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About French

The French language is a Romance language with wide appeal. Second only to English it is one of the most commonly studied foreign languages in the world. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that English became the language of choice for diplomacy and international relations. It is still regarded as extremely important for diplomatic purposes.

French is tremendously widely-spoken. People all over the world have it as a primary language, and many more speak it as a secondary tongue. It is the fourth most commonly spoken native language in Europe, and considered the third most widely-understood, behind English and German. Though the Constitution of France declared French to be the legal official language of France only quite recently, it has been considered such by previous legal texts as early as 1539. This means that the French language must be used for official government publications, during the course of public education except in distinct, specified situations, legal contracts, and on advertisements (with foreign words translated into French).

French is also one of four official languages in the country of Switzerland. It is spoken with fluency by over 50% of the population, though it is only the native language of around 20%. The version of French spoken here is not the same as that spoken in France, though the differences are not widespread and do not prohibit speakers of the language from the different countries from being able to communicate with one another clearly and easily.

Outside of Europe French is also spoken widely in Canada. It is, in fact, the second most common language used in country, after only English, and both are considered official languages. The exception to this is the province of Quebec in which French is the only official language. It is the native language of slightly over 80% of the total population, and about 95% of the population speaks the language.

The French language is also one of the two official languages for the nation of Haiti. It is considered the main language for use in writing, schools, and official administrative use. All educated Haitians speak French and it is the language used in business and official capacities. It is also the language of choice for events such as weddings and graduations. Though only 10-15% of people use French as their native language, it is understood and spoken on at least a functional basis by all other people in the country.

Surprisingly it is not France but Africa that boasts the largest number of French-speaking people. It is estimated that 115 million people in Africa speak the language, though most of them use it as a secondary language.

1 - Tourism in France

France located in Europe has fantastic cities, coastline, mountains and rural areas.

Regions of France

It is also brilliant for food (even though branches of fast food restaurants are sprouting everywhere), wine, shopping and cultural pursuits. Paris is one of the world’s great and beautiful cities, but just encourage - with the help of recent government smiling campaigns - a waiter to smile.

The various regions of France - its fast-paced cities, traditional villages and above all its capital, Paris - attract a whopping 70 million visitors a year, 10 million more people than its own population. France is a mountain-lover’s paradise, with the Pyrennées in the south, the French Alps in the east (with Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc) and the Massif Central.

Regions of France

Other attractions are the beaches of the French Riviera, the vineyards and rustic cuisine of Provence, the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the splendid chateaux of the Loire Valley, the French Basque resort of Biarritz and historic St Malo in Brittany.

Regions of France

Paris is a feast of monuments, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe. Modern architecture such as the Georges Pompidou Centre competes with Notre Dame on nearby Ile de la Cité. Museums abound, from the vast Louvre to the Musée Picasso. Food, wine, shopping and cultural pursuits are also a draw. But the country has its share of problems: air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; deforestation from encroaching urbanization and high unemployment rates.

2. Geography

France is surrounded for the most part by sea and ocean. It shares its border from north East to South East with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. On its South-west border is Spain.

The French landscape can be described as such:

  • The upper central part is dominated by the Paris Basin covered with rich soil utilized as agricultural land.
  • The Normandy (the upper left) is characterized by cliffs, while the Brittany coast is highly indented where deep valleys were drowned by the sea.
  • The southwest coast is marked by flat, sandy beaches.
  • South, the Pyrenees form a natural border between France and Spain.
  • The south-central part of the country is dominated by the ancient Massif-Central with dormant volcanos. These central mountains are separated from the Alps and by the north-south Rhone-River Basin.


France Landscape

France is divided in region sectioned in departments. There are 26 regions divided in 100 departements which are named according to their geographical situation after a river or mountain for example.


Regions of France

Let’s not forget the DOM-TOM (departments et d’outre-mer) overseas departments and territories: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, Guyane. Polynésie française, Nouvelle-Calédonie, Wallis et Futuna, les Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, Mayotte et Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon



The transportation network is quite efficient and developed with its freeways and rail road linking main cities to smaller towns and even villages. You have the possibility to cross France overnight with the regular train. The TGV (high speed train) competes with the airline companies as the time spend to travel is practically equal to reach the furthest cities in France. Let’s not forget that when taking the train you’ll arrive right in the heart of the city avoiding traffic you might encounter when going from the airport to your hotel.



3. French Holidays

There are 10 holidays in France:

  • 1st of January (new year’s day)
  • 1st of May (labor day)
  • 8th of May (celebration of the end of world war 2 in Europe)
  • Easter Monday (Jesus Christ resurrection),
  • Ascension Thursday (Ascension of Christ to God),
  • 14th of July National Holiday, Bastille day (14 juillet, fête nationale),
  • 15 of August Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (assomption),
  • November 1st All Saints Day (Toussaint)
  • November 11th End of the 1st world war (armistice)
  • December 25th Christmas (Noel).

These days administrations, banks and businesses are in majority close.

Summer and winter time.
Summer time begins the last Sunday of March at 2 am. At this precise moment an hour is added to the legal time. GMT+ 1 (GMT = Greenwich Meridian Time). Summer time ends the last Sunday of October at 3 am. At that moment, an hour is substracted to the legal time. GMT + 2.

School vacation.
For economic reasons, to not over crowed the roads and extend period when people are traveling, the school vacation system has been divided in three zones A. B and C.

Zone A : Caen, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Rennes, Toulouse.
Zone B : Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Besançon, Dijon, Lille, Limoges, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Poitiers, Reims, Rouen, Strasbourg.
Zone C : Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris, Versailles.

School year 2008-2009


Zone A

Zone B

Zone C

School year 1st day

Mon. September 2nd 2008

All Saints Day (Toussaint)


Sat. October 25th 2008 Thurs. November 6th  2008


Sat December 20th 2008 Mon. January 5th 


Sat. Feb 7th 2009 Mon. Feb 23rd 2009

Sat. Feb 21st 2009 Mon. March 9th 2009

Sat. Feb 14th 2009 Mon. March 2nd 2009


Sat. April 4th 2009 Mon. April 20th  2009

Sat. April 18th  2009 Wed. May 4th 2009

Sat. April 11th 2009 Mon. April 27th 2009

Beginning of summer school

Thurs. 2nd July 2009

School year 2009-2010


Zone A

Zone B

Zone C

School year 1st day

Tues. September 2nd 2009

All Saints Day (Toussaint)


Sat. October 24th 2009 Thurs. November 5th 2009


Sat. December 20th 2008 Mon. January 5th 2009


Sat. February 13th   2009 Mon. March 1st 2010

Sat. February 65th  2009 Mon. February 22nd 2010

Sat. February 20th 2009 Mon. March 9th 2010


Sat. April 10th 2009 Mon. April 26th 2010

Sat. April 3rd 2009 Wed. April 19th 2010

Sat. April 17th 2009 Mon. May 3rd 2010

Beginning of summer school

Fri. July 2nd 2010