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History, geography, population, and cultural information concerning France, and Europe. French for businesses, travelers, students, bilingual users, and translators. International links from Gurley, Alabama - USA.

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France - V République Française

From Gurley, Alabama - USA


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Index

History Outline
Defeat of Vercingétorix 52 BC. Celtic Gaul was conquered by Julius Caesar 58-51 BC.
Gallo-Roman Empire, the Romans ruled for 500 years. Latin replaces the Gaulois language.
Germanic Invasions.
Clovis 481-511. Mérovingienne Dynasty.
Pépin le Bref: King in 751
Treaty of Verdun: 843. Charlemagne's kingdom (son of Pépin le Bref) extended over much of Europe.
Birth of the Roman root in French Language. Carolingien Empire.
Capétienne Dynasty. First crusade, conquest of Jerusalem: 1099.
Crusade against the Albigeois: 1208
Conquest of Languedoc: 1229, 1271.
Louis IX: 1226-1270
Philippe le Bel: 1285-1315
Charles VII: 1422-1461 - Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) 1429
La Régence - Philippe d'Orléans: 1715-1720
French Revolution: 1789-1793
First Empire under Napoleon: 1804-1915
Second Republic: 1848-1852
Second Empire: 1852-1870
Third Republic: 1871-1946
Fourth Republic: 1946-1958
Fifth Republic: 1958 to present
France suffered severe losses in manpower and wealth in the first World War (1914-18), when it was invaded by Germany. By the Treaty of Versailles, France exacted the return of Alsace and Lorraine, which were French provinces seized by Germany in 1871. In May 1940 Germany invaded France again, and signed an armistice with a government based in Vichy. After France was liberated by the Allies in September 1944. General Charles de Gaulle became head of the provisional government (until 1946).
France withdrew from Indochina in 1954.
France withdrew from Morocco and Tunisia in 1956.
France withdrew from Algeria in 1959.
Most of its remaining African territories were freed between 1958 and 1962. In 1966, France withdrew from the integrated military command of NATO. De Gaulle resigned from office in 1969, after losing a nationwide referendum.

Population

Population: 58,35,000. Urban: 74%. (Ranks third in Europe, and twentieth of the world). 1.8 children average per family. (See Health)
  • Paris: 2,152,423 inhabitants. Suburb: 10 Millions inhabitants.
  • Lyon: 415,487 inhabitants. Suburb: 1,262,223 inhabitants.
  • Marseille: 800,550 inhabitants. Suburb: 1,087,376 inhabitants.
  • Bordeaux: 213,336 inhabitants. Suburb: 685,456 inhabitants.
  • Toulouse: 358,688 inhabitants. Suburb: 608,430 inhabitants.
  • Lille: 172,142 inhabitants. Suburb: 950,265 inhabitants.
  • Nantes: 244,995 inhabitants. Suburb: 492,255 inhabitants.
  • Nice: 342,439 inhabitants. Suburb: 475,507 inhabitants.
  • Strasbourg: 252,338 inhabitants. Suburb: 388,483 inhabitants.

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The French population is about a fifth of Europe's total population. With a density of 106 inhabitants per square kilometer (about 275 inhabitants per square mile). 26 % of the population is under 20 years old, and 15 % is at least 65 years old.
Foreigners: 6.3%
Ethnic group: European and Mediterranean.
Official language: French
Other spoken languages are Breton, Alsatian German, Flemish, Italian, Basque, and Catalan.
Religion: Roman Catholic 76%, Islamic 14%, Protestant 1%, Jewish 1%, Others 5%, None 3%.
Death Rate: 9.6 % (one of the lowest of the developed countries)
Living habits in France are different from the USA. For example, food and wines are very important, and doing business (faire des affaires) is common during lunch time (and may last several hours).

French Language
French is the native language of over 8 million Canadians and the official language of Quebec. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Many differences have developed between the French spoken in Quebec and the French spoken in France (just as differences have developed between American and British English).
A l'origine, le français dérive du Latin. Les Romains ont occupé la Gaule mais leur langue, le latin, a changé progressivement et a cédé sa place au français.

Vocabulary items and several features of pronunciation are different.
For example:
dispendieux (expensive) but a native of France would say cher.
du fun but a native of France would say prendre son pied.
une tablette but a native of France would say une étagère.
magasiner but a native of France would say faire des courses (to go shopping).
A native of France might also use faire du shopping. While the Québécois have been accused of letting the English language influence their French, it is not always true. In France the word week-end is very often used, but in Quebec people use fin de semaine.

