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FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of blue, white, and red vertical stripes.
ANTHEM: La Marseillaise.
MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the franc as the official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. €1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.
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HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; World War II Armistice Day, 8 May; Bastille Day, 14 July; Assumption, 15 August; All Saints' Day, 1 November; World War I Armistice Day, 11 November; Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays include Easter Monday, Ascension, and Pentecost Monday.
TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.
Situated in Western Europe, France is the second-largest country on the continent, with an area (including the island of Corsica) of 547,030 sq km (211,209 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by France is slightly less than twice the size of the state of Colorado. It extends 962 km (598 mi) n–s and 950 km (590 mi) e–w. France is bounded on the n by the North Sea and Belgium, on the ne by Luxembourg and Germany, on the e by Switzerland and Italy, on the s by the Mediterranean Sea, on the sw by Andorra and Spain, on the w by the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the nw by the English Channel, with a total boundary length of 6,316 km (3,925 mi), of which 3,427 km (2,130 mi) is coastline.
France's capital city, Paris, is located in the north central part of the country.
France topographically is one of the most varied countries of Europe, with elevations ranging from 2 m (7 ft) below sea level at Rhône River delta to the highest peak of the continent, Mont Blanc (4,807 m/15,771 ft), on the border with Italy. Much of the country is ringed with mountains. In the northeast is the Ardennes Plateau, which extends into Belgium and Luxembourg; to the east are the Vosges, the high Alps, and the Jura Mountains; and along the Spanish border are the Pyrenees, much like the Alps in ruggedness and height.
The core of France is the Paris Basin, connected in the southwest with the lowland of Aquitaine. Low hills cover much of Brittany and Normandy. The old, worn-down upland of the Massif Central, topped by extinct volcanoes, occupies the south-central area. The valley of the Rhône (813 km/505 mi), with that of its tributary the Saône (480 km/298 mi), provides an excellent passageway from the Paris Basin and eastern France to the Mediterranean.
There are three other main river systems: the Seine (776 km/482 mi), draining into the English Channel; the Loire (1,020 km/634 mi), which flows through central France to the Atlantic; and the Garonne (575 km/357 mi), which flows across southern France to the Atlantic.
Three types of climate may be found within France: oceanic, continental, and Mediterranean. The oceanic climate, prevailing in the western parts of the country, is one of small temperature range, ample rainfall, cool summers, and cool but seldom very cold winters. The continental (transition) type of climate, found over much of eastern and central France, adjoining its long common boundary with west-central Europe, is characterized by warmer summers and colder winters than areas farther west; rainfall is ample, and winters tend to be snowy, especially in the higher areas. The Mediterranean climate, widespread throughout the south of France (except in the mountainous southwest), is one of cool winters, hot summers, and limited rainfall. The mean temperature is about 11°c (53°f) at Paris and 15°c (59°f) at Nice. In central and southern France, annual rainfall is light to moderate, ranging from about 68 cm (27 in) at Paris to 100 cm (39 in) at Bordeaux. Rainfall is heavy in Brittany, the northern coastal areas, and the mountainous areas, where it reaches more than 112 cm (44 in).
France's flora and fauna are as varied as its range of topography and climate. It has forests of oak and beech in the north and center, as well as pine, birch, poplar, and willow. The Massif Central has chestnut and beech; the subalpine zone, juniper and dwarf pine. In the south are pine forests and various oaks. Eucalyptus (imported from Australia) and dwarf pines abound in Provence. Toward the Mediterranean are olive trees, vines, and mulberry and fig trees, as well as laurel, wild herbs, and the low scrub known as maquis (from which the French resistance movement in World War II took its name).
The Pyrenees and the Alps are the home of the brown bear, chamois, marmot, and alpine hare. In the forests are polecat and marten, wild boar, and various deer. Hedgehog and shrew are common, as are fox, weasel, bat, squirrel, badger, rabbit, mouse, otter, and beaver. The birds of France are largely migratory; warblers, thrushes, magpies, owls, buzzards, and gulls are common. There are storks in Alsace and elsewhere, eagles and falcons in the mountains, pheasants and partridge in the south. Flamingos, terns, buntings, herons, and egrets are found in the Mediterranean zone. The rivers hold eels, pike, perch, carp, roach, salmon, and trout; lobster and crayfish are found in the Mediterranean.
As of 2002, there were at least 93 species of mammals, 283 species of birds, and over 4,600 species of plants throughout the country.
The Ministry for the Environment is the principal environmental agency. France's basic law for the protection of water resources dates from 1964. The mid-1970s brought passage of laws governing air pollution, waste disposal, and chemicals. In general, environmental laws embody the "polluter pays" principle, although some of the charges imposed—for example, an aircraft landing fee—have little effect on the reduction of the pollutant (i.e., aircraft noise).
Water pollution is a serious problem in France due to the accumulation of industrial contaminants, agricultural nitrates, and waste from the nation's cities. As of 1994, 20% of France's forests were damaged due to acid rain and other contaminants. France has 179 cu km of renewable water resources with 72% used for industrial purposes and 10% used for farming.
Air pollution is a significant environmental problem in France, which had the world's 11th-highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions in 1992, totaling 362 million metric tons, a per capita level of 6.34 metric tons. The total level of carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 was about the same at 362.4 million metric tons. Official statistics reflect substantial progress in reducing airborne emissions in major cities: the amount of sulfur dioxide in Paris decreased from 122 micrograms per cu m of air in 1971 to 54 micrograms in 1985. An attempt to ban the dumping of toxic wastes entirely and to develop the technology for neutralizing them proved less successful, however, and the licensing of approved dump sites was authorized in the early 1980s.
In 2003, 13.3% of France's total land area was protected; these areas include both national and regional parks, as well as 8 biosphere reserves, 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 15 Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 16 types of mammals, 15 species of birds, 3 types of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians, 16 species of fish, 34 types of mollusks, 31 species of other invertebrates, and 2 species of plants. Endangered or extinct species in France include the Corsican swallowtail, the gray wolf, the false ringlet butterfly, the Pyrenean desman, and the Baltic sturgeon. It has been estimated that 25% of all species known to have appeared in France were extinct, endangered, or in substantial regression. Extinct species include Perrin's cave beetle and the Sardinian pika.
The population of France in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 60,742,000, which placed it at number 21 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 16% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 19% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 95 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.4%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 63,377,000. The population density was 110 per sq km (285 per sq mi), with much of the population concentrated in the north and southeast areas of the country.
The UN estimated that 76% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.67%. The capital city, Paris, had a population of 9,794,000 in that year. The next largest cities and their estimated populations include Lyon, 1,408,000; Marseille, 1,384,000; and Lille, 1,031,000. Other major urban centers include Toulouse, Nice, Strasbourg, Nantes, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Rennes, Saint-Étienne, and Le Havre.
A new law on immigration and asylum was passed by parliament in May 1998. The law included amendments to include the French constitution's provision to protect "those fighting for freedom" and those threatened with inhuman and degrading treatment in their country of origin. France hosted some 6,300 Kosovar Albanians who arrived in 1999 under the UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme. In 2004, a total of 110,321 asylum applications were submitted to France, mostly from Asia, Africa, and Europe. In the same year, recognition of refugee status was granted to some 14% of asylum seekers. Refugees enjoy all the rights of regular immigrants. In 2004 France harbored 139,852 refugees, mainly Sri Lankans, Vietnamese, Turks, Cambodians, Congolese, and Serbians.
Populations of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in France numbered 151,452. In 2005 it was estimated that illegal foreigners numbered 200,000–400,000. According to Migration News, France deported 11,000 illegals in 2003, 16,000 in 2004, and an expected 23,000 in 2005. Minorities are not recognized in France. They are expected to connect with "the Indivisible Republic," entitled in the French constitution. Nevertheless, in Paris environs between April and August 2005, rioting and fires killed immigrants. Police evacuated rundown buildings where asylum seekers and irregular foreigners lived in crowded conditions.
Remittances to France in 2002 were $761 million. In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 0.66 migrants per 1,000 population.
The French are generally derived from three basic European ethnic stocks: Celtic, Latin, and Teutonic (Frankish). There are also small groups of Flemings, Catalans, Germans, Armenians, Roma, Russians, Poles, and others. The largest resident alien groups are Algerians, Portuguese, Moroccans, Italians, Spaniards, Tunisians, and Turks.
Not only is French the national language of France, but it also has official status (often with other languages) throughout much of the former French colonial empire, including about two dozen nations in Africa. In all, it is estimated that more than 300 million people have French as their official language or mother tongue. Moreover, French is the sole official language at the ICJ and UPU, and shares official status in most international organizations. Other languages spoken within France itself include Breton (akin to Welsh) in Brittany; a German dialect in Alsace and Lorraine; Flemish in northeastern France; Spanish, Catalan, and Basque in the southwest; Provençal in the southeast, and an Italian dialect on the island of Corsica.
According to 2005 estimates, about 83–88% of the population are nominally Roman Catholic, but church officials claim that only about 8% are practicing members of the church. About 2% are Protestant, mostly Calvinist or Lutheran. Muslims (mostly North African workers) make up about 7–8%. Jews and Bahais each made up about 1%. There are about 250,000 Jehovah's Witnesses and between 80,000 and 100,000 Orthodox Christians. Christian Scientists, Mormons, and Scientologists are also represented. About 6% of the population have no religious affiliation.
The French Jewish community is one of the largest in the world, along with those in the United States, Israel, and the successor states of the former USSR; more than half are immigrants from North Africa. The 600,000 members are divided between Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox groups. Jews have enjoyed full rights of citizenship in France since 1791, and the emancipation of Central European Jewry was accomplished, to a large extent, by the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. Anti-Semitism became a flaming issue during the Dreyfus affair in the late 1890s; in the 1980s, principal French synagogues were under police guard because of a wave of attacks by international terrorists.
The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government reportedly respects this right in practice. Church and state have been legally separate since 1905. Registration for religious groups is not required, but most groups choose to do so in order to gain tax-exempt status. The 2001 About-Picard Law allows for the dissolution of groups that endanger the physical or psychological well-being of individuals, promote illegal medical practices, violate the freedom of others, or commit fraud. Groups which advocate religious interests in dialogue with the government include the Council of Bishops (Catholic), the Protestant Federation of France, the General Consistory of Jews of France, and the French Council of the Muslim Faith. The Interministerial Monitoring Mission Against Sectarian Abuses monitors the activities of religious sects or cults that are considered to be a possible threat to society or may be acting in violation of the law.
France has one of the most highly developed transportation systems in Europe. Its outstanding characteristic has long been the degree to which it is centralized at Paris—plateaus and plains offering easy access radiate from the city in all directions, and rivers with broad valleys converge on it from all sides. In 2003, the French road network totaled 891,290 km (554,438 mi), all of which was paved, and included about 10,390 km (6,462 mi) of national highways. In 2003 there were 29,560,000 passenger cars and 6,068,000 commercial vehicles in use.
All French railroads were nationalized in 1938 and are part of the national rail network Société Nationale des Chemins-de-Fer Français, 51% of whose shares are controlled by the government. As of 2004 there were 29,519 km (18,361 mi) of standard and narrow gauge railway track in operation, of which about 14,481 km (9,007 mi) were electrified. Standard gauge track accounted for nearly the entire system, with narrow gauge right of way accounting for only 167 km (104 mi). Le Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV), the fastest train in the world, averaging 250 km (155 mi) per hour over most of its run, entered service between Paris and Lyon in 1981. TGV service between Paris and Lausanne became fully operational in 1985. The TGV set another world speed record on 18 May 1990 with a registered speed of 515.2 km/h (320.2 mph). The Paris subway (métro), begun in the early 1900s but extensively modernized, and the city's regional express railways cover a distance of 472 km (293 mi). The métro has over one million passengers a day. Parisian bus lines carry about 800,000 passengers daily. Other cities with subways are Marseille, Lille, and Lyon, with construction underway in Toulouse.
Two high-speed rail tunnels under the English Channel link Calais and Folkestone, England (near Dover). The 50-km (31-mi) project by Eurotunnel, a British-French consortium, was completed in 1993. From these terminals, people can drive their cars and trucks onto trains, which can make the underground trek in about 30 minutes. Rail lines that run through the tunnel include Le Shuttle, which provides both freight and passenger service, and Eurostar, a high-speed passenger-only line. In November 1996 a truck aboard a Le Shuttle train caught fire in the tunnel, causing extensive damage but no loss of life. Service was partially restored within weeks of the incident and full repairs were completed by the following May.
France, especially in its northern and northeastern regions, is well provided with navigable rivers and connecting canals, and inland water transportation is of major importance. As of 2000, there were about 8,500 km (5,287 mi) of navigable waterways, of which 1,686 km (1,048 mi) was accessible to craft of 3,000 metric tons. The French merchant marine, as of 2005, had a total of 56 ships with 1,000 GRT or over, and a total capacity of 703,639 GRT. Kerguelen, an archipelago in the French Antarctic Territory, offers an offshore registry program which is less regulatory than official French registry. The leading ports are Marseille, Le Havre, Dunkerque, Rouen, Bordeaux, and Cherbourg. Other important ports include Boulogne, Brest, Fos-Sur-Mer, Sete, and Toulon. More than half of freight traffic to and from French ports is carried by French ships.
In 2004 there were an estimated 478 airports in France. In 2005, a total of 288 had paved runways, and there were also three heliports. France's national airline, Air France, is government subsidized. It operates regularly scheduled flights to all parts of the world. The Concorde, jointly developed by France and the United Kingdom at a cost of more than £1 billion, entered regular transatlantic service in 1976. Both British Airways and Air France ceased operations of Concorde passenger flights in 2003.
There are two major private airlines: the Union des Transports Aériens, which provides service to Africa and the South Pacific, and Air Inter, which operates within metropolitan France. The two international airports of Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, both located in Paris, lead all others in France in both passenger and freight traffic. In 2003, about 47.259 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international air flights.
Cave paintings and engravings, the most famous of them at Lascaux, near Montignac in the southwest, attest to human habitation in France as early as 30,000 years ago. Relics from the period between 4000 and 1800 bc include some 4,500 dolmens (structures consisting of two vertical stones capped by a horizontal stone), nearly 1,000 of them in Brittany alone, and more than 6,000 men-hirs (single vertical stones), measuring 1.5–21.3 m (5–70 ft) in height and weighing up to 350 tons. There may already have been 2–3 million people in France when Phoenician and Greek colonists founded cities on the southern coast around 600 bc.
Detailed knowledge of French history begins with the conquest of the region (58–51 bc) by Julius Caesar. The country was largely inhabited by Celtic tribes known to the Romans as Gauls. Under Roman rule the Gallic provinces were among the most prosperous and civilized of the empire. Roman roads, traces of which still may be seen, traversed the land. Numerous cities were founded. Latin superseded the Celtic dialects. Christianity spread rapidly in Roman Gaul after its introduction there in the 1st century, and by the time the empire began to disintegrate a few hundred years later, the Gauls were a thoroughly Romanized and Christianized people. Early in the 5th century, Teutonic tribes invaded the region from Germany, the Visigoths settling in the southwest, the Burgundians along the Rhône River Valley, and the Franks (from whom the French take their name) in the north. The Germanic invaders probably never constituted more than a dominant minority of the population.
The first leader to make himself king of all the Franks was Clovis (466–511), who began his reign in 481, routing the last forces of the Roman governors of the province in 486. Clovis claimed that he would be baptized a Christian in the event of his victory against the Visigoths, which was said to have guaranteed the battle. Clovis regained the southwest from the Visigoths, was baptized in 496, and made himself master of western Germany, but after his death the kingdom disintegrated and its population declined under the Merovingian dynasty. In 732, Charles Martel was able to rally the eastern Franks to inflict a decisive defeat on the Saracens—Muslim invaders who already controlled the Iberian Peninsula—between Poitiers and Tours. He spawned the Carolingian family, as well as his grandson, Charlemagne (r.768–814), who was the greatest of the early Frankish rulers. Ruling "by the sword and the cross," he gave the kingdom an efficient administration, created an excellent legal system, and encouraged the revival of learning, piety, and the arts. He added to the territories under his rule through wide conquests, eventually reigning over an area corresponding to present-day France, the FRG, the Low Countries, and northern Italy. On Christmas Day in the year 800, he was crowned emperor of the West and ruler of the 1st Holy Roman Empire by the pope in Rome.
After the death of Charlemagne, the vast Carolingian Empire broke up during a century of feuding, the title of emperor passing to German rulers in the east. The territory of what is now France was invaded anew, this time by pagan tribes from Scandinavia and the north, and the region that later became known as Normandy was ceded to the Northmen in 911 by Charles III ("the Simple," r.898–923). At the end of the century, Hugh Capet (r.987–996) founded the line of French kings that, including its collateral branches, was to rule the country for the next 800 years. Feudalism was by now a well-established system. The French kings were the dukes and feudal overlords of the Île de France, centered on Paris and extending roughly three days' march around the city. At first, their feudal overlordship over the other provinces of France was almost entirely nominal. Some of the largest of these, like the Duchy of Brittany, were practically independent kingdoms. The Duchy of Normandy grew in power when William II, duke of Normandy, engaged in the Norman Conquest of England (1066–70) and became king as William I ("the Conqueror"), introducing the French language and culture to England. The powers of the French monarchy were gradually extended in the course of the 11th and early 12th centuries, particularly by Louis VI, who died in 1137. The power of his son Louis VII (r.1137–80) was challenged by Henry of Anjou, who, upon his accession to the English throne as Henry II in 1154, was feudal master of a greater part of the territory of France, including Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, and Aquitaine. Henry's sons, Richard and John, were unable to hold these far-flung territories against the vigorous assaults of Louis's son Philip Augustus (r.1180–1223). By 1215, Philip had not only reestablished the French crown's control over the former Angevin holdings in the north and west but also had firmly consolidated the crown's power in Languedoc and Toulouse. Philip's grandson Louis IX (St. Louis), in a long reign (1226–70), firmly established the strength of the monarchy through his vigorous administration of the royal powers. The reign of Louis's grandson Philip IV ("the Fair," 1285–1314) marks the apogee of French royal power in the medieval period. He quarreled with the papacy over fiscal control of the French clergy and other aspects of sovereignty. His emissaries arrested Pope Boniface VIII and after his death removed the seat of the papacy to Avignon, where the popes resided under French dominance (the so-called Babylonian Captivity) until 1377.
It is estimated that between 1348 and 1400 the population dropped from 16 million to 11 million, mainly from a series of epidemics, beginning with the Black Death (bubonic plague) of 1348–50. In 1415, Henry V of England; taking advantage of civil war between the Gascons and Armagnacs, and the growing insanity of Charles VI; launched a new invasion of France and won a decisive victory at Agincourt. Charles VI (r.1380–1422) was compelled under the Treaty of Troyes (1420) to marry his daughter Catherine to Henry and to declare the latter and his descendants heirs to the French crown. Upon Henry's death in 1422, his infant son Henry VI was crowned king of both France and England, but in the same year, Charles's son, the dauphin of France, reasserted his claim, formally assumed the royal title, and slowly began the reconquest.
Philip the Fair was succeeded by three sons, who reigned briefly and who left no direct male heirs, ending the Capetian dynasty. In 1328, his nephew Philip VI (in accordance with the so-called Salic Law, under which succession could pass through a male line only) mounted the throne as the first of the Valois kings. The new king's title to the throne was challenged by Edward III of England, whose mother was the daughter of Philip the Fair. In 1337, Edward asserted a formal claim to the French crown, shortly thereafter quartering the lilies of France on his shield. The struggle that lasted from 1337 to 1453 over these rival claims is known as the Hundred Years' War. Actually it consisted of a series of shorter wars and skirmishes punctuated by periods of truce. Edward won a notable victory at Crécy in 1346, in a battle that showed the superiority of English ground troops and longbows against the French knights in armor. In 1356, the French royal forces were routed by the Prince of Wales at Poitiers, where the French king, John II, was taken prisoner. By terms of the Treaty of Brétigny (1360), the kingdom of France was dismembered, the southwest being formally ceded to the king of England. Under Charles V (r.1364–80), also called "Charles the Wise," however, the great French soldier Bertrand du Guesclin, through a tenaciously conducted series of skirmishes, succeeded in driving the English from all French territory except Calais and the Bordeaux region.
The first part of the Hundred Years' War was essentially a dynastic rather than a national struggle. The English armies themselves were commanded by French-speaking nobles and a French-speaking king. Although the legitimate succession to the French crown was the ostensible issue throughout the war, the emerging forces of modern nationalism came into play with the campaign launched by Henry V, whose everyday language was English and who, after Agincourt, became an English national hero. France owed no small measure of its eventual success to the sentiment of nationalism that was arising throughout the country and that found its personification in the figure of Joan of Arc. Early in 1429, this young woman of surprising military genius, confident that she had a divinely inspired mission to save France, gained the confidence of the dauphin. She succeeded in raising the siege of Orléans and had the dauphin crowned Charles VII at Reims. Joan fell into English hands and at Rouen in 1431 was burned at the stake as a heretic, but the French armies continued to advance. Paris was retaken in 1436, and Rouen in 1453; by 1461, when Charles died, the English had been driven from all French territory except Calais, which was recaptured in 1558.
Louis XI (r.1461–83), with the support of the commercial towns, which regarded the king as their natural ally, set France on a course that eventually destroyed the power of the great feudal lords. His most formidable antagonist, Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, who ruled virtually as an independent monarch, commanded for many years far more resources than the king of France himself. But after the duke was defeated and killed in a battle against the Swiss in 1477, Louis was able to reunite Burgundy with France. When Louis's son Charles VIII united Brittany, the last remaining quasi-independent province, with the royal domain by his marriage to Anne of Brittany, the consolidation of the kingdom under one rule was complete.
Under Charles VIII (r.1483–98) and Louis XII (r.1498–1515), France embarked on a series of Italian wars, which were continued under Francis I (r.1515–47) and Henry II (r.1547–59). These wars developed into the first phase of a protracted imperialistic struggle between France and the house of Habsburg. Although the Italian wars ended in a French defeat, they served to introduce the artistic and cultural influences of the Italian Renaissance into France on a large scale. Meanwhile, as the Reformation gained an increasing following in France, a bitter enmity developed between the great families that had espoused the Protestant or Huguenot cause and those that had remained Catholic. The policy of the French monarchy was in general to suppress Protestantism at home while supporting it abroad as a counterpoise to Habsburg power. Under the last of the Valois kings, Charles IX (r.1560–74) and Henry III (r.1574–89), a series of eight fierce civil wars devastated France, called The Wars of Religion. Paris remained a stronghold of Catholicism, and on 23–24 August 1572, a militia led by the Duke of Guise slaughtered thousands of Protestants in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. The Protestant Henry of Navarre was spared because of his royal status and eventually, on the death of Henry III, he acceded to the throne, beginning the Bourbon dynasty. Unable to capture Paris by force, Henry embraced Catholicism in 1593 and entered the city peacefully the following year. In 1598, he signed the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed religious freedom to the Huguenots. With the aid of his minister Sully, Henry succeeded in restoring prosperity to France.
Assassinated in 1610 by a Catholic fanatic after 19 attempts on his life, Henry IV was succeeded by his young son Louis XIII, with the queen mother, Marie de Médicis, acting as regent in the early years of his reign. Later, the affairs of state were directed almost exclusively by Cardinal Richelieu, the king's minister. Richelieu followed a systematic policy that entailed enhancing the crown's absolute rule at home and combating the power of the Habsburgs abroad. In pursuit of the first of these objectives, Richelieu destroyed the political power of the Protestants by strictly monitoring the press and French language through the Academie Francaise; in pursuit of the second he led France in 1635 into the Thirty Years' War, then raging in Germany, on the side of the Protestants and against the Austrians and the Spanish. Richelieu died in 1642, and Louis XIII died a few months later. His successor, Louis XIV, was five years old, and during the regency of his mother, Anne of Austria, France's policy was largely guided by her adviser Cardinal Mazarin. The generalship of the prince de Condé and the vicomte de Turenne brought France striking victories. The Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years' War, and the Peace of the Pyrenees (1659) marked the end of Habsburg hegemony and established France as the dominant power on the European continent. The last attempt of the French nobles in the Paris Parliament to rise against the crown, called the Fronde (1648–53), was successfully repressed by Mazarin even though the movement had the support of Condé and Turenne.
The active reign of Louis XIV began in 1661, the year of Mazarin's death, and lasted until his own death in 1715. Louis XIV had served in the French army against Spain before his accession, and married the daughter of the King of Spain in order to bring peace to the region, despite his love for Mazarin's niece. Assisted by his able ministers Colbert and Louvois, he completed Mazarin's work of domestic centralization and transformed the French state into an absolute monarchy based on the so-called divine right of kings. Industry and commerce were encouraged by mercantilist policies, and great overseas empires were carved out in India, Canada, and Louisiana. By transforming the nobles into perennial courtiers, financially dependent on the crown, the king clipped their wings. Lavish display marked the early period of his reign, when the great palace at Versailles was built, beginning the era of French Classicism.
The reign of Louis XIV marked the high point in the prestige of the French monarchy. It was a golden age for French culture as well, and French fashions and manners set the standard for all Europe. Nevertheless, the Sun King, as he was styled, left the country in a weaker position than he had found it. In 1672, he invaded the Protestant Netherlands with his cousin Charles I of England, defeating Spain and the Holy Roman Empire as well in 1678. In 1685, he revoked the Edict of Nantes, and an estimated 200,000 Huguenots fled the country to escape persecution. Whole provinces were depopulated, and the economy was severely affected by the loss of many skilled and industrious workers. Louis undertook a long series of foreign wars, culminating in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–14), in which England, the Netherlands, and most of the German states were arrayed against France, Spain, Bavaria, Portugal, and Savoy. In the end, little territory was lost, but the military primacy of the country was broken and its economic strength seriously sapped.
The reign of Louis XV (1715–74) and that of his successor, Louis XVI (1774–93), which was terminated by the French Revolution, showed the same lavish display of royal power and elegance that had been inaugurated by the Sun King. At the same time, the economic crisis that Louis XIV left as his legacy continued to grow more serious. A series of foreign wars cost France its Indian and Canadian colonies and bankrupted the country, including the French and Indian War (1755–1760). Meanwhile, the locus of the economic power in the kingdom had shifted to the hands of the upper bourgeoisie in the Enlightenment, who resented the almost wholly unproductive ruling class that espoused Classicism. The intellectual currents of the so-called Age of Reason were basically opposed to the old order. Voltaire attacked the Church and the principle of absolutism alike; Diderot advocated scientific materialism; Jean-Jacques Rousseau preached popular sovereignty. The writer changed from a royal servant into a revolutionary force.
In 1789, faced with an unmanageable public debt, Louis XVI convened, for the first time since the reign of Louis XIII, the States-General, the national legislative body, to consider certain fiscal reforms. The representatives of the third estate, the Commons, met separately on 17 June and proclaimed themselves the National Assembly. This action, strictly speaking, marked the beginning of the French Revolution, although the act that best symbolized the power of the revolution was the storming of the Bastille, a royal prison, by a Paris mob on 14 July—an event still commemorated as a national holiday. With the support of the mob, which forced the king, his wife Marie Antoinette, and his family from the palace at Versailles into virtual imprisonment in the Tuilerie in Paris; the Assembly was able to force Louis to accept a new constitution including The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, providing for a limited monarchy, the secularization of the state, and the seizure of Church lands. War with Austria, which wished to intervene to restore the status quo ante in France, broke out in 1792. The Assembly's successor, the National Convention, elected in September 1792, proclaimed the First French Republic. Louis XVI was convicted of treason and executed. The radical group of Jacobins under Maximilien Robespierre's leadership exercised strict control through committees of public welfare and a revolutionary tribunal. The Jacobins attempted to remake France in the image of an egalitarian republic. Their excesses led to a Reign of Terror (1793–94), carried out indiscriminately against royalists and such moderate republican groups as the Girondins. Manifold opposition to the Jacobins and specifically to Robespierre combined to end their reign in the summer of 1794. In 1795, a new constitution of moderate character was introduced, and executive power was vested in a Directory of five men. The Directory, weakened by inefficient administration and military reverses, fell in turn in 1799, when the military hero Napoleon Bonaparte engineered a coup and established the Consulate. Ruling autocratically as the first consul, Bonaparte established domestic stability and decisively defeated the Austrian-British coalition arrayed against France. In 1804, he had himself proclaimed emperor as Napoleon I and, until his downfall in 1814, he ruled France in that capacity.
Capitalizing on the newly awakened patriotic nationalism of France, Napoleon led his imperial armies to a striking series of victories over the dynastic powers of Europe. By 1808, he was the master of all Europe west of Russia with the exception of the British Isles. That year, however, the revolt in Spain—upon whose throne Napoleon had placed his brother Joseph—began to tax French military reserves. Napoleon's ill-fated attempt to conquer Russia in 1812 was followed by the consolidation of a powerful alliance against him, consisting of Russia, Prussia, Britain, and Sweden. The allies defeated Napoleon at Leipzig in 1813 and captured Paris in the spring of 1814. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, just off the northwest coast of Italy, and Louis XVIII, a brother of Louis XVI, was placed on the French throne. In March 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba, rallied France behind him, and reentered Paris in triumph behind the fleeing Louis XVIII. He was, however, finally and utterly crushed by the British and Prussian forces at Waterloo (18 June 1815) and spent the remaining years of his life as a British prisoner of war on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic.
After the final fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII ruled as a moderate and peaceful monarch until 1824, when he was succeeded by his brother Charles X, an ultra royalist. Charles attempted to restore the absolute powers of the monarchy and the supremacy of the Catholic Church. In 1830, he was ousted after a three-day revolution in which the upper bourgeoisie allied itself with the forces of the left. Louis Philippe of the house of Orléans was placed on the throne as "citizen-king," with the understanding that he would be ruled by the desires of the rising industrial plutocracy. In 1848, his regime was overthrown in the name of the Second Republic. Four years later, however, its first president, Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon I, engineered a coup and had himself proclaimed emperor under the title Napoleon III. The Second Empire, as the period 1852–71 is known, was characterized by colonial expansion and great material prosperity. The emperor's aggressive foreign policy eventually led to the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), which ended in a crushing defeat for France and the downfall of Napoleon III. France was stripped of the border provinces of Alsace and Lorraine (which once belonged to the Holy Roman Empire) and was forced to agree to an enormous indemnity. A provisional government proclaimed a republic on 4 September 1870 and took over the responsibility for law and order until a National Assembly was elected in February 1871. Angered at the rapid capitulation to Prussia by the provisionals and the conservative National Assembly, the national guard and radical elements of Paris seized the city in March and set up the Commune. During the "Bloody Week" of 21–28 May, the Commune was savagely dispatched by government troops.
Democratic government finally triumphed in France under the Third Republic, whose constitution was adopted in 1875. Royalist sentiment had been strong, but the factions backing different branches of the royal house had been unable to agree on a candidate for the throne. The Third Republic confirmed freedom of speech, the press, and association. It enforced complete separation of church and state. Social legislation guaranteeing the rights of trade unions was passed, and elections were held on the basis of universal manhood suffrage. The Third Republic, however, was characterized by an extremely weak executive. A long succession of cabinets was placed in power and shortly thereafter removed from office by the all-powerful lower house of the national legislature. Nevertheless, the republic was strong enough to weather an attempt on the part of the highly popular Gen. Georges Boulanger to overthrow the regime in the late 1880s, as well as the bitter dispute between the left-wing and right-wing parties occasioned by the trumped-up arrest and long imprisonment of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, a scandal in which Dreyfus's being Jewish was as much an issue as the treason he had allegedly committed. The eventual vindication of Dreyfus went hand in hand with the decisive defeat of the monarchists and the emergence of a progressive governing coalition, with Socialist representation.
The 20th Century
During World War I (1914–18), the forces of France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and, from 1917, the United States were locked in a protracted struggle with those of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. Although France, under the leadership of Georges Clemenceau, could claim a major share in the final Allied victory, it was in many respects a Pyrrhic victory for France. Almost all the bitter fighting in the west was conducted on French soil, and among the Allies French casualties—including nearly 1,400,000 war dead—were second only to those sustained by Russia. The heavily industrialized provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were restored to France under the Treaty of Versailles (1919), and Germany was ordered to pay heavy war reparations. Nevertheless, the French economy, plagued by recurrent crises, was unable to achieve great prosperity in the 1920s, and the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s (exacerbated in France by the cessation of German reparations payments) was accompanied in France by inflation, widespread unemployment, and profound social unrest. Rightand extreme left-wing elements caused major disturbances on 6 February 1934. In 1936, the left-wing parties carried the parliamentary elections and installed a so-called Popular Front government under a Socialist, Léon Blum. Blum nationalized certain war industries, carried out agricultural reforms, and made the 40-hour week mandatory in industry. Increasing conservative opposition forced the Popular Front government from power, however, and in the face of the growing menace of Adolf Hitler's Germany, the leftists accepted the conservative government of Édouard Daladier in 1938. In a futile attempt to secure peace, Daladier acquiesced in British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement toward Hitler. Hitler was not to be appeased, however, and when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, France joined the United Kingdom in declaring war on Germany.
On 10 May 1940, the Germans launched a great invasion of the west through the Low Countries and the heavily wooded and sparsely defended Ardennes region. In less than a month, German forces outflanked the French Maginot Line fortifications and routed the French armies between the Belgian frontier and Paris. Marshal Pétain, the aged hero of World War I, hastily formed a government and sued for peace. With the exception of a triangular zone with its northern apex near Vichy, all France was placed under the direct occupation of the Germans. The Vichy regime ended the Third Republic and proclaimed a constitution based on the slogan "labor, family, fatherland," as opposed to the traditional republican "liberty, equality, fraternity." While the Vichy government did its best to accommodate itself to the German victory, French resistance gathered overseas around Gen. Charles de Gaulle, a brilliant career officer who had escaped to London on 18 June 1940 to declare that France had "lost a battle, not the war." De Gaulle organized the Provisional French National Committee, and this committee of the Free French later exercised all the powers of a wartime government in the French territories where resistance to the Germans continued. The Free French forces took part in the fighting that followed the Allied invasion of North Africa in 1942, and in 1943 a provisional French government was established at Algiers. Regular French units and resistance fighters alike fought in the 1944 campaign that drove the Germans from France, and shortly after the liberation of Paris, de Gaulle's provisional government moved from Algiers to the capital. It was officially recognized by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the former USSR in October 1944.
France's postwar vicissitudes have been political rather than economic. De Gaulle resigned as head of the government early in 1946 over the issue of executive powers, and in spite of his efforts the Fourth Republic, under a constitution that came into effect in December 1946, was launched with most of the weaknesses of the Third Republic. Almost all powers were concentrated in the hands of the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, and there were numerous warring political parties.
Although the people of metropolitan France overwhelmingly approved de Gaulle's program for eventual Algerian independence, some French army officers and units attempted to overthrow the government by terrorism, which de Gaulle suppressed by temporarily assuming emergency powers. Peace negotiations were successfully concluded with Algerian rebel leaders, and Algeria gained independence on 1 July 1962. By then, nearly all of France's former African territories had attained independence. France has continued to provide economic assistance, and its ties with most of the former colonies have remained close. Almost continuous fighting overseas in French colonies, first in Indochina, which was lost in 1954, and later in Algeria, the scene of a nationalist rebellion among the Muslims, placed a heavy burden on France and led, especially after the Suez expedition of 1956, to disillusionment on the part of elements in the French army, which felt that its work was being undermined by a series of vacillating parliamentary governments. In May 1958, extremists among the French settlers in Algeria, acting with a group of army officers, seized control of Algiers. Sympathetic movements in Corsica and in metropolitan France raised the specter of a right-wing coup. The government found itself powerless to deal with the situation, and on 1 June, Gen. de Gaulle, regarded as the only leader capable of rallying the nation, was installed as premier. He ended the threat peaceably, and in the fall of 1958, he submitted to a national referendum a new constitution providing for a strong presidency; the constitution won overwhelming approval. Elections held in November swept candidates pledged to support de Gaulle into office, and in December 1958, he was officially named the first president of the Fifth Republic.
During the mid-1960s, de Gaulle sought to distance France from the Anglo-American alliance. France developed its own atomic weapons and withdrew its forces from the NATO command; in addition, de Gaulle steadfastly opposed the admission of the United Kingdom to the EEC, of which France had been a founding member in 1957. The Treaty of Rome in 1957 created the original European Economic Community that consisted of Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and The Netherlands, and formed EURATOM, which created an open forum for scientific exchange and nuclear arms regulation on the continent.
The political stability of the mid-1960s ended in the spring of 1968, with student riots and a month-long general strike that severely weakened the Gaullist regime. In April 1969, Gen. de Gaulle resigned following a defeat, by national referendum, of a Gaullist plan to reorganize the Senate and regional government. In June, Georges Pompidou, a former premier in de Gaulle's government, was elected the second president of the Fifth Republic. Between 1969 and 1973, the Gaullist grip on the French populace continued to weaken, at the end of which time de Gaulle was forced to accept the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark into the EC, and to work within the economic constraints of the "Snake Mechanism" which, starting in 1972, linked EC currencies. In 1974, after President Pompidou died in office, an Independent Republican, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, narrowly won a national runoff election (with Gaullist help) and became the third president of the Fifth Republic. Giscard strengthened relations with the United States but continued to ply a middle course between the superpowers in world affairs. The European Currency Unit (ECU) was born in 1979 from the economic stresses of the 1970s, leading eventually to the introduction of the common currency, the euro, in 2002.
Although Giscard's center-right coalition held firm in the March 1978 legislative elections, a Socialist, François Mitterrand, was elected president in May 1981, and the Socialists captured a parliamentary majority in June. Mitterrand launched a program of economic reforms, including the nationalization of many industrial companies and most major banks. However, three devaluations of the franc, high unemployment, and rising inflation led to the announcement of an austerity program in March 1983. In foreign policy, Mitterrand took an activist stance, opposing the US attempt in 1982 to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline between the former USSR and Western Europe, committing French troops to a peacekeeping force in Lebanon, and aiding the Chadian government against domestic insurgents and their Libyan backers.
In July 1984, Mitterrand accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy and named Laurent Fabius to replace him, signaling his intention to stress economic austerity and modernization of industry. In foreign affairs, the government attempted some retrenchment during 1984, withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Lebanon and announcing a "total and simultaneous" withdrawal of French and Libyan troops from Chad. However, Libyan troops did not actually withdraw as envisioned, and fighting there prompted a return of French troops in 1986. A major scandal was the disclosure in 1985 that French agents were responsible for the destruction in New Zealand, with the loss of a life, of a ship owned by an environmentalist group protesting French nuclear tests in the South Pacific.
In March 1986 elections, the Socialists lost their majority in the National Assembly, and Mitterrand had to appoint a conservative prime minister, Jacques Chirac, to head a new center-right cabinet. This unprecedented "cohabitation" between a Socialist president and a conservative government led to legislative conflict, as Chirac, with backing from the National Assembly, successfully instituted a program, opposed by Mitterrand, to denationalize 65 state-owned companies. Chirac encountered less success late in 1986 as he sought to deal with a wave of terrorist violence in Paris. In 1988, Chirac challenged Mitterand for the presidency, but in the May runoff election, Mitterand won a commanding 54% of the vote and a second seven-year term. Chirac then resigned, and Mitterand formed a minority Socialist government.
Economic and social problems as well as government scandals strained relations between the Socialist Mitterrand, the Conservative PM Eduard Balladur in the second cohabitation, and a center-right government. Unemployment remained high and new legislation increased police powers to combat illegal immigration. Several prominent politicians were the subject of corruption charges and in 1993 legal proceedings were instituted against former primer minister, Laurent Fabius, related to an HIV-infected blood scandal. A prominent Socialist prime minister, Pierre Beregovoy, committed suicide in May 1993 over media allegations of financial improprieties.
In May 1995, Jacques Chirac was elected president, winning 52.64% of the popular vote, compared to 47.36% for socialist Lionel Jospin, and Alain Juppé was appointed prime minister. The National Assembly had elected an RPR-Gaullist majority in 1993, setting the country firmly in the grips of the type of conservatism that had been ousting socialist and Social Democrats in much of Western Europe during the mid-to-late 1980s. Chirac immediately set about instituting austerity measures to rein in government spending in the hope of meeting certain rigid monetary guidelines so that France would be ready to join the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999. The EMU would create a single European currency, the "euro," to replace member countries' individual currencies. The idea of a monetary union had never been widely popular in France and the Maastricht Treaty, which set down conditions for EMU membership passed by only a slim margin.
Many of Chirac's attempts to reduce public spending and limit—or even erode—France's welfare state met with stern resistance. With the signing of the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, Chirac sensed the need for a reaffi rmation of his commitment to meet austerity measures for EMU membership. Chirac dissolved the National Assembly, calling for parliamentary elections in 1997, one year earlier than constitutionally mandated. In doing so, the French president believed he would demonstrate that the majority of the population believed in responsible cutbacks in government spending and anti-inflammatory monetary policy, despite the adverse effects they might have on the country's already quite high inflation. In May and June of 1997, elections were held and Chirac's plan badly backfired with the Socialists winning a commanding majority, along with the Communists. After the elections, a demoralized Chirac appointed Socialist leader Lionel Jospin prime minister, beginning the third cohabitation government. Jospin, a halfhearted supporter of monetary union, called for a program of increased government spending to create 700,000 jobs, a reduction in the work week from 39 to 35 hours, and made a broad pledge to protect the welfare state. The euro was successfully launched in 1999, and the currency was circulated in January 2002.
Presidential elections were held on 21 April and 5 May 2002. In the first round, Chirac won 19.9% of the vote, National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen came in second with 16.9%, and Prime Minister Jospin finished third with 16.2% of the vote. The strong showing by Le Pen sent shock waves throughout France and Europe, as his extreme right-wing, anti-immigrant, xenophobic party demonstrated its popularity. Jospin announced he was retiring from politics; for the first time since 1969 the Socialists did not have a candidate in a presidential runoff, marking a major defeat for the French left.
In the second round of voting, Chirac overwhelmingly defeated Le Pen, taking 82.2% of the vote to Le Pen's 17.8%. It was the largest majority since direct presidential elections were first introduced, and was preceded by a major popular campaign against Le Pen. Chirac named centrist Jean-Pierre Raffarin to be prime minister. In elections for the National Assembly held in June 2002, the center-right coalition Union for the Presidential Majority (consisting of Chirac's Rally for the Republic and the Liberal Democracy party and created on the wake of the first round on the ashes of the short-lived Union en Mouvement ) won a landslide victory, taking 33.7% of the vote and 357 of 577 seats in parliament. The Socialist Party finished second with 24.1% and 140 seats. Le Pen's National Front failed to win a single seat.
Jean-Pierre Raffarin started out by governing through ordinances, and eventually obtained a majority from his party that was large enough to carry him through the legislative elections. His political line exhibited a peculiar communicative style and enforced reforms with unflagging certainty–his adversaries would term this style "neo-liberalism." In 2003 alone, he led policies to reform the retirement system and to regionalize most administrative offices that were centralized in Paris, despite strong social unrest and demonstrations—In the summer of 2003, civil servants went on strike against the reform of the retirement benefits system and part-time workers in entertainment went on strike, demanding higher salaries and improved benefits. Raffarin's popularity rate began to plummet; this, combined with the sharp electoral defeat sustained at the regional elections, was blamed on his social policies. As a consequence, the prime minister dissolved the government, and handpicked Jean-Louis Borloo as minister of social affairs. However, the prime minister had to handle both the former's social agenda—sustaining rent-controlled housing, backed up by President Chirac—and Sarkozy's extremely conservative managing of the finances. Jean-Pierre Raffarin then faced even more criticism especially from Dominique de Villepin.
Raffarin's term of office came to a brisk end after the "no" vote to the referendum held on 29 May 2005, on whether to adopt the project of the European Constitutional Treaty. He offered to resign on 31 May 2005, and was immediately replaced by Dominique de Villepin.
Dominique de Villepin had been named minister of foreign affairs in 2002, upon the reelection of President Chirac. In 2002–03, France was confronted with a major foreign policy dilemma. Throughout 2002, the United States and United Kingdom were committing troops to the Persian Gulf region, positioning themselves against Iraq and accusing its leader, Saddam Hussein, of possessing weapons of mass destruction. In the event that Iraq would not disarm itself of any weapons of mass destruction it might possess, it was evident that the United States and United Kingdom might use those troops to force a regime change in Iraq. The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441 on 8 November 2002, calling upon Iraq to disarm itself of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons or weapons capabilities, to allow the immediate return of UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) weapons inspectors, and to comply with all previous UN resolutions regarding the country since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. The United States and United Kingdom indicated that if Iraq would not comply with the resolution, "serious consequences" might result, meaning military action. The other three permanent members of the Security Council, France, Russia, and China, expressed their reservations with that position. France was the most vocal opponent of war, and threatened to use its veto power in the Security Council if another Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force was called for. The United States and United Kingdom abandoned diplomatic efforts at conflict resolution in March 2003, and on 19 March, the coalition went to war in Iraq. Once coalition forces defeated Iraq and plans for reconstruction of the country were being discussed in April, France stressed the need for a strong role to be played by the UN in a postwar Iraq.
On 31 May 2005, Dominique de Villepin was chosen by President Chirac to become prime minister. In his inaugural speech, he gave himself 100 days to earn the trust of the French people and to give France its confidence back. He was increasingly perceived as a potential presidential candidate, an opinion reinforced by his acting as head of state during the cabinet meeting held on 7 September 2005 and for the 60th session of the UN General Assembly held on 14–15 September 2005 while President Chirac suffered from a cerebral vascular complication.
The eruption of rioting in many parts of France in fall 2005 posed the most serious challenge to government authority since the student riots that took place in Paris in 1968. The government imposed a state of emergency. Thousands of vehicles were set on fire in nearly 300 towns; more than 1,500 people had been arrested by mid-November 2005, when the violence began to subside. Areas with large African and Arab communities were most affected (France has Europe's largest Muslim population and over half the country's prison population is Muslim), where anger among many immigrant families over unemployment and discrimination has long been simmering. France's youth unemployment rate in 2005 was 23%, one of Europe's worst, and in "sensitive urban zones," youth unemployment reached 40%. The unrest caused politicians to rethink their social and economic policies.
Under the constitution of the Fifth Republic (1958), as subsequently amended, the president of the republic is elected for a five-year term (changed from a seven-year term following a referendum on 24 September 2000) by direct universal suffrage. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes cast, a runoff election is held between the two candidates having received the most votes. If the presidency falls vacant, the president of the Senate assumes the office until a new election can be held within 20–35 days. The president appoints the prime minister and, on the prime minister's recommendation, the other members of the cabinet. The president has the power to dissolve the National Assembly, in which event new elections must be held in 20–40 days. When the national sovereignty is gravely menaced, the president is empowered to take special measures after consultation with the premier and other appropriate officials. The National Assembly, however, may not be dissolved during the exercise of exceptional powers. The president promulgates laws approved by the legislature, has the right of pardon, and is commander of the armed forces.
The bicameral parliament consists of two houses, the National Assembly and the Senate. Under a system enacted in 1986, the National Assembly is composed of 577 deputies, each representing an electoral district. If no candidate receives a clear majority, there is a runoff among those receiving at least 12.5% of the vote; a plurality then suffi ces for election. All citizens aged 18 or over are eligible to vote.
The deputies' term of office, unless the Assembly is dissolved, is five years. The Senate consisted, as of 2003, of 321 members indirectly elected to nine-year terms, one-third being chosen every three years. Of the total, 296 represented metropolitan France, 13, overseas departments and territories, and 12, French citizens residing abroad; all are chosen by electoral colleges. In addition, European elections are held to choose 87 French deputies out of 626 in the European Parliament every five years, with proportional representation.
To become law, a measure must be passed by parliament. Parliament also has the right to develop in detail and amplify the list of matters on which it may legislate by passing an organic law to that effect. Regular parliamentary sessions occur once a year, lasting nine months each (amended in 1995 from two shorter sessions a year). A special session may be called by the prime minister or at the request of a majority of the National Assembly. Bills, which may be initiated by the executive, are introduced in either house, except finance bills, which must be introduced in the Assembly. These proceedings are open to the public, aired on television, and reported.
The prime minister and the cabinet formulate national policy and execute the laws. No one may serve concurrently as a member of parliament and a member of the executive. Under certain circumstances, an absolute majority in the National Assembly may force the executive to resign by voting a motion of censure. Under the new law of 1993, members of the government are liable for actions performed in office deemed to be crimes or misdemeanors, and tried by the Court of Justice.
French political life has long been ruled both by considerations of political theory and by the demands of political expediency. Traditional issues such as the separation of church and state help to distinguish between right and left, but otherwise the lines separating all but the extremist political parties are diffi cult to draw. One result of this has been the proliferation of political parties; another, the assumption by political parties of labels that seldom indicate any clear-cut platform or policy.
Broadly, since the late 1950s, French politics has been dominated by four political groups: the Gaullists, an independent center-right coalition, the Socialists, and the Communists. After the parliamentary elections of 23 and 30 November 1958, the first to be held under the constitution of the Fifth Republic, the largest single group in the Assembly was the Union for the New Republic (UNR), which stood for the policies of Gen. de Gaulle, elected president of the republic for a seven-year term in 1958. Independents of the right were the second-largest group, and the Christian Socialists (Mouvement Républicain Populaire) and several leftist groups followed. Only 16 members were elected by the center groups and only 10 were Communists.
In the November 1962 elections, the Gaullist UNR scored an unparalleled victory, polling 40.5% of the total votes cast. As a result of the elections, several old parliamentary groups disappeared, and new groups emerged: the Democratic Center (Centre Démocratique) with 55 seats; the Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique), 38 seats; and the Independent Republicans (Républicains Indépendants—RI), 33 seats. The UNR and the Democratic Workers Union (Union Démocratique du Travail—UDT), left-wing Gaullists, agreed to a full merger of their parties and together controlled 219 seats.
In the first presidential elections held by direct universal suffrage in December 1965, President de Gaulle was reelected on the second ballot with 55.2% of the total vote. In the March 1967 general elections, the UNR-UDT gained 246 seats against 116 for the Socialists and 73 for the Communists. Following nationwide strikes and civil disturbances by workers and students in the spring of 1968, new parliamentary elections were held in June, in which de Gaulle's supporters won a sweeping victory.
The Union for the Defense of the Republic (Union pour la Défense de la République—UDR) emerged as the new official Gaullist organization. Political movements of the center joined to form the Progress and Modern Democracy group (Centre-PDM), while Socialists and the democratic left united under the Federation of the Left. Of the 487 Assembly seats, the UDR won 292 seats; RI, 61; Federation of the Left, 57; Communists, 34; Centre-PDM, 33; and independents, 10.
On 28 April 1969, following the defeat in a national referendum of a Gaullist plan to reorganize the Senate and regional government, President de Gaulle resigned. He was succeeded by former premier Georges Pompidou, a staunch Gaullist, who won 58% of the vote in elections held on 15 June 1969. During the Pompidou administration, Gaullist control was weakened by an alliance between the Communist and Socialist parties. In March 1973 elections, the Gaullist UDR lost 109 seats, falling to 183 of the 490 seats at stake. The Communists and Socialists increased their representation to 72 and 103, respectively. The remaining seats were won by the RI (55) and by centrists, reformists, and unaffiliated candidates (77).
On 2 April 1974, President Pompidou died. In elections held on 5 May, Gaullist candidate and former premier Jacques Chaban-Delmas was defeated, receiving only 15% of the votes cast. The leader of the leftist coalition, François Mitterrand, received over 11 million votes, and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the leader of the RI, over 8 million. However, as neither had won a majority, a run-off election was held on 19 May. Giscard, with the help of Gaullist votes, defeated Mitterrand by a margin of 50.7% to 49.3%. Jacques Chirac of the UDR was made premier, with a cabinet made up mainly of RI and UDR members.
A new Gaullist party, the Rally for the Republic (Rassemblement pour la République—RPR), founded by Chirac in 1976, received 26.1% of the vote in the second round of the 1978 legislative elections, winning 154 seats in the National Assembly. Th at year, the centrist parties had formed the Union for French Democracy (Union pour la Démocratie Française—UDF). The federation, which included the Republican Party (Parti Républicain), the successor to the RI, won 23.2% of the vote in the second round of balloting, giving the centrist coalition 124 seats in the National Assembly. The Socialists and Communists, who ran on a common platform as the Union of the Left, together won 199 seats (Socialists 113, Communists 86) and 46.9% of the vote. Independents, with the remaining 3.8%, controlled 14 seats, for a total of 491.
In the presidential elections of 26 April and 10 May 1981, Mitterrand received 25.8% of the vote on the first ballot (behind Giscard's 28.3%) and 51.8% on the second ballot, to become France's first Socialist president since the 1930s. Within weeks, Mitterrand called new legislative elections: that June, the Socialists and their allies won 49.2% of the vote and 285 seats, the RPR 22.4% and 88 seats, the UDF 18.6% and 63 seats, the Communists 7% and 44 seats; independents won the remaining 2.8% and 11 seats. In return for concessions on various political matters, four Communists received cabinet portfolios, none relating directly to foreign affairs or national security. The sweeping victory of the left was, however, eroded in March 1983 when Socialist and Communist officeholders lost their seats in about 30 cities in municipal balloting. Meanwhile, the Communists had become disaffected by government policies and did not seek appointments in the cabinet named when a new Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius, was appointed in July 1984.
The National Assembly elections held in March 1993 represented a major defeat for the Socialist Party and their allies. The RPR and UDF won 247 and 213 seats, respectively, while the Socialists were reduced to 67 seats. The Communists also suffered losses, securing only 24 seats. Minor parties and independents won 26 seats. In cantonal elections held in March 1985, the candidates of the left won less than 40% of the vote, while candidates on the right increased their share by 10–15%. The Socialists lost 155 of the 579 Socialist seats that were at stake. As a result, the Socialists introduced a new system of proportional voting aimed at reducing their losses in the forthcoming general election of 16 March 1986. The Socialists and their allies nevertheless won only 33% of the vote and 216 seats out of 577 in the expanded National Assembly. The RPR, the UDF, and their allies received 45% of the vote and 291 seats. The Communists, suffering a historic defeat, split the remaining 70 seats evenly with the far-right National Front, which won representation for the first time. The Socialists remained the largest single party, but the coalition led by the RPR and UDF had a majority; on that basis, Mitterrand appointed RPR leader Chirac as prime minister, heading a center-right government. Following his defeat by Mitterand in the May 1988 presidential election, Chirac resigned and a minority Socialist government was formed.
In 1995, Jacques Chirac was elected president, defeating Socialist Lionel Jospin. In 1997, one year before they were scheduled, Chirac called for new parliamentary elections, hoping to achieve a mandate to inaugurate his policy of fiscal austerity. Instead, the Gaullists suffered a stunning defeat by the Socialists and Communists, leading to the appointment of Jospin as prime minister. In those elections, held 25 May and 1 June 1997, the Gaullists saw their parliamentary presence decline from 464 seats to 249; the Socialists (and related splinter groups) went from 75 seats to 273; the Communists from 24 to 38; the Greens from no seats to 8; and the far-right National Front maintained its single seat.
The first round of presidential elections were held on 21 April 2002, with Jospin coming in third behind National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jacques Chirac in the first round. Two days after these results, on 23 April 2002, the Union en Mouvement (Union in Motion—UEM) was dissolved and replaced by the Union pour la majorité présidentielle (Union for Presidential Majority—UMP) in order to create a major public support behind Chirac in his second round face-off with Le Pen. In May 2002, Jacques Chirac defeated Jean-Marie Le Pen in the second round, taking 82.2% of the vote to Le Pen's 17.8%.
In the National Assembly elections held in June 2002, Chirac's UMP (RPR united with the Liberal Democracy party, formerly the Republican Party) won an overwhelming majority of seats, taking 357 to the Socialists' 140. The National Front failed to win a single seat; the UDF held 29 seats and the Communists took 21. The Greens held only three seats.
On 17 November 2002, the UMP changed its name to Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement), keeping the same acronym but modifying the out-of-date appellation.
Its first test occurred in March 2004, during the cantonal and regional elections. While suffering a devastating loss, it managed, through alliances, to secure a relative majority of the votes.
Its second test was the European elections, also held in 2004. The UMP won only 17% of the votes, while the Socialist Party earned 29% and the UDF (composed of members that refused to join in the UMP) reached 12%. The UDF's relative success was largely caused by the attractive alternative that it offered voters that were unhappy with the government's take on social and European issues.
The relative slump of the right can also be explained by the rise of popularity of the National Front and the unpopularity generated by the Raffarin governments.
In 1972, parliament approved a code of regional reforms that had been rejected when proposed previously by President de Gaulle in 1969. Under this law, the 96 departments of metropolitan France were grouped into 22 regions. Regional councils composed of local deputies, senators, and delegates were formed and prefects appointed; in addition, regional economic and social committees, made up of labor and management representatives, were created. This system was superseded by the decentralization law of 2 March 1982, providing for the transfer of administrative and financial authority from the prefect to the general council, which elects its own president; the national government's representative in the department is appointed by the cabinet. The 1982 law like-wise replaced the system of regional prefects with regional councils, elected by universal direct suffrage, and, for each region, an economic and social committee that serves in an advisory role; the national government's representative in each region, named by the cabinet, exercises administrative powers. The first regional assembly to be elected was that of Corsica in August 1982; the first direct assembly elections in all 22 regions were held in March 1986.
Each of the 96 departments (and four overseas: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Reunion and French Guiana) is further subdivided for administrative purposes into arrondissements, cantons, and communes (municipalities). The basic unit of local government is the commune, governed by a municipal council and presided over by a mayor. A commune may be an Alpine village with no more than a dozen inhabitants, or it may be a large city, such as Lyon or Marseille. The majority, however, are small. In 1990, only 235 communes out of 36,551 had more than 30,000 inhabitants; 84% of all communes had fewer than 1,500 inhabitants, and 43% had fewer than 300. (As of 2002, France had 36,763 communes). Most recently the trend has been for the smallest communes to merge and create larger urban communities, or to come together as communal syndicates to share responsibilities. Municipal councilors are elected by universal suffrage for six-year terms. Each council elects a mayor who also serves as a representative of the central government. Several communes are grouped into a canton, and cantons are grouped into arrondissements, which have little administrative significance. As of 1 January 2005, France had 36,779 communes (214 of them overseas).
There are two types of lower judicial courts in France, the civil courts (471 tribunaux d'instance and 181 tribunaux de grande instance in 1985, including overseas departments) and the criminal courts (tribunaux de police for petty offenses such as parking violations, tribunaux correctionnels for criminal misdemeanors). The function of the civil courts is to judge conflicts arising between persons; the function of the criminal courts is to judge minor infractions (contraventions ) and graver offenses (délits ) against the law. The most serious crimes, for which the penalties may range to life imprisonment, are tried in assize courts (cours d'assises ); these do not sit regularly but are called into session when necessary. They are presided over by judges from the appeals courts. In addition, there are special commercial courts (tribunaux de commerce ), composed of judges elected among themselves by tradesmen and manufacturers, to decide commercial cases; conciliation boards (conseils de prud'hommes ), made up of employees and employers, to decide their disputes; and professional courts with disciplinary powers within the professions. Special administrative courts (tribunaux administratifs ) deal with disputes between individuals and government agencies. The highest administrative court is the Council of State (Conseil d'État ).
From the lower civil and criminal courts alike, appeals may be taken to appeals courts (cours d'Appel ), of which there were 27 in 2003. Judgments of the appeals courts and the courts of assize are final, except that appeals on the interpretation of the law or points of procedure may be taken to the highest of the judicial courts, the Court of Cassation in Paris. If it finds that either the letter or spirit of the law has been misapplied, it may annual a judgment and return a case for retrial by the lower courts. The High Court of Justice (Haute Cour de Justice ), consisting of judges and members of parliament, is convened to pass judgment on the president and cabinet members if a formal accusation of treason or criminal behavior has been voted by an absolute majority of both the National Assembly and the Senate. The death penalty was abolished in 1981.
The Conseil Constitutionnel, created by the 1958 constitution, is now the only French forum available for constitutional review of legislation. Challenges to legislation may be raised by the president of the republic, the prime minister, the president of the Senate, the president of the National Assembly, 60 senators, or 60 deputies of the National Assembly during the period between passage and promulgation (signature of president). Once promulgated, French legislation is not subject to judicial review.
The French judiciary is fully independent from the executive and legislative branches. The judiciary is subject to European Union mandates, which guide national law. This has been the case in the Court of Cassation since 1975, in the Council of State since 1989, and now even in the civil courts.
In 2005 there were 254,895 active personnel in the French armed services. An additional 104,275 served in the Gendarmerie Nationale, which is heavily armed. Reserves totaled 21,650 from all services. In 2005 the military budget was $41.6 billion.
France's strategic nuclear forces in 2005 had 4,041 active personnel, of which 2,200 were Navy personnel, 1,800 Air Force, and 41 Gendarmarie Nationale. Equipment included four SSBNs, 24 Navy and 60 Air Combat Command fighter/ground attack aircraft. The French have the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world with a suspected total of 482 weapons. The Army in 2005 numbered 133,500 military and 28,500 civilian personnel. Included were 7,700 members of the Foreign Legion, a 14,700 member marine force and an estimated 2,700 Special Operations Forces, as part of the French Army. Equipment included 926 main battle tanks, 1,809 reconnaissance vehicles, 601 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 4,413 armored personnel carriers, and 787 artillery pieces (105 towed).
The French Navy numbered 46,195 active personnel and 10,265 civilians in 2005. For that year, the Navy was equipped with 10 modern submarines (4 SSBNs and 6 SSNs), 34 principal surface combatants (including one CVN and one CVH or helicopter carrier), and 85 other ships for mine warfare, amphibious operations, and logistics and support. France had 6,443 naval aviation personnel. There were also 2,050 naval marines, including 500 commandos. The Navy also provided coast guard services and fishery protection. The French Air Force numbered 65,400 active members, plus 5,700 civilians, and operated 295 combat capable aircraft.
France maintains substantial forces abroad in a number of countries, current and former possessions, and protectorates. These forces are supported by aircraft and naval ships in the Indian and Pacific oceans, and in the Carribean. France has substantial garrisons in Antilles-Guyana, New Caledonia, Réunion Island, and Polynesia, and it provides military missions and combat formations to several African nations. Troops are also deployed on peacekeeping missions in several different regions and countries.
France is a charter member of the United Nations, having joined on 24 October 1945, and actively cooperates in ECE, ECLAC, ESCAP, and most of the nonregional specialized agencies; it is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. France joined the WTO in 1995. France is also a founding member of the European Union. Although France still belongs to NATO, in 1966 the nation withdrew its personnel from the two integrated NATO commands—Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT). In December 1995, the country announced an intention to increase participation in the NATO military wing once again. France is a member of the Asian Development Bank, the African development Bank, the Central African States Development Bank (BDEAC), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Council of Europe, OAS (as a permanent observer), OECD, OSCE, G-5, G-7, G-8, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and the Paris Club.
Since 2003, France has supported four UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Iraq. The country serves as a commissioner on the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission and has also offered support to UN missions in Kosovo (est. 1999), Lebanon (1978), the Western Sahara (1991), Ethiopia and Eritrea (2000), Liberia (2003), the DROC (1999), and Haiti (2004).
France belongs to the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Zangger Committee, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). In environmental cooperation, France is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; CITES; the London Convention; International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.
France is one of the most richly endowed countries of Europe. The favorable climate, extensive areas of rich soil, and long-established tradition of skilled agriculture have created ideal conditions for a thriving farm economy. Agriculture and the agro-food industries account for a larger share of economic activity than in many other west European nations. Large deposits of iron ore, a wellintegrated network of power plants, important domestic reserves of natural gas, good transport, and high standards of industrial workmanship have made the French industrial complex one of the most modern in Europe.
After World War II, France's economy was stronger than it had been in the period between the two world wars. But on the debit side were the extremely high costs of France's colonial campaigns in Indochina and North Africa; the periodic lack of confidence of French investors in the nation's economy, resulting in the largescale flight of funds; and the successive devaluations of the franc.
Through most of the 1960s and early 1970s, the French economy expanded steadily, with GDP more than doubling between 1959 and 1967. However, the international oil crisis of 1974 led to a sharp rise in import costs; the resulting inflation eroded real growth to about 3% annually between 1977 and 1979. Further oil price increases in 1979–80 marked the beginning of a prolonged recession, with high inflation, high unemployment, balance-of-payments deficits, declining private investment, and shortages in foreign exchange reserves. However, GDP grew by an annual average of 2.5% between 1984 and 1991. During the early 1990s, GDP expanded by an average 2%, a modest rate. By the late 1990s, however, the economy began to record higher growth rates. In 1998 the French economy grew by 3.3% in real terms. Unemployment, however, remained high at 11.5%. To combat this, the Socialist-led coalition of Lionel Jospin enacted legislation cutting the work week to 35 hours in 2000. This measure, along with other incentives, resulted in unemployment falling under 10% as over 400,000 new jobs were created in the first half of 2000. In 2002, GDP growth was low (1%), due to the global economic slowdown and a decline in investment. However, France's exports increased at a greater rate than imports, fueling the economy. France in 2002 fell from being the world's fourth-largest industrialized economy to fifth, being replaced by the United Kingdom. In 2004, France had a $1.737 trillion economy, in purchasing power parity terms. In 2004, real GDP growth was 1.9%. In 2005, real GDP growth was expected to slow to 1.4%, before picking up to 1.6% in 2006 and 2.2% in 2007.
France and the United States are the world's top two exporting countries in defense products, agricultural goods, and services. Taxes remain the highest in the G-8 industrialized countries, and the tax structure is seen as a hindrance to business activity. The fastest-growing sectors of the economy have been telecommunications, aerospace, consulting services, meat and milk products, public works, insurance and financial services, and recreation, culture, and sports. Although the government has privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, it still controls large sectors of the economy, including energy, transportation, and the defense industry.
The French social model, characterized by heavy state involvement in the economy, a tax on wealth, and generous benefits for workers, has proved to be a strong disincentive to growth and job creation. Unemployment, at 9.8% in September 2005, is double that in the United Kingdom. The pension system and rising healthcare costs strain public finances. Attempts to liberalize the economy have met strong resistance from labor unions and the left. Pension reforms proposed by the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin in early 2003 were met by huge protests and strikes in France. Discontent with the economy played a large role in France's rejection of the EU constitution in May 2005. Dominique de Villepin, who became prime minister after the EU vote, promised to focus on unemployment and was in the process of engineering the sale of parts of Gaz de France and Electricité de France (the world's largest generator of nuclear power) to help compensate for state deficits. Violent unrest in hundreds of towns erupted in the fall of 2005, triggered by frustration over high unemployment among urban youth. Politicians were faced with the challenge to craft social and economic policies to address the underlying causes of the rioting, which was centered in communities with large African and Arab populations, where youth unemployment reportedly approached 40% (and stood at 25% in the country overall).
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 France's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $1.8 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $29,900. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.5%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 1.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.5% of GDP, industry 21.4%, and services 76.1%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $11.418 billion or about $191 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.6% of GDP.
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in France totaled $976.15 billion or about $16,324 per capita based on a GDP of $1.8 trillion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 1.6%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 22% of household consumption was spent on food, 9% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 8% on education. It was estimated that in 2000 about 6.5% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.
In 2005, the French workforce was estimated at 27.72 million. In 1999 (the latest year for which data was available), 71.5% of the workforce was employed in the services sector, with industry accounting for 24.4%, and 4.1% in agriculture. As of 2005, the unemployment rate was estimated at 10%, although overall youth unemployment was much higher (25%), with unemployment among urban youth approaching 40%.
Although only about 7% of the workforce was unionized as of 2005, trade unions have significant influence in the country. Workers freely exercise their right to strike unless it is prohibited due to public safety. Many unions are members of international labor organizations. Collective bargaining is prevalent. It is illegal to discriminate against union activity.
The government determines the minimum hourly rate, which was the equivalent of $9.64 as of 2005. This amount provides a decent standard of living for a family. The standard legal workweek is set at 35 hours with restrictions on overtime. Children under age 16 are not permitted to work, and there are restrictions pertaining to employment of those under 18. Child labor laws are strictly enforced. The labor code and other laws provide for work, safety, and health standards.
Agriculture remains a vital sector of the French economy, even though it engages only about 3.3% of the labor force and contributes about 3% of the GDP. Since the early 1970s, the agricultural labor force has diminished by about 60%. In 2003, France's fulltime farm labor force of 592,550 was still the second-highest in the EU. France, whose farms export more agricultural food products than any other EU nation (accounting for 19% of the EU's total agricultural output in 2003), is the only country in Europe to be completely self-suffi cient in basic food production; moreover, the high quality of the nation's agricultural products contributes to the excellence of its famous cuisine. France is one of the leaders in Europe in the value of agricultural exports—chiefly wheat, sugar, wine, and beef. Tropical commodities, cotton, tobacco, and vegetable oils are among the chief agricultural imports.
As of 2003 36% of France's area was arable. About 11.8 million hectares (29.1 million acres) of the usable farm area is under annual crops, with another 228,000 hectares (563,000 acres) in permanent crops. There were 735,000 farms in France in 1995, of which only 454,000 were managed by full-time farmers. Since the 1950s, the number of farms has declined and the size of individual holdings has increased. By 1983 there were about 1.13 million farms, as compared to 2.3 million in 1955, and the average farm size was about 26 hectares (64 acres). Average farm size had grown to around 50 hectares (124 acres) in 2000. Because French law provides for equal rights of inheritance, traditionally much of the farmland came to be split up into small, scattered fragments. One of the major aims of postwar plans for rural improvement has been the consolidation of these through reallotment. Such consolidation also fosters the growth of mechanization. In 2003 there were 1,264,000 tractors (fourth in the world after the United States, Japan, and Italy) compared with 100,000 in 1948, and 1,327,900 in 1974.
Of the total productive agricultural area, about 61% is under cultivation, 35% is pasture, and 4% vineyards. The most productive farms are in northern France, but specialized areas, such as the vegetable farms of Brittany, the great commercial vineyards of the Languedoc, Burgundy, and Bordeaux districts, and the flower gardens, olive groves, and orchards of Provence, also contribute heavily to the farm economy.
Among agricultural products, cereals (wheat, barley, oats, corn, and sorghum), industrial crops (sugar beets, flax), root crops (potatoes), and wine are by far the most important. In 2004, the wheat crop totaled 39,704,000 tons and barley, 11,040,000 tons. Other totals (in tons) included oats, 598,000; corn, 16,391,000; sugar beets, 30,554,000; rapeseed, 3,969,000 tons; and sunflower seed, 1,467,000 tons. Wine production in 2004 totaled 557 million liters from 7,542,000 tons of grapes. There is large-scale production of fruits, chiefly apples, pears, peaches, and cherries.
Output of animal products in 2003 was valued at nearly €23.7 billion, the highest in the EU. In 2005, farm animals included 19.3 million head of cattle, 15 million swine, 10.2 million sheep and goats, and 355,000 horses. Poultry and rabbits are raised in large numbers, both for farm families and for city markets. Percheron draft horses are raised in northern France, range cattle in the central highlands and the flatlands west of the Rhône, and goats and sheep in the hills of the south. Meat production in 2005 included 1,529,000 tons of beef and veal, 2,257,000 tons of pork, 1,971,000 tons of poultry, and 123,000 tons of mutton. Meat exports in 2004 were valued at over $3.3 billion.
Dairy farming flourishes in the rich grasslands of Normandy. Total cows' milk production in 2005 was 25,282,000 tons. France produces some 300 kinds of cheese; in 2005, production totaled about 1,824,000 tons. Butter and egg production were 426,000 and 1,245,000 tons, respectively. Dairy and egg exports generated $5 billion in 2005.
France's 4,716 km (2,930 mi) of coastline, dotted with numerous small harbors, has long supported a flourishing coastal and highseas fishing industry. Total fish production in 2003 amounted to 874,397 tons (valued at €1,686 million) with the fresh wild catch accounting for 44%; the frozen wild catch, 27%; and aquaculture, 28%. French aquaculture consists mainly of oyster and mussel production; most of the facilities are located along the English Channel and the Atlantic coasts. Aquaculture yielded 246,919 tons in 2003, valued at €542 million.
Herring, skate, whiting, sole, mackerel, tuna, sardines, lobsters, and mussels make up the principal seafood catch, along with cod, mostly from the fishing banks off northern North America, where French fishing vessels have sailed for centuries. Production of canned seafood products in 2003 totaled 80,501 tons, mostly tuna, mackerel, and sardines.
In 2004, France's trade deficit for seafood products was 604,050 tons, valued at over €2.1 billion. The United Kingdom and Norway are France's leading seafood suppliers.
Forestry production in France has been encouraged by the government since the 16th century, when wood was a strategic resource in building warships. Although much of the original forest cover was cut in the course of centuries, strict forest management practices and sizable reforestation projects during the last 100 years have restored French forests considerably. Since 1947, the government has subsidized the afforestation and replanting of 2.1 million hectares (5.2 million acres) of forestland along with thousands of miles of wood transport roads. The reforestation project in the Landes region of southwestern France has been particularly successful. During 1990–2000, the forested area increased by an annual average of 0.4%. About 66% of the forestland is covered with oak, beech, and poplar and 34% with resinous trees. There were some 16 million hectares (39.5 million acres) of forest in 2001, amounting to 29% of France's total area. This makes France the third most forested country in the EU, behind Sweden and Finland. The forestry and wood products sector employed 257,000 persons in 35,000 companies in 2000. In 2004, the gross value added by France's forestry industry was €2.9 billion.
Production of roundwood in 2004 was 34.6 million cu m (1.22 billion cu ft), and was supplemented with imports. Hardwood log production reached 6.5 million cu m (229 million cu ft) that year, while plywood panel production amounted to 500,000 cu m (17.6 million cu ft). Softwood log production totaled 13 million cu m (459 million cu ft) in 2004. Trade in forestry products in 2003 amounted to $8.1 billion in imports and $6.3 billion in exports.
In December 1999, a hurricane hit France and damaged an estimated 50 million cu m (1.8 billion cu ft) of trees, with 31 million cu m (1.1 billion cu ft) in public forests.
France was a major European mineral producer, despite significant declines in the production of traditional minerals in recent years. France was among the leading producers of coal, was Europe's only producer of andalusite, and counted iron among its top export commodities in 2002. France was also self-suffi cient in salt, potash, fluorspar, and talc. Talc de Luzenac, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, was the leading producer of talc in the world. In addition, France had sizable deposits of antimony, bauxite, magnesium, pyrites, tungsten, and certain radioactive minerals. One of the world's most developed economies, France had to make considerable changes in the structure of its industries, particularly those mineral industries controlled by the state. Prior to 2000, the state's heavy economic and political involvement was a main element of national mineral policy. Cessation of government subsidies to unprofitable operations, cheaper foreign sources, and depletion of mineral reserves have greatly affected the industry, particularly bauxite, coal, iron ore, lead, uranium, and zinc. The government has made efforts to promote the private sector, to proceed with a program of privatization, and to reduce the dependence of state-owned companies on subsidies. To encourage exploration, the government in 1995 passed a law expediting the granting of surveying and mining licenses.
Production figures for 2003 were: agricultural and industrial limestone, 12,000 metric tons; hydraulic cement, 20 million tons; salt (rock, refined brine, marine, and in solution), 6.673 million tons; crude gypsum and anhydrite, 3.5 million tons (France was one of Europe's largest producers of gypsum, with two-thirds coming from the Paris Basin); marketable kaolin and kaolinitic clay, 323,000 tons; crude feldspar, 671,000 tons; marketable fluorspar, 89,000 tons; barite, 81,000 metric tons, up slightly from 80,000 metric tons in 2003; kyanite, andalusite, and related materials, 65,000 tons; mica, 10,000 metric tons; and crude and powdered talc (significant to the European market), 645,000 metric tons. In 2003 France also produced copper; gold; silver; powder tungsten; uranium; elemental bromine; refractory clays; diatomite; lime; nitrogen; mineral, natural, and iron oxide pigments; Thomas slag phosphates; pozzolan and lapilli; and soda ash and sodium sulfate. No iron ore was produced in 2003; the iron ore basin, stretching from Lorraine northward, used to produce more than 50 million tons per year, but its high phosphorus and low iron content limited its desirability. Terres Rouges Mine, the last to operate in Lorraine, closed in 1998. France ceased producing bauxite (named after Les Baux, in southern France) in 1993. Mining of lead and zinc has completely ceased.
France's energy and power sector is marked by modest reserves of oil, natural gas and coal, and a heavy reliance upon nuclear energy to meet its energy needs.
As of 1 January 2005, France had estimated proven oil reserves of 0.1 billion barrels, with the bulk of its oil production in the Paris and Aquitaine Basins. In 2001, crude oil production was 28,000 barrels per day, but declined to 23,300 barrels per day in 2004. Total oil product output, including refinery gain, came to an estimated 76,600 barrels per day, of which 30% was crude oil. In 2004, domestic demand for oil came to an estimated 1,976.900 barrels per day, making France the world's 10th-largest consumer of oil. As a result of the disparity between consumption and production, France has had to import crude oil. In 2004, net imports of crude oil came to 1.96 million barrels per day.
Like its oil resources, France's coal and natural gas reserves are very limited. As of 1 January 2005, the country had an estimated 500 billion cu ft of proven natural gas reserves. Production and consumption of natural gas in 2003 totaled an estimated 100 billion cu ft and 1,554.5 billion cu ft, respectively.
France's recoverable coal reserves, production, and consumption in 2003 were estimated at 16.5 million short tons; 1.9 million short tons; and 21.4 million short tons, respectively. In April 2004, France closed its last operating coal mine and has since relied on coal imports to meet its demand for coal.
During the 1950s France became increasingly dependent on outside sources for petroleum. Although petroleum and natural gas continued to be produced in France itself (as they are today), the nation came to rely almost entirely on imports from oil fields of the Middle East, putting a heavy strain on the country's foreign exchange reserves. Discoveries of large supplies of natural gas and petroleum in the Sahara Desert changed the outlook radically; in 1967 France was able to meet almost half its fuel needs from countries within the franc zone. Petroleum production from the Saharan fields rose spectacularly from 8.7 million tons in 1960 to 53 million tons in 1970. Although France lost title to the Saharan deposits after Algerian independence, arrangements were made with the Algerian government to keep up the flow of oil to France.
Developments in the 1970s exposed the limitations of this strategy. Algeria took controlling interest in French oil company subsidiaries in 1971. The oil shocks of the mid-and late 1970s drove France's fuel and energy imports up; in 1975, fuel imports accounted for 22.9% of all imports. In response, France began an energy conservation program, but oil consumption continued to increase between 1973 and 1980, when fuel imports made up 26.6% of total imports. Mergers involving France's top oil companies in 1999 and 2000 created the fourth-largest oil company in the world, TotalFinaElf.
France's electric power sector is marked by a heavy reliance upon nuclear power. France has become the world's leading producer of nuclear power per capita, with the world's second-greatest nuclear power capacity (exceeded only by the United States). Nuclear power accounts for 78.5% of the electric power generated in France, followed by hydroelectric at 11.5% and conventional thermal at 9.3%. In 2003, France had an installed generating capacity estimated at 112 GW, with production and consumption estimated at 536.9 billion kWh and 433.3 billion kWh, respectively. All electric power generation and distribution is controlled by the state-owned monopoly, Electricite de France (EdF). However, France has slowly begun to deregulate its electricity sector and to privatize EdF. France is also Europe's second-largest power market, exceeded only by Germany.
Industry has expanded considerably since World War II, with particularly significant progress in the electronics, transport, processing, and construction industries. France is the world's fourth-leading industrial power, after the United States, Japan, and Germany (although France was surpassed by the United Kingdom in 2002 as the world's fourth-largest economy). Manufacturing accounted for almost 80% of total exports of goods and services in 2005, and exports represent about 27% of French GDP.
In 2004, the industrial sector accounted for 24.3% of GDP. Manufacturing, including construction and engineering, accounts for 29% of all jobs, 40% of investments, and almost 80% of exports. The state has long played an active role in French industry, but government involvement was greatly accelerated by a series of nationalization measures enacted by the Socialists in 1982. By 1983, about one-third of French industry—3,500 companies in all—was under state control. However, there was some privatization during 1986–88, later resumed in 1993, with 21 state-owned industries, banks, and insurance companies scheduled to be sold. Although substantial progress had been made in privatization in the early 2000s, the government still held a majority stake in such industries as aeronautics, defense, automobiles, energy, and telecommunications. In July 2005, the government partially privatized Gaz de France, and in October gave the go-ahead for the partial privatization of Electricité de France.
Although France's industrial output has quadrupled since 1950, by 2005 nearly 1.5 million jobs had been lost since the 1980s. Th is shrinkage reflects not only steadily rising productivity, but also the major restructuring of industry due to globalization and the instability of oil markets. In this respect, French industry has seen a rapid concentration of its firms and a sharp rise in direct investment abroad. As of 2005, French companies controlled some 15,800 subsidiaries outside France, employing 2.5 million people. On the other hand, 2,860 companies controlled by foreign capital are responsible for 28% of France's output, 24% of jobs, and 30% of the manufacturing sector. France is the third-largest destination of inward investment in the world, after the United States and the United Kingdom, above all in the fields of information technology, pharmaceuticals, machine tools, and precision instruments.
The steel industry has suffered because of international competition and a general shift away from steel to aluminum and plastics. The French aluminum industry is dominated by a factory in Dunkirk owned by Pechiney, which was privatized at the end of 1995.
The French automotive industry ranks third in world exports. The two leading companies are PSA (which controls the Peugeot and Citroen brands) and Renault, the latter state-owned. The domestic market, however, has fallen prey to foreign competitors, especially from Germany and Japan, forcing the French auto makers to make greater use of robots, lay off workers, and open plants abroad.
The French aircraft industry, not primarily a mass producer, specializes in sophisticated design and experimental development. Some of its models, such as the Caravelle and the Mirage IV, have been used in over 50 countries. Aérospatiale became a state company after World War II. Airbus, based in Toulouse and formed in 1970 following an agreement between Aérospatiale and Deutsche Aerospace (Germany), is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft. Airbus was incorporated in 2001 under French law as a simplified joint stock company. The Airbus A380 will seat 555 passengers and be the world's largest commercial passenger jet when it enters service in 2006.
The chemical industry, although not as strong as its rivals in Germany and the United States, ranks fourth in the world. The pharmaceuticals, perfume, and cosmetics industry is highly significant. France is the world's largest exporter of perfumes.
The textile industry is also important: France is the world's fourth-largest exporter of women's clothing. However, foreign competition has cut into the French textile industry. Following the expiration of the World Trade Organization's longstanding system of textile quotas at the beginning of 2005, the EU signed an agreement with China in June 2005 imposing new quotas on 10 categories of textile goods, limiting growth in those categories to between 8% and 12.5% a year. The agreement runs until 2007, and was designed to give European textile manufacturers time to adjust to a world of unfettered competition. Nevertheless, barely a month after the EU-China agreement was signed, China reached its quotas for sweaters, followed soon after by blouses, bras, T-shirts, and flax yarn. Tens of millions of garments piled up in warehouses and customs checkpoints, which affected both retailers and consumers.
Agribusiness is an increasingly important industry, supplying France's vast number of restaurants and hotels. The food processing industry is a major force in the French economy. Cooperative ventures are particularly important to the food industry. France is the world's second-largest wine producer after Italy. It is the world's second-largest exporter of cheeses.
The great concentrations of French industry are in and around Paris, in the coal basin of northern France, in Alsace and Lorraine, and around Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand. French industry, in general, is strong on inventiveness and inclined toward small-scale production of high-quality items. The French government offers subsidies and easy credit to firms undertaking relocation, reconversion, or plant modernization.
French inventors played a pivotal role in the development of photography and the internal combustion engine. To French ingenuity the world also owes the first mechanical adding machine (1642), the parachute (1783), the electric generator (1832), the refrigerator (1858), and the neon lamp (1910). French industry has pioneered in the development of high-speed transportation systems, notably the supersonic Concorde and the TGV high-speed train, and French subway companies have built or provided equipment for mass-transit systems in Montréal, Mexico City, Río de Janeiro, and other cities.
France is a leading exporter of nuclear technology and has developed the first commercial vitrification plant for the disposal of radioactive wastes by integrating them in special glass and then encasing the glass in stainless steel containers for burial. In 1965, France was the third nation, after the USSR and the United States, to launch its own space satellite. The French no longer launch their own satellites, however, preferring instead to contribute to the European Space Agency.
The Acádémie des Sciences, founded by Louis XIV in 1666, consists of eight sections: mathematics, physics, mechanics, astronomy, chemistry, cellular and molecular biology, animal and plant biology, and human biology and medical sciences. The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), founded in 1939, controls more than 1,370 laboratories and research centers. In 1996, the CNRS employed 19,391 researchers and engineers and 7,263 technicians and administrative staff. In addition, there are well over 100 other scientific and technological academies, learned societies, and research institutes. France has a large number of universities and colleges that offer courses in basic and applied sciences. The Palais de la Découverte in Paris (founded in 1937) is a scientific center for the popularization of science. It has departments of mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, and earth sciences, and includes a planetarium and cinema. A similar Parisian facility is the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (founded in 1986). The city also has the Musée National des Techniques (founded in 1794) and the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace (founded in 1919).
In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 37% of university enrollment. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 27.1% were for the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, and engineering).
In 2002, France's total research and development (R&D) expenditures amounted to $36,357.186 billion or 2.27% of GDP, of which business provided 52.1%, followed by the government at 38.4%, foreign sources at 8%, and higher education at 0.7%. In that same year, high-tech exports were valued at $52.58.2 billion and accounted for 21% of manufactured exports. R&D personnel in 2002 numbered 3,134 scientists and engineers per million people.
The heart of French commerce, both domestic and foreign, is Paris. One-third of the country's commercial establishments are in the capital, and in many fields Parisian control is complete. The major provincial cities act as regional trade centers. The principal ports are Marseille, for trade with North Africa and with the Mediterranean and the Middle East; Bordeaux, for trade with West Africa and much of South America; and Le Havre, for trade with North America and northern Europe. Dunkerque and Rouen are important industrial ports.
The trend away from traditional small retailers is seen as a threat to tradition and, in some areas of the country, government assistance is offered to small retailers. Even so, larger retail outlets and hypermarkets have gained ground. Mail order sales and specialty chain stores have also grown. In 1999, metropolitan France had about 30,000 wholesale enterprises. In 2000, there were 5,863 supermarkets. In 2002, there were about 107 department stores. Among the 50 largest commercial companies in France are the department stores Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. A value-added tax (VAT) of 19.6% applies to most goods and services.
Business hours are customarily on weekdays from 9 am to noon and from 2 to 6 pm. Normal banking hours are 9 am to 4:30 pm, Monday–Friday. Most banks are closed on Saturdays; to serve a particular city or larger district, one bank will usually open Saturday mornings from 9 am to noon. Store hours are generally from 10 am to 7 pm, Monday–Saturday. Most businesses close for three or four weeks in August.
Advertising in newspapers and magazines and by outdoor signs is widespread. A limited amount of advertising is permitted on radio and television. Trade fairs are held regularly in Paris and other large cities.
Leading French exports, by major categories, are capital goods (machinery, heavy electrical equipment, transport equipment, and aircraft), consumer goods (automobiles, textiles, and leather), and semifinished products (mainly chemicals, iron, and steel). Major imports are fuels, machinery and equipment, chemicals and paper goods, and consumer goods.
The French trade balance was favorable in 1961 for the first time since 1927, but after 1961 imports rose at a higher rate than exports. Trade deficits generally increased until the 1990s. From 1977 to 1985, the trade deficit nearly tripled. Among factors held responsible were heavy domestic demand for consumer products not widely produced in France, narrowness of the range of major exports, and a concentration on markets not ripe for expansion of exports from France, notably the EU and OPEC countries. In the following years a growing change in the trade balance developed, and the deficit narrowed appreciably in 1992. By 1995, France had a trade surplus of $34 billion. By 2004, however, France once again had a trade deficit, of $7.9 billion. In all, France is the world's fourth-largest exporter of goods and the third-largest provider of services. France is the largest producer and exporter of farm products in Europe. Total trade for 2004 amounted to $858.2 billion, over 40% of GDP.
Garnering the highest revenues of export commodities from France are transport machinery, including automobiles, vehicle parts, and aircraft. French wine, perfumes, and cosmetics represent about a quarter each of the world market in their respective categories.
Trade with EU countries accounted for 61% of all French trade in 2004. In 2004, France's leading markets were Germany (15% of total exports), Spain (10.4%), the United Kingdom (9.4%), and Italy (9.3%). Leading suppliers were Germany (17.4% of all imports), Italy (9%), Belgium-Luxembourg (7.8%), and Spain (7.4%).
Between 1945 and 1958, France had a constant deficit in its balance of payments. The deficit was financed by foreign loans and by US aid under the Marshall Plan, which totaled more than $4.5 billion. A 1958 currency reform devalued the franc by 17.5%, reduced quota restrictions on imports, and allowed for repatriation of capital; these measures, combined with increased tourist trade and greater spending by US armed forces in the franc zone, improved France's payments position. With payments surpluses during
|Balance on goods||1.0|
|Balance on services||14.9|
|Balance on income||7.6|
|Direct investment abroad||-0.7|
|Direct investment abroad||-57.4|
|Direct investment in France||47.8|
|Portfolio investment assets||-147.5|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||136.2|
|Other investment assets||-20.0|
|Other investment liabilities||47.4|
|Net Errors and Omissions||5.8|
|Reserves and Related Items||-1.3|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
most of the 1960s, gold and currency reserve holdings rose to $6.9 billion by the end of 1967. However, a massive deficit in 1968 led to another devaluation of the franc in 1969, and by 31 December 1969, gold and reserve holdings had dropped to $3.8 billion. After surpluses in 1970–72 raised international reserves to over $10 billion, price increases for oil and other raw materials resulted in substantial negative balances on current accounts in 1973 and 1974; because of this, France required massive infusions of shortterm capital to meet its payments obligations.
Huge surpluses on the services account led to positive payments balances during 1977–80, when reserves rose by nearly $9.7 billion. After that, France's trade position deteriorated sharply. Foreign exchange reserves fell from $27.8 billion as of March 1981 to $14.1 billion by March 1983. To meet its payments obligation, France had to secure a $4 billion standby credit from international banks as well as loans from Saudi Arabia and the EC. During the mid-1980s, the trade deficit generally moderated; the current accounts balance recovered in 1985 from the heavy deficits of the past.
In 1992, the merchandise trade account recorded a surplus after having recorded a significant deficit of 1990. Trade in industrial goods (including military equipment) and a surplus in the manufacturing sector (the first since 1986) were responsible for the boost in exports. Economic growth rose throughout 1994 due to exports to English-speaking countries and a strong economy in Europe. Exports of both goods and services significantly contributed to GDP growth in 1995 with exports of goods totaling $270.4 billion and imports totaling $259.2 billion, resulting in a trade balance on goods of $11.2 billion. Exports of services totaled $97.8 billion while imports totaled $78.5 billion, resulting in a balance on services of $19.2 billion.
Although France in recent years has run consistent trade and current account surpluses, the country's trade balance showed a deficit in 2001, the first since 1991. It turned around in 2002. The value of merchandise exports in 2004 totaled $421.1 billion, while imports totaled $429.1 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $7.9 billion. Total trade for 2004 amounted to $858.2 billion, over 40% of GDP. France for several years had posted surpluses on the services and investment income balances. Nevertheless, the current account recorded a deficit of $4.8 billion, or 2% of GDP in 2004.
The Banque de France, founded in 1800, came completely under government control in 1945. It is the bank of issue, sets discount rates and maximum discounts for each bank, regulates public and private finance, and is the Treasury depository. In 1945, a provisional government headed by Gen. de Gaulle also nationalized France's four largest commercial banks, and the state thus came to control 55% of all deposits. The four banks were Crédit Lyonnais, the Société Générale, the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l'Industrie, and the Comptoir National d'Escompte de Paris. In 1966, the Banque Nationale and the Comptoir merged and formed the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP).
In 1982, Socialist president François Mitterrand nationalized 39 banks, bringing the state's control over deposits to 90%. Among leading banks nationalized in 1982 was the Crédit Commercial de France, but this bank and Société Générale were privatized in 1987 by the Chirac government.
France's (and Europe's) biggest bank is a curiosity. Crédit Agricole, founded at the end of the 19th century, was for most of its life a federation of rurally based mutual credit organizations. It has preserved its rural base and plays the leading role in providing farmers with state-subsidized loans. After 1982 it was allowed to pursue a policy of diversification, so that farmers eventually accounted for only 15% of its customers. In 1995 Crédit Agricole was listed as the eighth-biggest bank in the world, being preceded by six Japanese banks and HSBC Holdings.
In 1999, BNP and rival Société Générale attempted to take over another private bank, Paribas. Concurrently, BNP was waging a takeover bid for Société Générale itself. Ultimately, BNP won outright control of Paribas, but only 36.8% of the shares of Société Générale.
La Poste, the postal service, which in France is an independent public entity, also offers financial services and held about 10% of the market in 2002. By virtue of the Banking Act of January 1984, the main regulatory authority for the banking sector is the Commission Bancaire. It is presided over by the governor of the Banque de France. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $300.4 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $896.5 billion.
Public issues of stocks and bonds may be floated by corporations or by limited partnerships with shares. Publicly held companies that wish their stock to be traded on the exchange must receive prior authorization from the Stock Exchange Commission within the Ministry of Finance. In January 1962, the two principal Paris stock exchanges were merged. The six provincial exchanges specialize in shares of medium-size and small firms in their respective regions. In 2004, a total of 701 companies were listed on EURONEXT Paris. Total market capitalization in that same year came to $1,857.235 billion. In 2004, the CAC 40 index was up 7.4% from the previous year to 3,821.2.
Measured by stock market capitalization, the Paris Bourse is the third-largest in Europe after London and Frankfurt. The Lyon Bourse is the most active provincial stock exchange. MATIF (marché à terme des instruments financiers), the financial futures exchange, was opened in Paris in 1986 and has proved a success. The Société des Bourses Françaises (SBF), the operator of the French stock market, has been determinedly pursuing a policy of reform and modernization, and it expects to benefit from the liberalization of financial services brought about by the EU's Investment Services Directive (ISD). French legislation, providing for the liberalization of financial services, transposed the directive into national law.
Insurance is supervised by the government directorate of insurance, while reinsurance is regulated by the Ministry of Commerce. In 1946, a total of 32 major insurance companies were nationalized, and a central reinsurance institute was organized. All private insurance companies are required to place a portion of their reinsurance with the central reinsurance institute. In France, workers' compensation, tenants' property damage, third-party automobile, hunter's liability insurance, and professional indemnity for some professions are among those insurance lines that are compulsory.
However, as of 1996, the insurance sector was being shifted completely into private hands. Union des Assurances de Paris (UAP), which is France's largest insurance group, was privatized in 1994. The combining of insurance services with retail banking has become fashionable in recent years, hence the neologism bancassurance. Partners in this practice are UAP and BNP. Another development has been to forge alliances across the Rhine in Germany. Since July 1994, insurers registered in other European Union (EU) countries have been able to write risks in France under the EU Non-Life Directive.
In 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $163.679 billion, of which life premiums totaled $105.436 billion. In 2002, Groupama GAN was France's leading nonlife insurer, with $7.5 billion of nonlife premiums written. CNP was the leading life insurer, that same year, with $15.3 billion in written life premiums.
The fiscal year runs from 1 January to 31 December. Deficits have been commonplace, but in recent years, efforts have been made to cut back on the growth of taxes and government spending and, since 1986, to remove major state enterprises from the expense of government ownership. Deficit reduction became a top priority of the government when France committed to the European Monetary Union (EMU). Maastricht Treaty targets for the EMU required France to reduce the government's budget deficit to 3% of GDP by 1997. The government still maintains a fairly tight hold on myriad enterprises, ranging from energy to financial services to industry; government spending accounted for 52% of GDP in 2001.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 France's central government took in revenues of approximately $1.06 trillion and had expenditures of $1.1 trillion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$84 billion. Public
|Revenue and Grants||674.87||100.0%|
|General public services||110.77||15.2%|
|Public order and safety||12.29||1.7%|
|Housing and community amenities||6.04||0.8%|
|Recreational, culture, and religion||5.41||0.7%|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
debt in 2005 amounted to 66.5% of GDP. Total external debt was $2.826 trillion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2002, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were €674.87 billion and expenditures were €727.39 billion. The value of revenues was us$635 million and expenditures us$292 million, based on a market exchange rate for 2002 of us$1= €1.0626 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 15.2%; defense, 5.2%; public order and safety, 1.7%; economic affairs, 9.2%; environmental protection, 0.2%; housing and community amenities, 0.8%; recreation, culture, and religion, 0.7%; and education, 9.8%.
As with most industrialized democratic systems, France's tax system is complex and nuanced, though also subject to recent movements to reductions and simplifications. The basic corporate income tax rate for filings in 2006 was 33.33%, with a social surcharge of 3.3% that is applied when the global corporate income tax charge is over €763,000. A 1.5% surcharge for 2005 was abolished for fiscal years ending on or after 1 January 2006. Long-term capital gains by firms were taxed at a basic rate of 15%, plus surcharges. However, starting in 2006, the tax rate on long-term gains from qualified shareholdings received by companies will drop to 8%. Short-term capital gains are taxed according to the progressive individual income tax schedule. The main local tax is the business tax, charged on 84% of a value derived from the rental value of the premises, 16% of the value fixed assets, and 18% of annual payroll, and at rates set by local authorities each year. The business tax (taxe professionelle) varies significantly from place to place, with a range of 0–4%.
Individual income tax in France is assessed in accordance with a progressive schedule of statutory rates up to 48.09%. However, French tax law contains many provisions for exemptions and targeted reductions from taxable income, so that the actual income tax paid is highly individualized. Taxable capital gains for individuals include the sale of immovable property, securities and land (excluding bonds or the individual's primary residence). Gains that exceed the annual exemption are subject to a 27% tax rate. Past the fifth year, the capital gain is reduced by 10% per each year of ownership. Exempt are capital gains on the sale of the principal residence. If the sale of securities exceeds €15,000, the gains are taxed at a 27% rate.
The main indirect tax is the value-added tax (VAT) first introduced in January 1968. The standard rate in 2005 was 19.6%, with a 5.5% on most foodstuffs and agricultural products, medicines, hotel rooms, books, water and newspapers. A 2.1% rate applies to certain medicines that are reimbursed by the social security system. Nonindustrial businesses that do not pay the VAT on consumption (banks, insurance companies, the medical sector, associations, nonprofit organizations, etc.) pay a wage tax to cover social levies assessed according to a progressive schedule. Generally, social security contributions by employers range from range from approximately 35–45%, with the employee responsible for 18–23%. Inheritance taxes (succession duties) range from 5–60%, as do gift (donations) taxes. There is also a patrimonial tax of 3% on the fair market value of property owned in France, although foreign companies whose French financial assets are more than 50% are exempt. Also, foreign property holders may be exempt according to the terms of a bilateral tax treaty with France. (France is party to a numerous bilateral tax treaties with provisions that can greatly reduce tax liabilities for foreign investors.) Local taxes include a property tax, charged to owners of land and buildings, and a housing tax, charged to occupants of residential premises, assessed according to the rental value of the property. The social security system is operated separately from the general tax system, financed by contributions levied on earned income in accordance with four regimes: a general regime covering 80% of French citizens, a regime for agricultural workers, a special regime for civil servants and railway workers, and a regime for the self-employed. Tax levies have been used, however, to shore up the finances in the social security system.
Virtually all import duties are on an ad valorem CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value basis. Minimum tariff rates apply to imports from countries that extend corresponding advantages to France. General rates, fixed at three times the minimum, are levied on imports from other countries. France adheres to the EU's common external tariff for imports. Most raw materials enter duty-free, while most manufactured goods have a tariff of 5–17%. The recession of the early 1980s gave rise to calls for protectionist measures (e.g., against Japanese electronic equipment), but the socialist government remained ostensibly committed to free trade principles. Observers noted, however, that cumbersome customs clearance procedures were being used to slow the entry of certain Japanese imports, notably videotape recorders, to protect French firms. There is a standard 19.6% VAT on most imports, with a reduced rate of 5.5% for basic necessities.
Investment regulations are simple, and a range of financial incentives for foreign investors is available. France's skilled and productive labor force; central location in Europe, with its free movement of people, services capital, and goods; good infrastructure; and technology-oriented society all attract foreign investors. However, extensive economic regulation and taxation, high social costs, and a complex labor environment are all challenges for the investor.
All direct investments in France require advance notification of—and in some cases approval by—the Treasury Department. Investments from other EU countries cannot be refused, but the department may specify whether the investment is to be financed from French or foreign sources. High taxes dampen the investment climate: the standard rate of corporation tax in 2005 was 33.3%. In 2000, the standard rate of value-added tax (VAT) was cut from 20.6% to 19.6%.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in France climbed from $6.5 billion in 1973 to over $150 billion in 1997. The book value of total FDI stock in France in 2003 was $349 billion.
The annual inflow of FDI rose to almost $31 billion in 1998, up from $23 billion in 1997. From 1999 to 2002, annual FDI inflows averaged $47.7 billion. In 2002, FDI inflow was $48.2 billion, and in 2003 it was $52 billion. The major investors are the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. In 2003, the outflow of investment totaled $63 billion. France invests most heavily in the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Switzerland.
Since World War II (1939–45), France has implemented a series of economic plans, introduced to direct the postwar recovery period but later expanded to provide for generally increasing governmental direction of the economy. The first postwar modernization and equipment plan (1947–53) was designed to get the machinery of production going again; the basic economic sectors—coal, steel, cement, farm machinery, and transportation—were chosen for major expansion, and productivity greatly exceeded the target goals. The second plan (1954–57) was extended to cover all productive activities, especially agriculture, the processing industries, housing construction, and expansion of overseas production. The third plan (1958–61) sought, in conditions of monetary stability and balanced foreign payments, to achieve a major economic expansion, increasing national production by 20% in four years. After the successful devaluation of 1958 and an improvement in the overall financial and political situation, growth rates of 6.3% and 5% were achieved in 1960 and 1961, respectively. The fourth plan (1962–65) called for an annual rate of growth of between 5% and 6% and an increase of 23% in private consumption; the fifth plan (1966–70), for a 5% annual expansion of production, a 25% increase in private consumption, and the maintenance of full financial stability and full employment; and the sixth plan (1971–75), for an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of between 5.8% and 6% and growth of about 7.5% in industrial production. The sixth plan also called for increases of 31% in private consumption, 34% in output, and 45% in social security expenditure.
The seventh plan (1976–80) called for equalization of the balance of payments, especially through a reduction of dependency on external sources of energy and raw materials; a lessening of social tensions in France by a significant reduction in inequalities of income and job hierarchies; and acceleration of the process of decentralization and deconcentration on the national level in favor of the newly formed regions. Because of the negative impact of the world oil crisis in the mid-1970s, the targets of the seventh plan were abandoned in 1978, and the government concentrated on helping the most depressed sectors and controlling inflation.
In October 1980, the cabinet approved the eighth plan (1981–85). It called for development of advanced technology and for reduction of oil in overall energy consumption. After the Socialists came to power, this plan was set aside, and an interim plan for 1982–84 was announced. It aimed at 3% GDP growth and reductions in unemployment and inflation. When these goals were not met and France's international payments position reached a critical stage, the government in March 1983 announced austerity measures, including new taxes on gasoline, liquor, and tobacco, a "forced loan" equivalent to 10% of annual taxable income from most taxpayers, and restrictions on the amount of money French tourists could spend abroad. A ninth plan, established for the years 1984–88, called for reducing inflation, improving the trade balance, increasing spending on research and development, and reducing dependence on imported fuels to not more than 50% of total energy by 1990. The 10th plan, for 1989–92, gave as its central objective increasing employment. The main emphasis was on education and training, and improved competitiveness through increased spending on research and development.
France adopted legislation for a 35-hour work week in 1998 that became effective in 2000. The object was to create jobs. Pension reform was being legislated in 2003, amid much popular protest. France's demography is changing, with the active population beginning to decline in 2007—this is due to reduce annual per capita GDP growth. Spending on health care increased in the early 2000s. The general government financial deficit exceeded the EU limit of 3% of GDP in 2004.
By the mid-1990s, and in line with European Union (EU) policy, French economic policy took a turn away from state dominance and moved toward liberalization. Large shares of utilities and telecommunications were privatized. Moreover, austerity came to the fore in budgetary planning as the government moved to meet the criteria for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). France adopted the euro as its currency in 1999, and discontinued the franc in favor of euro bills and coins in 2002. Public debt, however, was estimated at 67.7% of GDP in 2004, among the highest of the G-8 nations. Despite privatization efforts, the state in the early 2000s still owned large shares in corporations in such sectors as banking, energy, automobiles, transportation, and telecommunications.
Economic policy challenges for France in 2006 included reducing the budget deficit and making inroads into the rate of unemployment, which remains high even by EU standards. Th is requires reforming the tax and benefits system, as well as public administration and the legal framework for the labor market, but social resistance to such reforms is high.
Concerned about its stake in the EU Common Agricultural Policy (France is the largest beneficiary of the policy), in October 2005, France called a meeting of EU foreign ministers and demanded that the negotiating authority of the European Trade Commissioner be restricted. The commissioner, Peter Mandelson, emerged from that meeting in a stronger position and insisted that France had no power to block his proposals. Th at November, France threatened to veto any deal brokered by Mandelson that would go too far in reducing EU farm subsidies and tariffs.
In 2005, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was at odds with his political rival and interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy over the pace of economic reforms. De Villepin advocated gradual reforms, while Sarkozy called for a "rupture" with the past.
French loans to its former African territories totaled CFA Fr50 billion by November 1972, when President Pompidou announced that France would cancel the entire amount (including all accrued interest) to lighten these countries' debt burdens. In 1993, France spent $7.9 billion on international aid, $6.3 billion in 1997, and $5.4 billion in 2002.
France has a highly developed social welfare system. The social security fund is financed by contributions from both employers and employees, calculated on percentages of wages and salaries, and is partially subsidized by the government. Old age insurance guarantees payment of a pension when the insured reaches age 60. Disability insurance pays a pension to compensate for the loss of earnings and costs of care. Unemployment insurance is provided for all workers. Workers' medical benefits are paid directly for all necessary care. Maternity benefits are payable for six weeks before and 10 weeks after the expected date of childbirth for the first and second child. There is a universal system of family allowances for all residents, including a birth grant, income supplements for reduced work, and child care benefits.
Equal pay for equal work is mandated by law, although this is not always the case in practice. Men continue to earn more than women and unemployment rates are higher for women than for men. Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace and is generally effectively enforced. In 2004 legislation was passed creating a High Authority to Fight Discrimination and Promote Equality. Rape and spousal abuse laws are strictly enforced and the penalties are severe. Shelters, counseling, and hotlines are available to victims of sexual abuse and violence.
Religious freedom is provided for by the constitution. However, large Arab/Muslim, African, and Jewish communities have been subject to harassment and prejudice. Extremist anti-immigrant groups have increasingly been involved in racial attacks. Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, language, religion, or social status is prohibited.
Under the French system of health care, both public and private health care providers operate through centralized funding. Patients have the option of seeing a private doctor on a fee basis or going to a state-operated facility. Nearly all private doctors are affiliated with the social security system and the patients' expenses are reimbursed in part. Many have private health insurance to cover the difference. During the 1980s, there was a trend away from inpatient and toward outpatient care, with a growing number of patients receiving care at home. Cost containment initiatives were raised in the 1980s and early 1990s to increase patient contributions and establish global budgets for public hospitals. In 1991, new reforms to strengthen the public sector were initiated. The social security system subsidizes approximately 75% of all health care costs. Pharmaceutical consumption in France is among the highest of all OECD member countries (exceeded only by Japan and the United States). In 1992, the French government imposed a price-fixing mechanism on drugs.
France's birth rate was estimated at 11.9 per 1000 in 2002. Approximately 79% of France's married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception. The total fertility rate in 2000 was 1.9 children per woman during her childbearing years.
As of 2004, there were an estimated 329 physicians, 667 nurses, 68 dentists, and 101 pharmacists per 100,000 people. Life expectancy in 2005 averaged 79.6. The infant mortality rate was 4.26 per 1,000 live births that year. The overall death rate was an estimated 9.1 per 1,000 people as of 2002. Tobacco and alcohol consumption continue to be health concerns in France.
Efforts to immunize children up to one year old include: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, polio, and measles. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.40 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 120,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 1,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.
In 2004, there were 30.3 million dwellings nationwide. About 25.4 million, or 84%, were primary residences, 2.9 million were second homes, and about 1.8 million, or 6.1%, were vacant. About 58% of all dwellings are detached homes. The number of people per household was about 2.3. Over 2.9 million residential buildings were built in 1990 or later.
After World War II, in which 4.2 million dwellings were destroyed and one million damaged, the government took steps to provide inexpensive public housing. Annual construction rose steadily through the 1950s and 1960s; in 1970–75, housing construction of all types increased by an annual average of more than 6%. In 1975, the total number of new dwellings completed was 514,300. Construction slowed thereafter, and by 1996 the number had declined to 236,270.
In accordance with a law of 1953, industrial and commercial firms employing 10 or more wage earners must invest 1% of their total payroll in housing projects for their employees. These funds can finance either public or private low-cost housing. Concerns must undertake construction of low-cost projects either on their own responsibility or through a building concern to which they supply capital. Special housing allowances are provided for families who must spend an inordinately large share of their income on rent or mortgages.
The supreme authority over national education in France is the Ministry of Education. Education is compulsory for children from the age of 6 to 16 and is free in all state primary and secondary schools. Higher education is not free, but academic fees are low, and more than half of the students are excused from payment.
Since the end of 1959, private institutions have been authorized to receive state aid and to ask to be integrated into the public education system. In 2003, about 15% of elementary-school children and 25% of secondary-level students attended private schools, the majority of which are Roman Catholic. In Brittany, most children attend Catholic schools. Freedom of education is guaranteed by law, but the state exercises certain controls over private educational institutions, nearly all of which follow the uniform curriculum prescribed by the Ministry of Education.
Primary school covers five years of study. There are two levels of secondary instruction. The first, the collège, is compulsory; after four years of schooling are successfully completed, the student receives a national diploma (brevet des collèges ). Th ose who wish to pursue further studies enter either the two-year lycée d'enseignement professionel or the three-year lycée d'enseignement général et technologique. The former prepares students for a certificate of vocational competence, the latter for the baccalauréat, which is a prerequisite for higher education. Choice of a lycée depends on aptitude test results. The academic year runs from September to June. The primary language of instruction is French.
In 2001, nearly all children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 99% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 94% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 98% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 19:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 12:1.
There are about 70 public universities within 26 académies, which now act as administrative units. Before the subdivision of these 26 units, the oldest and most important included Aix-Mar-seille (founded in 1409), Besançon (1691), Bordeaux (1441), Caen (1432), Dijon (1722), Grenoble (1339), Lille (1562), Montpellier (1180, reinstituted 1289), Nancy-Metz (1572), Paris (1150), Poitiers (1432), Rennes (1735, founded at Nantes 1461), Strasbourg (1538), and Toulouse (1229). The old University of Paris, also referred to as the Sorbonne, was the oldest in France and one of the leading institutions of higher learning in the world; it is now divided into 13 units, only a few of which are at the ancient Left Bank site. There are Catholic universities at Argers, Lille, Lyon, and Toulouse.
Besides the universities and specialized schools (such as École Normale Supérieure, which prepares teachers for secondary and postsecondary positions), higher educational institutions include the prestigious Grandes Écoles, which include the École Nationale d'Administration, École Normale Supérieure, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, and École Polytechnique. Entrance is by competitive examination. Advanced-level research organizations include the Collège de France, École Pratique des Hautes Études, and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. In 2003, about 56% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; with 49% for men and 63% for women. The adult literacy rate has been estimated at about 98%.
As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.6% of GDP, or 11.4% of total government expenditures.
Paris, the leader in all intellectual pursuits in France, has the largest concentration of libraries and museums. The Bibliothèque Nationale, founded in Paris in 1480, is one of the world's great research libraries, with a collection of over 10.4 million books, as well as millions of manuscripts, prints, maps, periodicals, and other items of importance (including 11 million stamps and photographs). The libraries of the 13-unit University of Paris system have collective holdings of more than six million volumes, and each major institution of higher learning has an important library of its own. The national archives are located in the Hôtel Rohan Soubise in Paris. There are dozens of libraries and historic sites dedicated to specific French writers and artists, including the Maison de Balzac in Paris, the Musée Calvin in Noyon, the Musée Matisse in Nice, the Musée Rodin in Meydon (there is also a National Museum of Rodin in Paris), and the Musée Picasso in Paris. Most provincial cities have municipal libraries and museums of varying sizes.
There are more than 1,000 museums in France. The Louvre, which underwent an extensive renovation and addition in the 1980s, including the construction of its now-famous glass pyramid, contains one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, covering all phases of the fine arts from all times and regions. The Cluny Museum specializes in the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages. The Museum of Man is a major research center as well. The Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou opened in 1977 on the Beaubourg Plateau (Les Halles). Primarily a museum specializing in contemporary art, it also houses several libraries (including the public library of Paris), children's workshops, music rooms, and conference halls. The Musée d'Orsay, a major new museum housing impressionist and postimpressionist paintings and many other works set in historical context, opened to the public in December 1986 in a former train station. Many of the 19th-century and 20th-century paintings in the Musée d'Orsay had previously been housed in the Musée du Jeu de Paume. Many of the great churches, cathedrals, castles, and châteaus of France are national monuments.
Postal, telephone, and telegraph systems are operated by the government under the direction of the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephones. In 2003, there were an estimated 566 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 696 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.
The government-controlled Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française was replaced in January 1975 by seven independent state-financed companies. A law of July 1982 allowed greater independence to production and programming organizations. Under deregulation, many private radio stations have been established. Of the three state-owned television channels, TF-1, the oldest and largest, was privatized in 1987; a fourth, private channel for paying subscribers was started in 1984. Contracts were awarded in 1987 to private consortiums for fifth and sixth channels. As of 1999 there were 41 AM and 800 FM radio stations (many of the FM stations were repeaters) and 310 TV stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 950 radios and 632 television sets for every 1,000 people. about 57.5 of every 1,000 people are cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 347.1 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 366 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 3,855 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.
Traditionally, the French press falls into two categories. The presse d'information, with newspapers with the largest circulation, emphasizes news; the presse d'opinion, usually of higher prestige in literary and political circles but of much lower daily circulation, presents views on political, economic, and literary matters. In 2002, there were over 100 dailies in the country. Some of the important regional papers rival the Parisian dailies in influence and circulation.
Leading national newspapers (with their organizational affiliation and 2005 circulation totals unless noted) are: Le Figaro (moderate conservative, 326,800), Le Monde (independent, elite, 324,400), International Herald Tribune (English-language, 210,000 in 2002), Liberation (135,600), L'Humanit é (Communist, 49,500), and La Croix (Catholic, 98,200 in 2002). Some leading regional dailies include Ouest-France (in Rennes, mass-appeal, 761,100 in 2005), La Voix du Nord (in Lille, conservative, 356,903 in 2004), Sud-Ouest (in Bordeaux, independent, 359,300 in 2002), Nice-Matin (in Nice, radical independent, 243,800 in 2002), Les Dernieres Nouvelles D'Alsace (in Strasbourg, 215,460 in 2004), La Dépêche du Midi (in Toulouse, radical, 218,214 in 2004), and Le Telegramme (in Morlaix, 199.710 in 2004). L'Express and Le Point are popular news weeklies.
The Agence France-Presse is the most important French news service. It has autonomous status, but the government is represented on its board of directors. There are some 14,000 periodicals, of which the most widely read is the illustrated Paris-Match, with a weekly circulation (in 1995) of 868,370. Several magazines for women also enjoy wide popularity, including Elle, (1995 circulation 360,000). Also for women are magazines publishing novels in serial form. The most popular political weeklies are L'Express (left-wing), with a circulation of about 419,000; the satirical Le Canard Enchaîné (left-wing), circulation 500,000; Le Nouvel Observateur (left-wing), circulation 399,470; and the news-magazine Le Point (independent), circulation 280,770. Filmmaking is a major industry, subsidized by the state.
The law provides for free expression including those of speech and press, and these rights are supported by the government.
The Confédération Générale d'Agriculture, originating in its present form in the resistance movement of World War II, has become the principal voice for farmers. The Société des Agriculteurs de France is considered the organization of landowners. Agricultural cooperatives, both producers' and consumers', are popular. There are also more than 44 large industrial trade organizations. Chambers of commerce function in the larger cities and towns. The International Chamber of Commerce has its headquarters in Paris, the national capital.
There are professional associations covering a wide variety of fields. The Association Medicale Francaise is a networking association for physicians that also promotes research and education on health issues and works to establish common policies and standards in healthcare. There are also several associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions. The World Medical Association has an office in Ferney-Voltaire.
The Institute of France (founded in 1795) consists of the famous French Academy (Académie Française), the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Humanities, the Academy of Fine Arts, and the Academy of Moral Sciences and Politics. There are many scientific, artistic, technical, and scholarly societies at both national and local levels. The multinational organization of European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities is based in Paris. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has an office in Paris as does the European Space Agency.
There are also many associations and organizations dedicated to various sports and leisure time activities. Youth organizations are numerous and range from sports groups, to volunteer and service organizations, religious and political organizations. Some groups with international ties include Junior Chamber, YMCA/YWCA, and the Guides and Scouts of France. Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs and Kiwanis International, are also present. The Red Cross, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, CARE, UNICEF, and Greenpeace have national chapters.
France has countless tourist attractions, ranging from the museums and monuments of Paris to beaches on the Riviera and ski slopes in the Alps. Haute cuisine, hearty regional specialties, and an extraordinary array of fine wines attract gourmets the world over; the area between the Rhone River and the Pyrenees contains the largest single tract of vineyards in the world. In 1992 Euro Disneyland, 20 miles east of Paris, opened to great fanfare but was plagued by the European recession, a strong French franc, bad weather, and difficulty marketing itself to the French.
The most popular French sport is soccer (commonly called "le foot"). The men's soccer team won the World Cup in 1998. Other favorite sports are skiing, tennis, water sports, and bicycling. Between 1896 and 1984, France won 137 gold, 156 silver, and 158 bronze medals in the Olympic Games. Paris hosted the Summer Olympics in 1900 and 1924; the Winter Olympics took place at Chamonix in 1924, Grenoble in 1968, and Albertville in 1992. Le Mans is the site of a world-class auto race.
Tourists need a valid passport to enter France. A visa is not necessary for tourist/business stays of up to 90 days.
France is one of the world's top tourist destinations. In 2003, there were approximately 75,048,000 visitors, of whom 51% came from Western Europe. The 603,279 hotel rooms with 1,206,558 beds had an occupancy rate of 58%. The average length of stay that same year was two nights.
In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily expenses of staying in Paris at $418. Elsewhere in France, expenses ranged from $187 to $374 per day.
Principal figures of early French history include Clovis I (466?–511), the first important monarch of the Merovingian line, who sought to unite the Franks; Charles Martel ("the Hammer," 689?–741), leader of the Franks against the Saracens in 732; his grandson Charlemagne (742–814), the greatest of the Carolingians, crowned emperor of the West on 25 December 800; and William II, Duke of Normandy (1027–87), later William I of England ("the Conqueror," r.1066–87). Important roles in theology and church history were played by St. Martin of Tours (b.Pannonia, 316?–97), bishop of Tours and founder of the monastery of Marmoutier, now considered the patron saint of France; the philosopher Pierre Abélard (1079–1142), traditionally regarded as a founder of the University of Paris but equally famous for his tragic romantic involvement with his pupil Héloise (d.1164); and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090?–1153), leader of the Cistercian monastic order, preacher (1146) of the Second Crusade (1147–49), and guiding spirit of the Knights Templars. The first great writer of Arthurian romances was Chrétien de Troyes (fl.1150?).
The exploits of famous 14th-century Frenchmen were recorded by the chronicler Jean Froissart (1333?–1401). Early warrior-heroes of renown were Bertrand du Guesclin (1320–80) and Pierre du Terrail, seigneur de Bayard (1474?–1524). Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc, 1412–31) was the first to have a vision of France as a single nation; she died a martyr and became a saint and a national heroine. Guillaume de Machaut (1300?–1377) was a key literary and musical figure. François Villon (1431–63?) was first in the line of great French poets. Jacques Coeur (1395–1456) was the greatest financier of his time. Masters of the Burgundian school of composers were Guillaume Dufay (1400?–1474), Gilles Binchois (1400?–1467), Jan Ockeghem (1430?–95), and Josquin des Prez (1450?–1521). Jean Fouquet (1415?–80) and Jean Clouet (1485–1541) were among the finest painters of the period. The flag of France was first planted in the New World by Jacques Cartier (1491–1557), who was followed by the founder of New France in Canada, Samuel de Champlain (1567–1635).
The era of Louis XIV ("le Roi Soleil," or "the Sun King," 1638–1715) was in many respects the golden age of France. Great soldiers—Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne (1611–75), François Michel Le Tellier, marquis de Louvois (1639–91), and Louis II de Bourbon, prince de Condé, called the Grand Condé (1621–86)—led French armies to conquests on many battlefields. Great statesmen, such as the cardinals Armand Jean du Plessis, duc de Richelieu (1585–1642), and Jules Mazarin (1602–61), managed French diplomacy and created the French Academy. Great administrators, such as Maximilien de Bethune, duc de Sully (1560–1641), and Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–83), established financial policies. Noted explorers in the New World were Jacques Marquette (1637–75), Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle (1643–87), and Louis Jolliet (1645–1700). Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–87), Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1634–1704), and François Couperin (1668–1733) were the leading composers. Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), Claude Lorrain (1600–1682), and Philippe de Champaigne (1602–74) were the outstanding painters. In literature, the great sermons and moralizing writings of Jacques Bénigne Bossuet, bishop of Meaux (1627–1704), and François Fénelon (1651–1715); the dramas of Pierre Corneille (1606–84), Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622–73), and Jean Racine (1639–99); the poetry of Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95) and Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636–1711); the maxims of François, duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613–80), and Jean de La Bruyère (1645–96); the fairy tales of Charles Perrault (1628–1703); the satirical fantasies of Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (1619–55); and the witty letters of Madame de Sévigné (1626–96) made this a great age for France. Two leading French philosophers and mathematicians of the period, René Descartes (1596–1650) and Blaise Pascal (1623–62), left their mark on the whole of European thought. Pierre Gassendi (1592–1655) was a philosopher and physicist; Pierre de Fermat (1601–55) was a noted mathematician. Modern French literature began during the 16th century, with François Rabelais (1490?–1553), Joachim du Bellay (1522–60), Pierre de Ronsard (1525–85), and Michel de Montaigne (1533–92). Ambroise Paré (1510–90) was the first surgeon, and Jacques Cujas (1522–90) the first of the great French jurists. Among other figures in the great controversy between Catholics and Protestants, Claude, duc de Guise (1496–1550), and Queen Catherine de Médicis (Caterina de'Medici, b.Florence, 1519–89) should be mentioned on the Catholic side, and Admiral Gaspard de Coligny (1519–72), a brilliant military leader, on the Protestant side. Two famous kings were Francis I (1494–1547) and Henry IV (Henry of Navarre, 1553–1610); the latter proclaimed the Edict of Nantes in 1598, granting religious freedom to his Protestant subjects. The poetic prophecies of the astrologer Nostradamus (Michel de Notredame, 1503–66) are still widely read today.
During the 18th century, France again was in the vanguard in many fields. Étienne François, duc de Choiseul (1719–85), and Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727–81) were among the leading statesmen of the monarchy. Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689–1755), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (b.Switzerland, 1712–78) left their mark on philosophy. Denis Diderot (1713–84) and Jean Le Rond d'Alembert (1717–83) created the Great Encyclopedia (Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Artes et des Métiers ). Baron Paul Henri Thiery d'Holbach (1723–89) was another philosopher. Jeanne Antoinette Poisson Le Normant d'Etoiles, marquise de Pompadour (1721–64), is best known among the women who influenced royal decisions during the reign of Louis XV (1710–74). French explorers carried the flag of France around the world, among them Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729–1811) and Jean La Pérouse (1741–88). French art was dominated by the painters Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), Jean-Baptiste Chardin (1699–1779), François Boucher (1703–70), and Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) and by the sculptor Jean Houdon (1741–1828). Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) was the foremost composer. French science was advanced by Georges Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–88), zoologist and founder of the Paris Museum, and Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–94), the great chemist. In literature, the towering figure of Voltaire (François Marie Arouet, 1694–1778) and the brilliant dramatist Pierre Beaumarchais (1732–99) stand beside the greatest writer on gastronomy, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826).
The rule of Louis XVI (1754–93) and his queen, Marie Antoinette (1755–93), and the social order they represented, ended with the French Revolution. Outstanding figures of the Revolution included Jean-Paul Marat (1743–93), Honoré Gabriel Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau (1749–91), Maximilien Marie Isidore Robespierre (1758–94), and Georges Jacques Danton (1759–94). Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) rose to prominence as a military leader in the Revolution and subsequently became emperor of France. Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette (1757–1834), was a brilliant figure in French as well as in American affairs. This was also the period of the eminent painter Jacques Louis David (1748–1825) and of the famed woman of letters Madame Germaine de Staël (Anne Louise Germaine Necker, baronne de Staël-Holstein, 1766–1817).
During the 19th century, French science, literature, and arts all but dominated the European scene. Among the leading figures were Louis Jacques Mendé Daguerre (1789–1851), inventor of photography, and Claude Bernard (1813–78), the great physiologist. Other pioneers of science included Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) and Georges Cuvier (1769–1832) in zoology and paleontology, Pierre Laplace (1749–1827) in geology, André Marie Ampère (1775–1836), Dominique François Arago (1786–1853), and Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (1819–68) in physics, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778–1850) in chemistry, Camille Flammarion (1842–1925) in astronomy, and Louis Pasteur (1822–95) in chemistry and bacteriology. Louis Braille (1809–52) invented the method of writing books for the blind that bears his name. Auguste (Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier) Comte (1798–1857) was an influential philosopher. Literary figures included the poets Alphonse Marie Louis de Lamartine (1790–1869), Alfred de Vigny (1797–1863), Alfred de Musset (1810–57), Charles Baudelaire (1821–67), Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–98), Paul Verlaine (1844–96), and Arthur Rimbaud (1854–91); the fiction writers François René Chateaubriand (1768–1848), Stendhal (Marie Henri Beyle, 1783–1842), Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), Victor Marie Hugo (1802–85), Alexandre Dumas the elder (1802–70) and his son, Alexandre Dumas the younger (1824–95), Prosper Merimée (1803–70), George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, baronne Dudevant, 1804–76), Théophile Gautier (1811–72), Gustave Flaubert (1821–80), the Goncourt brothers (Edmond, 1822–96, and Jules, 1830–70), Jules Verne (1828–1905), Alphonse Daudet (1840–97), Emile Zola (1840–1902), and Guy de Maupassant (1850–93); and the historians and critics François Guizot (1787–1874), Jules Michelet (1798–1874), Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804–69), Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59), Ernest Renan (1823–92), and Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (1828–93). Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (1754–1838), Joseph Fouché (1763–1820), Adolphe Th iers (1797–1877), and Léon Gambetta (1838–82) were leading statesmen. Louis Hector Berlioz (1803–69) was the greatest figure in 19th-century French music. Other figures were Charles François Gounod (1818–93), composer of Faust, Belgian-born César Auguste Franck (1822–90), and Charles Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921). Georges Bizet (1838–75) is renowned for his opera Carmen, and Jacques Lévy Offenbach (1819–80) for his immensely popular operettas.
In painting, the 19th century produced Jean August Dominique Ingres (1780–1867), Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (1789–1863), Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796–1875), Honoré Daumier (1808–79), and Gustave Courbet (1819–77), and the impressionists and postimpressionists Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), Édouard Manet (1832–83), Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas (1834–1917), Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Claude Monet (1840–1926), Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), Berthe Morisot (1841–1895), Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), Georges Seurat (1859–91), and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901). Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) was the foremost sculptor; Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834–1904) created the Statue of Liberty. The actresses Rachel (Elisa Félix, 1821–58) and Sarah Bernhardt (Rosine Bernard, 1844–1923) dominated French theater.
The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
In 20th-century political and military affairs, important parts were played by Georges Clemenceau (1841–1929), Ferdinand Foch (1851–1929), Henri Philippe Pétain (1856–1951), Raymond Poincaré (1860–1934), Léon Blum (1872–1950), Jean Monnet (1888–1979), Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970), Pierre Mendès-France (1907–82), François Maurice Marie Mitterrand (1916–96), and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (b.1926). Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize include Frédéric Passy (1822–1912) in 1901, Benjamin Constant (1852–1924) in 1909, Léon Victor Auguste Bourgeois (1851–1925) in 1920, Aristide Briand (1862–1932) in 1926, Ferdinand Buisson (1841–1932) in 1927, Léon Jouhaux (1879–1954) in 1951, and René Cassin (1887–1976) in 1968. Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), musician, philosopher, physician, and humanist, a native of Alsace, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.
Famous scientists include the mathematician Jules Henri Poincaré (1854–1912); the physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel (1852–1908), a Nobel laureate in physics in 1903; chemist and physicist Pierre Curie (1859–1906); his wife, Polish-born Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867–1934), who shared the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics with her husband and Becquerel and won a Nobel Prize again, for chemistry, in 1911; their daughter Irène Joliot-Curie (1897–1956) and her husband, Frédéric Joliot-Curie (Jean-Frédéric Joliot, 1900–1958), who shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1935; Jean-Baptiste Perrin (1870–1942), Nobel Prize winner for physics in 1926; the physiologist Alexis Carrel (1873–1944); and Louis de Broglie (1892–1987), who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1929. Other Nobel Prize winners for physics include Charles Édouard Guillaume (1861–1938) in 1920, Alfred Kastler (1902–84) in 1966, Louis Eugène Néel (1904–2000) in 1970, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (b.1932) in 1991, and Georges Charpak (b.1924) in 1992; for chemistry, Henri Moissan (1852–1907) in 1906, Victor Grignard (1871–1935) in 1912, Paul Sabatier (1854–1941) in 1912, and Yves Chauvin (b.1930) in 2005. Also, in physiology or medicine: in 1907, Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran (1845–1922); in 1913, Charles Robert Richet (1850–1935); in 1928, Charles Jules Henri Nicolle (1866–1936); in 1965, François Jacob (b.1920), André Lwoff (1902–94), and Jacques Monod (1910–76); and in 1980, Jean-Baptiste Gabriel Dausset (b.1916).
The philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941) received the 1927 Nobel Prize for literature. Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) was a founder of modern sociology. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), a Jesuit, was both a prominent paleontologist and an influential theologian. Claude Lévi-Strauss (b.Belgium, 1908) is a noted anthropologist, Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002) was an important sociologist, and Fernand Braudel (1902–85) was an important historian. Twentieth-century philosophers included: Louis Althusser (1918–1990), Raymond Aron (1905–1983), Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962), Georges Bataille (1897–1962), Jean Baudrillard (b.1929), Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995), Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), Michel Foucault (1926–1984), Pierre-Félix Guattari (1930–1992), Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe (b.1940), Henri Lefebvre (1901–1991), Emmanuel Lévinas (1906–1995), Jean-François Lyotard (1924–1998), Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961), and Paul Ricoeur (1913–2005).
Honored writers include Sully-Prudhomme (René François Armand, 1839–1907), winner of the first Nobel Prize for literature in 1901; Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914), Nobel Prize winner in 1904; Edmond Rostand (1868–1918); Anatole France (Jacques Anatole Thibaut, 1844–1924), Nobel Prize winner in 1921; Romain Rolland (1866–1944), Nobel Prize winner in 1915; AndréPaul Guillaume Gide (1869–1951), a 1947 nobel laureate; Marcel Proust (1871–1922); Paul Valéry (1871–1945); Colette (Sidonie Gabrielle Claudine Colette, 1873–1954); Roger Martin du Gard (1881–1958), Nobel Prize winner in 1937; Jean Giraudoux (1882–1944); François Mauriac (1885–1970), 1952 Nobel Prize winner; Jean Cocteau (1889–1963); Louis Aragon (1897–1982); André Malraux (1901–76); Anaïs Nin (1903–1977); Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80), who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize but declined it; Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir (1908–86); Simone Weil (1909–43); Jean Genet (1910–86); Jean Anouilh (1910–87); Albert Camus (1913–60), Nobel Prize winner in 1957; Claude Simon (1913–2005), a 1985 Nobel laureate; Marguerite Duras (1914–96); Roland Barthes (1915–80); and Georges Perec (1936–1982). Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944) was a French writer and aviator. Romanian-born Eugene Ionesco (1912–94) and Irish-born Samuel Beckett (1906–89) spent their working lives in France. Significant composers include Gabriel Urbain Fauré (1845–1924), Claude Achille Debussy (1862–1918), Erik Satie (1866–1925), Albert Roussel (1869–1937), Maurice Ravel (1875–1937), Francis Poulenc (1899–1963), Olivier Messiaen (1908–92), Darius Milhaud (1892–1974), and composer-conductor Pierre Boulez (b.1925). The sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861–1944) and the painters/artists Henri Matisse (1869–1954), Georges Rouault (1871–1958), Georges Braque (1882–1963), Spanish-born Pablo Picasso (1881–1974), Russian-born Marc Chagall (1887–1985), Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), Fernand Léger (1881–1955), and Jean Dubuffet (1901–85) are world famous.
Of international renown are actor-singers Maurice Chevalier (1888–1972), Yves Montand (Ivo Livi, 1921–91), and Charles Aznavour (b.1924); actor-director Jacques Tati (Jacques Tatischeff, 1907–82); actors Charles Boyer (1899–1978), Jean-Louis Xavier Trintignant (b.1930), Jean-Paul Belmondo (b.1933), and Gérard Depardieu (b.1948); actresses Simone Signoret (Simone Kaminker, 1921–85), Jeanne Moreau (b.1928), Leslie Caron (b.1931), Brigitte Bardot (b.1934), Catherine Deneuve (b.1943), Isabelle Huppert (b.1953), Isabelle Adjani (b.1955), Juliette Binoche (b.1964), Julie Delpy (b.1969), and Audrey Tautou (b.1978); singer Edith Piaf (1915–63); master of mime Marcel Marceau (b.1923); and directors Georges Méliès (1861–1938), Abel Gance (1889–1981), Jean Renoir (1894–1979), Robert Bresson (1901–99), René Clément (1913–96), Eric Rohmer (Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer, b.1920), Alain Resnais (b.1922), Jean-Luc Godard (b.1930), Louis Malle (1932–95), and François Truffaut (1932–84). One of the most recognizable Frenchmen in the world was oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910–97), who popularized undersea exploration with popular documentary films and books.
French overseas departments include French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (described in the Americas volume under French American Dependencies) and Réunion (in the Africa volume under French African Dependencies). French overseas territories and collectivities include French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Territories, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna (see French Asian Dependencies in the Asia volume), and Mayotte (in the Africa volume). The inhabitants of French overseas departments and territories are French citizens, enjoy universal suffrage, and send elected representatives to the French parliament.
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Cogan, Charles. French Negotiating Behavior: Dealing with La Grande Nation. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2003.
Cook, Malcolm (ed.). French Culture Since 1945. New York: Longman, 1993.
France: From the Cold War to the New World Order. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
Gildea, Robert. France Since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Gough, Hugh and John Horne. De Gaulle and Twentieth-century France. New York: Edward Arnold, 1994.
Graham, Bruce Desmond. Choice and Democratic Order: the French Socialist Party, 1937–1950. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Hewitt, Nicholas (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Modern French Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Illustrated Guide to France. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.
International Smoking Statistics: A Collection of Historical Data from 30 Economically Developed Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Jones, Colin. The Cambridge Illustrated History of France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Kelly, Michael (ed.). French Culture and Society: The Essentials. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Noiriel, Gérard. The French Melting Pot: Immigration, Citizenship, and National Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
Northcutt, Wayne. Mitterrand: A Political Biography. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1992.
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Wessels, Wolfgang, Andreas Maurer, and Jürgan Mittag (eds.). Fifteen into One?: the European Union and Its Member States. New York: Palgrave, 2003.
"France." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 10, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france-0
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Aix-en-Provence, Alençon, Amiens, Angers, Angoulême, Annecy, Arles, Arras, Auch, Aurillac, Auxerre, Avignon, Beauvais, Belfort, Besançon, Blois, Boulogne, Boulogne-Billancourt, Bourg, Bourges, Brest, Cannes, Carcassonne, Châteaubriant, Châteaudun, Clermont-Ferrand, Colmar, Dijon, Grenoble, Le Mans, Limoges, Lourdes, Metz, Moulins, Mulhouse, Nanterre, Nîmes, Orléans, Pau, Perpignan, Poitiers, Rennes, Roubaix, Saint-Brieuc, Saint-Denis, Saint-Étienne, Saint-Malo, Saint-Nazaire, Tourcoing, Tours, Troyes, Valence, Versailles
This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated January 1995. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.
Paris lies in north-central France in the Seine River Valley within the Department of the Seine. Climatic conditions in Paris are moderate. Winters are damp, but not severe. Snowfall is light, sunshine is rare in winter, and gray, foggy days are frequent. Summer temperatures are rarely oppressive, but rain is heavy at times. Hot weather may come as early as May and last as late as October. Conversely, June and July can be cool or rainy. Winds are not excessive. The famous "April in Paris" is traditionally cold, wet, and windy, although autumn can be ideal.
The Paris region has a population of almost 9.7 million and Paris itself has about 2.1 million inhabitants. About 4,000 to 6,000 American students are enrolled in university-level education in Paris and the provinces. Paris receives about 1.8 million American tourists each year.
Each neighborhood of Paris has an open-air market several days a week, where fresh produce, cheese, meat, and fish are sold at prices usually cheaper than the supermarkets. The French do their food shopping daily and therefore need to have an array of shops close to home, so each neighborhood also has a variety of specialty stores and small grocery stores, some of which are part of a larger chain.
Throughout the city are larger chain supermarkets, some with underground parking. These are a little cheaper for most things than the neighborhood shops, but items are bulk packaged. On the outskirts of the city are even larger supermarkets with slightly lower prices and goods packaged in larger quantities.
Most people do their regular shopping on foot in their own neighborhood using their neighborhood butcher, cheese store, and bake shop with occasional forays to the big stores. However, shopping for milk at one store, bread in another, and meat in still another can be time consuming.
Scattered throughout Paris are several small specialty shops, such as The General Store and Thanksgiving, which stock only American import goods at higher than U.S. prices.
Prepared food is available from "charcuteries" or delicatessens, where a hot meal can be purchased on a carry-out basis at midday, or fine pate, cheeses, cold meats, and salads can be purchased for a quick, cold meal. Stores specializing in frozen food, ready for the microwave or oven, abound. American-style carry-outs have sprung up all over the city, with hamburgers and french fries readily available.
French summers are cooler and winters slightly milder than those in Washington, D.C., meaning that a full range of seasonal clothing is needed. A raincoat and umbrella are necessities, as are comfortable walking shoes, sturdy enough to withstand wet streets. Most Americans do more walking in Paris than in the U.S., and even use of the metro and bus often involves walking substantial distances. Comfortable shoes suitable for sight-seeing are essential. Local shoe stores carry excellent quality shoes, but at high prices.
Although Paris has a reputation as a mecca for shopping, prices for almost everything are higher than in the U.S. There are some discount and outlet stores, and the major January and July sales offer some bargains. There are a few secondhand or consignment shops, but most clothing is designer-labeled and expensive, even at half price.
Men: Business suits are worn to most social functions.
Women: Paris clothing needs are similar to those of any big city in the U.S. French women wear dresses, suits, and shirts, rather than slacks, to events. Colors are dark—black is a favorite. Sweaters, shawls, and blazers of all weights are useful.
Children: Prices are almost 50 percent higher than U.S. prices for similar quality goods. Low-priced outlets exist.
Supplies and Services
There are few supplies and services found in the U.S. that can not be found in Paris, but prices are higher. Men's and women's haircuts cost slightly more than in the U.S.
Laundry, dry-cleaning, and shoe repair services are available, but at prices higher than in the U.S.
Most faiths have a congregation in Paris. The American Cathedral (Episcopalian) and the American Church in Paris (interdenominational) have American pastors and a predominantly American congregation.
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church offers services in English for the English-speaking community. Some Catholic parishes, where English-speaking foreigners ordinarily reside, have an English-speaking French priest. All congregations have affiliated social and religious organizations, such as Sunday school, choir, women's groups, etc. Several Jewish synagogues in the Paris area hold services in French and Hebrew.
The Paris area has a number of schools that offer American curriculum instruction from kindergarten through high school. Several private French schools offer a bilingual French-English curriculum program. The majority of American children attend the American-curriculum schools. The French public school system offers a high standard of education, but classes are crowded and no provision is made for non-French speakers. In addition, French schools are zoned, making application difficult in advance of arrival.
Detailed information on the following schools may be obtained by writing directly to each school.
The American School of Paris
41, rue Pasteur
Tel: (1) 46.02.54.43
The American School of Paris, an independent, coeducational day school, offers an American educational program from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, including a strong college preparatory and the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Although the Upper School has an honors program, the Middle School does not. Located in the suburb of St. Cloud, the school has bus service to most parts of Paris and to the nearby suburbs.
Marymount International School
72, blvd. de la Saussaye
Tel: (1) 184.108.40.206
Marymount School of Paris is an independent, coeducational day school run by the religious order of the Sacred Heart of Mary. It offers an American educational program from pre-kindergarten through grade 8. Located in the suburb of Neuilly, the school offers bus service to most parts of Paris and the suburbs.
International School of Paris
96 bis, rue du Ranelagh
7, rue Chardin
6, rue Beethoven
Tel: (1) 42.24.09.54
The International School of Paris is an independent, coeducational day school, which offers an Anglo-American program to students of all nationalities from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Various options exist for pre-kindergarten children. Children not attending preschool at any of the schools listed above usually go to either one of the two Montessori schools or to the U.N. nursery school. Detailed information on these schools may be obtained by writing to them directly:
United Nations Nursery School
40, rue Pierre-Guerin
75016 Paris France
Tel: (1) 220.127.116.11
The Bilingual Montessori School of Paris
65, quai d'Orsay
Tel: (1) 18.104.22.168
Both state-run and private nursery schools have large classes averaging 25-30 children, and teaching is more formal than in American nursery schools. French children ages 3 to 6 attend neighborhood "ecoles maternelles." The state-run "mater-nelles" are free, but apply in May or June for the following academic year to secure a place. Schools are zoned within each neighborhood.
Special Educational Opportunities
Excellent French-language programs are offered by the Sorbonne, the Alliance Francaise, the Institute Catholique, and the British Institute. Private tutors charge about 100 francs an hour.
You can enroll in courses for college credit at the American University in Paris and through New York University. The American University is an independent college of arts and sciences that offers the Bachelor of Arts degree and is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Other special education opportunities include the art appreciation courses offered to the public on a non-examination basis at the Louvre, cooking classes at the Cordon Blue and Ritz-Escoffier cooking schools, and a wine appreciation course. Short courses are offered through various organizations on such subjects as French antiques, art, history, the architecture of Paris, etc. Those with a good knowledge of French can attend evening courses offered by arrondissement civic centers.
Facilities for a variety of sports are available in Paris, but participation often requires membership in a private club with high costs. The many public swimming pools in Paris offer excellent facilities at reasonable cost. Facilities for bowling, ice skating, and roller-skating are all numerous.
Public and private golf courses are located within a short drive from Paris.
Tennis is popular with the French, but the number of courts available does not match demand. It is impossible to find a free court on short notice and those who choose to wait may spend up to 2 hours in line. To play regularly, you can book court time on a long-term basis, but the fee is high.
Horseback riding is a major national sport. Riding is available for the most casual and the most serious of riders throughout France. Opportunities exist for riding vacations, even promenades of several days. For spectators, riding shows, dressage and jumping competitions, races and horse auctions abound.
Other recreational activities within the Paris area include jogging and biking in the Bois de Boulogne (a large, wooded park on the western periphery of the city) and hikes and picnics in the surrounding forests.
The numerous city parks offer many activities for children, often with excellent playground equipment. Carrousels, pony rides, boat sailing, and puppet shows are found in the major parks at reasonable cost.
Hunting and fishing are popular in France. Most areas require permits.
Many of Europe's most renowned ski slopes are within easy reach of Paris. Group arrangements make week-long or weekend skiing inexpensive. The schools, and some congregations, organize a ski week in February for their students at reasonable rates.
Paris provides a wealth of activities ranging from traditional museum visiting to picnicking in the parks. Besides the well-known touristic spots—Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, etc., —there are day and half-day barge cruises on local canals, tours through Paris' sewers and catacombs, flea markets to explore, antique shopping, and cafe sitting. Possibilities for day trips or overnight excursions are endless. Within an hour of Paris are many famous chateaux and cathedrals, including Versailles, Fontainebleu, and Chartres. The Loire Valley with its chateaux to the southwest, the sandy beaches and quaint towns of Normandy to the north, and the Champagne region to the east, can all be reached within 3 hours. An hour away from Paris is Euro Disney.
Paris has a wide variety of every imaginable type of entertainment, both French and imported. All events are well publicized in newspapers, street and metro ads, and in weekly publications that list not only theater, opera, and dance, but also museums, exhibitions, and films.
Paris produces grand opera, exciting ballet, and plays. During the season there is a constant stream of visiting talent—singers, orchestras, dance groups, theater, etc. Ticket prices for top events are high and sell out quickly for popular shows. Several locations sell tickets for half price, if any remain the day of the event. Subscriptions are available for ballet, opera, and theater.
Movies are popular and there is a wide selection of both French and foreign, old and new, dubbed in French, or in the movie's original language with French subtitles. Prices are slightly higher than in the U.S., but there are discounts on Monday, student reductions, and reduced fares for holders of movie cards available through the major movie houses.
About 754,000 people live in Greater Bordeaux, the capital of both the department of Gironde and the Aquitaine region. Located 35 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, Bordeaux remains an important seaport.
Reigning over the Garonne River, which flows through its center, Bordeaux recalls the grandeur of 18th-century France. Beautiful, intricate stone facades mark the majesty of an era when the city served as a gateway to Europe. Wine flowed from Bordeaux to the rest of the world. Montesquieu pondered the significance of the human spirit here. Visitors flocked to absorb the Bordelais version of the famous French joie-de-vivre.
Now, as before in its long history, the city maintains its charm. Modern buildings mix with the monuments of the past. Cars roll where carriages used to rattle, but the city preserves the essence of tradition. Visitors, many from the U.S., spend weekend after weekend exploring the beautiful vineyards and chateaux that surround Bordeaux. While enjoying nature, they drink great wines and learn about the colorful wine-making process. The city also lies within easy reach of the mountains and the sea.
U.S. representation in Bordeaux dates from 1778 when France formally recognized the independence of the 13 colonies and the Continental Congress appointed commercial agent John Bondfield as a political liaison. In 1790 President George Washington commissioned Joseph Fenwick of Maryland as the first American consul to Bordeaux, and the post has been in continuous existence ever since (except during the Franco-American "cold war" of 1798-1800 and the Nazi occupation of 1941-44). In 1962 this oldest known American diplomatic station became a Consulate General.
Due to long-term cultural exchanges between this region of France and the U.S., thousands of people apply annually for appropriate visas at the Bordeaux Consulate General. The Consulate General also serves the significant number of Americans visiting or resident in the area.
The Bordeaux consular district includes 24 departments (five regions) in southwestern France and covers almost one-third of continental France. The district contains France's most famous prehistorical caves, many ancient forts and castles, exquisite churches, and most of France's ultramodern aerospace industry—civil and military. The Basque region, with its mystifying ancient language, is 2 hours south of Bordeaux toward the Spanish border. Notable other cities in the consular district are Toulouse, Limoges, and Poitiers.
About 4,000 American citizens residing in the consular district have registered at the Consulate General (and approximately three times that number are estimated to reside in the district). Of the 4,000 registered, about 450 live in the immediate Bordeaux area.
Food of excellent quality and variety is available. Prepared baby foods are expensive, as are some canned or frozen goods. Certain products used in the U.S. are not available here.
Winters are mild in Bordeaux, but summers range from sweltering to cool. Although generally pleasant, the weather changes frequently. Heavyweight wool suits and dresses are practical in winter under lightweight topcoats. Conservative men's clothing suitable is fine for Bordeaux. Bring rain gear for all members of the family.
The Bordelais dress conservatively and formally by American standards. Business suits are worn by men at weekday social events. White tie is not worn and sports coats are usually suitable for weekend events.
Conservative women's clothing for daytime is the same in Bordeaux as in Washington, D.C. Women rarely wear pants to work. For evening women need several cocktail dresses and at least one long dress. French shoes are beautiful, but expensive, and do not always fit American feet.
Since most Americans walk more in Bordeaux than they do in the U.S., bring a good supply of comfortable shoes, especially those practical for wet weather and rough sidewalks.
Most French clothing is expensive. Moderately priced clothes do not sometimes meet U.S. standards of style or fit.
Supplies and Services
Supplies: A wide variety of toiletries for men and women is available, but prices are high. Travelers should bring any special home medications or drugs. Most basic household needs are available locally.
There is a bookstore specializing in English-language paperbacks and several French-language bookstores also have English-language paperbacks for sale, although highly priced.
Basic Services: Laundry, dry-cleaning, and shoe repair are available at prices higher than those in the U.S. The city has no diaper service.
Americans use local French doctors and dentists (rarely English-speaking, however) and local doctors' prescriptions can be easily filled as necessary.
Besides many Catholic churches, Bordeaux has several French Protestant churches, a synagogue, and an Anglican (Episcopal) church that holds services in English.
Facilities for elementary, secondary, and university education are good quality. Most school teaching is in French. Children up to age 12 learn the fundamentals of the language quickly and are able to take up work at their proper level after 6 months. Older children usually require supplementary language lessons to enable them to keep up with their schoolwork.
Among the public schools are those operated by the municipality and those by the national government (the lycees). Most private schools are run by religious orders.
In both public and private schools, hours of attendance and the amount of homework greatly exceed U.S. standards. Normally classes are not held on Wednesday afternoon but are on Saturday morning. Tuition costs at private schools are reasonable by U.S. standards. State schools are free.
One English-language instruction school exists in Bordeaux which places children from kindergarten to high school level. The Bordeaux International School was founded with the intention of following the standard British educational program through the GCSE level. It is privately run and funded exclusively by tuition fees. It is suitable for most children who have studied in the U.S. and who prefer not to attempt French-language instruction by immersion. You can request a catalog by writing directly to the school at 53 rue de Laseppe, 33000 Bordeaux.
Special Educational Opportunities
The University of Bordeaux has faculties in law, medicine, science, and letters as well as an institute of fine arts, politics, and music. Tuition fees are modest. Their French for foreigners course is particularly recommended for older dependents and spouses who are not French speakers.
Adults can study French with private tutors, through a university audiovisual course or at a Berlitz School. Textbooks are readily available in the stores.
Public swimming pools and a gym are available, although sometimes they are reserved for private athletic associations or school groups. The city has several private tennis clubs and a private golf club. Membership dues and initiation fees are high, and club facilities are limited. The area has several private clubs for flying, sailing, riding, fencing, archery, judo, sculling, and gymnastics; for team sports such as basketball, soccer, rugby, and hockey; and for organized activities such as bicycle touring and skiing. Sports equipment and clothing are sold locally at U.S. prices or slightly higher.
The most interesting local spectator sports are basketball, soccer, and rugby. There are local (U.S.-type) ice hockey, football, and baseball teams, however, with almost 100 percent French participation.
Classic European-type parks are available for children near the office and residences. Neighborhood kindergartens and two public parks have playgrounds with swings and seesaws. Organized sports and activities for children are available (afterhours) at schools or clubs.
Touring and Outdoor Activities
Boating, fishing, swimming, or other water sports abound at regional coastal resorts. A broad, sandy beach stretches southward 150 miles from the mouth of Gironde to the Spanish border. Principal resort areas are Arcachon (40 miles), Biarritz (113 miles), and St. Jean de Luz (120 miles).
The Basque country near the Spanish border is popular for hiking, cycling, and camping.
Skiing in the Pyrénées (3 hours by car) sometimes begins as early as December and can continue until April. These ski resorts are expanding rapidly and facilities are good, but the snow is unreliable.
The picturesque Dordogne River Valley has wonderful castles to visit and good hunting, fishing, and camping facilities.
During the regular season (October to April) there are plays, operas, ballet, and symphony concerts in Bordeaux and Toulouse. Since 1950, a 3-week music festival in May has brought instrumentalists of world rank, chamber music groups, choruses, orchestras, and theatrical companies to the city. Several modern movie houses show French, U.S., British, and other films, most dubbed in French. Bordeaux has several excellent small museums. Hobbyists devoted to bridge, chess, photography, the cinema, art, and other activities will be able to find groups sharing their interest.
Local residents usually entertain at home with teas, small dinners, or lunch parties. Cocktail parties in homes are infrequent, but cocktail-receptions given outside the home by institutions and organizations are common. Regional cultural patterns require frequent representation to develop and maintain professional and social contacts. Fluent French is essential for professional and social success.
Among the business service organizations present in Bordeaux are branches of Lions and Rotary. Chapters of France-Etats Unis (a French association devoted to bettering relations between the two countries) are in Bordeaux and many of the district's larger cities.
The Bordeaux Women's Club, which meets for lunch monthly, is open to all English-speaking women, as is the Bordeaux-Los Angeles Club, an active friendship associations with a young French membership.
Marseille, the first and oldest port in France, is a busy industrial and shipping center. It has a population over 1.3 million and is one of the largest cities in France. Founded in 600 B.C. by Greek traders from Asia Minor, Marseille became the first Christian metropolis in France. It is a contrast of old and new. Modern buildings and conveniences exist alongside narrow, winding streets and centuries-old structures. The city is colorful, with its picturesque harbor, cliff drive along the sea, and tree-lined boulevards—a typical Mediterranean port city, full of life and vitality, dependent largely on maritime traffic.
Situated in the Department of the Bouches du Rhone, Marseille is located 20 miles east of the mouth of the Rhone River. The old city surrounds a small natural harbor which, for 25 centuries, handled all of Marseille's maritime traffic, but which today is little more than a picturesque marina for fishing boats and yachts at the foot of the Canebierre, the city's main street. In 1854 new docks were built outside the Old Port, which today extend north of the city. As France's largest port (the third largest in Europe), it accommodates U.S. aircraft carriers and handles more cargo than any other Mediterranean port. Together with the deep-water port in nearby Fos, Marseille constitutes the largest petroleum port and refinery center in France.
About 6,000 Americans, mostly retirees and students, reside in the Marseille consular district, which covers the 16 Departments of Ardeches, Aude, Bouches du Rhone, Drome, Gard, Herault, Isère Lozere, Pyrénées Orientales, Var, Vaucluse, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Alpes-Maritimes, Haute-Corse, and Corse-du-Sud, as well as the Principality of Monaco. About 50 Americans live in Marseille proper. Thousands of American tourists transit Marseille each year, but few stop over because the city is not an important tourist attraction.
The hills around Marseille rise to 1,000 feet over the rocky coastline. The city recently completed a municipal beachfront development that provides ample space for swimming and windsurfing.
The local climate resembles that of Los Angeles, but with little or no smog. The prevailing northerly wind, the Mistral, sometimes blows at gale strength, making winters seem much colder, but also alleviating summer heat and problems of pollution.
Principal officers assigned to Marseille are accredited also to the Principality of Monaco, an area of 447 acres, roughly the size of New York City's Central Park, with 25,000 inhabitants. France conducts the Principality's foreign relations in most areas abroad and provides a French citizen to act as Minister of State. The relations are based on an 1861 treaty signed by Napoleon III and the Prince of Monaco, and last renegotiated on July 17, 1981. The present sovereign is Prince Rainier III of the Grimaldi family, the oldest reigning dynasty in Europe.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and of good quality.
Buy or eat fish and shellfish only at reputable places. Carefully wash all raw vegetables and fruit.
Gabardine, tropical-worsted, or wash-and-wear suits and light summer dresses are recommended for summer. Clothing for a Washington, D.C. winter is fine for Marseille's cold weather. A medium-weight coat will suffice on the coldest days.
Local shops and department stores can be relied on for small items such as scarves, gloves, socks, and underwear.
Supplies and Services
Basic Services: Good dressmakers are available, but prices are high. Shoe repair, dry-cleaning, and laundry facilities are adequate, but expensive. Prices at many beauty shops are somewhat less than in the U.S.
The city has many Roman Catholic churches, three French Protestant churches, a Greek Orthodox church, an Armenian Gregorian church, a synagogue, and several foreign churches, including the Swiss Protestant church. The Anglican church holds services in English.
Three English-language schools are in the area—the American International School in Nice, the Anglo-American School in Mougins, and CIPEC, a bilingual English-French school in Aix-en-Provence.
Many other schools, public and private, from kindergarten through high school, are available. Instruction is in French. Teachers are good and academic standards high. Most schools have no playground equipment or sports facilities. The school day is longer than in the U.S. Classes are held on Saturday morning (in primary schools) but not on Wednesday in most schools.
Public schools accept U.S. children without tuition fees, but students pay for books and supplies. Tuition at Catholic schools varies according to the grades.
The undergraduate school, the faculty of letters, and faculty of law of the University of Aix-Marseille are in nearby Aix-en-Provence. The faculties of science and medicine of the University are in Marseille; the schools of architecture, fine arts, and business administration are just east of Marseille at Luminy.
Public sports facilities in and near Marseille are good. A large public sports center has two indoor swimming pools. Several private clubs have pools. Rowing, yachting, and tennis clubs also exist. A golf club is located near Aix-en-Provence, about a 30-minute drive from the city. Hunting, fishing, skin diving, wind-surfing, and spearfishing are available; and horseback riding, rugby, soccer, volleyball, and basketball are other popular sports. American football and baseball are becoming increasingly popular.
French sporting equipment can be expensive. However, French skin diving and fishing gear (masks, spears, etc.) is less expensive than U.S. brands. Camping equipment is of excellent quality and reasonably priced, but sports clothing is expensive.
Hunting weapons or the use of animals in hunting is not restricted. Hunters must buy annual licenses. Each community maintaining a hunting preserve charges a yearly fee for its use.
Touring and Outdoor Activities
Marseille is convenient to many large cities: Paris (500 miles), Rome (600 miles), and Barcelona (325 miles). The consular district boasts varied scenery and points of interest.
Marseille is linked to Lyon, Paris, and the north by an excellent highway and by the high speed (TGV) train. To the east at Toulon is the French Navy Mediterranean Headquarters, which is visited regularly by units of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The university cities of Montpelier and Perpignan on the Spanish border are located to the west.
The region near Marseille offers excellent opportunities for touring, sight-seeing, hiking, and picnicking. Also available in the district are skiing and mountain climbing in the Alps, as well as fine seaside amusement and recreation on the Cote d'Azur.
The historic cities of Arles, Avignon, Nimes, and Orange are easily reached by train, bus, or car, and the old university town of Aix-en-Provence is only 30 minutes away.
Several cinemas in Marseille show European and U.S. films with French soundtracks. On occasion, an English-language film with French subtitles is shown. Frequent plays, operas, operettas, ballets, and concerts are performed during the winter. The July music festival of Aix-en-Provence is internationally famous. Plays and operas are held in the Roman theater at Orange and in many other cities.
There are many restaurants in Marseille, but they are expensive. American-type nightclubs are few and expensive.
Marseille has several worthwhile museums and art galleries. Several trade fairs are held during the year. Local hobby clubs include photography, aviation, Ping-pong, and bridge.
During the summer, Sunday bull-fights are held at the ancient Roman amphitheaters in Arles and Nimes. Except in winter, horse races are held at tracks in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.
The nearby Riviera handles thousands of tourists each year and has ample entertainment facilities. Carnivals, flower shows, film festivals, auto shows, and open-air theaters are operated in various municipalities and by private groups. Many movie theaters show American films with French soundtracks. Art exhibits and concerts are frequent. Large casinos at Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, and Juan les Pins sponsor dances, concerts, and theatrical attractions, in addition to gambling.
Among Americans: Social activities include dinner parties, luncheons, and receptions. Most entertaining is informal, and buffet dinners are common. Outdoor barbecues are popular, so bring the necessary equipment.
International Contacts: The Marseillais are friendly and easy to know, but can be reserved about inviting others to their homes.
The former USIS library has some reference material in English and French. A few Marseille bookstores have small selections of English books, mostly classics. Aix-en-Provence has an English bookshop and the British Consulate operates a large English library.
A proud and historic city, Strasbourg is located at the confluence of the Ill and Rhine Rivers on the Franco-German border. The surrounding countryside is picturesque and abounds with recreational opportunities. Like other cities in the Rhine Valley, Strasbourg enjoys a moderate climate, although temperature changes can be abrupt. For most Americans, sunny days are scarce.
Although Strasbourg has been an important Rhine River port and European crossroad for more than 2,000 years and is now a dynamic metropolitan area of 427,000 people, the city has retained a pleasing provincial character without the hectic atmosphere of a large capital. Yet, as the seat of the 27-nation Council of Europe and host for the monthly sessions of the European Community's (EC) directly elected European Parliament, the European Commission, and Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg has a cosmopolitan dimension often lacking in much larger cities. The Council of Europe, with its Ambassador-rank Permanent Representatives, the monthly sessions of the European Parliament, the 15 professional Consulates, and the 17 honorary consuls, give the city the second-largest diplomatic community in France. The frequent meetings of the European Parliament and the Council's Parliamentary Assembly bring parliamentarians, ministers, and heads of state and government to Strasbourg from all over Europe, as well as from non-European countries.
But the city is not only a capital for European political institutions. Cultural opportunities include the outstanding Opera du Rhine, an excellent orchestra, and the only French national theater outside Paris. The University of Strasbourg, with 45,000 students from all over the world, is a recognized leader in the fields science of medicine, law, and economics. Eleven American universities have yearlong study programs here. For the tourist or resident, the historic sections of Strasbourg offer charming walks and almost unlimited gastronomic opportunities. Most newcomers find Strasbourg's attractions, a unique blend of French and Germanic traditions, and proximity to several other European countries more than compensation for its weather.
The regions near Strasbourg, including Alsace, Lorraine, and Franche Compte, have a diversified export-oriented economy. Major sectors include: manufacturing, automobile, textile, chemicals, agriculture, and financial services. With more than 12,000 scientists and researchers, the area hosts about 15 percent of the total French scientific resources. Thus, many laboratories and research organizations specializing in biological and electronic technologies are headquartered in the area.
More than 72 U.S. multinational corporations have investments in the area, of which the largest are Powertrain, General Motors, Eli-Lilly, Warner-Lambert/Capsugel, Timken, Rohm and Hass, Mars, Wrigley, and Trane.
Three of the largest American military cemeteries in France are within the area.
All kinds of foods are available in Strasbourg with seasonal limitations. Fresh vegetables in winter are sometimes scarce, but you can buy frozen foods in the larger markets. Frozen foods, meats, poultry, and ice cream are more expensive than in the U.S.
A four-season wardrobe is needed in Strasbourg. Tailors, dressmakers, and quality ready-made clothing are all available, but prices are higher than in the U.S. Footwear is attractive and competitively priced, but many Americans find French sizes a problem. Do not overlook rain gear.
Supplies and Services
Supplies: All items normally required for housekeeping and household repairs are found here.
Basic Services: Dry-cleaning is about double U.S. prices. Laundries and shoe repair shops are plentiful, and prices are reasonable. The many good beauty shops are cheaper than in the U.S.
Several bookstores carry a limited number of books in English. Membership in the American Library in Paris is inexpensive and books can be mailed to members. The International Herald Tribune is available in Strasbourg on the day of publication. Local newsstands also carry Time, Newsweek, and McCall's. Les Dernieres Nouvelle d'Alsace, Strasbourg's principal newspaper, is published in French and German, and a number of other leading French papers are available.
The population of Strasbourg is 45 percent Catholic, 35 percent Protestant (Lutherans and Calvinists), 10 percent Jewish, and 10 percent all other faiths. People of all three major faiths attend services regularly. Catholic and Protestant services are held both in French and German. An Anglican Episcopal service in English is held every Sunday. Protestant interdenominational services in English are held twice a month at the Temple Neuf Chapel.
Although Strasbourg has many excellent French schools of all types, no English-language elementary or secondary school now exists. The French Government, in recognition of Strasbourg's position as host city to a number of European institutions, has established a special "international" school (currently with separate primary and secondary school facilities) designed to accommodate children of the foreign community. However, basic instruction is in French.
Special Educational Opportunities
Strasbourg has universities that prepare students for degrees in letters, law, political science, economics, science, medicine, and theology. The universities have special courses for foreigners in French language and civilization.
Students may be enrolled under certain conditions at the Conservatory of Music and the School of Decorative Arts. Private instruction in music and art is available.
The city's tennis clubs have good clay courts and one club has covered courts. The Strasbourg Golf Club, about 4 miles from the city, set in the charming countryside, has a 9-hole course generally playable year round. Indoor swimming is possible at the Schiltigheim municipal pool and at the older Strasbourg municipal bath. Beautiful outdoor swimming pools are available in Strasbourg near the Rhine Bridge, in nearby Kehl across the river, and at Obernai, an attractive town in the Vosges foothills about 30 minutes away. Skiing is available in season in the Vosges and in the Black Forest within less than 50 miles of Strasbourg. The season lasts from December through March. Strasbourg has a fencing club, and a bowling alley is not far from the Consulate General.
Some trout fishing is possible in the small streams of the Vosges and the Black Forest. For hunters, Alsace has a great deal of excellent shooting. Quail, partridge, pheasant, and hare are abundant, and deer and wild boar are in the mountains. Opportunities for horseback riding and lessons are plentiful at Strasbourg, and the surrounding areas of Alsace have numerous clubs offering both ring and trail riding. The Vosges mountains offer the serious hiker and camper invigorating air and scenic vistas. "L'Orangerie" and the "Contade" are two favorite parks for afternoon walks.
Athletic competitions of all kinds, including soccer, basketball, tennis, water polo, swimming, boxing, and wrestling, can be seen.
Touring and Outdoor Activities
The mountains and foothills of Alsace are dotted with small, picturesque villages. In spite of wartime destruction and intensive rebuilding, many houses remain from the 15th and 16th centuries, and the distinctive Alsatian architecture is attractive and interesting. Many fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic religious architecture, as well as 18th-century civil architecture, can be found all over Alsace. On the foothills and lower slopes of the Vosges are the vineyards of Alsace, which are the sources of some fine white wines and an unusual rosé. Higher up on rocky promontories, the ruins of medieval castles look out over the Rhine plain to the Black Forest in the distance.
The Alsatians are French citizens with a Germanic cultural background. Both French and Alsatian, a German dialect, are spoken by nearly everyone. In the countryside, Alsatian predominates and many older peasants do not understand more than a few words of French. German is widely understood and spoken.
Several Western European countries are easily accessible from Strasbourg. In Switzerland, Basel is about 80 miles away, Bern 170, and Geneva 219. Paris is 300 miles away. The distance to Heidelberg is 85 miles, to Munich 170, to Frankfurt 138, to Bonn 214, to Luxembourg 130, and to Innsbruck, Austria 260. Opportunities to visit interesting places are innumerable, and exceptionally good guide books are available here. Baden-Baden, 45 minutes away, has a golf course and a famous casino with a fine restaurant and dancing.
Trains are fast, inexpensive, and reliable. Across the Rhine in Germany, the excellent, toll-free auto-bahn (expressway) system connects Strasbourg with Basel, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich. A newly competed French autoroute (expressway) makes Paris an easy 4-to 5-hour drive from Strasbourg, but tolls are high. Traffic on French secondary roads is intense, particularly at certain times of the day and in the summer. Gasoline prices are the highest in Europe. Unleaded gasoline is available in Strasbourg and nearby Germany.
Municipal theaters provide a full program of play, concerts, ballets, operas, and operettas. The city's radio-TV station gives free tickets to various concerts held throughout the year. The opera, symphony orchestra, and municipal ballet are particularly good, and many well-known chamber orchestras, quartets, and soloists come here on tour. A music festival is held every June with eminent visiting artists and first-class orchestras.
Strasbourg has about 20 cinemas. Movies are in French and occasionally in English. Most British and American pictures are shown with French soundtracks.
The presence of the Council of Europe, with its resident ambassadors and 1300-person secretariat composed of citizens from 44 countries, gives social life an international and cosmopolitan dimension. Social functions are frequent and tend toward sit-down dinners and receptions rather than informal affairs, although the business lunch is well established. Although no American club or organization exists in Strasbourg, the local binational association, Alsace-Etats-Unis, organizes a number of events with an American flavor.
Strasbourg is considered one of the best medical centers in France. Excellent doctors and surgeons are available. Hospital care is excellent. All the latest drugs are known and used, and the Hopital Civil and some of the clinics are equipped with diagnostic laboratories. Ocu-lists and dentists are plentiful. Several good veterinarians also practice in Strasbourg.
Lyons (Lyon), which forms the core of the second largest metropolitan area in France with a population of about 1.3 million, is the country's third largest city. It is at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, some 300 miles southeast of Paris. Old Lyons lies between the rivers and up the hill on the west bank of the Saône. More recently, the city has grown on the east bank of the Rhône and west into the foothills bordering the Saône. The population of the city proper is about 453,000. The climate is similar to that of Washington, DC; it is humid, but snow or long hot spells are rare.
Lyons takes pride in its history, which goes back to Gallo-Roman times when it was Lugdunum, the Roman capital of Gaul. The emperors Claudius and Caracalla were born here. Many remaining buildings and artifacts remind residents and visitors alike of Lyons' origins in antiquity, including the oldest Roman amphitheater remains in France; its importance in the growth of French Catholicism; and its one-time role as the leading silk and cloth manufacturing city in the Western world.
However, the city is not all history. It has a new metro system, one of the largest shopping centers in Europe, world headquarters for Interpol and the International Congress Center, and a modern international airport, Satolas. In October 1988, the city released a plan called "Lyon 2010," which lays the guidelines for the next decades' city growth. Included in the plan is the development of access routes into the city, 13 more miles of metro lines, expanded bus, train, and airplane service, renovations to the Musée des Beaux-Arts and a new concert hall and opera house. Lyons is a well-maintained and clean city where the old and the new are integrated into an attractive whole. Houses virtually unchanged since the 17th century, multi-storied office complexes reaching for the sky, wide tree-lined boulevards, and beautiful parks blend to make this a lovely, livable metropolis, whose residents still consider the traditional art of French cooking important enough to take a two-hour lunch. The illumination of the city's buildings and monuments was completely redesigned, making Lyons' night skyline a visual delight. And Bellencour, the geographical heart of the city, is the largest city-center square in Europe.
Lyons, a world-famous medical center, particularly in cancer research, has excellent medical facilities readily available. There are numerous fine large hospitals, but Americans have used the French Clinique or private hospitals for their needs.
The city boasts the oldest stock exchange in France (founded in 1506), a 178-year-old university, and several excellent museums. Lyons' museums are generally smaller than those in Paris and are usually dedicated to an aspect of the city's history or customs, although the Musée des Beaux-Arts is the second largest fine arts museum in France.
The first U.S. Foreign Service post in Lyons opened in 1826, when James Fenimore Cooper was appointed as its consul. The U.S. Consulate General in Lyons is located at 7, Quai General Sarrail.
Schools for Foreigners
Excellent French schools of all types abound in Lyons, but there are no American or English schools in the district. All instruction is in French. Some children, who have been exposed to the language at home or in previous schools, enroll locally and do well in their classes, but it should be understood that French fluency is a prerequisite.
A few private bilingual schools exist and the Lycée Jean Perrin has opened international sections in English, German, and Spanish to accommodate Lyons' international community.
Accessible and desirable educational facilities can be found in Switzerland and Belgium, as well as in Paris. However, unless English-language education is a necessity, the fine schools of Lyons and other university towns in the district (Dijon, Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand, and Saint-Étienne) should be seriously considered.
Lyons' excellent universities offer a multitude of courses. Ample cultural, artistic, and musical facilities are also available.
Recreation and Entertainment
Lyons is a convenient point for travel within France or to nearby Switzerland and Italy. An inexhaustible supply of touring sites, historical monuments, and museums is available for every taste. Virtually every known recreational activity has its followers in Lyons, and the area probably has a greater variety of recreational advantages, facilities, and resorts than any other in France.
All major European sports are popular. Most of the French Alps lie within the district and provide excellent skiing, hiking, and climbing. Lyons also offers facilities for swimming, golf, tennis, and other sports.
The 1992 Winter Olympics was centered at Albertville, approximately 75 miles east of Lyons in the Savoy Alps. Competition was spread throughout 640 square miles in the region.
There are several markets in Lyons for browsing, including an arts and crafts market held every Sunday, book markets, animal markets, and the one of the largest antique markets in Europe.
The types of entertainment found in any major U.S. city are readily available, popular, and reasonably priced in Lyons. However, the city is conservative compared to Paris, and the nightlife is surprisingly quiet.
Nice, in the Département of Alpes-Maritimes, is in the renowned Riviera resort area, 30 miles from Italy and 100 miles from Marseille. The city's international airport is twoand-a-half miles from the center of town. It handles more passenger traffic than any other airport in France outside Paris. Daily flights link Nice with all parts of the world. Work has been completed south of the airport to extend the facilities in order to meet the demands of the area.
Besides an advantageous location, Nice has an excellent climate and a stimulating variety of official, social, and cultural contacts. The population of Greater Nice, which stretches from the Var River to the independent corporation of L'Abadie, is now 889,000, making it the fifth largest city in France.
Most of Nice's labor force is employed in tourist-related occupations. Next to tourism in economic importance is the cut flower trade. The Nice wholesale flower market ships its products to distant points and to the large perfume-essence industry in nearby Grasse. Light industry, electronics, and construction are also important employers in the Nice area.
Nice was founded as Nicaea by a colony of Ionian Greeks from ancient Massilia (Marseille) in the fifth century B.C. It has had a history of domination by the Romans, the Saracens, the counts of Provence, the House of Savoy, the French, and the Turks. It was ceded to France by Savoy in 1860. Nice is the birthplace of Guiseppe Garibaldi, the 19th-century Italian patriot and soldier.
As a resort town, Nice has a pleasing, well-rounded character. It has miles of lovely promenades on the sea, an opera house, theaters, casinos, and many good restaurants, and is especially lively between January and April. Nearby mountains serve as a scenic backdrop and as a protection from cold winds. Best of all, there is sunshine about 325 days a year.
Schools for Foreigners
The American International School (AIS) on the Cotéd'Azur is located in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, just outside Nice. It opened in September 1977 and provides education from kindergarten through grade 12. Several U.S. companies in the area (IBM, Texas Instruments, Rohm, and Haas) have contributed to a fast-growing enrollment, and the school now is in new facilities near the Var River, with a view of the Maritime Alps. AIS offers an American-type curriculum to its students, and provides preparation and testing for college enrollment. Individualized programs are fitted to the needs of each student. The school's address is Quartier de la Tour, La Baronne, 06700 Saint Laurent-du-Var, France. Kindergarten through grade four are also taught at the Monaco Primary School section, located at Fortvieille, Stade Louis II, Monaco 98000.
French public schools will admit American children of all ages, but courses, study methods, and procedures differ from those in the U.S. It takes the average American child a difficult period of six months to a year to become fluent in French.
There are many private day and boarding schools along the Riviera; instruction is in French.
To be admitted to the University of Nice, the applicant must be fluent in the language and have earned the equivalent of the French baccalaureate (baccalauréat ), about 35 credit hours of American undergraduate study. The Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, an adjunct to the university, offers special courses for foreigners, ranging from six to 19 hours a week. Cost varies per semester.
As a tourist site, the Riviera is justly famous. Nice, its most renowned resort, is in Provence, a region with numerous places of scenic beauty and historical and artistic interest.
Mountain resorts are nearby for winter sports. The ski stations of Valber, Auron, and Isola 2000 can be reached by car in less than two hours, and several Italian resorts are within four hours' drive. All sports equipment and attire are similar in style to those in the U.S., but prices are higher. Equipment may be rented at the ski resorts, and lessons are available.
Ample facilities also exist for other sports. Golf courses are located within 30 to 45 minutes of the city, and there are several tennis clubs in Nice and nearby cities. The most popular outdoor activity is ocean swimming, made possible five months of the year by the moderate climate. Wind surfing is a new sport which has become very popular.
The Riviera hosts thousands of tourists each year and has ample entertainment facilities. Carnivals, flower shows, film festivals, auto shows, and open-air theaters are operated in various municipalities and by private groups. Many movie theaters show American films with French soundtracks.
Art exhibits and concerts are frequent. Near Nice, museums of French impressionist painters Matisse (the Matisse Museum) and Chagall (the Marc Chagall National Museum) may be enjoyed by art lovers and art critics alike. Other art museums include the Anatole Jakowsky International Museum of Naive Art and the Jules Chéret Museum of Fine Arts which houses paintings from Vanloo to Picasso.
Large casinos at Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, and Juan-les-Pins sponsor dances, concerts, and theatrical attractions, in addition to gambling. Many excellent restaurants offer regional French and Italian cuisine, as well as other traditional specialties. Prices for theaters, opera, and restaurants are about the same as in the U.S.
Monaco's National Day celebration on November 19, the feast of Prince Rainier's patron saint, includes a mass and Te Deum at the cathedral, luncheon at the palace, an afternoon football match, and a gala at the Monte Carlo Opera in the evening.
Nice offers a wide range of artistic entertainment. The National Theatrical Centre presents outstanding seasons; an Italian Film Festival draws increasingly large crowds in December; a Choreographic Festival hosts the greatest international dancers. Opera can be enjoyed in Nice from November to April, the Holy Music Festival is in June, and the Great Jazz Parade is in July.
A number of facilities in the Nice area are geared toward the thousands of English-speaking residents and tourists. The International Herald Tribune and popular American magazines are sold at local newsstands. An English bookstore in Nice carries a good selection of classic and contemporary writers. An English-American library on the grounds of the English church has a varied, although somewhat dated, selection of books. The Nice-Matin is the most important local daily newspaper. Several weekly and biweekly papers are also published.
Situated on the Meurth River and Marne-Rhine Canal, Nancy is the economic, administrative, and educational center of Lorraine Province. The city is located in northeastern France, about 178 miles east of Paris and 75 miles west of Strasbourg. The capital of Meurthe-et-Moselle Département, Nancy sits on the outer perimeter of the large Lorraine iron fields and, because of this, it is an industrial city known for manufacturing foundry products, boilers, electrical equipment, ironware, and machine tools.
Historically, Nancy grew up around a castle of the dukes of Lorraine, becoming the capital in the 12th century. In 1477, the gates of the city were the scene of a battle in which Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, was defeated and killed by René II, duke of Lorraine. Stanislaus I, duke of Lorraine from 1738 through 1766, resided in Nancy and, during that time, the city was a model of urban planning and 18th-century architecture. Nancy became part of France in 1766, and from 1870 to 1873 was occupied by the Germans following the Franco-Prussian War. An important railroad center in World War I, Nancy was unsuccessfully attacked by Germans in 1914, but was partially destroyed by heavy bombardment. During World War II, American forces reached the city on September 5, 1944, taking it 10 days later.
Landmarks in Nancy include an 18th-century cathedral, the Gothic church of St. Épyre, the 17th-century town hall, the 16th-century Palais Ducal (this palace contains a museum of Lorraine's rich past), and the Place de la Carrière. The 15th-century Church of Cordeliers houses the tombs of the princes of Lorraine.
In the heart of the city is the Place Stanislas. An imposing statue occupies the center of this large, paved square, enclosed by monumental buildings and decorated with green fountains and golden railings. The 18th and 20th centuries merge beneath the great statue of Stanislas, once king of Poland and the last duke of Lorraine. Stanislas built the square bearing his name in the middle of Nancy, between the 10th-century Ville Vieille (old city) and the 15th-century Ville Neuve (new city).
Nancy has an art museum, academy of fine arts, and a university, founded in 1854, that has colleges of mining, metallurgy, engineering, dairy science, chemistry, and commerce. In addition to faculties of science, law, arts and medicine, there is also an attached teaching hospital.
Nancy's current population is 106,000.
Present-day Nancy has its science museums of geology, zoology, and scientific art. The Museum of Fine Arts, just a short walk from the Place Stanislas, houses over six centuries of canvasses of mostly French and Italian painters, including Delacroix, Manet, Vlaminck, and Modigliani. At Jarville, just outside of Nancy, is the Iron Museum, unmatched anywhere. Educational and fascinating, the museum also contains contemporary architecture. There is also a Motor Museum and a zoo—Forêt de Haye.
Nancy has several stadiums, gymnasiums, and swimming pools. During winter, there is skiing in the Vosges every weekend, just an hour's drive away.
Nancy after dark is a little Latin and a little Oriental, and a town of measured refinement, with countless details to be enjoyed. The city has many restaurants, large and small, all of which excel in the standard French dishes as well as the local specialties of quiche, potée, and pike, and accompanied by beer or the local wine, vin gris. Discothéques, clubs, and other places for dancing, singing and enjoying oneself abound in Nancy.
The World Theatre Festival is held in the city every two years. During the 10 days of the festival, connoisseurs mingle with authors, actors with producers, and novices with specialists. In autumn, Nancy plays host to a jazz festival. The 10-day festival, featuring musicians from three continents, is a marathon of pulsating sound, explosive rhythm, and irresistible sensations. In addition to the two festivals, there is the Grand Théâtre, many cinemas, and visiting performers. Merry-go-rounds of the fair in Place Carnot bring delight to thousands of young and old for a month each summer.
Caen, in northwestern France, is situated on the Orne River, about nine miles from the English Channel coast and 126 miles northwest of Paris. With a population of nearly 117,000, Caen is a busy port canalized directly to the sea by Napoleon I. Due to improvements made to the canal, allowing present-day access to ships over 30,000 tons, it deals with millions of tons of traffic a year. A magnificent stretch of water has been adapted and reserved for sailing enthusiasts.
An industrial city with a thermal power station and extensive steel works along the Orne River, Caen is also near the country's second largest iron-ore mines. Items manufactured in Caen include automobiles, electronic gear, heavy equipment, textiles, and lace.
Historically, Caen was a favorite residence of William the Conqueror, and was under English rule in 1346 and from 1417 to 1450. During World War II, it was one of the main objects of the Allied invasion of Normandy. Attacked by the British on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), Caen became part of the German defense line. It was attacked again on June 25, taken by British and Canadian forces on July 9, and consequently, many of its architectural landmarks were almost totally destroyed. The 14th-century Church of St. Peter's lost its spire, while the Castle of William the Conqueror and the 17th-century town hall were both destroyed beyond repair. Some examples of 11th-century Norman architecture did survive and include the Abbaye aux Hommes where William the Conqueror is buried; Abbaye aux Dames, founded by Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, in 1066; and the Church of St. Nicholas.
The city has a university, founded by Henry VI of England in 1432, which was destroyed and later rebuilt. The University of Caen has about 15,500 students. With its new theater, the Museum of Arts, and Museum of Normandy, Caen remains the cultural, intellectual, and artistic center it has been since the Middle Ages.
From Caen, it is easy to reach the large seaside resorts along the Channel coast (Côte Fleurie, from Franceville to Honfleur) and also to the famous beaches where the Allied Forces landed in 1944 (Côte de Nacre and Bessin, from Riva-Bella to Isigny).
Le Havre is France's most important port for transatlantic passenger liners. A city of 193,000, it is in the Seine-Maritime Département of northern France, at the mouth of the Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is also a major port for exports from the Paris region as well as northwestern France.
An important industrial center, its industries include sugar and oil refining and shipbuilding. Heavy equipment and electrical equipment are manufactured here. Le Havre was founded in 1517 as Havre-de-Grace and, by the 18th century, had passed Rouen, Nantes, and Bordeaux in importance. The city was developed as a port from the 16th century and was a naval base under Napoleon I. It was a major Allied base during World War I and, during World War II, it was occupied by the Germans from June 1940 through September 1944. Like so many other French cities, it was heavily damaged during World War II, but is now rebuilt.
Points of interest in Le Havre include the church of Notre Dame, the round tower of Francis I, an arsenal, and a theater. The resort suburb of Ste.-Adresse adjoins Le Havre and has a fine beach. Four miles east of Le Havre is the seaport of Harfleur, once a chief port of France. Opposite Le Havre on the Seine estuary is the seaport of Honfleur. Once a center for exploration, it is today known for its tourism industry. Étretat is another resort town near Le Havre.
Lille, formerly Lisle, is the capital of Nord Département in northern France. Situated near the Belgian border and about 130 miles northeast of Paris, Lille has a population of about 191,000, and about one million in the metropolitan area.
Lille was the center of industrial expansion in the 1960s that led to the establishment of a metropolitan community uniting nearly 90 towns. Including the cities of Tourcoing, Roubaix, Béthune, Bruay, and Lens, among others, this area is now France's richest economic region and one of Europe's most important urban centers. A commercial, cultural, and manufacturing center, Lille is known for its textile products, but also produces iron, steel, machinery, and chemicals. There are brewing, distilling, and sugar refining facilities within the city.
Founded about 1030, Lille was the medieval capital of Flanders until given to the king of France in 1312. The city changed hands several times before it was restored to France via the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. One of the principal fortifications in northern France at the onset of World War I, Lille was occupied by the Germans from October 1914 to October 1918. During World War II, the Germans again occupied the city, from June 1940 until September 1944.
Principal buildings in Lille include a huge citadel; a 17th-century stock exchange; two 15th-century churches; a 16th-century church; and an unfinished cathedral, begun in 1854. Lille has a large university, established in 1560, and one of the most important art museums in Europe, which includes paintings of Flemish, Dutch, French, and Spanish masters.
The seaport of Calais is located 60 miles northwest of Lille on the Strait of Dover. Known for its lace-making, Calais has a population of 77,000.
A great commercial center, Montpellier is located in southern France near the Mediterranean Sea. The capital of Hérault Département, Montpellier is 77 miles northwest of Marseille and has a population of 229,000. During the 10-year period from 1960 through 1970, the city's population increased nearly 70 percent, due in part to a large influx of refugees from Algeria.
Montpellier's industries include salt working, textile milling, food processing, and printing. The city manufactures metal items and chemicals, and has a large wine, fruit, and vegetable market.
Montpellier dates from the eighth century, when it was the center of a fief under the Toulouse counts. In the 13th century it passed to the kings of Majorca and, in 1349, was purchased by Philip VI of France. As a Huguenot center, Montpellier was taken by Louis XIII in 1622.
Today, Montpellier is best known for its university, founded in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad. Suppressed by the French Revolution, it was reestablished as a university in 1896. In 1970, it was divided into three units. The university's medical school can be traced to the 10th century; its most famous student was Rabelais. Montpellier has agricultural and military schools and is the home of an international wine festival. Here also is the oldest botanical garden in France, founded in 1593.
Notable structures in the city include a château, citadel, 14th-century cathedral, palace of justice and triumphal arch in Doric architecture.
Just south of Montpellier is the seaside resort of Sète. A city of 40,000, Sète is the principal seaport of southern France, after Marseille, with a large export trade in wine.
Nantes, with a population of 278,000, is the capital of the Loire-Maritime Département in western France. Situated on the Loire River 107 miles west of Tours, it is an important industrial and shipping center; its ocean port is Saint-Nazaire. Nantes is the home of several educational institutions, and the seat of an episcopal see.
The city (once called Condivincum) was the capital of ancient Namnetes before the Roman conquest of Gaul. The Huns, the Normans, and the dukes of Brittany all laid siege to Nantes throughout the centuries and, in 1499, it became part of France upon the marriage of Anne of Brittany to King Louis XII. During the French Revolution, it was the scene of a violent massacre and mass drownings. Nantes was a major center of resistance in World War II.
There are numerous museums, concert halls, theaters, and sports facilities located throughout Nantes. The city is known for its many festivals and fairs including a commercial fair, musical festival, pre-Lenten carnival, and several folk festivals.
The industrial commune of Rezé is located opposite Nantes, on the Loire. With a population of 37,000, the city manufactures hats, furniture, shoes, and rugs.
Reims (or Rheims) is one of the French cities historically connected with the heroic Joan of Arc. A city of 191,000, it is located in the Champagne region in the northeastern part of the country.
Reims was once the customary place for the crowning of kings of France. Joan of Arc stood at the side of Charles II (the dauphin) at his coronation in 1429 in the beautiful Reims cathedral—the historic structure was later extensively damaged in both the Franco-Prussian War (1870) and World War I. Restoration was made possible by a Rockefeller Foundation grant, and the cathedral was reopened in 1938. It remains the city's most renowned building.
Reims is surrounded by vineyards and, since the 18th century, has been the center of France's champagne industry. It once was equally famous for its woolen textiles. Reims was the site of the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 7, 1945. Since it was rebuilt after heavy damage in both world wars, Reims today is a new city with modern buildings. There is an extensive network of caves beneath the city, used for the storage of wines. Textiles, machinery, and glass are also produced in Reims.
Rouen, a city of 109,000 today, is probably best known for the events that took place in 1431. Two years after her victory over the English at Orléans, Joan of Arc was tried, sentenced to death, and burned here at the stake.
The capital of Seine-Maritime Département, Rouen is located in northern France about 70 miles northwest of Paris. The city is entirely surrounded by woods and forests of an immense variety of trees. With its suburbs, Rouen numbers some 390,000 inhabitants. Situated on the right bank of the Seine River near its mouth at the English Channel, Rouen functions as the port of Paris and handles a large volume of traffic. It has 15 miles of quays equipped with every modern facility. Wine, grain, livestock, sugar, and petroleum products are shipped from Rouen. Items manufactured within the city include chemicals, drugs, textiles, paper, leather goods, and metal products. Industries include shipyards, oil refineries, and railroad shops.
Rouen was founded in pre-Roman times and was taken and burned by the Normans in the ninth century. A century later, it was the capital of Normandy and one of the leading cities of Europe. It was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War, 1418-49, by the Huguenots in 1562, and by the Germans in 1870. Rouen suffered heavy damage from Allied bombing during World War II and was taken by the Allies on August 31, 1944; the city and much of its port had to be reconstructed.
The city has been an archiepiscopal see since the fifth century and has many churches and cathedrals. Damaged, but now restored, are the cathedral of Notre Dame (built during the 12th through 15th centuries) with its well-known Tour de Beurre (butter tower); the palace of justice and Church of St. Maclou (both constructed during the 15th and 16th centuries); and the Renaissance clock tower—Gros Horloge.
Landmarks honoring Joan of Arc are the 14th-century Abbey of Saint Ouen, where she was sentenced to death, and the Place de la Pucelle, where she died. Conducted tours of all historical places are undertaken twice daily in the summer.
The birthplaces of dramatist Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) and author Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) have been preserved and are currently museums. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is one of the most important in France, including masterpieces by Delacroix and Ingres. Paintings of the Italian, Flemish, and Dutch schools are found, as well as a rich collection of the French masters of the 17th and 18th centuries and the Impressionists. There is also a very important collection of faïence —Rouen-ware.
All major sports are represented in Rouen. Rowing and canoeing are possible on Île Lacroix and yachting may be done at Duclair and Hénouville. An 18-hole golf course is located at Mont-Saint-Aignan. Football, at the Football Club Rouennais; riding at area riding schools; and horse racing are all available in the Rouen area. Motor racing on the Rouen Les Essarts circuit, occurs in July.
Toulon, a seaport in southeastern France on the Mediterranean Sea, has a population of 166,000. Located 30 miles southeast of Marseille, Toulon is an important industrial center and commercial port. In addition, it is the principal base of the French Mediterranean fleet, with docks, naval shipyards, and an arsenal.
Major industries include shipbuilding, ship repairing, fishing, and wine making. Figs, almonds, vegetable oils, bauxite, chemicals, machinery, furniture, and cork are produced. Toulon is also a winter resort.
Historically, Toulon was first mentioned as a Roman naval station in the third century. It became prominent during the Middle Ages as a hostel for Crusaders. Toulon was the scene of many historic naval battles, including the victory of Napoleon over French, English, and Spanish royalists in 1793. Napoleon gained prominence that same year by retaking Toulon for the French and, after 1815, the city became the center of French naval power.
During World War I, Toulon was an important naval station and port of entry. During World War II, a large part of the French Mediterranean fleet was stationed at Toulon after the French armistice of 1940. On November 27, 1942, the majority of the ships were scuttled by their crews to avoid capture by the Germans. The city suffered considerable damage before it was entered by French troops on August 22, 1944. The subsequent reconstruction retained much of Toulon's original charm.
Landmarks preserved include the Church of St. Marie Majeure, built during the 17th and 18th centuries, and a 13th-century cathedral. Toulon also has a naval museum.
Toulouse is one of the country's great commercial centers. It is situated on the Garonne River in southern France, and is capital of the Haute-Garonne Département. It is 133 miles southeast of Bordeaux and Metropolitan Toulouse has a population of approximately 761,000.
The city was part of Gaul, then became the Visigoth capital and, later, the capital of the Carolingian kingdom of Aquitaine (781-843). It was one of medieval Europe's cultural centers. Toulouse and the surrounding area became a separate country in 843, and did not pass to the French Crown until 1271; considerable autonomy was allowed the region until the French Revolution. In World War II, Toulouse was occupied by the Germans for almost two years.
Toulouse houses the university which bears its name (founded in 1229), and the Académie des Jeux Floraux, which was chartered in 1323. The "old quarter" of the city remains much the same as it was in the 18th century.
Today, Toulouse is a center of the French aviation industry and produces fertilizer, ammunition, paper, footwear, and tobacco. It is a market for the surrounding agricultural region and a distribution center for textiles.
AIX-EN-PROVENCE is located in southeastern France about 19 miles north of Marseille. A picturesque town of 137,000, Aix-en-Provence is a favorite sojourn for painters and was the birthplace of the artist Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). It is also an important tourist center known for the International Music Festival held here in July, as well as a commercial center in an area that produces olives, grapes, and almonds. Products manufactured in Aix-en-Provence include wine-making equipment and electrical apparatus. Historically, the city was founded as a military colony by the Romans in 123 B.C., and was the site of the defeat of the Teutons by Marius in 102 B.C. An archiepiscopal see in the fifth century, Aix-en-Provence has been the capital of Provence since the 12th century, becoming part of France in 1487. It was the seat of parliament in Provence from 1501 to 1789. Aix-en-Provence has been a cultural center, a music center, and the focus of Provençal literature since the Middle Ages. Its university, founded in 1409, was combined with one in Marseille. Aix-en-Provence's Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur was built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The city is also known for its therapeutic spa and a number of thermal treatment centers.
Situated in a fertile farm region, ALENÇON is a commercial center and the capital of Orne Département. Located in northwestern France on the Sarthe River, Alençon is 105 miles southwest of Paris and has a population of 29,000. The town is particularly known for its lace work, an industry that dates back to the 17th century; there is a school of lacework in town. Printing plants, sawmills, spinning mills, and ore quarries are also found in Alençon. Originally the center of the medieval territory of Alençon, the town was successively a lordship, county, and duchy. Alençon was heavily damaged during World War II, and taken by American forces in
August 1944. Historic landmarks include Notre Dame Church, with 16th-century windows and porch; St. Leonard's Church, completed in Gothic style in 1505; and the 15th-century Ozé House. Northeast of Alençon is the town of Mortagne, with a population of 5,000. Its church of Notre Dame was built during the 15th and 16th centuries.
AMIENS , a manufacturing city, is situated on the Somme River in northern France, 30 miles south of the English Channel and 72 miles north of Paris. The capital of Somme Département, with a population of 139,000, Amiens has been an important textile center since the 16th century and is famous for velvet. The city also is a market and rail center for the truck farming carried on in the surrounding marshlands. Chemicals, tires, soap, and electrical equipment are manufactured in Amiens. The city was originally a Gallo-Roman town and an episcopal see since the fourth century. As the historic capital of Picardy, it was overrun and occupied by many invaders. Passed to Burgundy by the Peace of Arras in 1435, Amiens was returned to France at the death of Charles the Bold in 1477. It was captured by the Spanish in 1597 and then recovered by Henry IV. Amiens was the scene of the Treaty of Amiens, signed in 1802 between France and Britain. The city was captured by the Prussians in 1870, and was held by the Germans for a short time in 1914. The Battle of Amiens, fought in August 1918, was part of the successful counteroffensive against Germany. In World War II, Amiens was occupied by the Ger
mans from May 1940 through August 1944. The city was devastated during the war and, since 1945, has been rebuilt mostly in medieval style. The Cathedral of Notre Dame, begun about 1220, is the largest Gothic cathedral in France, and one of the leading representatives of Gothic architecture in Europe. It is 470 feet long and has a 140-foot-high nave. The 370-foot spire and large rose window were added in the 16th century.
Abbeville, with a population of 25,000, is 25 miles northwest of Amiens. Also nearby is the underground village of Naours, discovered in 1887.
ANGERS , with a population of approximately 156,000, is the capital of Maine-et-Loire Département. The city lies on the Maine River, 165 miles southwest of Paris, in west-central France. Angers has a number of medieval buildings including the 12th-century Cathedral of St. Maurice, the Abbey of St. Aubin, and a 13th-century castle. Industries include rope making cables, and leather goods manufacturing. There are several educational institutions here.
ANGOULÊME , with a population of 43,000, is a former river port and now a major road and rail center. It is situated in western France on the Charente River, about 64 miles northeast of Bordeaux. Angoulême is the capital of Charente Département. Paper-making is a major industry here, dating back to the 15th century; the city also has copper foundries, electric motor plants, and soap and shoe factories. The history of Angoulême dates back to A.D. 507, when it was conquered by Clovis, King of Franks; that year, Clovis also built the city's first cathedral. In the ninth century, Angoulême became the seat of the counts of Angoumois. It was ceded to England via the Peace of Bretigny in 1360 and was restored to France in 1373 by Charles V. Passing to the house of Orléans in 1394, Angoulême was the center of the duchy created by Francis I, 1515-1844. The cathedral of St. Pierre, begun about 1110, is one of the city's landmarks.
Just west of Angoulême is the city of Cognac. It belonged to Richard the Lionhearted and later, in the latter part of the 16th century, became a Protestant stronghold. The French brandy to which the city gives its name has been manufactured and exported since the 18th century. Cognac's population is 20,000.
A popular French tourist resort, ANNECY is located in southeastern France, 20 miles south of Geneva, Switzerland. The town of 50,000 is situated in the northern Alps on Lake Annecy and is 63 miles northeast of Lyons. The center of the city has a distinctly medieval look, with many narrow, flower-fringed canals traversing the area. Fed by the underground springs of Lake Annecy, the canals are so clear that the bottoms are visible. Annecy has several churches, monasteries, and seminaries. Overlooking the city on a hill is the castle of the counts of Geneva, built during the 12th through 14th centuries. Besides tourism, Annecy has printing plants and factories that manufacture jewelry, leather, and wood products. The city also produces cotton yarn and linens, and a noted bell foundry is nearby.
Although today an important railroad and industrial center, ARLES is probably best known as the home of painters Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Located in southeastern France about 45 miles northwest of Marseille, Arles has a population of 52,000. Situated on the left bank of the Rhône River, the city is connected by canal to the Mediterranean Sea. Industries in Arles include shipbuilding, paper, and chemicals; grapes and olive trees are grown in the area. As Arelas, it was a flourishing Roman town and the metropolis of Gaul late in the Roman Empire era, as well as the birthplace of Constantine II. In the 12th century, Arles became a free city ruled by an elected podestà (magistrate) who then appointed other officials; it retained this special status until the French Revolution. Today, Arles has many landmarks from its past. These include a Roman arena, built in the second century and now used for bullfights. There is also a Roman theater; the Aliscamps (Elysian Fields), a Roman cemetery; the Church of St. Trophime, built between the 11th and 15th centuries; and a 17th-century town hall. The Museon Arlaten, a museum of Provençal folklore and culture, is also in Arles. The manufacturing town of Uzès is located to the east of Arles. A ducal palace and cathedral may be found there.
ARRAS is the capital of Pas-de-Calais Département in northern France. Situated on the canalized Scarpe River, Arras is 25 miles southwest of Lille, and has a population of 41,000. An industrial, farm, and communications center, Arras has oil works and machinery and metal products factories. Historically, Arras was of Gallo-Roman origin and an episcopal see by the year 500. An important international banking and trade center by the tenth century, Arras became a center of culture and wealth in the 14th century, particularly known for tapestry. The city was the scene of the signing of two treaties in the 15th century. The latter treaty, ending the war between Maximilian I of Austria and Louis XV of France in 1482, made the city part of France. Arras was ceded to Maximilian of Austria in 1493 and was held by the Spanish branch of the Hapsburgs until 1640, when it was taken by Louis XIII. Arras was nearly destroyed by shellfire during World War I and further damaged during World War II. The city has, however, retained much of its Spanish-Flemish flavor. The town square is surrounded by 17th-century buildings in Flemish architecture. The town hall (built in the 16th century), the large bell tower, and the Abbey of St. Vaast (built in the 18th century) have all been restored. The abbey houses a museum today.
Nine miles north of Arras is the city of Avion, with a population of 23,000. It was the scene of severe fighting from April to June 1917. To the east of Arras is the industrial city of Cambrai. Known for its linen goods, especially cambric and cambresine which were named for the city, Cambrai has a population of 34,000.
AUCH is located in southwestern France on the Gers River in Gascony, about 100 miles southeast of Bordeaux. The capital of Gers Département, Auch is a commercial center and farm market known for the production and trade of Armagnac brandy, wine, and grain. Historically, Auch was one of Roman Gaul's chief towns. It was the capital of Armagnac and an archiepiscopal see in the 10th century, and the capital of Gascony in the 17th century. The old part of the town is steep and hilly and contains the city's most notable landmark, a late-Gothic cathedral, begun in 1489, known for its stained-glass windows and hand-worked choir stalls. Auch also has a museum and a library. The current population is nearly 22,000.
The picturesque town of AURILLAC in south-central France developed around the ninth-century abbey of St. Géraud. A famous seat of medieval learning, Aurillac is situated on the Jordanne River, about 105 miles northeast of Toulouse. The capital of Cantal Département, it is an industrial, market, and communications center known for its umbrellas, shoes, furniture, gloves, and Cantal cheese. Landmarks include an 11th-century castle and an 18th-century church. The current population is 30,000.
Important for its trade in Chablis wines, AUXERRE is a commercial and industrial city in north-central France. Situated 95 miles southeast of Paris, on the Yonne River, Auxerre is the capital of Yonne Département. Yonne flourished in pre-Roman and Roman times, becoming part of Burgundy via the Treaty of Arras in 1435. The city's 13th-century abbey—St. Germain—is built on crypts that date from the sixth century. The abbey is now a hospital and has a magnificent clock tower built in Romanesque style. There is also a Gothic cathedral, built during the 13th through 16th centuries. An air force school was opened in Auxerre in 1965. The city's current population is 38,000.
AVIGNON is one of the loveliest cities in France. Surrounded by ramparts built in the 12th and 14th centuries, the city is located on the Rhône River in southeastern France, about 50 miles northwest of Marseille. The capital of Vaucluse Département, Avignon is a farm market with a wine trade and a diverse number of manufactured goods, including soap, chemicals, and leather products. Founded as a Phocaean colony, Avignon was conquered by the Romans, Goths, and Franks, among others. During Babylonian captivity (1309-1376), it was a papal see and, from 1378 to 1417, the residence of several anti-popes. Avignon was an archiepiscopal see in 1475, and in 1793 it was incorporated into France. The city has many old churches, including a beautiful Gothic papal palace erected in the 14th century atop a hill. A part of the bridge that was built in the 12th century across the Rhône River still stands today. Since 1948, the Avignon Theatre Festival has presented plays, musicals, dance, cabaret, performance art, children's shows and circuses from early July through early August. During this same period, more experimental theatrical events are presented during another, unofficial festival known as Avignon Off. These two festivals draw approximately 125,000 visitors each year. The population is nearly 87,000.
Located 42 miles northwest of Paris, BEAUVAIS is the capital of Oise Département. It is a manufacturing town of 54,000 that produces carpets, blankets, musical instruments, ceramic tiles, and tractors. As a Roman development and early episcopal see, Beauvais flourished in the Middle Ages and again in the 17th century when the tapestry industry was established here. During the two world wars, Beauvais was damaged extensively. The tapestry factory was destroyed in June 1940, and subsequently, the industry was moved to Paris. Among the landmarks in Beauvais are the Cathedral of St. Pierre, begun as the highest building in Christendom in 1227, but never completed; 10th-and 12th-century churches; a 12th-century palace; and ancient Roman ramparts.
BELFORT is located in eastern France, 80 miles southwest of Strasbourg and 40 miles west of the French borders with Germany and Switzerland. Since the 17th century, Belfort has been a major fortress town, commanding the Belfort Gap, or Burgundy Gate, between the Vosges and Jura mountains, and dominating the roads from France, Switzerland, and Germany. The city was an Austrian possession until passed to France in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and then fortified by Vauban. The garrison withstood a 108-day siege during the Franco-Prussian War; Bartholdi's statue, The Lion of Belfort, commemorates this siege. Due in part to this accomplishment, the Germans left Belfort and the surrounding territory to France when they annexed the rest of Alsace. Many Alsatians took refuge in Belfort at this time, and have made a significant contribution to the city's industrial growth. Today, Belfort is the capital of Territoire de Belfort and an important industrial and transportation center with large cotton mills and metalworks. The population is about 50,000.
BESANÇON , an industrial city with a population of 122,000, is the capital of Doubs Département. Situated in the Jura Mountains of eastern France, Besançon is 75 miles west of Bern, Switzerland. The city's industries include metallurgy, food processing, and textiles, but it is probably best known for its clock and watch factories, as well as a world renowned watch school. Additionally, Besançon is an important intellectual center, with a university, founded in 1422 in Dôle and moved to Besançon in 1691. A music academy was founded in Besançon in 1726 and the city plays host to an international music festival. Historically, Besançon was of Gallo-Roman origin, was captured by Julius Caesar in 58 B.C., and was an archiepiscopal see beginning in the fifth century. As part of the kingdom of Burgundy, Besançon was a free city maintaining its independence until it came under Spanish rule in 1648 and was incorporated with Franche-Comté. When Louis XIV conquered Franche-Comtéin 1674, Besançon became the capital of the new province. Besançon was heavily bombed during World War II, but many historic landmarks remain, including several Roman ruins—a triumphal arch of Marcus Aurelius, an aqueduct, and an amphitheater. There are also numerous buildings in Spanish Renaissance style, including the Palais Branvelle and a town hall. Victor Hugo, the author, was born here in 1802.
BLOIS , one of the country's most historic towns, is located on the Loire River in central France. Situated 90 miles southwest of Paris, Blois is an industrial and commercial center known for its trade in brandies and wines. Items manufactured in the city include aircraft, footwear, and precision instruments. The most powerful feudal lords of France were the counts of Blois in the 10th century. The last count of Blois was childless and heavily in debt, and he sold his fief to Louis, duc d' Orléans, in 1397. When Louis XII, grandson of the duke, became king of France in 1498, the title and jurisdiction passed to the crown. Blois then became a favorite royal residence. The city's landmarks include an ancient Roman aqueduct and a 17th-century cathedral. The current population is 49,000.
The fishing port of BOULOGNE (also called Boulogne-sur-Mer) is known for its herring catches from the North Sea. Situated 21 miles southwest of Calais, near the Liane River, Boulogne has daily ferry service to Dover, England. The city of 45,000 is also a favored resort with a pleasant beach. Industries here include textile production and fish processing. As an ancient Roman port, Boulogne was known as Gesoriacum. It was the debarkation point for Roman soldiers in the conquest of Britain and was a gathering point for Napoleon's army between 1803-1805, in preparation for an attack on England. Boulogne suffered considerable damage during World War II and has since been rebuilt.
A Paris suburb, BOULOGNE-BILLANCOURT is less than 10 miles southwest of the capital, on the Seine River. The city of 108,000 has two sections, a residential area in the north and an industrial area in the south. Boulogne-Billancourt has one of France's largest automobile factories. Other industries include the manufacture of chemicals and electrical goods.
BOURG , or Bourg-en-Bresse, is situated in eastern France, about 40 miles northeast of Lyons and 45 miles west of Geneva, Switzerland. The capital of Ain Département and the historic capital and chief city of the Bresse region in Burgundy, Bourg is a major transportation hub, farm market, and gastronomic center that manufactures furniture, machinery, shoes, and ceramics. Tourism is also a major industry. The 16th-century Gothic cathedral is one of the finest in France, and a museum of antiquities is also located here. The current population is about 41,000.
BOURGES is located in central France, 126 miles south of Paris. The capital of Cher Département, the city is a transportation center in a rich agricultural region. Aircraft, chemicals, leather, textiles, and rubber products are manufactured here. Historically, Bourges was known as Avaricum. It was taken by Julius Caesar in 52 B.C. and, under Augustus, it became the capital of the Roman province of Aquitania. It was an early episcopal see and the residence of Charles VII when most of France was in English hands. The site of numerous medieval councils, Bourges has a French Gothic cathedral—the Cathedral of St. Étienne. Built in the 13th century, the structure is unusual in that it has no transept. A university was founded there in 1463 but was abolished during the Revolution. The current population of Bourges is 71,000.
BREST , a port and naval station in Finistière Département, northwest France, has a population of 156,000. The seaport was planned by Riche-lieu and fortified by Vauban in the 17th century. It is known to a generation of American soldiers as a debarkation point for troops sent to fight in France during the First World War. Brest was occupied early in World War II by the Germans who used its port as a submarine base; the city itself was almost destroyed by Allied bombings, but was finally captured on September 19, 1944. Items manufactured in Brest include chemicals, shoes, and linens. The city trades in wine, coal, flour, timber, fruit, and vegetables.
CANNES , best known for the international film festival held here each spring, is located in southeastern France on the Mediterranean Sea, about 18 miles southwest of Nice. An important and fashionable French Riviera resort, Cannes also has textile and shipbuilding industries. It manufactures soap and perfume and exports fruit, anchovies, and oil. Cannes was twice destroyed by the Moors as they advanced into France in the eighth century. Napoleon landed nearby following his escape from Elba in 1815. Cannes marked the easternmost landing point of American forces on August 15, 1944, during World War II. With a current population of 66,000, Cannes' landmarks include 16th-and 17th-century churches in the old part of the city.
Just east of Cannes is the winter resort of Antibes. This city of 71,000 trades in dried fruit, olives, oil, tobacco, perfume, and wine. Saint-Raphaël, a city of 30,000, is 18 miles west of Cannes. It was the scene of heavy fighting in August 1944. Fréjus is just west of Saint-Raphaël. It was founded by Julius Caesar and has Roman remains. West of Fréjus is the noted resort of Saint-Tropez, population 4,000.
CARCASSONNE , with a population of 44,000, is located on the Aude River in southern France, 57 miles southeast of Toulouse and 60 miles north of the Spanish border. Carcassonne is the capital of Aude Département and also a farm trade center that produces rubber, shoes, textiles, and agricultural tools. Tourism is important in Carcassonne, as the old city—a medieval fortress atop a hill—is one of the architectural marvels of Europe, with an interesting history. The Romans fortified the hilltop about the first century B.C. Towers were built by the Visigoths about the sixth century and remain intact today. The viscounts of Carcassonne fortified the structure further in the 12th century. The fortress was taken by Simon de Montfort in 1209, but was yielded to the king in 1247. At that time, Louis IX founded the new city across the Aude River. During Louis' reign, the outer ramparts of the fortress were built, and later, under Philip III, intricate defense devices were added. When completed, the fortress was considered impenetrable and proved thus when Edward the Black Prince was stopped at its walls in 1355. When the province of Roussilon was annexed to France in 1659, the fortress was no longer useful, the ramparts were gradually abandoned, and it fell into disrepair. In the 19th century, the fortress was restored by Viollet-le-Duc. Other points of interest in Carcassonne include a 12-arch bridge, a castle, and a 13th-century Gothic cathedral.
The commune of Castelnaudary, with a population of 9,000, is northwest of Carcassonne. The town is historically important in ancient Languedoc.
CHÂTEAUBRIANT is situated in northwestern France, 40 miles northeast of Nantes. The city has a population of over 13,000. It is an important livestock center and manufactures textiles, food products, and agricultural machinery. The castle in Châteaubriant serves as a museum and law courts.
CHÂTEAUDUN lies on a plateau overlooking the Loir River in north-central France. Situated less than 100 miles north of Angers, the city's population exceeds 15,000. It was rebuilt in 1723 after a fire. Today, Châteaudun has a promenade which offers a view of the Loir Valley. Historical sites here include a castle and the Church of St. Valérien, both built during the 12th to 16th centuries. Factories in the city produce optical and telephone equipment, dairy products, and machine tools.
A commercial and manufacturing city, CLERMONT-FERRAND is located in south-central France, about 80 miles west of Lyons. Clermont-Ferrand is on the Tiretaine River and is the capital of Puy-de-Dôme Département. Picturesquely situated near Puy-de-Dôme peak, the city is built mostly of the dark volcanic rock found in the region. An industrial center, Clermont-Ferrand is the home of Michelin and other tire factories, as well as important metallurgical works. Other items produced in the city include chemicals and linen. With a current population of 132,000, the city was formed in 1731 when Clermont was united with Montferrand, a nearby town founded by the lords of Auvergne in the 11th century. The history of Clermont dates back to Roman times. It became an episcopal see in the fourth century and was the site of several church councils, including the council that gave rise to the Crusades in 1095. Landmarks in Clermont-Ferrand include the 12th-century Romanesque Church of Notre-Dame de Port and the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame, built in the 13th and 14th centuries.
COLMAR , seat of the Haut-Rhin préfecture, is situated in the Alsatian plain of eastern France, near the foothills of the Vosges. It is one of the most picturesque spots in the Alsace, and is the wine-growing capital of an area that attracts thousands of tourists each autumn for a captivating journey along the Route de Vin. The route from Colmar north to Obernai, toward Strasbourg, is a narrow road that winds through small villages and open countryside, where privately owned vineyards often reach the roadside in an effort to make optimum use of the fertile terrain. Colmar itself, with a population of nearly 66,000, is an industrial and commercial city and a cultural center. There are many buildings of medieval architecture, among them the Collegiate Church of St. Martin, which dates to 1235, less than a decade after Colmar became a free imperial city; the outstanding Unterlinden Museum, erected on the site (and still using the preserved building) of a 13th-century Dominican convent; the old Customs House, or Koïfhus; Franciscan and Dominican churches of note; and several monuments and timbered houses on the boulevard du Champ de Mars and in La Place des Six Montagnes Noires. Another treasure remaining from the 16th century is the Old Guard House, one of the Alsace's most beautiful relics of that period. The Tanners' District is a reminder of an economic activity that made Colmar well known in the Middle Ages. Among the city's native sons were Martin Schongauer, whose masterpiece, Madonna of the Rose Arbor, was painted for St. Martin's; and the 19th-century sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi. Nearby Kayserburg is the birthplace of the renowned Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
Épinal, with a population of 35,000, is 75 miles west of Colmar. Textile and printing industries are located here. The fortified town of Turckheim, four miles west, is a favorite resort.
The old capital of Burgundy, DIJON is situated in eastern France, 100 miles north of Lyons and 115 miles west of Bern, Switzerland. The capital of Côte d'Or Département, Dijon is a transportation and industrial center on the Ouche River that produces food, metal products, and electrical and optical equipment. It is probably best known for its mustard and cassis (black currant liqueur) and is also an important shipping center for the Burgundy wine that is produced in the surrounding countryside. Surrounded by eight forts, Dijon was founded in ancient times and began to flourish when the Burgundy rulers resided here in the 11th century. Dijon was a thriving cultural center even after Burgundy was reunited with France in the late 15th century; Dijon University was founded in 1722. The city is also known for its art treasures. Funereal statues of the dukes of Burgundy are housed in a museum in the town hall that was originally the ducal palace; it was built in the 12th century and greatly rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. Landmarks in Dijon include the Cathedral of St. Bénigne (built in 13th and 14th centuries), the Church of Notre Dame (13th century), St. Michael's Church, the Hôtel Aubriot (built in the 14th century and now housing a museum of Burgundian folklore), and the palace of justice (built in the 15th and 16th centuries). Dijon was also the birthplace of the writer Bossuet, the composer Rameau, and the dramatist Crebillon. The current population is 148,000. Dijon holds its annual fair in early November.
Southwest of Dijon is Dôle. Roman ruins, a 16th-century church, and a hospital in Renaissance style may be found in this city of 25,000. Also southwest of Dijon is Beaune, a formerly walled and moated town which was important during the Middle Ages. The city is known for Hôtel Dieu, or Hospital of Beaune, built in 1450. The building functioned continuously in that capacity until only a few years ago and now serves as a hospital museum. The population of Beaune is 22,000.
GRENOBLE is entirely surrounded by the Alps in southeastern France, 133 miles northeast of Marseille. It is a commercial and manufacturing city, and capital of Isère Département. The Winter Olympics were held in Grenoble in 1968. The city's famous historical buildings include a university dating to 1339, a 10th-century cathedral, fine art museums, and a Renaissance palace belonging to the dauphins of France. A nuclear research center was constructed in Grenoble in 1959. The city's population is 156,000.
LE MANS , famous for its annual international auto race, is capital of the Sarthe Département and is situated on the Sarthe River, about 35 miles south of Alençon in northwestern France. An important educational, communications, commercial, and manufacturing center, Le Mans dates back to pre-Roman times. It was a Merovingian capital and was the site of frequent sieges and battles throughout its history, including defeat of the French by Prussians during the Franco-Prussian war, 1870-1871. Le Mans was the birthplace of Henry II of England and John II of France. Landmarks include the Cathedral of St. Julien du Mans, built during the 11th through 13th centuries. The cathedral is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic; it contains the most daring system of flying buttresses of any Gothic structure. Le Mans today has a population of 151,000. Items produced in the city include electrical equipment, textiles, tobacco products, automobile parts, and plastics.
LIMOGES , with a population of 138,000, is located on the Vienne River in west-central France, about 110 miles northeast of Bordeaux. The capital of Haute-Vienne Département, Limoges is a manufacturing and commercial city known for its ceramics industry. Begun in 1736, Limoges porcelain workshops employ more than 10,000 people, making use of the abundant kaolin in the area. The city also produces leather goods, paper, furniture, textiles, and precision tools. Historically, Limoges was a Gallic tribal center destroyed in the fifth century. Two separate towns developed by the ninth century and were later merged in 1792. In the 12th century, Limoges was the seat of the vis-county of Limoges. It was often the scene of war, pestilence, and famine. Richard the Lionhearted was killed in a battle near Limoges in 1199.
Edward the Black Prince burned the city and murdered its inhabitants in 1370. In the 13th century, the well-known Limoges enamel industry was developed and thrived, but declined when the city was again devastated by the Wars of Religion. Prosperity returned to Limoges when porcelain china manufacturing was introduced in 1771. Landmarks in Limoges include a cathedral, a ceramics museum, and an art gallery that contains many works by Renoir, who was born here. The city also has a university founded in 1808, suppressed in 1840, and reopened in 1965.
LOURDES , a small commune of about 18,000, is located in southwestern France, just south of Pau and about 30 miles north of the Spanish border. Formerly the fortress of the counts of Bigorre, and known for its slate quarries, Lourdes became internationally famous on February 11, 1858, when the Virgin Mary was said to have made her first apparition before the peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. There were 18 apparitions in all in the grotto. A large underground basilica was completed in 1958. This Roman Catholic shrine draws millions to Lourdes every year; the most important pilgrimage occurs annually during the week of August 18. Miraculous cures have been attributed to the waters of the shrine. The sanctuaries and pools are open throughout the year. Organized pilgrimages take place from the Sunday before Easter through mid-October. Religious ceremonies are held daily during the pilgrimage season. There are masses, stations of the Cross, a procession of the Holy Sacrament for sick pilgrims, and a torch procession each evening that always attracts a crowd. Lourdes is accessible by rail, by three main roads, and by the Lourdes-Ossun airport.
Located 178 miles northeast of Paris, METZ is situated at the confluence of the Seille and Moselle Rivers. The capital of Moselle Département, it has a current population of 127,000. Metz is a cultural and commercial center and an industrial city that produces shoes, metal goods, canned fruit and vegetables, clothing, and tobacco. It is also the center of an iron-mining region. Of pre-Roman origin, Metz was one of Gaul's most important cities. Destroyed by the Vandals in 406 and the Huns in 451, Metz became the capital of Austrasia in the sixth century. It reached the height of its prosperity in the 13th century as a free, independent city. Along with Toul and Verdun, Metz was taken by the French in 1552 and, under the Treaty of Westphalia, formally ceded to France in 1648. Following a major siege in 1870, Metz was surrendered to the Germans, and remained under German rule from 1871 until 1918. The city was returned to France after World War I. It was heavily damaged in World War II during intense fighting from September to October 1944, and was captured by the Allies on November 20. There are historical landmarks in Metz from all of the city's prosperous periods. Gallo-Roman ruins include an aqueduct, thermal baths, and part of an amphitheater. From the medieval period is the Cathedral of St. Étienne, built between 1221 and 1516, and Place Sainte Croix, a square surrounded by medieval houses built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Metz also has several other churches including the oldest church in France—St. Pierre-aux-Nonnains. At St. Avold, 28 miles east of Metz, is Lorraine Cemetery, where more World War II American soldiers are buried than anyplace else in Europe.
MOULINS , a manufacturing city, is situated on the Allier River in central France. The capital of Allier Département and the ancient capital of Bourbonnais from the 10th through the 16th centuries, Moulins is 95 miles northwest of Lyons. Clothing, shoes, machine tools, beer, and furniture are manufactured within the city, which is also an agricultural market. Historically, Moulins became the capital of the duchy in the late 15th century, but was confiscated by the French crown in 1527. Here, in 1566, Charles IX held an assembly, adopting important administrative and legal reforms. Moulins is the site of several artistic and historic treasures. The 15th-century Gothic cathedral contains a trip-tych considered one of the best examples of French painting of the period. The tomb of Henry de Montmorency is in the former convent of the Order of Visitation, which is now a school. The ruined castle of the dukes of Bourbon and a Renaissance pavilion are also of historic note and located in Moulins. The modern city has a population of 21,000.
South of Moulins is Vichy, a noted spa and health resort. This city of 26,000 has many thermal alkaline springs used since Roman times. Vichy water and salts are exported in large quantities. As a result of the French armistice with Germany, Vichy was made capital of unoccupied France in July 1940 and was the seat of the French government until complete occupation by the Germans in November 1942.
MULHOUSE is an industrial city of 112,000 on the Ill River, approximately 20 miles south of Colmar. Situated at the very heart of western Europe, near the Rhine and flanked by the Vosges to the west and the Black Forest to the east, Mulhouse has always striven to make the most of its favorable geographic location close to both Germany and Switzerland. It was a free imperial city in 1308 and, from the 15th to the 18th century, was an allied member of the Swiss Confederation. It became a French town in 1798, and then was under German rule from 1871 until 1918, when it reverted to France. Its important attractions are the 16th-century town hall and a modern (and famous) car museum. There are also wallpaper and textile-printing museums, a National Railway museum, and the Mulhouse Fireman Museum. Mulhouse's zoological and botanic gardens are among the great achievements of the 19th-century ruling class. Today, the gardens are home to nearly a thousand animals.
A western suburb of Paris, NANTERRE has a population of 85,000. The capital of Hauts-de-Seine Département, Nanterre is situated in north-central France, on the right bank of the Seine River. It is an industrial center whose manufactures include automobiles, metals, machine tools, electrical equipment, and rolling stock. Landmarks include the National Basilica of Ste. Beneviève, with a 15th-century nave.
The commercial and manufacturing city of NÎMES is located in southern France, 64 miles northwest of Marseille and 30 miles north of the Gulf of Lions. The capital of Gard Département, with a population of 138,000, Nîmes produces textiles, brandy, footwear, and leather goods, and trades in wine and grain. Thought to have been founded by Greek colonists, it became Roman about 120 B.C. and, under the name of Menausus, was one of the principal cities of Roman Gaul. Nîmes came under the French crown in 1258, and later was a stronghold of the Huguenots. The Pacification of Nîmes was signed here in 1629, and when the treaty was revoked in 1685, the city greatly suffered. Nîmes is probably best known for its ancient Roman buildings and monuments. Some of these relics include a large Roman amphitheater, built in the first century A.D. and later used as a fortress by the Visigoths and Saracens against the Franks; seating 24,000, the arena is still used today. One of the finest examples of Roman architecture is the square house, or Maison Carée. Originally a Roman temple built in the first or second century, it was restored in 1789 and converted in 1823 into a museum that contains Roman antiquities. Other relics include the remains of an ancient tower, Tour Magne ; two gates; ruins of a nymphaeum; and, near the town of Remoulins, 15 miles northeast, ruins of a major Roman aqueduct, Pont de Gard. Nîmes also has an 11th-century cathedral, built on the site of the former temple of Apollo.
Located 70 miles southwest of Paris, in north central France, ORLÉANS is an important transportation junction situated in a fruit and vegetable growing region. Industries in Orléans include food processing, chemicals, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. The capital of Loiret Département, Orléans has a population of 117,000 and is surrounded by modern, sprawling suburbs. Orléans was originally a Celtic city called Genabum. In a revolt against Julius Caesar, the city was burned in 52 B.C., and rebuilt under the name Aurelianum. A major cultural center in the early Middle Ages, the city was the principal residence, after Paris, of French kings in the tenth century. The siege of Orléans by the English in 1428-29 threatened to bring all of France under England's rule, but was saved by the heroics of Joan of Arc. Every May, the feast of Joan of Arc is celebrated with much spectacle in Orléans. The city was a prosperous industrial and commercial center during the 17th and 18th centuries, and its university, founded in the 14th century, was known throughout Europe. Many historic buildings in Orléans were damaged during the German invasion of France in 1940, including most of those associated with Joan of Arc. Structures that remain include the Cathedral of Sainte-Croix, rebuilt during the 17th through 19th centuries, after being destroyed by the Huguenots in 1568; a 16th-century church and town hall; a 17th-century prefecture, and an episcopal palace. One of the most famous intellectual centers of the Middle Ages, St.-Benoitsur-Loire is 22 miles to the east, and features a noteworthy 11th-century Romanesque basilica.
A winter sports center, PAU is located in southwestern France 105 miles south of Bordeaux. Situated at the foot of the Pyrenees on the right bank of the Gave de Pau River, Pau is the capital of Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département. The city is a major tourist center known for its scenery. Pau has metallurgical and wool industries, and an oil refinery. Manufactured items include perfume, shoes, and clothing. Founded in the 11th century, Pau was the capital of Béarn in the 14th century and was the residence of the Navarre kings in 1512. Pau was the birthplace of Henry IV of France and of Jean-Baptiste-Jules Bernadotte, the French revolutionary general who became Charles XIV of Sweden and Norway. The cityhas a 12th-century castle and a university founded in 1724. Its population is currently 79,000.
A major tourist resort, PERPIGNAN is located in the south of France, less than 20 miles from the Spanish border and five miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Perpignan is the capital of Pyrénées-Orientales Département. There is a nearby international airport. The city is also a thoroughfare for motorists traveling to Spain. With a current population of 107,000, Perpignan is a farm trade center that handles fruits, vegetables, and wine. Industries include distilleries, factories, and canneries; items manufactured are paper, clothing, toys, chocolate, and ceramics. Perpignan was founded around the 10th century as the fortified capital of the Spanish kingdom of Roussillon; the architecture in the city today shows much Spanish influence. Perpignan was united with France in 1659. Notable landmarks include the 14th-century Loge, constructed to house the merchants' exchange; the Gothic Cathedral of St. Jean, built in the 14th and 15th centuries; and the castle of the Majorcan kings, built during the 13th through 15th centuries, which forms part of the old citadel that dominates the city. Close to Perpignan are the seaside towns of Port-Vendres, Elne, and St. Laurent.
Located in west-central France, 180 miles southwest of Paris, POITIERS is the capital of Vienne Département. A historic city situated at the confluence of the Clain and Boivre Rivers, Poitiers has many landmarks. They include the Baptistery of St. Jean, most likely the oldest Christian monument in the country, and Notre Dame la Grande, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The University of Poitiers, established by Charles VII in 1431, is a coeducational facility funded by the state. The city's population is over 85,000.
Situated at the junction of the Vilaine and Ille Rivers in northwest France, RENNES is an industrial and commercial center 193 miles southwest of Paris. An archiepiscopal see as well as a railroad junction, Rennes produces a variety of items including automobiles, agricultural machinery, furniture, chemicals, textiles, honey, and lace. An important Gallo-Roman town, Rennes became the capital of Brittany in the 10th century and, from 1561 to 1675, was the seat of parlement (parliament, or seat of justice) in Brittany. The Norsemen ravaged the town during the Hundred Years War and, in 1720, it was destroyed by fire. It also suffered widespread destruction in 1944 during World War II. The Brittany Cemetery, 31 miles northeast in St. James, is the burial site for Americans killed during the Normandy and Brittany campaigns that year. Rennes has a university, founded in 1461 at Nantes, and transferred in 1735. Rennes is also the site of the National School of Public Health. The current population is 212,000.
Other towns in Brittany are known for their architectural treasures. Auray, Dinan, Fougères, Morlaix, Quimper, Vannes, and Vitré retain fine historic centers of interest to visitors.
ROUBAIX , a commercial and manufacturing city, is in northern France, seven miles northeast of Lille and just south of the border with Belgium. With a population of 96,000, Roubaix is the major center of the French textile industry. Chartered in 1469, it has dyeing plants and plastics and rubber factories. The textile industry developed in Roubaix in the 19th century. A national textile school is located here.
SAINT-BRIEUC , a manufacturing and commercial city of 44,000, is located on the Gouet River near the English Channel, in northwestern France. The capital of Côtes-du-Nord Département, Saint-Brieuc is 240 miles west of Paris. A railroad junction as well as a coastal and fishing port, its industries include textiles and metallurgy. The city was founded in the fifth century, growing rapidly after the Welsh monk, St. Briomach, built a monastery here in about the sixth century. Saint-Brieuc has been an episcopal see since the ninth century. Of note in the city today is the 13th-century fortress-cathedral. Saint-Brieuc is 40 miles west of Saint-Malo, a fishing port, famous tourist resort, and yachting center situated on a rocky island in the Atlantic Ocean. Saint-Brieuc is also 60 miles west of Mont-Saint-Michel. A fortified rock in Mont-Saint-Michel Bay, a remarkable ancient abbey, and the town are located at the rock's summit.
An industrial suburb north of Paris, SAINT-DENIS manufactures chemicals, plastics, diesel engines, leather, pharmaceuticals, glue, and fireworks. Situated in northern France about seven miles northeast of the French capital, Saint-Denis has a current population of 134,000. The city was founded early in the Christian era, probably at the site where St. Denis fell and was buried. The abbey of Saint-Denis was built in 626 and quickly became the richest and most famous in France. Joan of Arc blessed her weapons at this abbey and Abelard lived in it as a monk in the 12th century. The abbey's banner—the oriflamme—served as the royal standard from the reign of Louis VI to Charles VI (12th to 15th centuries). The abbey was heavily damaged during the French Revolution, but was restored. Saint-Denis was the first cathedral considered Gothic in construction and became the prototype for many others. The cathedral contains the tombs of many French monarchs, including Louis XII, Henry II, Catherine de Médici, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Louis XIII. Today, the abbey is a school for daughters of Legion of Honor members. Saint-Denis also has a museum of gold and silver.
SAINT-ÉTIENNE , capital of the Loire Département in Lyonnaise, is located in east-central France about 32 miles southwest of Lyons. A city of 184,000 residents, it is an industrial center with an important textile and dyeing industry. Formerly one of the country's leading steel centers, its industries today include coal mining, and the production of chemicals, government armaments, and alloy steels. A noted school of mines is located in Saint-Étienne. The city has several museums and the beautiful Gardens of Rez. A church with the same name as the city dates from the 15th century.
The port city of SAINT-MALO is located 47 miles north of Rennes in northwestern France. Destroyed during World War II and later rebuilt, the city is a noted tourist resort. It was here, in 1944, that German occupation forces surrendered to the Allies. The 14th-century castle in Saint-Malo now houses a museum. Jacques Cartier, the explorer, and François-René de Chateaubriand, the writer, were both born here. The current population is 52,000.
The seaport and industrial commune of SAINT-NAZAIRE is located at the mouth of the Loire River on the Bay of Biscay, in northwestern France, 33 miles northwest of Nantes. This city of 118,000 is an important seaport mainly dealing in trade with Central America and the Antilles. A major shipbuilding center and fishing port, Saint-Nazaire also has aeronautical, metallurgical, chemical, and food industries. Saint-Nazaire was believed to have been built on the site of the ancient Gallo-Roman town of Carbilo, where the Romans built a fleet in 56 B.C. From the mid-19th century, Saint-Nazaire developed as a port. In World War I, it was a major debar-kation port for the American Expeditionary Force; from 1940-44, during World War II, it was a German submarine base. Surrounded by Allied forces in August 1944, the German submariners surrendered in May 1945. Saint-Nazaire was nearly destroyed by the bombing, but has been rebuilt. Near Saint-Nazaire is the joint municipality of La Baule-Escoublac, a beach resort.
The manufacturing city of TOURCOING is located in northern France, just south of the border with Belgium. With the adjacent city of Roubaix, it forms one of the most important textile centers in France. Soap work and sugar refineries are also found in this city whose population is 93,000. Tourcoing was granted a city charter in 1491 by Maximilian I, in recognition of its important textile industry. The city was captured by the Germans in 1914 and was seriously damaged.
TOURS is situated in west-central France on the Loire River. The capital of Indre-et-Loire Département, Tours is 130 miles southwest of Paris and has a population of 133,000. It is a commercial and industrial city that is also a wine market and a tourist center. Industries include clothing, printing, metallurgical, and chemical manufacturing. Tours was originally a pre-Roman town that grew rapidly following the death of its bishop, Saint Martin, in 397. It became the center of medieval Christian learning under Gregory of Tours and Alcuin. Tours was the scene of Charles Martel's victory over the Saracens in 732, and became an archdiocese in 853. In the 15th century, Tours developed a prosperous silk industry. The city was the headquarters of the government national defense during the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71; during World War II in June 1940, it was briefly the seat of the French government. Historical landmarks in Tours include Gallo-Roman ruins, the Gothic Cathedral of St. Gatien (built during the 12th through 16th centuries), and two towers and the cloister of the old basilica of St. Martin of Tours. Noted literary figure, Honoréde Balzac (1799-1850), was born in Tours.
Fifteen miles to the east is the city of Amboise, with a population of 11,000. The city manufactures optical instruments and photographic equipment, but is best known for its castle.
TROYES is located in northeastern France, about 90 miles southeast of Paris, on the Seine River. The capital of Aube Département, Troyes has a population of 61,000. It is an industrial city and the center of the French hosiery industry. Other products manufactured in Troyes include textile machinery, needles, flour, automobile parts, and tires. Dating from pre-Roman times, Troyes was sacked by the Normans in 889 and became the capital of Champagne in 1019. During the 11th through the 13th centuries, Troyes prospered as a commercial town and was the site of the great Champagne fairs. These fairs attracted merchants from throughout the known world, and set standards of weights and measures for all of Europe; the troy weight has survived to the present. Troyes was the site of the 1420 treaty between Charles VI of France, Henry V of England, and Philip the Good of Burgundy. It was also the first town taken by Joan of Arc on her march to Reims in 1429. Troyes has many fine Gothic structures, including the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul (constructed during the 13th through 17th centuries), the Church of St. Urban (begun in 1262), several other notable churches, a 17th-century town hall, and a 12th-century hospital.
The capital of Drôme Département, VALENCE is located on the Rhône River in southeastern France. A city of 65,000, and 116 miles northwest of Marseille, Valence is a trade center in a fertile farming region. Silk, furniture, footwear, leather goods, and jewelry are among the items produced here. Valence is an old Roman town that has changed hands many times; it was taken by the Visigoths in 413 and by the Arabs in 730. It became an episcopal see in the fourth century, and was ruled by its own bishops from 1150 until the 15th century. The city's 11th-century Romanesque cathedral is of interest to tourists.
A major tourist center located 10 miles southwest of Paris, VERSAILLES is the capital of the Yve-lines Département. Items manufactured in the city include brandy and watches. Versailles was an insignificant village made famous by Louis XIV when he built the palace and grounds that have been synonymous with the city's name since the mid-17th century. The growth of the town, which currently has a population of 83,000, began when Louis moved his court here in 1682. The magnificent palace, built in French classical structure, was the work of three architects—Louis Le Vau, J.H. Mansart, and Charles Le Brun. The park and gardens were designed by André Le Nôtre and contain sculptures, fountains, and reservoirs by Antoin Coysevox and other artists. Water is supplied to the fountains by a huge machine built at Marly-Le-Roi. Two smaller palaces—the Grand Trianon and the Petit Trianon—are also in the park, as well as several grottoes, temples, and decorative structures. The French Revolution began in Versailles, and the palace was never again a royal residence. It became a museum and national monument under Louis Philippe. Several important treaties were signed at Versailles: negotiations between the United States and Great Britain ending the American Revolution concluded here in 1782 and a preliminary treaty was signed; the 1919 treaty between the Allies and Germany ending World War I and establishing the League of Nations; and the Grand Trianon treaty between the Allies and Hungary, signed on June 4, 1920.
Geography and Climate
France, the largest Western European nation, covers 213,000 square miles and is about four-fifths the size of Texas. The landscape is varied: about two-thirds flat plains or gently rolling hills and the rest mountainous. A broad plain covers most of northern and western France from the Belgian border in the northeast to Bayonne in the southwest, and it rises to uplands in Normandy, Brittany, and the east. This large plain is bounded on the south by the steeply rising ridges of the Pyrénées, on the southeast by the mountainous plateau of the Massif Central, and on the east by the rugged Alps, the low ridges of the Jura, and the rounded summits of the densely forested Vosges. The principal rivers are the Rhône in the south, the Loire and the Garonne in the west, the Seine in the north, and the Rhine, which forms part of France's eastern border with Germany.
France is bordered on the north by Belgium and the Duchy of Luxembourg, on the east by Germany; on the southeast by Switzerland, Italy, and Monaco; and on the south by Spain and Andorra.
There are cool winters and mild summers in the west and north of France, and southern France and Corsica have a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation is frequent year round. The average yearly rainfall in Paris for the last 30 years is 26 inches.
France's population of 59.6 million consists of large elements of three basic European stocks—Celtic, Latin, and Teutonic. Over the centuries, however, these groups have blended so that today they may be referred to only in the broadest sense.
France's birthrate was among the highest in Europe from 1945 until the late 1960s, when it began to fall. The 2001 figures reveal 12.1 births per 1,000.
Traditionally, France has had a high level of immigration, and about 3 million people entered the country between the two World Wars. After the establishment of an independent Algerian state in 1962, about 1 million French citizens returned to France. By early 1982 France's population of immigrant workers and their families was estimated at 3.5 million or almost 7 percent of the population. By 1992 that figure rose to about 5 million immigrant workers (9% of the population), primarily of North African, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish extractions with smaller groups coming from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Poland, Senegal, and Mali.
As of 2001 about 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, 2 percent is Protestant, and about 1 percent is Jewish. Immigration since the early 1960s from North Africa, especially Algeria, accounts for approximately 3 percent of the population, making Islam the second most practiced religion in France.
The Constitution for the Fifth Republic was approved by public referendum in 1958. Under its provisions, as amended in 1962, the President of the Republic is elected directly for a 7-year term. The President, currently Jacques Chirac, names the Prime Minister, currently Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who presides over the Cabinet, commands the Armed Forces, and concludes treaties. The President may submit questions to a national referendum, can dissolve the National Assembly, and, in certain defined emergency situations, may assume full power.
The Constitution provides for a bicameral Parliament consisting of a National Assembly and a Senate. The Assembly's 577 deputies are elected directly for 5-year terms. All seats are voted on in each election. The Senate, chosen by an electoral college, has 321 members elected for 9-year terms. One-third of the Senate is renewed every 3 years.
The French political spectrum includes six distinctive political groups. From right to left, these are: the extreme right, the neo-Gaullists, the traditional center-right, the ecologists, the Socialists, and the Communists. Numerous smaller parties have variable national political impact.
A Socialist President was reelected in 1988 and, later the same year, a Socialist government replaced that of the center-right. The current president, Jacques Chirac, is a member of the conservative Rassemblement pour la République Rally for the Republic) party. He was first elected in 1997 and reelected in 2002.
Arts, Science, and Education
Rich in history and steeped in tradition, France has made durable contributions, in all disciplines, to the global fund of knowledge. French philosophers, scientists, artists, and literary figures transformed the face of the world they found. Contemporary social, political, and artistic factors, however, have produced an era of redefinition in which French intellectuals are seeking new roles for their country to play on the world stage.
France's academic, artistic, and scientific communities are more open to an exchange of ideas with their U.S. counterparts than at any other time in the postwar period. Additionally, the lowering of market barriers and the open pursuit of closer political and economic ties among European neighbor states have made English the linguistic common denominator for future interaction. This turn of events will facilitate the two-way flow of ideas across the Atlantic.
The French often refer to themselves as "cartesian" (after celebrated mathematician/philosopher Renee Descartes), meaning their self-perception is one of practicality and realism. These qualities have been brought to bear on new technology as France becomes a prime European player in the esoteric world of computers, space exploration, nuclear energy, telecommunications, and high-speed rail transport. In a society where intellectuals were both seers and social arbiters, the technocrat is now finding a comfortable place of honor all his own.
Even with the thrust toward the practical, the arts and their various practitioners are solid components in the everyday lives of most French citizens. It would be hard to find someone who does not have a favorite painter or preferred film director, or who has no opinion whatsoever on the architectural integrity of new construction in any given city. Contemporary fine artists, actors, musicians, and writers will always enjoy prestige and criticism.
Commerce and Industry
Since World War II, France has been transformed from a largely agrarian economy with modest mineral resources and small, fragmented industrial sectors into a diversified, integrated, and sophisticated industrial power. Still a large agricultural producer, France also has become a major producer and exporter of chemicals, motor vehicles, nuclear power stations, aircraft, electronics, telecommunications equipment, and civil engineering services and technology. This rapid industrialization was fostered by France's charter membership in the European Community (EC), and by heavy U.S. direct investment, particularly between 1955 and 1974. By 1990 U.S. investment in France reached $15.9 billion and has continued to grow. French investment in the U.S. has grown explosively in the last few years.
Before World War II, railroads and public utilities were nationalized. In the early postwar period several major enterprises were nationalized, including the four largest banks and certain aerospace, automotive, and other manufacturers. In the early 1980s additional nationalizations occurred under a Socialist government followed by privatizations under a Conservative government. When the Socialists regained a majority in 1988, they did not reverse these privatizations.
France is determined to compete successfully in the unified European market, which began on January 1, 1993, and the French Government maintains substantial holdings in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and electronics. Government intervention in the productive sector is greater than in the U.S., but France is mainly a free market economy, and foreign investors enjoy full national treatment. Gross domestic product (GDP) in 2000 reached $1,448 billion, or $24,400 per capita (population 59.6 million). The majority of France's foreign trade is with EC partners, headed by Germany. Major imports from the U.S. included aerospace equipment, electronic components and equipment, chemicals, and pharmaceutical products.
Despite slower growth and surging unemployment, the French Government has reinforced its commitment to maintain tight fiscal and monetary control to keep inflation in hand. It is also taking measures to promote investment as a means of addressing its main areas of concern: growing unemployment and a moderate but persistent trade deficit.
Public transportation in Paris is excellent, inexpensive, and is preferred by most employees to the frustrations of rush hour driving. The metro (subway), although crowded during rush hour, is fast and trains are frequent. Trains and stations are well maintained and routes are clearly marked. Buses also are frequent and provide excellent service. A monthly pass for the metro and bus system, taking you anywhere within Paris, may be purchased. Student rates are available.
Taxis are plentiful, though difficult to find during rush hour, holidays, and bad weather. Limited to 3 passengers, they are metered with surcharges for late rides, long rides, luggage, and use of radio.
France has an excellent system of highways, providing easy access to Belgium (3 hours), Germany (5 hours), and the Riviera (8-10 hours). Tolls are high on major roads. Heavy traffic on weekends and during holidays can cause considerable inconvenience. Secondary, two-lane roads, passing through the centers of small towns, are often more picturesque and interesting. The roads are well marked and detailed maps are readily available. The American driver may have initial difficulty adjusting to the aggressive driving habits of some French motorists. Bicyclists, motor-cyclists, and pedestrians also encumber the roads both in towns and in the country.
France offers excellent rail and air transportation to all parts of the country and other European destinations. The French railway system is among the best in the world. Train travel is fast, efficient, and inexpensive. Substantial fare reductions for use of public transportation are offered to children, students, and individuals over 60.
Frequent direct air service is available to many U.S. cities. The two airports serving Paris, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, are served by excellent bus and rail service to air terminals in the city.
Telephone and Telegraph
Telephone and telegraph services to and from Paris compare favorably with those in any large U.S. city. A direct-dial telephone system links France to the U.S. and most of the world. Phones can be purchased or rented. American-made phones can be used when fitted with the proper plug, which is available locally. Calls to the U.S. may be charged to international telephone cards such as AT&T, MCI, and Sprint.
Radio and TV
French TV can only be received on a TV with French SECAM-L. The multistandard PAL/SECAM/NTSC TV's, which can be purchased in many parts of the world, will not receive French stations.
French TV offers government run stations and private channels. All channels feature heavy doses of popular American programs dubbed into French. American films dubbed into French or French-made films, game shows, and variety shows also predominate. The nightly news is at 8 pm. Children's shows, mostly cartoons, are shown, but for considerably less time than in the U.S. Many parts of Paris are able to subscribe to cable and can receive CNN, BBC1, and several other European channels. An additional channel, Canal Plus, which can be accessed by renting a decoder box for your French TV, carries movies in English. Every morning at 7 am, even without a decoder, you can watch the previous evening's CBS news in English with French subtitles on Canal Plus. Radio reception is good. What you receive depends upon where you are in Paris. BBC International radio service can be picked up on AM. There is no VOA Europe broadcast in the Paris area. It is illegal to ship or hand-carry a two-way CB radio transceiver. It is possible, however, to join local amateur radio operator clubs. Reciprocal amateur licenses are available.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals
French newspapers and periodicals are expensive, but readily available at newsstands around the city. French newspapers follow a particular ideological or political bent. Editorial comment and factual reporting are not always kept separate as they are in U.S. newspapers. There is a good deal of coverage of the American political scene and of French-U.S. relations.
English-language newspapers, including the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and British daily papers, are available throughout the city. The European editions of Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report are also available. U.S. fashion and special interest magazines can be purchased, but at highly inflated prices. Subscriptions to the International Herald Tribune and British daily papers are available, but costly.
Brentanos, Galignani, and W.H. Smith bookstores specialize in American and British books. The Village Voice and Shakespeare and Company are equally rich English-language hunting grounds, with Shakespeare featuring reduced-price, used volumes. Tea and Tattered Pages stocks only used English books (mainly American paperbacks) and also has a small tea room. Even with the cost of postage, it is cheaper to order newly published books from the U.S.
A well-stocked "American Library in Paris" at 10, rue du General Camou in the 7th Arrondissement, has good American and English literature. Library facilities are open to everyone. The USIS Benjamin Franklin Library, located in the Talleyrand Building, serves as a documentation/reference center for a variety of American topics.
Health and Medicine
Most medications used in the U.S. are available in France. A French physician must write prescriptions for medications purchased at local pharmacies. If taking a prescription medicine, bring a supply.
Paris has good medical facilities and well-trained physicians. A good resource list of English-speaking physicians is available, and many have trained in the U.S. Outpatient medical and dental care is more expensive than in the U.S.
The American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly (a Paris suburb) is a well-equipped American-style hospital with several American physicians on its French staff. The emergency room is staffed 24 hours daily with an English-speaking physician. Although it has an outpatient pediatric clinic, it has no separate pediatric unit. The large French public hospitals are well equipped and have specialists in most medical fields, and some speak English.
The general level of community sanitation is good. Water in large cities is safe, but not fluoridated. Many people use a water filtering pitcher (available locally) to filter out the sediments and chemical deposits, or purchase bottled water. Good pasteurized milk is available.
Most personnel encounter no unusual health problems during their tour. Upper respiratory infections and allergies resulting from dust, pollen, and pollution are the most common complaints.
Although immunizations are not necessary for France, all Foreign Travelers should have current immunizations against diphtheria-tetanus and polio. School-age children will be required to have the same immunizations as in the U.S.
Jan.1 …New Year's Day
May 1…French Labor Day
May 8…French Veterans' Day (WWII)
July 14 …Bastille Day
Aug. 15…Assumption Day
Nov.1 …All Saints' Day
Nov. 11…Veterans Day (WWI)
Dec. 25 …Christmas Day
NOTES FOR TRAVELERS
Both the Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airports are about a 30-minute drive from Paris. Plan to arrive during the workweek and not on weekends, or on French or American holidays.
No vaccination or health certificate is required for entry if coming from the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe. Visas are no longer required for tourists or nonofficial business if the stay is less than 90 days.
Cats and dogs are admitted into France if their owners can provide the following documents: certificate of good health issued one month before entry into France; an antirabies vaccination certificate issued more than 1 month, but less than 1 year, before entry into France.
Medications for pets are much less expensive in the U.S. Bring supplies with you. There are many excellent local veterinarians, several of whom have studied in the U.S.
No limit is placed on foreign cash, travelers checks, or letters of credit that may be brought in. Such currency instruments must be exchanged only at authorized banks or agencies.
Major U.S. banks with offices in France are Citibank, Chase Manhattan, Morgan Guaranty Trust, and Bank of America.
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.
Ardagh, John. France in the 1980's. Penguin Book: 1982.
Baedeker's France. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, latest edition.
Bell, David S. and Criddle, Byron. The French Socialist Party: The Emergence of a Party of Government. 2nd edition. Clarendon Press: 1988.
Bernstein, Richard. The Fragile Glory, Knops Publishers: New York, 1990.
Braudel, Fernand. The Identity of France. Vol. I. "History and Environment." Collins: 198Carroll, Raymonde. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. University of Chicago Press: 1987.
Cobban, Alfred. A History of Modern France. Pelican Paperback, 3rd edition.
Cobley, Simon. In the Heart of France: Rural Life in the Dordogne. New York: Crown, 1990.
Daley, Robert. Portraits of France. New York: Little, Brown, 1991.
Delbanco, Nicholas. Running in Place: Scenes from the South of France. New York: Atlantic Monthly, 1990.
Duverger, Maurice. Le systeme politique francais, P.U.F. Paris, 1985.
Fodor's France. New York: McKay, latest edition.
Harrison, Michael. "France: The Diplomacy of a Self-Assured Middle Power." National Negotiating Styles. Edited by Binnendijk, Hans. Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., 1987.
Hoffman, Stanley, et al. In search of France. Harvard University Press: 1963.
Hoffman, Stanley. France Since the 1930's: Decline or Renewal? Viking Press: 1974.
McKnight, Hugh. Slow Boat through France. North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square, 1992.
Mitterand, Francois. The Wheat and the Chaff. Seaver Books: New York, 1982.
O.E.C.D., Economic Surveys: France 1988-1989. Paris and Washington, 1989.
Peyrefitte, Alain. The Trouble with France. New York University Press: 1986.
Pineau, Carol, and Maureen Kelly. Working in France: The Ultimate Guide to Job Hunting and Career Success a la Francaise. Somerville, MA: Zephyr Press, 1992.
Safran, William. The French Polity. 2nd edition. Longman, 1985.
Schezen, Roberto, and Laure Murat. Splendor of France: Chateaux, Mansions and Country Houses. New York: Rizzoli, 1991.
Suleiman, Ezra. Elites in French Society: The Politics of Survival. Princeton, 1978.,
Waite, Charlie. The Villages of France. New York: Rizzoli, 1988.
Wright, Vincent. The Government and Politics of France. 3rd edition. Holmes & Meier Publishers: 1989.
Zeldin, Theodore. France: 1848-1945. Five paperbacks: Ambitions and Love, Politics and Anger, I ntellect and Pride, Anxiety and Hypocrisy, Taste and Corruption Oxford University Press: 1981.
Zeldin, Theodore. The French. Pantheon Book: 1982.
Bell, David S., and Byron Criddle. The French Socialist Party: The Emergence of a Party of Government. New York: Clarendon Press, 1988.
Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. Prometheus Books: 1988.
Carroll, Raymonde. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Cerny, Philip G. The Politics of Grandeur: Ideological Aspects of de Gaulle's Foreign Policy. Cambridge University Press: 1980.
Cook, Don. Charles de Gaulle, A Biography. Putnam's: New York, 1984.
Durosell, Jean-Baptiste. France and the United States: From the Beginning to the Present. Chicago University Press: 1978.
de Gaulle, Charles. War Memoirs; Memoirs of Hope. Simon and Schuster: 1964.
Paxton, Robert. Vichy France. Columbia University Press: 1982 (new edition).
Lacouture, Jean. Charles de Gaulle. Vol I. "The Rebel." Homes & Meier: 1988, and Vol II. "The Statesman".
Shirer, William L. The Collapse of the Third Republic. Simon and Schuster: New York, Birbaum, Stephen. Birbaum's France. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1990.
"France." Cities of the World. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 10, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france
"France." Cities of the World. . Retrieved June 10, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france
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|Official Country Name:||French Republic|
|Region (Map name):||Europe|
|Language(s):||French, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages|
|Area:||547,030 sq km|
|Number of Daily Newspapers:||86|
|Circulation per 1,000:||190|
|Newspaper Consumption (minutes per day):||30|
|Total Newspaper Ad Receipts:||1,784 (Euro millions)|
|As % of All Ad Expenditures:||17.70|
|Number of Television Stations:||584|
|Number of Television Sets:||24,800,000|
|Television Sets per 1,000:||416.4|
|Television Consumption (minutes per day):||193|
|Number of Cable Subscribers:||2,662,280|
|Cable Subscribers per 1,000:||45.2|
|Number of Satellite Subscribers:||4,300,000|
|Satellite Subscribers per 1,000:||72.2|
|Number of Radio Receivers:||55,300,000|
|Radio Receivers per 1,000:||928.6|
|Radio Consumption (minutes per day):||191|
|Number of Individuals with Computers:||17,920,000|
|Computers per 1,000:||300.9|
|Number of Individuals with Internet Access:||8,500,000|
|Internet Access per 1,000:||142.7|
Background & General Characteristics
National daily press is no longer the prime information source for French people. It accounts for two percent of the titles and 14 percent of the circulation. Magazines account for 40 percent of the titles and 38 percent of the circulation. Technical or professional press leads the number of titles, 44 percent, but only accounts for five percent of the readership. The true leader in readership is the regional daily and weekly press, with 43 percent, although they only have 14 percent of the publications. French people overwhelmingly rely on magazines and on their local daily newspaper for news. In 2000, more French people read the sports daily L'Equipe and consulted TV guides than read the prestigious Le Monde. The technical and professional information press, while extremely diversified, has a very small audience. The number of new publications reflects this trend: in 1998, 427 new titles were created, among which 250 magazines and 140 technical and professional information press titles. The regional press is the most prominent media, ahead of television.
The national press remains an important segment of the industry even though it is heavily centered in Paris. The daily opinion press has practically disappeared, with main newspapers adopting a more neutral tone and limiting political commentaries to editorial articles and op-ed pages. The remaining opinion newspapers are La Lettre de la Nation (RPR), L'Humanité, which today remains the voice of the communist party, the ultra-rightist Présent, and the Catholic La Croix. The daily information press's most important titles are Le Monde, Le Figaro and Libération. Their influence is felt on domestic public opinion and in the other media. The most prominent popular daily newspaper is Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui, one of the few to have adopted a regional press strategy. France-Soir, another popular newspaper, lost two-thirds of its readership between 1985 and 1997, plummeting to 173,000, and survived only by adopting a tabloid format in 1998. Theme daily newspapers, by contrast, have an increasing success: the financial and economic newspapers Les Echos, and La Tribune, with the sports newspaper L'Equipe being the first daily newspaper. In 1993, the street press appeared; Macadam-Journal, La RueSans-Abri, and L'Itinérant, weekly or monthly publications of the homeless and the unemployed, promoted their copies at train stations and in the metro. Today, their circulation is declining.
The Nature of the Audience
In 2000, 18.3 percent of French people above age 15 read a national daily newspaper every day, against 38.4 percent for the regional or departmental daily press and 11 percent for the regional daily press and 95.9 percent for the magazine press. Overall approximately half the French population over 15 years of age read a regional newspaper regularly, with readership distributed equally between men and women. While the regional press reaches only 17 percent of the public in the greater Paris area, it reaches over 50 percent of the public in the provinces.
One third of all readers of the national daily press are found in the Paris region. They belong to the educated upper middle classes; 61 percent of them are actively employed men; one third of the readers are under 35 and two-thirds under 50 years of age. Readers spend an average of 31 minutes reading the newspaper, and 70 percent read the newspapers before 2 p.m.
Readers of the daily regional or departmental press are evenly distributed between men and women, with approximately 25 percent under 35, 41 percent between the ages of 35 and 59, and 33 percent over 60. Fifty-one percent were actively employed (27 percent in rural towns, 30 percent in large cities). Parisians represent 7.4 percent of this readership. Readers spend an average 24 minutes reading the regional newspapers.
The readers of the weekly regional press are the most faithful and exclusive of all readers. Thirty percent of readers are under 35, while 60 percent are under 50, and 58 percent are actively employed. Readership is distributed evenly between men and women. Readers belong to all socio-professional categories, with employees, workers, and farmers being the main groups.
Press readers have progressively gotten older, forcing the press to adopt new strategies to attract young readers, such as putting newspapers in the schools, improving the distribution system, and creating magazines especially for young readers. The magazine press in general is faring extremely well. French people read an average 7.5 magazines, mostly in their homes. Some 92 percent of young people read magazines, half of them regularly. Increases in television viewing time and universal radio listening have also cut into the press reader-ship. Finally, the internet press has gotten a share of the market. The average press budget per household is US$132.
Quality of Journalism: General Comments
The French press has long had a tradition of defending its freedoms and establishing high standards for reporting the news, political news in particular. Using it to promote democracy and educate the readers, it regularly engages in debates about what constitutes proper journalistic practice and ethics. The quality of journalism in general is very high, and the opinion press very diversified.
There is a wide range of expression, from popular newspapers to intellectually challenging ones. In the 1970s the higher quality journals gained at the expense of the popular press owing to the increased urbanization and higher educational levels of the population. Le Monde, La Croix, and Le Figaro all grew while popular newspapers such as France-Soir, L'Aurore and Le Parisien Libéré lost readers.
The first French newspaper was born in 1631 as Théophraste Renaudot's La Gazette. The press grew slowly until the French Revolution which saw the birth of the opinion press along with information newspapers such as Le Moniteur Universel and the Journal des Débats. French public opinion was born, and, with the coming of the Industrial Revolution, the press gained a unique status of sole purveyor of information to the people. With freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the press became synonymous with the pursuit of democracy, and journalists enjoyed unprecedented freedoms in the absence of police interference and professional standards to restrain the editors.
Beginning in 1815, numerous changes took place. The introduction of the telegraph in 1845 and of the telephone in 1876, together with an increase in the nation's literacy, created a fertile environment and a growing demand for news. Charles Havas created the first news agency in 1832. The development of the rotary press and the use of wood-pulp paper, the new railroad networks, and diminished production costs, made mass production possible, and enhanced distribution. The nineteenth century was the golden age of press democratization. The first low-priced newspaper targeting a general audience was Emile de Girardin's La Presse, created in 1836. In 1863, Le Petit Journal refined this formula by inventing the popular press, characterized by simple writing with an informal, familiar tone. It found immediate success. Within five years it had reached a circulation of 300,000, thus becoming a European model.
During the nineteenth century, governmental policies alternated between liberalism and authoritarianism. The press continued to play a major political role, contributing to the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, weakening Napoleon III's rule after 1860 and influencing electoral outcome during the first years of the Third Republic. The Law of 29 July, 1881 ushered in a golden age of the press, which lasted until 1914. It firmly established the principle of a free press by suppressing paperwork (authorization to publish, down payment, "timbre," or a special tax) and limiting the definition of press law violations. Subsequently the number of newspapers increased. In 1914, Paris published 80 titles, and the regional and local press flourished, toppling 100,000 in circulation in large cities. Four titles monopolized the daily newspaper market: Le Petit Journal, with a circulation of 1 million in 1890, Le Petit Parisien, founded in 1876, which had a 1.5 million circulation in 1914, Le Matin, and Le Journal, hovering around 1 million circulation in 1914. These newspapers favored information over opinion, thus giving the appearance of neutrality; they also tapped the rich vein of popular literature, publishing it in installments. News reporting, a new technique, was an added ingredient of the newspapers' success. Overall, newspapers still relied very little on publicity. In 1914 France was the first consumer of news with 244 readers per 1,000 population, the highest readership it would reach during the twentieth century.
During the war, the French press became more uniform. The war years were marked by rising production costs, inflation, the cost of now commonplace photographic reproductions, increases in the price of paper, and rising social costs. After 1933, the slump in sales made newspapers rely increasingly on publicity revenues. The press became more concentrated as larger amounts of capital were needed to operate newspapers that became real enterprises. Le Petit Parisien created its own society, while the remaining four major newspapers associated around Havas and Hachette monopolized the daily newspaper market. Crises rocked and divided the press, from the Dreyfus Affair in 1894-1897, to anti-Semitism before World War I, and financial scandals in the 1930s. Some newspapers implicated in anti-patriotic acts during the war lost much of their credibility, especially Le Petit Journal. The dependence of the press on businessmen and politicians' self-serving purposes further discredited the press.
Between the two World Wars the highly politicized weekly press was born, such as the rightist Candide and the leftist Le Canard Enchaîné, the regional daily press developed, especially in the southwest regions, and the magazine press appeared with general information titles such as Jean Prouvost's Match and leisure and culture magazines. The first radio program was broadcast in 1921 and several local radio stations were created thereafter, with the state exercising tight control over them after 1933. The importance of news reporting on the radio increased after the riots of February 6, 1934. During the Front Populaire, the radio began to become a political forum for parties and politicians.
On the eve of World War II, censorship began to be actively enforced and in 1940 the government increased its control of the press by creating the first Ministry of Information. On June 14, 1940 all newspapers were shut down by the Nazis. As clandestine media developed, the press and radio were divided between collaborators and resistors. The French began to rely increasingly on the radio as their main source of uncensored information. At the Liberation of France in 1944, the temporary government issued three ordinances to protect the press from the intervention of political power, but also from financial pressures and commercial dependencies. The new press was highly politicized and ideological, and the surge of freedom seemed to bode well for its future, as seen in the creation of a host of new publications, including Le Monde in December 1944. However, press restructuring and increased publicity revenues could not prevent circulation from falling back to 1914 levels by 1952. In 1958 the Fifth Republic solidified the press's dependence toward the executive, while radio and television began to compete for the news market. In 1947, three national daily newspapers were party organs: the MRP's L'Aube, the Socialist Party's Le Populaire and the Communist Party's L'Humanité. By 1974 onlyremained.
After World War II, the press began to receive governmental subsidies. By 1972 these subsidies represented one-eighth of the total turnover of press enterprises. A decree of 1973 fixed the conditions under which the subsidies could be granted to newspapers with a circulation under 200,000, limiting their revenues from publicity to 30 percent. The sixties and seventies were marked by an increase in regional press concentration. Emilien Amaury regionalized the daily Le Parisien Libéré, while Robert Hersant created one of the first French press groups that began with his Auto-Journal in 1950, continued through a series of regional newspaper acquisitions, and culminated with the control of Le Figaro in 1975, which prompted the resignation of editor Jean d'Ormesson and best-known columnist, Raymond Aron.
Regionalization also characterized television, with a regional station opening in 1973 in addition to the other two state-controlled television stations. Weekly magazines such as L'Observateur and L'Express, and Paris-Match, founded in 1949 by Robert Prouvost, were founded with great success. Two national daily newspapers emerged in leading position at this time, Le Monde and Le Figaro. The regional press began to modernize in the early 1970s with offset, digital, and facsimile techniques. Those costly moves caused a concentration and regrouping of the titles whose number dropped from 153 to 58 between 1945 and 1994, erasing ideological and cultural differences. A few large groups dominated. Hersant controlled 30 percent of the market with Le Dauphiné Libéré, Paris-NormandieLe Progrés de LyonLes Derniéres Nouvelles d'Alsace, Nord-MatinNord-Éclair,Le Havre-Libre, and Midi-Libre among others. Hachette-Filipacchi Presse controls the south with Le Provençal, Le Méridional, La République, while smaller groups are centered around a newspaper. Some such examples are Ouest-France, Sud-OuestLa Dépĉche du Midi, and LaVoix du Nord. Ouest-France is a leader with a circulation of over 800,000, 17 editions, and sells in Brittany, Normandy, and the Loire departments.
In the 1980s the press had reached a fragile equilibrium between pluralism and market constraints. Concentration continued while the Socialist government strengthened the pluralism of the press, deemed essential to the democratic debate in its law of 23 October 1984. A new set of laws of 1 August and 27 November 1986 prevented monopolies by establishing a 30 percent circulation limit to national and regional daily newspapers controlled by a single press group. As a result, groups such as Hersant began to invest abroad, notably in the former Eastern European countries, after the end of the Cold War in 1989. Economic realities also brought about restructuring of the printing and distribution networks. Between 1985 and 1990, however, profits were assured only by the growth of publicity revenues, while the national daily press experienced major difficulties.
