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FRANCE (locally ), officially the FRENCH REPUBLIC (République française ), is a country with territory status in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories . The European, or metropolitan, area of France
France
extends from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
to the English Channel
English Channel
and the North Sea
North Sea
, and from the Rhine
Rhine
to the Atlantic Ocean . The republic also includes French Guiana
French Guiana
on the South American continent and several islands in the Atlantic , Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (5 of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) which, as of January 2017, has a total population of almost 67 million people. France
France
is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris
Paris
, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban centres include Marseille
Marseille
, Lyon
Lyon
, Lille
Lille
, Nice
Nice
, Toulouse
Toulouse
and Bordeaux
Bordeaux
.

During the Iron Age
Iron Age
, what is now metropolitan France
France
was inhabited by the Gauls
Gauls
, a Celtic people. The area was annexed in 51 BC by Rome , which held Gaul
Gaul
until 486, when the Germanic Franks
Franks
conquered the region and formed the Kingdom of France
Kingdom of France
. France
France
emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
, with its victory in the Hundred Years\' War (1337 to 1453) strengthening state-building and political centralisation . During the Renaissance , French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would be the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics
Catholics
and Protestants (Huguenots ). France
France
became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power under Louis XIV
Louis XIV
. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution
French Revolution
overthrew the absolute monarchy , established one of modern history's earliest republics , and saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.

In the 19th century Napoleon
Napoleon
took power and established the First French Empire , whose subsequent Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic
Republic
in 1870. France
France
was a major participant in the First World War
First World War
, from which it emerged victorious , and was one of the Allied Powers in the Second World War
Second World War
, but came under occupation by the Axis Powers
Axis Powers
in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic
Republic
was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War
Algerian War
. The Fifth Republic
Republic
, led by Charles de Gaulle , was formed in 1958 and remains to this day. Algeria
Algeria
and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and typically retained close economic and military connections with France .

France
France
has long been a global centre of art , science , and philosophy . It hosts Europe's fourth-largest number of cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
and receives around 83 million foreign tourists annually, the most of any country in the world. France
France
is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP
GDP
and ninth-largest by purchasing power parity . In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education , health care , life expectancy , and human development . France
France
remains a great power in the world, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations
United Nations
Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state . It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone
Eurozone
. It is also a member of the Group of 7 , North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and La Francophonie
La Francophonie
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 History

* 2.1 Prehistory (before the 6th century BC) * 2.2 Antiquity (6th century BC–5th century AD) * 2.3 Early Middle Ages
Middle Ages
(5th century–10th century) * 2.4 Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
(10th century–15th century) * 2.5 Early modern period (15th century–1789) * 2.6 Revolutionary France
France
(1789–1799) * 2.7 Napoleon
Napoleon
and 19th century (1799–1914) * 2.8 Contemporary period (1914–present)

* 3 Geography

* 3.1 Location and borders * 3.2 Climate * 3.3 Environment * 3.4 Geology, topography and hydrography * 3.5 Administrative divisions

* 4 Politics

* 4.1 Government * 4.2 Law * 4.3 Foreign relations * 4.4 Military * 4.5 Government finance

* 5 Economy

* 5.1 Agriculture * 5.2 Tourism * 5.3 Energy * 5.4 Transport * 5.5 Science and technology

* 6 Demographics

* 6.1 Ethnic groups * 6.2 Major cities * 6.3 Functional urban areas * 6.4 Language * 6.5 Religion * 6.6 Health * 6.7 Education

* 7 Culture

* 7.1 Art * 7.2 Architecture * 7.3 Literature * 7.4 Philosophy * 7.5 Music * 7.6 Cinema * 7.7 Fashion * 7.8 Media * 7.9 Society * 7.10 Cuisine * 7.11 Sports

* 8 See also * 9 Footnotes * 10 References * 11 External links

ETYMOLOGY

Main article: Name of France

Originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire , the name "France" comes from the Latin
Latin
Francia
Francia
, or "country of the Franks
Franks
". Modern France
France
is still named today Francia
Francia
in Italian and Spanish, Frankreich in German and Frankrijk in Dutch, all of which have the same historical meaning.

There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
and Jacob Grimm
Jacob Grimm
, the name of the Franks
Franks
has been linked with the word frank (free) in English. It has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks
Franks
were free of taxation. Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks
Franks
was known as a francisca . However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around.

HISTORY

Main article: History of France
History of France

PREHISTORY (BEFORE THE 6TH CENTURY BC)

Main article: Prehistory of France
Prehistory of France
One of the Lascaux paintings: a horse – Dordogne
Dordogne
, approximately 18,000 BC

The oldest traces of human life in what is now France
France
date from approximately 1.8 million years ago. Humans were then confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early homonids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France
France
has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved: Lascaux
Lascaux
(approximately 18,000 BC).

At the end of the last glacial period (10,000 BC), the climate became milder; from approximately 7,000 BC, this part of Western Europe entered the Neolithic
Neolithic
era and its inhabitants became sedentary . After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium, initially working gold , copper and bronze , and later iron . France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic
Neolithic
period, including the exceptionally dense Carnac stones
Carnac stones
site (approximately 3,300 BC).

ANTIQUITY (6TH CENTURY BC–5TH CENTURY AD)

Main articles: Gaul
Gaul
, Celts
Celts
, and Roman Gaul
Gaul

In 600 BC, Ionian Greeks
Greeks
, originating from Phocaea
Phocaea
, founded the colony of Massalia (present-day Marseille
Marseille
), on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
. This makes it France's oldest city. At the same time, some Gallic Celtic tribes penetrated parts of the current territory of France, and this occupation spread to the rest of France between the 5th and 3rd century BC. The Maison Carrée
Maison Carrée
was a temple of the Gallo-Roman city of Nemausus (present-day Nîmes
Nîmes
) and is one of the best-preserved vestiges of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
.

The concept of Gaul
Gaul
emerged at that time; it corresponds to the territories of Celtic settlement ranging between the Rhine
Rhine
, the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
, the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
and the Mediterranean. The borders of modern France
France
are roughly the same as those of ancient Gaul, which was inhabited by Celtic Gauls. Gaul
Gaul
was then a prosperous country, of which the southernmost part was heavily subject to Greek and Roman cultural and economic influences.

Around 390 BC the Gallic chieftain Brennus and his troops made their way to Italy
Italy
through the Alps
Alps
, defeated the Romans in the Battle of the Allia , and besieged and ransomed Rome
Rome
. The Gallic invasion left Rome
Rome
weakened, and the Gauls
Gauls
continued to harass the region until 345 BC when they entered into a formal peace treaty with Rome. But the Romans and the Gauls
Gauls
would remain adversaries for the next several centuries, and the Gauls
Gauls
would continue to be a threat in Italia .

Around 125 BC, the south of Gaul
Gaul
was conquered by the Romans, who called this region Provincia Nostra ("Our Province"), which over time evolved into the name Provence
Provence
in French. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
conquered the remainder of Gaul
Gaul
and overcame a revolt carried out by the Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix
Vercingetorix
in 52 BC. Gaul
Gaul
was divided by Augustus
Augustus
into Roman provinces. Many cities were founded during the Gallo-Roman period , including Lugdunum
Lugdunum
(present-day Lyon
Lyon
), which is considered the capital of the Gauls. These cities were built in traditional Roman style, with a forum , a theatre , a circus , an amphitheatre and thermal baths . The Gauls
Gauls
mixed with Roman settlers and eventually adopted Roman culture and Roman speech ( Latin
Latin
, from which the French language evolved). The Roman polytheism merged with the Gallic paganism into the same syncretism .

From the 250s to the 280s AD, Roman Gaul
Gaul
suffered a serious crisis with its fortified borders being attacked on several occasions by barbarians . Nevertheless, the situation improved in the first half of the 4th century, which was a period of revival and prosperity for Roman Gaul. In 312, the emperor Constantin I converted to Christianity. Subsequently, Christians, who had been persecuted until then, increased rapidly across the entire Roman Empire. But, from the beginning of the 5th century, the Barbarian
Barbarian
Invasions resumed, and Germanic tribes , such as the Vandals
Vandals
, Suebi
Suebi
and Alans
Alans
crossed the Rhine
Rhine
and settled in Gaul, Spain
Spain
and other parts of the collapsing Roman Empire
Roman Empire
.

EARLY MIDDLE AGES (5TH CENTURY–10TH CENTURY)

Main articles: Francia
Francia
, Merovingian dynasty
Merovingian dynasty
, and Carolingian dynasty See also: List of French monarchs
List of French monarchs
and France
France
in the Middle Ages Frankish expansion from 481 to 843/870.

At the end of the Antiquity period, ancient Gaul
Gaul
was divided into several Germanic kingdoms and a remaining Gallo-Roman territory, known as the Kingdom of Syagrius . Simultaneously, Celtic Britons , fleeing the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain
Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain
, settled the western part of Armorica
Armorica
. As a result, the Armorican peninsula was renamed Brittany
Brittany
, Celtic culture was revived and independent petty kingdoms arose in this region. With Clovis ' conversion to Catholicism
Catholicism
in 498, the Frankish monarchy , elective and secular until then, became hereditary and of divine right .

The pagan Franks
Franks
, from whom the ancient name of "Francie" was derived, originally settled the north part of Gaul
Gaul
, but under Clovis I conquered most of the other kingdoms in northern and central Gaul. In 498, Clovis I
Clovis I
was the first Germanic conqueror after the fall of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
to convert to Catholic Christianity, rather than Arianism
Arianism
; thus France
France
was given the title "Eldest daughter of the Church" (French: La fille aînée de l'Église) by the papacy, and French kings would be called "the Most Christian
Christian
Kings of France" (Rex Christianissimus).

The Franks
Franks
embraced the Christian
Christian
Gallo-Roman culture
Gallo-Roman culture
and ancient Gaul
Gaul
was eventually renamed Francia
Francia
("Land of the Franks"). The Germanic Franks
Franks
adopted Romanic languages , except in northern Gaul where Roman settlements were less dense and where Germanic languages emerged. Clovis made Paris
Paris
his capital and established the Merovingian dynasty , but his kingdom would not survive his death. The Franks treated land purely as a private possession and divided it among their heirs, so four kingdoms emerged from Clovis's: Paris, Orléans
Orléans
, Soissons
Soissons
, and Rheims . The last Merovingian kings lost power to their mayors of the palace (head of household). One mayor of the palace, Charles Martel
Charles Martel
, defeated an Islamic invasion of Gaul
Gaul
at the Battle of Tours (732) and earned respect and power within the Frankish kingdoms. His son, Pepin the Short
Pepin the Short
, seized the crown of Francia
Francia
from the weakened Merovingians and founded the Carolingian dynasty
Carolingian dynasty
. Pepin's son, Charlemagne
Charlemagne
, reunited the Frankish kingdoms and built a vast empire across Western and Central Europe.

Proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
by Pope Leo III and thus establishing in earnest the French government's longtime historical association with the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
, Charlemagne
Charlemagne
tried to revive the Western Roman Empire
Roman Empire
and its cultural grandeur. Charlemagne's son, Louis I (emperor 814–840), kept the empire united; however, this Carolingian Empire would not survive his death. In 843, under the Treaty of Verdun , the empire was divided between Louis' three sons, with East Francia going to Louis the German
Louis the German
, Middle Francia
Francia
to Lothair I
Lothair I
, and West Francia
Francia
to Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
. West Francia
Francia
approximated the area occupied by, and was the precursor, to modern France.

During the 9th and 10th centuries, continually threatened by Viking invasions , France
France
became a very decentralised state: the nobility's titles and lands became hereditary, and the authority of the king became more religious than secular and thus was less effective and constantly challenged by powerful noblemen. Thus was established feudalism in France. Over time, some of the king's vassals would grow so powerful that they often posed a threat to the king. For example, after the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
in 1066, William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror
added "King of England" to his titles, becoming both the vassal to (as Duke of Normandy
Normandy
) and the equal of (as king of England) the king of France, creating recurring tensions.

LATE MIDDLE AGES (10TH CENTURY–15TH CENTURY)

Main articles: Kingdom of France
Kingdom of France
, Capetian dynasty
Capetian dynasty
, Valois dynasty , and Bourbon dynasty
Bourbon dynasty
See also: List of French monarchs
List of French monarchs
and France
France
in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years\' War , which paved the way for the final victory. French territorial evolution from 985 to 1947

The Carolingian dynasty
Carolingian dynasty
ruled France
France
until 987, when Hugh Capet
Hugh Capet
, Duke of France
France
and Count of Paris, was crowned King of the Franks
Franks
. His descendants—the Capetians , the House of Valois , and the House of Bourbon —progressively unified the country through wars and dynastic inheritance into the Kingdom of France, which was fully declared in 1190 by Philip II Augustus
Augustus
. The French nobility
French nobility
played a prominent role in most Crusades
Crusades
in order to restore Christian
Christian
access to the Holy Land
Holy Land
. French knights made up the bulk of the steady flow of reinforcements throughout the two-hundred-year span of the Crusades, in such a fashion that the Arabs uniformly referred to the crusaders as Franj caring little whether they really came from France. The French Crusaders also imported the French language
French language
into the Levant
Levant
, making French the base of the lingua franca (litt. "Frankish language") of the Crusader states
Crusader states
. French knights also comprised the majority in both the Hospital and the Temple orders . The latter, in particular, held numerous properties throughout France
France
and by the 13th century were the principal bankers for the French crown, until Philip IV annihilated the order in 1307. The Albigensian Crusade
Albigensian Crusade
was launched in 1209 to eliminate the heretical Cathars in the southwestern area of modern-day France. In the end, the Cathars were exterminated and the autonomous County of Toulouse
Toulouse
was annexed into the kingdom of France. Later kings expanded their domain to cover over half of modern continental France, including most of the north, centre and west of France. Meanwhile, the royal authority became more and more assertive, centred on a hierarchically conceived society distinguishing nobility , clergy, and commoners .

Charles IV the Fair died without an heir in 1328. Under the rules of the Salic law
Salic law
the crown of France
France
could not pass to a woman nor could the line of kingship pass through the female line. Accordingly, the crown passed to Philip of Valois, a cousin of Charles, rather than through the female line to Charles' nephew, Edward, who would soon become Edward III of England
Edward III of England
. During the reign of Philip of Valois , the French monarchy reached the height of its medieval power. Philip's seat on the throne was contested by Edward III of England
Edward III of England
and in 1337, on the eve of the first wave of the Black Death
Black Death
, England and France
France
went to war in what would become known as the Hundred Years\' War . The exact boundaries changed greatly with time, but French landholdings of the English Kings remained extensive for decades. With charismatic leaders, such as Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
and La Hire , strong French counterattacks won back English continental territories. Like the rest of Europe, France
France
was struck by the Black Death; half of the 17 million population of France
France
died.

EARLY MODERN PERIOD (15TH CENTURY–1789)

Main articles: French Renaissance
French Renaissance
(c. 1400-c. 1650), Early modern France
France
(1500–1789), French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
(1562–1598) and Ancien Régime (c. 1400–1792) The St. Bartholomew\'s Day massacre (1572) was the climax of the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
, which were brought to an end by the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
(1598).

