The French Republic (or "Frahnce" in the native tongue) has always been a leader amongst the European nations and, in fact, the world. Long upheld as the primary home of the arts and culture, several reputable universities are located in France. However, the system is a little different, so make sure you are applying for the right program.
Between the mainland and its overseas regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Reunion, France the largest nation in Western Europe and the European Union, bordering Belgium, Luxembourg, Monaco, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, and Spain. It also sits directly along the English Channel; the shortest distance from France to England is 3.75 miles! You could almost walk that if there were a bridge. Then there is the amazing North Sea border, the Rhine borders, the coast of the Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea coastline. It is actually one of just three nations that has both an Atlantic and Mediterranean coast! You've got everything from the Alps to the rolling hills of the vineyards to the cliffs of Dover.
There are almost 66 million people, with 12 million in the Parisian suburbs alone. Speaking of Paris, the city is widely believed to be the "most diverse" city in all of Europe because of the massive numbers of immigrants that call the town home. As many as 23% of the Parisians are new arrivals; so you won't be the only newbie on the street.
France has been a significant world power for centuries, and in fact had the second biggest empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is one of the reasons that much of French culture, law, thought, art, etc. shows up as an influence in similar areas throughout the world. In fact, many legal systems (include the state of Louisiana) base their codes off of the French version. They even invented one of the earliest statements on human rights, the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen." It's brought us Victor Hugo, Impressionist Art, Debussy, and even Marie Antoinette and her amazing palace. It still has the 4th greatest number of World Heritage Sites and attracts more tourists each year than any other country in the world.
Politically, France is a unitary state, meaning that the federal government has all the power and the smaller states/provinces only have whatever power the federal government gives to them. It is also a semi-presidential republic, which means that there is both a presidents and a prime minister sharing power. The nation is important politically, militarily, and as a nation considered "highly developed" in terms of human life. A highly influential member of the UN, UN Security Council, NATO, G-8, G-20, EU (in fact the founder), and other organizations, France is a center of many different areas of education.