France

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France

France is a country in Western Europe with several of its overseas territories and islands located on other continents. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered (clockwise from the north) by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain and Andorra. The largest cities in France, in terms of metropolitan area population, are Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Nice, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes.

The fortified town of Carcassonne is home to monuments from different eras. Visitors traveling with kids will want to visit Disneyland Paris, Europe's own Magic Kingdom that comes complete with all the storybook characters and theme park rides. Lyon is known for its restaurant scene as well as its art museums, riverside walks and a historic old town. Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the Millau Viaduct is the tallest bridge in the world. It spans the valley of the River Tarn in the south. Mont Saint Michel, Normandy’s most iconic sight, is a rocky islet that is linked to the mainland by a causeway. Paris boasts the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre-Coeur and Notre Dame Cathedral. Other places worth visiting are Provence in southeast France, St. Tropez on the Cote d’Azur, and the Palace of Versailles, just outside of Paris.

The country's food is among its many celebrated aspects and dining in whatever form is a must for all visitors. Cuisine can vary regionally, but no matter where in the country one may travel, it's easy enough to come by a cafe for breakfast and enjoy a strong cup of a coffee or even a cafe au lait and a croissant or chocolate-filled croissant known as pain au chocolate. Another casual dining option is a brasserie, where menu items will usually consist of some staples like steaks and french fries, as well as local specialties like cassoulet, a slow-cooked bean stew. Gastronic restaurants are found in every city and even off the beaten path. In Paris, there's L'Atelier Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee and Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower.

There are international airports in all of the country's major cities and a swathe of smaller, regional airport in virtually every corner of the country. Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport is the largest, although there’s also Paris Orly International Airport. In the south of France is Bordeaux International Airport and in the center of France, Lyon Saint-Exupery International Airport. French Railways operates a nationwide network. Transport in and around Paris is operated by the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), which offers a fully integrated bus, rail and underground métro network for the capital. Motorail car sleeper services are operated from Boulogne, Calais, Dieppe and Paris to all main holiday areas in both summer and winter. RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) controls the underground (métro), rail (RER) and bus services in and around Paris. In other cities there are tramways, trolleybuses and an underground in Marseille.

France has a temperate climate in the north, while the northeastern areas have a more continental climate with warm summers and colder winters. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year with some snow likely in winter. The Jura Mountains have an alpine climate. Lorraine, sheltered by bordering hills, has a relatively mild climate. The south has a Mediterranean climate, and the mountains are cooler with heavy snow in winter. The Atlantic influences the climate of the western coastal areas from the Loire to the Basque region where the weather is temperate and relatively mild with rainfall throughout the year. Summers can be very hot and sunny. Inland areas are mild and the French slopes of the Pyrenees are renowned for their sunshine. A Mediterranean climate exists on the Riviera, and in Provence and Roussillon. Weather in the French Alps is variable. Continental weather is present in Auvergne, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley.
 

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