The French Renaissance
French Renaissance
saw a spectacular cultural development and the first standardisation of the French language, which would become the official language of France
France
and the language of Europe's aristocracy. It also saw a long set of wars, known as the Italian Wars
Italian Wars
, between the Kingdom of France
Kingdom of France
and the powerful Holy Roman Empire
Roman Empire
. French explorers, such as Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
or Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
, claimed lands in the Americas for France, paving the way for the expansion of the First French colonial empire
French colonial empire
. The rise of Protestantism
Protestantism
in Europe led France
France
to a civil war known as the French Wars of Religion
French Wars of Religion
, where, in the most notorious incident, thousands of Huguenots were murdered in the St. Bartholomew\'s Day massacre of 1572. The Wars of Religion were ended by Henry IV 's Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
, which granted some freedom of religion to the Huguenots.

Under Louis XIII , the energetic Cardinal Richelieu
Cardinal Richelieu
promoted the centralisation of the state and reinforced the royal power by disarming domestic power holders in the 1620s. He systematically destroyed castles of defiant lords and denounced the use of private violence (dueling , carrying weapons, and maintaining private army). By the end of 1620s, Richelieu established "the royal monopoly of force" as the doctrine. During Louis XIV's minority and the regency of Queen Anne and Cardinal Mazarin , a period of trouble known as the Fronde
Fronde
occurred in France, which was at that time at war with Spain
Spain
. This rebellion was driven by the great feudal lords and sovereign courts as a reaction to the rise of royal absolute power in France. Louis XIV
Louis XIV
, the "sun king" was the absolute monarch of France
France
and made France
France
the leading European power.

The monarchy reached its peak during the 17th century and the reign of Louis XIV. By turning powerful feudal lords into courtiers at the Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
, Louis XIV's personal power became unchallenged. Remembered for his numerous wars, he made France
France
the leading European power. France
France
became the most populous country in Europe
Europe
and had tremendous influence over European politics, economy, and culture. French became the most-used language in diplomacy, science, literature and international affairs, and remained so until the 20th century. France
France
obtained many overseas possessions in the Americas, Africa
Africa
and Asia. Louis XIV
Louis XIV
also revoked the Edict of Nantes
Edict of Nantes
, forcing thousands of Huguenots into exile.

Under Louis XV , Louis XIV's grandson, France
France
lost New France
New France
and most of its Indian possessions after its defeat in the Seven Years\' War , which ended in 1763. Its European territory kept growing, however, with notable acquisitions such as Lorraine (1766) and Corsica (1770). An unpopular king, Louis XV's weak rule, his ill-advised financial, political and military decisions – as well as the debauchery of his court– discredited the monarchy, which arguably paved the way for the French Revolution
French Revolution
15 years after his death.

Louis XVI , Louis XV's grandson, actively supported the Americans , who were seeking their independence from Great Britain (realised in the Treaty of Paris
Paris
(1783) ). The financial crisis that followed France's involvement in the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
was one of many contributing factors to the French Revolution. Much of the Enlightenment occurred in French intellectual circles, and major scientific breakthroughs and inventions, such as the discovery of oxygen (1778) and the first hot air balloon carrying passengers (1783), were achieved by French scientists. French explorers, such as Bougainville and Lapérouse , took part in the voyages of scientific exploration through maritime expeditions around the globe. The Enlightenment philosophy, in which reason is advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority , undermined the power of and support for the monarchy and helped pave the way for the French Revolution.

REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE (1789–1799)

Main articles: History of France
History of France
§ Revolutionary France (1789–1799) , and French Revolution
French Revolution
The Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 was the most emblematic event of the French Revolution .

Facing financial troubles, King Louis XVI summoned the Estates-General (gathering the three Estates of the realm
Estates of the realm
) in May 1789 to propose solutions to his government. As it came to an impasse, the representatives of the Third Estate formed into a National Assembly , signalling the outbreak of the French Revolution
French Revolution
. Fearing that the king would suppress the newly created National Assembly, insurgents stormed the Bastille on 14 July 1789, a date which would become France\'s National Day .

Early August 1789 the National Constituent Assembly abolished the privileges of the nobility such as personal serfdom and exclusive hunting rights. Through the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (27 August 1789) France
France
established fundamental rights for men. The Declaration affirms "the natural and imprescriptible rights of man" to "liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression". Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
and press were declared, and arbitrary arrests outlawed. It called for the destruction of aristocratic privileges and proclaimed freedom and equal rights for all men, as well as access to public office based on talent rather than birth.

In November 1789, the Assembly decided to nationalize and sell all property of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
which had been the largest landowner in the country. In July 1790, a Civil Constitution of the Clergy reorganised the French Catholic Church
Catholic Church
cancelling the authority of the Church to levy taxes, et cetera. This fueled much discontent in parts of France
France
which would contribute to the civil war breaking out some years later. While King Louis XVI still enjoyed popularity among the population, his disastrous flight to Varennes (June 1791) seemed to justify rumours he had tied his hopes of political salvation to the prospects of foreign invasion. His credibility was so deeply undermined that the abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a republic became an increasing possibility.

In August 1791, the Emperor of Austria
Austria
and the King of Prussia in the Declaration of Pillnitz
Declaration of Pillnitz
threatened revolutionary France
France
to intervene by force of arms to restore the French absolute monarchy. In September 1791, the National Constituent Assembly forced King Louis XVI to accept the French Constitution of 1791
French Constitution of 1791
, thus turning the French absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy . In the newly established Legislative Assembly (October 1791), enmity developed and deepened between a group, later called the ' Girondins
Girondins
', who favored war with Austria
Austria
and Prussia , and a group later called 'Montagnards ' or 'Jacobins ', who opposed such war. But a majority in the Assembly in 1792 saw a war with Austria
Austria
and Prussia as a chance to boost the popularity of the revolutionary government, and thought that France would win a war against those gathered monarchies. On 20 April 1792 therefore, they declared war on Austria
Austria
.

On 10 August 1792, an angry crowd threatened the palace of King Louis XVI , who took refuge in the Legislative Assembly. A Prussian army invaded France
France
later in August 1792. Early September, Parisians, infuriated by the Prussian army capturing Verdun and counter-revolutionary uprisings in the west of France, murdered between 1,000 and 1,500 prisoners by raiding the Parisian prisons. The Assembly and the Paris
Paris
city council seemed unable to stop that bloodshed. The National Convention
National Convention
, chosen in the first elections under male universal suffrage , on 20 September 1792 succeeded the Legislative Assembly and on 21 September abolished the monarchy by proclaiming the French First Republic
Republic
. Ex-king Louis XVI was convicted of treason and guillotined in January 1793 . France
France
had declared war on England and the Dutch Republic
Republic
in November 1792 and did the same on Spain
Spain
in March 1793; in the spring of 1793, Austria, Great Britain and the Dutch Republic
Republic
invaded France; in March, France created a "sister republic " in the " Republic
Republic
of Mainz ".

Also in March 1793, the civil war of the Vendée against Paris started, evoked by both the Civil Constitution of the Clergy
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
of 1790 and the nationwide army conscription early 1793; elsewhere in France rebellion was brewing too. A factionalist feud in the National Convention, smoldering ever since October 1791, came to a climax with the group of the ' Girondins
Girondins
' on 2 June 1793 being forced to resign and leave the Convention. The counter-revolution, begun in March 1793 in the Vendée, by July had spread to Brittany
Brittany
, Normandy
Normandy
, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Toulon, Lyon. Paris' Convention government between October and December 1793 with brutal measures managed to subdue most internal uprisings, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. Some historians consider the civil war to have lasted until 1796 with a toll of possibly 450,000 lives. France
France
in February 1794 abolished slavery in its American colonies , but would reintroduce it later .

Political disagreements and enmity in the National Convention
National Convention
between October 1793 and July 1794 reached unprecedented levels, leading to dozens of Convention members being sentenced to death and guillotined. Meanwhile, France\'s external wars in 1794 were going prosperous, for example in Belgium. In 1795, the government seemed to return to indifference towards the desires and needs of the lower classes concerning freedom of (Catholic ) religion and fair distribution of food. Until 1799, politicians, apart from inventing a new parliamentary system (the 'Directory '), busied themselves with dissuading the people from Catholicism
Catholicism
and from royalism.

NAPOLEON AND 19TH CENTURY (1799–1914)

Main articles: History of France
History of France
§ Napoleonic France
France
(1799–1815) ; History of France
History of France
§ Long 19th century, 1815–1914 ; First French Empire ; Second French Empire
Second French Empire
; and French colonial empire
French colonial empire
See also: France in the 19th century
France in the 19th century
and France in the 20th century
France in the 20th century
Napoleon
Napoleon
, Emperor of the French
Emperor of the French
, and his Grande Armée
Grande Armée
built a vast Empire across Europe. His conquests spread the French revolutionary ideals across much of Europe, such as popular sovereignty, legal equality, republicanism, and administrative reorganization while his legal reforms had a major impact worldwide. Nationalism, especially in Germany, emerged in reaction against him.

Napoleon
Napoleon
Bonaparte seized control of the Republic
Republic
in 1799 becoming First Consul and later Emperor of the French
Emperor of the French
Empire (1804–1814/1815). As a continuation of the wars sparked by the European monarchies against the French Republic, changing sets of European Coalitions declared wars on Napoleon's Empire. His armies conquered most of continental Europe
Europe
with swift victories such as the battles of Jena-Auerstadt or Austerlitz . Members of the Bonaparte family were appointed as monarchs in some of the newly established kingdoms. These victories led to the worldwide expansion of French revolutionary ideals and reforms, such as the Metric system
Metric system
, the Napoleonic Code
Napoleonic Code
and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. After the catastrophic Russian campaign , and the ensuing uprising of European monarchies against his rule, Napoleon
Napoleon
was defeated and the Bourbon monarchy restored . About a million Frenchmen
Frenchmen
died during the Napoleonic Wars. Animated map of the growth and decline of the French colonial empire
French colonial empire
.

After his brief return from exile, Napoleon
Napoleon
was finally defeated in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
, the monarchy was re-established (1815–1830), with new constitutional limitations. The discredited Bourbon dynasty
Bourbon dynasty
was overthrown by the July Revolution
July Revolution
of 1830, which established the constitutional July Monarchy
July Monarchy
, which lasted until 1848, when the French Second Republic
Republic
was proclaimed, in the wake of the European Revolutions of 1848
Revolutions of 1848
. The abolition of slavery and male universal suffrage , both briefly enacted during the French Revolution were re-enacted in 1848.

In 1852, the president of the French Republic
Republic
, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte , Napoleon
Napoleon
I's nephew, was proclaimed emperor of the second Empire , as Napoleon
Napoleon
III. He multiplied French interventions abroad, especially in Crimea , in Mexico
Mexico
and Italy
Italy
which resulted in the annexation of the duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice
Nice
, then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia
Kingdom of Sardinia
. Napoleon
Napoleon
III was unseated following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
of 1870 and his regime was replaced by the Third Republic
Republic
. France
France
had colonial possessions , in various forms, since the beginning of the 17th century, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, its global overseas colonial empire extended greatly and became the second largest in the world behind the British Empire
British Empire
. Including metropolitan France
France
, the total area of land under French sovereignty almost reached 13 million square kilometres in the 1920s and 1930s, 8.6% of the world's land. Known as the Belle Époque
Belle Époque
, the turn of the century was a period characterised by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity and technological, scientific and cultural innovations. In 1905, state secularism was officially established .

CONTEMPORARY PERIOD (1914–PRESENT)

Main article: France in the twentieth century French poilus sustained the highest number of casualties among the Allies in World War I .

France
France
was a member of the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
when World War I
World War I
broke out. A small part of Northern France
France
was occupied, but France
France
and its allies emerged victorious against the Central Powers
Central Powers
at a tremendous human and material cost. World War I
World War I
left 1.4 million French soldiers dead, 4% of its population. Between 27 and 30% of soldiers conscripted from 1912–1915 were killed. The interbellum years were marked by intense international tensions and a variety of social reforms introduced by the Popular Front government (annual leave , eight-hour workdays , women in government, etc...). Charles de Gaulle took an active part in many major events of the 20th century: a hero of World War I, leader of the Free French during World War II
World War II
, he then became President , where he facilitated decolonisation, maintained France
France
as a major power and overcame the revolt of May 1968 .

In 1940, France
France
was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
. Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
was divided into a German occupation zone in the north and Vichy France , a newly established authoritarian regime collaborating with Germany, in the south, while Free France
Free France
, the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
, was set up in London. From 1942 to 1944, about 160,000 French citizens, including around 75,000 Jews , were deported to death camps and concentration camps in Germany
Germany
and occupied Poland. On 6 June 1944 the Allies invaded Normandy
Normandy
and in August they invaded Provence
Provence
. Over the following year the Allies and the French Resistance
French Resistance
emerged victorious over the Axis powers and French sovereignty was restored with the establishment of the Provisional Government of the French Republic
Republic
(GPRF). This interim government, established by de Gaulle, aimed to continue to wage war against Germany
Germany
and to purge collaborators from office . It also made several important reforms (suffrage extended to women, creation of a social security system).

The GPRF laid the groundwork for a new constitutional order that resulted in the Fourth Republic
Republic
, which saw spectacular economic growth (les Trente Glorieuses ). France
France
was one of the founding members of NATO
NATO
(1949). France
France
attempted to regain control of French Indochina but was defeated by the Viet Minh
Viet Minh
in 1954 at the climactic Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
. Only months later, France
France
faced another anti-colonialist conflict in Algeria
Algeria
. Torture
Torture
and illegal executions were perpetrated by both sides and the debate over whether or not to keep control of Algeria
Algeria
, then home to over one million European settlers , wracked the country and nearly led to a coup and civil war.

In 1958, the weak and unstable Fourth Republic
Republic
gave way to the Fifth Republic
Republic
, which included a strengthened Presidency. In the latter role, Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
managed to keep the country together while taking steps to end the war. The Algerian War
Algerian War
was concluded with the Évian Accords
Évian Accords
in 1962 that led to Algerian independence. A vestige of the colonial empire are the French overseas departments and territories .

In the context of the Cold War
Cold War
, de Gaulle pursued a policy of "national independence" towards the Western and Eastern blocs . To this end, he withdrew from NATO
NATO
's military integrated command, he launched a nuclear development programme and made France
France
the fourth nuclear power . He restored cordial Franco-German relations in order to create a European counterweight between the American and Soviet spheres of influence. However, he opposed any development of a supranational Europe
Europe
, favouring a Europe
Europe
of sovereign Nations . In the wake of the series of worldwide protests of 1968 , the revolt of May 1968 had an enormous social impact. In France, it is considered to be the watershed moment when a conservative moral ideal (religion, patriotism, respect for authority) shifted towards a more liberal moral ideal (secularism , individualism , sexual revolution ). Although the revolt was a political failure (as the Gaullist party emerged even stronger than before) it announced a split between the French people
French people
and de Gaulle who resigned shortly after. Republican march , Place de la République
Place de la République
, Paris.

In the post-Gaullist era, France
France
remained one of the most developed economies in the World , but faced several economic crises that resulted in high unemployment rates and increasing public debt. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries France
France
has been at the forefront of the development of a supranational European Union
European Union
, notably by signing the Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
(which created the European Union) in 1992, establishing the Eurozone
Eurozone
in 1999, and signing the Lisbon Treaty
Lisbon Treaty
in 2007. France
France
has also gradually but fully reintegrated into NATO
NATO
and has since participated in most NATO
NATO
sponsored wars.

Since the 19th century France
France
has received many immigrants . These have been mostly male foreign workers from European Catholic countries who generally returned home when not employed. During the 1970s France
France
faced economic crisis and allowed new immigrants (mostly from the Maghreb
Maghreb
) to permanently settle in France
France
with their families and to acquire French citizenship. It resulted in hundreds of thousands of Muslims (especially in the larger cities) living in subsidised public housing and suffering from very high unemployment rates. Simultaneously France
France
renounced the assimilation of immigrants, where they were expected to adhere to French traditional values and cultural norms. They were encouraged to retain their distinctive cultures and traditions and required merely to integrate .

Since the 1995 Paris
Paris
Métro and RER bombings , France
France
has been sporadically targeted by Islamist organisations, notably the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 which provoked the largest public rallies in French history, gathering 4.4 million people, the November 2015 Paris
Paris
attacks which resulted in 130 deaths, the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II
World War II
, and the deadliest in the European Union since the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the 2016 Nice attack which caused 87 deaths during Bastille Day
Bastille Day
celebrations.

GEOGRAPHY

Main article: Geography of France
Geography of France

LOCATION AND BORDERS

A relief map of Metropolitan France, showing cities with over 100,000 inhabitants.

The European part of France
France
is called Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
and it is located at the Western end of Europe. It is bordered by the North Sea in the north, the English Channel
English Channel
in the northwest, the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean sea in the southeast. It borders Belgium
Belgium
and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
in the northeast, Germany
Germany
and Switzerland
Switzerland
in the east, Italy
Italy
and Monaco
Monaco
in the southeast, and Spain
Spain
and Andorra
Andorra
in the south and southwest. The borders in the south and in the east of the country are mountain ranges: the Pyrenees, the Alps
Alps
and the Jura, the border in the east is from the Rhine
Rhine
river, while the border in the north and the northeast melts in no natural elements. Due to its shape, it is often referred to in French as l'Hexagone ("The Hexagon "). Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
includes various islands: Corsica
Corsica
and coastal islands. Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
is situated mostly between latitudes 41° and 51° N , and longitudes 6° W and 10° E , on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone. Its continental part covers about 1000 km from north to south and from east to west.

France
France
has Overseas regions across the world. These territories have varying statuses in the territorial administration of France
France
and are located:

* In South America: French Guiana
French Guiana
. * In the Atlantic Ocean: Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
and, in the Antilles: Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
, Martinique
Martinique
, Saint Martin
Saint Martin
and Saint Barthélemy . * In the Pacific Ocean: French Polynesia
French Polynesia
, the special collectivity of New Caledonia
New Caledonia
, Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
and Clipperton Island
Clipperton Island
. * In the Indian Ocean: Réunion island
Réunion island
, Mayotte
Mayotte
, Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
, Crozet Islands
Crozet Islands
, St. Paul and Amsterdam islands. * In the Indian Ocean: Kerguelen Islands
Kerguelen Islands
. * In the Antarctic: Adélie Land
Adélie Land
.

France
France
has land borders with Brazil
Brazil
and Suriname
Suriname
in French Guiana
French Guiana
and with the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
through the French part of Saint Martin .

The European territory of France
France
covers 551,500 square kilometres (212,935 sq mi), the largest among European Union
European Union
members. France's total land area, with its overseas departments and territories (excluding Adélie Land
Adélie Land
), is 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi), 0.45% of the total land area on Earth. France
France
possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps
Alps
in the southeast, the Massif Central
Massif Central
in the south central and Pyrenees
Pyrenees
in the southwest.

Due to its numerous overseas departments and territories scattered across the planet, France
France
possesses the second-largest Exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the world, covering 11,035,000 km2 (4,260,000 mi2), just behind the EEZ of the United States
United States
(11,351,000 km2 / 4,383,000 mi2), but ahead of the EEZ of Australia
Australia
(8,148,250 km2 / 4,111,312 mi2). Its EEZ covers approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world.

At 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft) above sea level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc
, is situated in the Alps
Alps
on the French and Italian border. France
France
also has extensive river systems such as the Seine
Seine
, the Loire
Loire
, the Garonne
Garonne
, and the Rhone
Rhone
, which divides the Massif Central
Massif Central
from the Alps
Alps
and flows into the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
at the Camargue
Camargue
. Corsica
Corsica
lies off the Mediterranean coast.

CLIMATE

Most of the low-lying areas of metropolitan France
France
excluding Corsica are located in the oceanic climate zone, Cfb, Cwb and Cfc in the Köppen classification . A small part of the territory bordering the mediterranean basin lies in the Csa and Csb zones. As the French metropolitan territory is relatively large, the climate is not uniform, giving rise to the following climate nuances:

* The west of France
France
has strictly oceanic climate – it extends from Flanders to the Basque Country in a coastal strip several tens of kilometres wide, narrower to the north and south but wider in Brittany, which is almost entirely in this climate zone.

* The climate of the South is also oceanic but warmer. * The climate of the Northwest is oceanic but cooler and windier.

* Away from the coast, the climate is oceanic throughout but its characteristics change somewhat. The Paris
Paris
sedimentary basin and, more so, the basins protected by mountain chains show a stronger seasonal temperature variability and less rainfall during autumn and winter. Therefore, most of the territory has a semi-oceanic climate and forms a transition zone between strictly oceanic climate near the coasts and the semi-continental climate of the north and centre-east (Alsace, plains of the Saône, the middle part of the Rhône, Dauphiné, Auvergne and Savoy). * The Mediterranean and the lower Rhône valley experience a Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
due to the effect of mountain chains isolating them from the rest of the country and the resulting Mistral and Tramontana winds. * The mountain (or alpine) climate is confined to the Alps
Alps
, the Pyrenees
Pyrenees
and the summits of the Massif Central
Massif Central
, the Jura and the Vosges
Vosges
.

* In the overseas regions , there are three broad types of climate:

* A tropical climate in most overseas regions: high constant temperature throughout the year with a dry and a wet season. * An equatorial climate in French Guiana
French Guiana
: high constant temperature with even precipitation throughout the year. * A subpolar climate in Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
and in most of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
: short mild summers and long very cold winters.

*

Vineyards in Côte de Nuits , Burgundy
Burgundy
*

Mediterranean vegetation (lavender ) in Provence
Provence
*

Alpine climate (winter) in the French Alps
Alps
*

Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
in Corsica
Corsica
*

Tropical climate
Tropical climate
in Bora Bora
Bora Bora
( French Polynesia
French Polynesia
)

ENVIRONMENT

See also: Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
; National parks of France
National parks of France
; and Regional natural parks of France Marine (blue), Regional (green) and National (red) natural parks in France
France
Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc
is the highest summit in Western Europe.

France
France
was one of the first countries to create an environment ministry, in 1971. Although it is one of the most industrialised countries in the world, France
France
is ranked only 17th by carbon dioxide emissions , behind less populous nations such as Canada
Canada
or Australia. This is because France
France
decided to invest in nuclear power following the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
, which now accounts for 75% of its electricity production and results in less pollution.

Like all European Union
European Union
members, France
France
agreed to cut carbon emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by the year 2020, compared to the U.S. plan to reduce emissions by 4% of 1990 levels. As of 2009 , French carbon dioxide emissions per capita were lower than that of China's. The country was set to impose a carbon tax in 2009 at 17 euros per tonne of carbon emitted, which would have raised 4 billion euros of revenue annually. However, the plan was abandoned due to fears of burdening French businesses.

Forests account for 28% of France's land area, and are some of the most diverse in Europe, comprising more than 140 species of trees. There are nine national parks and 46 natural parks in France, with the government planning to convert 20% of its Exclusive Economic Zone into a Marine Protected Area by 2020. A regional nature park (French: parc naturel régional or PNR) is a public establishment in France
France
between local authorities and the French national government covering an inhabited rural area of outstanding beauty, in order to protect the scenery and heritage as well as setting up sustainable economic development in the area. A PNR sets goals and guidelines for managed human habitation, sustainable economic development, and protection of the natural environment based on each park's unique landscape and heritage. The parks foster ecological research programmes and public education in the natural sciences. As of 2014 there are 49 PNRs in France.

According to the 2012 Environmental Performance Index conducted by Yale and Columbia , France
France
was the sixth-most environmentally conscious country in the world, one place higher than the previous report in 2010.

GEOLOGY, TOPOGRAPHY AND HYDROGRAPHY

Metropolitan France
Metropolitan France
has a wide variety of topographical sets and natural landscapes. Large parts of the current territory of France were raised during several tectonic episodes like the Hercynian uplift in the Paleozoic Era, during which the Armorican Massif
Armorican Massif
, the Massif Central , the Morvan massif, the Vosges
Vosges
and Ardennes
Ardennes
ranges and the island of Corsica
Corsica
were formed. These massifs delineate several sedimentary basins such as the Aquitaine basin in the southwest and the Paris
Paris
basin in the north, the latter including several areas of particularly fertile ground such as the silt beds of Beauce and Brie. Various routes of natural passage, such as the Rhône valley, allow easy communications. The Alpine, Pyrenean and Jura mountains are much younger and have less eroded forms. The highest peak of the Alps
Alps
is Montblanc at 4809 metres above sea level. Although 60% of municipalities are classified as having seismic risks, these risks remain moderate. The coastlines offer contrasting landscapes: mountain ranges along the French Riviera , coastal cliffs such as the Côte d\'Albâtre , and wide sandy plains in the Languedoc
Languedoc
. The river system of France
France
comprises the four major rivers Loire, Seine, Garonne and Rhône and their tributaries, whose combined catchment includes over 62% of the metropolitan territory. Other water courses drain towards the Meuse and Rhine
Rhine
along the north-eastern borders. France has 11 million square kilometres of marine waters within three oceans under its jurisdiction, of which 97% are overseas.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS

Main article: Administrative divisions of France

The French republic is divided into 18 regions (located in Europe
Europe
and overseas), 5 overseas collectivities , 1 overseas territory , 1 special collectivity : New Caledonia
New Caledonia
and 1 uninhabited island directly under the authority of the Minister of Overseas France
Overseas France
: Clipperton . Regions Hauts-de- France
France
Normandy
Normandy
Île-de- France
France
Grand Est
Grand Est
Bourgogne- Franche- Comté Centre- Val de Loire
Loire
Pays de la Loire
Loire
Brittany
Brittany
Nouvelle- Aquitaine Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes Occitanie
Occitanie
Provence- Alpes- Côte d'Azur Corsica
Corsica
French Guiana
French Guiana
Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
Martinique
Martinique
Mayotte
Mayotte
Réunion
Réunion
Belgium
Belgium
Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Germany
Germany
Switzerland
Switzerland
Italy
Italy
United Kingdom Andorra
Andorra
Brazil
Brazil
Suriname
Suriname
Spain
Spain
Channel Bay of Biscay Ligurian Sea Mediterranean Sea

Since 2016 France
France
is mainly divided into 18 administrative regions: 13 regions in metropolitan France
France
(including the territorial collectivity of Corsica
Corsica
), and five located overseas . The regions are further subdivided into 101 departments, which are numbered mainly alphabetically. This number is used in postal codes and was formerly used on vehicle number plates. Among the 101 departments of France, five ( French Guiana
French Guiana
, Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
, Martinique
Martinique
, Mayotte
Mayotte
, and Réunion
Réunion
) are in overseas regions (ROMs) that are also simultaneously overseas departments (DOMs), enjoy exactly the same status as metropolitan departments and are an integral part of the European Union.

The 101 departments are subdivided into 335 arrondissements , which are, in turn, subdivided into 2,054 cantons . These cantons are then divided into 36,658 communes , which are municipalities with an elected municipal council. Three communes—Paris, Lyon
Lyon
and Marseille—are subdivided into 45 municipal arrondissements .

The regions, departments and communes are all known as territorial collectivities , meaning they possess local assemblies as well as an executive. Arrondissements and cantons are merely administrative divisions. However, this was not always the case. Until 1940, the arrondissements were territorial collectivities with an elected assembly, but these were suspended by the Vichy regime and definitely abolished by the Fourth Republic
Republic
in 1946. Overseas territories and collectivities

In addition to the 18 regions and 101 departments, the French Republic
Republic
has five overseas collectivities ( French Polynesia
French Polynesia
, Saint Barthélemy , Saint Martin
Saint Martin
, Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
, and Wallis and Futuna ), one sui generis collectivity ( New Caledonia
New Caledonia
), one overseas territory ( French Southern and Antarctic Lands
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
), and one island possession in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
( Clipperton Island
Clipperton Island
). The lands making up the French Republic, shown at the same geographic scale .

Overseas collectivities and territories form part of the French Republic, but do not form part of the European Union
European Union
or its fiscal area (with the exception of St. Bartelemy, which seceded from Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
in 2007). The Pacific Collectivities (COMs) of French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, and New Caledonia
New Caledonia
continue to use the CFP franc
CFP franc
whose value is strictly linked to that of the euro. In contrast, the five overseas regions used the French franc
French franc
and now use the euro.

NAME CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS CAPITAL

Clipperton Island
Clipperton Island
State private property under the direct authority of the French government UNINHABITED

French Polynesia
French Polynesia
Designated as an overseas land (pays d'outre-mer or POM), the status is the same as an overseas collectivity. PAPEETE

French Southern and Antarctic Lands
French Southern and Antarctic Lands
Overseas territory (territoire d'outre-mer or TOM) PORT-AUX-FRANçAIS

New Caledonia
New Caledonia
Sui generis collectivity NOUMéA

Saint Barthélemy
Saint Barthélemy
Overseas collectivity
Overseas collectivity
(collectivité d'outre-mer or COM) GUSTAVIA

Saint Martin
Saint Martin
Overseas collectivity
Overseas collectivity
(collectivité d'outre-mer or COM) MARIGOT

Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Overseas collectivity
Overseas collectivity
(collectivité d'outre-mer or COM). Still referred to as a collectivité territoriale. SAINT-PIERRE

Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
Overseas collectivity
Overseas collectivity
(collectivité d'outre-mer or COM). Still referred to as a territoire. MATA-UTU

POLITICS

Main article: Politics of France
Politics of France

GOVERNMENT

Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron
President Édouard Philippe
Édouard Philippe
Prime Minister

The French Republic
Republic
is a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic with strong democratic traditions. The constitution of the Fifth Republic
Republic
was approved by referendum on 28 September 1958. It greatly strengthened the authority of the executive in relation to parliament. The executive branch itself has two leaders: the President of the Republic
Republic
, currently Emmanuel Macron , who is head of state and is elected directly by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term (formerly 7 years), and the Government, led by the president-appointed Prime Minister .

The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and a Senate . The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year terms. The Assembly has the power to dismiss the government, and thus the majority in the Assembly determines the choice of government. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms (originally 9-year terms), and one half of the seats are submitted to election every 3 years starting in September 2008.

The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say. The Government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.

Until World War II, Radicals were a strong political force in France, embodied by the Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party
Republican, Radical and Radical-Socialist Party
which was the most important party of the Third Republic. Since World War II, they were marginalized while French politics became characterised by two politically opposed groupings: one left-wing, centred on the French Section of the Workers\' International and its successor the Socialist Party (since 1969); and the other right-wing, centred on the Gaullist Party , whose name changed over time: the Rally of the French People (1947), the Union of Democrats for the Republic
Republic
(1958), the Rally for the Republic
Republic
(1976), the Union for a Popular Movement
Union for a Popular Movement
(2007) and The Republicans (since 2015). In the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, radical centrist party En Marche!
En Marche!
became the dominant force, overtaking both Socialists and Republicans.

