A Country in Western Europe with alpine Villages & Mediterranean beaches France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state comprising territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European, or metropolitan, area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. France spans 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and has a total population of 66.7 million. It is a unitary semi-presidential republic with the capital in Paris, the country’s largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Read More...

Islands

Bassas da India

Bassas da India> is an uninhabited, roughly circular French atoll that is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. Located in the southern Mozambique Channel, about halfway between Mozambique and Madagascar (about 385 km (239 mi) further east) and around 110 km (68 mi) northwest of Europa Island, the rim of the atoll averages around 100 m in width and encloses a shallow lagoon of depth no greater than 15 m. Overall, the atoll is about 10 km (6 mi) in diameter, rising steeply from the seabed 3000 m below to encircle an area (including lagoon) of 80 km2 (31 sq mi). Its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 123,700 km2(47,761 sq mi) in size, is contiguous with that of Europa Island. The atoll consists of ten barren rocky islets, with no vegetation, totalling 0.2 km² (.077 sq mi) in area. Those on the north and east sides are 2.1 to 3 m high, while those on the west and south sides are 1.2 m high. The reef, whose coastline measures 35.2 km (22 mi), is completely covered by the sea from three hours before high tide to three hours afterward. The region is also subject to cyclones, making the atoll a long-time maritime hazard and the site of numerous shipwrecks.  Jaguar Seamount and Hall Tablemount lie, respectively, about 40 and 70 km further southwest.

 

Belle Île

Belle-Île, Belle-Île-en-Mer, or Belle Isle (ar Gerveur in Modern Breton; Guedel in Old Breton) is a French island off the coast of Brittany in the département of Morbihan, and the largest of Brittany’s islands. It is 14 km from the Quiberon peninsula. Administratively, the island is divided into four communes: 1.Bangor Le, 2.Palais, 3.Locmaria, 4.Sauzon. The Culture of Belle-Île formed a canton until 2015 when it was merged into Quiberon as part of a general overhaul. During the summer the island’s population increases dramatically, as many people own a second home on the island due to its secluded location and beaches. Lyrique en Mer/Festival de Belle Île is the largest opera festival in western France. Founded in 1998 by American opera singer Richard Cowan, the festival produces two staged operas every summer, conducted by Music Director Philip Walsh and directed by Mr. Cowan, the Artistic Director. Additionally, there are sacred concerts in all four of the island’s historic churches, as well as many smaller concerts and Master Classes. Lyrique en Mer has wide support from the French business community as well as from the Conseil Général, the Conseil Régional.  The island has been a popular location for artists. Octave Penguilly L’Haridon’s 1859 painting Les Petites mouettes (“Little Gulls”) (1858, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes) depicts the island. It was praised by Maxime du Camp and Charles Baudelaire, who referred to the sense of the uncanny, as though the rocks make “a portal open to infinity…a wound of white birds, and the solitude!” During the 1870s and 1880s, French Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted the rock formations at Belle Île. Monet’s series of paintings of the rocks at Belle Île astounded the Paris art world when he first exhibited them in 1887.[10][11] Most notable are the Storm, Coast at Belle-Ile and Cliffs at Belle-Ile both rendered in 1886. The first time Auguste Rodin saw the ocean off the Brittany coast he exclaimed, “It’s a Monet.”

 

