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This article is about the country. For other uses, see France (disambiguation).
See also: France portal and Outline of France

French Republic
Rpublique franaise


National emblem

"Libert, galit, fraternit"
"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"

Anthem: La Marseillaise

Location of Metropolitan France (dark green)

in Europe (green & dark grey)
in the European Union (green) [Legend]

Territory of the French Republic.a



and largest city

4851.4N 221.05E

Official languages

French[note 1]
Unitary semi-presidentialconstitutional

- President

Franois Hollande

- Prime Minister

Jean-Marc Ayrault



- Upper house


- Lower house

National Assembly

- Frankish Kingdom


(unified by Clovis)

- Kingdom of France


(Treaty of Verdun)

- French Republic


(National Convention)

- Current constitution

4 October 1958

(Fifth Republic)

- Total

[note 2]

674,843 km2 (41st)

260,558 sq mi

- Metropolitan France
- IGN[note 3]

551,695 km2 (47th)

213,010 sq mi

- Cadastre[note 4]

543,965 km2 (47th)

210,026 sq mi

- Total[note 2]

65,350,000[2] (19th)

- Metropolitan

63,460,000[1] (22nd)

- Density[note 5]

116/km2 (89th)
301/sq mi


2012 estimate

- Total

$2.253 trillion[3] (9th)

- Per capita

$35,520[3] (24th)

GDP (nominal)

2012 estimate

- Total

$2.580 trillion[3] (5th)

- Per capita

$40,690[3] (20th)

Gini (2008)


HDI (2013)

very high 20th


Euro[note 6]
CFP franc[note 7]
CET[note 8] (UTC+1)

Time zone
- Summer (DST)


CEST[note 9] (UTC+2)

Drives on the


Calling code

33[note 10]

ISO 3166 code


Internet TLD

.fr[note 11]

Excluding Adlie Land in Antarctica, where sovereignty is suspended.

France (English

/frns/ FRANSS or /frns/ FRAHNSS; French:

Republic (French: Rpublique franaise Frenchpronunciation:

presidential republic located mostly in Western Europe,

[note 12]


officially the French

), is a unitary semi-

with several overseas regions and

territories. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea,
and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. From its shape, it is often referred to in French
as lHexagone ("The Hexagon").

France is the largest country in Western Europe and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. It possesses the
second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. France has been a major power with
strong cultural, economic, military, and political influence in Europe and around the world.[6]France has its main
ideals expressed in the 18th-century Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. From the 17th to the
early 20th century, France built the second-largest colonial empire of the time, ruling large portions of first North
America and India and then Northwest andCentral Africa; Madagascar; Indochina and southeast China; and
many Caribbean and Pacific Islands.
France is a developed country,[7] possessing the world's fifth-largest and Europe's second-largest economy
by nominal GDP. It is also the world'sninth-largest by GDP at purchasing power parity.[8] France is the
wealthiest nation in Europe and the fourth-wealthiest in the world in aggregate household wealth.[9] French
citizens enjoy a high standard of living, high public education level, and one of the world's longest life
expectancies.[10]France has been listed as the world's "best overall health care" provider by the World Health
Organization.[11] It is the most-visited country in the world, receiving 79.5 million foreign tourists annually.[12]
France has the world's fifth-largest nominal military budget,[13] as well as (in terms of personnel) the largest
military in the EU,[citation needed] the third-largest deployable force in NATO, and the 26th-largest military in the
world. France also possesses the third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world[14] with around 300
active warheads as of 25 May 2010 and the world's second-largest diplomatic corps (behind theUnited
States).[15] France is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council, and a member of the Francophonie, the G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, and the Latin Union.
It is also a founding and leading member state of the European Union and the largest EU state by area.[16] In
2013, France was listed 20th on the Human Development Index and, in 2010, 24th on theCorruption
Perceptions Index.

1 Etymology

2 History

2.1 Prehistory

2.2 Gaul

2.3 Kingdom of Francia

2.4 Kingdom of France

2.5 Republics and Empires

3 Geography

3.1 Environment

4 Administrative divisions

4.1 Metropolitan regions

4.2 Overseas regions

4.3 Overseas territories and collectivities

5 Politics

5.1 Government

5.2 Law

5.3 Foreign relations

5.4 Development aid

5.5 Military

6 Economy

6.1 Agriculture

6.2 Labour market

6.3 Tourism

6.4 Transport

7 Demographics

7.1 Language

7.2 Religion

7.3 Health

7.4 Education

8 Culture

8.1 Art

8.2 Architecture

8.3 Literature

8.4 Philosophy

8.5 Sciences

8.6 Music

8.7 Cinema

8.8 Fashion

8.9 Media

8.10 Society

8.11 Gastronomy

8.12 Sports

9 Footnotes

10 References

11 External links

Main article: Name of France
The name "France" comes from the Latin Francia, which means "country of the Franks".[17] There are various
theories as to the origin of the name of the Franks. One is that it is derived from the ProtoGermanic word frankon which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as
a francisca.[18] Another proposed etymology is that in an ancient Germanic language, Frank means free as
opposed to slave.

Main article: History of France

Main article: Prehistory of France

One of the paintings of Lascaux which represents a horse (Dordogne, approximately 18,000 BC).

The oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from approximately 1,800,000 years ago. [19]Men
were then confronted by a hard and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras which modified their
framework of life and led them to a nomadic life of hunters-gatherers.[19] France counts a large number of
decorated caves from the upper Paleolithic era, including one of the most famous and best
preserved: Lascaux[19] (Dordogne, approximately 18,000 BC).
At the end of the Last glacial period (10,000 BC), the climate softened[19] and from approximately 7,000 BC, this
part of Western Europe entered theNeolithic era and its inhabitants became sedentary. After a strong
demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end

of the 3rd millennium, initially with the work of gold, copper and bronze, and later with iron. [20] France counts
numerousmegalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptionally dense Carnac stones site
(Morbihan, approximately 3,300 BC).

Main articles: Gaul, Celts, and Roman Gaul

Gaul, 1st century BC. Gallic territory inhabited by Celts extends to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland, the parts of
the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine, and parts of Northern Italy.

The Maison Carre was a temple of theGallo-Roman city of Nemausus (present-dayNmes) and is one of the best preserved
vestiges of the Roman Empire.

In 600 BC, Ionian Greeks, originating from Phocaea, founded the colony of Massalia (present-day Marseille),
on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, making it the oldest city of France.[21][22] At the same time, some Gallic
Celtic tribes penetrated some parts of the current territory of France, but this occupation spread in the rest of
France only between the 5th and 3rd century BC.[23]
The concept of Gaul emerged at that time; it corresponds to the territories of Celtic settlement ranging between
the Rhine, the Atlantic Ocean, thePyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea. The borders of modern France are
approximately the same as those of ancient Gaul, which was inhabited byCeltic Gauls. Gaul was then a
prosperous country, of which the southernmost part was heavily subject to Greek and Roman influences.

However, around 390 BC, the Gallic chieftain Brennus and his troops made their way to Italy through the Alps,
defeated the Romans in the Battle of the Allia, and besieged and ransomed Rome.
The Gallic invasion left Rome weakened and encouraged several subdued Italian tribes to rebel. One by one,
over the course of the next 50 years, these tribes were defeated and brought back under Roman dominion. The
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 would maintain an adversarial relationship for the next several centuries and
the Gauls would remain a threat in Italia.
Around 125 BC, the south of Gaul was conquered by the Romans, who called this region Provincia
Romana ("Roman Province"), which over time evolved into the name Provence in French.[24] Brennus' siege of
Rome was still remembered by Romans, when Julius Caesar conquered the remainder of Gaul and overcame
a revolt carried out by the Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix in 52 BC.[25]
Gaul was divided by Augustus into Roman provinces, the principal ones being Gallia Narbonensis in the
south, Gallia Aquitania in the south-west, Gallia Lugdunensis in the center and Gallia Belgica in the
north.[26] Many cities were founded during the Gallo-Roman period, including Lugdunum (present-day Lyon),
which is considered to be the capital of the Gauls.[26] These cities were built in the traditional Roman style, with
a forum, a theatre, a circus, an amphitheatre and thermal baths. The Gauls mixed with Roman settlers and
eventually adopted Roman speech (Latin, from which the French language evolved) and Roman culture.
The Roman polytheism merged with the Gallic paganism into the same syncretism.
Around the 3rd century AD, Roman Gaul underwent a serious crisis with its "limes" (fortified borders protecting
the Empire) crossed on several occasions by Barbarians.[27] The weakness of the central imperial power, at this
time, led Gallo-Roman leaders to proclaim the independence of the short-lived Gallic Empire,[27] which ended
with the Battle of Chlons in 274, which saw Gaul reincorporated in the Roman Empire.
Nevertheless, the situation improved in the first half of the 4th century, which was a period of revival and
prosperity for Roman Gaul.[28] In 312, the emperor Constantin I converted to Christianity. Christians, persecuted
until then, multiplied across the entire Roman Empire.[29] But, from the second half of the 4th century,
the Barbarian Invasions started again,[30] and Germanic tribes, such as the Vandals, Suebi and Alans crossed
the Rhine and settled in Gaul, Spain and other parts of the collapsing Roman Empire.[31]

Kingdom of Francia
Main articles: Kingdom of the Franks, Merovingian dynasty, and Carolingian dynasty
See also: List of French monarchs and France in the Middle Ages

Frankish expansion from the early Clovis I' kingdom (481) to the divisions ofCharlemagne's Empire (843/870).

At the end of the Antiquity period, ancient Gaul was divided into several Germanic kingdoms (Early
Francia (North), Alamannia (North-East), Burgundia(East), Septimania (South), Visigothic Aquitania (South
East)) and a remaining Gallo-Roman territory, known as the Kingdom of Syagrius (West).
Simultaneously, Celtic Britons, fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britannia, settled the western part
of Armorica (far West of Gaul). As a result, the Armorican peninsula was renamed Brittany, Celtic culture was
revived and independent petty kingdoms arose in this region.
The pagan Franks, from whom the ancient name of "Francie" was derived, originally settled the northern part
of Gaul, but under Clovis I conquered most of the other kingdoms in northern and central Gaul. In 498, Clovis I
was the first Germanic conqueror after the fall of the Roman Empire to convert to Catholic Christianity, rather
than Arianism; thus France was given the title "Eldest daughter of the Church" (French: La fille ane de
g e) by the papacy,[32] and the French kings would be called "the Most Christian Kings of France" (Rex

With Clovis' conversion to Catholicism in 498, the Frankish monarchy, elective and secularuntil then, became hereditary and
of divine right.

The Franks embraced the Christian Gallo-Roman heritage and ancient Gaul was eventually
renamed Francia ("Land of the Franks"). The Germanic Franks adopted Romanic languages, except in

northern Gaul where Roman settlements were less dense and where Germanic languages emerged. Clovis
made Paris his capital and established theMerovingian 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, Orlans, Soissons, and Rheims. The last Merovingian kings, sometimes referred
as Rois fainants ("lazy kings"), effectively lost power to their mayors of the palace. One mayor of the
palace, Charles Martel, defeated aMuslim invasion force from Hispania at the Battle of Tours (732) and earned
respect and power within the Frankish kingdoms. His son, Pepin the Short, eventually seized the crown of
Francia from the weakened Merovingians and founded the Carolingian dynasty. Pepin's son, Charlemagne,
reunited the Frankish kingdoms and built a vast empire across Western and Central Europe.
Proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III and thus establishing in earnest the French government's
longtime historical association with the Roman Catholic Church,[33] Charlemagne tried to revive the Western
Roman Empire and its cultural grandeur, from his Palace of Aachen. The efficient administration of this
immense empire was ensured by high-level civil servants, carrying the, then non-hereditary, titles of counts (in
charge of a County), marquis (in charge of aMarch), dukes (military commanders), etc.

