rance is the largest country in western Europe and is often called the Hexagon because of its six sided shape. The country can be drawn inside a hexagon which has a diameter of 1 000 km. France is about 1000km from North to South, and 1000km from East to West.
||Children in France learn to draw the map of their country through first constructing a hexagon. The map on the left shows you how this is done.
French people and the French media use the name of "L'Hexagone" a lot when they refer to their country.
France is a founding member of the European Union, and is the largest country in it.
France has 3,427 km of coastline: bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea. No place in France is more than 500 km
from the sea. Seas, rivers and mountains form natural frontiers on five sides of France. The border with Belgium is low lying, flat land.
France shares her borders with eight countries. Here is the list, with the length of the shared frontiers:
|Andorra 60 km
|| Belgium 620 km
|Germany 451 km
||Italy 488 km
|Luxembourg 73 km
||Monaco 4.4 km
|Spain 623 km
||Switzerland 573 km
France has many mountains which form the boundaries with other countries. The map shows the mountainous areas of France. The highest mountain in France is Le Mont Blanc, in the Alps.
At nearly 5,000 metres in altitude, Mont Blanc is also the highest mountain in Europe. The main ranges are: the Vosges,
the Alps, the Massif Central (Auvergne), the Pyrenees
The main rivers in France are the Rhône, the Loire and the Seine.
Source: www.bonjour la france.com/ .../rivers-in- france.htm
The Loire is the longest, at over 1,000km in length. This is the river near which so many of the French monarchs and nobles built their châteaux. It is shallow and not easily navigable by big boats for a lot of its length.
The Rhône is a deep water river (about 800km in length) that can be navigated from the Mediterranean Sea up to Lyon by big sea-going vessels. It is the river that passes through Avignon (with the famous bridge).
The Seine (about 775 km in length) links Paris to the English Channel and is the best known of the French rivers.
The Garonne has a tidal bore and flows through the Bordeau wine regions into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Dordogne flows through deep valleys and gorges in the part of France best known for its pre-history. It also has a tidal bore, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
France is divided into 22 Adminstrative
regions (see the map on the right.) Each region has its own personality, history, traditions, wines and food.
These regions are further subdivided into 96 departments. There are at least two, and sometimes as many as eight "départements" for each region.
The Ile de France is the area which includes Paris. It is called an island (île) because the rivers that surround the capital nearly make it an island!
The départements in France
Dept 01 = Ain
Dept 95=Val d'Oise
Dept 974=La Réunion - This is an overseas territory, which also has a département number:
The départements' names are organised alphabetically and each one is numbered. (see the map on the left and the examples below). The numbers of the département are used for post codes and, in the past, car registration number plates. Some of the overseas territories are départements too, and have a number.
By the 19th century, France had many colonies throughout the world. During the 20th century, many of these colonies gained their independence. In most, French is still either an official language or the mother tongue.
France still has 4 Dependent Overseas territories or DOMTOMS. They are Guadaloupe, French Guianan, Martinique and La Réunion. The map below shows their names and locations.
The French Revolution in 1789
ended the old system of the French monarchy but since then, France has worked her way through a series of restorations of the monarchy, empires, and republics. The rulers of France will give you a little snapshot of who ruled when.
Today, France in governed under a consitution instituted by Charles de Gaulle called the Fifth Republic. The president is elected for a five year term, and can only be president for two terms. There is a Prime Minister and a cabinet who are responsible to the National Assembly but appointed by the president. There are two houses, the National Assembly and the Senate. The 577 Deputies are elected to the National Assembly every five years. The 331 Senators are elected for seven year terms.