FRANCE AND BELGIUM 325. France differs from England. France is a republic, having a president like the President of the United States, and an Assembly like our Congress. France is so close to England that on a clear day one can stand on the French shore at Calais on the Strait of Dover and see the shining white chalk cliffs of Eng land, twenty miles away. Though near neighbors to England, the French people are not like the English people. France, which is larger than Great Britain, has fewer people, and more of them live in vil lages and small towns. She does not have so much coal, or so many factory towns, as England has. For this reason, France has less foreign trade than England, and must more nearly live on the things that she raises at home.
Most of the French people are farmers. Their country is good for farming, as most of it is lowland. There is plenty of rain fall, and the climate is neither too hot nor too cold. The largest highland, in the central part of the country, is not too high for some farming, and only in the eastern part do we find high mountains, the Juras. On the slopes of these mountains are splendid forests. There are forests in other parts of the country, too, for France grows most of the wood she uses, and she needs a great deal of it to keep her people warm in winter, since there is so little coal.
326. Forests and has large forests, which are carefully planted and watched. If the leaves on the ground catch fire, people hurry to put the fire out before it kills the trees. We must learn to do this in our own country, for wood is becoming scarce here, now that we have used so much and have had so many forest fires. In France almost nothing is wasted.
When the trees in the forests are large enough for lumber, they are cut down. Even the small branches and little twigs are tied up in bunches for kindling the fires in homes and village bakeshops.
In traveling through France anyone can easily see that the French are a thrifty people. There are few weeds on their farms, and the crops show that they have had good care. The horses are fat and well kept. There is good food in the clean little inns by the wayside, for the French are good cooks. The roads along which
we go are well made and in good repair.
327. Small farms in France are very small, as there is not room enough for everybody to have a large farm. The whole of France is in size about equal to Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska; but it has seven times as many people as these three states. Each farm must be small, and its owner must cultivate it well to make it grow enough to provide a living for the family. So you see one of the reasons why the French and the other people of Europe are so thrifty. Most of the French farmers own the land they cultivate, and they dearly love their homes and their country.
The five great crops of France are wheat, oats, potatoes, sugar beets, and grapes. The people eat more potatoes in that country than we do in the United States. Most of the grapes are grown in the warmer parts of France, where there are large vine yards. From the grapes, wine is made, which is sent to many countries. France is the first country in the world in wine mak ing. In the winter the vines are trimmed and the trimmings tied up in bunches for fuel. In the summer some of the leafy branches are trimmed off and fed to the goats.
328. Roadside some of the level farming country, far away from the mountains, the farmers plant willow trees along the streams and ditches. The long willow branches are cut off every year and made into baskets to carry produce to market. Often there are rows of walnut trees or fruit trees along the roadsides. These make a pleasant shade and furnish nuts and fruits as well. France is a beautiful country. Its people call it "La belle France", meaning "Beautiful France". • 329. the south of France, some of the people in the villages raise mulberry trees. They cut off the leafy twigs and feed them to silk worms. From the cocoons which the silkworms spin, silk is made. In the city of Lyon and at St. Etienne, there are many big silk mills that make very fine silk cloth and rib bons. These silk goods from ---------- the Rhone Valley, together with jewelry from Paris and wine from the farms, help France to pay for the coal, iron, cotton, wool, petroleum and food that she must buy from other countries.