French territorial evolution from 985 to 1947.

Charlemagne's son, Louis I (emperor 814840), 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, Middle Francia to Lothair I, and West Francia to Charles
the Bald. Western Francia approximated the area occupied by, and was the precursor, to modern France. [34]
During the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, continually threatened by Viking invasions, 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 in 1066, the Duke of

Normandy added "King of England" to his titles, becoming both the vassal to (as Duke of Normandy) and the
equal of (as king of England) the king of France.

Kingdom of France
Main articles: Kingdom of France, Capetian dynasty, Valois dynasty, and Bourbon dynasty
See also: List of French monarchs, France in the Middle Ages, Early modern France, and Ancien Rgime
The Carolingian dynasty ruled France until 987, when Hugh Capet, Duke of France and Count of Paris, was
crowned King of the Franks.[35] 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. French knights took an active part in many of
the Crusades that were fought between 1095 and 1291 to restore Christian control over the Holy Land.
Crusaders were so predominately French that the word "crusader" in the Arabic language is simply known
as Al-Franj or "The Franks"[36] and Old French became the lingua franca of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.[37]

Joan of Arc led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' Warwhich paved the way for the
final victory.

The Albigensian Crusade was launched in 1209 to eliminate the heretical Cathars in the south-western area of
modern-day France. In the end, the Cathars were exterminated and the autonomous County of Toulouse was
annexed into the kingdom of France.[38] Later Kings expanded their territory 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 around a hierarchically conceived society distinguishing nobility,
clergy, and commoners.
Charles IV (The Fair) died without an heir in 1328.[39] Under the rules of the Salic law adopted in 1316, the
crown of France could not pass to a woman nor could the line of kinship pass through the female

line.[39] 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. During the reign of Philip of
Valois, the French monarchy reached the height of its medieval power.[39]
However, Philip's seat on the throne was contested by Edward III of England and in 1337, on the eve of the first
wave of the Black Death,[40] England and France went to war in what would become known as the Hundred
Years' War.[41] The exact boundaries changed greatly with time, but French landholdings of theEnglish
Kings remained extensive for decades.
With charismatic leaders, such as Joan of Arc and La Hire, strong French counterattacks won back all English
continental territories, except Calais, which wascaptured in 1558 by the French. Like the rest of Europe, France
was struck by the Black Death. Around 1340, France had a population of approximately 17 million, [42] which by
the end of the pandemic had declined by about one-half.[43]

The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre(1572) was the climax of the French Wars of Religion, which were brought to an end
by the Edict of Nantes (1598).

The French Renaissance saw a long set of wars, known as the Great Italian Wars, between the Kingdom of
France and the powerful Holy Roman Empire. It also saw the first standardization of the French language,
which would become the official language of France and the language of Europe's aristocracy. French
explorers, such as Jacques Cartier or Samuel de Champlain, claimed lands in the Americas for France, paving
the way for the expansion of theFirst French colonial empire.
The rise of Protestantism in Europe led France to a civil war known as the French Wars of Religion, where, in
the most notorious incident, thousands ofHuguenots were murdered in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of
1572.[44] The Wars of Religion were ended by Henry IV's Edict of Nantes, which granted some freedom of
religion to the Huguenots. Henry IV was later murdered by a Catholic fanatic and Huguenot rebellions persisted
until the 18th century.
Under Louis XIII, the energetic actions of Cardinal Richelieu reinforced the centralization of the state, the royal
power and French dominance in Europe, foreshadowing the reign of Louis XIV. During Louis XIV's minority and
the regency of Queen Anne and Cardinal Mazarin, a period of trouble known as theFronde occurred in France,

which was at that time at war with Spain. This rebellion was driven by the great feudal lords and sovereign
courts as a reaction to the rise of royal power in France.

Louis XIV, the "sun king" was the absolute monarch of Franceand made 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, Louis XIV's personal power became unchallenged.
Remembered for his numerous wars, he made France the leading European power of the time. At this time,
France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France) 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. [45] In addition, France
obtained many overseas possessions in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Louis XIV also revoked the Edict of
Nantes, forcing thousands of Huguenots to exile.
Under Louis XV, France lost New France and most of its Indian possessions after its defeat in the Seven
Years' War, which ended in 1763. Its continental 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, and his debauchery discredited the monarchy and arguably led to the French
Revolution 15 years after his death.[46][47]
Louis XVI, Louis XV's grandson, actively supported the Americans, who were seeking their independence from
Great Britain (realized in the 1783 Treaty of Paris). The example of the American Revolution and the financial
crisis which followed France's involvement in the war were two of the many contributing factors to the French

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 in the 18th century. Famous French explorers, such
as Bougainville andLaprouse, 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.

Republics and Empires

Main articles: French Revolution, First French Empire, Second French Empire, and French colonial empires
See also: France in the 19th century and France in the 20th century

The Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 was the starting event of the French Revolution.

After the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, the absolute monarchy was abolished and France became
a constitutional monarchy. Through theDeclaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, France established
fundamental rights for French citizens and all men without exception. The Declaration affirms "the natural and
imprescriptible rights of man" to "liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression". It called for the
destruction of aristocratic privileges (such as exemptions from taxation) and proclaimed freedom and equal
rights for all men, as well as access to public office based on talent rather than birth. The monarchy was
restricted, and all citizens were to have the right to take part in the legislative process. Freedom of speech and
press were declared, and arbitrary arrests outlawed. The Declaration also asserted the principles of popular
sovereignty, in contrast to the divine right of kings that characterized the French monarchy, and social equality
among citizens, eliminating the privileges of the nobility and clergy.

Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, and his Grande Armebuilt a vast Empire across Europe. He helped to spread the
French revolutionary ideals and his legal reforms had a major influence worldwide.

While Louis XVI, as a constitutional king, enjoyed broad popularity among the population, his disastrous flight
to Varennes seemed to justify the rumors that the king tied his hopes of political salvation to the dubious
prospects of foreign invasion. The credibility of the king was deeply undermined and the abolition of the
monarchy and the establishment of a republic became an ever increasing possibility.
As European monarchies gathered against the new rgime, to restore the French absolute monarchy, the Duke
of Brunswick, commanding general of the AustroPrussian Army, issued a Manifesto, in which he threatened
the destruction of Paris if any harm should come to the king or his family. The foreign threat exacerbated
France's political turmoil and deepened the passion and sense of urgency among the various factions andwar
was declared against Austria the 20 April 1792. Mob violences occurred during the insurrection of the 10
August 1792[48] and the following month.[49] As a result of the spike in public violence and the political instability
of the constitutional monarchy, the Republic was proclaimed on 22 September 1792.
Louis XVI (and later his wife Marie Antoinette) was convicted of treason and guillotined in 1793. Facing
increasing pressures from European monarchies, internal guerrilla wars and counterrevolutions (like the War in
the Vende or the Chouannerie), the young Republic fell into the Reign of Terror. Between 1793 and 1794,
16,000 to 40,000 people were executed. In Western France, the civil war between the Bleus (the "Blues",
supporters of the Revolution) and the Blancs (the "Whites", supporters of the Monarchy) lasted from 1793 to
1796 and cost between 200,000 and 450,000 lives (80,000 to 200,000 Patriotes and 120,000 to
250,000 Vendens).[50][51] Both foreign armies and French counterrevolutionnaries were crushed and the
French Republic survived. Furthermore, the French Republic extended greatly its boundaries and established
"Sister Republics" in the surrounding countries. As the threat of a foreign invasion receded and that France
became mostly pacified, the Thermidorian Reaction put an end to Robespierre's rule and, eventually, to the

Terror. The abolition of slavery and the maleuniversal suffrage, enacted during this radical phase of the
revolution, were cancelled by subsequent governments.

Animated map of the growth and decline of theFrench colonial empire.

After a short-lived governmental scheme, Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of the Republic in 1799 and was
appointed by plebiscite[52] First Consul and later Emperor of the French Empire (18041814/1815). As a
continuation of the wars sparked by the European monarchies against the French Republic, changing sets
of European Coalitions declared wars to Napoleon's French Empire. His armies conquered most of continental
Europe, while 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, the Napoleonic Code or the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. After the
catastrophicRussian campaign, Napoleon was finally defeated and the Bourbon monarchy restored. About a
million Frenchmen died during the Napoleonic Wars.[53]

Douaumont ossuary. With 4.3 million wounded from a population of only 39.6 million at the time, the Third French Republic
sustained the highest number of total casualties among the Allies during the First World War.

After his brief return from exile, Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, the monarchy
was re-established (18151830), with new constitutional limitations. The discredited Bourbon dynasty was
overthrown by the civil uprising of 1830, which established the constitutional July Monarchy, which lasted until
1848, when theFrench Second Republic was proclaimed, in the wake of the 1848 European revolutions. The
abolition of slavery and the male universal suffrage, both briefly enacted during the French Revolution were
finally re-enacted in 1848. In 1852, the president of the French Republic Louis-Napolon Bonaparte, Napoleon

I ne hew, wa

roclaimed emperor of the second Empire, as Napoleon III. He multiplied French interventions

abroad, especially in Crimea, in Mexico and Italy, which resulted in the annexation of Savoy and Nice.
Napoleon III was eventually unseated following defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and his regime was
replaced by the Third Republic.
France had colonial possessions, in various forms, since the beginning of the 17th century to the 18th century.
But in the 19th and 20th centuries, itsglobal overseas colonial empire extended greatly and culminated as the
second largest in the world behind the British Empire. At its peak, between 1919 and 1939, the second French
colonial empire extended over 12,347,000 square kilometres (4,767,000 sq mi) of land. Including metropolitan
France, the total area of land under French sovereignty reached 12,898,000 square kilometres
(4,980,000 sq mi) in the 1920s and 1930s, which is 8.6% of the world's land area.

Charles de Gaulle took an active part in all major events of the 20th century : a hero of World War I, leader of the Free
Frenchduring World War II, he then becamePresident, where he facilitated the decolonization, maintained France as a major
power and overcame the May 1968 revolt.

