France: A Unit Study
The Louvre

Woodrow Wilson left the United States on December 4, 1918, and set foot on French soil nine days later, becoming the first President to visit a foreign country while in office. He had a definite purpose in mind for this historic undertaking. France had suffered cruelly during World War I, ended just a month before. Wilson envisioned a League of Nations, an organization that would settle international disputes peacefully and prevent another such war. It was this idea that he wanted to present to Europe.

History of France

France: A Unit Study

It was not the first time that France had been a scene of upheaval. Julius Caesar had arrived in 51 B.C. and wrested the country from the previous inhabitants, the Celtic Gauls. As the Roman Empire crumbled in 5th century, France was overrun by neighboring tribes: the Franks, the Visigoths, and the Vandals. Wars led to frequent changes in power for centuries afterward, culminating in the French Revolution in the late 1700s.

France: A Unit Study
Arc de Triomphe

Napoleon came to power in 1799. However, his defeat at Waterloo in 1815 practically ensured the eventual demise of the monarchy system in France, and it finally died out in 1871. France now has a government with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive branch has two heads: a president elected by the people and a premier chosen by the president. The legislative branch likewise has a National Assembly elected by the people and a Senate chosen by an electoral college. Unfortunately, the change in government did not end all turmoil in France. The nation was hit hard during both world wars and suffered economic depression in between.

Economy of France

France: A Unit Study

Since those troubled times, however, France has enjoyed tremendous prosperity, boasting the second largest economy in Europe. Machinery, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals are major exports, but the nation leads the European Union in food exports. Two thirds of France is covered by fertile plains, enabling the growing of wheat and other valuable crops.

But possibly the industry that thrives best in France is tourism. Every year France attracts millions of visitors to see its many wonders:

  • The Eiffel Tower, built as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair.
  • The Louvre, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, as well as many other works of art.
  • Versailles, the palace of the French kings.
  • The Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by Napoleon.
  • Notre Dame, the famous Gothic cathedral.

Geography of France

But besides historical and cultural marvels, France also offers tourists a wide variety of scenery. It covers nearly 213,000 square miles of mountains, forests, plains, and beaches.

France: A Unit Study

Around the country’s northeastern side, a comparatively level landscape blends into the higher elevations of neighboring Belgium and Luxembourg, while on the east side stand mountain ranges. Working southward, first come the Vosges near the border with Germany, then the Jura range marking the border with Switzerland, and finally the Alps, which France shares with Italy. Southeastern France enjoys the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea, while the southern border is divided from Spain by the colder Pyrenees range. The eastern boundary of France is coastline, washed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, and the North Sea.

Further Investigation

Woodrow Wilson
More about the President and his visit to secure the Versailles Treaty.

France Timeline
Timeline of major events from Time for Kids.

History and facts from the CIA World Factbook.


France Interactive Maps
Another interactive map to help learn geographical map facts.

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own map of France for notebook.

Paper City Paris
Love this dad’s work!  Foldables include the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

Arc de Triomphe, France
Papercraft from Canon.

Eiffel Tower Paper Craft
Also from Canon.

The Eiffel Tower: A Unit Study

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
A longtime children’s favorite set in Paris.

The Family Under the Bridge

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson
Warm read about an old Frenchman living on the streets of Paris who takes in a homeless family and makes their Christmas wishes come true.

The Eiffel Tower ~ Free eBook
An illustrated look at the project.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
The Eiffel Tower: A Unit Study

The Eiffel Tower: A Unit Study
Take a tour of the Eiffel Tower through our unit study.

Napoleon: A Unit Study
Our own unit that covers Napoleon…and France.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Map for locating France.

Map for notebook.

France Flag
Printable at

France Map and Worksheet
Printables from Learning Treasures.

Pages 25–27 of this free download are beautiful maps of Europe that can be used to locate France.

Arc de Triomphe
Coloring page.

Eiffel Tower
Coloring page.

France Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

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