A language of communication in many countries - La francophonie
More than 122 million people speak French in the world. French remains the native language in the province of Quebec and, despite political turmoil, in several countries. The word francophonie refers to the use of the French language. Only about half of the people who use French daily live in France. The others live in locations all over the world: North and South America, Africa, and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The introduction of French to these areas took place in various points in history. The Age of Discovery brought Jaques Cartier to Canada, and La Salle to Louisiana. Later, when slave trading became a profitable enterprise, the French influence began to develop in West Africa and the Antilles. In the nineteenth century, France evolved as a colonial power in Africa, the Near East, and Southeast Asia. The French empire rapidly dissolved with the loss of Vietnam in the early 1950s, a disastrous war with Algeria in 1962, and a more friendly separation from other African countries throughout the 1960's. French is still currently used in these countries.

Geography

The area of France is about one third of Europe's, occupying 210,026 square miles (544,000 sq km), about four-fifths the size of Texas. Located in Western Europe, between the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea. The neighboring countries are Spain and Italy on the south, Switzerland and Germany on the east, and Luxembourg and Belgium on the north. The highest point is Mont Blanc in the French Alps (also the tallest point in Western Europe, 15,771 ft.)
France is composed of 22 regions, 96 administrative departments (départements), 3808 cantons, 3600 municipalities.
The 22 regions are:
Alsace, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Basse-Normandie, Bourgogne, Bretagne, Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Corse, Franche-Comté, Haute-Normandie, Île-de-France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Limousin, Lorraine, Midi-Pyrénées, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays-de-la-Loire, Picardie, Poitou-Charentes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) and Rhône-Alpes.

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Les départements:

01 Ain
02 Aisne
03 Allier
04 Alpes de Hautes Provence
05 Hautes-Alpes
06 Alpes-Maritimes
07 Ardèche
08 Ardennes
09 Ariège
10 Aube
11 Aude
12 Aveyron
13 Bouches-du-Rhône
14 Calvados
15 Cantal
16 Charente
17 Charente-Maritime
18 Cher
19 Corrèze
2A Corse du Sud
2B Haute-Corse
21 Côte-d'Or
22 Côtes-d-Amor
23 Creuse
24 Dordogne
25 Doubs
26 Drôme
27 Eure
28 Eure-et-Loir
29 Finistère
30 Gard
31 Haute-Garonne
32 Gers
33 Gironde
34 Hérault
35 Ille-et-Vilaine
36 Indre
37 Indre-et-Loire
38 Isère
39 Jura
40 Landes
41 Loir-et-Cher
42 Loire
43 Haute-Loire
44 Loire-Atlantique
45 Loiret
46 Lot
47 Lot-et-Garonne
48 Lozère
49 Maine-et-Loire
50 Manche
51 Marne
52 Haute-Marne
53 Mayenne
54 Meurthe-et-Moselle
55 Meuse
56 Morbihan
57 Moselle
58 Nièvre
59 Nord
60 Oise
61 Orne
62 Pas-de-Calais
63 Puy-de-Dôme
64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques
65 Hautes-Pyrénées
66 Pyrénées Orientales
67 Bas-Rhin
68 Haut-Rhin
69 Rhône
70 Haute-Saône
71 Saône-et-Loire
72 Sarthe 73 Savoie
74 Haute-Savoie
75 Ville de Paris
76 Seine-Maritime
77 Sein-et-Marne
78 Deux-Yvelines
79 Sèvres
80 Somme
81 Tarn
82 Tarn-et-Garonne
83 Var
84 Vaucluse
85 Vendée
86 Vienne
87 Haute-Vienne
88 Vosges
89 Yonne
90 Territoire de Belfort
91 Essonne
92 Hauts-de-Seine
93 Seine-St-Denis
94 Val de Marne
95 Val d'Oise
971 Guadeloupe
972 Martinique
973 Guyane
974 Réunion

Average temperature and rain

Some other cities: Temperatures in Fahrenheit

City High Low
Amsterdam 56 47
Atlanta 75 55
Brussels 61 43
Cincinnati 71 50
London 60 43
Los Angeles 73 54
Milan 70 53
Moscow 56 38
Munich 59 41
New York 66 49
Nice 67 53
Paris 64 44
Rio de Janeiro 79 68
Vienna 62 46


Forestry
About 15 million hect. (6,070,305 acres) about 27 % of the French territory, and 28 % of the European Forest Surface. The forêt landaise having a surface of 1 million hect. (404,000 acres) is the biggest forest in Western Europe.

