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Interesting facts about France: Land

1. Largest European country

France is the largest European country in terms of land area after Russia and Ukraine. 

2. 20% of French territory lies outside Europe

Nearly 20% of the territory of France lies outside Europe. These regions are known as "DOM-TOM" (overseas departments and territories), where over 2.5 million French citizens live. 

3. Oldest functional canal

The Canal du Midi is Europe's oldest functional canal. It was built from 1666 and 1681. It is 240 km (150 miles) long, has 63 locks, 126 bridges, 55 aqueducts, 7 canal-bridges, 6 barrages and 1 tunnel. 

4. Most French metropolitan départements named after rivers

Rivers played a major role in French history, acting as the main transportation routes before the advent of the railway. 24 rivers in France exceed 300 km in length (against only 2 in the UK and 4 in Italy). 66 of the 95 metropolitan départements are named after rivers.

5. Strongest tides in Europe

The region of Brittany and Normandy has the strongest tides in Europe, with a difference in level of up to 15 meters between high and low tide.

6. The world's third most expensive place for real estate

According to a 2008 study published by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, the municipality of Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat, between Nice and Monaco, is the world's most expensive peninsula, and the world's third most expensive place for real estate - after London and Monaco. Prices per square metre were found to be twice higher than in Tokyo and three times higher than in Paris.

7. Highest municipality in Europe

Saint-Véran (Hautes-Alpes department) is the highest municipality in Europe. The village itself is located at 2,042 metres of altitude, and the highest point on its territory reaches up to 3,175 metres.

8. Seaside resorts with catchy or poetic names

Seaside resorts in France were given catchy or poetic names, typically after (semi-) precious stones. On the Channel and North Sea coast you can find the Opal Coast, Alabaster Coast, Mother-of-pearl Coast, Emerald Coast, Pink Granit Coast; on the Atlantic coast, some beaches are known as the Jade Coast, Silver Coast or Love Coast ; while on the Mediterrnean side, tourists are greeted with colourful names like the Amethyst Coast, Ruby Coast, Mauresque Coast or Azure Coast. The French Riviera (Côte d'Azur) was the first to aquire such a nickname, in 1887.

9. Largest canyon in Europe and the world's second largest gorge

The largest canyon in Europe is the Verdon Gorge, near Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where the Provence meets the Alps. It is the world's second largest gorge, at about 25 kilometers in length and up to 700 meters deep. 

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