Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is the French motto.
Centrally located within Western Europe, hexagonal-shaped France belongs to both Northern and Southern Europe (see The Travel Guide: Northwestern Europe). The only country bordered by the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea on three sides, two of its sides are bordered by the Alps and the Pyrenees Mountains.
The United Kingdom is France’s northern neighbor across the English Channel, or la Manche in French, which is the arm of the Atlantic Ocean linked to the North Sea by the Straight of Dover, or Pas-de-Calais in French. The eastern French border is shared with Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany in the north, Switzerland and Italy to the south. On the eastern Mediterranean shoreline near the Italian border, France surrounds the independent enclave of Monaco, the smallest principality in the world. The far southwestern border is shared with Spain and Andorra.
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Discover the Regions of France
Paris metropolitan area:
Petite Couronne + Grande Couronne +
Poitou-Charentes + Limousin + Aquitaine
Nord-Pas-de-Calais + Picardy
Champagne-Ardenne + Lorraine + Alsace
Midi-Pyrénées + Languedoc-Roussillon
MONACO (independent state)
Historical | Cultural Provinces
Explore Places in France
Regions + Cities
Know Before You Go
capital of France
Languages + Dialects
French dialects remain from pre-Revolutionary times at which point assimilation of French as a common language became important for communication. Today, locals work to preserve their ancestral language heritage, each with unique traditions, food, music, and architecture.
- Blues: Français (French, Gallo-Romance langue d’oil dialects)
- Green: Breton (Celtic language from Anglo-Saxons)
- Dark yellow: Flamand (Dutch dialect)
- Yellow: Francique (German dialect)
- Orange: Alsacien (German dialect)
- Purple: Franco-Provençal (Swiss/Italian Romance dialect)
- Reds: Occitan (Romance langue d’oc (lenga d’òc) dialects similar to Catalan)
- Brown: Catalan (language of Catalonia in northeast Spain)
- Gray: Basque (language isolate of the Basque region)