The recession of 1989-93 brought more changes. The information revolution also prompted a radical reevaluation of the way news was written and distributed. Once rare and expensive, the news became overabundant, which dealt a severe blow to the French press, although it is a development common in other countries. Competition came not only from the Internet, but from radio and TV, which multiplied their news delivery, and also from an unexpected source, books that started dealing with current events, a field heretofore monopolized by newspapers. Due to France's experience with Minitel in the 1980s, a digital distribution system controlled by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, France hesitated to embark upon yet another modernization. But the public was beginning to ask for free news. Some newspapers responded with an upscale presentation and simplified analyses, while others, like Le Monde, opted to serve the more educated, more sophisticated public of the modern, "complex" societies that required a new kind of information. The restructuring of the 1990s benefited the three main newspapers, Le Monde, Libération, and LeParisien-Aujourd'hui, whose circulation stabilized in 2000. Press groups restructured as well. Hachette, which diversified into publishing, distributing, and radio broadcasting, Amaury, which diversified into the sports press and women's magazines, Prouvost which diversified around women's magazines and the very successful Télé 7 jours, and Del Duca, specialized in La Presse du Coeur, a popular press, and Télé Magazine.
Print Media versus Electronic Media
In the 1980s, France was the first country to put a newspaper online by using a revolutionary system called Minitel. The publicity-free, pay-per-usage time service's profitability, added to the large investments made in Minitel explain why France was slower than other European countries to adopt the Internet in the 1990s. In 1996, France had seven online daily newspapers out of the total 84 and 19 online magazines out of all 294 online. In October 1997 Les Echos became the first newspaper to offer an online version with part free news and part pay-per-article. With the new millennium, however, things began to change quickly. The increase in internet use can be measured by the number of visits to the site of Le Monde. In 2001 it had approximately a half million visits. In April, 2002, it had close to eight million visits, followed by Les Echos with 2.38 million visits, while the Groupe Nouvel Observateur had over one million visits, and L'Express and Le Monde Diplomatique around half a million visits. France reached the minimum profitability level of 10 percent of households having access to internet.
The best known and largest newspapers were not the first ones to go online. Their reluctance opened the door for smaller, more technologically oriented newspapers to make a name for themselves. Regional and small newspapers that embraced the new technology quickly made a name for themselves. For newspapers specialized in economic and financial news, such as Les Echos, the Internet was a natural medium. In 2002, a substantial proportion of newspapers had developed internet sites, especially regional newspapers.
Many titles have more than one site, showing that general and political news have lost the prominent place they once occupied. The Groupe Nouvel Observateur, in addition to its initial magazine site, has 14 specialized sites, including car, health, stock market, women, culture, real estate, economic and financial. Les Echos has seven sites, including employment, sports, and news. Online editions require substantial makeovers since site attractiveness is a must, especially in the advertisers' opinion. At first the internet press was totally dependent on publicity revenues, which it had no difficulty attracting. The new partnerships between technology and editorial policies, however, gave newspapers new revenues by developing commercial services such as e-commerce, e-bank, e-tickets, e-travel, and pay per view services. Archival services and royalties represented additional sources of revenue, and so will the use of "cookies" which was being considered in 2002. The new sites are interactive, allowing the online press to receive feedback and to monitor its audience (the first statistics were created in 1998). Employment, real estate sites, classifieds and personalized pages are among the other services offered.
Types of Partnerships/Ownership
The traditional economic structure of newspapers, with limited capital and a delicate balancing act between publicity revenues, state subsidies, and sales revenues, has all but disappeared. The new technology requires the support of financial-technological support groups, thus turning the press into veritable enterprises. The new press magnates are the technological magnates, the announcers and the sponsors.
In the 1990s, the news media became a fast expanding economic sector attracting not only domestic, but European industrial and banking giants. Libération, a mouthpiece of the left founded in 1973 under the aegis of Jean-Paul Sartre, was taken over in early 1996 by the industrial group Chargeurs. In October 1995, the Havas publicity group together with Alcatel bought several important newspapers including L'Express, Le Point, and Courrier International. One of the few newspapers which remains internally controlled by its stockholders is Le Monde.
The editorial independence of the media appeared threatened, which caused a significant drop in circulation sales between 1995 and 1996, indicating the public's lack of confidence in the media, especially when the Tapie, Botton, and Dumas scandals revealed the extent to which investigative journalism had been choked. The press, which historically was built in opposition to political power, now seemed closely associated to it, even to the point of losing self-criticism. This new version of the power triangle between the media, big business, and politics, was somewhat addressed by an understanding between editorial offices and publicity leading to their "sacred union," and by repeated governmental measures stressing the role of the press as guarantor of democracy and pluralism.
Concentration of Ownership
The late 1990s saw the formation of large press groups controlling both technology and editorial content, with the major French investor being the Vivendi group. The main press groups are: Bayard Presse, Excelsior Publications, Groupe Moniteur, Groupe Quotidien Santé, Havas, Milan Presse and Prisma Presse.
Bayard France, the first Catholic press group, regroups the press, book publishing, and multimedia. Created in 1813 with the magazine Le Pélerin, it added La Croix in 1883, which was still in print in 2002. It publishes more than 100 magazines in the world, of which 39 are produced in France and 50 abroad. It is the leader of the educational youth press, religious press, and mature adults press. It is the fifth French group by diffusion, with 7.6 million buyers and 30 million readers worldwide. It features seven internet sites.
Prisma Presse features five weeklies, nine monthlies, and one biannual publication. Prisma TV deals with televised news. The group distributes 277 million copies a year and owns 18 percent of the French market. Created in 1978 within the group Gruner and Jahr, it publishes popular magazines such as Femme, CapitalCuisine Actuelle, and the National Geographic which it co-owns since 1999 with RBA Editions.
Distribution and Printing
The main press distributor remains the Nouvelles Messageries de la Presse Parisienne. In 2001 they owned more than 80 percent of the sales market with two other distributors the MLP and Transports Presse. Created in 1947 from a partnership between the Hachette bookstore and Parisian press publishers, they guarantee and promote the diffusion of the written press in France and abroad. In 1986 the NMPP began an intensive campaign of modernization that was sped by the 1989 economic crisis. After 1991 they assisted publishers in order to maximize circulation; they also created new sales locations, especially in the Paris region, and automated distributors. More modernization and geographic rationalization followed in the 1990s. In the 1990s NMPP continued to centralize and relocate in order to reduce cost and to improve service. They reduced personnel by one-third, and introduced online links with editors and press merchants.
In 2001 they represented 697 publishers and distributed 3,500 titles (dailies, magazines, and multimedia products), including 26 national daily newspapers, and over 900 foreign newspapers and magazines, for a transactions figure of 5,176 billion Euros distributed (of which 2,791 billion Euros sold), 2,658 million copies, 560,000 tons of titles. Unsold copies, averaging 46 percent, are recycled. The NMPP exported to 113 foreign destinations, 2,727 titles for an amount of sales of 286 million Euros, or 10 percent of its total sales. It employed 2,089 people. The NMPP is owned for 51 percent by five press coops and for 49 percent by Matra-Hachette which operates the firm. NMPP tariffs favor the daily press.
These issues plague NMPP: the decreasing number of newsstands in Paris and a low portion of the magazine and weekly press market. Despite restructuring, NMPP was still having financial difficulties in 2000 and for state subsidies of 250 million francs. The state was also called in to mediate a dispute in 2000 when NMPP tried to give favorable tariffs to periodicals.
Messageries Lyonnaises de Presse (MLP) regroups 200 clients and distributes 650 titles in France. In the 1990s, MLP grew considerably, cornering the magazine and weekly publications' market. In 1998 their turnover was 2.7 billion francs. Previously, in 1996, the MLP held 9 percent of the paper distributed in France which provided lesser operating costs and expanded into the Paris market.
There are 31,504 press merchants, of which includes 1,210 "Maisons de la Presse" stores (a combination newsstand, bookstore, and stationery store), 753 kiosks, of which 315 are in Paris, and 2,784 sites in shopping malls. The press kiosks in Paris diminished in numbers from 370 to 310 between 1999 and 2002. In 1988 there was one sales location for 2,100 Parisians, a ratio twice that in other parts of France. Editors asked the Paris mayoral office to help, since newsstands sales represent more than one-third of all sales of daily newspapers in Paris, and a press subsidies of 750,000 Euros was granted. In an effort to stem this decline, newsstands operators were given greater input about the number of copies they were assigned and press merchants signed an agreement with the Union Nationale des Diffuseurs de Presse (UNDP) in 2001 granting them a 15 percent fee. Today the situation appears to have stabilized.
Advertisers' Influence on Editorial Policies & Ad Ratio
In 2000, publicity revenues for the press were 28 billion francs, a 10.2 percent increase over the 1999 revenues, roughly half the publicity revenue of all media combined. The press thus remains the main media support for publicity investments. In 2000, it attracted almost 42 percent of the media market, far ahead of television (30 percent) and radio (7 percent). The publicity revenues come from commercial publicity for 80 percent and from classified for 20 percent. The main buyers of publicity were the magazine press (40 percent), followed by the daily regional press (24 percent), the specialized technical and professional press (18 percent), the daily national press (16 percent), and in last place the weekly regional press (2 percent). 40 percent of the purchases of internet publicity space were destined to editorial sites (written press, TV and radio).
Despite the predominance of print advertising, however, over the past 20 years, the printed press lost 13 percent of the publicity market, much of it to television. In 1980 the press received 60 percent of all publicity revenue and television 20 percent, but in 2000 it received only 47.3 percent of it (including classified), whereas television received 33.5 percent. The prolonged economic crisis and the competition from television, plus the fact that alcohol and tobacco ads were curtailed, contributed to this decrease. In 2000, the turnover's ratio between sales and publicity revenues was approximately 60 and 40 percent, respectively.
By contrast, publicity on the web has increased dramatically. To finance the Internet press, several commercial methods were used: publicity, classifieds, auction sites, e-commerce, and cookies. 95 percent of e-sites were financed in 1999 by publicity, with the pay-perview option remaining small. At first, e-publicity revenues remained small at 113 million francs in 1997, compared to 400 million francs of publicity revenue for Le Monde in 1998. Les Echos 's e-publicity revenues of 1.2 million francs in 1997 more than doubled in 1998, reaching in excess of 3 million francs, and outpaced pay per view revenues, while its printed version saw a total publicity revenue of 300 million francs. However, in 1998, the price of online publicity surpassed the printed press's publicity price, prompting many newspapers to offer an online version in order to protect their revenues, especially with regard to publicity. The price of publicity is governed by a December 1, 1986 decree which established flat publicity rates that were eliminated for newspapers with a large circulation by a Circulaire of October 28, 1993.
While many announcers buy space online directly, newspapers increasingly buy publicity from a middleman or specialized purchasing group. France plays a leadership role and serves as "interactive task force." Announcers who want to advertise internationally prefer to deal with French groups, whose leader is Carat with 20 percent of the investment for printed media in 1998. Carat France was the first online firm to adopt the multimedia. In 1994 it created Carat Multimédia under the sponsorship of Aegis. Besides Carat Multimédia, Ogilvy Interactive and The Network, which claims to be the first buyer on the internet market in France, Médiapolis, Optimum Media and CIA Medianetwork are the main buyers of internet space. European and international giants have an edge, however, some examples being RealMedia, Doubleclick, Interdeco (of the group Hachette Filipacchi), Accesite (dedicated to Francophone markets), or InterAd (specialized in European markets). Many purchasing groups are tied to a main client, such as France Télécom, which brought Médiapolis between 3 and 4 million francs in 1998.
France is also involved in the U.S.-based, publisher-controlled Internet Advertising Bureau, which was founded in 1996 and serves the main U.S. and foreign newspapers. France led in the creation of IAB Europe which is based in Paris, and of IAB France which in 1998 served Libération, Les Echos, and all 40 publications of the groups Hachette Filipacchi and Hersant. Several regional newspapers are also represented in IAB through their online publicity companies Realmedia and Accesite.
Another issue unfolding is whether to couple paper and web advertising. The Internet press has been banned from advertising on television since March, 1992, but the debate is ongoing, especially since CSA's decision in February 2000 to allow Internet sites, including the press sites, to advertise on television. Although the Conseil d'Etat in July 2000 reversed this decision, the debate continued, with the Syndicat de la Presse Magazine et d'Information (SPMI) favoring access to televised publicity in view of the competition from the new media.
The world of advertisers is complex and totally internationalized. One of the main advertising representatives is S'regie, an international media sales group. Headquartered in Paris and Brussels, it represents the press, TV, online, outdoor, and radio. In 2002 the publicity group Publicis bought the US Bcom3 and entered in a world exclusive agreement with the Japanese group Dentsu. The first action made Publicis the fourth publicity group worldwide, while the second action gave its clients a privileged access to the Asian market.
Special Interests and Lobbies
With lobbies not much a part of the French tradition, there are few press lobbies, and they are all recent. A users' association, IRIS (Imaginons un Réseau Internet Solidaire), was created in 1997. Older, established consumer organizations such as the French Consumer Association or the National Union of Family Associations have opened departments dealing with Internet issues. In June 2001 a new group was created called Enfance et Média (CIEM) to prevent violence on television. It would produce a report in March 2002 to the Minister of Family, Childhood, and Handicapped Persons.
In France, one may consider professional associations and trade unions as lobbyists. Some of them represent their profession in governmental agencies and para-governmental and inter-professional organizations, such as FNPF.
Journalist: An Expanding Profession
The statute of journalists is defined by the collective labor contract for journalists, which was passed as Loi Guernut-Brachard in 1935. The statute was revised in 1956 under the leadership of Marcel Roëls, and then in 1968, 1974, and 1987. Since 1944 French laws have guaranteed the independence of journalists. The Articles L 761-1 to 16 of the Labor Code which were passed in January, 1973 define four kinds of journalists: (1) professional journalists who "have for their main, regular, and salaried occupation and income, the exercise of their profession in one or more daily or periodical publication or in one or more press agencies." This includes correspondents who work in France or abroad in the same conditions are professional journalists; (2) "assimilated" journalists who work in related occupations or direct editorial collaborators such as redactors-translators, stenographer-translators, redactors-copy editors, reporters-graphic artists, and reporters-photographers; (3) pigistes ; and (4) temporary journalists or substitutes. A salary grid reveals a maze of job titles that indicates a great deal of nuances and complexities as well, listing as many as three "categories" differentiating the level of pay and responsibility. Pigistes occupy a position unique in the world of journalism, in between free lancers and tenured journalists. They are considered professional journalists since the 1974 Loi Cressard. Finally there are collaborators, namely well-known academics or specialists collaborating occasionally with an opinion piece, for which they are paid in royalties. Publicity agents and occasional collaborators are not considered journalists.
The number of card-holding journalists more than quintupled between 1950 and 2000. On the other hand, the number of new journalists showed a decline in the 1990s, with a significant drop to 1700 in 1993, during the crisis of the press. Overall, the number of journalists increased in the 1990s, from 26,614 in 1990 to 30,150 in 1998. In 1990, 9.3 percent of those were new journalists, while in 1998 this figure dropped to 6.9 percent. The profession has become less secure and increasingly competitive, with journalists leaving the profession at a high rate after a few years when their career does not take off as hoped, and employers prolonging the "trial" period. Also, journalism has become increasingly a second profession and students have been getting higher professional education degrees in order to be more competitive. In 1998, 90.6 percent of all journalists were considered to be employed in basic positions, with less than 10 percent in leadership positions. The number of pigistes among the new journalists increased between 1990 and 1998 in several media: the "suppliers" (photo and press and multimedia agencies), the regional television stations, and the general and specialized press. In all, one in five journalist works as a pigiste. There is a large proportion of pigistes among reporter photographers.
Overall, the average journalist today is older. Only 25 percent of journalists in 1998 were 25 and younger. The median age of journalists is 31 for men and 30 for women, with 21 percent of the new journalists being over 36 and 13.2 percent over 40, and into their second career. Men are slightly more numerous, with 51.9 percent, against 48.1 percent of women, yet they hold managerial and leadership positions in significantly larger numbers than women.
For journalists, the job market is diversified, highly competitive, and there is no sure career path owing to the changing nature of the profession. The three major sources of jobs are the specialized press for the public, the specialized technical and professional press, the daily regional press, which totaled 55.6 percent of the job market in 1998. Interestingly, the national daily press represented only 5.3 percent of the job market, in decline from 6.1 percent in 1990. Local radio stations, press agencies, and regional television stations were the next big employers, with 6 percent, 3.8 percent, and 3.6 percent respectively.
Two-thirds of all new card-holding journalists are employed in the Ile-de-France region, a number that remained steady in the 1990s, although it dropped a few percentage points to 63.7 percent in 1998. Besides Paris, three main regions attracted roughly five percent of new journalists each in 1998: Rhône-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and Bretagne. The press offers 72.6 percent of the jobs, while radios and television stations hover around 10 percent of the market. Female journalists are more numerous in the specialized, public and specialized press, while men dominate the regional daily press, local and national radios, and local and national television stations. Women are more frequently administrative assistants, while men occupy two-thirds of the reporter-photographer jobs and almost all the jobs as photojournalists.
Employment and Wage Scales
The average monthly salary of a journalist was FF 10,740 in 1998, with almost half of the journalists earning between FF 7,000 and 10,000. Salaries have not kept up with Cost of Living Allowances (COLA), thus lowering of the economic position of journalists. The majority of pigistes are paid below FF 7,000 a month. The lowest salaries are paid by local media, radio stations, and the suppliers (agencies). The generalist media has a large percent of regular low paid journalists and only 25 percent of its regular journalists earning salaries superior to FF 15,000.
At the level of a national daily, the pay scale varies from 1,562 Euros for an intern to 4,728 Euros for an editor-in-chief. A reporter could expect 2,612 Euros, and a photojournalist the same.
All journalists benefit from the protections granted by the Convention Collective, or Labor Contract, which includes social benefits such as paid vacation, thirteenth paid month, firing notice, indemnity of firing, unemployment benefits, medical, insurance and invalidity benefits, and pensions; as well as legal recourse in case of conflict with an employer. They also benefit from the 10 percent to 20 percent tax relief granted all taxpayers, as well as from tax deductions for professional expenses which could total up to 7,650 Euros in 2002. The state also reimburses 50 percent of the trade union membership fee.
Article L761 stipulates the conditions in which journalists receive severance pay, established an arbitration commission, and state that all work requested or accepted by a newspaper or periodical enterprise should be paid whether it is published or not. It contains provisions protecting the reproduction of articles and journalistic work. An employer-employee board established by this decree is in charge of establishing a list of newspaper or periodical enterprises who hire professional journalists, of establishing salary grids, and arbitrating disputes.
Major Labor Unions
The first journalists' unions appeared in 1918 with the "Journalist's Charter." Today there is a host of professional labor unions, which adapt to the many changes experienced by the profession. Among noted developments, journalists in 1991 joined the SCAM or Société Civile des Artistes Multimédia, thus joining forces with illustrators, audiovisual, radio and literature authors. Also, the European Federation of Journalists was created in France in 1952 as a branch of the International Journalists' Federation and represents more than 420,000 journalists (salaried and free-lance journalists) in more than 200 countries. It has consul-tant's status within the United Nations, UNESCO and WAN.
Industrial Relations: Copyright Laws and the Status of Journalists
Copyright issues are complex issues that are the object of intense lobbying from journalists' associations. At issue since the 1885 Bern Convention that gave journalists ownership of their work is whether a newspaper is an collection of individual articles, or a collective work. In contrast with other European countries, France recognizes the moral right of journalists to own their work. The information revolution, by increasing both the reproduction of works and the danger of plagiarism, reopened a debate that is far from being concluded. A new issue is whether journalists or computer specialists retain editorial control of newspaper's Internet version. When Le Monde almost published an obituary of Communist Party Secretary George Marchais six months before his death, the world of journalism was alarmed.
Several newspapers have signed agreements with journalists' unions in anticipation of electronic developments, such as Les Derniéres Nouvelles d'Alsace in 1995, after negotiations with the National Conciliation Commission of the Presse Quotidienne Régionale and a lawsuit, and Le Monde in 1997, for a two-year period. The DNA compromise gave collective property of the articles to the newspaper and paid journalists for internet and television use of their materials. Journalists retained their moral and financial rights, yet the newspaper could bear a heavy financial burden. Le Monde agreement recognized journalists as authors who were compensated for ceding their copyright. Les Echos favored a model in which the printed and electronic versions were treated as one, with journalists retaining rights for the reproduction of their articles under another form, such as a thematic dossier, or their reproduction by an external group that might censor or cut their prose and getting 5 percent and 25 percent of the proceeds, respectively. Journalists and publishers remained sharply opposed; the Havas-Vivendi directors, for example wanted journalists to renounce their copyrights. In June 1998 the Conseil d'Etat suggested to treat journalists' copyright as patents, but the problem of the extent of the newspaper's vs. the journalists' rights remains to be resolved.
In 1998, journalists organized a debate on the subject. The development of the free press in Italy and France not only created new competition but operated outside of the legal provisions of the National Labor Contract, thus prompting Italian and French journalists to create a joint coordination committee with the participation of both countries' main syndicates. USJ-CFDT also asked for a general debate about the treatment of information.
Syndicates also examined the statute of reporter-photographer whose situation is doubly precarious, owing to their status of photographers and pigistes. In January, 2002, with the prospect of new provisions about copyright by the Conseil Supérieur de la Propriété Littéraire et Artistique (CSPLA), the USJ-CFDT and SNJCGT joined forces with SCAM despite ideological differences in order to organize the defense of copyright. Editors and journalists are at odds on the subject, with lawsuits such as that of the audiovisual group Plurimedia. It appears that the CSPLA is lobbied by publishers to erode copyright. Since the tribunals have generally upheld journalists' rights, the publishers concentrate on changing the law while authors organize to devise collective contracts among multimedia, such as the "Excelsior" contract.
Cost, independence, and quality are three major issues, as is the statute of journalists. The creation of a new breed of "cyberjournalists" not covered by the legal statutes of the profession, the concentration of information, the marketing and budget pressures tending to reduce the quality of journalism, and threats to the freedom of information in the form of exclusive coverage or the control of visual information, have already raised the job insecurities. After the adoption of the 35-hour workweek, journalists pushed for a reduction to 32 hours. Citing a rising unemployment, the loss of job security, and the increasingly demanding nature of the workload, the USJ-CFDT, following the CFDT, asked for the creation of new jobs parallel to the reduction in the number of work hours.
The average price of a daily newspaper is higher than in Great Britain or Germany despite state subsidies: Le Monde sells for $1.25 FF whileThe Times sells for $0.30 FF. Once set at the same value as a domestic letter stamp, the price of a newspaper increased eightfold between 1970 and 1980 while the cost of living increased only four-fold. This is in part due to high distribution costs that represent 40 percent of the average sales price of the newspaper, the second highest distribution cost in Europe. Without state postal discounts and tax breaks, the price of newspapers would be even higher. Several provisions govern price and competition, especially the December 1, 1986 decrees. There is a 2.1 percent VAT on all printed media that does not apply to the internet version of newspapers and publications. In fact, European community law does not recognize electronic support as "written press" and electronic newspapers are thus considered data transmission, yet another non-negligible advantage.
In 1996, France exported 2,000 titles to 107 foreign countries, bringing in a turnover of $45 million FF. Approximately two thirds of sales occurred by subscription, with only one third in newsstands or libraries. The top five daily newspapers by circulation in 2000, according to World Press Trends 2001, were Ouest France with 785,000, Le Parisien combined with Aujourd'hui at 486,000, Le Monde selling 393,000, L'Equipe providing 398,000, and Le Figaro releasing 361,000.
Constitutional Provisions and Guarantees Relating to the Media: Freedom of the Press
Freedom of the press is one of the basic freedoms in France. It was written in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen which established freedom of expression "except in abusing this freedom in cases set forth by the law." France, which was thus one of the first countries in the world to guarantee freedom of expression, has made several exceptions to this guarantee, both in judicial decisions and legal decisions found in the Penal Code, the Code of Penal Procedure, the Code of Military Justice, the Law of 29 July, 1881, and circulars, notes, and decisions by France's supreme judicial authorities.
Summary of Press Laws in Force
Press laws in force deal with the countless aspects of the media industry. There are laws for each aspect of the profession: publishers, journalists, distributors, and vendors. There are laws of the press and laws for the audiovisual industries, and now cyber laws. The main laws relating to the written press itself deal with the freedom of the press and editorial freedom, criminal offenses, collective labor contracts, copyright laws, and registration of newspapers and journalists. In addition to the laws there are scores of legislative acts providing for state regulation of the media. Those are subject to constant reorganization. In addition to national laws, France is subject to European Union laws and court decisions that have come into effect in the 1990s. The Law on the Information Society, for example, which was introduced in Parliament in June 2001, would be unthinkable outside of European Community law, especially in the areas of e-commerce, electronic signatures, and cyber criminality.
Registration and Licensing of Newspapers and Journalists
Periodical publications with public circulation are subjected to strict laws. A newspaper must register with the Attorney General its intention to publish and its title, frequency of publication, name and address of the director of publication. To protect the publication's title, it must be registered with the INPI, or Institut National de la Propriété Intellectuelle. If the publication is destined for the youth, an additional declaration must be registered with the appropriate oversight committee at the Ministry of Justice. The basic Law of 29 July 1881 has been modified by the laws of 21 June 1943 and 31 December 1945, the law of 10 August 1981, a decree of 3 December 1981, a law of 27 August 1998 and a directive of 22 December 1998.
Journalists must obtain the Carte d'Identité des Journalistes Professionnels (CIJP), which is granted by a commission that was created by the Law of 29 March 1935. In 2000, the Commission delivered 32,738 such cards. Article L761-2 of the law indicates that the professional journalist is a person who "has as his/her main, regular, and salaried occupation the exercise of his profession in one or more daily or periodical publications or in one or more press agencies, and who derives his/her main income from this work." Excluded from this definition are the publicity agents, although occasionally journalists may be paid for publicity work. An edict issued by the Minister of Information in October 1964 declares public relations officers and press attaches to be non-journalists. In May 1986, a statute by the State Council also excluded public servants from this definition.
In order to qualify one must have exercised or plan to exercise the profession of journalist for three consecutive months and derive more than 50 percent of one's income from it. Candidates to the CIJP must also specify which activity and which type of company they will work. The Law of 1935 created the Commission in Paris; in 1948 provisions were made to add regional correspondents.
Sunshine Laws, Shield Laws, Libel Laws, Laws against Blasphemy and Obscenity, Official Secrets Acts
The basic text defining press crimes is the Press Law of 29 July 1881. Limitations on freedom of speech include defamation, insults, offense and outrage, which are fairly broadly constructed. The Law of 1881 provided the possibility of criminal and civil action against journalists. Until the Law of June 15, 2000 the presumption of innocence and the victims' rights was reversed and the burden of proof was shifted from the accuser to the accused. The 1-year prison sentence for libel has now been abolished.
Specific cases of label are strictly regulated. The Law of 1881 punishes offenses toward public authorities, official bodies, and protected persons. This includes foreign heads of state as well as government officials and government bodies. The punishments were lessened by the law of June 15, 2000, and the right to free expression protects journalists in most cases. However, for publishing the picture of a handcuffed person without the person's approval, journalists can be fined 100,000 francs. Two laws of July 1972 and June 1990 forbid libel against persons and groups "based on their origin, ethnic identity, race, or religion." The 1990 law forbids revisionism, i.e. denial of the Holocaust. In those two instances libel constitutes a press misdemeanor.
Litigation is secret as of Article 11 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1957 which limits journalists' freedom of access to information. Revised by several circulars, most notably in 1985 and 1995, and by the Law of June 15, 2000, the law provides for exceptions, however. Public prosecutors may publish information, appeals and search notices necessary for the progress of legal proceedings, helping the accused's cause, or putting an end to the spreading of rumors and false truths. They may also correct erroneous and incomplete information about victims or make public certain elements of litigation in order to prevent false information from being published. Recently, journalists convicted before the French law have begun to take their case before the European Court of Human Rights to which France is subjected as a signa-tory of the European Convention of Human Rights. The ECHR does not support the secrecy of litigation. Overall, violations of Article 11 are fairly common, with journalists acting as the gadfly of a judicial system plagued by lengthy procedural delays, and with the European Community providing new guidelines. Few violations are ever punished.
The right of journalists to protect their sources has been recognized by French law since 1993, unless they abuse that right. Article 109 of the Criminal Code protects investigative reporters' journalistic sources. With recent terrorist threats, the issue of revealing information sources came anew. The Ministry of Justice in March, 2002 did not change those provisions in the wake of the new Law on Domestic Security that dealt with the war on terrorism. The official position is however that the criminal responsibility of journalists could be involved if not divulging their information sources endangered that source's life or security.
Finally a June 1998 law punishes pornography on telecommunication supports. This law is meant to protect children who are under age and is particularly severe for perpetrators of child pornography who establish contacts with their victims via a telecommunication means (Minitel or the Internet).
Cyber Communication and Copyright
Online communication is protected by the September, 30 1986 law about freedom of communication. Electronic documents must be legally registered as of a law of June 1992, and illegal sites are subject to sanctions. Much French legislation in this domain is already harmonized with European legislation. The French government in the 1990s was an active participant in promoting international policies, especially in terms of uniform pricing, protection of intellectual property and authors' rights. The European Council in 1994 initiated the European Directive which created an internal market to regulate competition, protected intellectual property rights, the right to freedom of expression, and the right of general interest, and encouraged investments in creative and innovative projects. France adopted the European Directive on July 2, 1998; it protects original database content and support. A new copyright law is expected following France's adoption of the European Parliament and Council's May 2001 Resolution on Copyright.
France in November 2001 signed the International Convention on cyber criminality, which punishes copyright infractions. Cyber crimes benefit as of November 2000 of a decision of the Cour de Cassation providing for immediate litigation rather than the three-months delay granted to the printed press. Internet providers are not responsible for crimes committed by internet services except if they fail to prevent access to that service if the justice system notified them of the crime.
Agency Concerned with Monitoring the Press
Journalists and editors practice self-censorship by tradition, and because of the deterrent value of state subsidies and laws limiting the freedom of the press. Just as indirect government influence is a tradition, journalists walk a fine line when they write articles for Le Canard Enchaîné or skits for the television program Les Guignols de l'Info. In both instances they use the many registers of political caricature deftly so as to escape the accusation of libel, while providing needed distance toward reality as well as reaction against "dominant conformism." A good indicator of the nature of censorship is the fact that the government has not been, nor does it plan to get involved in two major aspects of journalism: training/education and the discussion of journalistic ethics. French journalists have long been self-policing in the area of professional ethics. The professional code of journalists defines their role and responsibilities in a democratic society.
Recent case studies show an uneven degree of tolerance for the press's behavior. In 2000, the Commission des Opérations de Bourse, which has investigative powers, conducted an investigation at the headquarters of Le Figaro while investigating a financial and economic scandal relating to the Carrefour-Promodes store. The journalists protested that this was a house search. In 2000 AFP was reprimanded by the government after selling prison pictures of Sid Ahmed Rezala to a newspaper. At issue was the fact that AFP had treated the picture as merchandise, not information. Publications by religious sects were not deemed subversive to the public order, and the government ruled in 2001 that transportation societies could not refuse to carry those publications to the press distributors.
The relationship between the press, power, and the judicial system in France is in a state of suspended animation. Political power can be heavy at times, such as in the presidential appointments of AFP directors. The 1975 appointment of Roger Bouzinac as AFP director provoked the resignation of Hubert Beuve-Méry who was AFP's chief administrator. Yet this practice continued in the 1980s and 1990s, signaling a political desire to control the main provider of information in France.
Relations between the press and the government became particularly tense under the second term of François Mitterrand, showing the degree of restraint of the press. After the suicide of prime minister Pierre Bérégovoy in 1993, the press asked itself whether journalists' revelations of apparently questionable financial dealings had not been responsible for his death. After President Mitterrand's death, the public learned that the press had known about his secret illness, cancer, long before disclosing it to the public, in a procedure reminiscent of the press's behavior during the last three years of President Pompidou's life, twenty years earlier. In 1997, the death of Princess Diana opened a debate about professional ethics, showing that some paparazzi's appetite for sensationalism may have contributed to the car accident that claimed her life and that of her companion Dodi Fayed.
The eruption of several political scandals in the 1990s (the Bernard Tapie, Alain Carignon, and Pierre Botton scandals) created a renewed demand for professional ethics. In May 1994, journalists formed an association to strengthen the professional ethics and denounce in particular the practice of the false "Une" (based on publicity rather than real news). Jean-Louis Prévost, CEO of the Voix du Nord, asked for a strengthening of investigative reporting and a better oversight of regional governmental accounting offices and tribunals. The public called for truth in information and voted with their purse: Ouest-France, Le Télégramme de Brest, and Le Parisien which improved their opinion and editorial policies, saw their circulation increase.
Composition of Press/Media Councils
There are numerous governmental boards regulating the media in addition to the professional paritaire (employer-employee) boards which are under governmental oversight. There is no strong parliamentary oversight of the media. Governmental boards exist mostly to plan, give direction, and assist. This indicates a degree of cooperation between the public and private sectors that is a long tradition in France known as étatisme or dirigisme. The most important board is perhaps the Commission Paritaire des Publications et Agences de Presse whose statute was revised according to a decree of November 20, 1997 and whose function is to grant a registration number to publications and granting fiscal and postal tax exemptions. Next to it is the Commission de la Carte d'Identité des Journalistes Professionels (CCIJP) which grants the press card and the coveted journalist's status. Other boards such as the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel or the Centre Français d'Exploitation du Droit de Copie deal with specific issues. The transportation and distribution enterprises are controlled and regulated by the Conseil Supérieur des Messageries de la Presse. Affiliated with the IFJ, the Union Syndicale des Journalistes CFDT has representatives in the main governmental and professional commissions dealing with journalism, journalistic training, ethical questions, granting of the press card, editorialists' rights, collective bargaining and arbitration commissions.
State Leadership in Promoting the Information Society
The French government has taken an active role in promoting the information society and changing the educational, administrative, and communication cultures simultaneously within its own institutions and without. A flurry of decrees has been passed in the last few years, especially since the European Directive of July 2, 1998, that established the framework for the Information Society. The French government has actively defined and regulated the new technologies' uses, literary and artistic property (copyright), legal protection of databases, and e-commerce. While France provided active input on pricing, intellectual property and authors' rights, its legislation is inseparable from European Union legislation on those matters. Both the European Union and France are currently developing a plan for the new Information Society. Anticipating the European Directive in January 1998 an Interministerial Committee for the Information Society (CISI) was created to devise a governmental program to support and give direction to the development of the Information Society.
The Prime Minister's office is most important in shaping the Information Society. Several organizations dependent on his office coordinate this initiative which develops in consultation with European legislation. In November 2000 the Direction du Développement des Medias replaced an earlier committee charged with defining governmental politics toward the media and the services of the information society in order to assist the Prime Minister with drafting his decrees. The Foreign Affairs Ministry plays an important role as well as the Ministry of Education. While the former sees the development of new technologies of information and communications, or NTIC, as an opportunity to develop French presence abroad and to promote the use of French language, the latter's CLEMI or Centre de Liaison Enseignement et Moyens d'Information educates the public about the media, mostly internet. Once again, the media are seen as inseparable from education and democracy.
Relations of the Press to Political Power
While there is no Information Ministry in France, the relationship between political power and the media is complicated and symbiotic. In postwar France, the intervention of the state in the life of the media was qualified of "chronic illness." For one thing, there is an active revolving door policy. French politicians in the past often used the press as a political trampoline. The practice continued under the Fifth Republic. The National Assembly in 1997 counted some twenty deputies who had been journalists, nine of whom belonged to the Hersant Group which was built with the tacit approval of the authorities. This phenomenon was repeated in towns such as Saint-Etienne, Lyon, Vienne, and Dijon which had elected journalists in their midst. In 1997, the Director of France 3, the national television station, was former prefect Xavier Gouyou-Beauchamps, who was chief of the presidential press service between 1974 and 1976. In Dijon and Marseille, former rightist politicians were heading the regional television stations.
Other signs of this symbiotic relationship were a strong national monopoly at the expense of the freedom of television and radio coverage and regional coverage. This stemmed from General de Gaulle's desire to curb the regional notables' power, however, his policy failed. The only exception was Radio France, which introduced both pluralism and true local news. The 1982 law decentralizing the media further entrenched the power of notables, who now had no need to be accountable to anyone. While regional reporters have some autonomy, local reporters are often chosen by the local officials, especially the mayor's office. Local journalists are very dependent on local power and reluctant to engage in polemics, and thus less critical of the mayoral office in particular.
In 2001 direct subsidies totaled approximately 260 million francs, a 2 percent decrease over 2000 subsidies. The many forms and levels of subsidies form a complicated structure almost incomprehensible to the uninitiated eye, but they can be separated into direct and indirect subsidies. Among the main direct subsidies are subsidies for the national and regional dailies with low publicity revenues, transportation subsidies, subsidies for facsimile transmissions, subsidies for the expansion of the French press abroad, and subsidies for the multimedia. Since the Liberation, the government has subsidized the daily press, whether it is national or regional, departmental or local. In order to qualify a newspaper must limit its publicity revenues to 30 percent of its turnover. These provisions are updated regularly, two major updates taking place in 1986 for the national press, and in 1989 for the regional, departmental, and local press. New revisions in October 2000 benefited L'Humanité which had been penalized. The fund to promote the French press abroad was updated in February 1991 while on November 6, 1998 the fund for the transportation of the press was updated.
Among the indirect subsidies are subsidies for social expenses, professional membership fees, subsidies for postal transportation, preferential VAT treatment, cancellation of the professional and social contribution taxes, and a host of other measures. Those subsidies are voted yearly, with eligibility and other provisions being regularly revised. Thus reduced postal rates were last revised as per a decree of January 17, 1997.
The Finance Law of 1998 not only redirected those subsidies but created a modernization fund for the daily political and general press. In 1998-99, the amount of subsidies increased significantly, as seen in a Multimedia Development Fund offering of up to 305,000 Euros in 1999 to specific projects (or 30 percent of expenses), with a total allocation fund of 2.3 million Euros in 1999. As of 1999, approximately thirty newspapers had availed themselves of the fund, including Le Figaro, FranceSoir, Le Nouvel Observateur, PhosphoreLe Télégramme de Brest, and La Charente Libre. Other media sectors encouraged to go on line and use multimedia supports open to the public included the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel which stored television and radio programs; and radio and television programs, including RFO (Radio France Outremer) and the ensemble of the Radio-France stations broadcast online since 1999.
In the late 1990s, the French government created many subsidies for the new technologies. By a decree of February 5, 1999 the government further amended the provisions of the Ordinance of November 2, 1945 regarding the modernization of the press. Subsidies and loans were granted by an employer-employee Orientation Committee up to 40 percent of the expenses and 50 percent for collective projects, dealing with productivity increase, reduction of production costs, improvement and diversification of the reactionary format through the use of modern technologies (for acquiring, storing, and diffusing information), and reaching new categories of readers. A Control Commission was charged with overseeing the projects' execution. The RIAM (Réseau pour la Recherche et l'Innovation en Audiovisuel et Multimédia), launched in 2001, which coordinates the planning or research, or the Fonds Presse et Multimédia, created by the DDM in 1997 which purports to help increase public access to newspapers, magazines and journals on digital supports in both their on-and off-line formats.
Press distributors receive a graduated fee for their services as per a decree of February 9, 1988. In the late 1990s, given the increase in distribution costs, they were pressured to diminish their fees. The government, however, in 2000 refused to change a provision limiting a decrease of the fees to one percent for dailies and two percent for all other periodicals. In 2001, the fee was increased from 9.5 percent to 19.5 percent depending on the work conditions, in order to encourage the 15,000 of them. Provisions were also made to allow them to limit the bulk sent to them if supplies exceeded sales, and to help them computerize their sales transactions in order to better manage their business. Provisions were also made to continue the low rates of health insurance coverage of press distributors and local correspondents who have enjoyed them since 1993.
The AFP received in 2001 a 100 million FF governmental loan to help diversify its activities, services, and products. Stating that the clients are becoming more diversified, international and professional, and that their products will include photos, infography, and databases, the AFT foresaw a 2001 budget of 1.621 billion FF, with state subscriptions increasing by two percent for a total of 619 million FF. AFP is in full expansion, foreseeing a growth rate of seven percent between 2001 and 2004.
The government also took measures to help recycle old papers, of which the printed press makes a considerable amount, 2.65 million tons produced in 2000. An estimated 40 percent of that amount could be recycled, according to a study conducted in 2001.
Attitude toward Foreign Media
Accreditation Procedures for Foreign Correspondents
Foreign correspondents from countries outside the European Union whose stay in France exceeds three months must obtain residency permits from the French government and complete accreditation procedures with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If they cover presidential press conferences, they must join the presidential press association. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has created a site called CAPE or Centre d'Accueil de la Presse Etrangére to assist foreign journalists with short term missions, inform foreign correspondents and media of all conferences or programs by domestic or foreign personalities, and facilitate meetings of representatives of the foreign media.
There is no screening of cables or censorship of foreign media. Import of periodicals must get approval from the Ministry of Commerce. All major international press organizations are represented in France who voted against restrictions on newsgathering in support of the UNESCO Declaration of 1979. Distribution of foreign propaganda is strictly forbidden.
France is known for its support of human rights and freedoms. It extends this support to foreign journalists in any part of the world. Thus in the 1990s, the French press denounced the loss of freedom of the press in Islamic countries, in particular the Maghreb (Tunisia, in 1997), the expulsion of press correspondents, the closing of opposition newspapers, and noted the ouster in 1996 of the Tunisian Newspaper Directors' Association from WAN.
Foreign Newspapers in France
There are a great number of foreign news publications in France, starting with the press services of foreign countries, of institutions such as the United Nations and the European Community, World Bank, and IMF. There are 45 offices representing German newspapers, radio and television stations, including a Paris representative of financial and economic newspapers such as the Financial Times -German edition, or Tomorrow Business, and a correspondent of RTL-TV-Deutschland. England has 17 foreign correspondents in France. Belgium has 10 correspondents, Spain 22, including a CNN representative, Italy 23, Poland 9, Russia 11, Switzerland 19, China 11, Japan 17, Vietnam 3, and the United States 32. All African countries together have 6 foreign correspondents, mostly from French-speaking countries (Ivory Coast, Gabon, Madagascar, Cameroon, and South Africa), and the main American TV stations such as CNN and CBS are broadcast in France.
France imports significant amounts of foreign newspapers. In 1995, the amount of press imports almost equaled the amount of press exports, in million dollars, 550 against 446. The issue foreign media access may soon be a moot point. Most Internet sites already give access to selected foreign media, while some sites such as Courier International offer a world guide of the online press.
There are 33 international press and media professional organizations in France. Some are completely international, such as the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) while others are a partnership between France and another country (Russia, Japan, Poland). Some represent a region (Asia, Europe, Africa) while others are thematic (education television stations, environment), or regroup media genres (independent and local radio and television stations, audio-visual and telecommunications media), or professional categories (editors-in-chief, journalists). Some are sponsored by France, such as the Centre d'Accueil de la Presse Etrangére sponsored by Radio France, the CRPLF or Communauté des Radios Publiques de Langue Française, or Reporters Sans Frontiéres.
The International Herald Tribune is probably the most distinguished foreign newspaper in France. It is produced in Paris and printed in 24 press centers across the globe, mostly in Europe and Asia, by a total staff of 368, of which 56 are journalists. Since its beginning in 1887 as the New York Herald Tribune, it has engineered a series of journalistic and technological "firsts," none as spectacular as its successful transition from a traditional newspaper to a cross-media brand since 1978. These strategies paid off as IHT increased its circulation by 35% between 1996 and 2001, during which its sold 263,000 copies for a readership of more than 580,000 worldwide. The secret to its success lies in its ability to deliver world news in a concise format (24 pages), its commitment to excellence, and its independence. Owned jointly by the Washington Post and the New York Times since 1991, it was the first newspaper in the world to be transmitted electronically from Paris to Hong Kong in 1980, thus becoming available simultaneously to readers across the globe. It has also set up joint ventures with leading newspapers in Israel, Greece, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Lebanon, and Spain and publishes (in English) local inserts that contain domestic news. Calling itself the world's daily newspaper, it is perceived as the most credible publication by its upscale, mobile, international readership.
Small foreign newspapers are produced in France, such as Ouzhou Ribao, a Chinese language newspaper owned by the Taiwanese press group Lianhebao-United Daily News, which contains general information for Asia about Europe.
Foreign Ownership of Domestic Media
Foreign ownership of domestic media or foreign partnerships in domestic media is a reality within the framework of the European Union. An example of foreign ownership of domestic media is Les Echos, owned by the British group Pearson. Olivier Fleurot, who directed the Les Echos group from 1995 to 1999, was named in 1999 general director of the Financial Times, which he planned to turn into the premier world financial and economic newspaper. The Italian press group Poligrafici Editoriale owns France-Soir. The Sygma photo agency founded in 1973 by Hubert Henrotte was bought in June 1999 by Corbis, which is owned by Bill Gates.
With the internationalization of the media in the Information Society, joint partnerships and transnational groups are bound to increase, thus blurring the distinction between foreign ownership and domestic media. The European Community has already made European television a reality with its European Convention on Transfrontier Television, which France accepted in 2002. The Arte television station is enjoying a great success in its two sponsoring countries, France and Germany, and is fast gaining a European audience. Internet groups are the most transnational thus far.
The Francophone Press and French Media Abroad
The French-speaking press has known a considerable increase in the 1990s, in great part around the Mediterranean rim. French-speaking media are diffused on all continents: in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, Quebec, Haiti, and Louisiana as well as in Lebanon, Algeria, Benin, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, and several other African countries.
RFO (Radio France Outremer) and the ensemble of the Radio-France stations broadcast online since 1999. Radio France International had broadcasts in French, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese every 30 minutes in addition to daily and weekly press reviews in French, English, Spanish, and German. TV5, an international television station, broadcasts on all continents; its online version features useful and local information. The television organization TVFI was charged with promoting French television programs abroad and was charged by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to offer online program offers, a repertory of French production associations, and in general to promote French programs. To further Fran-cophone programs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered a Fonds Sud Télévision to help public and private television stations in "priority solidarity zones" including sub-Saharan Africa in 2002.
All the initiatives taken by CISI have tended to develop online initiatives while putting information and communication technologies at the service of the promotion of the French language. Again, education, culture, and media are inseparable in this perspective. In addition, the educational Réseau Théophraste encourages and finances projects that develop both the media and fran-cophonie.
The Agence France Presse remains one of the main French news agencies. Founded in 1835 by Charles-Louis Havas, it was the first world news agency. In 1852, a publicity branch was created. In 1940, the publicity and information branches separated and the Office Français d'Information was born. In 1944, journalists who had participated in the Resistance rebaptized the agency AFP and gave it a new statute. In 2000 a bill was introduced in the Senate to modify this statute, but it did not pass. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, important changes took place: creation in 1984 of an audio service, creation in 1985 of regional production and diffusion centers in Hong Kong, Nicosia and Washington, and creation of the international photo service, enlargement of the Nicosia regional center in 1987, where the Cairo desk was transferred, launch of an English financial news service, AFX, in 1991.
New technologies were not forgotten. In 1986, AFP started beaming news via satellites, in 1988 it created its computer graphics system, and by 1993 it was completely digitized. It opened its web page in 1995, followed by the first internet newspaper in French in 1996 and a script of televised news to the Bloomberg company. In the late 1990s, more international initiatives followed with the opening of a Spanish language desk in Montevideo in 1997 and the launching of English, Spanish, and Portuguese internet newspapers in 1999. In 2000, it launched an interactive newspaper (text and photos) on a TV frequency, expanding this service to a multimedia newspaper in Chinese with the CNA Agency of Taiwan. In 2001 it launched a video production service for the web and launched an Italian version, RITA. In 2002, its sports pictures were available to Japanese mobile phone users.
It has currently offices in 165 countries, 2000 staff members belonging to 81 nationalities, of whom 1200 are journalists and 200 photographers, while 900 live abroad. In addition AFP has 2000 free-lancers on five continents. Its main offices are organized in five regional zones: North America (Washington, D.C., 9 desks), Latin America (Montevideo, 22 desks), Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong, 25 desks), Europe-Africa (Paris, 36 desks in Europe, 16 desks in Africa), and Middle East (Nicosia, 9 desks). Its subsidiaries include financial, companies, and stock exchange news services, and German language news and sports services.
It sends 2 million words a day in six languages (French, English, Spanish, German, Arabic, and Portuguese) every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and 70,000 photos a year. Its clients include 650 newspapers, 400 radio and television stations, 1,500 administrations and companies, and 100 national press agencies. It touches directly or indirectly 3 billion people and informs 10,000 media.
Threatened by a deficit in 2001, the AFP saw the resignation of its CEO Eric Giuily after the government refused to support its five-year plan of massive and rapid investment in modernizing the agency. The 1957 statute of the agency, which mandates a balanced budget and forbids loans and capital increases, prohibits the AFP from borrowing money if it wants to grow. The 1957 statute has come under scrutiny, trying to balance financial growth with the protection of independence and objectivity. The AFP indeed lost its traditional market in the 1990s when the written press declined; while gaining new clients, especially on the international market, it did not make enough profits to finance such modernization into the digital age. The AFP proposed industrial partnerships in order to gain the capital and technology necessary to produce sound and animated pictures. Despite difficulties, the AFP has moved into the multimedia age beginning in 1997, with a rapid intensification in 1999-2000. It also diversified its services by adding financial news and sport news for its Asian market, and plans future diversification.
Smaller press agencies coexist with AFP. The Agence de Presse Editoriale is located in Marseille and specializes in the South of France. In general there has been a development of the French press in the Mediterranean, including in foreign countries such as Morocco and Lebanon. One of the reasons for this interest lies in that La Cote Bleue is devoted to stock market news. Several specialized agencies were created after 1945: Agra Presse (1949), Agence Presse Service, Société Générale de Presse, Agence Libération founded in 1971 by Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Clavel, Agence Générale d'Informations which in 1980 succeeded to the Agence Aigles which was founded in 1968.The newest one seems to be the Agence Centrale de Presse-Communication, which was founded in 1990.
Photographic agencies include the Agence Générale d'Images, Gamma, Magnum Photo, Sipa Press, Sygma, AFP Photo, all founded after World War II. Keystone— L'Illustration is one of the oldest one, founded in 1923.
Major Journalistic Associations and Organizations
France, with her tradition of lively trade unionism, has several associations that represent the press and the journalists. In all there are 25 press syndicates in France, some more specialized than others, such as the SRGP or Syndicat des Radios Généralistes Privées, the Association des Radios Juives, the FFRC or Fédération Française des Radios Chrétiennes, or the Syndicat de la Presse Judiciaire de Province. Some syndicates such as the FPPR regroup several smaller syndicates. The FNPS is an umbrella organization for seven smaller specialized syndicates.
The most important is the FNPF or Fédération Nationale de la Presse Française, which regroups six press syndicates, the FNPS, or Fédération Nationale de la Presse d'Information Spécialisée, the FPPR, or Fédération de la Presse Périodique Régionale, the SPP or Syndicat de la Presse Parisienne, the SPPMO, or Syndicat Professional de la Presse Magazine et d'Opinion, the SPQD, of Syndicat de la Presse Quotidienne Départementale, and the SPQR, or Syndicat de la Presse Quotidienne Régionale, which represent the press with the largest circulation. The FNPF insures the study of problems related to the profession, the coordination of programs of action devoted to the study of specific problems or the defense of specific interests. It also represents collective interests of the profession in lawsuits and participates in the resolution of individual or collective work conflicts, including conciliation and arbitration. Finally, the FNPF represents the profession to the government, and para-governmental and inter-professional organizations. Examples of such cooperation include the CFC, or Centre Français d'Exploitation du Droit de Copie, the CCIJP which grants the professional journalist card, the Conseil d'Etat which rules on professional matters and governmental services dealing with information and communication technology, the FFAP or Fédération Française des Agences de Presse, and the SNE or Syndicat National de l'Edition. There is an association of press distributors called the UNDP (Union Nationale des Diffuseurs de Presse). The e-press has an association to promote the sale of e-press, Viapresse.
The same diversity is reflected in the journalists' syndicates which number over 40, some with broad missions such as the SNJ or Syndicat National des Journalistes, or the SGDL or Société des Gens de Lettres, while others are specialized either by political, religious, or professional category. The SNJ was created during World War I, in March, 1918 as an independent syndicate wanting to create for journalists a moral role equivalent to that of the Conseil de l'Ordre for lawyers. Its Charter was revised until it was finalized in 1938. Between 1920 and 1935, the SNJ fought for the recognition of the statute of journalists, which resulted in the Guernut-Brachard Law of March, 1935, followed by the creation of the Commission de la carte, the first salary grids, the first labor collective contract in 1937. The strikes of 1947 saw the syndicate fragment into smaller, political factions, while in 1948 the SNJ remained independent. Refusing to take sides during the Cold War, the SNJ remained isolated from the international federations of journalists, yet it continued to play a prominent role within the UNSJ or Union Nationale des Syndicats de Journalistes Français. In 1981 it regrouped ten autonomous organizations from different professional sectors within the "Groupe des dix." Its generalism sets it apart from other syndicates regrouped around the two main labor syndicates, the CGT and CFTC.