LAW

Main article: Law of France
Law of France

France
France
uses a civil legal system; that is, law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it (though the amount of judicial interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law ). Basic principles of the rule of law were laid in the Napoleonic Code
Napoleonic Code
(which was, in turn, largely based on the royal law codified under Louis XIV
Louis XIV
). In agreement with the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, law should only prohibit actions detrimental to society. As Guy Canivet , first president of the Court of Cassation , wrote about the management of prisons: Freedom is the rule, and its restriction is the exception; any restriction of Freedom must be provided for by Law and must follow the principles of necessity and proportionality. That is, Law should lay out prohibitions only if they are needed, and if the inconveniences caused by this restriction do not exceed the inconveniences that the prohibition is supposed to remedy. The basic principles that the French Republic
Republic
must respect are found in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
.

French law is divided into two principal areas: private law and public law . Private law includes, in particular, civil law and criminal law . Public law includes, in particular, administrative law and constitutional law . However, in practical terms, French law comprises three principal areas of law: civil law, criminal law, and administrative law. Criminal laws can only address the future and not the past (criminal ex post facto laws are prohibited). While administrative law is often a subcategory of civil law in many countries, it is completely separated in France
France
and each body of law is headed by a specific supreme court: ordinary courts (which handle criminal and civil litigation) are headed by the Court of Cassation and administrative courts are headed by the Council of State .

To be applicable, every law must be officially published in the Journal officiel de la République française .

France
France
does not recognise religious law as a motivation for the enactment of prohibitions. France
France
has long had neither blasphemy laws nor sodomy laws (the latter being abolished in 1791). However, "offences against public decency " (contraires aux bonnes mœurs) or disturbing public order (trouble à l'ordre public) have been used to repress public expressions of homosexuality or street prostitution. Since 1999, civil unions for homosexual couples are permitted, and since May 2013, same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption
LGBT adoption
are legal in France. Laws prohibiting discriminatory speech in the press are as old as 1881 . Some consider however that hate speech laws in France are too broad or severe and damage freedom of speech . France
France
has laws against racism and antisemitism . Since 1990, the Gayssot Act prohibits Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
.

Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
is constitutionally guaranteed by the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
. The 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State is the basis for laïcité (state secularism): the state does not formally recognize any religion, except in Alsace-Moselle . Nonetheless, it does recognize religious associations. The Parliament has listed many religious movements as dangerous cults since 1995, and has banned wearing conspicuous religious symbols in schools since 2004. In 2010, it banned the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils in public ; human rights groups such as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
and Human Rights Watch described the law as discriminatory towards Muslims. However, it is supported by most of the population.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Main article: Foreign relations of France French President François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
Helmut Kohl
, in 1987.

France
France
is a founding member of the United Nations
United Nations
and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto rights. In 2015, France
France
was described as being "the best networked state in the world", because it is a country that "is member of more multi-lateral organisations than any other country".

France
France
is a member of the G8 , World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
(WTO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
(SPC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (COI). It is an associate member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and a leading member of the International Francophone Organisation (OIF) of fifty-one fully or partly French-speaking countries.

As a significant hub for international relations, France
France
hosts the second largest assembly of diplomatic missions in the world and the headquarters of international organisations including the OECD
OECD
, UNESCO
UNESCO
, Interpol
Interpol
, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures
International Bureau of Weights and Measures
, and la Francophonie .

Postwar French foreign policy has been largely shaped by membership of the European Union, of which it was a founding member . Since the 1960s , France
France
has developed close ties with reunified Germany
Germany
to become the most influential driving force of the EU . In the 1960s, France
France
sought to exclude the British from the European unification process, seeking to build its own standing in continental Europe. However, since 1904, France
France
has maintained an " Entente cordiale
Entente cordiale
" with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
, and there has been a strengthening of links between the countries, especially militarily . The European Parliament in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
, near the border with Germany
Germany
. France
France
is a founding member of all EU institutions.

France
France
is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
(NATO), but under President de Gaulle, it excluded itself from the joint military command to protest the special relationship between the United States
United States
and Britain and to preserve the independence of French foreign and security policies. France
France
vigorously opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq , straining bilateral relations with the US and the UK. However, as a result of Nicolas Sarkozy's pro-American politics (much criticised in France
France
by the leftists and by a part of the right), France
France
rejoined the NATO
NATO
joint military command on 4 April 2009.

In the early 1990s, the country drew considerable criticism from other nations for its underground nuclear tests in French Polynesia
French Polynesia
.

France
France
retains strong political and economic influence in its former African colonies ( Françafrique ) and has supplied economic aid and troops for peace-keeping missions in Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast
and Chad
Chad
. Recently, after the unilateral declaration of independence of northern Mali
Mali
by the Tuareg MNLA and the subsequent regional Northern Mali
Mali
conflict with several Islamist groups including Ansar Dine
Ansar Dine
and MOJWA , France and other African states intervened to help the Malian Army to retake control.

In 2013, France
France
was the fourth largest (in absolute terms) donor of development aid in the world, behind the US, the UK and Germany. This represents 0.36% of its GDP, in this regard rating France
France
as twelfth largest donor on the list. The organisation managing the French help is the French Development Agency , which finances primarily humanitarian projects in sub-Saharan Africa
Africa
. The main goals of this support are "developing infrastructure, access to health care and education, the implementation of appropriate economic policies and the consolidation of the rule of law and democracy".

MILITARY

Main article: French Armed Forces
French Armed Forces
Examples of France's military. Clockwise from top left: Nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle ; A Rafale fighter aircraft ; French Chasseurs Alpins patrolling the valleys of Kapisa province in Afghanistan; a Leclerc tank in Paris
Paris
for the 14 July Bastille Day
Bastille Day
Military Parade .

The French Armed Forces
French Armed Forces
(Forces armées françaises) are the military and paramilitary forces of France, under the president as supreme commander. They consist of the French Army
French Army
(Armée de Terre), French Navy (Marine Nationale, formerly called Armée de Mer), the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air), the French Strategic Nuclear Force (Force Nucléaire Stratégique, nicknamed Force de Frappe or "Strike Force") and the Military Police called National Gendarmerie
National Gendarmerie
(Gendarmerie nationale), which also fulfils civil police duties in the rural areas of France. Together they are among the largest armed forces in the world and the largest in the EU .

While the Gendarmerie is an integral part of the French armed forces (gendarmes are career soldiers), and therefore under the purview of the Ministry of Defence , it is operationally attached to the Ministry of the Interior as far as its civil police duties are concerned.

When acting as general purpose police force, the Gendarmerie encompasses the counter terrorist units of the Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie
National Gendarmerie
(Escadron Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale), the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale), the Search Sections of the National Gendarmerie
National Gendarmerie
(Sections de Recherche de la Gendarmerie Nationale), responsible for criminal enquiries, and the Mobile Brigades of the National Gendarmerie (Brigades mobiles de la Gendarmerie Nationale, or in short Gendarmerie mobile) which have the task to maintain public order.

The following special units are also part of the Gendarmerie: The Republican Guard (Garde républicaine) which protects public buildings hosting major French institutions, the Maritime Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie maritime) serving as Coast Guard, the Provost Service (Prévôté), acting as the Military Police branch of the Gendarmerie.

As far as the French intelligence units are concerned, the Directorate-General for External Security
Directorate-General for External Security
(Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure) is considered to be a component of the Armed Forces under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. The other, the Central Directorate for Interior Intelligence (Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur) is a division of the National Police Force (Direction générale de la Police Nationale), and therefore reports directly to the Ministry of the Interior. There has been no national conscription since 1997.

France
France
has a special military corps, the French Foreign Legion , founded in 1830, which consists of foreign nationals from over 140 countries who are willing to serve in the French Armed Forces
French Armed Forces
and become French citizens after the end of their service period. The only other countries having similar units are Spain
Spain
(the Spanish Foreign Legion, called Tercio, was founded in 1920) and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
(foreigners can serve in the National Army provided they speak Luxembourgish).

France
France
is a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN , and a recognised nuclear state since 1960. France
France
has signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
(CTBT) and acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
. France's annual military expenditure in 2011 was US$62.5 billion, or 2.3%, of its GDP
GDP
making it the fifth biggest military spender in the world after the United States, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

French nuclear deterrence, (formerly known as " Force de Frappe "), relies on complete independence. The current French nuclear force consists of four Triomphant class submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles . In addition to the submarine fleet, it is estimated that France
France
has about 60 ASMP medium-range air-to-ground missiles with nuclear warheads , of which around 50 are deployed by the Air Force using the Mirage 2000N long-range nuclear strike aircraft, while around 10 are deployed by the French Navy's Super Étendard Modernisé (SEM) attack aircraft, which operate from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
. The new Rafale F3 aircraft will gradually replace all Mirage 2000N and SEM in the nuclear strike role with the improved ASMP-A missile with a nuclear warhead.

France
France
has major military industries with one of the largest aerospace industries in the world. Its industries have produced such equipment as the Rafale fighter, the Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
aircraft carrier, the Exocet
Exocet
missile and the Leclerc tank among others. Despite withdrawing from the Eurofighter project, France
France
is actively investing in European joint projects such as the Eurocopter Tiger
Eurocopter Tiger
, multipurpose frigates , the UCAV demonstrator nEUROn and the Airbus A400M
Airbus A400M
. France is a major arms seller, with most of its arsenal's designs available for the export market with the notable exception of nuclear-powered devices.

The military parade held in Paris
Paris
each 14 July for France\'s national day , called Bastille Day
Bastille Day
in English-speaking countries (but not in France), is the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.

GOVERNMENT FINANCE

See also: Taxation in France
Taxation in France

The French government
French government
has run a budget deficit each year since the early 1970s. In 2012, French government
French government
debt levels reached 1.8 trillion euros, the equivalent of 90% of French GDP.

In late 2012, credit rating agencies warned that growing French government debt levels risked France\'s AAA credit rating , raising the possibility of a future downgrade and subsequent higher borrowing costs for the French government.

ECONOMY

Main article: Economy of France
Economy of France
France
France
is part of a monetary union, the Eurozone
Eurozone
(dark blue), and of the European Single Market
European Single Market
.

A member of the Group of 7 (formerly G8) leading industrialised countries, as of 2014 , it is ranked as the world's ninth largest and the EU's second largest economy by purchasing power parity . With 31 of the 500 biggest companies in the world in 2015, France
France
ranks fourth in the Fortune Global 500 , ahead of Germany
Germany
and the UK. France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro in 1999, with euro coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc
French franc
(₣) in 2002.

France
France
has a mixed economy that combines extensive private enterprise with substantial state enterprise and government intervention. The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications. It has been relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s . The government is slowly corporatising the state sector and selling off holdings in France
France
Télécom , Air France
Air France
, as well as in the insurance, banking, and defence industries. France
France
has an important aerospace industry led by the European consortium Airbus
Airbus
, and has its own national spaceport , the Centre Spatial Guyanais . A Peugeot 508 RHX . France
France
maintains a large automotive industry , and is the world's sixth largest exporter of goods.

According to the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
(WTO), in 2009 France
France
was the world's sixth largest exporter and the fourth largest importer of manufactured goods. In 2008, France
France
was the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment among OECD
OECD
countries at $118 billion, ranking behind Luxembourg
Luxembourg
(where foreign direct investment was essentially monetary transfers to banks located there) and the US ($316 billion), but above the UK ($96.9 billion), Germany
Germany
($25 billion), or Japan
Japan
($24 billion).

In the same year, French companies invested $220 billion outside France, ranking France
France
as the second largest outward direct investor in the OECD, behind the US ($311 billion), and ahead of the UK ($111 billion), Japan
Japan
($128 billion) and Germany
Germany
($157 billion).

Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of the economy. The Paris
Paris
stock exchange (French: La Bourse de Paris) is an old institution, created by Louis XV in 1724. In 2000, the stock exchanges of Paris, Amsterdam and Bruxelles merged into Euronext
Euronext
. In 2007, Euronext
Euronext
merged with the New York stock exchange to form NYSE Euronext
Euronext
, the world's largest stock exchange. Euronext Paris
Paris
, the French branch of the NYSE Euronext
Euronext
group is Europe's 2nd largest stock exchange market, behind the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
.

France
France
is part of the European single market which represents more than 500 million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union
European Union
(EU) members and by EU legislation. France
France
introduced the common European currency, the Euro in 2002. It is a member of the Eurozone
Eurozone
which represents around 330 million citizens.

French companies have maintained key positions in the insurance and banking industries: AXA
AXA
is the world's largest insurance company. The leading French banks are BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas
and the Crédit Agricole
Crédit Agricole
, ranking as the world's first and sixth largest banks in 2010 (by assets), while the Société Générale
Société Générale
group was ranked the world's eighth largest in 2009.

AGRICULTURE

Champagne
Champagne
, widely regarded as a luxury good , originates from the Champagne region in northeast France.

France
France
has historically been a large producer of agricultural products. Extensive tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and EU subsidies have combined to make France
France
the leading agricultural producer and exporter in Europe
Europe
(representing 20% of the EU's agricultural production ) and the world's third biggest exporter of agricultural products.

Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as internationally recognised processed foods are the primary French agricultural exports. Rosé
Rosé
wines are primarily consumed within the country, but Champagne
Champagne
and Bordeaux
Bordeaux
wines are major exports, being known worldwide. EU agriculture subsidies to France
France
have decreased in recent years but still amounted to $8 billion in 2007. That same year, France
France
sold 33.4 billion euros of transformed agricultural products.

France
France
produces rum via sugar cane-based distilleries located on islands such as Reunion Island in the southern Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
(including Tank Rum , Isautier, and Savanna).

Agriculture is an important sector of France's economy: 3.8% of the active population is employed in agriculture, whereas the total agri-food industry made up 4.2% of French GDP
GDP
in 2005.

TOURISM

Main article: Tourism in France Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci 's Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa
is the World's best known work of art, on permanent display at the Louvre
Louvre
, the World's most visited museum.

With 83 million foreign tourists in 2012, France
France
is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead of the US (67 million) and China
China
(58 million). This 83 million figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours, such as North Europeans crossing France
France
on their way to Spain
Spain
or Italy. It is third in income from tourism due to shorter duration of visits. France
France
has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO\'s World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest, beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity (green tourism ). Small and picturesque French villages are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
(litt. "The Most Beautiful Villages of France"). The "Remarkable Gardens " label is a list of the over 200 gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture . This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks . France
France
attracts many religious pilgrims on their way to St. James , or to Lourdes
Lourdes
, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées that hosts several million visitors a year. The Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most visited and recognisable landmarks in France. It is one of the 39 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
in France
France
.

France, especially Paris, has some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre
Louvre
, which is the most visited art museum in the world , the Musée d\'Orsay , mostly devoted to impressionism , and Beaubourg , dedicated to Contemporary art
Contemporary art
. Disneyland Paris
Paris
is Europe's most popular theme park, with 15 million combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park
Park
and Walt Disney Studios Park
Park
in 2009.

With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the French Riviera (or Côte d'Azur), in south-east France, is the second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Paris
Paris
region . It benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year, 115 kilometres (71 mi) of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and 3,000 restaurants. Each year the Côte d'Azur hosts 50% of the world's superyacht fleet.

Another major destination are the Châteaux of the Loire
Loire
Valley , this World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
is noteworthy for its architectural heritage, in its historic towns but in particular its castles (châteaux), such as the Châteaux d'Amboise , de Chambord, d'Ussé , de Villandry and Chenonceau . The most popular tourist sites include: (according to a 2003 ranking visitors per year): Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
(6.2 million), Louvre Museum (5.7 million), Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles
(2.8 million), Musée d'Orsay (2.1 million), Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
(1.2 million), Centre Pompidou (1.2 million), Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel
(1 million), Château
Château
de Chambord (711,000), Sainte-Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle
(683,000), Château
Château
du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (549,000), Puy de Dôme
Puy de Dôme
(500,000), Musée Picasso
Musée Picasso
(441,000), Carcassonne
Carcassonne
(362,000).

