Location: Situated in Western Europe, France is the second-largest country on the continent, having borders with as many as eight countries. France shares land borders with Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Andorra, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Spain. It is bounded by the English Channel in the north and northwest, Bay of Biscay (Atlantic Ocean) in the west and the Mediterranean Sea in the south.
Climate: France has an affable climate with long hot summers and cool winters, which bring snow to higher ground. There is a chance of a downpour in spring (March – May) or a thunderstorm in summer (June – August). July and August are the warmest months. Temperature ranges between 20°C and 26°C from May through October. Springtime in Paris is mild and relatively dry, and the autumn (September – October) is equally extended. Daily average maximum temperatures range from 6°C in January to 26°C in August.
Northeastern areas have warm summers and colder winters with rainfall distributed throughout the year and snowfall likely in winter. Atlantic Ocean has profound impact on the climate of the western coastal areas from Loire to the Basque region, where the weather is temperate and relatively mild with rainfall throughout the year. Mediterranean climate with warm and dry summers and rainfall from October to April is experienced in south eastern France. There is ample sunshine all year round in these areas.
The wettest month on average is October (71 mm), when heavy Thunderstorms are possible. Brittany in the far west is the wettest French locale, especially between October and November. July is the driest month for the Bretons.
Cuisine: French cuisine has influenced the style of cooking throughout Europe, and its chefs work in restaurants throughout the world. French cuisine consists of the cooking traditions and practices which had prevailed in France.
French cuisine was quite influenced by Italian cuisines in the 14th and 15th centuries. This became evident from the recipe book Le Viandier, earliest such collections of medieval Europe. The book was compiled by a French court chef named Guillaume Tirel, who was also known as “Taillevent”. Indigenous cuisines evolved in France in the 17th and the 18th century by the efforts of chefs Francois Pierre La Varenne and Marie-Antoine Carême. These chefs developed a lighter style of food compared to the food of the earlier periods. They used fewer spices, and more herbs and creamy ingredients.
French cuisine was codified later in the 20th century by Auguste Escoffier.
Cheese and wine are now a major part of the cuisine, playing different roles regionally and nationally. Typical ingredients like roux and fish stock, and techniques such as marinading atr a part of French cuisines. Pastry making is also a part of French cooking.
Things to Do: France is a delight for tourists from all over the world. Paris, the capital city, attracts maximum number of foreign tourists in the whole world. France is home to some world famous museums like the Louvre and monuments like Eiffel Tower. The country is also home to some of the best restaurants in the world. Tasting some world class wines in France is a must do thing. Lascaux’s ancient cave drawings, Lyon’s Roman theater and the immense Palace of Versailles are things to see to understand the rich historical legacy of France.
Visa: A Schengen visa is required for traveling to France. Documents required for getting a tourist visa are:
• Original passport, which must valid for at least six months with a minimum of two blank pages (face to face).
• A photocopy of first page, or the photo page, of the passport and also a copy of the address page of the applicant’s passport.
• Photocopies of all valid US, UK and previous Schengen visas.
• Duly filled in application form and undertaking forms with all columns filled in and two recent photographs of the size of 3.5 cms x 4.5 cms with white/light background.
• All applicants must mention their mobile number on the visa application form. (Travel agents authorized by the embassy of France must mention the applicant’s mobile number on the visa application form and not their own mobile number or travel agency number)
• Covering letter IN ORIGINAL signed by the applicant. For self-employed/businessman, going on tourist visa, covering letter preferably on company’s letterhead is required
• Copy of CONFIRMED prepaid hotel reservation OR sponsorship certificate (attestation d’accueil & photo id proof of invitee) IN ORIGINAL and Photocopy
• Copy of ITINERARY prepared by the travel agency (for those going on tour)
• Copy of income tax papers of last one year, last THREE months bank statement & updated, last 3 months salary slips
• Photocopy of OVERSEAS medical insurance policy and REPATRIATION, evacuation cover (equivalent to 30,000 euros). Insurance should have the validity for at least 10-15 days more after return to India. Please carry your original insurance for verification at the time of submission of visa application form.
• Copy of air ticket or PNR (booking printout).
• All applicants except first time traveler (traveling first time to a Schengen country) while applying for a French visa will be required to fill visa insurance undertaking form in addition to the visa application form.
• Marriage certificate is mandatory for all the applicants who are married if their spouse name is not endorsed in the passport. If someone is not having a marriage certificate (newly married couple) then an affidavit declaring the applicants to be married with their photos pasted on the same should be produced.
• All child within the age of 18 years should provide a copy of birth certificate as a mandatory document.
Flights: There are several direct and connecting flights from all major Indian International Airports. Connecting flights are mostly through one of the Gulf countries or other European country.