Language: French

Climate: Four broad climatic zones: Paris area is variable with temperatures ranging from 20-26°C from May to October. Springtime is mild and relatively dry, and the autumn is equally extended. In the South, the Mediterranean coast has the driest climate. On the Atlantic Coast and in Bordeaux, the climate is generally mild with temperatures averaging 11°C in winter, up to 27°C in summer, and rainfall distributed throughout the year. The weather in the French Alps varies from north to south: in the north abundant precipitation year round with low temperatures and cold winters; in the south a typical Mediterranean climate.

Time Zone: CET – Central European Time

International phone code: 33

Currency: Euro

Capital: Paris

Transportation: Most international flights arrive at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle. Domestic flights and some charters and internal European flights use Orly, the second Parisian airport with the two linked by bus and local train service. Travelling within France: Air service is provided by a number of carriers including Air France, Ryanair and Easyjet. Most major car rental companies operate from the airports with most cars being equipped with standard transmissions. Access by train, including the rapid train lines (TGV) is extensive. Booking tickets online can be quite a confusing process as it is possible to book the same journey through a number of different websites (in different languages and currencies). The fares are not always consistent so it pays to check the same trip on a number of sites.

Gay France:

France has traditionally been socially liberal with regard to gay rights. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited in employment, housing and other public and private provisions of services and goods.

Despite its reputation as a laissez faire nation, the country has been slow to recognize gay marriage, although the new Socialist government, led by president François Hollande, kept its promise to introduce a bill in October 2012 to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption. Currently, civil solidarity pacts (PACS), a form of registered domestic partnership, are available to both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples.