Capital | Paris
Population | 64,057,792 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 547,030 SQ KM
Official Language | French
Holidays | Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); *note - although often incorrectly referred to as Bastille Day, the celebration actually commemorates the holiday held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (on 14 July 1789) and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy; other names for the holiday are Fete Nationale (National Holiday) and quatorze juillet (14th of July)
Currency | euro
Time Zone | UTC + 1
Best Time to Visit | April and May (spring) or September and October (autumn)
Connecting with the Culture | A boat ride on the Seine to better take in the Parisian architecture. Visiting the imposing chateaux on the Loire. Sipping a glass of champagne in Champagne. Checking out the glitz and glamour of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Taking in the evocative D-Day landing beaches in Normandy.
Read | Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, a 19th century classic about rural life and deluded passions
Listen | to Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je t’aime ..moi non plus’
Watch | A Boute de Souffle (Breathless). Jean Seberg’s gamine look, Jean-Paul Belmondo’s smoldering gaze – this is nouvelle vogue cinema at its best.
Eat | bloody steak, croissants, baguettes, Camembert
Drink | red Bordeaux from Medoc, desert wine from Sauternes
In a Word | merci (thank you)
Characteristics | Café society; stinky cheese; the Eiffel Tower; garlic; Cartier; Channel; Louis XIV; the Impressionists; red meat; red wine.
Surprises | Attitudes can be conservative; bars close at 7pm in rural market towns.
NEWS ABOUT FRANCE:
Former IMF Chief DSK Formally Under French Investigation For "Aggravated Pimping"
(HN, 3/28/12) - Lawyers for former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said Tuesday they would challenge an announced "official investigation" into allegations he illegally participated in pimping in France. Overnite he was ordered to pay bail of 100,000 Euros ($133,300), & was told he was being probed on suspicion of "complicity in a pimping operation." At issue is whether or not he was aware he was dealing with prostitutes & pimps when he participated in sexual encounters in Lille, Paris & Washington in 2010/2011 that had been organized by business acquaintances. 8 people have already been arrested in France & a construction firm Eiffage fired an executive suspected of using company funds to hire sex workers - tho using prostitutes in France is not itself illegal. DSK's latest problems come in a week when he is back under fire in New York City too as hearings in a civil case brought by Nafissatou Diallo, a Sofitel hotel maid who accused him of trying to rape her last May, begins Wednesday. (Related: French DSK accuser releases book)