The earliest archaeological signs of permanent habitation in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, known as boatsmen and traders, inhabited the area near the river Seine from around 250 BC.
The first important human improvements were the Roman roads linking major settlements and providing quick passage for marching armies. These routes these roads followed are copied today by many 'N' class roads.
Throughout the Middle Ages improvements were sparse and mediocre and transport became slow and cumbersome. The early modern period saw great improvements. There was a proliferation of canals connecting rivers (like the Canal du Midi). It also saw great changes in oceanic shipping. Rather than expensive galleys, wind powered ships that were far faster and had far more cargo space became popular on the coastal trade. Transatlantic shipping with the New World turned cities such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Cherbourg and Le Havre into major ports of international importance.
There is a total of 31,939 kilometres (31,840 km are operated by French national company) of railway in France.
Trains, unlike road traffic, drive on the left (except in Alsace-Moselle). Metro and tramway services are not considered trains and thus generally follow road traffic in driving on the right (except the Lyon Metro).
This mode of transport started disappearing in France at the end of the 1930s. Only Lille, Marseille and Saint-Etienne have never abandoned their tram systems. Since the 1980s, several cities have re-introduced it.
The following French towns and cities run light rail or tram systems:
Light rail and tram systems are under construction in the following locations in France:
Systems are planned in these locations:
France is suggested to be the most car dependent country in Europe. 937 Billion vehicle kilometers were travelled in France in 2005, of which 82 - 85% were travelled by car.See also
France also possesses a number of seaports and harbours, including the following: Bayonne, Bordeaux, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Brest, Calais, Cherbourg, Dunkerque, Fos-sur-Mer, La Rochelle-La Pallice, Le Havre, Lorient, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Port-la-Nouvelle, Port-Vendres, Roscoff, Rouen, Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Malo, Sète, Strasbourg, Toulon.
There are approximately 478 airports in France (1999 est.) (see List of French Airports) and by a 2005 estimate, there are three heliports. Of the airports, 288 have paved runways, with the remaining 199 being unpaved.
Among the airspace governance authorities active in France, one is Aéroports de Paris, which has authority over the Paris region, managing 14 airports including Charles de Gaulle International Airport and Orly Airport. The former, located in Roissy en France near Paris, is one of Europe's principal aviation centres and is also France's main international airport.
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