ENERGY

Further information: Energy in France
Energy in France
France
France
derives 75% of its electricity from nuclear power , the highest percentage in the world. Photo of Cattenom Nuclear Power Plant .

Électricité de France
Électricité de France
(EDF), the main electricity generation and distribution company in France, is also one of the world's largest producers of electricity. In 2003, it produced 22% of the European Union 's electricity, primarily from nuclear power . France
France
is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the G8 , due to its heavy investment in nuclear power . As a result of large investments in nuclear technology, most electricity produced by France
France
is generated by 59 nuclear power plants (75% in 2012). In this context, renewable energies are having difficulty taking off. France
France
also uses hydroelectric dams to produce electricity, such as the Eguzon dam
Eguzon dam
, Étang de Soulcem
Étang de Soulcem
, and Lac de Vouglans .

TRANSPORT

Main article: Transport in France

The railway network of France
France
, which as of 2008 stretches 29,473 kilometres (18,314 mi) is the second most extensive in Western Europe after that of Germany
Germany
. It is operated by the SNCF
SNCF
, and high-speed trains include the Thalys
Thalys
, the Eurostar
Eurostar
and TGV
TGV
, which travels at 320 km/h (199 mph) in commercial use. The Eurostar, along with the Eurotunnel Shuttle , connects with the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
through the Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
. Rail connections exist to all other neighbouring countries in Europe, except Andorra
Andorra
. Intra-urban connections are also well developed with both underground services (Paris, Lyon, Lille, Marseille, Toulouse, Rennes) and tramway services (Nantes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Montpellier...) complementing bus services. A TGV
TGV
Duplex crossing the Cize–Bolozon viaduct . The train can reach a maximum speed of 320 km/h (198.84 mph).

There are approximately 1,027,183 kilometres (638,262 mi) of serviceable roadway in France, ranking it the most extensive network of the European continent. The Paris
Paris
region is enveloped with the most dense network of roads and highways that connect it with virtually all parts of the country. French roads also handle substantial international traffic, connecting with cities in neighbouring Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra
Andorra
and Monaco. There is no annual registration fee or road tax ; however, usage of the mostly privately owned motorways is through tolls except in the vicinity of large communes. The new car market is dominated by domestic brands such as Renault
Renault
(27% of cars sold in France
France
in 2003), Peugeot
Peugeot
(20.1%) and Citroën
Citroën
(13.5%). Over 70% of new cars sold in 2004 had diesel engines , far more than contained petrol or LPG engines. France
France
possesses the Millau Viaduct
Millau Viaduct
, the world's tallest bridge, and has built many important bridges such as the Pont de Normandie
Pont de Normandie
.

There are 464 airports in France. Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Airport , located in the vicinity of Paris, is the largest and busiest airport in the country, handling the vast majority of popular and commercial traffic and connecting Paris
Paris
with virtually all major cities across the world. Air France
Air France
is the national carrier airline, although numerous private airline companies provide domestic and international travel services. There are ten major ports in France, the largest of which is in Marseille
Marseille
, which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean Sea. 12,261 kilometres (7,619 mi) of waterways traverse France
France
including the Canal du Midi
Canal du Midi
, which connects the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
through the Garonne
Garonne
river.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Main article: List of French inventions and discoveries
List of French inventions and discoveries
France is one of the biggest contributors to the European Space Agency ( Ariane 4
Ariane 4
launch pictured).

Since the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, France
France
has been a major contributor to scientific and technological achievement. Around the beginning of the 11th century Pope Sylvester II
Pope Sylvester II
, born Gerbert d'Aurillac, reintroduced the abacus and armillary sphere , and introduced Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals
and clocks to northern and western Europe. The University of Paris
Paris
, founded in the mid-12th century, is still one of the most important universities in the Western world. In the 17th century, mathematician René Descartes
René Descartes
defined a method for the acquisition of scientific knowledge , while Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
became famous for his work on probability and fluid mechanics . They were both key figures of the Scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
, which blossomed in Europe
Europe
during this period. The Academy of Sciences was founded by Louis XIV
Louis XIV
to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research . It was at the forefront of scientific developments in Europe
Europe
in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is one of the earliest academies of sciences .

The Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
was marked by the work of biologist Buffon and chemist Lavoisier , who discovered the role of oxygen in combustion , while Diderot and D\'Alembert published the Encyclopédie , which aimed to give access to "useful knowledge" to the people, a knowledge that they can apply to their everyday life. With the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
, the 19th century saw spectacular scientific developments in France
France
with scientists such as Augustin Fresnel
Augustin Fresnel
, founder of modern optics , Sadi Carnot who laid the foundations of thermodynamics , and Louis Pasteur
Louis Pasteur
, a pioneer of microbiology . Other eminent French scientists of the 19th century have their names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
.

Famous French scientists of the 20th century include the mathematician and physicist Henri Poincaré
Henri Poincaré
, physicists Henri Becquerel , Pierre and Marie Curie
Marie Curie
, remained famous for their work on radioactivity , the physicist Paul Langevin
Paul Langevin
and virologist Luc Montagnier , co-discoverer of HIV AIDS . Hand transplantation was developed on 23 September 1998 in Lyon
Lyon
by a team assembled from different countries around the world including Jean-Michel Dubernard who, shortly thereafter, performed the first successful double hand transplant. Telesurgery was developed by Jacques Marescaux
Jacques Marescaux
and his team on 7 September 2001 across the Atlantic Ocean (New-York-Strasbourg, Lindbergh Operation ). A face transplant was first done on 27 November 2005 by Dr Bernard Devauchelle . European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
in Grenoble
Grenoble
.

France
France
was the fourth country to achieve nuclear capability and has the third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. It is also a leader in civilian nuclear technology . France
France
was the third nation, after the former USSR
USSR
and the United States
United States
, to launch its own space satellite and remains the biggest contributor to the European Space Agency
European Space Agency
(ESA). The European Airbus
Airbus
, formed from the French group Aérospatiale
Aérospatiale
along with DaimlerChrysler Aerospace
DaimlerChrysler Aerospace
AG (DASA) and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA
Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA
(CASA), designs and develops civil and military aircraft as well as communications systems, missiles, space rockets, helicopters, satellites, and related systems. France
France
also hosts major international research instruments such as the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
or the Institut Laue–Langevin and remains a major member of CERN
CERN
. It also owns Minatec , Europe's leading nanotechnology research center.

From 1970 SNCF
SNCF
, the French national railroad company, has developed the TGV
TGV
, a high speed train which holds a series of world speed records . The TGV
TGV
has been the fastest wheeled train in commercial use since reaching a speed of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on 3 April 2007. Western Europe
Europe
is now serviced by a network of TGV
TGV
lines.

As of 2016 , 68 French people
French people
have been awarded a Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
and 12 have received the Fields Medal
Fields Medal
.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Main articles: Demographics of France
Demographics of France
and French people
French people
Population density in the French Republic
Republic
at the 1999 census.

With an estimated total population of around 67 million people as of January 2017, with 64.8 million in metropolitan France, France
France
is the 20th most populous country in the world and the third-most populous in Europe. France
France
is also second most populous country in the European Union after Germany
Germany
.

France
France
is an outlier among developed countries in general, and European countries in particular, in having a fairly high rate of natural population growth: by birth rates alone, France
France
was responsible for almost all natural population growth in the European Union in 2006, with the natural growth rate (excess of births over deaths) rising to 300,000 and with the immigration the population grew with almost 400,000 people, although in the late 2010s it fell to 200,000. This was the highest rate since the end of the baby boom in 1973, and coincides with the rise of the total fertility rate from a nadir of 1.7 in 1994 to 2.0 in 2010. As of January 2017 the fertility rate was 1.93.

From 2006 to 2011 population growth was on average +0.6% per year. Immigrants are also major contributors to this trend; in 2010, 27% of newborns in metropolitan France
France
had at least one foreign-born parent and 24% had at least one parent born outside of Europe
Europe
(parents born in overseas territories are considered as born in France).

ETHNIC GROUPS

Most French people
French people
are of Celtic ( Gauls
Gauls
) origin, with an admixture of Latin
Latin
(Romans ) and Germanic ( Franks
Franks
) groups. Different regions reflect this diverse heritage, with notable Breton elements in western France, Aquitanian in the southwest, Scandinavian in the northwest, Alemannic in the northeast and Ligurian influence in the southeast.

Large-scale immigration over the last century and a half has led to a more multicultural society. In 2004, the Institut Montaigne estimated that within Metropolitan France, 51 million people were White (85% of the population), 6 million were North African (10%), 2 million were Black (3.3%), and 1 million were Asian (1.7%).

A law originating from the 1789 revolution and reaffirmed in the 1958 French Constitution
French Constitution
makes it illegal for the French state to collect data on ethnicity and ancestry. In 2008, the TeO ("Trajectories and origins") poll conducted jointly by INED and the French National Institute of Statistics estimated that 5 million people were of Italian ancestry (the largest immigrant community), followed by 3 million to 6 million people of North African ancestry, 2.5 million people of Sub-Saharan African origin, and 200,000 people of Turkish ancestry. There are over 500,000 ethnic Armenians in France. There are also sizeable minorities of other European ethnic groups
European ethnic groups
, namely Spanish , Portuguese , Polish , and Greek .

France
France
has a significant Gypsy (Gitan) population, numbering between 20,000 and 400,000. Famous French Gypsies (Gitans) include Django Reinhardt , the Gipsy Kings
Gipsy Kings
and Kendji Girac . Gypsies inspired the French novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
. Many foreign Romani people are expelled back to Bulgaria
Bulgaria
and Romania
Romania
frequently.

It is currently estimated that 40% of the French population is descended at least partially from the different waves of immigration the country has received since the early 20th century; between 1921 and 1935 alone, about 1.1 million net immigrants came to France. The next largest wave came in the 1960s, when around 1.6 million pieds noirs returned to France
France
following the independence of its North African possessions, Algeria
Algeria
and Morocco
Morocco
. They were joined by numerous former colonial subjects from North and West Africa, as well as numerous immigrants from Spain
Spain
and Portugal.

France
France
remains a major destination for immigrants, accepting about 200,000 legal immigrants annually. It is also Western Europe's leading recipient of asylum seekers, with an estimated 50,000 applications in 2005 (a 15% decrease from 2004). The European Union allows free movement between the member states, although France established controls to curb Eastern European
Eastern European
migration, and immigration remains a contentious political issue.

In 2008, the INSEE estimated that the total number of foreign-born immigrants was around 5 million (8% of the population), while their French-born descendants numbered 6.5 million, or 11% of the population. Thus, nearly a fifth of the country's population were either first or second-generation immigrants, of which more than 5 million were of European origin and 4 million of Maghrebi ancestry. In 2008, France
France
granted citizenship to 137,000 persons, mostly to people from Morocco, Algeria
Algeria
and Turkey.

In 2014 The National Institute of Statistics (INSEE, for its acronym in French) published a study which reported doubling of the number of Spanish immigrants, Portuguese and Italians in France
Italians in France
between 2009 and 2012. According to the French Institute, this increase resulting from the financial crisis that hit several European countries in that period, has pushed up the number of Europeans installed in France. Statistics on Spanish immigrants in France
France
show a growth of 107 percent between 2009 and 2012, i.e. in this period went from 5300 to 11,000 people. Of the total of 229,000 foreigners who were in France in 2012, nearly 8% were Portuguese, 5% British, 5% Spanish, 4% Italians, 4% Germans, 3% Romanians, and 3% Belgians.

MAJOR CITIES

France
France
is a highly urbanized country, with its largest cities (in terms of metropolitan area population in 2013 ) being Paris (12,405,426 inh.), Lyon
Lyon
(2,237,676), Marseille
Marseille
(1,734,277), Toulouse (1,291,517), Bordeaux
Bordeaux
(1,178,335), Lille
Lille
(1,175,828), Nice (1,004,826), Nantes
Nantes
(908,815), Strasbourg
Strasbourg
(773,447) and Rennes (700,675). (Note: There are significant differences between the metropolitan population figures just cited and those in the following table, which only include the core population). Rural flight
Rural flight
was a perennial political issue throughout most of the 20th century.

* v * t * e

Largest cities or towns in France 2010 census

RANK NAME REGION POP. RANK NAME REGION POP.

Paris
Paris

Marseille
Marseille
1 Paris
Paris
Île-de-France
Île-de-France
2,243,833 11 Rennes
Rennes
Brittany
Brittany
207,178

Lyon
Lyon

Toulouse
Toulouse

2 Marseille
Marseille
Provence-Alpes-Côte d\'Azur 850,726 12 Reims
Reims
Grand Est
Grand Est
179,992

3 Lyon
Lyon
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
484,344 13 Le Havre
Le Havre
Normandy
Normandy
175,497

4 Toulouse
Toulouse
Occitanie
Occitanie
441,802 14 Saint-Étienne
Saint-Étienne
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
171,260

5 Nice
Nice
Provence-Alpes-Côte d\'Azur 343,304 15 Toulon
Toulon
Provence-Alpes-Côte d\'Azur 164,532

6 Nantes
Nantes
Pays de la Loire
Loire
284,970 16 Grenoble
Grenoble
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
155,637

7 Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Grand Est
Grand Est
271,782 17 Dijon
Dijon
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
151,212

8 Montpellier
Montpellier
Occitanie
Occitanie
257,351 18 Angers
Angers
Pays de la Loire
Loire
147,571

9 Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Nouvelle-Aquitaine
Nouvelle-Aquitaine
239,157 19 Villeurbanne
Villeurbanne
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
145,150

10 Lille
Lille
Hauts-de-France
Hauts-de-France
227,560 20 Saint-Denis Réunion
Réunion
145,022

FUNCTIONAL URBAN AREAS

See also: Urban area (France) and Urban unit
Urban unit
Map of the 25 largest urban units by population

Functional urban areas REGION Population 2012

PARIS ÎLE-DE-FRANCE 11,688,000

LYON AUVERGNE-RHôNE-ALPES 1,935,000

MARSEILLE PROVENCE-ALPES-CôTE D\\'AZUR 1,732,000

LILLE HAUTS-DE-FRANCE 1,357,000

TOULOUSE OCCITANIA 1,255,000

BORDEAUX NOUVELLE-AQUITAINE 1,152,000

NICE PROVENCE-ALPES-CôTE D\\'AZUR 846,000

STRASBOURG GRAND EST 767,000

ROUEN NORMANDY 696,000

RENNES BRITTANY 691,000

MONTPELLIER OCCITANIA 658,000

GRENOBLE AUVERGNE-RHôNE-ALPES 657,000

TOULON PROVENCE-ALPES-CôTE D\\'AZUR 552,000

SAINT-ÉTIENNE AUVERGNE-RHôNE-ALPES 525,000

LANGUAGE

Main articles: French language
French language
, Languages of France
Languages of France
, and Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
Organisation internationale de la Francophonie
A map of the Francophone world native language administrative language secondary or non-official language francophone minorities

According to Article 2 of the Constitution, the official language of France
France
is French, a Romance language
Romance language
derived from Latin
Latin
. Since 1635, the Académie française
Académie française
has been France's official authority on the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power.