Overseas Departments & Territorial Departments
French Guinea (NE Coast of South America)
Guadeloupe (since 1635, and located in the West Indies)
Martinique (since 1635, and located in the West Indies)
Réunion (since 1665, and located East of Madagascar)
Overseas Territories
Mayotte (North West of Madagascar, claimed by Comoros and administered by France)
St. Pierre et Miquelon (SW coast of Newfoundland)
Territorial Departments
French Polynesia (Tahiti & Papeete, - Located in the South Pacific)
Kergulen Archipelago (Port-aux-Français)
New Caledonia (Since 1853, and located in the Pacific ocean)
Wallis and Futuna Islands (Located in the South West Pacific and South of the Equator)

Politics
V Republic. Constituion of 1958.
Assemblé nationale: 577 Congressmen (elected for 5 years), 321 Members of the Senate (elected for 9 years). The president is directly elected for 7 years.
Main Political Groups:

For over 20 years, France has switched several times between conservatism and socialism (but still far away from communism...). This means that the everyday life of France is highly conditioned by the State. Individuals with health problems, unemployed or retired are protected from bankruptcy by the French social security system; this helps French families to expand. French people are avid readers of public opinion polls. These appear regularly in French newspapers and magazines, and vary in content from the serious to the frivolous. French people are so easily affected by these that it is now forbidden to publish political polls immediately before an election.
FO, CGT, CFDT and CGC are the four main Trade unions.
The working hours are limited to 39 hours per week. Trying to pass the 35 hours per week instead of 39, but paid on the 39 hours basis
Working on Sunday is prohibited.
French employees are allowed a minimum of five weeks of paid holidays per year.

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National Defense
Military service: 6 months (soon a voluntary service called "rendez-vous citoyen")
2.6 % of the Gross Domestic Product
Army: 241,400 men
Navy: 64,200 men
Air Force: 89,200 men
Others: 98,000 men

Travels and vacations
67 million tourists per year.
Many people in France love to travel in their free time. Every person who has been employed for at least a year is entitled to five weeks paid vacation. July and August are the months in which the vast majority takes its annual leave. In August, the country almost comes to a complete standstill. Most plants, companies, and big corporations shut down completely. Life virtually comes to a halt and the population migrates to summer resorts. (More and more people with school-age children take their vacations in two parts: 3 weeks in the summer and another week in the winter.) Upon arrival in a French city or town, it is advised to go to the Syndicat d'lnitiative ou Office du Tourisme, where you can get information about points of interest and lists of hotels. If you wish, someone at the Syndicat will call hotels for you, to check for vacancies. You can also find out about other areas to visit.
Note: This service is run by the French government, it does not include information about other countries. You can also read an article about a Trip to Paris by Dave Barry a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.
Holidays:

There are many legal holidays throughout the year. On these jours fériés, most people do not work. There are so many jours fériés because some holidays are of religious origins and are holy days celebrated by the Catholic church, while others are commemorations of historic or national events. No matter what the occasion is, a fete always calls for a special meal. Usually a fete always ends in the uncorking of a bottle of champagne . As in the US, French people celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries. In most families, they also wish a bonne fête on their saint's day. The majority of the French are Catholic and have saint's names as first names.

The main official holidays are:
January 1 - New Year's Day
April 13 - Easter Monday
May 1 - Labour Day
    8 - VE Day 1945
    21 - Ascension
June 1 - Pentecote
July 14 - Fête Nationale
August 15 - Feast of the Assumption
November 1 - All Saints' Day
11 - Armistice 1918
December 25 - Christmas Day
26 St Stephen's Day

Economy & Industries
France ranks as the forth economic power (behind USA, Japan, and Germany), and is the fifth industrial power of the world. For more business information regarding buying and/or selling properties in France visit The World's No.1 Internet Site For French Property .

Some French World-Wide Enterprises:
Elf-Aquitaine, Danone, Bouygues one of the world's leaders in building and public work , Péchiney, Michelin, Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux (United Water Services). TOTAL & FINA, an oil company that will rank as the 6th largest in the world and the 3rd largest in Europe. Rhône-Poulenc is one of the world's leading life sciences and specialty chemicals companies.