France was a member of the Triple Entente when World War I broke out. A small part of Northern France was
occupied, but France and its allies eventually emerged victorious against the Central Powers, at a tremendous
human and material cost: the First World War left 1.4 million French soldiers dead, 4.29% of its
population,[54] between 27 and 30% of the conscript classes of 1912-1915.[55] The interbellum phase was
marked by intense international tensions an a variety of social reforms introduced by thePopular Front
government (Annual leave, working time reduction, women in Government among others). Following
the German Blitzkrieg campaign in World War II, metropolitan France was divided in an occupation zone in the

north and Vichy France, a newly established authoritarian regime collaborating with Germany, in the
south.[56] The Allies and the French Resistance eventually emerged victorious from the Axis powers and French
sovereignty was restored.
The Fourth Republic was established after World War II and saw spectacular economic growth (les Trente
Glorieuses). Suffrage was extended to women in 1944. France was one of the founding members of
the NATO (1949), which was the Western counterpart of the Warsaw Pact system ofcollective defence. France
attempted to regain control of French Indochina but was defeated by the Viet Minh at the Battle of Dien Bien
Phu in 1954. Only months later, France faced a new conflict in Algeria. The debate over whether or not to keep
control of Algeria, then home to over one millionEuropean settlers,[57] wracked the country and nearly led to civil
war. In 1958, the weak and unstable Fourth Republic gave way to the Fifth Republic, which contained a
strengthened Presidency.[58] In the latter role, Charles de Gaulle managed to keep the country together while
taking steps to end the war. The Algerian War was concluded with peace negotiations in 1962 that led to
Algerian independence. France granted independence progressively to its colonies, the last one
being Vanuatu in 1980. A vestige of the colonial empire are the French overseas departments and territories.
In the wake of a worldwide series of protests, the May 1968 revolt, although a political failure for the protesters,
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.
France has been at the forefront of the European Union member states seeking to exploit the momentum of
monetary union to create a more unified and capable European Union political, defence, and security

Main article: Geography of France

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

Metropolitan France is situated mostly between latitudes 41 and 51 N (Dunkirk is just north of 51), and
longitudes 6 W and 10 E, on the western edge of Europe, and thus lies within the northern temperate zone.
From southwest to northeast, France shares borders
with Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. France also
borders Suriname to its west and Brazil to its east and south, by way of the overseas region of French Guiana,
which is considered an integral part of the republic[60] (like Alaska and Hawaii are to the United States,
or Kaliningrad is to Russia). Corsica and the French mainland form Metropolitan
France; Guadeloupe, Martinique, Runion, and Mayotte form, with French Guiana, the overseas regions.
These two integral groupings, along with several overseas collectivities and one territory, comprise the French
Republic. The collectivity of Saint Martin borders Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the
Netherlands; however, since, Saint Martin is significantly autonomous of the French government, this is not
considered an international border.
The European territory of France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi),[61] having the largest area
among European Union members.[16]France possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the
north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the south-east, the Massif Central in the south-central
and Pyrenees in the south-west.
At 4,810.45 metres (15,782 ft)[62] above sea level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, is situated
in the Alps on the border between France and Italy. France also has extensive river systems such as the Seine,
the Loire, the Garonne, and the Rhone, which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the
Mediterranean Sea at the Camargue. Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast.

The Exclusive Economic Zone of France extends over 11,000,000 km 2(4,200,000 sq mi) of ocean across the world.[63]

France's total land area, with its overseas departments and territories (excluding Adlie Land), is 674,843
km2 (260,558 sq mi), 0.45% of the total land area on Earth. However, France possesses the secondlargest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world,[64] covering 11,035,000 km2(4,260,637 sq mi),
approximately 8% of the total surface of all the EEZs of the world, just behind the United States
(11,351,000 km2/4,382,646 sq mi) and ahead of Australia (8,232,000 km2/3,178,393 sq mi). According to a
different calculation cited by the Pew Research Center, the EEZ of France would be 10,084,201

km2 (3,893,532 sq mi), still behind the United States (12,174,629 km2/4,700,651 sq mi), and still ahead of
Australia (8,980,568 km2/3,467,417 sq mi) and Russia (7,566,673 km2/2,921,509 sq mi).
The north and northwest have a temperate climate, while a combination of maritime influences, latitude and
altitude produce a varied climate in the rest of Metropolitan France.[65] In the south-east a Mediterranean
climate prevails. In the west, the climate is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and
cool to warm summers. Inland the climate becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters
and less rain. The climate of the Alps and other mountainous regions is mainly alpine, with the number of days
with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snow cover lasting for up to six months.

Landscapes and climates of France

Limestone cliffs of Normandy neartretat.

Mediterranean vegetation (lavender)

in Provence.

The plains of the Beauce

Alpine climate in the French Alps.

Verdon Gorge in Provence.

Vineyards in Cte de Nuits,Burgundy.

Mountain climate in Mercantour National


Tropical climate in Bora Bora(French


Heathland in Pointe du Van,

Western Brittany.

Oceanic climate and sandy beach in bassin


Semi-arid climate in Corsica.


See also: Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, National parks of
France, and Regional natural parks of France

Regional (green) and National (pink) natural parks in France. Indicated in green and purple colour respectively.

France was one of the first countries to create a Ministry of the Environment, in 1971. [66] Although France is one
of the most industrialised and developed countries, it is ranked only seventeenth by carbon dioxide emissions,
behind such less populous nations as Canada, Saudi Arabia or Australia. This situation results from the French
government's decision to invest in nuclear power in 1974 (after the 1973 oil crisis[67]), which now accounts for
78% of France's electricity production[68] and explains why France pollutes less than comparable countries. [69][70]
Like all European Union members, France agreed to cut carbon emissions by at least 20% of 1990 levels by
the year 2020,[71] in comparison the USA agreed to a cut of 4% of its emissions[72] whereas China stated it
wanted to "reduce its carbon intensity by 4045% by the year 2020" (compared with 2005 levels),[73] which
means with a GDP growth of 8% yearly an augmentation of 80%[72] to 250%[74] of the Chinese carbon
emissions by 2020.
In 2009, the French carbon dioxide emissions per capita level is lower than the Chinese one.[75]
France was even set to impose a carbon tax in 2009 at 17 Euros per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted.[76] The
carbon tax would have brought in 4.3 billion Euros of revenue per year.[77] However, 6 months later, the plan for
a carbon tax was abandoned for various reasons, one being that French companies would have a more difficult
time competing with companies in neighboring countries who would not have to pay such steep taxes on
carbon dioxide emissions. Instituting a carbon tax was also an unpopular political move for President
In 2010, a study at Yale and Columbia universities ranked France the 7th most environmentally conscious
country in the world.[79][80]

Forests account for 28% of the land area of France.[81][82] French forests are also some of the most diversified
of Europe, with more than 140 differents varieties of trees.[83] There are 9 national parks[84] and 46 natural
parks in France.[85] France wants to convert 20% of its Exclusive Economic Zone in aMarine Protected Area by

Administrative divisions
Main articles: Administrative divisions of France, Regions of France, and Departments of France
See also: Metropolitan Area (France) and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants (2006
France is divided into 27 administrative regions.[61] 22 are in metropolitan France (21 are on the continental part
of metropolitan France; one is the territorial collectivity of Corsica), and five areoverseas regions. The regions
are further subdivided into 101 departments[87] which are numbered (mainly alphabetically). This number is
used in postal codes and vehicle number plates amongst others.
The 101 departments are subdivided into 341 arrondissements which are, in turn, subdivided into
4,051 cantons. These cantons are then divided into 36,697 communes, which are municipalities with an elected
municipal council. There also exist 2,588 intercommunal entities grouping 33,414 of the 36,697 communes (i.e.
91.1% of all the communes). Three communes, Paris, Lyon and Marseille are also subdivided into 45 municipal
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 also territorial collectivities with
an elected assembly, but these were suspended by theVichy regime and definitely abolished by the Fourth
Republic in 1946.

Metropolitan regions

The 22 regions and 96 departments of metropolitan France includes Corsica (Corse, lower right). Paris area is expanded
(inset at left)





Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin



Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrnes-Atlantiques



Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dme



Ctes-d'Armor, Finistre, Ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan



Cte-d'Or, Nivre, Sane-et-Loire, Yonne



Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher



Ardennes, Aube, Haute-Marne, Marne



Corse-du-Sud, Haute-Corse



Doubs, Haute-Sane, Jura, Territoire de Belfort



Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-deMarne, Val-d'Oise,Yvelines


Aude, Gard, Hrault, Lozre, Pyrnes-Orientales





Corrze, Creuse, Haute-Vienne



Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Vosges


Calvados, Manche, Orne



Arige, Aveyron, Gers, Haute-Garonne, Hautes-Pyrnes, Lot, Tarn, Tarnet-Garonne



Nord, Pas-de-Calais


Pays de la Loire

Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe, Vende



Aisne, Oise, Somme



Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Svres, Vienne


Lower Normandy

Provence-Alpes-Cte Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhne, HautesAlpes, Var, Vaucluse



Upper Normandy


Ain, Ardche, Drme, Haute-Savoie, Isre, Loire, Rhne, Savoie


Eure, Seine-Maritime


Overseas regions
Main article: Overseas departments and territories of France

Among the 101 departments of France, five (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Runion)
are in overseas regions (ROMs) that are also simultaneously overseas departments (DOMs) and are an
integral part of France (and the European Union) and thus enjoy a status similar to metropolitan departments.

Constitutional status


Overseas region (rgions d'outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department

(dpartement d'outre-mer or DOM)



Overseas region (rgions d'outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department

(dpartement d'outre-mer or DOM)



Overseas region (rgions d'outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department

(dpartement d'outre-mer or DOM)



Overseas region (rgions d'outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department

(dpartement d'outre-mer or DOM)



Overseas region (rgions d'outre-mer) and simultaneously overseas department

(dpartement d'outre-mer or DOM)



Overseas territories and collectivities

In addition to the 27 regions and 101 departments, the French Republic also has five overseas
collectivities (French Polynesia, Saint Barthlemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, andWallis and
Futuna), one sui generis collectivity (New Caledonia), one overseas territory (French Southern and Antarctic
Lands), and one island possession in the Pacific Ocean (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 or its fiscal area (with the exception of St. Bartelemy, which seceded from Guadeloupe in 2007). The
Pacific Collectivities (COMs) of French Polynesia, Wallis and Fortuna, and New Caledonia continue to use
the CFP franc[88] whose value is linked to that of the euro. In contrast, the five overseas regions used the
French franc and now use the euro.[89]

Constitutional status

Clipperton Island

State private property under the direct authority of the French government

French Polynesia

Designated as an overseas land (pays d'outre-mer or POM), the status is the

same as an overseas collectivity.




overseas territory (territoire d'outre-mer or TOM)


New Caledonia

Sui generis collectivity


Saint Barthlemy

Overseas collectivity (collectivit d'outre-mer or COM)


Saint Martin

Overseas collectivity (collectivit d'outre-mer or COM)


Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Overseas collectivity (collectivit d'outre-mer or COM). Still referred to as

a collectivit territoriale.


Wallis and Futuna

Overseas collectivity (collectivit d'outre-mer or COM). Still referred to as

a territoire.


French Southern and

Antarctic Lands

Main article: Politics of France

Main articles: Government of France and Constitution of France

Logo of the French Republic

The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with strong democratic traditions.[90] The
constitution of the Fifth Republic was approved byreferendum on 28 September 1958.[91] It greatly strengthened
the authority of the executive in relation to parliament. The executive branch itself has two leaders:
the President of the Republic, currently Franois Hollande, who is head of state and is elected directly by
universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term (formerly 7 years),[92] and the Government, led by the presidentappointed Prime Minister, currently Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Franois Hollande has been elected President of the French Republic in 2012.