The French government
French government
does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications. In addition to mandating the use of French in the territory of the Republic, the French government tries to promote French in the European Union
European Union
and globally through institutions such as La Francophonie
La Francophonie
. The perceived threat from anglicisation has prompted efforts to safeguard the position of the French language
French language
in France. Besides French, there exist 77 vernacular minority languages of France, eight spoken in French metropolitan territory and 69 in the French overseas territories .

From the 17th to the mid-20th century, French served as the pre-eminent international language of diplomacy and international affairs as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe. The dominant position of French language
French language
in international affairs was overtaken by English, since the emergence of the US as a major power.

For most of the time in which French served as an international lingua franca, it was not the native language of most Frenchmen: a report in 1794 conducted by Henri Grégoire
Henri Grégoire
found that of the country's 25 million people, only three million spoke French natively; the rest spoke one of the country's many regional languages, such as Alsatian , Breton or Occitan
Occitan
. Through the expansion of public education, in which French was the sole language of instruction, as well as other factors such as increased urbanisation and the rise of mass communication, French gradually came to be adopted by virtually the entire population, a process not completed until the 20th century.

As a result of France's extensive colonial ambitions between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to the Americas, Africa, Polynesia, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean. French is the second most studied foreign language in the world after English, and is a lingua franca in some regions, notably in Africa. The legacy of French as a living language outside Europe
Europe
is mixed: it is nearly extinct in some former French colonies (The Levant, South and Southeast Asia), while creoles and pidgins based on French have emerged in the French departments in the West Indies
West Indies
and the South Pacific (French Polynesia ). On the other hand, many former French colonies have adopted French as an official language, and the total number of French speakers is increasing, especially in Africa.

It is estimated that between 300 million and 500 million people worldwide can speak French, either as a mother tongue or a second language .

RELIGION

Main article: Religion in France
Religion in France
Notre-Dame de Reims
Reims
is the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
cathedral where the kings of France
France
were crowned until 1825.

France
France
is a secular country, and freedom of religion is a constitutional right. French religious policy is based on the concept of laïcité , a strict separation of church and state under which public life is kept completely secular.

Catholicism
Catholicism
has been the predominant religion in France
France
for more than a millennium, though it is not as actively practised today as it was. Among the 47,000 religious buildings in France, 94% are Roman Catholic . While in 1965, 81% of the French declared themselves to be Catholics, in 2009 this proportion was 64%. Moreover, while 27% of the French went to Mass once a week or more in 1952, only 5% did so in 2006. The same survey found that Protestants accounted for 3% of the population, an increase from previous surveys, and 5% adhered to other religions, with the remaining 28% stating they had no religion. Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism
may be the fastest growing religious category in France.

During the French Revolution
French Revolution
, activists conducted a brutal campaign of de-Christianisation , ending the established state status of the Catholic Church. In some cases clergy and churches were attacked, with iconoclasm stripping the churches of statues and ornament. After the back and forth of Catholic royal and secular republican governments during the 19th century, France
France
established laïcité by passage of the 1905 law on the Separation of the Churches and the State .

According to a survey in January 2007, only 5% of the French population attended church regularly (among the respondents who identified as Catholic, 10% attend church services regularly). The poll showed that 51% of citizens identified as being Catholic, 31% identified as agnostic or atheist (another poll sets the proportion of atheists equal to 27%), 10% identified as being from other religions or being without opinion, 4% identified as Muslim, 3% identified as Protestant, 1% identified as Buddhist
Buddhist
, and 1% identified as Jewish. Meanwhile, an independent estimate by the political scientist Pierre Bréchon in 2009 concluded that the proportion of Catholics
Catholics
had fallen to 42%, while the number of atheists and agnostics had risen to 50%. In 2011, in a poll published by Institut français d\'opinion publique found that 65% of the French population identified themselves as Christians, and 25% as not adhering any religion.

According to Eurobarometer poll in 2012, Christianity
Christianity
is the largest religion in France, accounting for 60% of French citizens. Catholics are the largest Christian
Christian
group in France, accounting for 50% of French citizens, while Protestants make up 8%, and other Christians make up 2%. Non believer/ Agnostic
Agnostic
account for 20%, Atheist 13%, and Muslim
Muslim
6%. The Grande Mosquée de Paris
Paris
is one of the largest mosques in France
France

Estimates of the number of Muslims in France
France
vary widely. In 2003, the French Ministry of the Interior estimated the total number of people of Muslim
Muslim
background to be between 5 and 6 million (8–10%). According to the Pewforum, "In France, proponents of a 2004 law banning the wearing of religious symbols in schools say it protects Muslim
Muslim
girls from being forced to wear a headscarf, but the law also restricts those who want to wear headscarves – or any other "conspicuous" religious symbol, including large Christian
Christian
crosses and Sikh turbans – as an expression of their faith."

The current Jewish
Jewish
community in France
France
numbers around 600,000, according to the World Jewish
Jewish
Congress , and is the largest in Europe. It is the third-largest in the world, after those in Israel
Israel
and the United States.

Since 1905 the French government
French government
has followed the principle of laïcité , in which it is prohibited from recognising any specific right to a religious community (except for legacy statutes like those of military chaplains and the local law in Alsace-Moselle ). It recognises religious organisations, according to formal legal criteria that do not address religious doctrine. Conversely, religious organisations are expected to refrain from intervening in policy-making. Certain groups, such as Scientology
Scientology
, Children of God , the Unification Church
Unification Church
, or the Order of the Solar Temple , are considered cults ("sectes " in French), and therefore do not have the same status as recognised religions in France. Secte is considered a pejorative term in France.

HEALTH

Main article: Health in France The Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital , a teaching hospital in Paris, one of Europe's largest hospitals.

The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance . In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France
France
provided the "close to best overall health care" in the world. The French healthcare system was ranked first worldwide by the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
in 1997. In 2011, France
France
spent 11.6% of GDP
GDP
on health care, or US$4,086 per capita, a figure much higher than the average spent by countries in Europe
Europe
but less than in the US . Approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.

Care is generally free for people affected by chronic diseases (affections de longues durées) such as cancer, AIDS or cystic fibrosis . Average life expectancy at birth is 78 years for men and 85 years for women, one of the highest of the European Union. There are 3.22 physicians for every 1000 inhabitants in France, and average health care spending per capita was US$4,719 in 2008. As of 2007 , approximately 140,000 inhabitants (0.4%) of France
France
are living with HIV/AIDS.

Even if the French have the reputation of being one of the thinnest people in developed countries, France—like other rich countries—faces an increasing and recent epidemic of obesity , due mostly to the replacement in French eating habits of traditional healthy French cuisine by junk food . The French obesity rate is still far below that of the USA (for instance, obesity rate in France is the same as the US had in the 1970s ), and is still the lowest of Europe. Authorities now regard obesity as one of the main public health issues and fight it fiercely. Rates of childhood obesity are slowing in France, while continuing to grow in other countries.

EDUCATION

Main article: Education in France
Education in France
The National and University Library on the campus of the University of Strasbourg
Strasbourg
.

In 1802, Napoleon
Napoleon
created the lycée . Nevertheless, it is Jules Ferry who is considered to be the father of the French modern school, which is free, secular, and compulsory until the age of 13 since 1882 (school attendance in France
France
is now compulsory until the age of 16 ).

Nowadays, the schooling system in France
France
is centralised, and is composed of three stages, primary education, secondary education, and higher education. The Programme for International Student Assessment , coordinated by the OECD
OECD
, ranked France's education as the 25th best in the world in 2006, being neither significantly higher nor lower than the OECD
OECD
average. Primary and secondary education are predominantly public, run by the Ministry of National Education . In France, education is compulsory from six to sixteen years old, and the public school is secular and free. While training and remuneration of teachers and the curriculum are the responsibility of the state centrally, the management of primary and secondary schools is overseen by local authorities. Primary education comprises two phases, nursery school (école maternelle) and elementary school (école élémentaire). Nursery school aims to stimulate the minds of very young children and promote their socialisation and development of a basic grasp of language and number. Around the age of six, children transfer to elementary school, whose primary objectives are learning about writing, arithmetic and citizenship. Secondary education also consists of two phases. The first is delivered through colleges (collège) and leads to the national certificate (Diplôme national du brevet (fr)). The second is offered in high schools (lycée) and finishes in national exams leading to a baccalaureate (baccalauréat, available in professional, technical or general flavours) or certificate of professional competence (certificat d'aptitude professionelle).

Higher education is divided between public universities and the prestigious and selective Grandes écoles
Grandes écoles
, such as Sciences Po Paris for Political studies, HEC Paris
Paris
for Economics, Polytechnique and the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris
Paris
that produce high-profile engineers, or the École nationale d\'administration for careers in the Grands Corps of the state. The Grandes écoles
Grandes écoles
have been criticised for alleged elitism ; they have produced many if not most of France's high-ranking civil servants, CEOs, and politicians.

Since higher education is funded by the state, the fees are very low; tuition fees vary from €150 to €700 depending on the university and the different levels of education (licence, master, doctorate). One can therefore get a master's degree (in 5 years) for about €750–3,500. The tuition fees in public engineering schools are comparable to universities, albeit a little higher (around €700). However they can reach €7000 a year for private engineering schools, while business schools, which are all private or partially private, charge up to €15000 a year. Health insurance for students is free until the age of 20.

CULTURE

Main article: Culture of France
Culture of France
Château
Château
de Chenonceau in the Loire
Loire
valley

France
France
has been a centre of Western cultural development for centuries. Many French artists have been among the most renowned of their time, and France
France
is still recognised in the world for its rich cultural tradition.

The successive political regimes have always promoted artistic creation, and the creation of the Ministry of Culture in 1959 helped preserve the cultural heritage of the country and make it available to the public. The Ministry of Culture has been very active since its creation, granting subsidies to artists, promoting French culture in the world, supporting festivals and cultural events, protecting historical monuments . The French government
French government
also succeeded in maintaining a cultural exception to defend audiovisual products made in the country.

France
France
receives the highest number of tourists per year, largely thanks to the numerous cultural establishments and historical buildings implanted all over the territory. It counts 1,200 museums welcoming more than 50 million people annually. The most important cultural sites are run by the government, for instance through the public agency Centre des monuments nationaux
Centre des monuments nationaux
, which is responsible for approximately 85 national historical monuments.

The 43,180 buildings protected as historical monuments include mainly residences (many castles , or châteaux in French) and religious buildings (cathedrals , basilicas , churches, etc.), but also statutes, memorials and gardens . The UNESCO
UNESCO
inscribed 41 sites in France
France
on the World Heritage List .

ART

Main article: French art
French art
Claude Monet
Claude Monet
founded the Impressionist movement (Femme avec un parasol, 1886, Musée d\'Orsay ).

The origins of French art
French art
were very much influenced by Flemish art and by Italian art
Italian art
at the time of the Renaissance. Jean Fouquet
Jean Fouquet
, the most famous medieval French painter, is said to have been the first to travel to Italy
Italy
and experience the Early Renaissance at first hand. The Renaissance painting School of Fontainebleau was directly inspired by Italian painters such as Primaticcio and Rosso Fiorentino , who both worked in France. Two of the most famous French artists of the time of Baroque era
Baroque era
, Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin
and Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain
, lived in Italy.

The 17th century was the period when French painting became prominent and individualised itself through classicism. Louis XIV's prime minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
founded in 1648 the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture to protect these artists, and in 1666 he created the still-active French Academy in Rome
Rome
to have direct relations with Italian artists. Le Penseur by Auguste Rodin (1902), Musée Rodin
Musée Rodin
, Paris.

French artists developed the rococo style in the 18th century, as a more intimate imitation of old baroque style, the works of the court-endorsed artists Antoine Watteau
Antoine Watteau
, François Boucher
François Boucher
and Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Jean-Honoré Fragonard
being the most representative in the country. The French Revolution
French Revolution
brought great changes, as Napoleon
Napoleon
favoured artists of neoclassic style such as Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David
and the highly influential Académie des Beaux-Arts
Académie des Beaux-Arts
defined the style known as Academism . At this time France
France
had become a centre of artistic creation, the first half of the 19th century being dominated by two successive movements, at first Romanticism
Romanticism
with Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
, and Realism with Camille Corot
Camille Corot
, Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet
Jean-François Millet
, a style that eventually evolved into Naturalism .

In the second part of the 19th century, France's influence over painting became even more important, with the development of new styles of painting such as Impressionism
Impressionism
and Symbolism . The most famous impressionist painters of the period were Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro
, Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet
, Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas
, Claude Monet
Claude Monet
and Auguste Renoir
Auguste Renoir
. The second generation of impressionist-style painters, Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
, Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin
, Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat
Georges Seurat
, were also at the avant-garde of artistic evolutions, as well as the fauvist artists Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
, André Derain
André Derain
and Maurice de Vlaminck
Maurice de Vlaminck
.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Cubism was developed by Georges Braque and the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
, living in Paris. Other foreign artists also settled and worked in or near Paris, such as Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
, Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall
, Amedeo Modigliani
Amedeo Modigliani
and Wassily Kandinsky .

Many museums in France
France
are entirely or partly devoted to sculptures and painting works. A huge collection of old masterpieces created before or during the 18th century are displayed in the state-owned Musée du Louvre
Louvre
, such as Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa
, also known as La Joconde. While the Louvre
Louvre
Palace has been for a long time a museum, the Musée d'Orsay was inaugurated in 1986 in the old railway station Gare d\'Orsay , in a major reorganisation of national art collections, to gather French paintings from the second part of the 19th century (mainly Impressionism
Impressionism
and Fauvism movements).

Modern works are presented in the Musée National d\'Art Moderne , which moved in 1976 to the Centre Georges Pompidou
Centre Georges Pompidou
. These three state-owned museums welcome close to 17 million people a year. Other national museums hosting paintings include the Grand Palais
Grand Palais
(1.3 million visitors in 2008), but there are also many museums owned by cities, the most visited being the Musée d\'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Paris
(0.8 million entries in 2008), which hosts contemporary works.

Outside Paris, all the large cities have a Museum of Fine Arts with a section dedicated to European and French painting. Some of the finest collections are in Lyon
Lyon
, Lille
Lille
, Rouen
Rouen
, Dijon
Dijon
, Rennes
Rennes
and Grenoble .

ARCHITECTURE

Main article: French architecture Saint Louis\' Sainte Chapelle represents the French impact on religious architecture.

During the Middle Ages, many fortified castles were built by feudal nobles to mark their powers. Some French castles that survived are Chinon , Château
Château
d\' Angers
Angers
, the massive Château
Château
de Vincennes and the so-called Cathar castles
Cathar castles
. During this era, France
France
had been using Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
like most of Western Europe. Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque churches in France
France
are the Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse
Toulouse
, the largest romanesque church in Europe, and the remains of the Cluniac Abbey .

The Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
, originally named Opus Francigenum meaning "French work", was born in Île-de-France
Île-de-France
and was the first French style of architecture to be copied in all Europe. Northern France
France
is the home of some of the most important Gothic cathedrals and basilicas, the first of these being the Saint Denis Basilica (used as the royal necropolis); other important French Gothic cathedrals are Notre-Dame de Chartres and Notre-Dame d\'Amiens . The kings were crowned in another important Gothic church: Notre-Dame de Reims
Reims
. Aside from churches, Gothic Architecture had been used for many religious palaces, the most important one being the Palais des Papes in Avignon. Opéra Garnier
Opéra Garnier
, Paris, a symbol of the French Second Empire style
Empire style

The final victory in the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
marked an important stage in the evolution of French architecture. It was the time of the French Renaissance and several artists from Italy
Italy
were invited to the French court; many residential palaces were built in the Loire
Loire
Valley . Such residential castles were the Château
Château
de Chambord , the Château
Château
de Chenonceau , or the Château
Château
d\'Amboise .

