I think for many of us France might be the first foreign country that we dream of visiting. After all, there is some sort of familiarity with the word French itself. I think some children can identify and say the word French fry even before they can utter mom and dad (hmm, which restaurant do we have to thank for that?) And we’ve even made French toast kid friendly by turning it into little sticks that can be slam dunked into small sticky containers of maple syrup. And many little girls know that ” in an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines” from the beloved Madeleine series.
Then there is the romanticism that follows as children advance into teen years and beyond. The French capital Paris beckons the romantic in us as we learn about the Eiffel Tower, famous artwork, high fashion, little French cafes with fresh croissants and coffee, gourmet food and expensive wine. I was fortunate to respond to that beckoning call and visit France on a 6 week backpacking trip around Europe with 3 of my friends after we graduated from college.
On that backpacking trip I actually went to Spain prior to France. I left my friends for a few days to visit my host family in Santander, Spain. I had lived with them for a couple of weeks during an exchange program my senior year of high school. Anyways, at the end of my visit with them, I remember telling my host brother Raúl that I was going to meet up with my backpacking friends again at the Eiffel Tower. He laughed saying that my life seemed like a movie. I had never thought of my travel adventures in that light, but thinking back on it, I suppose it was a bit out of the ordinary.
All that said, let’s grab our berets and get ready to explore our next country. We just finished up with Egypt on the continent of Africa. So we need switch continents and head northwest to Europe to the country France.
French Country Facts
1. Size: The second largest country in Europe is France. It is 248,573 sq. miles which is slightly less than twice the size of the state of Colorado in the U.S.
2. Population: 65, 951, 611
3. Capital City: Paris
4. Religion: 62% Catholic, 26% without religion, 6% Muslim, 2% Protestant, 1% Jewish according to last census
5. Currency: euro (EUR)
6. Official Language: French
7. France is the top tourist country in the world! Over 71.4 million people visit each year. (I guess I wasn’t too far off base with my comments at the top of this post)
9. The famous French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower also designed the Statue of Liberty.
10. The world’s most famous cycling race called, The Tour de France, began in 1903.
If any of you were to visit France, what would you do first? Leave a comment to let me know.
The feature photo at the top of the post is by Benjamin Stäudinger, courtesy of Wikimedia.