Created by Alexis Morgan
Where is France located?
What language is spoken in France?
What is the climate in France?
The Eiffel Tower is a Popular Tourist Attraction in France
Located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most well known structures in the world.
The Eiffel Tower was originally built as the entrance arch for the World's Fair in 1889.
It is named after Gustave Eiffel, whose company was in charge of the project.
The Eiffel Tower is 320 metres (1050 feet) in height and was the tallest man made structure in the world for 41 years before being surpassed by the Chrysler Building in New York.
The Eiffel Tower is made of iron and weighs around 10000 tonnes.
Around 50 tonnes of paint are added to the Eiffel Tower every 7 years to protect it from rust.
Despite its height, the Eiffel Tower was designed to be wind resistant, swaying only a few inches in the wind. It actually moves further when the iron on the sun facing side heats and expands, moving the top up to 7 inches (18 centimetres) away from the sun.
Temperature also alters the height of the Eiffel Tower by up to 6 inches (15 centimetres).
Millions of people climb the Eiffel Tower every year and it has had over 250 million visitors since its opening.
Visitors can climb up stairs to the first two levels or take a lift which also has access to the third and highest level.
Being so popular, the Eiffel Tower design has been recreated around the world, including the half scale replica at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel in Nevada, USA and the full scale Tokyo Tower in Japan.
Not everyone liked the Eiffel Tower when it was first built, with many criticizing its bold design.
The French name for the Eiffel Tower is La Tour Eiffel, it also has the nickname La dame de fer which means the iron lady.
The Louvre is Another Popular Attraction Located in France
- The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, and one of the most visited. It displays an estimated 35,000 paintings, sculptures and other works of art, and houses thousands of other objects in its collections.
- It would take 100 days to see everything in the Louvre if you looked at each item for 30 seconds, all day without a break. There are also several hundred thousand items not on display.
- The museum is located in the 1st arrondissement, in the heart of Paris, France, next to the River Seine. About 8 million people visit the museum every year.
- Originally built as a fortress in the 12th century, to protect Parisians against Viking attacks, the Louvre became a museum in 1793, during the French Revolution.
- During the 15th century, the French kings did not go inside the Louvre, as they disliked the huge building.
- It has also been used as a prison, and as an office for the finance ministry.
- During World War Two, the Nazis used the Louvre as a storeroom for stolen art, and Goering would choose paintings for his home. The museum staff hid many paintings in different places for safekeeping.
- The Louvre Pyramid was commissioned by the French President and built in 1989. It is 20 meters high, covers an area of 1,225 square meters and is made from almost 700 panes of glass.
- The world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, is in the Louvre, protected behind bullet proof glass in a climate controlled area. In 1911 the painting was stolen and eventually returned.
Popular Foods In France
Walk into any fromagerie in France, and the vast selection of artisan cheeses never fails to impress. From Camembert, Brie, Roquefort and Chevre to Munster, Morbier and Comte, the iconic cheeses of France take center stage at any table and often appear on dessert menus as well. The French reveal their love for cheese by serving it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Introduced in the 18th century by Austrian-born Marie Antoinette, the flaky, buttery croissant frequents most breakfast tables in France. The most popular bread in France, the baguette, finds a home at any meal. Among the many styles of bread, baguette de campagne is a white bread with a thick crust. Most boulangeries, or bakeries, close for lunch, so if you're in France, prepare for your picnic accordingly.
The French appreciation for mustard comes across in the many dishes in which this ancient condiment appears, from lapin a la moutarde (rabbit with mustard) to vinaigrette made with mustard, oil and red wine vinegar. You will not find ranch dressing and the like in France, as mustard takes precedence in salad dressings. The French also enjoy keeping a dollop of mustard on their plates in which to dip steak or lamb.
In just about every open-air market and butcher shop in France, sausages of all varieties dangle overhead. Some include Provence herbs added to the blend, or dried fruit, nuts or olives. Almost every region in France produces its own sausage.
Holidays and Celebrations
When you’re introduced to a French person, you should say ‘good day, Sir/Madam’ (bonjour madame/monsieur) and shake hands (a single pump is enough – neither limp nor knuckle-crushing). Salut (hi or hello) is used only among close friends and young people. When saying goodbye, it’s a formal custom to shake hands again. In an office, everyone shakes hands with everyone else on arrival at work and when they depart.
It’s also customary to say good day or good evening (bonsoir) on entering a small shop and goodbye (au revoir madame/monsieur) on leaving. Bonjour becomes bonsoir around 18.00 or after dark, although if you choose bonsoir (or bonjour), don’t be surprised if the response isn’t the same. Bonne nuit (good night) is used when going to bed or leaving a house in the evening.
The current president of France is Francois Hollande.
There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.
The structure of the French education system
After nursery school or kindergarten (école maternelle), which is optional, the French compulsory education system is divided into three stages or ‘cycles’:
- primary school (école)
- middle school (collège)
- high school (lycée)
Preschool/nursery (école maternelle)
Preschools or nursery schools – écoles maternelles – provide care for children from two and three years old until they are six. While children are not obliged to attend, state facilities are free and are an excellent way for young children of expat parents to learn French quickly and easily. The curriculum aims to prepare children for primary school, and includes reading, writing, numeracy and sometimes even a foreign language. For more information on maternelles and other preschool nurseries and daycare options, see Expatica's guide topreschool options in France, French daycare and childcare options in France.
