France Travel And Tours.
France Travel And Tours.
France has been the world’s most popular tourist destination for quite some time. It received 83.7 million visitors in 2014, although these figures are highly skewed by the number of people who frequent the country for the weekend, particularly to visit Disneyland Paris, Europe’s most popular visitor attraction. France is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Europe, containing areas as different from each other as urban chic Paris, the sunny French Riviera, long Atlantic beaches, the winter sports resorts of the French Alps, the castles of the Loire Valley, rugged Celtic Brittany and the historian’s dream that is Normandy.
France is a country of rich emotions and turbulent politics but also a place of rational thinking and Enlightenment treasures. Above all, it is renowned for its cuisine, culture and history.
In the Caribbean, France borders the Netherlands via the French territory of Saint-Martin which borders the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten. Five oversea regions also form part of France: Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, French Guiana in South America, and Reunion and Mayotte, both off the coast of Madagascar. Numerous French oversea territories also exist around the Earth with varying status.
France, officially the French Republic (French: République Française), is a country with which almost every traveller has a relationship. Many dream of its joie de vivre shown by the countless restaurants, picturesque villages and world-famous gastronomy. Some come to follow the trail of France’s great philosophers, writers and artists, or to immerse in the beautiful language it gave the world. And others still are drawn to the country’s geographical diversity with its long coastlines, massive mountain ranges and breathtaking farmland vistas.
France has been populated since the Neolithic period. The Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, others are temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, like those found at Lascaux, while others are simply incredible geological formations, like the gondola-navigable Gouffre de Padirac.
Rise and fall of the Roman empire
Written History began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. Starting then, the territory which is today called France was part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls (name given to local Celts by the Romans), who lived there before Roman invasions, became acculturated “Gallo-Romans”.
With the fall of the Roman empire, what was left were areas inhabited by descendants of intermarriages between Gallo-Romans and “barbaric” easterners (Mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the “burgondes”).
The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll shows. Some of the main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2,000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centres still transcript the cardo and the decumanus of the former Roman camp (especially Paris). The other main legacy was the Catholic Church which can be, arguably, considered as the only remnant of the civilization of that time
Clovis, who died in 511, is considered as the first French king although his realm was not much more than the area of the present Île de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. He united under his rule territories which extend today in Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle (now in Germany, known as Aachen).
The country was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated upstream the rivers to plunder the cities and abbeys, it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory (today’s Normandy) in 911 and melted fast in the feudal system. The Saracens were stopped in 732 in Poitiers by Charles Martel, grand father of Charlemagne, a rather rough warrior who was later painted as a national hero.
Starting with Charlemagne, a new society starts to settle, based on the personal links of feudalism. This era is named middle age. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can more be described as a very complex mix of periods of economic and cultural developments (Music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, building of the Romantic, then Gothic cathedrals), and recessions due to pandemic disease and wars.
In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France ; he is the root of the royal families who later governed France. In 1154 much of the western part of France went under English rule with the wedding of Alienor d’Aquitaine to Henry II (Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans). Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I, of Walter Scott’s fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years War and the most famous figure, considered as a national heroine, is Joan of Arc.
The making of a modern state nation
The beginning of the 16th century saw the end of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a “modern” state with its border relatively close to the present ones (Alsace, Corsica, Savoy, the Nice region weren’t yet French). Louis XIV who was king from 1643 to 1715 (72 years) was probably the most powerful monarch of his time. French influence extended deep in western Europe, its language was used in the European courts and its culture was exported all over Europe.
That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England (later Britain) and Spain over the control of North America, the Caribbean, South American, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
The French Revolution started in 1789, leading to the overthrow of King Louis XVI of the House of Bourbon and the creation of the First French Republic. Although this period was also fertile in bloody excesses it was, and still is, a reference for many other liberation struggles. In 1791, the other monarchies of Europe looked with outrage at the revolution and its upheavals, and considered whether they should intervene, either in support of the deposed King Louis XVI, or to prevent the spread of revolution, or to take advantage of the chaos in France. The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European Monarchies from 1792 to 1802.
Napoléon Bonaparte seized power in a coup d’état, reunited the country and declared himself Emperor of the French, he crowned by Pope Pius VII as Napoleon I of the French Empire, on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris. His militaristic ambition which, at first, made him the ruler of most of western Europe were finally his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated in Waterloo (Belgium) by the Seventh Coalition – United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hanover, Nassau, Brunswick, and Prussia. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as its armies and its government brought with them the ideas of the French philosophers.