AREA: 543,965 sq km (210,025 sq miles).
POPULATION: 58,143,000 (official estimate 1995).
POPULATION DENSITY: 106.7 per sq km.
CAPITAL: Paris. Population: 2,100,000 (1995)
RELIGION: Approximately 81% Roman Catholic with a Protestant
minority. Almost every religion has at least some adherents.
TIME: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to Saturday
before last Sunday in October).
ELECTRICITY: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. 2-pin plugs are widely used;
GEOGRAPHY: France, the largest country in Europe, is bounded to
the north by the English Channel (La Manche), the northeast by
the east by Germany, Switzerland
the south by the Mediterranean (with
a coastal enclave between Nice and the Italian frontier), the southwest by
and the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The island of Corsica, southeast of
Nice, is made up of two Départements. The country offers a
spectacular variety of scenery, from the mountain ranges of the Alps and
Pyrénées to the attractive river valleys of the Loire, Rhône and Dordogne
and the flatter countryside in Normandy and on the Atlantic coast. The
country has some 2900km (1800 miles) of coastline.
LANGUAGE: French is the official language, but there are many
regional dialects. Basque is spoken as a first language by some people in
the southwest, and Breton by some in Brittany. Many people, particularly
those connected with tourism in the major areas, will speak at least some
COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone: Full IDD is available. Country
code: 33. Outgoing international code: 00. Card-only telephones are
common, with pre-paid cards bought from post offices and Tabacs.
International calls are cheaper between 2230-0800 Monday to Friday, and
from 14:00 Saturday to 08:00 Monday. Calls can be received from all phone
boxes showing the sign of a blue bell. Fax: Services are widely
available; many hotels have facilities. Post: Stamps can be
purchased at post offices and Tabacs. Post normally takes a couple
of days to reach its destination within Europe. Post office opening hours:
0800-1900 Monday to Friday; 0800-1200 Saturday. Press: There are
many daily newspapers, the most prominent being Le Monde, Libération,
France-Soir and Le Figaro. Outside the
these newspapers are not as popular as the provincial press. All the main
UK papers are available in the larger cities.