The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemble Nationale) and
aSenate.[93] The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year
terms.[94] The Assembly has the power to dismiss the cabinet, 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. [95]

The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the
National Assembly has the final say.[96] The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of
French politics are characterised by two politically opposed groupings: one left-wing, centred around
the French Socialist Party, and the other right-wing, centred previously around the Rassemblement pour la
Rpublique (RPR) and now its successor the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).[97] The executive branch is
currently composed mostly of the Socialist Party.
In April and May 2012, France held a presidential election in which the winner Franois Hollande had
opposed austerity measures, promising to eliminate France's budget deficit by 2017 by canceling recently
enacted tax cuts and exemptions for the wealthy, raising the top tax bracket rate to 75% on incomes over a
million euros, restoring the retirement age to 60 with a full pension for those who have worked 42 years,
restoring 60,000 jobs recently cut from public education, regulating rent increases; and building additional
public housing for the poor. In June, Hollande's Socialist Party won a supermajority in legislative
elections capable of amending the French Constitution and enabling the immediate enactment of the promised
reforms. French government bond interest rates fell 30% to record lows,[98] less than 50 basis points above
German government bond rates.[99]

Main article: Law of France
France uses a civil legal system;[61] 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 (which was, in turn, largely
based on the royal law codified under 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 must respect are found in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the

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 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 Rpublique Franaise.
France does not recognize religious law, nor does it recognize religious beliefs or morality as a motivation for
the enactment of prohibitions. As a consequence, France has long had neither blasphemy laws nor sodomy
laws (the latter being abolished in 1791). However, "offenses against public decency" (contraires aux bonnes
murs) or disturbing public order (trouble l'ordre public) have been used to repress public expressions of
homosexuality or street prostitution. With such emphasis on public order, laws sentencing
racism, sexism or antisemitism are also old and important. For instance, laws prohibiting discriminatory speech
in the press are as old as 1881.[100] Some consider however that hate speech laws in France are too broad or
severe and damage freedom of speech.
France's attitude towards freedom of religion is complex. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the
constitutional rights set forth in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. However, since
the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State, the State tries to prevent its policymaking from being influenced by religion and became suspicious in recent decades towards new religious
tendencies of the French society: the Parliament haslisted 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. As some have complained that they have suffered from
discrimination thus, and after criticism by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch,[101][102] these laws remain controversial, though there are supported by most of the population. [103]
France is tolerant of the LGBT community. Since 1999, civil unions for homosexual couples are permitted,
although same-sex marriage is illegal in France.

Foreign relations
Main article: Foreign relations of France
See also: European Union, Latin Union, Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, United Nations
Security Council, and NATO
France is a member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security
Council with veto rights.[104] It is also a member of the G8, World Trade Organization(WTO),[105] the Secretariat
of the Pacific Community (SPC)[106] and the Indian Ocean Commission (COI).[107] It is an associate member of
the Association of Caribbean States (ACS)[108] and a leading member of the International Francophone
Organisation (OIF) of fifty-one fully or partly French-speaking countries.[109] It hosts the headquarters of
the OECD,[110] UNESCO,[111]Interpol,[112] Alliance Base[113] and the International Bureau for Weights and
Measures.[114] In 1953, France received a request from the United Nations to pick a coat of arms that would
represent it internationally. Thus the French emblem was adopted and is currently used on passports.[115]
Postwar French foreign policy has been largely shaped by membership of the European Union, of which it was
a founding member. In the 1960s, France sought to exclude the British from the organisation,[116] seeking to
build its own standing in continental Europe. Since the 1960s, France has developed close ties with reunified
Germany to become the most influential driving force of the EU.[117]
Since 1904, France has maintained an "Entente cordiale" with the United Kingdom, and there has been a
strengthening of links between the countries, especially on a military level.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozyand United States President Barack Obama, before NATO summit, in Strasbourg,
on 3 April 2009

France is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), but under President de Gaulle, it
excluded itself from the joint military command to avoid American domination of its foreign and security
policies.[118] However, as a result of Nicolas Sarkozy's (much criticised in France by the leftists and by a part of
the right)[119][120] pro-American politics, France rejoined the 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.[121] France vigorously opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq,[122][123] straining bilateral relations
with the US[124][125] and the UK.[126] France retains strong political and economic influence in itsformer African
colonies (Franafrique)[127] and has supplied economic aid and troops for peace-keeping missions in Cte
d'Ivoire and Chad.[128]
France has the second largest network of diplomatic missions in the world, second only to the USA.[129]

Development aid
In 2009, France was the second largest (in absolute numbers) donor of development aid in the world, behind
the US, and ahead of Germany, Japan and the UK.[130] This represents 0.5% of its GDP, in this regard rating
France as tenth largest donor on the list. France does not meet the International Aid Target of 0.7%. [131] The
organisation managing the French help is the French Development Agency, which finances primarily
humanitarian projects insub-Saharan Africa.[132] The main goals of this help 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."[132]

Main article: French Armed Forces
See also: Military history of France and Deployments of the French military

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 for the 14
July Bastille Day Military Parade.

The French Armed Forces (Armes franaises) are the military and paramilitary forces of France, under
the president as supreme commander. They consist of the French Army (Arme de Terre), French
Navy (Marine Nationale), the French Air Force (Arme de l'Air) and the auxiliary paramilitary force, the National
Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale) and are among the largest armed forces in the world. While
administratively a part of the French armed forces, and therefore under the purview of the Ministry of Defence,
the Gendarmerie is operationally attached to the Ministry of the Interior.[citation needed] The gendarmerie is a
military police force which serves for the most part as a rural and general purpose police force. It encompasses
the counter terrorist units of the Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie (Escadron
Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale) and the National Gendarmerie Intervention
Group (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale). One of the French intelligence units,
the Directorate-General for External Security (Direction Gnrale de la Scurit Extrieure) reports to the
Ministry of Defence. The other, the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (Direction Centrale du
Renseignement Intrieur), reports directly to the Ministry of the Interior. There has been no
national conscription since 1997.[133]
France is a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN, and a recognised nuclear state since 1960.
France has signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)[134] and acceeded to
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. France's annual military expenditure in 2011 was US$62.5 billion, or 2.3%
of its GDP making it the fifth biggest military spender in the world after the United States, China, Russia and the
United Kingdom.[13]
French nuc ear deterrence, ( ormer

nown a Force de Frappe), re e on com ete nde endence. 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 has about 60 ASMP mediumrange air-to-ground missiles with nuclear warheads,[135] 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
tendard Modernis (SEM) attack aircraft which operate from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier 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 has major military industries with one of the largest aerospace industries in the world.[136][137] Its
industries have produced such equipment as the Rafale fighter, the Charles de Gaulleaircraft carrier,
the Exocet missile and the Leclerc tank amongst others. Despite withdrawing from the Eurofighter project,
France is actively investing in European joint projects such as theEurocopter Tiger, multipurpose frigates,
the UCAV demonstrator nEUROn and the Airbus A400M. France is a major arms seller,[138][139] 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 each 14 July for France's national day is the oldest and largest regular military
parade in Europe.[140]

Main articles: Economy of France and Energy in France
Further information: List of companies of France and Economic history of France

The first completed Airbus A380 at the A380 Revea event n Toulouse on 18 January 2005. Airbus is a symbol of the
globalisation of the French and European economy.

A member of the G8 group of leading industrialised countries, it is ranked as the world's fifth largest and
Europe's second largest economy by nominal GDP;[141] with 39 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in
2010, France ranks world's 4th and Europe's 1st in the Fortune Global 500 ahead of Germany and the UK.
France joined 11 other EU members to launch the euro on 1 January 1999, with euro
coins and banknotes completely replacing the French franc () n ear 2002.[142]

France derives 79% of its electricity from nuclear power, the highest percentage in the world. [143]

France has a mixed economy which combines extensive private enterprise (nearly 2.5 million companies
registered)[144][145] with substantial (though declining[146]) state enterprise and government intervention
(seedirigisme). The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors,
with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications. [146] It has been
gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s.[146]

France is part of a monetary union, theEurozone (dark blue), and of the EU single market.

The government is slowly corporatising the state sector and selling off holdings in France Tlcom, Air France,
as well as the insurance, banking, and defence industries.[146] France has an important aerospace industry led
by the European consortium Airbus, and has its own national spaceport, the Centre Spatial Guyanais.
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), in 2009 France was the world's sixth-largest exporter and
the fourth-largest importer of manufactured goods.[147] In 2008, France was the third-largest recipient offoreign
direct investment among OECD countries at $117.9 billion, ranking behind Luxembourg (where foreign direct
investment was essentially monetary transfers to banks located in that country) and the United States
($316.1 billion), but above the United Kingdom ($96.9 billion), Germany ($24.9 billion), or Japan
($24.4 billion).[148][149] In the same year, French companies invested $220 billion outside of France, ranking
France as the second most important outward direct investor in the OECD, behind the United States
($311.8 billion), and ahead of the United Kingdom ($111.4 billion), Japan ($128 billion) and Germany
($156.5 billion).[148][149] With 39 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in 2010, France ranks 4th in the
Fortune Global 500, behind the USA, Japan and China, but ahead of Germany and the UK.[150]

France's public debt, from 1978 to 2009

Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of France's economy.The Paris
stock exchange market (French: La Bourse de Paris) is an ancient institution, as it was created by Louis XVin

1724.[151] In 2000, the stock exchanges of Paris, Amsterdam and Bruxelles merged into Euronext.[152] In 2007,
Euronext merged with the New York stock exchange to form NYSE Euronext, the world's largest stock
exchange.[152] Euronext Paris, the French branch of the NYSE Euronext group is Europe's second largest stock
exchange market, behind the London Stock Exchange.
French companies have maintained key positions in the Insurance and Banking industries: AXA is the world's
largest insurance company, and is ranked by Fortune the ninth richest corporation by revenues. The leading
French banks are BNP Paribas and the Crdit Agricole, ranking as the world's 1st and 6th largest banks in
2010[153] (determined by the amount of assets), while the Socit Gnrale group was ranked the world's eight
largest in 20082009.
France is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the seven most industrialized countries in the world,
due to its heavy investment in nuclear power.[154] As a result of large investments in nuclear technology, most of
the electricity produced in the country is generated by 59 nuclear power plants (78% in 2006,[155] up from only
8% in 1973, 24% in 1980, and 75% in 1990). In this context, renewable energies (see the power
cooperative Enercoop) are having difficulties taking off the ground.


Vineyards near Carcassonne.

