France is a democratic, centralized unitary state in Western Europe. It borders Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy in the east; the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco, Spain and Andorra in the south; and the North Sea and the Atlantic with the English Channel in the north and west. In addition to the territory in Europe, France also has overseas territories in the Caribbean, South America, off the coast of North America, in the Indian Ocean and in Oceania. France also claims part of Antarctica. The French state is a member of the EU and is divided into 26 regions, 22 of which are in Europe. The other four are in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion and French Guiana.

The “French motherland” in Europe has a total surface area of 547,026 square kilometers and around 65 million inhabitants. In addition to the Mediterranean Sea, France has coasts in the north and west. Plains or gently rolling hills mainly characterize the landscape. The south-eastern half of the country is mountainous and the main mountain ranges are the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Alps and the Vosges mountains in the east. The highest mountain in France, and also in the Alps, is Mont Blanc at a height of 4,810 m.

By far the largest and most important city in France is the capital of Paris with around 12 million inhabitants in the agglomeration. Paris, the city of love, has something for everyone – whether the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame de Paris, Montmartre, Moulin Rouge, Galeries Lafayette or the Palace of Versailles.

France is a very popular travel destination. In summer, the beautiful beaches of the Côte d’Azur are enchanting and the rugged coastline of Brittany is impressive. In winter, beautiful ski areas with modern lift facilities and excellent ski trails can be found in the French Alps. Corsica is an island with unique contrasts. It has beautiful endless sandy beaches surrounded by rocky cliffs, picturesque coves and impressive inland mountains.

The Tour de France is the most famous and most important bicycle race for riders in the world. Since 1903, the Tour has been held every year for three weeks in July – with the exception of the periods during the First and Second World Wars. The race runs across France and into nearby countries. It is the third largest sporting event in the world after the World Cup and the Olympic Games.