Translation:I have been to Germany and France.
"I have gone to France"? That makes it sound like you're there now, no? "I've gone to the supermarket, I'll be back later." I've been to the supermarket, I don't need to go there again today."
The verb is ある。The state of having been to Germany and France is the subject.
So 行ったこと.. indicates a progressive type tense (translating as "have been") and shouldn't be translated as simple past "went?"
こと means more or less "event". so 行ったこと means "i went". があります means that you have it, so 行ったことがあります means i have been. you can use たことがあリます several ways. for example, 食べたことがあります i have tried it. another example is 聞いたことがあります i have heard it. 食(ta) 聞(ki)
the があります implies that you have it. so it would be i have been. went is also an understandable translation, but that would be better as 行きました
No. You need to use the preposition 'to', especially since the verb in use is one of movement to/toward somewhere. Even though in English we don't see any form of the verb 'to go' in the surface structure of this sentence.
That's primarily because the word that precedes it ends in the same vowel sound, and it is elided, i.e. no pause between words. I assume, yes, this reflects how Japanese actually speak as this phenomenon is widespread, found in dozens of languages, whether related or not.
the '-ki' part of /iki/ (to go) is not part of the kanji. The kanji itself is pronounced /i/, so "行った" is /itta/, and it's hard to hear separately the /i/ in /ni/ next to the /i/ in /itta/ because they are the same vowel, and the pause is elided. so what you're hearing, albeit very quickly, in "に行った" is /ni:tta/, with the colon representing a lengthening of the vowel, or simply /nitta/ without any lengthening.
Because when you consider the た-form of 行きます (which infinitive form is 行く), you get 行った - which is pronounced "itta". The 行 kanji simply reads "i" with this verb, whatever the form is
'went to' could mean that you are still there, 'have been to' implies that you were there at some point, but not anymore. 行きました = I went 行ったことがあります = I have been to, or literally I had went there