Slightly larger than California, France is one of the largest countries in Europe. The English Channel lies to the northwest and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Spain broils across the Pyrenees to the south, the Mediterranean (including Corsica) is to the southeast, and over the eastern Alps and Jura ranges lie Switzerland and Italy. France's relatively flat northeastern borders abut Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.
The country's longest river, the Loire, runs 1020km (630mi) from the Massif Central to the Atlantic. The Seine, Rhône, Garonne and Rhine are France's other major waterways, draining the plains and funnelling huge mountain run-offs.
The French Alps include Mont Blanc, which at 4800m (15,750ft) is Europe's highest peak. The most spectacular of France's ancient ranges is the Massif Central, a huge region in the middle of France that covers one-sixth of the country. Over 3200km (1985mi) of coastline ranges from the chalk cliffs of Normandy and the promontories of Brittany to the fine-sand beaches along the Atlantic. The southeastern Mediterranean coast tends to have pebbly, sometimes rocky beaches, though the Languedoc and some of the Roussillon beaches have sand-castle potential.
Forests - mostly beech, oak and pine - cover roughly one-fifth of the country. Storms in 1999 uprooted over 60 million trees throughout France; replanting is underway. These wooded areas, as well as vast wetlands, support the bulk of the country's mammals and birds.
France's mix of climates and terrains endowed it with a rich variety of fauna. Unfortunately, due to agricultural overkill, pollution and encroaching urbanisation, many fragile species such as the Pyrenees ibex, Corsican deer, brown bear, wolf and otter now face extinction. Some animals and birds - the chamois (a mountain antelope), the larger bouquetin (a type of ibex), beaver, stork and vulture - still live in the wild thanks to re-introduction programs based in national parks.
France has a predominantly temperate climate, with mild winters, except in mountain areas and the northeast. The Atlantic has a profound impact on the northwest, where the weather is characterised by high humidity, often violent westerly winds and lots of rain. France's northeast has a classic continental climate, with fairly hot summers and cold winters. Midway between the two, the Paris basin boasts the nation's lowest annual precipitation, but rainfall patterns are erratic. Paris' average annual temperature is 12°C (52°F), but the mercury sometimes drops below zero in January and can climb to the mid-30s°C (95°F) or higher in August. The southern coastal plains are subject to a pleasant Mediterranean climate: frost is rare, spring and autumn downpours are sudden but brief and summer is virtually without rain. The south is also the region of the 'mistral', a cold, dry wind that blows down the Rhône Valley for about 100 days a year. Relentless and unforgiving in spring, it is blamed for sending people into fits of pique.
60,180,529 (July 2003 est.)
547,030 sq km
Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatia
Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts opens its first property in Paris.
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has launched its first hotel in Paris offering guests a level of upscale comfort that is as refined as the exclusive Neuilly district in which the hotel is based.
The Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly is just three metro stops from the famous Arc de Triomphe, but light years from the capital’s hustle and bustle, situated in a residential oasis of calm and sophistication on Boulevard Victor Hugo.
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts took over the hotel on December 19. From summer 2013 work will begin on the remodelling of the hotel’s 281 rooms and 19 suites as part of a multi-million-euro refurbishment project. The renovation will be carried out on a floor-by-floor basis to ensure in-house guests are never disturbed during their stay.
Taking inspiration from the hotel’s prestigious neighbourhood, each room will celebrate Parisian style with custom designed chaise longues, soft tone French made fabrics and unique three-dimensional wall features inspired by traditional moulded wall coverings. The art works will emphasise Parisian finesse through subtle French motifs and contemporary flourishes.
A key feature will be the cutting-edge shower room with discrete glass panels allowing natural light to flood through from the bedroom. The glass shows an abstract frosted image depicting a map of Paris. Combined with integrated high-tech work spaces, the new room comes from a design concept created by London based international company Ara Design.
“The hotel is already a magnet for local residents as a result of the relaxed ambience and modern flavours of the Victor Hugo brasserie as well as the busy 58 Bar & Lounge. With Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts we are looking forward to building on this success,” said Pascal Leprou, general manager of Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly.
The hotel will be renovating its famous garden and terrace to provide a sanctuary of city calm in which to enjoy a relaxing lunch, drink or the new Sunday brunch which will feature classic Swiss dishes and family favourites.
For business travellers Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly will introduce a complimentary ‘tuk-tuk’ service to provide a unique form of fast transport around the ‘golden business triangle’. The hotel is in the heart of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Levallois Perret and La Défense and within easy reach of Porte de Versailles and Paris Nord Villepinte conference centres as well as the capital’s transportation hub of Porte Maillot and a 10-minute walk from the famous Bois du Boulogne,
“France is one of the world’s top five economies, with Paris at its heart, so I am delighted we have been offered the opportunity to manage this prestigious hotel,” said Jean Gabriel Pérès, president and chief executive officer of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. “As a native of Paris I can appreciate how the Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly and its wonderful residential location offer both international travellers as well as savvy Parisians the chance to experience the capital in such an extraordinary way.”
The hotel brings the European portfolio of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts up to 22 properties and a global portfolio of 77 hotels, resorts and Nile cruisers currently in operation.
Mövenpick Hotel Paris Neuilly will offer an introductory rate starting at 228 Euro including breakfast. For more information and to book please visit the company website at www.moevenpick-hotels.com.