Primary school (ecole primaire)
Children in France attend primary school from the age of six to 11 years old. Unless your child attended thematernelle, you should apply to the school through your local mairie. You’ll need your child’s birth certificate, proof of residence and an up-to-date vaccination certificate. For more information on applying to primary school, see Expatica's guide on how to choose a school in France.
There are five levels:
- Cours préparatoire (CP) or 11ème – age 6 to 7 years old
- Cours élémentaire (CE1) or 10ème – age 7 to 8 years old
- Cours élémentaire (CE2) or 9ème – age 8 to 9 years old
- Cours moyen 1 (CM1) or 8ème – 9 to 10 years old
- Cours moyen 2 (CM2) or 7ème – 10 to 11 years old
The school week is around 24 hours; primary schools often close for all or part of Wednesday. There are lessons on literacy, numeracy, geography/history and commonly a foreign language, often English. Your child must be enrolled by the June prior to the September start of the school year.
If a child needs to repeat a year, redoubler, it is most often suggested at the end of a cycle. This decision can be determined by a group of school directors and teachers, conseil de cycle, although parents may appeal their decisions. However, there isn't the same negative stigma attached to repeating as in English-speaking countries, and some 30 percent of students may repeat at least once in their schooling life.
The administrator, usually a member of the teaching staff, is known as the directeur or directrice; teachers are referred to as maître or maîtresse.
Middle school (collège)
Between the ages of 11 and 15, students in France attend a middle school or collège. All pupils are accepted; there is no entrance exam or requirements for state schools. You must enroll through your localmairie by the June before the September start of the school year. Read more about the application process in Expatica's guide on how to choose a school in France.
There are four levels:
- 6ème – 11 to 12 years old
- 5ème – 12 to 13 years old
- 4ème – 13 to 14 years old
- 3ème – 14 to 15 years old
The syllabus aims to give all pupils a general education and consists of French, mathematics, history/geography, civics, biology, physics, technology, art, music, and physical education. Over the four years in the college, the more academic students tend to choose to take more general classes while the less academic tend to take more vocational classes.
In collège, marks (notes) become an important aspect in a child’s schooling, with tests (controles) becoming commonplace. During the year students are tested every week and at the end of the year have to pass with an average of 12 marks out of 20. Scoring under 10 may mean repeating the year, although no stigma is attached to this. Parents can appeal a decision for their child to repeat (redoubler), but rarely do.
At the end of the four years, at the age of 15, all students must sit the brevet, the Diplôme National du Brevet (or Brevet des Collèges). Students are tested on French, mathematics and history/geography (choosing which one they want to answer on the day) but they must also have passed their B2i (computer/internet skills) during the year and have reached a level A2 in a foreign language. There are proposed changes to the history element.
The brevet is also marked on continuous assessment (including general attitude and behaviour) during the last year of college (3ème) – so some students may have already passed the brevet before they even sit the exam. Students have to get 10 marks out of 20 to pass; 12 for a Mention Assez Bien, 14 for a Mention Bienand 16+ for a Mention Très Bien.
After the brevet, students may leave the education system altogether if they are 16 (though most do not), or continue their education in a lycée. Academic pupils will move onto a lycée général or lycée technique, while less academic may go to a lycée professionnel.
High school or lycée
The last three years of secondary education – from 15 to 18 years old – are spent at a lycée general, a lycée technique or a lycée professionnel. Students take the same core curriculum of some eight or nine subjects but are offered three electives and an artistic workshop. At the end of this year, the key decision is made as to which baccalaureat the student will pursue. Contact the individual school for enrolment requirements and procedures.
The levels are:
- Seconde (CAP, BEP) – 15 to 16 years old
- Première (CAP, BEP) – 16 to 17 years old
- Terminale (BAC) – 17 to 18 years old
> Lycée general and lycée technique
Students start to specialise with the aim of sitting the Baccalauréat (le bac), which is the qualification to enteruniversity at 18 years old. Students choose different ‘series’. The general bac consists of the L series (literary studies), ES series (economic and social studies) or S series (sciences). The S bac is considered the toughest.
There are also some seven baccalauréat technologique, diplomas based on specific technical skills. The technology bac series include Science and Industrial (STI), Science and Laboratory (STL), Health and Social Sciences (STSS), Science and Management (STG), Music and Dance (TMD), Agronomy (STAV) and Hotel Management. If the lycée has an International or European section there may be tests taken in English that count towards the marks.
Students have to pass all subjects in the series (getting 10/20 in the exam) to pass; those getting 8/20 or under have to retake the year and sit again. Those who pass can get a place at one of France’s universities.
Sitting for the tests can be a nail-biting experience and many students may add a series of practice tests to their regular studies during the final two years. However, many complain that the testing level has decreased and is one reason why many students fail their first year of university, although ministers and civil servants disagree.
Theoretically, the lycées offer the same standard of education for all; in practice, in league tables published in the main newspapers, certain lycées (mainly private) consistently top the rankings.
> Lycée professionnel
At a lycee professionnel (lycées pro), students work towards qualifications to help them get a manual or clerical job or pursue further vocational studies. These qualifications are the baccalauréat professionnel (bac pro), CAP (certificat d'aptitude professionnel) and BEP (Brevet d'enseignement professionnel), which focus on one of four fields: social/health, driving/transport, catering/hotels, and optics. Lycées du bâtiment andlycées agricoles specialise in building trades and agriculture. The professional baccalaureate requires three years of study and certifies the student to work in a qualified professional activity.