With a dazzling dialect, awh-inspiring architecture, and world-renowned wines, France is known to top lists as a country for romantic escapes. France is home to famous man-made structures like the Eiffel Tower, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Palace of Versailles. It has some lesser discussed features such as the French Alps (Mont Blanc in the Alps is the third tallest mountain in the Western European Union reaching to 15,774ft), and the Verdon Gorge (the deepest gorge in France which has piercing aquamarine waters that paddle boarders and kayakers enjoy swimming on). Bon Appétit! French cuisine is also responsible for watering the mouths of those who visit. The food is often heavy and buttery with components that include pastry, jus, or cream. On a somewhat lighter side, the French also enjoy fine charcuterie which is a plate generally made up of crackers or bread, fine cheeses, cured meats, pâté, pickled veg or dried fruits. The charcuterie board is very versatile and pairs well with many of France’s famous wines. Knowledge about food in France is no joke - schoolchildren are often sent under the ‘Ministry of Culture’ to restaurants to taste delicacies like special cheeses, foie gras, and if they’re lucky, even wine. The French have a lot to be proud of and they carry they attitudes to prove it. Never tell someone who is from France that they don’t have some of the best wine in the world because they’ll simply think you’re crazy and frankly, they should. They produce some of the top fine wines in all of the world from regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone, and Armagnac. Ever celebrated with a bottle of Champagne? Thank the French for that, as true Champagne can only come specifically from their wine region of Champagne. Rumour has it that Marilyn Monroe loved Champagne so much she once bathed in 350 bottles of it. Some people prefer to pour a couple ounces of Cognac (a type of brandy that comes from distilled white wine) into a snifter to sip at. Don’t tell the French, but they were only partly responsible for the creation of Cognac. The real creators were the Dutch who in the 16th century were known traders near the Charente River. They were dismayed at how the wine upheld itself when they would transport it from the region for sale, so they created their own methods of distilling it in the Netherlands to ensure it would last for long journeys overseas. Initially, it was named ‘brandewijn’ (meaning burnt wine), but nearing the 17th century the Dutch started producing the wine in the French region of Charente of which Cognac is a commune.
66.99 million (2019)
643,801 sq km (248,573 sq mi)