The major types of transportation
In 2008, France's railway network spanned a total of 29,473 kilometers (18.314 miles) making it the second most extensive in Western Europe being second only to the railway system in Germany. The system is operated by the SNCF utilizing a fleet of high speed trains that include the Thalys, the Eurostar and TGV fleet, capable of travelling at 320 km/hr. or 199 miles per hour. The railway system is linked to all neighboring countries except Andorra.
Connection with the United Kingdom is provided by a shuttle service of the Eurostar and Eurotunnel fleet which traverse the Channel Tunnel from the mainland.
France boasts the most extensive network of roads than any other European country. The city of Paris is crisscrossed with the densest network of highways and roads that connect the city with virtually every part of the country. International traffic also thunder along the intervening highways conveying people and merchandise to cross over into France from neighboring Belgium, Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. There are no registration fees or road taxes but tolls are collected at strategically placed entrance points.
France provides additional impetus to the flow of traffic by manufacturing its own car models that include the Renault, Peugeot and Citroën.
The topography of France is literally strewn with airports - all 475 of them! A total of 297 airports have paved runways with 14 having lengths of more than 3.042 meters to handle international flights and 26 having varying lengths of between 2438 and 3,042 meters to handle middle sized international and domestic flights. The Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris is the largest and busiest handling most of the passengers and merchandise that come in and out of the country every day. The airport connects Paris with practically every major city in other countries worldwide. Air France is the principal national carrier but there are many private airline companies vying for the provision of air services to both domestic and international customers.
Ports and Waterways
Being a country with its foreshores in contact with the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea, many cities developed along the coastal areas where many ports also developed. France has 10 major ports with the port of Marseilles being the largest in the country as well as being the largest port anywhere along the Mediterranean seaboard. Additionally, many waterways also traverse the topography of France and include the Canal du Midi by which the Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Garonne river.
France's merchant marine fleet sails across all the oceans of the world taking passengers and merchandise to the shores of nearly every major city in the world. The fleet that consist of 162 vessels carry fare paying passengers, chemicals, fuel, refrigerated cargo and containerized foodstuffs virtually every major port on the globe. Their voyage takes them from neighboring Belgium through the Suez Canal to Africa and South Asia, onwards to the Straits of Malacca to Southeast Asia to emerge in the Pacific. The route continues onwards to the western coast of America entering the Panama Canal for the return trip back to Spain after visiting all ports of call on the way.
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