Basse-Terre Island

Basse-Terre Island  is the name of the western-half of Guadeloupe proper, in the Lesser Antilles. To the South lies Les Saintes andDominica. In the North-East, it is separated from the other half of Guadeloupe proper,Grande-Terre, by a narrow sea channel called the Rivière Salée (in English Salt River). Basse-Terre Island has a land area of 847.8 km2 (327.3 sq mi). At the 2006 census the population of Basse-Terre Island was 186,661 inhabitants living in 16 communes(municipalities). The population density was 220 inhabitants per square kilometre (570/sq mi). The largest city on Basse-Terre Island is the city of Basse-Terre which had 37,455 inhabitants in its urban area at the 2006 census. The city of Basse-Terre is theprefecture (capital) of Guadeloupe. The most populated communes (municipalities) on the island are, in descending order of population, Baie-Mahault (western part of Pointe-à-Pitre urban area), Petit-Bourg, Capesterre-Belle-Eau, Sainte-Rose, Lamentin, Basse-Terre, and Saint-Claude (part of Basse-Terre urban area). Above the city of Basse-Terre on a mountain road, is the village of Saint-Claude, at the base of theSoufrière volcano. The village is noted for its coffee and banana plantations & stately homes. Tours to ascend the Soufrière can be arranged. The starting point is at Saint-Claude. The volcano is currently dormant.About three miles (4.8 km) east, is the village of Gourbeyre where Fort Louis Delgres was built in 1650 by Charles Houël. This fort guarded the approach to the city of Basse-Terre and served in several battles against the British. About eight miles (13 km) south-south-east is the village of Trois-Rivières, a fishing community rich in ancient settlements of the peaceful Arawaks. Near the village is an archaeological park which features sculpted and engraved rocks and relics left by the Arawaks in a grotto deep in the forest. A few beaches are located along the coast, north and south of the city of Basse-Terre. There are also fishing areas.

 

Clipperton Island

Clipperton Island (French: Île de Clipperton or Île de la Passion, Spanish: Isla de la Pasión) is an uninhabited 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi) coral atoll in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America. It is a minor overseas territory of France.  Clipperton is about 945 km (587 mi; 510 nmi) south-east of Socorro Island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago, the nearest land. Its ring-shaped atoll completely encloses a stagnant freshwater lagoon, and is 12 km (7.5 mi) in circumference. The rim averages 150 m (490 ft) in width, reaching 400 m (1,300 ft) in the west and narrows to 45 m (148 ft) in the north-east, where sea waves occasionally spill over into the lagoon. Land elevations average 2 m (6.6 ft), though Clipperton Rock, a barren 29 m (95 ft) volcanic outcrop in the south-east, is considerably higher and is the highest point. The surrounding reef is exposed at low tide.  Enviroment The lagoon is devoid of fish, and contains some deep basins with depths of 43 and 22 m (141 and 72 ft), including a spot known as Trou-Sans-Fond, or “the bottomless hole”, with acidic water at its base. The water is described as being almost fresh at the surface, and highly eutrophic. Seaweed beds cover approximately 45 percent of the lagoon’s surface.  The island was discovered on Good Friday, 3 April 1711 by Frenchmen Martin de Chassiron and Michel Du Bocage, commanding the French ships La Princesse and La Découverte. It was given the name Île de la Passion (English: Passion Island). They drew up the first map and claimed the island for France. The first scientific expedition took place in 1725 under Frenchman M. Bocage, who lived on the island for several months. In 1858 France formally laid claim.  Recent developments The island was abandoned by the end of World War II after being briefly occupied by the US from 1944–45. Since then it has been visited by sport fishermen, patrols of the French Navy, and by Mexican tuna and shark fishermen. There have been infrequent scientific and amateur radio expeditions, and in 1978 Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited with his team of divers and a survivor from the 1917 evacuation to film a television special called Clipperton: The Island that Time Forgot. 

 

 