France has historically been an important producer of agricultural products.[156] Large tracts of fertile land, the
application of modern technology, andEU subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural
producer and exporter in Europe[157] (representing alone 20% of the EU's agricultural production[158]) and the
world's third biggest exporter of agricultural products.[159]
Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as an internationally recognized processed foods are the primary
French agricultural exports. Ros winesare primarily consumed within the country,
but champagne and Bordeaux wines are major exports, being known worldwide. EU agriculture subsidies to
France have decreased for the last years, but still amounted to $8 billion in 2007.[160] This same year, France
sold 33.4 billion euros of transformed agricultural products.[161]

Agriculture is thus an important sector of France's economy : 3.5% of the active population is employed in
agriculture,[158] whereas the total agri-food industry made up 4.2% of French GDP in 2005.[158]

Labour market
The French GDP per capita is similar to the GDP per capita of other comparable European countries such as
Germany and the United Kingdom.[162] GDP per capita is determined by (i) productivity per hour worked, which
in France is the highest of the G8 countries in 2005, according to the OECD,[163] (ii) the number of hours
worked, which is one the lowest of developed countries,[164] and (iii) the employment rate. France has one of
the lowest 1564 years employment rates of the OECD countries: in 2004, only 69% of the French population
aged 1564 years were in employment, compared to 80% in Japan, 79% in the UK, 77% in the US, and 71% in

La Dfense, just outside Paris, is the largest business district in Europe. [166]

This gap is due to the very low employment rates at both age extremes: the employment rate of people aged
5564 was 38.3% in 2007, compared to 46.6% in the EU15;[167] for the 1524 years old, the employment rate
was 31.5% in 2007, compared to 37.2% in EU25.[168] These low employment rates are explained by the
high minimum wages which prevent low productivity workers such as young people from easily entering the
labour market,[169] ineffective university curricula that fail to prepare students adequately for the labour
market,[170] and, concerning the older workers, restrictive legislation on work and incentives for premature
retirement.[171][172] It has been argued that French laws that protect full-time workers have the effect of trapping
highly educated youth into temporary and informal employment, because of the difficulty and expense of
dealing with formal full-time employees.[173]
The unemployment rate decreased from 9% in 2006 to 7% in 2008 but remains one of the highest in
Europe.[174][175] In June 2009, the unemployment rate for France was 9.4%.[176] Shorter working hours and the
reluctance to reform the labour market are mentioned as weak spots of the French economy in the view of
the right, when the left mentions the lack of government policies fostering social justice. Liberal
economists have stressed repeatedly over the years that the main issue of the French economy is an issue of

structural reforms, in order to increase the size of the working population in the overall population, reduce the
taxes' level and the administrative burden.
Keynesian economists have different answers to the unemployment issue, and their theories led to the 35-hour
workweek law in the 2000s (decade), which turned out to be a failure in reducing unemployment. Afterwards,
between 2004 and 2008, the Government made some supply-oriented reforms to combat unemployment but
met with fierce resistance,[177] especially with the contrat nouvelle embauche and the contrat premire
embauche which both were eventually repealed.[178] The current Government is experiencing the revenu de
solidarit active to redress the negative effect of the revenu minimum d'insertion on work incentive.[179]

Main article: Tourism in France

The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.

With 79.5 million foreign tourists in 2011,[12] France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world, ahead
of the United States (62.3 million in 2011) and China (57.6 million in 2011). This 79.5 million figure excludes
people staying less than 24 hours in France, such as Northern Europeans crossing France on their way to
Spain or Italy during the summer.

The Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most visited sites of France

France has 37 sites inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List and features cities of high cultural interest
(Paris being the foremost, but also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others), beaches and seaside

resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity (green tourism). Small
and picturesque French villages of quality heritage (such as Collonges-la-Rouge or Locronan) are promoted
through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (litt. "The Most Beautiful Villages of France"). The
"Remarkable Gardens" label is a list of the over two hundred gardens classified by theFrench Ministry of
Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks. France also attracts
many religious pilgrims on their way to St. James, or to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrnes that hosts a
few million visitors a year.
France, and especially Paris, have some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre,
which is the most visited art museum in the world, but also the Muse d'Orsay, mostly devoted
to impressionism, and Beaubourg, dedicated to Contemporary art.

The Chteau de Chambord is one of the many French royal residences of the Loire Valley.

Disneyland Paris is France's and indeed Europe's most popular theme park, with 15,405,000 combined visitors
to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in 2009.[180] The historical theme park Puy du
Fou in Vende is the second most visited park of France.[181] Other popular theme parks are
the Futuroscope of Poitiers and the Parc Astrix.
With more than 10 millions tourists a year, the French Riviera (or Cte d'Azur), in south-eastern France, is the
second leading tourist destination in the country, after the Parisian region.[182] According to the Cte d'Azur
Economic Development Agency, 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.[183] Each year the Cte
d'Azur hosts 50% of the world's superyacht fleet, with 90% of all superyachts visiting the region's coast at least
once in their lifetime.[184]
An other major destination are the Chteaux of the Loire Valley, this World Heritage Site is noteworthy for the
quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such
as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Nantes, Orlans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular for its castles
(chteaux), such as theChteaux d'Amboise, de Chambord, d'Uss, de Villandry and Chenonceau, which
illustrate to an exceptional degree the ideals of the French Renaissance.

The most popular tourist sites include: (according to a 2003 ranking[185] visitors per year): Eiffel
Tower (6.2 million), Louvre Museum (5.7 million), Palace of Versailles (2.8 million), Muse d'Orsay
(2.1 million), Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Centre Pompidou (1.2 million), Mont Saint-Michel (1 million),
Chteau de Chambord (711,000), Sainte-Chapelle (683,000), Chteau du Haut-Kn g

ourg (549,000), Puy

de Dme (500,000), Muse Picasso (441,000), Carcassonne (362,000).

Main articles: Transport in France and Rail transport in France

A TGV Duplex, which can reach a maximum speed of 320 km/h (198.84 mph).

The railway network of France, which as of 2008 stretches 29,473 kilometres (18,314 mi)[186] is the second
most extensive in Western Europe after the German one.[187] It is operated by the SNCF, and high-speed trains
include the Thalys, the Eurostar and TGV, which travels at 320 km/h (199 mph) in commercial use.[188][189] The
Eurostar, along with the Eurotunnel Shuttle, connects with the United Kingdom through the Channel Tunnel.
Rail connections exist to all other neighbouring countries in Europe, except Andorra. Intra-urban connections
are also well developed with both underground services and tramway services complementing bus services.
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.[190] The 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 neighboring Belgium, Spain, Andorra, Monaco,
Switzerland, Germany and Italy. There is no annual registration fee or road tax; however, motorway usage is
through tolls except in the vicinity of large communes. The new car market is dominated by domestic brands
such as Renault (27% of cars sold in France in 2003), Peugeot (20.1%) and Citron (13.5%).[191] Over 70% of
new cars sold in 2004 had diesel engines, far more than contained petrol or LPG engines.[192] France
possesses the Millau Viaduct, the world's tallest bridge,[193] and has built many important bridges such as
the Pont de Normandie.
There are 475 airports in France.[61] Paris-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 with virtually all major cities across the world. 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,[194] which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean
Sea.[195][196] 12,261 kilometres (7,619 mi) of waterways traverse France including the Canal du Midi which
connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean through the Garonne river.[61]

Main articles: Demographics of France and French people

Population density in the French Republic at the 1999 census.

With an estimated population of 65.8 million people (as of 1 January 2011),[2] France is the 21st most populous
country in the world.
In 2004, the Institut Montaigne estimated that there were 51 million (85%) White people, 6 million (10%) North
African people, 2 million (3.5%) Black people and 1 million (1.5%) people of Asian origin in Metropolitan
In 2003, France's natural population growth (excluding immigration) was responsible for almost all natural
population growth in the European Union. The natural growth (excess of births over deaths) rose to 302,432 in
2006,[199] its highest since the end of the baby boom in 1973. The total fertility rate rose to 2.01 in 2010,[2] from
a nadir of 1.68 in 1994.[200] In the five years between January 2006 and January 2011, population growth was

on average +0.58% per year.[199] In 2010, 27.3% of newborn in metropolitan France had at least one foreignborn parent and 23.9% had at least one parent born outside of Europe (parents born in overseas territories are
considered as born in France).[201]
In 2008, the French national institute of statistics INSEE estimated that 11.8 million foreign-born immigrants
and their direct descendants (born in France) lived in France representing 19% of the country's population.
More than 5 million are of European origin and about 4 million of Maghrebi origin. Immigrants aged 1850
count for 2.7 millions (10% of population aged 1850) and 5 millions for all ages (8% of population). 2nd
Generation aged 1850 make up 3.1 millions (12% of 1850) and 6.5 millions for all ages (11% of
In 2004, a total of 140,033 people immigrated to France. Of them, 90,250 were from Africa and 13,710 from
Europe.[205] In 2008, France granted citizenship to 137,000 persons, mostly to people from Morocco, Algeria
and Turkey.[206]
Although it is illegal for the French state to collect data on ethnicity and ancestry, a law with its origins in
the 1789 revolution and reaffirmed in theconstitution of 1958, some surveys, like the TeO ("Trajectories and
origins") survey conducted jointly by INED and INSEE in 2008, are allowed to do it.[207][208] Before this survey, it
was estimated that 5 million people are of Italian ancestry (the most numerous immigrant
community),[209] between three million[210] and six million[211] people are of North African ancestry, 2.5 million
people are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, 200,000 people are ofTurkish ancestry,[212] and many more are of
other European ethnic ancestry such as Spaniards, Portuguese, Poles, and Greeks.[209][213][214] 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.[215] Between 1921 and 1935 about 1.1 million net immigrants came to
France.[216] An estimated 1.6 million pieds noirs returned to France as the country's North African possessions
gained independence.[217][218]
France accepts about 200,000 legal immigrants each year.[219] France is the leading asylum destination in
Western Europe with an estimated 50,000 applications in 2005 (a 15% decrease from 2004). [220] The European
Union allows free movement between the member states. While UK and Ireland did not impose restrictions,
France put in place controls to curb Eastern Europeanmigration.
The largest cities in France, in terms of metropolitan area population, are Paris
(11,836,970), Lyon (1,757,180), Marseille (1,618,369), Lille (1,163,934), Toulouse (1,118,472), Bordeaux(1,009
,313), Nice (999,678), Nantes (768,305) and Strasbourg (641,853).
A perennial political issue concerns rural depopulation. Over the period 19601999 fifteen
rural dpartements experienced a decline in population. In the most extreme case, the population ofCreuse fell
by 24%.

Main articles: French language and Languages of France
See also: Language policy in France and Francophonie

France's legacy: a map of theFrancophone world

native language
administrative language
secondary or non-official language
francophone minorities

According to Article 2 of the Constitution, the official language of France is French, [221] a Romance
language derived from Latin. Since 1635, theAcadmie franaise is France's official authority on the usage,
vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power.
The 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
and globally through institutions such as La Francophonie. The perceived threat from anglicisation has
prompted efforts to safeguard the position of the French language in France. Besides French, there exist 77
vernacular minority languages of France, eight spoken in French metropolitan territory (in continental Europe)
and 69 in the French overseas territories.
From the 17th century 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.[222] The
dominant position of French language in international affairs has only been challenged recently by English,
since the emergence of the USA as a major power.[45][223][224] Paradoxically, for most of the time period in which
French served as an international lingua franca, it was not the native language of most Frenchmen: a 1794
report conducted by Henri Grgoire 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 orOccitan.[225] Through the expansion of public education (particularly from the late 19th
century onward), in which French was the sole language of instruction, as well as other factors such as
increased urbanization 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 America, Africa, Polynesia, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean. French is the second most
studied foreign language in the world after English,[226] and is a lingua franca in some regions, notably in Africa.
The legacy of French as a living language outside Europe is mixed: it is nearly extinct in some former French
colonies (Southeast Asia), while creoles, and pidgins based on French have emerged in the French
departments in the 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[227] and 500 million[228] people worldwide can speak French, either as
a mother tongue or a second language.