France's major industries:
Steel, chemicals, textiles, wine, perfume, aircraft, electronic equipment.
Nuclear Power Producer
Since 1973, France is the world leader and first Nuclear Power Producer generating at the time a minimum of 5000 megawatts (even though close to 43% of the population was against the idea...).
In 1993, France exported 73 TWh in the world (Switzerland, Italy, Germany, England, Belgium Spain, Andorra...)
In 1994, France was generating a minimum of 400 TWh (350 generated by Nuclear Power)
80 % of the electricity produced in France was generated by nuclear power station.
17 % of the electricity produced in France was generated by hydraulic power station.
3 % of the electricity produced in France was generated by classic/thermal conventional power station.
Currently with an utility (electric) line network of over 1 million kilometers

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Communication
Over 2000 radio stations, 4 public TV channels, 79 daily newspapers. See the section: Internet and Telephone
Food Producer
France is also the largest food producer and exporter in Western Europe.
Gross Domestic Product
The Gross Domestic Product (1992/97): $97 milliards / $1.08 tril.
Per capita GDP: $18,900 (sixteenth position). Currently the Gross Domestic Product is 1,432 billion dollars (1.4 Tril.).
The normal French Value-Added Tax rate is about 20.6% (30% for luxury items)
Because of the high level of taxes, social pressures, and regulations imposed on the French entrepreneurs, France is a great opportunity for foreign importers with lower costs.
Unemployment 12% (mid 1998).
The monetary system is based on the franc. Francs are available as bills in ten, fifty, one hundred, two hundred, end five hundred denominations. Coins in one, two, five, and ten denominations. There are one hundred centimes in one franc. The exchange rate has fluctuated wildly, in recent years, between four and nine francs to the dollar.

Note:
Now the Euro (Écu) is being used at the place of the franc. The Euro is a common European money, that is used all over Europe: European Central Bank & Union Monétaire Européenne .
The following countries are now part of the Euro:
Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal.
Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Espagne, Finlande, France (Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyane, St Pierre et Miquelon, Mayotte), Irlande, Italie, Luxembourg, Pays-Bas, Portugal.

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Pour entrer dans l'euro les conditions suivantes doivent être respectées:
Une hausse limitée du coût de la vie,
Une monnaie stable,
Des taux d'intérêt modérés
Des finances publiques saines.
Le plus souvent, ces critères sont appelés: Les critères de convergence.

For more information on the Euro, check My Virtual Bookstore or visit the Ministère de L'économie, des finances et de l'industrie. For more judicial information visit: Juritel , Le Web juridique.

Internet and Telephone
33,3 millions installed and active phone units.
Minitel, is an almost free videotext terminal from France Telecom, and has been used by 20 million users in the country since 1980. France Telecom, getting millions of French Francs from the Minitel, was not very interested to push a « free » product such as the WWW. Now, France Telecom is obliged to accept and work with the Internet. Internet is fully accessible in most places. CompuServe is a leader of the Internet access providers.
Note:
Phone rates are relatively expensive and France is divided in 5 areas (Paris 01, North West 02, North East 03, South East 04, South West 05). Street pay phones do not accept coins. To use them you need to buy a phone card (Télécarte) at a Tobacco/bar store (called Tabac) or at an automatic teller.


Education
Education literacy: 99 % of the total population
Spending: 538 billion Francs; 6.2 % of the Gross Domestic Product
892,000 teachers, 6.6 million children in 47,000 elementary schools, 5.6 million students in 11,200 high schools, 1.7 million students in 80 universities and other institutions.
The French education system is considered very good until the end of high school. The final exam is called "Bac" (baccalaureat)
French universities are very cheap compared to their US counterparts.
Diplomas play a great role in the French society; all diploma should be acknowledged by the Ministry of Education.
Each year thousands of foreign students go to France. The main centers for study are Paris, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence. All universities offer special courses for foreigners to learn French. These programs last one academic year or a summer. You usually have to take a placement test because courses are offered at all levels.
For financial reasons, many French families rent rooms to students in their own homes or apartments. This is particularly true of widows and older couples whose children have left home. They use the rent money to pay their taxes and to supplement their incomes. Students use this type of housing often because few universities have enough student housing.
Note: The floors are counted differently: The first floor is le rez-de chaussée, the second floor, le premier étage, and so on... To an American, the sixième étage would be the seventh floor.
List of some English - French Schools in the USA:
Ecole International Des Nations Unies in New York   Email: bdaelman@unis.org
Ecole Français Internationale in Philidelphia   Email:efip150@aol.com
Lycée Français de Chicago in Chicago Email:ECOLEFRANCE@aol.com
Ecole Franco-Américaine de la Silicon Valley in San Francisco  Email:fassv.org
Ecole Internationale de la Péninsule in Palo Alto   Email:admission@isp@istp.org
Lycée International Franco-Américain in San Francisco   Email:lifa@fais.ihs.org
Lycée Français la Pérouse in San Francisco
Ecole Franco-Américaine de Portland in Portland
Lycée Rochambeau in Washington
Dallas International School in Dallas

