France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean – it covers 640,679 square kilometers and has a population of 66.6 million.
The largest country of the European Union, located in Western Europe, has a huge variety of landscapes: it encompasses medieval and port cities, tranquil villages, mountains and Mediterranean beaches. From the mainland to the overseas territories, the geography of France is rich in contrasts and an extraordinary natural heritage.
Paris, its capital, is known worldwide for its couture fashion houses, classical art museums including the Louvre and monuments like the Eiffel Tower. Paris is often referred to as the ‘city of love’, considering its endless opportunities of romantic walks along the Seine River, numerous romantic sidewalk cafes and restaurants and, of course, the Eiffel Tower all aglow at night. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman theater and the immense Palace of Versailles are testaments to the country’s long history.
France is also renowned for its sophisticated cuisine and its wines. A French meal often consists of three courses: hors d’œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) or dessert, sometimes with a salad offered before the cheese or dessert. No meal is complete without a good French wine, which is is produced all throughout France, in quantities between 50 and 60 million hectoliters per year, or 7–8 billion bottles. France is one of the largest wine producers in the world.