The Union Syndicale des Journalistes CFDT, which was created in 1992, gives journalists a common structure. It claims dedication to the proper professional training of journalists. A more recent group is the Association des Journalistes Professionnels des Technologies de l'Information (AJPTI) regrouping internet, multimedia, and computer journalists. Internet services providers and users also have their associations, such as the aptly named Association of Internet Service Providers AFA, the Grouping of on-line service editors (GESTE), created in 1987, and the On-line Trade and Services Associations, created in 1980. Many associations have joined their European counterpart. AFA is a member of EuroISPA, the European Federation of Internet Access and Service Providers.
Another important category of association is those dedicated to the study and information about the media. Some such as Diffusion Contrôle and CESP (Centre d'Etude des Supports de Publicité) keep track of circulation, distribution, and numbers of publication of all "publicity supports." They are often called to arbiter and testify when references are needed or in case of conflict. The Argus de la Presse which numbers over 11,000 clients, and has been in existence for 120 years, specializes in information databases and synthesis, analyzing trends, products, and competition in the written press, the multimedia, the web, and creates databases about journalists. The measurement of multimedia audience has become a flourishing industry. There are 21 such associations, including IFOP, SOFRES and IPSOS, "general opinion analysis" firms which have departments dedicated to the study of the media. The Institut National de l'Audiovisuel or INA, occupies a special place. For over 20 years it has archived French television programs, calling itself "the memory of the future." It has opened research facilities to the public and offers multimedia support such as Vidéoscribe, a system making possible the analysis of programs frame by frame.
Among the professional organizations one must mention the advertisement societies that deal with all aspects of advertisement, from announcer's syndicates to museums to verifying publicity. They are: The Association des Agences Conseils en communication (AACC), the Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité, the Musée de la Publicité, Presspace, Union des Annonceurs, and Syndicat National de la Publicité Télévisée. Also, distributors' organizations abound, from Francepresse to the "Messageries" in both Paris and Lyon, and the Union National des Diffuseurs de Presse (UNDP). The cable and satellite operators have also formed associations. In all there are 13 of them, including the distributors of "satellite bouquets" regrouping several programs, and offering interactive programs. Four of those are cable operators associations, operate mostly for specific localities and public service.
With 375 million people in the 15 European member countries of the EU, and the prospect of six new countries and 60 million more people, understanding European news is paramount. The European Federation of Journalists, a branch of the IFJ created in 1974, is currently working on several issues, of copyright, sources' disclosure, editorial democracy and independence, media convergence, and access to information. All these tend to support journalists' rights, freedom of access to information, and editorial independence, in an effort to promote democracy. The EFJ, also created in 2000 an expert group on collective bargaining to draft a model contract on working conditions. Europ Magazine is the electronic publication of the EFJ, and gives news about Europe, and provides links to all activities and publications of European journalists. EFJ trains world journalists to European affairs and institutions. EFJ also calls for professional regulation, rather than European Community law, of the issue of cyberjournalists' handling of financial information.
Reporters sans Frontiéres supports journalistic freedoms worldwide, informs on the condition of imprisoned journalists, denounces abuses against the press, informs on new law initiatives, and features links to new publications the profession and the news, and supports professional charters. Thus it promoted a Charter on the security of journalists in battle zones or conflict areas. It tracks the fate of French journalists detained, harassed, or imprisoned abroad and publishes a yearly report on the liberty of the press worldwide. In 1992 RSF organized the first International Day of the Freedom of the Press. Held on May 3rd, it has been recognized in 1994 by the United Nations as an official day. RSF also does not believes in restricting freedom of expression on the internet, a libertarian position that it uses to fight censorship worldwide.
In 1997 French people spent only 30 minutes reading the newspaper, against 3 hours 20 minutes watching TV. The French press lost readers during the 1990s mostly to television reruns.
State Policies Relating to Radio and TV News
Until 1982, radio and television stations were under a state monopoly. Radio and television remained under state control with the RTF, or Radio et Télévision Française office, which was reorganized in 1959 and in 1964 became ORTF. In 1965, the popular suffrage election of the president of the republic opened television to presidential candidates for debates. In 1974 ORTF was replaced by seven national societies: four program societies, TF1, Antenne 2, FR3, and Radio France; one production society the SFP (Societé Française de Production) and one technical and distribution society TDF (Télédiffusion de France), with the seventh being the archives and research institute INA. This restructuring caused clashes between syndicates and management in the fall of 1974.
In July 1982, state monopolies of radio and television ended, giving birth to eighteen private radio stations. The Loi Fillioux of 29 July, 1982 guaranteed the independence of the communication media from political power, and placed all television and radio networks with the exception of the Franco-German channel Arte, under the authority of an independent regulatory agency renamed Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) after 1989. In 1989 the Loi Tasca encouraged the development of public television stations.
Current State of Radio and Television Stations
Some 250 French and foreign channels are accessible by cable and satellite. Among those, Eurosport, MCM for music programs, and LCI (La Chaine Info), the first continuous news network which was started in June 1994. It broadcasts a news program every 30 minutes along with debates, interviews, or continuous coverage when needed. Digital TV started in 1996 and reached one million subscribers within two years. A new tendency is to regroup several networks into a "bouquet" of programs. Canal Satellite, owned by Canal Plus, offers 750,000 viewers a 9-network deal, starting in 1998. Other such networks include TPS (created around TF1, France Télé-vision M6 and the CLT), AB Sat, and others that offer pay-per-view programs.
There are 16 national radio stations, 2 national radio stations aimed at international broadcasts, 25 local radio stations, and five car/traffic/circulation radio stations. In addition, there are 18 theme radios, mostly with ethnic, religious or cultural specializations. Nine television and radio stations also broadcast on the internet.
Radio France in April-June, 2002 controlled 27.6 percent of the market with 505 thousand program hours, including 250 thousand hours of original programs and 250 thousand hours of network broadcasting, with only 5 thousand hours of rebroadcast. It employed 4,020 personnel of whom 595 were journalists and 1,500 pigistes. It featured 7 stations: France Inter, France Info, France Culture, France Musiques, France BLEU, Le Mouv' and FIP and had a budget of 486 million Euros. Radio France broadcast 24 hours a day every day, and had 139 studios, 61 in the ORTF location in Paris, 73 in local radio stations, and 5 at FIP. In addition to these activities, Radio France was devoted to help orchestras and choirs such as the Orchestre National de France, l'Orchestre Philharmonique, and the Maitrise de Radio France.
This growth was achieved mostly between 1982 and 1992. By 1992, there were more than 30 television channels. The public stations remain favorites for the 8 p.m. news broadcasts on TF1 and France 2, which have been called "national rendez-vous." A certain number of specialized channels offer pay-per-view programs in sports, music, concerts, or film. There are approximately 20 cable channels and seven Hertz-diffused channels. Four of these are public stations financed by a tax of $122 FF in 1998, by state subsidies, and by publicity (France 2, France 3, Arte, and La Cinquiéme). Three stations are private. TF1 and M6 are financed by private stockholders and publicity; Canal Plus is a pay-per-view channel that has advertisement revenues. In 1992, France 2 and France 3 were grouped as France Télévision, in order to insure their coherence and ability to compliment each other. France 2 has more of a national, general profile. It informs, entertains, and educates, and has 25 percent of the market. France 3 has a national and regional vocation, broadcasting regional and local news several times a day. France 3 has close to 20 percent of the market.
Arte was created following the Franco-German Treaty of 1990. It broadcasts cultural programs, debates, and reporting between 7 pm and 3 am. The Belgian Radio-Télévision has joined it, and it has a public of 27 million regular viewers in Europe. La Cinquiéme was created in December 1994. It is the first educational channel devoted to knowledge, formation, and employment. It shares its channel with Arts and broadcasts between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
TF1 was privatized in 1987 and enjoys 35 percent of the market. Its reputation, history and expertise, combined with its long-standing monopoly, its popular tone, made it the first French television station. It broadcasts games, sport, varieties, and popular films. It controls 55 percent of the television publicity receipts and is controlled by the BTP Bouygues group, in association with Bolloré. M6, owned jointly by the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de télédiffusion and the Lyonnaise des Eaux-Dumez, broadcasts fiction and music. Half of its public are less than 35 years of age.
Created in 1984, the pay-per-view Canal Plus is the oldest of the private chains. It is pay-per-view with an encryption. It has been the biggest success of the television industry with a budget of $2.25 billion FF in 1997 and a tendency to export its formula to Spain, Belgium, and Poland. It banks on films and sport, and a famous series "Les guignols de l'info," a parody of sports, political, and artistic leaders by puppets. Canal Plus is controlled today by Vivendi which uses it for the audio-visual activities, Havas for its editing, multimedia and publicity activities, and Cegetel for the telecommunication industries. In general, French television stations are very supportive of the movie industry by pre-buying and co-producing movies. In 1996, Canal Plus pre-bought $100.6 million FF worth of films and co-produced 22 movies. TF1 and France 2 did the same.
Reform of the Audiovisual System
The Loi Traut-mann was passed in 2000 by the National Assembly. In the works for 2 years, this law aimed at strengthening the pluralism of cultural and social identities, public service, and the INA. It opposed privatization, increased subsidies, and curbed publicity on television, which had increased from 2 minutes a day in 1968 to12 minutes per hour in 1998. By creating a group of public television and radio stations with independent regulatory mechanisms, the government recognized the need to maximize their industrial potential. The law contained guarantees of pluralism of creation as well and reinforced the role of CSA against a greater concentration of multinational communication groups. Existing television stations were given two years to adopt a digital production system. The new public television holding France Télévision (France 2, France 3, La Cinquiéme), got 9 channels. Each private TV station got 5 channels. New groups, such as Pathé and Lagardére, were created, as well as associative non-profit televisions. By the time that the law is fully implemented, there should be in all approximately 50 channels, 10 for France Television, 15 for TF1 Canal+ and M6, and ten for the new televisions.
Electronic News Media
Development of Internet
France, which had seemed frozen in the monopolistic digital technology known as Minitel, quickly overcame a technology gap at the end of the 1990s. In December 2001, 30 percent of French households were connected to the internet, below the 38 percent European average, yet showing a 3-4 percent monthly growth since March, 2001, i.e. the fastest growth rate in Europe. In April, 2001, 32 percent of Frenchmen declared logging on regularly, i.e. close to 16 million internet users. Of those, 40 percent access it at work, and 14 percent enjoy a fast connection. 44 percent log on every day, 38 percent two or three times a week, and 17 percent once a week. The search engines accounted in March, 2002 for 27.5 percent of all internet hits, with Google garnering over 45 percent of the search engine hits. 25 percent of French people reported using the Internet regularly in April, 2002. Approximately one third of internet users age 11 and older use the internet to download files.
Among the important issues are the relationships between e-version and print departments. As of 2002 the former were separate but not autonomous from the latter, although web newspapers editors are already thinking about gaining their autonomy. Radio and television had a difficult time finding the right medium and format, thus they were slower to adopt the Internet.
The nature of e-media's support and content leads each medium to attempt to be all media, such as Web-TV, and each medium wants to say it all, leading to the repetition of content among the mediums. Furthermore, this desire has also provoked radical changes in the appearance of online newspapers and TV screens which now begin to resemble each other with "boxes" and scrolled news briefs at the bottom. By updating information regularly, both television and e-newspapers are in danger of losing depth of coverage and analysis.
Newspapers that exist strictly online are growing. A number of sites such as AdmiNet offer electronic press clippings and feature sophisticated search engines. The oldest online newspaper is perhaps Fil Info which was created in 1982 as an independent information newspaper. ActualInfo, ZDNet FranceLe Journal du Net, or Virtual Baguette, are e-newspapers too. Other sites, which are halfway news services and halfway encyclopedias, are organized thematically, such as the Encyclopédie Quid. Having forged partnerships with AFP, foreign internet access providers and publishers, it has developed local branches. It offers a membership package, feature articles from AFP with links to related topics, and a series of news arranged topically. "Last minute" developments, polls, a guide of web news sites, and an almanac-type link complete this newspaper of the twenty-first century, conceived to entertain readers who spend less and less time reading the news. Actu-media offers news about the media and society, sports and the arts. Imaginet, created in 1995, merged in 1998 with the pan-European access group COLT-Telecom which is devoted to business. L'Argus de la Presse is a paid service sending French and foreign press, radio, television, and web excerpts to clients, as well as serving as a database about journalists and information. Finally, a guide to the best sites of the online press, Presse On Line, features a search engine of 819 newspapers and over 3,000 links to the French-language press worldwide. It is organized topically, from general to local and regional newspapers, sciences, sport, ads, education, leisure, and more. La Presse Locale sur Internet, PresseRadioTv.com , and AnnuaireFraggo!.com are search engines to various online newspaper, radio, and television stations. AnnuaireFraggo.com gives links to 2,480 sites and 173 web categories. Some of those sites publish in several languages, while others give a repertory of all French-language resources. All have an international dimension, in particular Courrier International which features a link to Kiosque en Ligne, a world guide of online press.
With the new interactive possibilities offered by Internet, studies about the role of publicity, the type of audience, and statistics of all kinds have become essential to the survival of the electronic news media. Sites devoted to those studies have increased exponentially. Another fast developing trend is the personalized site, made possible by the ability of online publishers to track the tastes and occupations of their audience. Of course, all online newspapers are interactive and offer chat rooms, which gives them feedback about their product and the readers' tastes. Many invite readers to submit articles for publication. Many newspapers are hiring a mediator or ethics and professional watchdog who also arbitrates in case of a disagreement between readers and editors.
Online competition comes not only from France but from French-speaking countries as well. The Swiss magazine Webdo was launched in September 1995, from the weekly L'Hebdo. It quickly developed into an interactive, original site that borrowed little from the printed version. Now among the top five percent of the world internet sites and the recipient of several prizes, it is recognized as one of the best francophone e-media sites.
Radio and TV Online
The main radio and television stations now have online sites. Radio Télévision Française RFO (Radio France Outremer) and the ensemble of the Radio-France stations broadcast online since 1999. France Télévision regroups 8 public channels' internet sites, while Arte, La Cinquiéme, France 2 and France 3 all have online editions. Other television channels include Canal J, M6, and LCI. Online radios include BFM, Fun Radio, NRJ, RTL, Europe 1, Europe 2.
Education & TRAINING
The professional training of journalists is improving, but today still more than two thirds of all journalists have no professional degrees. In 1998, the proportion of journalists having completed formal professional schooling at a school of journalism remained at a low 22.9 percent, with roughly one third of them from non-accredited schools. Another 25 percent of journalists declared having had one or more short-term training experience in either journalism or information-communication, which deals more with the technical training aspects, half of them in settings specialized in journalistic teaching.
Of the journalists having received a formal education, in 1998 one-third received training at university schools of journalism, while 18.3 percent had a diploma in literature or foreign languages, 16.1 percent in the humanities and social sciences, 14.1 percent in law and political science, 10.4 percent in economics and business, and 13.2 percent in science, technology, or health science.
Women journalists have more years of formal training than men, averaging over 3 years of post-secondary studies consistently throughout the 1990s vs. between 2 and 2.5 years of post-secondary studies for men, reflecting a general trend in France.
An incentive for students to complete professional training is a recent provision in the national labor contract, which reduces the number of years of apprenticeship for journalism graduates to one year. Another result of this increased competition is an increase the quality of the news, together with a decrease in job security.
Review of Education in Journalism: Degrees Granted
Most schools and programs of journalism are post World War II creations, except for the École Supérieure de Journalisme de Lille, a private institution attached to the Catholic University of Lille, which was created in 1924 as the first European school of its kind. In 1945, the Agence France Presse acting as a national journalism school for young journalists and the 1946 Centre de Formation des Journalistes remained the main training organizations until student demand for the democratization of education in the 1960s led to the creation of several programs, especially in the IUTs or Instituts Universitaires de Technologie. Most programs offer a 1-3 year program depending on specialization, and admission to some is granted upon successful completion of an entrance examination, such as for the CFPJ. The IUTs offer a two-year program, which is reduced to one year if the student has other university diplomas, and programs of study can also be completed as continuing education. Several schools are accredited by a commission paritaire composed of an equal number of representatives of employers and employees. Journalism professors are often trained journalists taking a leave from their professional obligations.
Schools of journalism are constantly redefining their curriculum, keeping up with the changing nature of the profession. The Institut Pratique de Journalisme, for example, which opened in 1978, created a department of permanent continuous training in 1981. It was recognized by the collective labor convention of journalists in 1991, joined the European Association of Journalistic Training, and became accredited in 1993. Furthermore, it has developed international educational partnerships with the Théophraste network of Francophone centers of journalistic training in 1997, and a legal education partnership with the IEP of Rennes' law and management program in 1999. Its graduates are employed by the press, radio, television, press agencies, online services, and in businesses. Most recently, with the adoption of the 35-hour work week, and budgetary crunches, it became more difficult for journalists to take time off for seminars, and IPJ started to program the dates and content of its seminars after consultation with press managers, rather than to making its schedules flexible.
The major journalism schools are the Centre de Formation des Journalistes (Paris); École de Journalisme de Toulouse; École Supérieure de Journalisme (Paris); École Supérieure de Journalisme de Lille; Institut Pratique de Journalisme (Paris); Nouvelles-L'École du Journalisme (Nice); Sciences Po-Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris; Institut Français de Presse (Paris); Centre de Liaison de l'Enseignement et des Moyens d'Information; Centre de Formation et de Perfectionnement des Journalistes; and Mediafor.
Several universities have schools of journalism (CELSA -Paris IV, Centre Universitaire d'Enseignement du Journalisme -Strasbourg III, Université de la Méditerranée U-II in Marseille, Paris II -Panthéon Assas, IUT of Tours and Bordeaux). In general, practical training and experience are seen as a necessary ingredient of formal training. CELSA, for example, offers continuous learning seminars along with its regular programs. To enroll in a MA program, the prospective student must have a BA, 26 years of age minimum, and 3 years professional experience. To enroll in a doctoral program, the prospective candidate must have a MA, 26 years of age minimum, and three years professional experience. The programs at CELSA range from communication to media and multimedia technology, marketing, human resources management, and institutional communication.
France, its syndicates, and the European Union recognize that continuous learning is an important part of a journalist's training. INA or Institut National de l'Audiovisuel organizes seminars on top of its regular instruction. The Centre de Formation et de Perfectionnement des Journalistes or CFPJ, labeling itself the premier center for training and perfecting journalists and press managers, holds summer workshops in addition to its regular programs, to which it admits approximately 100 students a year. Several professional associations labeled that organize summer university programs, festivals, and congresses and conferences. These sort of open forums promote discussion and exchange of ideas in a format favored by French tradition. It is important to note also that all continuous learning seminars stress professional issues and ethics as an integral part of journalistic training, and that they emphasize the theory (or philosophy) of the profession as well as its technical aspects.
Online journalists receive a formation that is part technology, part journalism. Not only French schools of journalism, but the European Community and the International Federation of Journalists have taken initiatives to address both aspects of the training. In 1992, IFJ, European Broadcasting Union, and WAN started the Medium Term Training Program aimed at training media professionals (journalists, editors, managers of press and radio-television enterprises). For the past ten years, seminars and workshops have discussed issues such as access to information, the defense of journalists' freedoms, libel, defamation, the right of respect for privacy, as well as the functioning of the media. IFJ submitted in May, 2002 a Digit Press Net Expertise to the European Commission to create a virtual campus for journalists in the framework of the Leonardo da Vinci program. All those programs are meant to increase access and pluralism in the information society.
Journalistic Awards and Prizes
The Société Civile des Auteurs Multimédia or SCAM awards an impressive number of prizes for all media: photography, television and radio programs, new technologies, institutional or enterprises' work, and literary prizes. Of the journalistic prizes, the most prestigious is the Prix Albert Londres. Created in 1933 by the prematurely deceased journalist's daughter, the prize rewards the best press reporter. A second prize was created in 1985 for best audio-visual reporter.
Reflecting the internationalization of the media are two relatively recent prizes. The Prix Franco-Allemand du Journalisme rewards the best production in three categories (television, radio, written press) dealing with a topic that favors rapprochement and understanding between the two countries. Similarly, the Prix Robert Guil-lain awarded by the France-Japan Press Association, the Japanese Embassy in France, and other associations and businesses, rewards the best article or reporting by young journalists or journalism students about Japan. Created in 1996 and named after a long-time distinguished reporter to Japan, Robert Guillain, it carries a travel award to Japan as well as a monetary reward of 1,530 Euros. Its first recipient was Les Echos editor-in-chief Charles de Laubier.
Festivals also award prizes, such as the Festival International du Scoop et du Journalisme d'Angers. Others are awarded by businesses or foundations, such as Prix Crédit Lyonnais, Prix de la Fondation Mumm, Prix Georges Bendrihem. Schools of journalism also award prizes to their students, such as the Jeune Reporter Prize awarded by the INA.
Other prizes stressing an international aspect of the profession are the Prix Raymond-Charette which is awarded by the Conseil de la Langue Française to a press journalist for his/her best contribution to the French language in Quebec, while the RFI/RSF competition called "Premio RFI-Reporteros sin Fronteras" rewards the best journalistic talent in a Spanish-speaking country in order to promote their talent internationally. RSF organized in 1992 the "Reporters Sans Frontiéres—Fondation de France" prize rewarding a journalist who best defended freedom of information. The prize carries a monetary reward of 7,600 Euros and has been awarded every year to a foreign journalist.
During the last twenty years, the French press was challenged in many ways, first through the generally depressed economic climate, then, in the 1990s, by the information revolution. A pioneer of digital communication in the 1980s with Minitel, France saw the privileged position occupied by the printed press evaporate as it struggled to make room for the new technologies. In this fast changing situation, few established national newspapers retained a position of privilege, some surviving only at the cost of major restructuring. Journalists struggled with an increasingly competitive market and a redefinition of their competencies, roles, and status. Uniformity threatened news content. Technology threatened to take over. Major ethical questions about the quality of the press and its role as guardian of democracy and pluralism emerged amidst political and financial scandals which prompted an ongoing and public philosophical debate about professional conduct and the defense of democracy, pluralism, and freedom of the press. Also, a major challenge to the French regulatory and subsidy model arose with European legislation. Despite those challenges the profession of journalist remained in constant expansion.
- 1996: WAN Treaty on Copyright
- 1997: Creation of internet users' group IRIS (Imaginons un Réseau Internet Solidaire). Le Monde signs an agreement with journalists' unions about copyright. New tax dispositions grant the press bulk mailing rates. Revision of 1996 decree granting subsidies to several publications with low publicity and ad revenues. European Union begins to study dispositions of the Information Society. Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council regulating the creation of a single internal postal market for the EU.
- 1998: Creation of the first statistics about the media. Lowering of telecommunications rates in Europe. Finance Law creates a modernization fund for the daily political and general press. Prime Minister creates CISI (Comité d'Information sur la Société d'Information). Incorporation into French law of European Parliament 1996 Directive regarding the legal protection of databases. Decree modifying the 1986 decree granting subsidies to national daily newspapers with low publicity and advertisement revenues. Decree granting subsidies for fax transmission of daily newspapers. Decree granting subsidies for transportation of the press.
- 1999: Prisma Presse buys National Geographic
- 2000: Loi Trautmann reforming the audiovisual sector. Law strengthening the protection of presumption of innocence and victims' rights. Decree relative to the direction of the development of the media in the information society.
- 2001: France signs the International Convention on Cybercriminality. Granting of a subsidy of 100 million francs to AFP. Creation of bouquets de programmes on television. RFO and Radio France begin online broadcasts. Directive 2001/29/CE of the European Parliament and Council on harmonization of copyrights and related rights in the information society. Creation of lobby Enfance et Média (CIEM) to curb pornography and violence on television.
- 2002: Free distribution of the newspaper Métro in Paris. The journalists' union USJ-CFDT, following the CFDT lead, asks for the 32-hour week
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|Official Country Name:||French Republic|
|Language(s):||French, Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish|
|Number of Primary Schools:||41,000|
|Compulsory Schooling:||10 years|
|Public Expenditure on Education:||6.0%|
|Foreign Students in National Universities:||138,191|
|Educational Enrollment:||Primary: 4,004,704|
|Educational Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 105%|
|Student-Teacher Ratio:||Primary: 19:1|
|Female Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 104%|
History & Background
The great cathedral schools of the eleventh century in Paris, Chartres, Laon, Orléans, and Tours first saw the light of day in France; over the twelfth century these schools would transform themselves into the prototype of the modern university. Universitas was the term used then to designate guilds (like that of butchers, vintners, and other trades) and came also to mean groupings of masters. From the eleventh through the fifteenth centuries, the Paris schools attracted teachers and students from all over Roman Catholic Europe.
Around 1050 the cathedral schools came into their own with a curriculum that focused on the language-based trivium (the liberal arts), identified as grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic (logic). Young pupils were taught to read, write, and speak in Latin, as well as selections from a corpus of pagan and Christian writers. They were shown how to imitate these models in order that they too might become models for posterity.
From today's standpoint, twelfth-century education in the cathedral schools and monasteries was as anarchic as it was exuberant and, all in all, foundational. The proliferation of schools and masters soon rendered it practically impossible for many local bishops to fully control and organize in a systematic way the schools and teachers present within their jurisdictions. The awarding of degrees, the career choices, and the life of most students were all rather chaotic. For the most part, students were destitute and obliged to find ways to keep alive. Their ways of doing so were often illegal.
As the century wore on a new system was introduced: a pupil who had completed his secondary education in the trivium was awarded the diploma of bachelor by the director of studies of his school; his qualification was based on his successfully passing an examination, usually oral in nature. The tripartite trivium led to advanced work in the four part quadrivium, the then called mathematical sciences composed of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and harmony (music).
The student who mastered this curriculum and who successfully participated in exercises known as disputations, was judged worthy of being awarded a license to teach (licencia docendi ). He became a "master of arts" and could be admitted to the ranks of those who lectured, wrote, and formed younger students within what would become in the thirteenth century the Faculty of Arts.
By no means did all successful students go on to ecclesiastical careers. A significant number of school trained clerics served noble lay patrons, often as part of the royal or other noble bureaucracy that was burgeoning in French-speaking territories throughout the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Diplomacy, civil and legal administration, finances, and record-keeping, as well as written entertainment, all required well-schooled personnel.
If the eleventh and twelfth centuries sowed the seeds, they came to fruition principally in the thirteenth century with the founding of the university. In Medieval Latin universitas meant merely a corporation, usually of tradesmen, who exercised the same profession (shoemakers, barbers, etc.) or more or less what is understood today as a "guild." By definition and custom, the new university was international (its masters and students hailed from all over Christian Europe) and its purposes were to place human reason and intelligence at the service of the faith.
Since the ultimate ambition of Paris was to prepare for, undertake, and develop studies in theology, other more specialized university institutions were founded elsewhere in France. This was not done though in response to a centralized plan. A former center of literary study, Orléans, was chosen for the study of law; Montpellier dedicated itself to the study of medicine; and, as a result of the combat against the Cathar heresy, the University of Toulouse was founded as a kind of copy of Paris. Each of these institutions was granted a charter directly by the Pope.
For all intents and purposes, university governance was vested in its faculty (or faculties). In Paris, by mid-century, the chancellor had been forced to give up his former power. Power was transferred to a rector who, at the start, was merely the head of the Faculty of Arts and was elected as such by the professors of that faculty. He was aided by elected representatives (procurators) of each of the Four Nations into which students and masters were classified. Deans, or heads of the other faculties, were also directly elected by the masters. Considerable power was also enjoyed by a General Assembly of the faculties in which votes were taken not on an individual basis, but according to the seven "orders" constituting it. The interests of minorities were thus defended against the superior numbers of the more populous orders. Thus, the freedoms of individual teachers and groups of teachers were protected from outside interference as well as interference from the inside. Neither the bishop nor the king could force policies on the university as a whole or on parts of it; groups within the university could not force their views on other groups.
In this pragmatic manner a set of governing principles emerged that, by and large, still constitute the foundations of the institution known throughout the world as the university. International in scope from its very beginnings, the university was very much France's gift to education.
The day to day life of masters and students was hardly idyllic, at least not materially. Generally speaking, masters received no salary; they subsisted on what they could charge for administering examinations, although at times students gave them what they could. Only late in the century were there buildings designed for lecturing and giving examinations to students; before then masters rented out cheap halls that were usually miserably equipped. Costs for students varied greatly. The baccalaureate cost but a few pounds (under 100 gold francs or 20 gold dollars in pre-1913 money), while a doctorate in theology cost around 4,000 gold francs. Payment for taking examinations was calculated as follows: the basic living costs of a student (minus his rent and domestic servant) for one week were determined, and according to varying circumstances, the examination cost charged to him was several times the sum reached. Students varied in age from post-puberty to much older. The minimum age for taking the baccalaureate examinations in arts was 14, whereas 35 appears to have been the minimum age for a master of theology (who was required to spend some dozen years in specialized readings and courses). After receiving the licentiate in theology, the candidate was further required to sustain two lengthy argumentations before the entire faculty to which, along with all the bachelors of theology, all were invited to participate. It was only then that he could be officially received as a master.
The thirteenth century also saw the founding of many colleges within the university. A large number of these came into being through the initiative of individuals, often members of the royal family, churchmen, and provincial nobles desirous of establishing locales for study on behalf of students from their part of the kingdom. At the beginning, these colleges were essentially student residences; however, over time, masters were appointed to them.
The overwhelming majority of primary schools were run by the local parish priest who, in addition to the catechism, taught the bare rudiments of reading and writing. By no means were such schools freely open to all boys, let alone girls. Usually enrollments were open only to the sons of wealthy burghers and tradesmen and, from time to time, to especially gifted and motivated candidates for priesthood.
The peasant class in France remained largely illiterate until well into the nineteenth century. At times, a local convent or monastery sponsored a school; these were usually better equipped for serious primary/secondary learning than that of the poor parish priest. Girls were sometimes taught, though rarely, at nunneries, especially if they were of the aristocracy and/or seen as possibly having a religious vocation. Until the Revolution of 1789 the kings of France regularly sent their daughters to be educated at the feminine Abbey of Fontevrault in the Loire valley. It is consequently impossible to generalize about the state of primary education in medieval France; much depended on the circumstances of location and the conditions at given times. Thus, in 1324, the cathedral chapter at Chartres required every parish priest to maintain a school, but elsewhere, in poorer areas, such was not the case. During the bad times of the Black Death and Hundred Years War, primary education surely suffered as much as the universities did.
The disasters befalling France during the years 1340-1450 were reflected by a general decline of excellence in university education. The English and Burgundian wars of the period embroiled everyone, including the universities, in conflicts of interest and political turmoil. The university lost its marked international character as its leaders sought protection and support from new secular masters.
Indeed, the very organization of schools that came to be during the sixteenth century remains substantially the same as the kind of organization that still prevails in 2001: one building, housing pupils of different ages and consequently at different stages of preparation; the required breakdown of pupils into class years; six years of primary classes followed by another four to six years of more advanced preparation; and the whole leading to the pupil's earning a bachelor's diploma (more or less the equivalent of the modern French baccalauréat ). Much pedagogical experimentation took place in these Renaissance schools, such as the elaboration of a direct method designed to teach the young pupils to speak Latin fluently. These innovations did not invariably meet with the unqualified approval of the traditional institutions of learning, particularly the Sorbonne and its Faculty of Theology, which remained faithful to "tried and true" disputation and dialectic. Consequently, the new breed of Humanists sought to create a brand new institution of higher learning, a kind of anti-Sorbonne that would be partial to their interests.
The Collège Royal was the first effort in France at putting into effect a truly "public," State-recognized educational institution. Administratively, the Collège Royal was highly innovative. No degree was required in order to lecture there. A generally recognized distinction was the sole criterion of a professor's suitability for election to one of its chairs. Nor were students selected on the basis of any prior preparation. Anyone could attend lectures there. No examinations were given, nor were diplomas awarded. Attendance required no payment of tuition since the college's professors received (theoretically at least) a salary paid from the State treasury. Academic freedom characterized the teaching that went on there. A professor could, and did, lecture on the Psalms without possessing a degree from the Sorbonne and with no Faculty of Theology oversight or control. This state of affairs infuriated the men of the Sorbonne who sought to close the college, but the king himself intervened and their suit was dismissed.
Little by little new disciplines and professors were added to the curriculum and the staff, such as mathematics, botany, astronomy, and Latin poetry. One professor, the influential Ramus, wrote a treatise demanding the systematic revision of the entire French system of education. Among the recommendations he made in his Avertissement was for a clearer distinction to be made between secondary and higher education (not achieved until the nineteenth century): secondary collèges would focus on grammar, rhetoric, and logic, while higher education would offer a more encyclopedic range of studies (including French grammar and literature). All education would be free and be paid for by the State. Indeed, the sixteenth century witnessed the rise of lay education. Schools founded and run by non-Churchmen proliferated as of this time. Many were paid for by local municipalities, as in the modern United States.
Generally speaking, however, despite individual successes here and there, the old universities underwent during the seventeenth century a process of decline whereas, especially during the second half of the century, the educational institutions founded and maintained by the Jesuit Order grew by leaps and bounds in size and influence. Their Paris college, the Collège de Clermont, became the Collège Royal in 1682 when it received the honor of being called Louis le Grand. The practicality of the Jesuits appealed to the bourgeoisie of the time who, as a class, were steadily gaining in wealth and power, just as the power of the potentially rebellious nobility was, as a matter of royal policy, declining. In many respects the Jesuits offered a kind of finishing school for the sons of the wealthy and socially conservative bourgeoisie. Teachings consisted of proper manners, geography and history, morality and religious formation, and proper and correct speech—in short, whatever it took to open up the world of affairs and officialdom to their clients. The education they offered, with its emphasis on good speaking and rhetoric, constituted an especially effective preparation for the Bar. What now is called the haute bourgeoisie in France is largely a seventeenth-century Jesuit creation.
Primary education was in far worse a situation. It remained totally under the control of the Church, local diocesan bishops, and parish priests. For the most part, teachers were miserably paid, especially in rural areas. They often doubled as assistants to the priest. Conditions varied a great deal from place to place. Reading and writing were taught, as was religion, but arithmetic was not always pursued. In some places an enterprising teacher would initiate his pupils in beginning Latin, but this was rare.
As the time of the great Revolution drew nearer, one notes a steady growth in the number of primary schools throughout the country: by 1776 the Haute-Marne region counted 473 schools in its 550 towns and villages; in 1750 the city of La Rochelle had about the same number of primary school pupils as it would in 1873. Yet, the diocese of Rieux counted a mere 41 schools for boys and 10 for girls out of 139 parishes. Illiteracy remained high. Though not entirely amenable to reliable interpretation, statistical studies have noted that on marriage acts about 47 percent of the men could sign their name while only 27 percent of the women could do so.
The consequences for public schooling in France were dreadful during the time separating 1914-1918 from 1939-1945, as can be imagined. Since the typical French infantry platoon was composed of about 40 men, mostly peasants, and a couple of non-commissioned officers, all led by a reservist second lieutenant who very frequently was a village or town school teacher (instituteur ), the country's younger male teachers were almost wiped out as a class. Casualties among infantry lieutenants are generally the highest suffered by any Army rank.
The Revolution and the Napoleonic period that followed brought about massive change in the theory and practice of education. Despite some discontent with the inadequacies of public primary and secondary education, systematic reform of the ancien régime procedures was not at first a high Revolutionary priority. Increased funding was needed so that education might be offered to both rich and poor; the creation of a new centralized governmental agency was seen by some as needed to remedy inequities in educational opportunity throughout the nation. The old system remained in place until 1793. But with the passage of a bill in 1789 confiscating the property of ecclesiastic establishments and providing for their sale, decline set in due to lack of financial resources. Secondary education institutions had about 72,000 pupils in the country as a whole (with a population of approximately 20 million). The parish priest's approbation also remained necessary to the founding of a primary school.
At the end of the Second Empire, the university was in a lamentable state: the law and medicine faculties were bogged down in a repetitive kind of professional training, and arts and sciences had degenerated into a purely rhetorical lecture system. The Third Republic undertook important reforms. The university budget went from FF5,800,000 ($1.1 million gold dollars) to FF16,350,000, making a vast building program possible. The administrative structure was redesigned in such a way as to accord each faculty, led by a dean selected by the Education Minister upon proposal of its faculty, a substantial degree of faculty-controlled autonomy. The government, meanwhile, was represented by a rector nominated by the Ministry. Scholarship funding was provided, as were laboratory facilities for scientists and medical faculties. Student enrollments went from 9,000 in 1870, to 24,000 in 1892, to 41,000 in 1913. The basic post-baccalauréat degree remained in letters and sciences, the licentiate (licence ), followed by the diplôme d'études supérieures (a kind of M.A. research degree requiring the writing of a thesis-like mémoir) and the thesis-based doctorate (the doctorat d'université and/or, in conjunction with the State competitive examination named the aggregation, the very prestigious doctorat d'Éta necessary for a university full professorship). This basic structure prevailed until well after 1945 and, indeed, remains the reference point for the many adjustments and reforms initiated subsequently to that date up to the present time.
It must be said, however, that quite unlike the situation prevailing in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, the French university system, like its primary and secondary schooling (and grandes écoles ), inherited the virtues and defects of Paris-focused centralization. Unlike the U.S. Department of Education, the Ministry of National Education exercised, and still exercises, virtual day to day control over teacher and faculty appointments, budgetary allocations, and other areas of policy. The minister himself is a political appointee, but aiding him is a tenured bureaucracy of civil servants (fonctionnaires ) whose role in implementing policy is very powerful. Tout passe par Paris (Everything has to go through Paris) is no idle saying. Until the 1960s the monolithic and huge University of Paris enjoyed a prestige matched in no respect by any other institution. Many faculty members in provincial universities continued, and continue, to reside in Paris. Most of the grandest grandes écoles are located in the Paris area. The immensely rich Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the nation's incomparable research library has traditionally drawn to its collections the major part of the country's bibliographic resources.
In imitation of what its leaders believed the Revolution of 1789 had stood for, the Third Republic, almost immediately after its establishment, attempted to design and implement a unified and nation-wide educational system including all levels and types of school—the primary, the secondary, and the higher (both university and grande école ). The system would be essentially free of tuition costs, open to all pupils, and students would be judged exclusively on merit.
In reality, the Republic built on what the July Monarchy law of 1833 had come to pass, especially on the primary level. In 1872 there existed some 50,000 community primary schools in France of which somewhat less than a third were Church-run (12,000 for girls and 3,000 for boys). Over 4 million pupils were enrolled in these schools (out of a primary school population of some 5 million). However, the country's illiteracy rate stood at about 20 percent. There existed some 70 écoles normales ("normal schools") for the training of male teachers, but only 12 for females. Work conditions for female primary teachers were miserable. Their annual salary averaged as little as 340 to 400 gold francs ($70 to $80 per year). It was up to the State to correct these imbalances. As of 1879 a law required each département to fund and equip decently an école normale. Only two years later, all tuition fees were abolished by law, and, in 1882, primary school attendance become obligatory. Moreover, each school teacher, whether public or religious, was required to hold the Brevet de capacité (a government-approved teaching certificate). Finally, in 1886, yet another law was passed providing for the obligatory replacement of religious teaching personnel in the school by state-certified laymen and women.
By law in 1886 the principal task of the nonecclesiastical primary school teacher (instituteur/institutrice ) was to inculcate Republican morale in his or her pupils by stressing the latters' duty toward the family, the school itself, the patrie, the personal dignity of persons, charitable one's fellow man and community, and animals. In addition, the six-year core curriculum also focused on reading and writing, elements of mathematics (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, fractions and abstract reasoning), French history and geography, and drawing and music. The pedagogical methods used involved much pupil-teacher interaction and classroom discussion. Each class in all the schools was visited periodically by an official known as the Inspecteur de l'académie who made sure that the instructional programs centrally drawn up by the national ministry were properly carried out. Schools were democratic in the sense that pupils came from all social classes and represented all economic levels.
The general excellence of these public schools produced striking results. From 1885 to 1912 public primary instruction gained some 400,000 boys and 800,000 girls, while their confessional competitors lost about 1 million pupils. To these figures should be added the population of "maternal schools" (écoles maternelles ), which were a kind of national preschooling scheme, and those who attended adult schools. By 1910 the French illiteracy rate had dropped to 4.2 percent.
Secondary education programs led to the national and standardized baccalaureate examinations, which, if successfully passed by the collégien or lycéen, gave him access to further study either at one of the universities or one of the many other higher educational facilities available. (A highly competitive entrance examination was generally required in addition to the baccalauréat for acceptance into one of the prestigious grandes écoles.) In short, the colleges and lycées of France were designed to identify what was socially regarded as the nation's pool of intellectually elite young men. This was seen by many critics as socially unjust, all the more so in that practically speaking the young men concerned were almost invariably drawn from the well-to-do bourgeoisie and traditionally intellectual classes represented by the liberal professions (doctors, lawyers, and teachers).
Girls and women offer an illustrative case in point. At about the same time as colleges like Bryn Mawr in the United States, and Girton in England, were being founded, several Third Republic politicians displayed enough far-sightedness to fight for women's educational opportunities in France. Already in 1880, Camille Sée sponsored a law widening these opportunities. However, as seen from today's perspective, the law was discriminatory in that it focused on teaching subjects "appropriate to women," which meant not exposing them to Latin or Greek, advanced mathematics, and so forth. But over the years various decrees of application concerning the law simply ignored these strictures, and, little by little, young women achieved parity with young men in their own lycées (only much later would these schools become coeducational in France.) A feminine École Normale Supérieure was founded in counterpart to each of the two major male schools and its pupils received the same education and training as their masculine coevals. However, the social and economic class to which these young women belonged was much the same as that of their male peers.
Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Under the Constitution of the French Fifth Republic (1958), responsibility for nation-wide education lies with the government. That is with the office of the prime minister who in turn is responsible to the National Assembly and who forms a government composed of cabinet ministers, one of whom bears the title "Minister of National Education;" "Research and Technology" have spun off into ministries of their own. As it deems fit, the National Assembly passes laws relative to educational matters, and these laws are administered by the government which issues decrees of application. Thus, in July 1975, the Assembly passed a law known generally as the Loi Haby which established the present day system of single colleges (le collège unique ), an institution occupying the intermediate space between the primary school and the more advanced secondary school known as the lycée. The aim of this law was to provide a secondary schooling context for all pupils of a given age cohort (roughly ages 11 to 12 to 14 to 15) so as to avoid both the social and the educational constraints of the former system's requirement that all pupils of that age group be irrevocably shunted as of age 11 or 12 into a specific educational directions. These choices have been set forward to a later date, when the pupil has completed the college curriculum, of about age 15 or 16. Over the quarter of a century or so since this reform was promulgated, various governments have introduced by decree a number of practices designed so as to make the reform work better. These decrees have ranged from major practical modifications to attempts at fine-tuning. No need has been felt to replace the Loi Haby by another comprehensive law, although it looks likely that such a major change lies soon in the offing.
It can be said that the considerable powers inherent in the national Ministry of Education of the Fifth Republic extend those enjoyed by the Ministry's counterparts under the Third and Fourth Republics (1944-1958). The Minister of Education and his delegates are in charge of all schooling in France, as well as in overseas territories and départements. He is assisted by a fair number of Secretaries of State and other political appointees, as well as by junior ministers and a huge bureaucracy. Although there do exist a substantial number of private and religious schools (primary, secondary, and university-level), they are very closely watched, indeed supervised, by the Ministry of Education as to programs of study and the qualifications of their teaching personnel.
Although the various regional, departmental, and municipal administrations in France contribute in various ways to defray local expenses relative to schools and universities, by far the majority of the educational budgetary burden is borne by the national Ministry. This includes teachers' and professors' salaries, administrative salaries and costs, equipment, and building and maintenance. Public education also constitutes the largest item by considerable measure of the French national budget.
Increased immigration, new emphases on innovative technology and popular consumerism, a desire of many for more democracy, the building of a new Europe (one of the truly significant French politico-economic ideas of post-war times), the eroding of erstwhile fixed class distinctions, the relative decline of agriculture with respect to manufacturing, services, and commerce, decolonization, international cooperation to a degree never before witnessed have all exerted tremendous influence on the French school and higher education systems.
Private Education: What in France is called enseignement libre (free teaching) corresponds to the British "public" school and to the American "private" school; however, private primary and secondary education in France is usually sectarian, indeed overwhelmingly Roman Catholic (95 percent). Though run and traditionally staffed by the religious teaching orders, these schools are increasingly staffed by lay people. As stated above, they are closely monitored by the state's Ministry of Education as to their teaching programs and the qualifications of their teaching staffs. Their pupils take the usual national state examinations (brevet and baccalauréat ). They charge tuition and fees, although a growing number of them attempt to provide financial aid to the disadvantaged. Programs of study follow closely those mandated by the Ministry for the public schools, although it is fair to say that, in addition to required classes in religion, these Church-run institutions tend to emphasize the traditional pre-university baccalauréat curriculum, perhaps somewhat at the expense of technology and professional training more than their public counterparts. Their clientele is largely, but not as exclusively as many would have one believe, drawn from the middle classes and indeed from the upper crust of French society. Many, but not all, of these schools are now coeducational. Each school is run, often by a religious director, who exercises a great deal of discretionary power in his or her establishment. The director is frequently called upon to perform a kind of balancing act involving the directives issued by his or her Order, the local bishop, and the State. The school's traditions are held dear by both its clientele and by those who teach in it. Usually the pupils are asked to observe a dress code. The kind of school violence increasingly present in urban public schools is virtually unheard of in this setting. A good number of the schools have living and boarding facilities. School morale is generally high.
The good reputation and morale of the majority of private schools is due to the personal care lavished upon the pupils by the teachers and their institution. Some schools even specialize in boys and girls handicapped by learning and psychological difficulties, and their success rate is remarkably high. Discipline and order are maintained, but affection is also. Certain private institutions have received the Ministry's designation "ZEP" (Zone d'éducation prioritaire or "Educational Priority Zone"), qualifying them for extra financial help because they have shown signal success in coping with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Finally, Catholic schools have a long tradition of involving parents and the family in the educational process. Until very recently this has not been true of public schools. The école républicaine has traditionally been understood as a State institution, not as a State service responsible to its clientele ; in fact, the Revolutionary ideology from which it stems historically mistrusted parents and family. It consequently tended to uproot the child from his affective milieu of origin in order to turn him into a "citizen." Many parents find this aspect of enseignement libre to be quite attractive, as do, very often, their children.
Some of the richer and more famous of the Churchrun secondary schools are well equipped with modern amenities: computers, up-to-date laboratories, sports facilities, and even good libraries, although a good many are not so well favored. However, most succeed in promoting a good esprit de corps, and, given the class homogeneity prevailing in their student bodies, the pupils' degree of motivation, as well as smaller, more intimate classroom groupings, the scholastic results tend to be very good. The latest publication of the scores and percentages of candidates passing the national baccalauréat examination includes a large number of Roman Catholic colleges and lycées among the list of institutions with a passing rate of 90 percent or better.
Approximately one in six French primary and secondary school boys and girls attends a private (almost invariably religiously-affiliated) school, according to recent Ministry of Education statistics. Nevertheless, there remains a residue of anti-enseignement libre animus in certain French Republican circles. In 1984, when the then Socialist government was perceived as about to pass legislation severely damaging private Catholic schools, a huge mass demonstration involving thousands of people descended in protest on Paris. The government gave way and since then peace has prevailed. Slowly but surely the bitter quarrels of the 1880-1910 period are being laid to rest. Frenchmen who are rightly proud of the achievements of the public education system nevertheless do not, on the whole, wish to see the private sector abolished or even seriously tampered with.
Private school teachers number about 130,000 in France; by far most of these are lay people who take qualifying examinations virtually the same as their public school colleagues. Their pay scales are quite close to those enjoyed by public school faculty; however, since they are not tenured government functionaries (fonctionnaires titularisés ), their retirement pay is much lower.
During the Fourth Republic, certain right-wing and centrist parties joined forces in order to vote State subventions to private schools; however, these were stopgap measures. In 1959, after the proclamation of the Fifth Republic, the Gaullist prime minister, Michel Debré, instituted a new régime of "permanent association" between public and private schools with the State financing much of the costs of the latter. The annual subvention today comes to 40 billion francs, approximately the sum required to pay teachers' salaries. The money goes to private schools willing to work "under contract" with the government. Few private schools have refused this contractual arrangement.
Very few graduates of the religiously-affiliated secondary schools choose to go on to Catholic institutions of higher education. The Catholic school system thus finds itself firmly embedded in the secular world.
Private Higher Education: The Ministry of National Education classifies private higher education into two types: les établissements privés d'enseignement libre (a code word for Roman Catholic universities); and private establishments of technical education. The "establishments of 'free' higher education" are regulated by the July 1875 Law on Higher Education; no linkage between them and the State are allowed. Nevertheless, these establishments may agree to conventions signed between them and individual State-run institutions with a view toward offering joint preparations for State diplomas.
Apart from seminary-type establishments, two major Catholic institutions of higher learning stand out. One is called the Institut catholique and is located in Paris; the other is the Université catholique de l'Ouest (Catholic University of the West) in Angers. Both offer full-fledged programs of study on the university level, and in the case of the Institut catholique, the following faculties are notable: the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (which are essentially lacking in the State-run schools), the Faculty of Canon Law, the Faculty of Philosophy, the Faculty of Social and Economic Studies, the Faculty of Arts (Classics, French, History/Geography, and English-German-Spanish), preparatory classes for entrance into French Institutes of Political Studies, and the Faculty of Education (largely teacher-training). Close ties are maintained with a number of private technological and specialized schools, both Catholic-run and nondenominational. The Institut catholique enrolls some 12,000 full and part time students.
Private establishments of higher technological education are legion in France. Most are either engineering or business schools and must adhere to the national codes of technical education. They may benefit from State recognition and so award official state diplomas. Whether or not a private engineering school may award a State-type diploma is decided by the State Commission on Engineering Degrees.
Preprimary & Primary Education
Preprimary: During 2000-2001 over 6.5 million pupils were enrolled in the public preprimary and primary schools of France (about 2.5 million in the écoles maternelles and approximately 4.2 million in the écoles élémentaires ). Previously organized by yearly "grades," present day primary programs fall into pluri-annual cycles: first apprenticeships (apprentissages premiers ) cover the preprimary cycle; fundamental apprenticeships begin in the final year of preprimary and last over the first two years of primary; and deeper explorations (approfondissments ) occupy the final three years of primary school.
Briefly summarized, the areas dealt with in the école maternelle (cycle I) include: Living Together; Speaking and Building Up Your Own Language (an initiation into the study of French); Acting in the World (interacting physically and imaginatively with objects; other people-games; and sports); Discovering the World (natural and human spaces; materials like wood, metals, etc.; hygiene; and the environment); Imagining, Feeling, and Creating (singing; drawing and painting; dance; theater; some writing; recognition of forms; and counting).
Primary (Cycle II): The goals to be achieved by the time this cycle is completed are as follows (in relation to the subjects dealt with):
- French: The pupils have learned to speak in public, to listen to others, to tell and invent stories; to read both out loud and silently; and to write in clearly formed characters.
- Mathematics: The pupils have mastered the numbers from 1 to 1000 and understand decimal numerals; they know how to compare numbers; they are in a position to practice addition, multiplication, and subtraction and can reckon mentally; they are able to resolve simple problems using these resources; they can recognize a few geometric shapes (circle, square, rectangle, etc.) and can reproduce them; they both know and can use common units of measure (meter and centimeter; gram and kilogram; and liter, hectoliter and milliliter).
- Discovering the World (History, Geography, Sciences, and Technology): The pupils know their way around more or less proximate spaces and historical periods, and begin to put the latter into chronological order as they learn also to use maps, the globe, and certain major elements of the universe; they have some precise knowledge of how their bodies work, of rules of hygiene, and of animal and vegetable life; and they have learned to use simple technical tools, such as a camera.
- Civics: Basing themselves on their classroom experience, the pupils have learned fundamental rules of social interaction: respect for self and others and rules for living in common with others; they know that France is a republic; and are familiar with several of its symbols.
- The Creative Arts: The pupils interpret simple songs and do drawings, paintings, collages, and sculptures with various techniques and materials; they undergo some basic initiation to theater, dance, and imaging.
- Physical Education and Sports: The pupils develop their motor skills and learn to run, jump, throw, and swim better; learn to respect game rules; and learn team ship.
Primary (Cycle III): This final cycle explores more deeply the above-mentioned subjects and activities, taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the class members. When required, special counseling and help will be made available to individual students. Every effort will be made in order to see to it that each pupil advances regularly alongside his or her classmates.
Some daily foreign language instruction will be introduced during this cycle. The time given over to this activity will rarely go beyond a quarter of an hour; video and audio cassettes will be made available to teachers that want them. Goals of this level are:
- French: The pupils learn to recite from memory a poetic text; they are capable of reading a 10-page piece of prose without excessive fatigue; they learn to correctly take down a dictated text of about 10 lines; and they are able to compose a short text respecting spelling and grammatical rules.
- Mathematics: The pupils can perform decimal calculations; they are familiar with the usual geometric shapes; they have mastered the four arithmetical operations and can calculate in their heads; they know how to use such tools as the ruler, the square, and the compass; and they can solve problems using the above operations and measuring instruments.