Health
Life Expectancy: 77 year old. (Female: 82 year old / Male: 74 year old)
Second in the world, behind USA
Most family doctors still follow the tradition of making house calls. A family would never go to the hospital - It would first call the doctor, then the doctor calls for an emergency if necessary. Most doctors work in their own apartments and French citizens are reimbursed by the social security system for 80 percent of their medical expenses. (As many other divisions of French universities, medical schools are practically tuition-free.)
French consult pharmacists rather than doctors. A pharmacist can often advice on minor illnesses, and sell medicines over the counter that are much stronger than those available without a prescription in the US.

Main Transportation

Today, the French road network is over 5,000 km (3,107 mi.).
Railroads: Length: 34,068 Km (21,173 mi.).
Airports: 64 airports with schedule flights.
Main Ports: Marseille, LeHavre, Nantes, Bordeau, Rouen, Dunkerque, Fos-sur-Mer, Saint-Nazaire.
The Métro
The métro in Paris is a system of over one hundred miles of rails. The metro and the RER (Réseau Express Regional), are not only a very efficient system of transportation, they are also the easiest system of transportation to use. Thanks to the numerous correspondances (stations where you change lines), the métro is the fastest way to get from one place to the other in Paris. Because you can travel any distance on one ticket, it is very inexpensive. Some stations (Louvre, Franklin, Roosevelt, and Chaussée d'Antin) are quite artistically decorated. Other stations are true commercial stations with many underground shops. Of course, the traditional accordion and guitar players performing for tips are often seen in the métro.

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Food, and French Eating Habits
French cuisine is celebrated all over the world. In France, a meal is a ritual most people follow Scrupulously. There are unwritten "rules" to observe, things that one does or does not do. For instances, salad comes with almost every meal but usually after the meat and the vegetables, not with them. Many French people consider a meal without cheese incomplete. Red wine is served with cheese. Cheese comes after the meal but before the dessert. A French proverb says that a meal without cheese and wine is like a day without sunshine. Most French people do some food shopping every day and prefer going to a neighborhood grocer, butcher, or baker rather than a supermarket.
There are many difference eating habits between France and America. In France, You should keep both hands on the table rather than keeping one on your lap. At informal dinners, bread does not have a special plate but is put directly on the table. You generally do not put butter on bread, but you do on radishes!. Milk and hot beverages are not drunk with meals. Plates are changed several times during the meal, and some people wipe them clean with bread. Finally, French people, as do ALL Europeans, eat with the fork in their left hand.
French people usually have three meals a day. Breakfast is usually very light, consisting of coffee and bread or croissants. Lunch is much more substantial. So, most people take a two-hour break during which offices, banks, and many stores close. Dinner is usually the second largest meal of the day, usually starting around 8 PM.
A table... means the meal is ready.
Restaurants
All French restaurants post their menus in the window. They offer a choice of ordering individual items from la carte or a three or four-course meal from the menu. It is advised to choose the menu because the price is fixed and usually includes the tip (service compris). When the menu states the meal is service compris, it means that the management will add 12 to 15 percent to the stated price. So, you do not leave a tip on the table. Most French restaurants offer a house wine (vin maison) at a very reasonable price. Usually it is the overflow of a more expensive wine produced locally and sold to restaurants to serve without a label. To have another opinion about French café, read a Trip to Paris by Dave Barry a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Note:
Le Guide Michelin (a very well-known guide to French hotels and restaurants sponsored by the Michelin Tire Company) helps travelers find interesting places to visit in France. The guide is most known for its ratings of restaurants and hotels all across France. Just to be mentioned in the guide is considered an honor for a restaurant or hotel. You can also read an article about a Trip to Paris by Dave Barry a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

I do not pretend to extensively know it all, I am simply presenting some data about France. To obtain more information about France, and/or Europe, visit My Virtual Bookstore.


Serveur France diplomatie

Hello ici Pierre BONNARD in France

I wish you to enjoy places where I like to rest or live ... from my small collection of old Post cards ... It's very old material comming from my family ... so before 1930 ... Amicalement de Pierre en son Morvan

Indexa

Déclarations officielles de politique étrangère. Point de presse du porte-parole du Quai d'Orsay. Communiqués. Revue de presse. Manifestations culturelles françaises dans le monde.

Serveur France diplomatie

This site is created, maintained, and updated by Dominique G. Schneider.
For questions or comments about this site, send mail to Courrier dgs@hiwaay.net.

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