Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are CEE7/5 protruding male earth pin and accept either CEE 7/5 Grounded, CEE 7/7 Grounded or CEE 7/16 non-grounded plugs. Older German-type CEE 7/4 plugs are not compatible as they do not accommodate the earth pin found on this type of outlet. However, most modern European appliances are fitted with the hybrid CEE 7/7 plug which fits both CEE 7/5 Belgium & France and CEE 7/4 Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and most of Europe outlets.
Plugs Travellers from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland and other countries using 230V 50Hz which use different plugs simply require a plug adaptor to use their appliances in France. Plug adaptors for plugs from the US and UK are available from electrical and "do-it-yourself" stores such as Bricorama.
Voltage: Travellers from the US, Canada, Japan and other countries using 110V 60Hz may need a voltage converter. However, some laptops, mobile phone chargers and other devices can accept either 110V or 230V so only require a simple plug adaptor. Check the voltage rating plates on your appliances before connecting them.
France has been populated since the Neolithic period. The Dordogne region is especially rich in prehistoric caves, some used as habitation, others are temples with remarkable paintings of animals and hunters, like those found at Lascaux.
Rise and fall of the Roman empire
Written History began in France with the invasion of the territory by the Romans, between 118 and 50 BC. Starting then, the territory which is today called France was part of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls name given to local Celts by the Romans, who lived there before Roman invasions, became accultured "Gallo-romans".
With the fall of the Roman empire, what was left were areas inhabited by descendants of intermarriages between gallo-romans and "barbaric" easterners Mainly the Franks, but also other tribes like the "burgondes".
The legacy of the Roman presence is still visible, particularly in the southern part of the country where Roman circuses are still used for bullfights and rock and roll shows. Some of the main roads still follow the routes originally traced 2,000 years ago, and the urban organisation of many old town centres still transcript the cardo and the decumanus of the former Roman camp especially Paris. The other main legacy was the Catholic Church which can be, arguably, considered as the only remnant of the civilization of that time
Clovis, who died in 511, is considered as the first French king although his realm was not much more than the area of the present Ile de France, around Paris. Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 800, was the first strong ruler. He united under his rule territories which extend today in Belgium, Germany and Italy. His capital was Aix-la-Chapelle now in Germany, known as Aachen.
The country was under attack by the Vikings who came from the north and navigated upstream the rivers to plunder the cities and abbeys, it was also under attack from the south by the Muslim Saracens who were established in Spain. The Vikings were given a part of the territory today's Normandy in 911 and melted fast in the Feudal system. The Saracens were stopped in 732 in Poitiers by Charles Martel, grand father of Charlemagne, a rather rough warrior who was later painted as a national hero.
Starting with Charlemagne, a new society starts to settle, based on the personal links of feudalism. This era is named middle age. Although generally seen as an era of stagnation, it can more be described as a very complex mix of periods of economic and cultural developments Music and poems of the Troubadours and Trouveres, building of the Romanantic, then Gothic cathedrals, and recessions due to pandemic disease and wars.
In 987, Hughes Capet was crowned as king of France ; he is the root of the royal families who later governed France. In 1154 much of the western part of France went under English rule with the wedding of Alienor d'Aquitaine to Henry II Count of Anjou, born in the town of Le Mans. Some kings of the Plantagenet dynasty are still buried in France, the most famous being Richard I, of Walter Scott's fame, and his father Henry II, who lies in the Abbaye de Fontevraud. The struggle between the English and French kings between 1337 and 1435 is known as the Hundred Years War and the most famous figure, considered as a national heroine, is Joan of Arc.
Before you leave you may want to read a book like French or Foe by Polly Platt or Almost French by Sarah Turnbull â interesting, well written records from English speaking persons who live in France. For the adult reader interested in the famous reputation enjoyed by Paris for romance and sensuality, try "SENSUAL PARIS: Sex, Seduction and Romance in the Sublime City of Light" by Jonathan LeBlanc Roberts
The making of a modern state nation
The beginning of the XVIth century saw the end of the feudal system and the emergence of France as a "modern" state with its border relatively close to the present ones Alsace, Corsica, Savoy, the Nice region weren't yet French. Louis XIV who was king from 1643 to 1715 72 years was probably the most powerful monarch of his time. French influence extended deep in western Europe, its language was used in the European courts and its culture was exported all over Europe.
That era and the following century also saw the expansion of France on the other continents. This started a whole series of wars with the other colonial empires, mainly England later Britain and Spain over the control of North America.
The French Revolution started in 1789, leading to the creation of the Republic. Although this period was also fertile in bloody excesses it was, and still is, a reference for many other liberation struggles.
NapolÃ©on reunited the country but his militaristic ambition which, at first, made him the ruler of most of western Europe were finally his downfall. In 1815 he was defeated in Waterloo Belgium by an alliance of British and Prussian forces. He is still revered in some Eastern European countries as its armies and its government brought with them the thinkings of the French philosophers.
France went back to monarchy and another revolution in 1848 which allowed a nephew of Napoleon to be elected president and then become emperor under the name of NapolÃ©on III. The end of the XIX century was the start of the industrialization of the country, the development of the railways but also the start of the bitter wars with Prussia and later Germany.
20th and 21st centuries
1905 saw the separation of the Church from the State. This was a traumatic process, especially in rural areas. The French state carefully avoids any religious recognition. Under a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy the law forbids French students and civil servants from displaying any sign explicitly showing their religion. This policy applies to wearing Christian crosses, and has recently been applied to the Muslim hijab and has been copied in countries like Tunisia and Turkey. In the early 21st century, statistics for Church going and belief in God are among the lowest in Europe.
World War I 1914 -18 was a disaster for France, even though the country was ultimately a victor. A significant part of the male workforce had been killed and disabled and a large part of the country and industry destroyed. World War II 1939 - 45 also destroyed a number of areas.
Since the end of WWII France went through a period of reconstruction and prosperity came back with the development of industry. France and Germany were at the start of the Treaties which eventually became the European Union. One of the most visible consequence being the introduction in 2002 of the Euro â¬, the common currency of sixteen European countries.
In 2010, France is a republic with a President elected for a 5-year term. Some current main issues are the further integration of the country into the EU and the adoption of common standards for the economy, defense, and so on.
A lot of variety, but temperate winters and mild summers on most of the territory, and especially in Paris. Mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean and in the southwest the latter has lots of rain in winter. Mild winters with lots of rain and cool summers in the northwest Brittany. Cool to cold winters and hot summer along the German border Alsace. Along the RhÃ´ne Valley, occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as the mistral. Cold winters with lots of the snow in the Mountainous regions: Alps, Pyrenees, Auvergne.