Following the renaissance and the end of the Middle Ages, Baroque architecture replaced the traditional Gothic style. However, in France, baroque architecture found a greater success in the secular domain than in a religious one. In the secular domain, the Palace of Versailles has many baroque features. Jules Hardouin Mansart , who designed the extensions to Versailles, was one of the most influential French architect of the baroque era; he is famous for his dome at Les Invalides . Some of the most impressive provincial baroque architecture is found in places that were not yet French such as the Place Stanislas
Place Stanislas
in Nancy . On the military architectural side, Vauban designed some of the most efficient fortresses in Europe
Europe
and became an influential military architect; as a result, imitations of his works can be found all over Europe, the Americas, Russia
Russia
and Turkey. The world's most visited paid monument, the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
is an icon of both Paris
Paris
and France.

After the Revolution, the Republicans favoured Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism
although neoclassicism was introduced in France
France
prior to the revolution with such building as the Parisian Pantheon or the Capitole de Toulouse
Toulouse
. Built during the first French Empire, the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
and Sainte Marie-Madeleine represent the best example of Empire style architecture.

Under Napoleon
Napoleon
III , a new wave of urbanism and architecture was given birth; extravagant buildings such as the neo-baroque Palais Garnier were built. The urban planning of the time was very organised and rigorous; for example, Haussmann\'s renovation of Paris
Paris
. The architecture associated to this era is named Second Empire in English, the term being taken from the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
. At this time there was a strong Gothic resurgence across Europe
Europe
and in France; the associated architect was Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
. In the late 19th century, Gustave Eiffel
Gustave Eiffel
designed many bridges, such as Garabit viaduct , and remains one of the most influential bridge designers of his time, although he is best remembered for the iconic Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
.

In the 20th century, French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
designed several buildings in France. More recently, French architects have combined both modern and old architectural styles. The Louvre
Louvre
Pyramid is an example of modern architecture added to an older building. The most difficult buildings to integrate within French cities are skyscrapers, as they are visible from afar. For instance, in Paris, since 1977, new buildings had to be under 37 meters (121 feet). France's largest financial district is La Defense , where a significant number of skyscrapers are located. Other massive buildings that are a challenge to integrate into their environment are large bridges; an example of the way this has been done is the Millau Viaduct . Some famous modern French architects include Jean Nouvel
Jean Nouvel
, Dominique Perrault
Dominique Perrault
, Christian
Christian
de Portzamparc or Paul Andreu .

LITERATURE

Main article: French literature
French literature

The earliest French literature
French literature
dates from the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, when what is now known as modern France
France
did not have a single, uniform language. There were several languages and dialects and writers used their own spelling and grammar. Some authors of French mediaeval texts are unknown, such as Tristan and Iseult
Tristan and Iseult
and Lancelot-Grail . Other authors are known, for example Chrétien de Troyes
Chrétien de Troyes
and Duke William IX of Aquitaine , who wrote in Occitan
Occitan
.

Much medieval French poetry and literature were inspired by the legends of the Matter of France , such as The Song of Roland and the various chansons de geste . The Roman de Renart, written in 1175 by Perrout de Saint Cloude, tells the story of the mediaeval character Reynard
Reynard
('the Fox') and is another example of early French writing.

An important 16th-century writer was François Rabelais
François Rabelais
, whose novel Gargantua and Pantagruel
Gargantua and Pantagruel
has remained famous and appreciated until now. Michel de Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne
was the other major figure of the French literature during that century. His most famous work, Essais , created the literary genre of the essay. French poetry during that century was embodied by Pierre de Ronsard
Pierre de Ronsard
and Joachim du Bellay . Both writers founded the La Pléiade literary movement.

During the 17th century, Madame de La Fayette
Madame de La Fayette
published anonymously La Princesse de Clèves , a novel that is considered to be one of the very first psychological novels of all times. Jean de La Fontaine
Jean de La Fontaine
is one of the most famous fabulist of that time, as he wrote hundreds of fables, some being far more famous than others, such as The Ant and the Grasshopper . Generations of French pupils had to learn his fables, that were seen as helping teaching wisdom and common sense to the young people. Some of his verses have entered the popular language to become proverbs, such as "À l'œuvre, on connaît l'artisan.". French literary figures. Clockwise from top left: Molière
Molière
is the most played author in the Comédie-Française
Comédie-Française
; Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
is one of the most important French novelists and poets, and is sometimes seen as the greatest French writer of all time. 19th-century poet, writer, and translator Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
; 20th-century philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
.

Jean Racine
Jean Racine
, whose incredible mastery of the alexandrine and of the French language
French language
has been praised for centuries, created plays such as Phèdre
Phèdre
or Britannicus
Britannicus
. He is, along with Pierre Corneille
Pierre Corneille
( Le Cid ) and Molière, considered as one of the three great dramatists of the France's golden age . Molière, who is deemed to be one of the greatest masters of comedy of the Western literature , wrote dozens of plays , including Le Misanthrope
Le Misanthrope
, L\'Avare , Le Malade imaginaire , and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme . His plays have been so popular around the world that French language
French language
is sometimes dubbed as "the language of Molière" (la langue de Molière), just like English is considered as "the language of Shakespeare
Shakespeare
".

French literature
French literature
and poetry flourished even more in the 18th and 19th centuries. Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
's best-known works are Jacques the Fatalist and Rameau\'s Nephew . He is however best known for being the main redactor of the Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
, whose aim was to sum up all the knowledge of his century (in fields such as arts, sciences, languages, philosophy) and to present them to the people, in order to fight ignorance and obscurantism . During that same century, Charles Perrault was a prolific writer of famous children's fairy tales including Puss in Boots , Cinderella
Cinderella
, Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty
and Bluebeard
Bluebeard
. At the start of the 19th century, symbolist poetry was an important movement in French literature, with poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine
Paul Verlaine
and Stéphane Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé
.

The 19th century saw the writings of many renowned French authors. Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
is sometimes seen as "the greatest French writer of all times" for excelling in all literary genres . The preface of his play Cromwell is considered to be the manifesto of the Romantic movement . Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles are considered as "poetic masterpieces", Hugo's verse having been compared to that of Shakespeare, Dante
Dante
and Homer
Homer
. His novel Les Misérables
Les Misérables
is widely seen as one of the greatest novel ever written and The Hunchback of Notre Dame has remained immensely popular.

Other major authors of that century include Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas
(The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte-Cristo ), Jules Verne
Jules Verne
(Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ), Émile Zola
Émile Zola
( Les Rougon-Macquart ), Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
( La Comédie humaine
La Comédie humaine
), Guy de Maupassant
Guy de Maupassant
, Théophile Gautier
Théophile Gautier
and Stendhal
Stendhal
( The Red and the Black , The Charterhouse of Parma ), whose works are among the most well known in France
France
and the world.

The Prix Goncourt
Prix Goncourt
is a French literary prize first awarded in 1903. Important writers of the 20th century include Marcel Proust , Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Louis-Ferdinand Céline
, Albert Camus
Albert Camus
, and Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
. Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote Little Prince , which has remained popular for decades with children and adults around the world. As of 2014 , French authors had more Literature Nobel Prizes than those of any other nation . The first Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
in Literature was a French author, while France's latest Nobel prize in literature is Patrick Modiano , who was awarded the prize in 2014. Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
was also the first nominee in the committee's history to refuse the prize in 1964.

PHILOSOPHY

Main article: French philosophy
French philosophy

Medieval philosophy was dominated by Scholasticism
Scholasticism
until the emergence of Humanism in the Renaissance. Modern philosophy
Modern philosophy
began in France
France
in the 17th century with the philosophy of René Descartes
René Descartes
, Blaise Pascal
Blaise Pascal
, and Nicolas Malebranche
Nicolas Malebranche
. Descartes revitalised Western philosophy
Western philosophy
, which had been declined after the Greek and Roman eras. His Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy
changed the primary object of philosophical thought and raised some of the most fundamental problems for foreigners such as Spinoza
Spinoza
, Leibniz , Hume , Berkeley , and Kant . René Descartes
René Descartes
, founder of modern philosophy.

French philosophers produced some of the most important political works of the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
. In The Spirit of the Laws , Baron de Montesquieu theorised the principle of separation of powers , which has been implemented in all liberal democracies since it was first applied in the United States
United States
. In The Social Contract , Jean-Jacques Rousseau openly criticised the European divine right monarchies and strongly affirmed the principle of the sovereignty of the people . Voltaire
Voltaire
came to embody the Enlightenment with his defence of civil liberties, such as the right to a free trial and freedom of religion.

19th-century French thought was targeted at responding to the social malaise following the French Revolution. Rationalist philosophers such as Victor Cousin and Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
, who called for a new social doctrine, were opposed by reactionary thinkers such as Joseph de Maistre , Louis de Bonald and Félicité Robert de Lamennais , who blamed the rationalist rejection of traditional order. De Maistre is considered, together with the Englishman Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
, one of the founders of European conservatism, while Comte is regarded as the founder of positivism , which Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
reformulated as a basis for social research.

In the 20th century, partly as a reaction to the perceived excesses of positivism, French spiritualism thrived with thinkers such as Henri Bergson and it influenced American pragmatism and Whitehead 's version of process philosophy . Meanwhile, French epistemology became a prominent school of thought with Jules Henri Poincaré
Henri Poincaré
, Gaston Bachelard , Jean Cavaillès
Jean Cavaillès
and Jules Vuillemin
Jules Vuillemin
. Influenced by German phenomenology and existentialism , the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre gained a strong influence after World War II, and late-20th-century- France
France
became the craddle of postmodern philosophy with Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard
, Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard
, Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
and Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
.

MUSIC

Main article: Music of France Serge Gainsbourg
Serge Gainsbourg
, one of the world's most influential popular musicians.

France
France
has a long and varied musical history. It experienced a golden age in the 17th century thanks to Louis XIV, who employed a number of talented musicians and composers in the royal court. The most renowned composers of this period include Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
, François Couperin , Michel-Richard Delalande , Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
and Marin Marais , all of them composers at the court. After the death of the "Roi Soleil", French musical creation lost dynamism, but in the next century the music of Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau
reached some prestige, and today he is still one of the most renowned French composers. Rameau became the dominant composer of French opera and the leading French composer for the harpsichord.

French composers played an important role during the music of the 19th and early 20th century, which is considered to be the Romantic music era. Romantic music
Romantic music
emphasised a surrender to nature, a fascination with the past and the supernatural, the exploration of unusual, strange and surprising sounds, and a focus on national identity. This period was also a golden age for operas. French composers from the Romantic era included: Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
(best known for his Symphonie fantastique
Symphonie fantastique
), Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet
(best known for Carmen , which has become one of the most popular and frequently performed operas), Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Fauré
(best known for his Pavane , Requiem , and nocturnes ), Charles Gounod (best known for his Ave Maria and his opera Faust ), Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach
(best known for his 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann
The Tales of Hoffmann
), Édouard Lalo
Édouard Lalo
(best known for his Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra and his Cello Concerto in D minor ), Jules Massenet
Jules Massenet
(best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty, the most frequently staged are Manon
Manon
(1884) and Werther
Werther
(1892)) and Camille Saint-Saëns (he has many frequently-performed works, including The Carnival of the Animals , Danse macabre , Samson and Delilah (Opera), Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso , and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony) ).

Later came precursors of modern classical music. Érik Satie was a key member of the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde , best known for his Gymnopédies
Gymnopédies
. Francis Poulenc
Francis Poulenc
's best known works are his piano suite Trois mouvements perpétuels (1919), the ballet Les biches (1923), the Concert champêtre
Concert champêtre
(1928) for harpsichord and orchestra, the opera Dialogues des Carmélites (1957), and the Gloria (1959) for soprano , choir and orchestra. Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
and Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
are the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist
Impressionist
music . Debussy was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his use of non-traditional scales and chromaticism influenced many composers who followed. Debussy's music is noted for its sensory content and frequent usage of atonality . The two composers invented new musical forms and new sounds. Ravel's piano compositions, such as Jeux d\'eau , Miroirs
Miroirs
, Le tombeau de Couperin and Gaspard de la nuit
Gaspard de la nuit
, demand considerable virtuosity. His mastery of orchestration is evident in the Rapsodie espagnole
Rapsodie espagnole
, Daphnis et Chloé
Daphnis et Chloé
, his arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky
's Pictures at an Exhibition and his orchestral work Boléro
Boléro
(1928).

More recently, at the middle of the 20th century, Maurice Ohana , Pierre Schaeffer
Pierre Schaeffer
and Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
contributed to the evolutions of contemporary classical music . Daft Punk
Daft Punk
, pioneers of the French house .

French music then followed the rapid emergence of pop and rock music at the middle of the 20th century. Although English-speaking creations achieved popularity in the country, French pop music , known as chanson française , has also remained very popular. Among the most important French artists of the century are Édith Piaf
Édith Piaf
, Georges Brassens , Léo Ferré
Léo Ferré
, Charles Aznavour
Charles Aznavour
and Serge Gainsbourg
Serge Gainsbourg
. Although there are very few rock bands in France
France
compared to English-speaking countries, bands such as Noir Désir , Mano Negra
Mano Negra
, Niagara , Les Rita Mitsouko and more recently Superbus , Phoenix and Gojira , or Shaka Ponk
Shaka Ponk
, have reached worldwide popularity.

Other French artists with international careers have been popular in several countries, for example female singers Dalida
Dalida
, Mireille Mathieu , Mylène Farmer
Mylène Farmer
and Nolwenn Leroy
Nolwenn Leroy
, electronic music pioneers Jean-Michel Jarre , Laurent Garnier
Laurent Garnier
and Bob Sinclar
Bob Sinclar
, and later Martin Solveig
Martin Solveig
and David Guetta
David Guetta
. In the 1990s and 2000s (decade), electronic duos Daft Punk
Daft Punk
, Justice and Air also reached worldwide popularity and contributed to the reputation of modern electronic music in the world.

Among current musical events and institutions in France, many are dedicated to classical music and operas. The most prestigious institutions are the state-owned Paris
Paris
National Opera
Opera
(with its two sites Palais Garnier
Palais Garnier
and Opéra Bastille
Opéra Bastille
), the Opéra National de Lyon
Lyon
, the Théâtre du Châtelet
Théâtre du Châtelet
in Paris, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse
Toulouse
and the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
Bordeaux
. As for music festivals, there are several events organised, the most popular being the Eurockéennes (a word play which sounds in French as "European") and Rock en Seine
Seine
. The Fête de la Musique , imitated by many foreign cities, was first launched by the French government
French government
in 1982. Major music halls and venues in France
France
include Le Zénith
Le Zénith
sites present in many cities and other places in Paris
Paris
( Paris
Paris
Olympia , Théâtre Mogador , Élysée Montmartre
Élysée Montmartre
, etc.).

CINEMA

Main article: Cinema of France
Cinema of France
A Palme d\'Or from the Cannes Film Festival , one of the "Big Three " film festivals alongside the Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival
and Berlin International Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
.

France
France
has historical and strong links with cinema , with two Frenchmen
Frenchmen
, Auguste and Louis Lumière
Auguste and Louis Lumière
(known as the Lumière Brothers ) having created cinema in 1895. Several important cinematic movements, including the late 1950s and 1960s Nouvelle Vague , began in the country. It is noted for having a particularly strong film industry, due in part to protections afforded by the French government . France
France
remains a leader in filmmaking, as of 2006 producing more films than any other European country. The nation also hosts the Cannes Festival , one of the most important and famous film festivals in the world.