Île de Ré

Île de Ré; variously spelled Rhé, Rhéa or Rhea; in English Isle of Rhé) is an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle, on the northern side of the Pertuis d’Antioche strait. Its highest point has an elevation of 20 metres (66 feet). It is 30 kilometres (19 miles) long and 5 kilometres (3 miles) wide. The 2.9 km (1.8 mi) Île de Ré bridge, completed in 1988, connects it to La Rochelle on the mainland.  History  During Roman times, Île de Ré was an archipelago consisting of three small islands. The space between the islands was progressively filled by a combination of human activity (salt fields gained from the sea) and siltage. In the seventh and eighth centuries the island, along with Oléron, formed the Vacetae Insulaeor Vacetian Islands, according to the Cosmographia. Since Vaceti is another name for the Vascones, this reference is evidence of Basque (Gascon) settlement or control of the islands by that date. In 745, Hunald the Duke of Aquitaine retired to a monastery on the island. The island became English in 1154, when Alienor d’Aquitaine became queen of England through her marriage with Henry Plantagenet. The island reverted to France in 1243, when Henry III of England returned it to Saint Louis through a treaty. In 1360, however, with theTreaty of Bretigny, Île de Ré briefly became English again, until the 1370s. Life on Île de Ré  The area is a popular tourist destination. It has approximately the same number of hours of sunshine as the famous southern coast of France. The island is noted to have a constant light breeze, and the water temperature is generally cool. The island is surrounded with gently sloping, sandy beaches, which are a real treat for families and tourists.  The island has a resident winter population of approximately 20,000 residents and a resident summer population of about 220,000. Since the local population is distributed all over the island, it seldom gets crowded. The island is covered by bicycle tracks, with many residents rarely using cars for transportation. Camping grounds and hotels abound on the island, as well as large supermarkets and all modern amenities. Many families stay on the island for the duration of their vacations. However, the island’s native population has also been widely criticised for its allegedly insular nature and fear of outsiders. In May 2012, whisper campaigns and vendetta actions against a family that had immigrated from New Zealand forced it to leave after local authorities refused to assist. Night life consists of going to Saint Martin, the main port, or to La Flotte, to walk along the quays and to potter around the shops, which are open late. Restaurants abound. At night, visitors can watch the buskers, have a drink or enjoy the island’s delicious artisanal ice cream, all set in a family-friendly atmosphere. As a famous holiday resort on the Atlantic coast, the island has its fair share of celebrities, past and present. Among others, Jean Monnet, the father of European Unity, singers Charles Aznavour and Claude Nougaro, actors Bernard Giraudeau and Claude Rich, actress Carole Bouquet, writer Philippe Sollers or Princess Caroline of Monaco used to or still spend their holidays there. Lionel Jospin, who was Prime Minister of France from 1997 to 2002, retired on the island after his withdrawal from political life. Johnny Depp has also been spotted there. Oysters and fresh fish are always available. There is also a tradition in which the fishermen, upon returning from the sea, sell a small quantity of their catch directly on the quays, enabling them to buy a drink. Markets are open on a daily basis in the main towns and are a popular place to shop, taste and chat. Even the vendors in the markets come to the island on their holidays. Generally, they work only in the mornings, enabling them to enjoy the remainder of the day. A large variety of items can be bought at the market, such as comics, books, African articles, ceramics, clothes, artifacts, food, local specialities, tools and souvenirs. Sporty things to Do Golfing (in les Portes-en-Ré) Horse riding Sailing SurfingTennis (in les Portes-en-Ré) Cricket.

 

Île d'Yeu

Île d’Yeu (French pronunciation: [il djø]) is an island and commune just off the Vendée coast of western France. The island’s two harbours, Port-Joinville in the north and Port de la Meule, located in a rocky inlet of the southern granite coast, are famous for the fishing of tuna and lobster. Administratively, the commune of L’Île-d’Yeu (with that spelling) forms part of the Vendéedepartment and the Pays de la Loire region of France. The island is reached by ferry from Fromentine or Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. Air transportation is available at Île d’Yeu Aerodrome (IATA: IDY, ICAO: LFEY), with commercial service from Nantes Airport.Neolithic markings in the native stone and an unusual concentration of megalithicdolmens and menhirs attest to the island’s early sanctity. Irish monks from Bangor, County Down, dedicated their monastery on the Île d’Yeu to Hilaire; Saint Amand, from Poitou received early training there, but it was destroyed by Viking raiders in the ninth century. During the tenth century, monks from Marmoutier near Tours and monks of Saint-Cyprien at Poitiers built a new monastery and dedicated it to Saint Stephen. The castle built on an islet linked to the coast by a bridge is first mentioned in 1356. Since the nineteenth century Île d’Yeu has attracted many artists. Jean Rigaud (1912–1999), official painter to the French Navy, had a house there, as did Maurice Boitel (1919–2007).Jean Dufy (1888-1964) l made about twenty paintings of l’Ile d’Yeu during several summer stays between 1926 and 1930. The proclaimed hero of Verdun and the leader of France’s wartime collaborationist Vichy régime,Philippe Pétain, died in prison on the island in 1951 and is buried there.  The poet Marc-Adolphe Guégan, an early French exponent of haiku, lived on the island until his death in 1959. The island’s seaweeds have been the subject of studies by the French marine biologist Françoise Ardré.

