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"How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?"
— Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), French general, president. Quoted in: Newsweek (New York, 1 Oct. 1962).

  Cheese tray

Indeed! Were he alive today, deGaulle would need to revise that famous rhetorical question. While France now boasts nearly 400 different varieties of cheese, this statistic only hints at the individualism and variety of cultures to which the General alluded. France is a country of sharp contrasts and proud, often defiant, heritage.

Much of France's originality springs from the fact that in its 220,000 square miles of territory are to be found all the major natural regions of the continent, each with its own personality. Both its diversity of landscapes and a tumultuous history of political rule have sculpted the customs, languages, and attitudes of its people. No fewer than 25 different languages and dialects can still be heard within its borders (two Judeo-French languages became extinct as recently as 1977). Regional celebrations, folklore and traditional garb can be traced to a history of settlement and invasion — sometimes subtle, often violent — by Druids, Celts, Normans, Huns, Greeks, Romans, and numerous other civilizations. Evidence of human population within ancient Gaul can be traced back nearly 30,000 years!

So you want to get a taste of France, drink in its beauty, and sample its famous joie de vivre? Often regarded as the world's most civilized nation, France has for centuries exerted a powerful influence on travelers. Today, as ever, it is a most alluring and delightful country to visit — as over 77 million foreign tourists a year will attest! Whatever your inclination, from a study of her arts and architecture to a gustation of her vintage wines, you're likely to find your stay in France an intoxicating and forever enriching experience.

Afternoon in Arles, by George Bates.  
Afternoon in Arles
George Bates

This web site attempts to provide an overview of France's many charms, including her colorful history, the origins of her language, as well as her limitless cultural venues and sightseeing attractions. In addition to the material presented here, you will discover hundreds of links to other informative sites on the World Wide Web. We hope you'll find your virtual visit here a fruitful and enjoyable one, and that you will be inspired to make France a destination in your travels!

We invite you to actively participate in our community of friends, educators, students, travelers, lovers of French language and culture: join our mailing list! Use the subscription form on the left to receive periodic bulletins, featuring current events, anecdotes, historical notes, travel tips, and more. Get involved — write an article on any aspect of France, or recount your personal experiences in a travelogue for the benefit and enjoyment of your fellow francophiles. For details on submitting an article, download our author's guidelines (48K PDF) and propose a topic.

Questions, comments, suggestions — feedback of ANY kind — are welcome!

HINT: Navigation throughout this site is aided by pull-down menus on many pages. Notice the two at the TOP of this page: (1.) The left menu permits a choice of four major categories (France, Paris, Provinces, Colonies); each category chosen will present a NEW menu on the right. (2.) The right menu presents dozens of sub-topics within a category. Choose a desired topic, then click the "GO" button to be transported to that page. (For more info on navigation, invoking the optional background music, random quotes, etc., see our page on "Surfing Tips".) You may also search the site for specific keywords or topics. Finally, our Site Map presents a Table of Contents in text format.


Explore the Discover France Web Ring! List all webring sites Visit a random site. Join the Ring, add your site!

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