Apart from its strong and innovative film tradition, France
France
has also been a gathering spot for artists from across Europe
Europe
and the world. For this reason, French cinema is sometimes intertwined with the cinema of foreign nations. Directors from nations such as Poland ( Roman Polanski , Krzysztof Kieślowski
Krzysztof Kieślowski
, and Andrzej Żuławski
Andrzej Żuławski
), Argentina
Argentina
( Gaspar Noé
Gaspar Noé
and Edgardo Cozarinsky ), Russia
Russia
(Alexandre Alexeieff , Anatole Litvak
Anatole Litvak
), Austria
Austria
( Michael Haneke
Michael Haneke
), and Georgia ( Géla Babluani , Otar Iosseliani ) are prominent in the ranks of French cinema. Conversely, French directors have had prolific and influential careers in other countries, such as Luc Besson
Luc Besson
, Jacques Tourneur , or Francis Veber
Francis Veber
in the United States
United States
.

Although the French film market is dominated by Hollywood
Hollywood
, France
France
is the only nation in the world where American films make up the smallest share of total film revenues, at 50%, compared with 77% in Germany
Germany
and 69% in Japan. French films account for 35% of the total film revenues of France, which is the highest percentage of national film revenues in the developed world outside the United States, compared to 14% in Spain
Spain
and 8% in the UK. France
France
is in 2013 the 2nd exporter of films in the world after the United States.

Until recently, France
France
had for centuries been the cultural center of the world, although its dominant position has been surpassed by the United States
United States
. Subsequently, France
France
takes steps in protecting and promoting its culture, becoming a leading advocate of the cultural exception . The nation succeeded in convincing all EU members to refuse to include culture and audiovisuals in the list of liberalised sectors of the WTO in 1993. Moreover, this decision was confirmed in a voting in the UNESCO
UNESCO
in 2005, and the principle of "cultural exception" won an overwhelming victory: 198 countries voted for it, only 2 countries, the U.S and Israel, voted against it.

FASHION

Main article: French fashion
French fashion
Chanel
Chanel
's headquarters on the Place Vendôme
Place Vendôme
, Paris.

Fashion has been an important industry and cultural export of France since the 17th century, and modern "haute couture" originated in Paris in the 1860s. Today, Paris, along with London, Milan, and New York City, is considered one of the world's fashion capitals, and the city is home or headquarters to many of the premier fashion houses. The expression Haute couture is, in France, a legally protected name, guaranteeing certain quality standards.

The association of France
France
with fashion and style (French: la mode) dates largely to the reign of Louis XIV
Louis XIV
when the luxury goods industries in France
France
came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe. But France
France
renewed its dominance of the high fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 1860–1960 through the establishing of the great couturier houses such as Chanel
Chanel
, Dior , and Givenchy
Givenchy
. The French perfume industry is world leader in its sector and is centered on the town of Grasse
Grasse
.

In the 1960s, the elitist "Haute couture" came under criticism from France's youth culture . In 1966, the designer Yves Saint Laurent broke with established Haute Couture norms by launching a prêt-à-porter ("ready to wear") line and expanding French fashion into mass manufacturing. With a greater focus on marketing and manufacturing, new trends were established by Sonia Rykiel
Sonia Rykiel
, Thierry Mugler , Claude Montana , Jean-Paul Gaultier
Jean-Paul Gaultier
and Christian
Christian
Lacroix in the 1970s and 1980s. The 1990s saw a conglomeration of many French couture houses under luxury giants and multinationals such as LVMH
LVMH
.

MEDIA

Main article: Telecommunications in France Le Figaro was founded in 1826; many of France's most prominent authors have written in its columns over the decades, and it is still considered a newspaper of record .

Compared to other developed countries, the French do not spend much time reading newspapers, due to the popularity of broadcast media. Best-selling daily national newspapers in France
France
are Le Parisien Aujourd'hui en France
France
(with 460,000 sold daily), Le Monde
Le Monde
and Le Figaro , with around 300,000 copies sold daily, but also L\'Équipe , dedicated to sports coverage. In the past years, free dailies made a breakthrough, with Metro , 20 Minutes and Direct Plus distributed at more than 650,000 copies respectively. However, the widest circulations are reached by regional daily Ouest France with more than 750,000 copies sold, and the 50 other regional papers have also high sales. The sector of weekly magazines is stronger and diversified with more than 400 specialised weekly magazines published in the country.

The most influential news magazines are the left-wing Le Nouvel Observateur , centrist L\'Express and right-wing Le Point (more than 400.000 copies), but the highest circulation for weeklies is reached by TV magazines and by women's magazines, among them Marie Claire
Marie Claire
and ELLE
ELLE
, which have foreign versions. Influential weeklies also include investigative and satirical papers Le Canard Enchaîné
Le Canard Enchaîné
and Charlie Hebdo , as well as Paris
Paris
Match . Like in most industrialised nations, the print media have been affected by a severe crisis in the past decade. In 2008, the government launched a major initiative to help the sector reform and become financially independent, but in 2009 it had to give 600,000 euros to help the print media cope with the economic crisis , in addition to existing subsidies.

In 1974, after years of centralised monopoly on radio and television, the governmental agency ORTF
ORTF
was split into several national institutions, but the three already-existing TV channels and four national radio stations remained under state-control. It was only in 1981 that the government allowed free broadcasting in the territory, ending state monopoly on radio. French television was partly liberalised in the next two decade with the creation of several commercial channels, mainly thanks to cable and satellite television. In 2005 the national service Télévision Numérique Terrestre introduced digital television all over the territory, allowing the creation of other channels.

The four existing national channels are now owned by state-owned consortium France Télévisions
France Télévisions
, while public broadcasting group Radio France
Radio France
run five national radio stations. Among these public media are Radio France
Radio France
Internationale , which broadcasts programmes in French all over the world, and Franco-German TV channel TV5 Monde . In 2006, the government created global news channel France 24
France 24
. Long-established TV channels TF1
TF1
(privatised in 1987), France 2
France 2
and France 3
France 3
have the highest shares, while radio stations RTL , Europe
Europe
1 and state-owned France Inter are the least listened to.

SOCIETY

Marianne
Marianne
, in a painting by Eugène Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
, La Liberté guidant le peuple ( Liberty Leading the People
Liberty Leading the People
) (1830)

According to a BBC poll in 2010, based on 29,977 responses in 28 countries, France
France
is globally seen as a positive influence in the world's affairs: 49% have a positive view of the country's influence, whereas 19% have a negative view. The Nation Brand Index of 2008 suggested that France
France
has the second best international reputation, only behind Germany
Germany
. A Gallic rooster
Gallic rooster
on top of a war memorial in La Rochelle
La Rochelle

According to a poll in 2011, the French were found to have the highest level of religious tolerance and to be the country where the highest proportion of the population defines its identity primarily in term of nationality and not religion. 69% of French have a favourable view of the US, making France
France
one of the most pro-American countries in the world.

In January 2010, the magazine International Living ranked France
France
as "best country to live in", ahead of 193 other countries, for the fifth year running.

The French Revolution
French Revolution
continues to permeate the country's collective memory . The tricolour flag , the anthem " La Marseillaise
La Marseillaise
", and the motto Liberté, egalité, fraternité
Liberté, egalité, fraternité
, defined in Title 1 of the Constitution as national symbols, all emerged during the cultural ferment of the early revolution, along with Marianne
Marianne
, a common national personification . In addition, Bastille Day
Bastille Day
, the national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.

A common and traditional symbol of the French people
French people
is the Gallic rooster . Its origins date back to Antiquity, since the Latin
Latin
word Gallus meant both "rooster " and "inhabitant of Gaul". Then this figure gradually became the most widely shared representation of the French, used by French monarchs, then by the Revolution and under the successive republican regimes as representation of the national identity, used for some stamps and coins.

CUISINE

Main article: French cuisine

French cuisine is renowned for being one of the finest in the world. According to the regions, traditional recipes are different, the North of the country prefers to use butter as the preferred fat for cooking, whereas olive oil is more commonly used in the South. Moreover, each region of France
France
has iconic traditional specialities: Cassoulet
Cassoulet
in the Southwest, Choucroute
Choucroute
in Alsace, Quiche
Quiche
in the Lorraine region , Beef bourguignon in the Bourgogne , provençal Tapenade , etc. France's most renowned products are wines , including Champagne
Champagne
, Bordeaux
Bordeaux
, Bourgogne , and Beaujolais
Beaujolais
as well as a large variety of different cheeses , such as Camembert
Camembert
, Roquefort and Brie . There are more than 400 different varieties.

A meal often consists of three courses, hors d'œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) and/or dessert, sometimes with a salad offered before the cheese or dessert. Hors d'œuvres include terrine de saumon au basilic, lobster bisque, foie gras , French onion soup or a croque monsieur . The plat principal could include a pot au feu or steak frites . The dessert could be mille-feuille pastry, a macaron , an éclair , crème brûlée , mousse au chocolat , crêpes , or Café liégeois .

*

French wines are usually made to accompany French cuisine *

Some French cheeses with fruits *

Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée
*

Quiche
Quiche
*

Macaron
Macaron

French cuisine is also regarded as a key element of the quality of life and the attractiveness of France. A French publication, the Michelin guide
Michelin guide
, awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments. The acquisition or loss of a star can have dramatic effects on the success of a restaurant. By 2006, the Michelin Guide had awarded 620 stars to French restaurants, at that time more than any other country, although the guide also inspects more restaurants in France
France
than in any other country (by 2010, Japan
Japan
was awarded as many Michelin stars as France, despite having half the number of Michelin inspectors working there).

In addition to its wine tradition, France
France
is also a major producer of beer. The three main French brewing regions are Alsace (60% of national production), Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Lorraine. A meal often consists of three courses, hors d'œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) or dessert, sometimes with a salad offered before the cheese or dessert.

SPORTS

Main article: Sport in France
Sport in France
Starting in 1903, the Tour de France
France
is the oldest and most prestigious of Grands Tours , and the world's most famous cycling race.

Popular sports played in France
France
include football , judo , tennis , rugby and pétanque . France
France
has hosted events such as the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups , and the 2007 Rugby World Cup
2007 Rugby World Cup
. The country also hosted UEFA Euro
Euro
2016 . The Stade de France
Stade de France
in Saint-Denis is France's largest stadium and was the venue for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and 2007 Rugby World Cup
2007 Rugby World Cup
finals. Since 1903, France
France
hosts the annual Tour de France
Tour de France
, the most famous road bicycle race in the world. France
France
is famous for its 24 Hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
sports car endurance race . Several major tennis tournaments take place in France, including the Paris
Paris
Masters and the French Open
French Open
, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. French martial arts include Savate and Fencing .

France
France
has a close association with the Modern Olympic Games; it was a French aristocrat, Baron Pierre de Coubertin
Pierre de Coubertin
, who suggested the Games' revival, at the end of the 19th century. After Athens
Athens
was awarded the first Games, in reference to the Olympics' Greek origins, Paris
Paris
hosted the second Games in 1900 . Paris
Paris
was the first home of the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
, before it moved to Lausanne
Lausanne
. Since 1900, France
France
has hosted the Olympics on 4 further occasions: the 1924 Summer Olympics
1924 Summer Olympics
, again in Paris
Paris
and three Winter Games (1924 in Chamonix
Chamonix
, 1968 in Grenoble
Grenoble
and 1992 in Albertville
Albertville
). The Stade de France
France
was built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup
1998 FIFA World Cup
, and is listed as a UEFA category four stadium .

Both the national football team and the national rugby union team are nicknamed "Les Bleus" in reference to the team's shirt colour as well as the national French tricolour flag . Football is the most popular sport in France, with over 1,800,000 registered players, and over 18,000 registered clubs. The football team is among the most successful in the world, particularly at the start of the 21st century, with one FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
victory in 1998, one FIFA World Cup second place in 2006, and two UEFA European Championships in 1984 and 2000 . The top national football club competition is Ligue 1
Ligue 1
. France
France
has produced some of the greatest players in the world, including three time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane , three time Ballon d\'Or recipient Michel Platini
Michel Platini
, record holder for most goals scored at a World Cup Just Fontaine , first football player to receive the Légion d\'honneur Raymond Kopa , and the all-time leading goalscorer for the French national team Thierry Henry .

Rugby union
Rugby union
is popular, particularly in Paris
Paris
and the southwest of France. The national rugby union team has competed at every Rugby World Cup , and takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship
Six Nations Championship
. Stemming from a strong domestic league , the French rugby team has won 16 Six Nations Championships, including 8 grand slams ; and has reached the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup
6 times and the final 3 times.

Rugby league in France is mostly played and followed in the South of France, in cities such as Perpignan
Perpignan
and Toulouse
Toulouse
. The Catalans Dragons and Toulouse
Toulouse
Olympique are the most notable clubs currently playing in Super League
Super League
and the RFL Championship is the top-tier rugby league competition in Europe. The Elite One Championship
Elite One Championship
is the professional competition for rugby league clubs in France. Paris Saint-Germain Rugby League competed in Super League's inaugural 1996 season and for another in 1997 before going defunct.

In recent decades, France
France
has produced world-elite basketball players, most notably Tony Parker
Tony Parker
. The French National Basketball Team won gold at the FIBA EuroBasket 2013 . The national team has won two Olympic Silver Medals: in 2000 and 1948 .

SEE ALSO

* Outline of France * France in the 1920s
France in the 1920s

FOOTNOTES

* ^ For information about regional languages see Languages of France
France
. * ^ Established the Kingdom of the West Franks
Franks
(the Kingdom of France
France
) from the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
of Francia. * ^ European Union
European Union
since 1993. * ^ Established the Fifth Republic
Republic
* ^ French National Geographic Institute data, which includes bodies of water. * ^ French Land Register data, which exclude lakes, ponds and glaciers larger than 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) as well as the estuaries of rivers. * ^ Whole of the French Republic
Republic
except the overseas territories in the Pacific Ocean. * ^ French overseas territories in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
only. * ^ Time zones across the French Republic
Republic
span from UTC-10 (French Polynesia ) to UTC+12 ( Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
). * ^ Daylight saving time
Daylight saving time
is observed in metropolitan France
France
and Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
only. * ^ The overseas regions and collectivities form part of the French telephone numbering plan , but have their own country calling codes: Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
+590; Martinique
Martinique
+596; French Guiana
French Guiana
+594, Réunion
Réunion
and Mayotte
Mayotte
+262; Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
+508. The overseas territories are not part of the French telephone numbering plan; their country calling codes are: New Caledonia
New Caledonia
+687, French Polynesia
French Polynesia
+689; Wallis and Futuna +681. * ^ In addition to .fr , several other Internet TLDs are used in French overseas départements and territories: .re , .mq , .gp , .tf , .nc , .pf , .wf , .pm , .gf
.gf
and .yt . France
France
also uses .eu
.eu
, shared with other members of the European Union. The .cat domain is used in Catalan-speaking territories . * ^ French Guiana
French Guiana
is located in South America; Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
and Martinique
Martinique
are in the Caribbean Sea; and Réunion
Réunion
and Mayotte
Mayotte
are in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa. All five are considered integral parts of the republic . France
France
also comprises Saint Pierre and Miquelon in North America; Saint Barthélemy
Saint Barthélemy
and Saint Martin
Saint Martin
in the Caribbean; French Polynesia
French Polynesia
, New Caledonia
New Caledonia
, Wallis and Futuna and Clipperton Island
Clipperton Island
in the Pacific Ocean; and finally the French Southern and Antarctic Lands .

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