 

Île Saint-Paul

Île Saint-Paul (Saint Paul Island) is an island forming part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, TAAF) in the Indian Ocean, with an area of 6 square kilometres (2.3 sq mi). The island is located about 85 km (53 mi) southwest of the larger Île Amsterdam, and 3,000 km (1,900 mi) southeast of Réunion. It is an important breeding site for seabirds. A scientific research cabin on the island is used for scientific or ecological short campaigns, but there is no permanent population. It is under the authority of a senior administrator on Réunion. Île Saint-Paul is triangular in shape, and measures no more than 5 km (3.1 mi) at its widest. It is the top of an active volcano, the volcano last erupted in 1793 (from its SW Flank), and is rocky with steep cliffs on the east side. The thin stretch of rock that used to close off the crater collapsed in 1780, admitting the sea through a 100 m (330 ft) channel; the entrance is only a few meters deep, thus allowing only very small ships or boats to enter the crater. The interior basin, 1 km (0.62 mi) wide and 50 m (160 ft) deep, is surrounded by steep walls up to 270 m (890 ft) high. There are active thermal springs. Environment, the island has a cool oceanic climate and the slopes of the volcano are covered in grass. It is a breeding site for subantarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals and rockhopper penguins. It was also the breeding site for an endemic flightless duck & several kinds of petrel before the introduction of exotic predators and herbivores, including black rats,house mice, European rabbits, pigs and goats during the 19th century or earlier. The pigs and goats have since disappeared or been eradicated. Black rats were eradicated in January 1997 following an aerial drop of 13.5 tonnes of brodifacoum anticoagulant poison baits over the island.  BIRD AREA The island, with the adjacent islet of La Roche Quille, has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports several breeding seabirds. The island’s subtropical location gives it an avifauna distinct from that of subantarctic islands and contains several breeding species which are rare in the region. Saint Paul’s seabirds nested mainly on La Roche Quille until rat eradication allowed some species, notably Macgillivray’s prions (a subspecies of Salvin’s prion) and great-winged petrels, to recolonise the main island. Other species include a colony of some 9000 pairs of northern rockhopper penguins, about 20 pairs of sooty albatrosses, a few pairs of Indian yellow-nosed albatrosses, and small numbers of Australasian gannets, fairy prions, little and flesh-footed shearwaters, Wilson’s storm petrels and sooty terns.

 

Juan de Nova Island

 

Juan de Nova Island

(French: Île Juan da Nova (official), Île Juan de Nova (local)), also known as Saint-Christophe, is a French 4.4 square kilometres (1.7 sq mi) low, flat, tropical island in the narrowest part of the Mozambique Channel, about one-third of the way betweenMadagascar and Mozambique. Anchorage is possible off the northeast of the island which also has a 1,300 metres (4,300 ft) airstrip. Administratively, the island is one of the Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, a district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. The island is garrisoned by French troops from Réunion and has a weather station. Juan de Nova, about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) long and 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi) at its widest, is a nature reserve surrounded by reefs which enclose an area (not a true lagoon like in an atoll) of roughly 40 square kilometres (15 sq mi). Forests, mainly of Casuarinaceae, cover about half the island. Sea turtles nest on the beaches around the island. The island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Bird Life International because it supports a very large colony of sooty terns, with up to 100,000 breeding pairs. It also has a much smaller colony of greater crested terns (with at least 50 breeding pairs recorded in 1994). Of at least seven species of landbirds present, most are probably introduced.  History The island is named after Juan de Nova, a Galician admiral in the service of Portugal who came across the island in 1501. The island had never been inhabited when it became a possession of France in 1897. In 1921, France decided to transfer the administration of Juan de Nova from Paris toTananarive in its colony of Madagascar and Dependencies. Before the independence of Madagascar, France transferred the administration to Saint-Pierre on Réunion Island. Madagascar became independent in 1960 and claims sovereignty over the island since 1972. Guano(phosphate) deposits were exploited from the start of the 20th century until 1970. The island was abandoned during World War II and was visited by German submariners. Installations, including a hangar, rail lines, houses and a jetty are in ruins. Wrecks, the island lies on the sea route between South Africa and the northern tip of Madagascar. It is affected by strong currents, and has become the site of numerous wrecks. Most visible are the remains of the SS Tottenham which ran onto the southern fringing reef in 1911.