Main article: Religion in France

Notre-Dame de Reims is the Roman Catholic cathedral where the kings of France were crowned until 1825.[229]

France is a secular country, and freedom of religion is a constitutional right. French religious policy is based on
the concept of lacit, a strict separation of Church and State under which public life is kept completely secular.
France was historically regarded a the e de t daughter o the Roman Catho c Church. The French
Revolution saw a radical shift in the status of the Church with the launch of a brutal de-Christianization
campaign. After the back and forth of Catholic royal and secular republican governments over the 19th
century, lacit was established with the Jules Ferry laws of the 1880s and the 1905 law on the Separation of

the Churches and the State.[230] The French government does not keep statistics on religious adherence, nor
on ethnicity or on political affiliation. However, some unofficial survey estimates exist.
Roman Catholicism has been the predominant religion in France for more than a millennium, though it is not as
actively practiced today as it once was. A survey by the Catholic newspaper La Croix found that whilst in 1965,
81% of the French declared themselves to be Catholics, in 2009 this proportion was 64%. Moreover, whilst
27% of the French went to Mass once a week or more in 1952, only 4.5% did so in 2006; 15.2% attended Mass
at least once a month.[231] 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 that they
had no religion.[231] Evangelical Christianity may be the fastest growing religion in France.[232]
According to a January 2007 poll by the Catholic World News,[233] only 5% of the French population attended
church regularly (or 10% attend church services regularly among the respondents who did identify themselves
as Catholics). The poll showed[234] 51% identified as being Catholics, 31% identified as being agnostics
or atheists (another poll[235] 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, 1% identified as Jewish. Meanwhile, an independent estimate by the politologist Pierre Brchon in
2009 concluded that the proportion of Catholics had fallen to 42% while the number of atheists and agnostics
had risen to 50%.[236] According to the Pewforum "In France, proponents of a 2004 law banning the wearing of
religious symbols in schools say it protects Muslim girls from being forced to wear a headscarf, but the law also
restricts those who want to wear headscarves or any other con

cuou re g ou

Christian crosses and Sikh turbans as an expression of their faith"


m o , nc ud ng arge

Estimates of the number of Muslims in France vary widely. In 1999, French census officials stated that there
were 3.7 m on eo e o o

e Mu m a th n France (6.3% o the tota

o u at on). In 2003, the French

Ministry of the Interior estimated the total number of people of Muslim background to be between five and six
million (810%).[238][239] The current Jewish community in France numbers around 600,000 according to
the World Jewish Congress and is the largest in Europe. However, both the North American Jewish Data bank
and the Vitual Jew Library estimate that this population is closer to 480,000 as of 2010.
Since 1905 the French government has followed the principle of lacit, in which it is prohibited from
recognising any specific right to a religious community (except for legacy statutes like that of military chaplains
and the local law in Alsace-Moselle). Instead, it merely recognises religious organisations, according to formal
legal criteria that do not address religious doctrine. Conversely, religious organizations should refrain from
intervening in policy-making. Religions founded in France include Raelism.[240]
Certain bodies of beliefs such as Scientology, Children of God, the Unification Church, or the Order of the Solar
Temple are considered cults ("sectes" in French),[241] and therefore do not have the same status as religions in
France. Secte is considered a pejorative term in France.[242]

According to the 2005 Eurobarometer Poll,[243] 34% o French c t en re

god, wherea 27% an wered that the
not e eve there


ort o

e eve there

r t, god, or

ome ort o

e orce. One other tud

onded that the

r t or

e eve there

e orce and 33% that the do

how 32% o

eo e n France

declaring themselves to be atheists, and another 32% dec ar ng them e ve ce t ca a out the ex tence o
God ut not an athe t.[244]

Main article: Health in France

The Piti-Salptrire Hospital, a teaching hospital in Paris, one of Europe's largest hospitals. [245]

The French healthcare system was ranked first worldwide by the World Health Organization in 1997[246] and
then again in 2000.[247] Care is generally free for people affected by chronic diseases (affections de longues
dures) 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.[248] There are 3.22 physicians for every 1000
inhabitants in France,[249] and average health care spending per capita was US$4,719 in 2008.[250] As of 2007,
approximately 140,000 inhabitants (0.4%) of France are living with HIV/AIDS.[146]
Even if the French have the reputation of being one of the thinnest peoples in developed
countries, [251][252][253][254][255][256] Francelike other rich countriesfaces an increasing and recent epidemic
of obesity, due mostly to the replacement of traditional healthy French cuisine by junk food in French eating
habits.[251][252][257] Nevertheless, the French obesity rate is far below that of the USA (for instance, obesity rate in
France is the same that the American once was in the 1970s [252]), and is still the lowest of Europe,[254][257] but it
is now regarded by the authorities as one of the main public health issues [258] and is fiercely fought; rates of
childhood obesity are slowing in France, while continuing to grow in other countries. [259]


The National and University Library on the campus of the University of Strasbourg.

Main article: Education in France

See also: History of education in France and Baccalaurat
In 1802, Napoleon created the lyce.[260] 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 [261] (school
attendance in France is now compulsory until the age of 16[262]).
Nowadays, the schooling system in France is centralized, and is composed of three stages, primary education,
secondary education, and higher education. The Programme for International Student Assessment,
coordinated by the OECD, currently ranks France's education as the 25th best in the world, being neither
significantly higher nor lower than the OECD average.[263] Primary and secondary education are predominantly
public, run by theMinistry of National Education.
Higher education in France is divided between public universities and the prestigious and selective Grandes
coles, such as Science Po Paris for Political studies, HEC Paris for Economics, Polytechnique and the cole
nationale suprieure des mines de Paris that produces high-profile engineers, or the cole nationale
d'administration for careers in the great corps of the State. The Grandes coles have been criticised for
alleged elitism,[264]nevertheless they have produced many if not most of France's high-ranking civil servants,
CEOs, and politicians.

Main article: Culture of France
France has been a center of Western cultural development for centuries. Many French artists have been
among the most renowned of their time, and France is still recognized 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, protectinghistorical monuments. The French
government also succeeded in maintaining a cultural exception to defend audiovisual products made in the
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 museumswelcoming more than
50 million people annually.[265] The most important cultural sites are run by the government, for instance
through the public agency 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 chteaux in French) and religious buildings (cathedrals, basilicas, churches, etc.), but also statutes,
memorials and gardens. The UNESCO inscribed 38 sites in France on the World Heritage List.[266]

Main article: French art

Claude Monet founded the Impressionistmovement (Femme avec un parasol, 1886,Muse d'Orsay).

The origins of French art were very much influenced by Flemish art and by Italian art at the time of the
Renaissance. Jean Fouquet, the most famous medieval French painter, is said to have been the first to travel
to Italy and experience the Early Renaissance at first hand. The Renaissance paintingSchool 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, Nicolas

Poussin and Claude Lorrain, lived in Italy. The 17th century was the period when French painting became
prominent and individualized itself through classicism. Louis XIV's prime minister 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 to have direct relations with Italian artists.

Le Penseur by Auguste Rodin (1902),Muse Rodin, Paris.

French artists developed the rococo style in the 18th century, as a more intimate imitation of old baroque style,
the works of court-endorsed artists Antoine Watteau, Franois Boucher and Jean-Honor Fragonardbeing the
most representative in the country. The French Revolution brought great changes, as Napoleonfavoured artists
of neoclassic style as Jacques-Louis David and the highly influential Acadmie des Beaux-Arts defined the
style known as Academism. At this time France had become a center of artistic creation, the first half of the
19th century being dominated by two successive movements, at first Romanticism withThodore
Gricault and Eugne Delacroix, and Realism with Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Jean-Franois 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 like Impressionism and Symbolism. The most famous impressionist
painters of the period were Camille Pissarro, douard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste
Renoir.[267] Second generation of impressionist-style painters Paul Czanne, Paul Gauguin, ToulouseLautrec and Georges Seurat were also at the avant-garde of artistic evolutions,[268] as well as fauvist
artistsHenri Matisse, Andr Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck.[269][270] At the beginning of 20th century, Cubism
was developed by Georges Braque and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, living in Paris. Other foreign artists

also settled and worked in or near Paris, like Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani and Wassily
Many museums in 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 Muse du Louvre,
such as Mona Lisa, also known as La Joconde. While the Louvre Palace has been for a long time a museum,
the Muse d'Orsay was inaugurated in 1986 in the old railway station Gare d'Orsay, in a major reorganization
of national art collections, to gather French paintings from the second part of the 19th century (mainly
Impressionism and Fauvism movements).[271][272]
Modern works are presented in the Muse National d'Art Moderne, which moved in 1976 to the Centre
Georges Pompidou. These three state-owned museums welcome close to 17 million people a year.[273] Other
national museums hosting paintings include the Grand Palais (1,3 million visitors in 2008), but there are also
many museums owned by cities, the most visited being the Muse d'Art Moderne de la Ville de
Paris (0,8 million entries in 2008), which hosts contemporary works.[273]
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, Lille, Rouen, Dijon, Rennesand Grenoble.

Main article: French architecture

Saint Louis' Sainte Chapelle represents the French impact on religious architecture.

Technically speaking, there is no standard type of "French" architecture, although that has not always been
true. Gothic architecture's old name wasFrench architecture (or Opus Francigenum).[274] The term Goth c
appeared later as a stylistic insult and was widely adopted. The Gothic architecture was the first French style of
architecture to be copied in all Europe.[275] Northern 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.[276] Aside from churches, Gothic

Architecture had been used for many religious palaces, the most important one being the Palais des Papes in
During the Middle Ages, fortified castles were built by feudal nobles to mark their powers against their rivals.
When King Philip II took Rouen from King John, for example, he demolished the ducal castle to build a bigger
one. Fortified cities were also common; most French castles did not survive the passage of time. This is
why Richard the Lionheart's Chteau Gaillard was demolished, as well as the Chteau de Lusignan. Some
French castles that survived are Chinon, Chteau d'Angers, the massive Chteau de Vincennes and the socalled Cathar castles.

Opra Garnier, Paris, a symbol of the French Neo-Baroque style

Before the appearance of this architecture, France had been using Romanesque architecture like most of
Western Europe (with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula, which now consists of Spain and Portugal, which
used Mooresque architecture). Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque churches in France are
the Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse (largest romanesque church in Europe[277]) and the remains of the Cluniac
Abbey (largely destroyed during the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars).

The world's most visited paid monument,[278] the Eiffel Tower is an icon of both Paris and France.

