area. The French practices a democratic system and is based on the principle affirmed in the 1958 Constitution: “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. Since the constitutional reform of 2001, the President of the Republic is elected for five years by national vote, and the president appoints the Prime Minister. Parliament consists of the National Assembly, bringing together 577 deputies and the Senate is comprised of 331 senators elected for six years. The French abroad have their interests represented in Parliament by the Assembly of French Citizens Abroad.

Etiquette

Tipping isn’t expected in France, but it is customary to leave a small tip at your discretion if experienced great service. The bar, cafe and restaurant scene and culture is strong in France and you’ll find numerous cute places to eat and drink. Some open early for breakfast and then turn into a bar that may not close until two in the morning.

Shopping

Skill and talent can be discovered in every region of France so be sure to hunt out local products and handicrafts wherever you travel. Traditional items such as art objects, fabrics, sculptures, paintings, furniture, pottery and ceramics, stained glass, lighting, jewellery, perfumes and cosmetics made by artisans and specialists can be found in markets and boutiques. Be sure to leave plenty of space in your suitcase for lots of French treats!

Food

France is known across the world for its excellent cuisine. From the smallest cafe to the grandest, gourmet restaurant, you’ll be able to find some delicious food. Typically the food is rich and packed with flavour, and they’re famed for their wine, bread and cheese. It has so many specialties across the country that each region has its own flavour and distinct character, from sauerkraut and white wine in Alsace region and snails and beef in Burgundy, to butter pancakes in Brittany and the iconic Normandy Camembert etc.

Drink

France is indisputably one of the world’s best places for wine including white, red and rose and it is, of course, the birthplace of Champagne, but you can also find Cognac, Armagnac, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Absinthe and more.

Useful information

Contact one of our France specialists