Raiatea

Ra’iātea, is the second largest of the Society Islands, after Tahiti, in French Polynesia. The island is widely regarded as the ‘centre’ of the eastern islands in ancient Polynesia and it is likely that the organised migrations to Hawai’i, Aotearoa and other parts of East Polynesia started at Ra’iātea. A traditional name for the island is believed to be Havai’i.Situated on the south east coast is the historical Taputapuātea which was established by 1000 AD.The main township on Ra’iātea is ‘Uturoa, the administrative centre for the Leeward Islands (French Îles Sous-le-vent). There are also colleges which serve as the main educational location for secondary schools for students from the regional islands of Pora Pora, Taha’a, Huahine and Maupiti.The islands of Ra’iātea and Taha’a are enclosed by a single coral reef, and may once have been a single island. Ra’iātea is both the largest and most populated island in the Leeward Islands, with a land area of 167.7 km2 (64.7 sq mi) and a total population of 12,024 inhabitants at the August 2007 census. The population density is 72 inhabitants per km². The largest commune of Ra’iātea is’Uturoa on the north side of Ra’iātea and has a population of nearly 10,000.The first European to record sighting Ra’iātea was Pedro Fernandes de Queirós in 1606; it was charted as Fugitiva. The Polynesian navigator, Tupaia, who sailed with explorer James Cook, was born in Ra’iātea around 1725. Omai (c.1751-1780), another young man from Ra’iātea, travelled with European explorers to London in 1774 and also served as an interpreter to Captain Cook on his second and third journey. Ra’iātea has a small road that runs around the entire island. Ra’iātea Airport is an airport in ‘Uturoa.

Porquerolles

Porquerolles also known as the Île de Porquerolles, is an island in the Îles d’Hyères, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. Its land area is 1,254 hectares (12.54 km2; 4.84 sq mi) and in 2004 its population was about 200. Porquerolles is the largest, most westerly of the three islands in the Îles d’Hyères. It is about 7 km (4.3 miles) long by 3 km (1.9 miles) wide, with five small ranges of hills. The south coast is lined with cliffs, and on the north coast are the port and the beaches of Notre Dame, La Courtade, and Plage d’Argent.The island’s village was established in 1820, with its lighthouse constructed in 1837 and church in 1850. The entire island was purchased in 1912 by François Joseph Fournier, apparently as a wedding present for his wife; he planted 200 hectares (500 acres) of vineyardswhich produced a wine that was among the first to be classified as vin des Côtes de Provence.In 1971 the state bought 80 percent of the island to preserve it from development. Much of the island is now part of a national park (the Port-Cros Parc National) and nature conservation area. It is the setting for the 1949 novel Mon Ami Maigret (My Friend Maigret) byGeorges Simenon and the 1964 novel Valparaiso by Nicolas Freeling.Since 2010, the island also hosts a jazz festival each summer (“Jazz à Porquerolles”).  Points of interest Conservatoire botanique national méditerranéen de Porquerolles,  Port-Cros Parc National.

 

Port-Cros

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur; or PACA is one of the 18 administrative regions of France. The region is roughly coterminous with the former French province of Provence, with the addition of the following adjacent areas: the former papal territory of Avignon, known as Comtat Venaissin; the former Sardinian-Piedmontese county of Nice, whose coastline is known in English as the French Riviera, and in French as the Côte d’Azur; and the southeastern part of the former French province of Dauphiné, in the French Alps. It encompasses six departments in south-eastern France, bounded to the east by the Italian border, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and by the principality of Monaco, to the north by Rhône-Alpes, and to the west by Languedoc-Roussillon, with the Rhône river marking its westernmost border. The six departments are: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Hautes-Alpes, Var, Vaucluse. The region logo displays the coat of arms created in the 1990s and which combines the coats of arms of the old provinces making up Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Economically the region is the third most important in France, just behind Île-de-Franceand Rhône-Alpes. Its GDP in 2012 was €142.4 billion ($US 183.1 billion) and per capita GDP was €28,861 ($US 37,121).

 

 

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