The end of the 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 and Spain were invited to the French court;
many residential palaces, inspired by the Italians, were built, but mainly in the Loire Valley. Such residential
castles were the Chteau de Chambord, the Chteau de Chenonceau, or the Chteau 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
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.[280] Some of the most impressive provincial baroque architecture is found
in places that were not yet French such as the Place Stanislas inNancy. On the military architectural
side, Vauban designed some of the most efficient fortresses in Europe and became an influential military
architect; as a result, imitations of his works can be found all over Europe, the Americas, Russia
and Turkey.[281][282]
After the Revolution, the Republicans favoured Neoclassicism although neoclassicism was introduced in
France prior to the revolution with such building as the Parisian Pantheon or the Capitole de Toulouse. Built
during the French Empire the Arc de Triomphe and Sainte Marie-Madeleine represent this trend the best.[283]

Under 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. The architecture associated to this era is named Second Empire in
English, the term being taken from the Second French Empire. At this time there was a strong Gothic
resurgence across Europe and in France; the associated architect was Eugne Viollet-le-Duc. In the late 19th
century, Gustave Eiffel designed many bridges, such asGarabit viaduct, and remains one of the most influential
bridge designers of his time, although he is best remembered for the iconic Eiffel Tower.
In the 20th century, Swiss Architect Le Corbusier designed several buildings in France. More recently, French
architects have combined both modern and old architectural styles. The 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, or 121 feet.[284] France's largest financial district is La Defense, where a significant number of
skyscrapers are located.[285] 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 or Paul Andreu.

Main article: French literature

French literary figures. Clockwise from top left: Molire is the most played author in the Comdie-Franaise;[286] Victor
Hugo is one of the most important French novelists and poets, and is sometimes seen as the greatest French writer of all
time.[287] 19th century poet, writer, and translator Charles Baudelaire; 20th century philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul

The earliest French literature dates from the Middle Ages, when what is now known as modern 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 asTristan and
Iseult and Lancelot-Grail. Other authors are known, for example Chrtien de Troyes and Duke William IX of
Aquitaine, who wrote in Occitan.
Much mediaeval French poetry and literature were inspired by the legends of the Matter of France, such as The
Song of Roland and the variouschansons de geste. The Roman de Renart, written in 1175 by Perrout de Saint
Cloude, tells the story of the mediaeval character Reynard ('the Fox') and is another example of early French
An important 16th century writer was Franois Rabelais, whose novel Gargantua and Pantagruel has remained
famous and appreciated until now.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.[288] French
poetry during that century was embodied by Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. Both writers founded
the La Pliadeliterary movement.
During the 17th century, Madame de La Fayette published anonymously La Princesse de Clves, a novel that
is considered to be one of the very firstpsychological novels of all times.[289] 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.[290]
Jean Racine, whose incredible mastery of the alexandrine and of the French language has been praised for
centuries, created plays such as Phdre orBritannicus. He is, along with Pierre Corneille (Le Cid) and Molire,
considered as one of the three great dramatists of the France's golden age. Molire, who is deemed to be one
of the greatest masters of comedy of the Western literature,[291] wrote dozens of plays, including Le
Misanthrope, L'Avare, Le Malade imaginaire, and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. His plays have been so popular
around the world that French language is sometimes dubbed as "the language of Molire" (la langue de
Molire),[292] just like English is considered as "the language of Shakespeare".
French literature and poetry flourished even more in the 18th and 19th centuries. Denis Diderot's best-known
works are Jacques the Fatalist andRameau's Nephew. He is however best known for being the main redactor
of the Encyclopdie, 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, Sleeping Beauty and 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 and Stphane Mallarm.[293]
The 19th century saw the writings of many renowned French authors. Victor Hugo is sometimes seen as "the
greatest French writer of all times"[287] 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 Lgende des
sicles are considered as "poetic masterpieces",[294] Hugo's verse having been compared to that of
Shakespeare, Dante and Homer.[294] His novel Les Misrables is widely seen as one of the greatest novel ever
written[295] and The Hunchback of Notre Damehas remained immensely popular.
Other major authors of that century include Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers and The Count of MonteCristo), Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), mile Zola (Les Rougon-Macquart), Honor
de Balzac (La Comdie humaine), Guy de Maupassant, Thophile Gautier and Stendhal (The Red and the
Black, The Charterhouse of Parma), whose works are amongst the most well known in France and the world.
The Prix Goncourt is a French literary prize first awarded in 1903.[296] Important writers of the 20th century
include Marcel Proust, Louis-Ferdinand Cline, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre.Antoine de Saint
Exupry wrote Little Prince which has remained popular for decades with children and adults around the
world.[297] As of 2010, French authors had more Literature Nobel Prizesthan those of any other nation.[298]

Main article: French philosophy

Ren Descartes, founder of modern philosophy.

Medieval philosophy was dominated by Scholasticism until the emergence of Humanism in the
Renaissance. Modern philosophy began in France[citation needed]in the 17th century with the philosophy of Ren
Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Nicolas Malebranche. Descartes revitalised Western philosophy that had been
on the decline after the Greek and Roman eras.[299] His Meditations on First Philosophy changed the primary

object of philosophical thought and raised some of the most fundamental problems for foreigners such
as Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant.
During the 18th century, French philosophers produced one of the most important works of the Age of
Enlightenment. In The Spirit of the Laws, Baron de Montesquieu theorized the principle of separation of
powers, that has been implemented in all liberal democracies since it was first applied in the United States.
In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau openly criticized the European divine right monarchies and
strongly affirmed the principle of the sovereignty of the people. Voltaire came to embody the Enlightenment
with his defence of civil liberties such as the right to a free trial and freedom of religion.
In the early 20th century, French spiritualist thinkers such as Maine de Biran, Henri Bergson and Louis Lavelle,
influenced Anglo-Saxon thought, including the Americans Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, and the
Englishman Alfred North Whitehead. In the late 20th century, partly influenced by
Germanphenomenology and existentialism, postmodern philosophy began in France, with notable poststructuralist thinkers including Jean-Franois Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Jacques
Lacan, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.

Main article: List of French inventions and discoveries

Ariane 4 launched fromKourou, French Guiana (1988)

France has been since the Middle Ages a major focus of knowledge and discoveries. The University of Paris,
founded in the mid-12th century, is still one of the most important universities of the Western world.[300]
In the 17th century, Ren Descartes defined a method for the acquisition of scientific knowledge, while Blaise
Pascal became famous for his work on probabilityand fluid mechanics. They were both key figures of
the Scientific revolution which erupted in Europe during this period. The Academy of Sciences was founded

by Louis XIV to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research. It was at the forefront of scientific
developments in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is one of the earliest academies of sciences.
The Age of Enlightenment was marked by the work of biologist Buffon and chemist Lavoisier, who discovered
the role of oxygen in combustion, while Diderot andD'Alembert published the Encyclopdie which aimed to give
access to "useful knowledge" to the people, a knowledge that they can apply to their everyday life. [301]
With the Industrial Revolution, the 19th century saw spectacular scientifical developments in France with
scientists such as Augustin Fresnel, founder of modernoptics, Sadi Carnot who laid the foundations
of thermodynamics, or Louis Pasteur, a pioneer of microbiology. Other eminent French scientists of the 19th
century have their names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Famous French scientists of the 20th century include the mathematician and physicist Henri Poincar,
physicists Henri Becquerel, Pierre and Marie Curie, remained famous for their work on radioactivity, the
physicist Paul Langevin or virologist Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of HIV AIDS.
As of 2012, 65 French people have been awarded a Nobel Prize[302] and 11 have received the Fields Medal.[303]

Main article: Music of France

Serge Gainsbourg, one of the world's most influential popular musicians.[304]

France has a long and varied musical history. It experienced a golden age in the 17th century thanks to Louis
XIV, who employed several musicians and composers in the royal court. The most renowned composers of this
period include Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Franois Couperin, Michel-Richard Delalande,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 reached some prestige,
and today he is still one of the most renowned French composers.
French classical music knew a revival in the 19th and 20th century, at the end of the romantic movement, at
first with opera composers Hector Berlioz,Georges Bizet, Gabriel Faur, Charles Gounod, Jacques

Offenbach, douard Lalo, Jules Massenet and Camille Saint-Sans. This period was a golden age for operas,
being popular in the country the opra bouffon, the opera-ballet and the opra comique genres. Later came
precursors of modern classical musicrik Satie, Francis Poulenc, and above all Maurice Ravel and Claude
Debussy, who invented new musical forms.[305][306][307][308] More recently, at the middle of the 20th
century, Maurice Ohana, Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Boulez contributed to the evolutions of contemporary
classical music.[309]

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
franaise, has also remained very popular. Among the most important French artists of the century are dith
Piaf, Georges Brassens, Lo Ferr, Charles Aznavour and Serge Gainsbourg. Although there are very few rock
bands in France compared to English-speaking countries,[310] bands such as Noir Dsir, Mano
Negra, Niagara, Rita Mitsouko and more recently Superbus, Phoenix and Gojira[311] have reached worldwide
Other French artists with international careers have been popular in several countries, for example female
singers Dalida, Mireille Mathieu and Mylne Farmer,[311] electronic music pioneers Jean-Michel Jarre, Laurent
Garnier and Bob Sinclar, and later Martin Solveig and David Guetta. In the 1990s and 2000s (decade),
electronic duos Daft Punk, Justice and Air also reached worldwide popularity and contributed to the reputation
of modern electronic music in the world.[311][312][313]
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 National Opera (with its two sites Palais
Garnier and Opra Bastille), the Opra National de Lyon, the Thtre du Chtelet in Paris, the Thtre du
Capitole in Toulouse and the Grand Thtre de Bordeaux. As for music festivals, there are several events
organized, the most popular being the Eurockennes and Rock en Seine. The Fte de la Musique, imitated by
many foreign cities, was first launched by the French government in 1982.[314][315] Major music halls and venues
in France include Le Znith sites present in many cities and other places in Paris (Paris Olympia, Thtre
Mogador, lyse Montmartre, etc.).

Main article: Cinema of France

A Palme d'Or from the Cannes Film Festival, the world's most prestigious and publicized film festival.[316][317][318]

France has historical and strong links with cinema. It is two Frenchmen, Auguste and Louis Lumire (known as
the Lumire Brothers) who created the cinema in 1895.[319] More recently, in 2006, France produced more films
than any other European country.[320] Cannes Festival is one of the most important and famous film festivals in
the world.[321][322]
Although the French film market is dominated by Hollywood, it is however the Western country (out of the
United States) where the share of the American films in the total film revenues is the smallest, at 50.1%, to
compare with 77.3% of Germany and 69.4% of Japan.[323] Thus, French films account for 34.8% of the total film
revenues of France, which is the highest percentage of national films revenues in developed countries (the
U.S. not included), to compare with 13.7% in Spain and 8.3% in the UK.[323]
France was for centuries, and not so long ago, the cultural center of the world. [222] But France's dominant
position has been overthrown by American culture, and thus France tries to protect its culture. France has been
a strong advocate of the cultural exception.[324] France therefore succeeded in convincing all the EU members
to refuse to include culture and audiovisuals in the list of liberalized sectors of the WTO in 1993.[325]
Moreover, this decision was confirmed in a voting in the 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.[326]

Main article: French fashion

Chanel's headquarters on the Place Vendme, 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 with fashion and style (French: la mode) dates largely to the reign of Louis
XIV[327] when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal
court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe. But France renewed its dominance of the high
fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 18601960 through the establishing of the
great couturierhouses such as Chanel, Dior, and Givenchy.
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 prt--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, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean-Paul
Gaultier andChristian Lacroix in the 1970s and 1980s. The 1990s saw a conglomeration of many French
couture houses under luxury giants and multinationals such as LVMH.

Main article: Telecommunications in France

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 are Le Monde and Le Figaro,
with around 300,000 copies sold daily, but also L'quipe, dedicated to sports coverage.[328] In the past years,
free dailies made a breakthrough, with Metro, 20 Minutes and Direct Plus distributed at more than 650,000
copies respectively.[329] 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.[330][331] The sector of weekly
magazines is stronger and diversified with more than 400 specialized weekly magazines published in the
The most influential news magazine are left-wing Le Nouvel Observateur, centrist L'Express and right-wing Le
Point (more than 400.000 copies),[333] but the highest circulation for weeklies is reached by TV magazines and
women maga ne , among them Marie Claire and ELLE, which have foreign versions. Influential weeklies
also include investigative and satirical papers Le Canard Enchan and Charlie Hebdo, as well as Paris Match.
Like in most industrialized nations, the print media have been affected by a severe crisis in the past decade. In
2008, the government have launched a major initiative to help the sector reform to be financially
independent,[334][335] 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.[336]
In 1974, after years of centralized monopoly on radio and television, the governmental agency ORTF was split
into several national institutions, but the three already-existing TV channels and four national radio
stations[337][338] remained under state-control. It was only in 1981 that the government allowed free broadcasting
in the territory, ending state monopoly on radio.[338] French television was partly liberalized in the next two
decade with the creation of several commercial channels, mainly thanks to cable and satellite television. In
2005 the national service Tlvision Numrique 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 Tlvisions, while public
broadcasting group Radio France run five national radio stations. Among these public media are Radio France
Internationale, which broadcasts programs in French all over the world, and Franco-German TV channel TV5
Monde. In 2006, the government created global news channel France 24. Long-established TV
channels TF1 (privatized in 1987), France 2 and France 3 have the highest shares, while radio
stations RTL, Europe 1 and state-owned France Inter are the least listened to.


Marianne, in painting by Eugne Delacroix, La Libert guidant le peuple(1830).

According to a 2010 BBC poll based on 29,977 responses in 28 countries, 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.[339][340] The Nation Brand Index of 2008 suggested that France has the second best international
reputation, only behind Germany.[341]
According to two Pew Research Center polls in 2006 and 2011 based on around 14 000 responses in 15
countries, French were found to have the highest level of religious tolerance (when asked about their opinion
about Muslims, Christians and Jews) and to be the country where the highest proportion of the population
defines its identity primarily in term of nationality and not of religion.[342]
In January 2010, the International Living ranked France as "best country to live in", ahead of 193 other
countries surveyed, for the fifth year running, according to a survey taking in account 9 criteria of quality of life:
Cost of Living, Culture and Leisure, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Health, Infrastructure, Safety and Risk
and Climate.[343][344]
France has historical strong ties with Human Rights.[345] Since the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the
Citizen of 1789, France is often nicknamed as "the country of Human Rights".[346] Furthermore, in 1948, a
Frenchman, Ren Cassin, was one of the main redactors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which
was adopted by the UN members in Paris.[345]
National symbols strongly reflect the heritage of the Revolution. The four official symbols of the Republic, as
stated by the Constitution,[347] all commemorate events from the period. Bastille Day, the national holiday,
commemorate the Fte de la Fdration, held on 14 July 1790 to celebrate the storming of the Bastille.[348] The
origins ofTricolored flag also date back to the Revolution, as the cockade was the symbols adopted by the
revolutionaries in 1789.[349]
As for the national anthem La Marseillaise, it was written in 1792 as a war song for the French Army.[350][351] The
official motto of the French Republic, "Libert, galit, fraternit" (Liberty, equality, brotherhood) also appeared

during the French Revolution.[352] Marianne, unofficial symbol, is an allegorical figure of liberty and of the
Republic and also appeared at the time of the Revolution.[353]
A common and traditional symbol of the French people is the Gallic rooster. Its origins date back to Antiquity,
since the 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.[354] Although it is not an official symbol of the Republic, it is the most common image to symbolize France
in the collective imagination and abroad.

Main article: French cuisine

Foie gras with mustard seeds and green onions in duck jus. Foie gras belongs to the protected gastronomical heritage of

French cuisine is renowned for being one of the finest in the world.[356][357][358][359][360][361] French cuisine is
extremely diverse and has exerted a major influence on other western cuisines.[362] 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.[363]
Moreover, each region of France has iconic traditional specialities : Cassoulet in the Southwest, Choucroute in
Alsace, Quiche in the Lorraine region,Beef bourguignon in the Bourgogne, provenal Tapenade, etc. France's
most renowned products are wines,[364] including Champagne, Bordeaux,Bourgogne, and Beaujolais as well as
a large variety of different cheeses, such as Camembert, Roquefort and Brie. There are more than 400 different
French cuisine is also regarded as a key element of the quality of life and the attractiveness of France.[344] A
French publication, the Michelin guide, had by 2006 awarded 620 stars to French restaurants, at that time more
than any other country, although the guide also inspects more restaurants in France than in any other country

(by 2010, Japan was awarded as many Michelin stars as France, despite having half the number of Michelin
inspectors working there).[367][368]

Main article: Sport in France

The Tour de France is the oldest and most prestigious of Grands Tours, and also the world's most famous cycling race. [369]

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest active sports car race in endurance racing,[370]

Popular sports played in France include football, judo, tennis[371] and basketball.[372] France has hosted events
such as the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups,[373] and hosted the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup.[374] Stade de
France in Saint-Denis is the largest stadium in France and was the venue for the 1998 FIFA World Cup final; it
also hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup final in October 2007. France also hosts the annual Tour de France,
the most famous road bicycle race in the world.[375][376] France is also famous for its 24 Hours of Le Mans sports
car endurance race held in the Sarthedepartment.[377] Several major tennis tournaments take place in France,
including the Paris Masters and the French Open, one of the four Grand Slamtournaments.
France has a close association with the Modern Olympic Games; it was a French aristocrat, Baron Pierre de
Coubertin, who suggested the Games' revival, at the end of the 19th century.[378][379] After Athens was awarded
the first Games, in reference to the Greek origins of the ancient Olympics, Paris hosted the second Games in
1900.[380] Paris was also the first home of the International Olympic Committee, before it moved

to Lausanne.[381]Since that 1900 Games, France has hosted the Olympics on four further occasions: the 1924
Summer Olympics, again in Paris[379] and three Winter
Games (1924 in Chamonix, 1968 in Grenoble and 1992 in Albertville).[379]
Both the national football team and the national rugby union team are n c named Les Bleus n re erence to
the team

h rt co or a we a the nat ona French tr co or ag. The oot a team

among the mo t

successful in the world, particularly at the start of the 21st century, with one FIFA World Cup victory in
1998,[382] one FIFA World Cup second place in 2006,[383] and two European
Championships in 1984[384] and 2000.[385] The top national football club competition is the Ligue 1. Rugby
union is also very popular, particularly in Paris and the southwest of France.[386] The national rugby union team
has competed at every Rugby World Cup, and takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship. Following
on from a strong domestic tournament, the French rugby team has won sixteen Six Nations Championships,
including eight grand slams; and has reached the semi-finals (6 times) and the final (3 times) of the Rugby
World Cup.
Rugby league in France is a sport that is most popular in the south, with cities such
as Perpignan and Toulouse having a strong presence in the game. The Catalans Dragons currently play
in Super League, which is the top tier rugby league competition in Europe. The Elite One Championship is the
professional competition for rugby league clubs in France.
In the last decades, France has produced a high number of world-elite basketball players, most notably Tony
Parker. The French National Basketball Team has won silver at the FIBA EuroBasket 2011, its best
performance in over 60 years. Inaddition, the national team won two Olympic Silver Medals, one in 2000 and
one in 1948.


^ French is an official language throughout the French Republic. For

information about the official and unofficial regional languages also spoken
see Languages of France.


a b

Including all the overseas departments but excludingoverseas

territories and the French territory of Terre Adlie inAntarctica where

sovereignty is suspended since the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959.

^ French National Geographic Institute data, which includes bodies of



^ French Land Register data, which exclude lakes, ponds

and glaciers larger than 1 km (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) as well as the
estuaries of rivers.


^ Metropolitan France only. The population density for the whole territory
of the French Republic (including overseas departments and territories) is

96.837/km (250.808/sq mi).


^ Whole of the French Republic except the overseas territories in the

Pacific Ocean.


^ French overseas territories in the Pacific Ocean only.


^ CET applies to Metropolitan France only. Time Zonesacross the French

Republic span from UTC-10 (PF) to UTC+12 (WF).


^ CEST applies to Metropolitan France only. Not all overseas territories

observe Daylight Saving Time.

10. ^ The overseas regions and collectivities form part of theFrench telephone
numbering plan, but have their own country calling
codes: Guadeloupe +590; Martinique +596;French
Guiana +594, Runion and Mayotte +262; Saint Pierre and
Miquelon +508. The overseas territories are not part of the French
telephone numbering plan; their country calling codes are: New
Caledonia +687, French Polynesia+689; Wallis and Futuna +681.
11. ^ In addition to .fr, several other Internet TLDs are used in French
overseas dpartements and
territories: .re, .mq, .gp,.tf, .nc, .pf, .wf, .pm, .gf and .yt. France also
uses .eu, shared with other members of the European Union.
The .catdomain is used in Catalan-speaking territories.
12. ^ French Guiana is located in South
America; Guadeloupeand Martinique are in the Caribbean;
and Runion andMayotte are in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa.
All fiveare considered integral parts of the republic.


^ (French) INSEE, Government of France. "Population totale par sexe et

ge au 1er janvier 2011, France mtropolitaine". Retrieved January 2012.


a b c

(French) INSEE, Government of France. "Bilan dmographique

2010". Retrieved 20 January 2011.

a b c d


"France". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 10 October2012.


^ "Insee Revenus-Salaires Les niveaux de vie en 2008". insee.fr.

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^ "Great Powers Encarta. MSN. 2008". Webcitation.org. Retrieved 22

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^ Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development. Human

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^ Field listing GDP (official exchange rate), CIA World Factbook


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total wealth of French households is very sizeable. Although it has just
1.1% of the world's adults, France ranks fourth among nations in
aggregate household wealth behind China and just ahead of Germany.
Europe as a whole accounts for 35% of the individuals in the global top
1%, but France itself contributes a quarter of the European contingent."

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27 April 2010.
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"UNWTO Highlights" (PDF). United Nations World Tourism

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SIPRI Yearbook 2012 - 15 countries with the highest military

expenditure in 2011
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France on Europa Official Site

17. ^ "History of France". Discoverfrance.net. Retrieved 17 July 2011.

18. ^ Tarassuk, Leonid; Blair, Claude (1982). The Complete Encyclopedia of
Arms and Weapons: the most comprehensive reference work ever
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over 1,250 illustrations. Simon & Schuster. p. 186. ISBN 0-671-42257-X.
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a b c d

Jean Carpentier (dir.), Franois Lebrun (dir.), Alain Tranoy,

lisabeth Carpentier et Jean-Marie Mayeur (prface de Jacques Le Goff),

Histoire de France, Points Seuil, coll. Histoire , Paris, 2000 (1re d.

1987), p. 17 ISBN 2-02-010879-8
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28. ^ Carpentier et al 2000, pp. 7982

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heritage?". Wf-f.org. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
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Retrieved 14 December 2011. See drop-down essay on "Religion and
Politics until the French Revolution"
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