- History and Geography: The pupils are able to identify the major prehistorical and historical periods of French history; they know a number of important dates; and they can locate on a map the following elements of French geography: major rivers, mountain ranges, various regions, the basic French administrative units, and large cities.
- Science and Technology: The pupils have learned how to simply analyze the relationship between living beings and their habitat; they can perform simple experiments; and they understand the concept of assembly, such as how to set up an electric circuit.
- Civics: The pupils prove themselves capable of respecting the rules governing their school and of understanding each individual's responsibility with respect to society at large; and they can describe the political institutions of France, such as universal suffrage and the workings of the National Assembly.
- The Creative Arts (Music and the Plastic Arts): The pupils are capable of observing, listening, producing, and inventing in ways that develop their creative imagination and form their sense of culture by relating and comparing works drawn from different periods and styles; and they further develop their abilities with respect to theater, dance, and imaging.
- Physical Education and Sports: The pupils become increasingly aware of the rhythms of living beings; and through the practice of sports they acquire greater ease and try to attain a certain performance level in the activities, which they practice.
- Foreign Language: Initiation into foreign language study will continue as the pupils go on to middle school-level work.
The first year of college or the beginning of intermediate schooling, la sixième, will consist largely of consolidating what the primary school has taught the pupil with a view toward his acquiring new notions and developing more sophisticated intellectual tools and work methods.
Founded by the Loi Haby of 1975, the collège unique is designed to follow through on the primary school principal of housing all pupils, whatever their talents and tastes, together under one roof. Specialization into university preparation, pre-professional, and technical training is thus put off until the pupil attains the age of 15 or 16. (Formerly, this specialization occurred when the pupil entered the class known as sixième, that is when he was 11 or 12 and it was largely based on an entrance examination now regarded as socially discriminatory.) Thus, the four years spent at the collège are essentially transitional and given over to orientation. The collège is structured largely in order to "fit" the pupil into one of the many orientations open to him at the lycée level. Consequently, in certain respects the collège is "intermediate," and in other respects it is part of the secondary school cycle. It is characterized by flexible scheduling, the availability of many new programs, and by the careful monitoring of all pupils. Those who display difficulties in adjustment and in class work are provided with counseling and help. Serious attempts are made also to involve parents in the functioning of the school.
The goals and ideals of the new collège unique, which in many respects resembles the American Middle School (or Junior High), have not always been successful in practice. The four years of the French collège unique break down into three main periods: (1) the initial year called sixième ; (2) the two years of cinquième and quatrième ; and (3) the final year called troisième.
The sixième is designed to solidify what was learned in primary school; to introduce boys and girls to new subject-matters; and to help them develop good work habits and methods. Pupils have 23 or 24 hours of class weekly, undergo two hours of "directed study" aimed at all pupils, and have what is called an arrangement for "consolidation" aimed at pupils who encounter difficulties.
Not surprisingly, the curriculum of the sixième follows closely upon that of the final year of elementary school, yet it differs also in that it emphasizes practice and creativity on the part of the pupil. For example, in French, after reading carefully and discussing a given text, the pupils might be asked to rewrite part of it, retelling an episode from the perspective of a character other than the protagonist. Or they might be assigned to write a letter to a foreign pen-pal describing life in their school. After returning the corrected papers to the class, the teacher will focus on their grammatical and spelling errors to the entire group, ask the schoolchildren to rewrite their work, and have the other pupils correct them.
In mathematics the focus is on geometry, numeric works, and functions. Pupils describe and trace simple plane figures, and they measure, compare, and calculate areas and perimeters. They also deepen their knowledge of the four arithmetical operations by applying them to whole numbers and decimals, and they are introduced to relative numbers. During the later part of the course, they work with handling data and dealing with functions. Tables, diagrams, and graphics are studied and related to other disciplines, such as geography and technology.
History and geography are a combined focus. History deals mainly with the ancient world: the beginnings of agriculture, Egypt, the Hebrews, Greece, Rome, and early Christianity. Facts are learned, but pupils are also taught to examine critically the documents from historical knowledge: treatises, maps, photos, etc. Geography examines the relationship between mankind and his diverse habitats—the diversity of terrains, climates, urban and rural settings, and population densities.
Civics, now incorporated into the history-geography section, deals principally with the pupils and their fellow peers in the college itself. The establishment's structure is examined, as are the people who make it run (the student body, the faculty, the principal, and the social worker). Also, the principles of rights and obligations are closely studied, as is the text of The Declaration of the Rights of Man.
Life and Earth Sciences capitalize on the young adolescents' fascination with nature and its manipulation, as well as on their love of experimentation. In this class they study the classification of plants and animals, the cell, animal and vegetable reproduction, and the food chain. They also examine various types of tissue under the microscope, graft plant cuttings, and dissect a flower.
Technological study examines how objects are produced, manufactured, and placed for sale by different kinds of enterprise. Each pupil works on a specific project and is taught computer technology word-processing, searching, and how to use the Internet in order better to do so.
Physical education and sports focus on the latter during the sixième : pupils are introduced to gymnastics, swimming, combative and racket sports, and team sports. Motor capacities are developed, and special attention is given to a sense of effort and responsibility.
The plastic arts emphasize creativity in two and three dimensions and use various techniques and materials (clay, paper, collages, paint, and ink). Meetings are arranged with local artists and field trips are taken to museums.
In music, special attention is given over to the "education of the ear." Six major compositions from various periods and genres are listened to and studied. In addition, six vocal works are sung by groups of pupils, and they are also initiated into playing instruments of percussion and the recorder. Some attention is paid to electronically generated music.
Thus, the above describes how the sixième builds on the advanced primary school program. Its major curricular innovation lies in the pupil's serious undertaking of study of a modern foreign language. Most colleges offer English, Spanish, German and Italian, although some also provide for Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and the local regional language. Latin is offered in cinquième where a full quarter of collegians opt for it; it has the reputation of being the place where the "better pupils" are. The first year of foreign language study is largely "cultural." Pupils are introduced to how people relate to each other in Britain and the U.S. and how they express their tastes and dislikes. Some effort is made to have the young French boys and girls speak the language with a suitable pronunciation and a vocabulary that stresses the individual (size, clothing, and age) and his or her activities (games, holidays, and travels), as well as family relations. Some historical and geographical information concerning the country, or countries, in which the language is spoken are given.
The cinquième and quatrième years constitute the focal point of the four collège unique years. Essentially the program of study follows through on the subjects taught in sixième (including a modern foreign language—a second of which must be added as part of the quatrième ), but the sciences are broken down into Earth and Life Sciences and Physics and Chemistry. It is here that many children, especially those from recent immigrant and disadvantaged families, find their studies to be fairly difficult. This is especially the case in mathematics and the sciences. Numerous pupils require remedial help. By and large the program does not differ radically from the older, traditional collège and lycée curricula that led to the "classical" baccalauréat and from there to the university. Moreover, in addition to the weekly 23 or 24 hours spent in the classroom, the pupils find themselves with homework assignments amounting to between 20 and 30 hours a week. Work in all the curricular subjects takes place on an ever higher level of abstraction (for which not all pupils are yet quite ready), and, of course, the work requires well-organized and critical consultation of manuals, dictionaries, and other reference works. Frustration and a sense of failure consequently affect many collegians at this level, particularly among males it seems. Of course, without the establishment of the collège unique a quarter-century ago, many of its present pupil clients would simply not be in a college at all, and this, of course, has no doubt prompted many conservative critics to question the validity of its establishment.
The subject-matter covered in the two-year course curriculum includes French, mathematics, foreign languages, history and geography, civics, life and earth sciences, physics and chemistry, and technology. More advanced classes in the plastic arts and music, as well as in physical education and sports, continue throughout these two years.
The troisième is the terminal middle-secondary school year constituting arguably the single most important school experience in the lives of French schoolchildren. It comprises three elements: the continuation and "perfection" of the studies undertaken so far; an endeavor to all the studies accomplished to date; and a way to determine the orientation to be followed by each individual pupil in his or her three year subsequent lycée level higher secondary schoolwork. Furthermore, at the close of troisième, or each pupil takes his first national examination: the Brevet d'études. This diploma is awarded, or not awarded, on the basis of each child's course grades in all classes taken during quatrième and troisième (these grades are counted with a coefficient of 1), as well as in combination with a timed written examination in French, Mathematics, and History-Geography (with a coefficient of 2). The brevet and access to the lycée is awarded to pupils attaining a global average of 10 through 20 (it should be added that grades exceeding 17 are very rare). The success rate for the brevet usually hovers around 75 percent. Enrollments in the state-run colleges in recent years have averaged about 3 million pupils.
Upper Secondary Education: Three main, and quite different, specialized options are open to brevet holders at the lycée level: the General Baccalaureate (baccalauréat general ), which leads to the university, and to specialized schools of higher education (e.g., the grandes écoles, with their highly competitive entrance examinations); two types of Technological Baccalaureate (baccalauréat technologique ), which opens to various specialized schools of a technological, professional or artistic sort; and the Professional Baccalaureate (baccalauréat professionnel ), leading directly to insertion into the job market and on the job training (this last program involves two years of study, the previous two comprise three). Of these three options, the General Baccalaureate is the simplest; it also comes closest to the older, more traditional lycée ; the Technological Baccalaureate structurally resembles the first. The "professional" curriculum is much more complex in that all its options (including a Baccalaureate-less path) recognize many diverse goals and levels. It is highly recommended that each pupil make as solidly based a decision as possible concerning his or her eventual path, and that both parents and school counseling staff be closely involved in this process which, it is urged, should begin no later than the year of the cinquième.
The Technology option, as well as the Professional curriculum, can lead to a Technological (or Professional) brevet, as well as, in the first case, a baccalauréat and, in the second, a Certificat d'aptitude professionnel, (Certificate of Professional Aptitude or CAP). Those youth who choose either the brevet or the CAP path usually go directly on to a job, with or without a formal program of on the job training. The lycée programs attempt to provide a basis for as many types of jobs as there exist in the country's job market; some programs combine school programs with apprentice-type internships in various firms. In the case of those who successfully pass the Technological baccalauréat, many specialized institutions, both public and private, are available.
Lycée enrollments have totaled on average over the past five years of about 1 million; slightly more than half of enrolled students have chosen the Professional option. The various apprenticeship programs attract an average of 350,000 students each year, while the special secondary level programs (e.g., agriculture, health services) enroll about 250,000 boys and girls. Thus, most collegians go on to some lycée level work; however, the programmatic unity imposed on pre-brevet pupils is followed up by an extreme diversity in the lycée.
Grosso modo, the French secondary educational system, seems both to promote and to respond to a division apparently built into French society. One large segment of its clientele uses the secondary school to prepare for advanced higher educational training and therefore postpones its insertion into the productive economic life of the country. An equally large segment either drops out of the educational system as such altogether or uses it as an immediate springboard to a wage-earning career. It is very much an either/or situation. Unlike the United States and Canada, France has no community college-type alternative, nor does it possess a truly varied gamut of institutions of higher learning. Also, theoretically at least, the state-recognized masters degree delivered by a remote provincial university or "university institute" in no way differs from the one earned at an older, established provincial institution or, for that matter, at the Université de Paris IV (Sorbonne).
The needs of a new, modernized post-industrial economy required an overhaul of higher education. Scholarship aid (bourses ) was vastly increased, making it possible for larger numbers of less well-to-do young men and women to attend universities. The advent of the post-war Welfare State had important repercussions on university structures.
Reform of higher education, consequently, became a matter of urgency, and the 1970s saw its beginnings; this reform has become on-going. In fact, it appears more and more likely that reform will remain a permanent feature of French higher education for many years to come.
Universities: The Ministry of Education lists 91 institutions in its repertory of universities (including "technological" universities, certain "institutes," and other entities) located in France and its overseas territories and départments ; this is well over four times as many universities as existed in 1960. Whereas before the 1960s, Paris had 1 university, albeit broken up into various faculties (e.g., Letters, Sciences, Medicine, Law), it now boasts 14, none of which groups all faculties or branches of learning under a single administration. Expansion has been truly exponential.
Even in 2001, a large and fairly old provincial university will usually possess a library much smaller in size than that of a good American liberal arts college whose student body is less than 2,000, although in recent times research undertaken by university faculty has been more strongly encouraged. The Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research), founded after World War II, has had global responsibility for research and publication in all academic disciplines, sponsoring both "laboratories" of its own and the research of individual faculty members at the universities and grandes écoles, and subsidizing "centers of technical competence" involving one or more institutions. However, the movement away from the university as a purely teaching establishment has been, and remains (though less and less) a very slow one.
Each university is headed by a president responsible to the rector of the Academy in which it is located; academies often contain two or more universities. The university president is supported by vice-presidents and academic deans that correspond to the diverse disciplines. Faculty recruitment on the maître de conferences (assistant/associate professor) and professeur levels is lengthy and complex.
Cities in which two or more universities are located will usually witness a grouping of kindred disciplines at each of the institutions. This does little to foment interdisciplinary intellectual contact and cooperation.
Although each discipline introduces variations into its own teaching program, this is done in reference to a nation-wide model that corresponds to three cycles. The student spends his or her first year (cycle) preparing a diploma suitable to his field of major interest, the Diplôme d'études universsitaires générales or DEUG; this is followed by his or her registration in a second cycle, i.e., two or three year licence preparation immediately leading to study at the maîtrise (masters) level. At this point most students leave the university for the job market. Those who stay on, who tend to be the most highly qualified, will undertake the third cycle, which is the preparation of a research project leading to a kind of thesis, or mémoir, called the Diplôme d'études approfondies (DEA). The best of these students will be encouraged to pursue a doctoral degree. Once the doctorate is obtained, the student may sign up for an examination proving his or her capacity to do a high level research project and to supervise individual, as well as teams, of young researchers (l'habilitation à diriger des recherches ). At any time after the maîtrise a student may choose to sit for one of the various competitive examinations, such as the Certificat d'aprtitude à l'enseignement secondaire, for a lycée teacher's certificate, the aggregation, or still other examinations. The success rate in these examinations is not encouraging: it averages about 14 percent for the CAPES and aggregation, though CAPES examinations have a higher rate of success than agrégatifs ; the rate also depends on the discipline.
Alongside the DEA doctoral program there exists a one-year professional program, involving an obligatory internship within an enterprise or business called the Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées (DESS). Upon its completion the student leaves the university for a job.
One and two year university-level programs in technology are offered by the various Instituts universitaires de technologie attached to universities. These institutes offer a two-year diplôme universitaire de technologie (DUT) which leads directly to the job market. Access to the institute is selective. A cycle 1 one-year technological program is also available; it leads to the diplôme d'études universitaires scientifiques et techniques or DEUST, the technological equivalent of the DEUG.
Some lycées also offer very specialized and goal-directed brevets de technicien supérieur (BTS); some 85 fields are covered. About 220,000 students are enrolled in these lycée based programs.
The following ministerial list of average diploma awards (rounded off) over the past five years will provide an idea of the attrition rate among students at the various steps of their university careers: DEUG or the terminal DEUST - 132,000; licence - 133,500; maîtrise - 86,000; DESS - 24,500; DEA- 24,250; and doctorate - 10,000. These figures are to be compared to the total enrollment of students in the French university system: 1 million out of a total of some 2 million post-baccalauréat students altogether. The dropout rate appears to be quite high.
Tuition and fees are set each year by the Ministry of Education; these are very low by North American standards. Financial aid in the form of scholarships is made available on the basis of family need at all levels of university study. Scholarly criteria are used for third-cycle university work. Students are eligible for subsidized housing, provided there is dormitory space, and for inexpensive student restaurant meals.
Entrance to the university is non-selective. The only requirement is the baccalauréat or its equivalent, except in the case of medicine and certain other health-related fields. Students registered in these fields are also subject to individual review at the close of their first year of study.
State-sponsored post-baccalauréat schooling outside of the universities may be subdivided into three main types: public engineering schools, the grandes écoles, and health service/social work-related institutions. In addition, one must also count the system of lycée -based preparatory classes, which are two-year programs designed to prepare students for the grandes écoles and engineering school competitive entrance examinations.
Whereas the great majority of the grandes écoles are administered by the Ministry of National Education, several depend on other ministries or administrations. Thus, the very prestigious École Nationale d'Administration, founded in 1945 in order to prepare upper-level civil servants.
Foreign Students: The Ministry of National Education and many cooperating universities and other institutions of higher learning (including certain grandes écoles ) have established a variety of programs aimed at foreign students. The majority of these involve the French language (beginning, intermediate, and advanced) and diverse subjects (literature, art, and history) grouped together as "culture." Certificates and diplomas are awarded appropriately. There has been, and continues to be, considerable demand for these programs. A fair number of summer programs of the above type are also offered, some in collaboration with American colleges and universities, as are year or semester long collaborative programs that involve a variety of French institutions.
Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
The French Republic is headed by a popularly elected president who represents and serves the Nation and State. He is responsible for the country's territorial integrity and appoints the governing prime minister (following the political majority controlling the legislative National Assembly). In turn, the prime minister appoints his cabinet, who are the ministers responsible for governing the country, among whom one of the most important is the Minister of National Education. This Minister's official title is Minister of National Education, Research, and Technology. It is he who proposes policies, enjoys budgetary oversight, and directs numerous sub-ministerial political appointees (as well as myriad civil servants) subject only to the prime minister.
Constitutionally, the Minister operates within the parameters of certain fundamental laws, such as the 1875 laws governing education and Church and State. He also has the task of proposing new laws as the situation may require them. He is assisted by a large bureaucracy and permanent advisory committees whose decisions he normally accepts.
Each of the three main components of the system—primary, secondary, and higher education—has, under the Minister, its own area of competence and organizational traditions. In addition, the division of France into geographic areas known as "academies" provides input into decision-making from the diverse regions of the country.
A kind of executive chain-of-command descends from the Minister through a number of echelons down to the director of a primary school. Although each director, principal, proviseur (or lycée director), dean, university president, and academy rector heads his own bailiwick, his area of responsibility is fully integrated into a system of responsibilities headed by the Minister.
According to the latest figures publicly available (1998), the total costs of education (public and private) come globally to about FF607.3 billion (92.6 billion euros) of which FF343.3 (52.5 billion euros) are spent by the Ministry of National Education. The global figure represented 7.2 percent of the 1998 French gross national product. The difference between the global cost figure and the costs paid by the Ministry can be accounted for as follows: FF48.4 billion (7.4 billion euros) from other state ministries; FF124.3 billion (18.9 billion euros) regional, local, and territorial contributions; FF35 billion (5.3 billion euros) from business-operated training programs; FF13.5 billion (2.1 billion euros) other national administrations; and FF41.8 billion (6.4 billion euros) from family contributions. An additional FF25.1 billion (4.1 billion euros) were paid out to overseas territories and départments. The grand total was thus: FF634.4 billion (92.6 billion euros) at 1998 exchange rates. Of these sums 77.7 percent went for personnel salaries, benefits and pensions; 14.8 percent to upkeep and physical plant; and 7.5 percent to investment in future capital needs.
Further breakdowns show (in 2000-2001) a total of 528,000 persons employed in the écoles maternelles and elementary schools. Teaching staff in these schools amounted to 358,000 persons and cost per pupil amounted to FF24,700 (3,765 euros). In secondary education some 786,000 were employed, of which 508,000 were teachers; cost per pupil came to an average of FF25,000 (8300 euros). In post-baccalauréat classes the cost was FF68,900 (10,504 euros).
The Ministry of National Education provides financial aid to schoolchildren (both collège and lycée level) from families of demonstrably modest means; such aid can total as much as FF5000 per annum.
In recent years enrollments in higher education have been approximately 2 million students with a public sector teaching corps of about 75,500 professors. Yearly costs per student have ranged very widely depending on the diverse programs in which students are enrolled. Thus, the average university student in the humanities and social sciences costs approximately FF40,000 (6000 euros), whereas an engineering student costs about FF78,000 (12,000 euros).
Pedagogical research is rather scattered in France. There are no schools of education as such, although pedagogy is treated as a research subject in various institutions like the ÉNS de Cachan ; the Institut catholique maintains a Faculty of Education for the training, largely, of Catholic school teachers. Courses in "professional formation" are offered at many universities for future teachers, as well as at the écoles normales that train primary school teachers. C.N.R.S.-sponsored "research laboratories" in such subjects as educational psychology and counseling do exist, as do various offices of pedagogical services within the Ministry of National Education itself. Teaching methodologies, as in foreign language-teaching methods or the laboratory sciences, are variously studied and evaluated. Matters pertaining to proposed institutional restructuring are entrusted to the expertise of specially appointed commissions and boards of research before changes are introduced and implemented.
A final word must be said concerning the role of professional societies and teachers' unions (syndicates ) within the general educational picture in France. Membership in unions is usually determined according to the members' various professional levels (primary, secondary, and higher education) and interests, as well as their political affiliations and tastes (left-wing, right-wing, and centrist). There are also a number of students' unions similarly affiliated. All of these unions are legally recognized as such, and they enjoy the right to strike, although their rôle in collective bargaining is not easily determined. In addition, university and research faculty, as well as some secondary school teachers, are members of the many various disciplinary professional associations. From time to time they speak out publically on matters pertaining to their discipline and, more often than not, what they say is taken seriously.
The American example in business study, technology, and perhaps even in the pure sciences has provided a counter to native French institutions. In fact, some of the newer of these institutions directly copy and Gallicize American models, both physically and programmatically. Much of what has been genuinely innovative in post-war France has not been generated from within the native French system, except for such institutions as the ÉNA and Sciences Po, which were designed specifically to serve the ends of the French State. This raises the serious question as to whether, as presently constituted, the State is in fact capable of engendering educational innovation in such a way as to foment original intellectual, scientific, and artistic creativity.
There are four problem areas that appear at present to require urgent thinking and planning. The first of these and perhaps the most symptomatic of the four concerns the status, ideology, and purpose of the collège unique. Most Frenchmen agree that in its present form it simply does not work; it fails even in its intended purpose to further democratize the secondary school system. Apparently, the present Minister of Education thinks that the solution to the collège unique's difficulties lies in rendering it more flexible, financially independent, autonomous, and less rigidly programmatic. Furthermore, the Minister promises that, along with this flexibility, his office will provide a firm piloting of the institution and the numerous establishments constituting it: "la souplesse avec la norme " (flexibility within the norm). The norm, presumably, will involve a greater integration with the primary level (the college will become more authentically a "middle school"); entrance evaluations to the sixième will emphasize French and Mathematics less than at present; and curricula will be "more imaginative." A number of national evaluations will take place over the four year course of studies; these will culminate in a national examination awarding a Brevet d'études fondamentales. These evaluations and brevet will also constitute part of the norm and promised ministerial piloting.
The second and third major concerns have to do with foreign languages and foreign study/educational travel. The two are closely related. The first of these involves the entire educational system, and it also is designed to counteract the overwhelming choice of English as the major foreign language studied. It seems likely that the study of two modern foreign languages will soon be required of all secondary level schoolchildren. All university level students will be required to pass a competency test in at least one foreign language in order to graduate. The university requirement will go beyond the level of mere colloquy; it will involve the ability to function linguistically in the student's area of academic specialization. Thus, a French university student should be linguistically equipped to read work in his or her field written in an appropriate modern foreign language, as well as to follow lectures in his or her subject in that language. These new requirements constitute, along with much increased foreign travel and study on both the secondary and higher education levels, part of the "Europeanization" of French education, rendering the French system more like that of many of the smaller European countries. The policy, although not designed with these implications in mind, may eventually have some repercussions on the nature of the French State-controlled educational system.
The last concern relates to the above quoted statement of Sylvain Auroux, director of the ÉNS-LHS. It is namely the urgency and importance of a new and informed humanistic reflection in the first century of the new millennium. Advances in science and technology, a commercially and monetarily driven world, and the lack of attention paid by the élites in the developed countries of the world have made such reflection indispensable. Given the largely materialist and careerist agendas of present day interest groups, however, the bright and the beautiful do not seem to have the time to give over to such reflection. Auroux appears to believe that France is blessed with educational establishments like the one he directs that are particularly well placed to form the highly articulate thinkers needed.
Buisson, Ferdinand. Dictionnaire de Pédagogie. Paris: 1882.
Chervel, Antoine. L'Enseignement du Français à l'école Primaire. Paris: INRP, 1995.
Georgel, Jacques. L'Enseignement Privé en France. Paris: Dalloz, 1995.
The French Ministry of National Education, 2001. Available from http://www.education.gouv.fr.
Glatigny, Michel. Histoire de l'enseignement en France. Que sais-je? Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1949.
Le Monde, 2001. Available from http://lemonde.fr/education.
Office national d'information sur les enseignements et les professions. Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, de la Recherche et de la Technologie. Onisep: de la ème au bac, September 2000.
—Karl D. Uitti
"France." World Education Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 10, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france-0
"France." World Education Encyclopedia. . Retrieved June 10, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france-0
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LOCATION AND SIZE.
France has the largest land area of any Western European nation and lies between the Mediterranean Sea on the southeast and the Bay of Biscay and English Channel to the north and west. France has a total land area of 547,030 square kilometers (211,208 square miles) and a coastline of 3,427 kilometers (2,130 miles). It shares borders with Andorra, Monaco, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. Its area is about four-fifths of the size of Texas.
Paris, the capital city, is the largest city in France and Europe (excluding Russia), and accommodates about one-sixth of the country's population. Other cities with over a million people including surrounding areas are Lyon, Marseille, and Lille.
France's population was estimated to be 59,329,691 in 2000, with a slow growth rate of 0.38 percent. The French population is about one-fifth of Europe's total population and ranks third in Europe and sixteenth in the world. It has about 106 inhabitants per square kilometer (or about 275 people per square mile). Roughly one-sixth of the entire population lives in the Greater Paris area. France's ethnic groups include Celtic and Latin strains, with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, and Basque minorities. Foreigners comprise 6.3 percent of the population.
While the majority of the population (65 percent) falls between the ages of 15 and 64, about 16 percent are older than 65 years of age. The remaining 19 percent are 14 years old and younger. At the turn of the 19th century, France was the most populous country in Europe. But by the late 19th and early 20th century, France experienced the lowest birth rate in the continent. Due to government efforts and the post-World War II baby boom, however, France reached a birth rate of 21 per 1,000 people in the post-war era. This growth declined to 18 and 13.6 per 1,000 in 1963 and 1989, respectively. Currently, France's birth rate stands at 12.27 births per 1,000 population according to 2000 estimates. (France had 9.14 deaths per 1,000 population during the same year.) The influx of immigrants into France at the last quarter of 20th century, though, has moderated the trend toward a shrinking population. It is estimated that France has received 0.66 net immigrants per 1,000 people in 2,000. The ratio between males and females is nearly oneto-one in almost all age strata of French population, with the exception of those over age 65, where there are 0.68 males per each female. This is mainly because the life expectancy for females at birth is about 83 years while it is only 75 for males. Life expectancy for the total population averages 79 years.
In 2000, France was the sixteenth most populous nation in the world. The French population is expected to decline by the year 2025 when France will rank twenty-fifth in the world. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that the population will reach 61,662,000 in 2025 but drop to 59,883,000 in 2050, with 30 percent of the population over 80 years of age. (This number was 16 percent in 2000.) This means that the potential support ratio (the number of people aged 15 to 64 for each person aged 65 years or older) in 2050 will be half of its 1999 level. In other words, every 2 working people will be supporting a retired person in 2050, which doubles the burden on the society from 1999 to 2050 in providing care and benefits for the elderly.
Archaic immigration policies make France somewhat unattractive for foreigners who seek work or asylum, even though the need for more workers has been recognized by many. The government provides generous family and health support programs, though these have not necessarily encouraged population growth. Individuals with health problems, the unemployed, and the retired are protected from bankruptcy by the social security system. Some cities even tried to implement their own programs to encourage population growth, but they were aimed at French or European races, and thus quickly denounced as racist. Overall, the government's efforts to address the serious under-population problem of the near future have not been successful.
OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY
By the 18th century, France was one of the richest nations of the world. The potential for industrial development made France a rival to England, perhaps the most powerful country on Earth at the time. But it was its agricultural potential at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (the period during the 18th and 19th centuries when Europe changed from agrarian, handicraft economies to the those dominated by industry and machine manufacture) which made France a world power. However, its sluggishness in moving from agrarian to industrial modes of production, together with several other factors such as a declining population, left France behind in an industrializing world in the 20th century. As this process continued, and due in part to nationalist sentiment, France largely closed its doors to foreign competition in order to protect its own industries. The nationalization of major industries in France took place in the late 1930s in railways, coal, natural gas, electricity, and the banking sector. Flagship companies in various transportation sectors, such as Renault and Air France, also came under the state control. Although a capitalist country, France made many socialist adjustments such as heavy government control over the economy, which included strict government regulation of many industries or powerful representation of the government in sectors considered essential to the national economy. As part of its statist economic policies, France implemented national economic development plans.
Despite its mixed economic system, France has also recognized since the early post-World War II era that economic integration with Europe is in its own best interests. To this end, France has been the major impetus in the formation of such bodies as the European Coal and Steel Community (in the early 1950s) and the European Economic Community. These organizations were the first steps toward both economic and political union in Europe.
Currently the government's role in the economic sphere is much less than before, especially because of the requirements of the European Union (EU). Since the early 1990s, French companies have faced competition from their European counterparts with less help from the government. In an effort to privatize the state-owned industries, the government is selling off its shares in France Telecom and Air France, along with companies from the insurance, banking, and defense industries.
Because of its fertile and vast land, France has become a major agricultural producer of Europe, making use of modern agricultural technology. The agricultural sector enjoys generous government support in the form of subsidies . This policy sometimes becomes a point of contention with France's EU counterparts. Three-fifths of the land is devoted to agricultural-related economic activities. Besides wine, France is famous for its beef, veal, poultry, and dairy products. Various types of grains also make France the leader among European nations in agricultural production. Overproduction of the world-renowned French wine and competition from foreign producers have conspired to bring about decreases in its price, although the government as of 2001 has tried to discourage overproduction in an attempt to reverse this alarming trend.
France has a long seashore, but fishing is not one of the major components of the economy, except in coastal areas such as Normandy and Brittany, the southern Atlantic coast, and the Mediterranean, where it employs a significant local labor force . France has few fishing ports used in shipment of fish products and ranks 20th in the world in total fish production.
Even though France has a highly-educated labor force, unemployment—which stood at 9.2 percent in December 2000, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO)—is still a major problem, mainly because of the slow growth of the economy. Employment opportunities for college graduates were especially lacking. A 35-hour work week was introduced in 1999 by the government in order to create more jobs. Small companies especially objected to the measure as burdensome, for it forced them to hire more workers. Larger firms are more comfortable with the shortened work week, arguing that participation in the European Monetary Union and a common currency have brought new flexibility into the market and hence has eliminated the costs brought by the shortened work week.
France still maintains its ties with many of its former colonies, especially those in Africa, such as Algeria, Benin, and Senegal. France provides support in the form of French francs in order to stabilize some African currencies. It also provides other types of aid to some of its former colonies, totaling US$6.3 billion in 1997.
As of the end of the 20th century, the capital goods sector was one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, followed by automobiles and services. The French government predicts continuing stable growth in the first few years of the 21st century, largely due to investments in technology and the promise of structural reforms. France's infrastructure is modern in all respects.
POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION
A democratic republic with a constitution approved by referendum in 1958, France is both economically and politically a hybrid of many systems. Economically, it is a capitalistic country with a socialist outlook, exemplified by property rights and a capitalistic concept of private ownership on one hand and an extremely generous social security system and a socialist approach to solving the society's problems on the other. France has a presidential system combined with a more typical European parliamentary arrangement.
The president of the republic, as the head of state, is elected by direct suffrage every 7 years, and appoints the prime minister as the head of government. However, the president must choose the prime minister from a party or a group of political parties determined by the National Assembly, which is the lower house of the French Parliament. It is quite possible that the president and the prime minister may come from different, and even rival, political parties. This is known as cohabitation. Following the 1995 presidential elections, President Jacques Chirac, who represents the center-right side of the political spectrum, cohabits with a center-left government headed by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who was his rival in 1995 presidential elections. Prime Minister Jospin is the head of the Socialist Party, and his coalition government includes representatives from the Communist and Green parties.
The French parliament is bicameral (a representative system with 2 houses in the parliament or legislature, as in Germany or the United States). Representatives are elected to the National Assembly (the lower house of parliament) by direct universal suffrage, and senators are elected indirectly by an electoral college which is comprised of approximately 145,000 representatives of city councilmen. Representatives serve for 5 years, whereas senators are elected for 9 years. The main power brokers in the French political spectrum can be classified from right to left as National Front (FN), Rally for the Republic (RPR), Rally for France (RPF), Union for French Democracy (UDF), the Socialist Party (PS), Green Party, and the Communist Party of France (PCF). The extreme left parties support continued state control over the economy with big spending programs, while the right-wing parties want to end most forms of state support. The right-wing parties also wish to see far less immigration and more people of European origin populating the country. The high level of unemployment and rising nationalism, expressed also in the form of xenophobia (enmity against foreigners and immigrants), have fueled the popularity of the extremist National Front. President Chirac is from RPR. Both that party and the RPF are neo-Gaullist parties (parties supporting the policies and principles laid down by former French statesman Charles de Gaulle, which call for greater European and French power, prestige, and independence, especially from the United States). The UDF is relatively moderate. There are other small parties which may play roles, sometimes influential ones, at the local but not the national levels. Left-leaning parties, especially the socialists, usually advocate implementing a domestic agenda aimed at fighting unemployment and promoting social programs.
Because of pressure from the EU, more budgetary discipline has been emphasized in governmental affairs. Protectionist policies have been abandoned against other members of EU countries. There is strong support for the EU amongst the French people as well as from the president and prime minister. In fact, France is among the most prominent supporters of a unified Europe. Some believe the basis of this support is France's effort to counter the power of the United States in the world's economic and political affairs.
French governments changed hands between left and right in the last quarter of the 20th century, and sometimes political movements changed course. After the influential General de Gaulle's right-leaning government in 1960s, President Francois Mitterand broke with tradition when he came to power in early the 1980s. De Gaulle held the office of the president between 1959 and 1969, and Mitterand served 2 terms as president (1981-95). Catering to the demands of the powerful Communist Party, which supported Mitterand, his socialist government increased government spending by engaging in several public projects and increased taxes in order to pay for the spending. While most of the capitalist world recognized the virtues of the free market economy, the Mitterand government embarked on nationalization efforts. This policy soon led the country into economic turmoil with higher levels of inflation coupled with lower values for the French franc. This tendency forced the government to reverse some of its previous policy decisions, even if it meant adopting policy suggestions of political rivals. Mitterand's prime minister (Chirac) lost the presidential election in 1988 only to win it in 1995. However, the solutions to the economic problems on which Chirac based his campaigns have not yet been completely achieved. With one of the highest levels of unemployment in the EU and its president battered by corruption charges, France saw a general strike in December 1995 that brought the country to a virtual economic standstill. The French government still has a strong presence in the economy, especially in such industries as aeronautics, defense, automobiles, and telecommunications. Even though a great deal has been achieved in privatization, the government can still exert its influence on privatized companies via its large minority stakes in such companies. Nevertheless, after a policy decision of the president in 1996 to streamline defense industries, a wave of mergers and restructuring took place among French defense companies.
France prefers to continue with a large government budget financed mainly by taxes rather than to curtail its spending. Currently, France ranks highest in broadly defined tax categories among G8 countries (a group of the most industrialized countries of the world consists of the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Russia, and the United Kingdom). The basic corporate tax rate is 33.33 percent. The largest tax burden in France, though, is income tax , which in the highest income bracket runs to 54 percent. (By comparison, U.S. federal taxes range from 15 to 33 percent.) The highest tax bracket starts at only about US$40,000, so the middle and upper classes in France pay a significant portion of their salaries in taxes. This rate is one cause, some economists believe, of unemployment, because high taxation together with generous government spending programs discourages working. Incomes of less than 26,100 French francs (approximately US$3,500) a year are not taxed at all, while all income levels above US$20,000 are taxed of a rate of at least 40 percent.
INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS
France enjoys one of the most sophisticated infrastructures in the world, developed through the govern-ment's heavy investment in the field and made possible by advanced technology. A network of various modes of transportation blankets the whole country, including air, land, and rail transportation. Transportation is also possible via rivers. The technologically advanced rail system— utilizing some of the fastest trains in the world—is operated by the French National Railways (SNCF), a state-owned company. There are a total of 31,939 kilometers (19,846 miles) of rail lines in the country. There are approximately 828,000 kilometers (514,605 miles) of roads in France, all of which are paved. About 47 per cent of the waterways are heavily used. There are a total of 474 airports in France, many of which serve international traffic. The major airline is Air France, which provides service to all corners of the globe. Many of the ports and harbors are equipped to handle the needs of freight as well as passenger ships. The major port cities are Dunkirk, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes, Rouen, Le Havre, Boulogne, Cherbourg, Dijon, La Pallice, Lyon, Mullhouse, Paris, Saint Nazaire, Saint Malo, and Strasbourg.
The communications infrastructure of France also ranks high among advanced countries. There were about 35 million main telephone lines in use by the end of 1998, with mobile cellular phone usage at about 35 percent of that figure. About 218 newspapers were sold in France per 1,000 people in 1996. This number slightly exceeds EMU member countries' newspaper circulation rate for the same period but falls behind the high income countries' average of 286. The number of radios per 1,000 people in 1997 was 937, which shows the same pattern with respect to the EU and high income countries' averages. Radios broadcasting in AM, FM, and short wave cater to domestic and international clienteles. Television set ownership is somewhere in the middle of EU countries. Cable TV is not as widespread in France as it is in either high-income or EU countries as a whole. France's ratio of 27.5 cable subscribers per 1,000 is a far cry from Europe's 110.3 and that of the wealthiest nations' 184. In spite of its vast mobile phone usage, France also lags behind both EU as a whole and its wealthiest countries. There are fewer Internet service providers (ISPs) in France
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
than in many other EU nations, but there is easy access to the Internet via both domestic and foreign ISPs. The dominant domestic telecommunications company, Mini-tel, is run by the government-owned France Telecom, which has a proprietary electronic commerce service. Even though it lags behind its counterparts in the developed world in some electronic communications industries such as the Internet, France is quickly catching up.
Nevertheless, France is a very conservative country, deeply committed to its own distinct national information infrastructure, which makes the country cautious in approaching innovations that do not originate within France. The government makes special efforts to prevent English, which is by far the most widely used language on the Internet, from taking over in communications. A law was even passed in the early 1990s in an attempt to bolster the use of French in the communications field, thanks to efforts of the Ministry of Culture. The French Internet industry and other communications sectors are more heavily regulated than those of Germany and Britain, and some economists maintain that this has significantly impeded developments in the Internet and related industries in the country. On the other hand, government is promoting the usage of information technology and began in 1999 to deregulate some aspects of the industry.
France is not rich when it comes to fuel resources, so it imports three-quarters of the fuel it needs, especially oil. The same does not hold true for electrical energy production, though. Electricity production reached over 480 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 1998. The biggest source of electrical power is nuclear energy, which supplies about 76 percent of the country's needs and making France the second largest supplier of nuclear energy after the United States. The next largest source of electrical power is hydroelectric, which supplies about 13 percent, which is produced by plants operating on the Isére, Durance, Rhine, Rhône, and Dordogne rivers. Additionally, a tidal power plant is located on the Rance River in Brittany. Fossil fuel represents about 11 percent of electrical power in France and supplies about 389 billion kWh of energy. France exports about 62 billion kWh of fossil fuel energy and imports 4 billion kWh more.
The French economy is competitive on a global scale in many goods and service sectors. In 1998, about 3.3 percent of the GDP was contributed by the agricultural sector, and 26.1 percent by the industry. But the major portion of the GDP is accounted for by the service sector, which makes France a typical modern industrialized country. While most employment is provided by this sector (about 66 percent), agriculture employs only 7 percent and services 27 percent. Historically, France has been the capital of Europe with its vast expanses of farm land. French wine and cheese are famous throughout the world. For historical and cultural reasons, French farms have generally been small and family-owned, and worked with traditional tools and methods. Globalization, which involves the opening of France to the market forces of Europe, has led the country to think about modernization in agriculture, which has only partially adopted modern methods. Currently, the French economy is stronger and more competitive in world markets than before, even though many business enterprises are still smaller than their counterparts in Europe, Japan, and the United States.
The leading industries are metallurgy, mechanical and electrical engineering, chemicals, textiles, and the manufacturing of airplanes and automobiles. The auto producers, Renault and Citroen, are household names in many European countries. The French are very proud of Airbus Industrie, which is the main competitor of the Boeing Company, the leading U.S. aircraft producer. Airbus has captured a sizable portion of the commercial airplane market, a domain which had belonged exclusively to Boeing and its smaller U.S. and British competitors before the rise of Airbus in the 1970s. The world famous Mirage and Concorde are also produced by French aviation companies. The tragic July 2000 crash of a Concorde in France marred the otherwise superb reliability of Concorde airplanes, but in 2001 the sleek jet was scheduled to go back into service with Air France. France is not very rich in natural resources other than bauxite, but the country processes imported material into commercial products and resells them domestically and to the rest of the world.
France has a diverse and important services sector. Paris has the fifth largest stock market in the world. France's 4 banks rank among the biggest 25 banks in the world. The insurance industry ranks fifth in the world. France has been, for much of the last century, the world capital in fashion, setting the trends in designer clothes. Although there is a threat from countries with lower labor costs, French textile products are among the best in the world. Perfumes produced in France are synonymous with high fashion. Paris is known all over the world for its cultural attractions, architecture, and cosmopolitan lifestyle. That is why France is 1 of the 3 most-visited countries in the world, along with Spain and the United States.
France has been one of the most dominant agricultural centers of Europe for centuries. That gave France an important role in European and, to some extent world, affairs in the pre-industrial age. Currently, France still leads Europe in agriculture, excluding the Russian Federation. With about 730,000 farms, approximately 7 percent of the workforce is employed in agriculture or similar sectors such as fishing or forestry. When all people engaged in agriculture-related activities (including the processing of agricultural goods, for example) are considered, the percentage of the population engaged in agricultural production is much larger. As of 2001, many younger people tend to look for employment outside of family farms and help out only as part-timers. This trend, however, has generated an opportunity for others looking for jobs in agriculture. According to the French Ministry of Agriculture, the share of population actively involved in farming is decreasing. Nevertheless, new creative methods of marketing and agritourism have attracted some young talent to the sector. The sheer size of the land used for farming, about three-fifths of the total, indicates the place of agriculture in the lives of French people. In the post-World War II era, government has made a significant effort to modernize French agricultural production by switching to more scientific methods and modern equipment. In 1997, about 86 percent of farms owned at least 1 tractor, and farmers increasingly upgrade equipment. The size of irrigated land in 1997 is twice that in 1979.
The major agricultural products that place France among the top producers in the world market are sugar beets, wine, milk, beef and veal, cereals, and oilseeds. Producing 29 million metric tons of sugar beets, France leads the EU. It takes second place in both the EU and the world in the production of its highly popular wine varieties, with 5.3 million metric tons. Though fifth in the world, France ranks second in the EU in milk production, totaling 23.3 million metric tons. France is the major source of meat and veal in the EU with 1,815,000 metric tons. What is commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease" (an illness first discovered in British beef that causes death if it infects humans) created a rift among European countries, especially when France prohibited British beef from entering the country. In the cereals category, which includes soft wheat and grain maze, France leads the EU. With 4.1 million metric tons of production, France also holds the leading position in oilseeds in the EU.
The biggest export items among agricultural products are various types of beverages and alcoholic drinks. According to the Ministry's numbers, the value of alcoholic exports reached 56.6 billion francs in 1999. This amount registered a 6 percent increase over the previous period. Cereals and flour exports, which increased 12 percent, totaled 36 billion francs. Meat and other animal products experienced a shrinkage of 7 percent but were still valued at 28 billion francs. All categories of prepared food brought 27 billion francs into the country in the same year. However, this reflected a decline of 10 percent from the previous year. Dairy products also suffered a loss of 2 percent in the world market share, generating 24 billion francs. Demand for French sugar and sugar refineries declined sharply in the world market by about 8 per cent in 1999. The total export revenue obtained by this category was 11 billion francs. The economic crises in world markets played a role in the declines experienced by French exporters of agricultural products. The EU and the United States are France's principal customers for agricultural products.
France is also an importer of agricultural commodities. Prepared food tops the list of imported agricultural items. Figures from 1999 indicate that France imported 19 billion francs worth of meat and other animal products. Even though it has a sizable coastline, France imports a large segment of its fish demand from abroad, which was valued at 16 billion francs in 1999. Fruits, dairy products, and various beverages cost France 14, 12 and 10 billion francs respectively in the same year. All import categories experienced moderate shrinkage between 3 and 6 per cent, except meat, animal products, and fish-eries, all of which remained unchanged from 1997. France did most of its shopping from the same countries to which it sold its products.
Almost half of farm income in France is generated by livestock raising, and the other half is contributed by crops. Cattle are raised mainly in the north and west; sheep and goats primarily in the south and east, which is drier and more mountainous. Pigs and chickens are raised everywhere in France. The Paris Basin area is the source of wheat while some rice comes from irrigated fields of the Rhone delta. While Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, and Alsace are well-known wine regions, wine is actually produced all over the country.
Fishing does not contribute to the French economy in comparison with the agriculture on the national scale. According to the data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, fish production in 1998 reached nearly 600,000 metric tons, a slight increase of 1.5 percent over the previous year. Because of favorable prices, though, the fish products sector exceeded 6.5 billion francs. The exports of the sector fall far behind imports, creating a trade deficit in fisheries which is more than double the exports. However, France still ranks twentieth in the world in total fish production. Locally, fishing plays an important role in such areas as Normandy and Brittany, the Southern Atlantic coast, and the Mediterranean. Concarneau, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Lorient, and La Rochelle are the main fishing ports of France.
France's forests are prized for both economic and ecological reasons. The National Forestry Service, founded in 1966, is responsible for managing the country's forests. From 1850 to 1900 a big reforestation campaign occurred, and as of 2001, about 27 percent of French land is covered by forests, making it the third-most forested country in the EU. Two-thirds of the forests are occupied by deciduous trees, and the rest are conifers. France's forests have grown 35 percent since 1945 and continue to grow by about 30,000 hectares each year. Close to 4 million people in France have private ownership of wooded areas. The marketed wood harvest was up in 1998 from its level in 1997 by about 1.6 percent. The rise in the wood industry is attributed to the renewal of activity in construction. As in many other countries, forests in France are utilized not only for wood production but as recreation as well. Hence, while supplying wood products and playing a role in a healthier environment, forests also contribute to the national economy by serving the tourism sector.
France is among the most industrialized countries of the world. It is a member of the G8, a group of countries which comprises the 7 largest industrial democracies, plus the Russian Federation. In 1999, the French GDP was almost identical to that of Great Britain and comfortably larger than that of Italy.
About 19.3 per cent of the GDP was generated by manufacturing in France in 1999, compared to 17.8 percent in the United States and 18.5 percent in Britain. Manufacturing contributes roughly 20 percent of the GDP in Italy, Germany and Japan. Investment in the industrial manufacturing sector was 141 billion francs in 1999. (These figures excluded the energy and agricultural manufacturing sectors.)
Firms operating in the industrial manufacturing sector produced a variety of goods such as consumption goods, items related to the auto industry, and equipment such as electronics, machinery, and intermediate goods . The well-established name for French products in the fashion world helps France in the export of perfumes and even flowers. The consumption goods industry made nearly 200 billion francs from sales abroad in 1999. The contribution of the auto industry to the French exports figures in 1999 was almost 300 billion francs. France is one of the largest producers of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in the world, along with Japan, the United States, and Germany.
The principal manufacturing companies are located in Ile-de-France, Rhone-Alpes, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, and Pays de la Loire regions. New industrial areas emerged around the English Channel and Mediterranean Sea in order to save shipment costs of imported raw materials. Even though some French companies, such as Renault and Airbus, are world famous, most French firms are characterized as moderate to small-sized. But small firms tend to be ineffective in the world market because of heavy competition from companies based in countries with cheaper labor costs or higher and better production technologies. The pressure of competition was felt heavily with the unification of the European markets under the umbrella of EU, in which movement of capital and labor is not constrained. Unless smaller and relatively inefficient French firms can adapt, labor and capital may move elsewhere. With the advent of the euro, many French companies have had to restructure and form mergers.
The major European airplane producing company is Airbus, which is based in France but also supported by Germany and Britain. With more than 4,200 aircraft orders placed by international customers as of April 2001, Airbus is the world leader in aircraft production. Airbus and Boeing of the United States are in competition, and they have conflicting ideas about the future of the world air travel. The perception of future demand and air travel habits shapes the design of aircraft to be produced. Airbus believes that huge aircraft with a short flight range will shape demand in the future. Boeing, on the other hand, believes that passengers will be flying long miles in smaller aircraft. Time will show which one is on the right track.
One other field where French companies are strong is construction and civil engineering. However, a recent declining trend in enrollment in science classes in the country is a major concern of education authorities. France is the second ranked producer and the leading exporter of agri-foodstuffs (processed food such as wine, cheese, and pasta) in Europe. It is the fourth-largest exporter in the world in chemicals, rubber, and plastics; and third ranked in pharmachemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Mining is not a field in which France competes, and only a very minor fraction of the labor force (less than 1 percent) is engaged in mining. Regarding coal, 2 major fields produce most of France's coal: the Lorraine coal field near Metz and the Nord-de-Calais coal field near Lille. Most of these fields do not have economically viable reserves compared to other big producers because they lack sufficient amounts in some cases or are difficult to extract. Many coal fields have shut down since the 1950s.
France is among the biggest producers of bauxite in Europe and also plays a big role in the continent's natural gas production. France's position may be threatened, however, if some Asian companies acquire access to the European market, although the tariff -free regulations that EU member states enjoy put France in a strong position. France is an importer of petroleum but processes petroleum at home to produce several oil products which are sold domestically and abroad.
As with any other developed country, the services sector is an important component of the French economy. Out of over 2 million companies in France, roughly one-third operate in the various subsectors of the services industry. More companies are currently in the services sector in France than in any other part of the economy. The services industry (other than government) provides jobs to about 27 percent of the workforce, or 4.5 million people, and contributes 39 percent of the GDP. Investment in the industry is also significant.
France has a developed credit market which channels savings to investors very efficiently and in large volumes. The market capitalization of shares listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, the fifth largest in the world, accounts for about 32 percent of the French GDP. Market capitalization at the end of 1997 reached an extraordinary 4 trillion francs. The Paris Stock Exchange is an internationally used capital market, and foreign investors hold about 35 percent of French stocks. This puts Paris in an advantageous position to attract more international capital with the help of the euro, the common currency of the EU. In an effort to adjust to the introduction of the new currency, all asset management companies in France started to offer their services in euros as of January 1999, the date the euro was introduced as the common currency of Europe. Since not all EU, let alone the European countries, decided to adopt the euro as their currency, authorities in the Paris Stock Exchange believe it has a comparative advantage over the stock markets of these nations since it can offer more opportunities via its reach to wider international audience. The Paris Stock Exchange has gone through extensive technological and legal restructuring to become more investor friendly in the international market. According to the stock exchange's data, foreign investments in the Paris Stock Exchange have tripled in monthly trading since the beginning of 1998, due in large part to the restructuring of the exchange. The exchange has trade relationships with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the stock exchanges of Sao Paolo, Toronto, Brussels, Lisbon, Tunis, Casablanca, Warsaw, and Amman, among others. The French bond market is among the world's leaders and ranks second after its U.S. counterpart.
The French banking system is also quite competitive in the world market. Credit Agricole, Compagnie Financiere Paribas, Groupe Caisses d'Epargne, and Banque National de Paris rank among the top 25 banks in the world. In Europe, banks are allowed to engage in activities that would normally be reserved for either commercial banks or investment banks in the United States. In a unified Europe, there will be one central bank, while national central banks will be largely autonomous.
Like banking and the stock market, the French insurance sector is also a world player, ranking among the top 5 in the global insurance market. Although French insurance firms have a global presence, 60 percent of their total international activity is carried out within the borders of EU. Like other insurance industries, French insurers are institutional investors. The largest chunk of investments in the insurance industry is in the form of bonds, at 69 percent. Stocks account for only 15 percent of investment, and the rest is real estate, commercial paper and other assets. French insurers saw their overall value rise 16 percent from 1996 to 1997. The introduction of the common currency is expected to boost profits in the insurance industry.
Over 60 million tourists visit France every year, making it one of the largest tourist centers of the world. Visitors are attracted to its high fashion (or haute couture ), beautiful scenery, historic heritage, and cultural activities. Paris, the center of France's tourist trade, offers attractions such as the Louvre (its famous art museum), fine restaurants, the Eiffel Tower, and the beautiful works of architecture along the Seine, its major river. With about 67 million annual tourists, France trailed behind only the United States and Spain in 1997. France has a surplus in tourism in its balance of payments accounts. The more than 100,000 businesses directly or indirectly involved in tourism in 1997 generated over 100 billion French francs. Investments in the sector came close to 15 billion francs in that same year. According to the Ministry of Tourism, there were about 634,640 people employed in the various categories of the tourism sector including travel agencies, restaurants, and hotels. About one-sixth of this figure is employed for less than full-time.
France, with its developed economy, is one of the most active participants in world trade. After World War II, the French government saw that closer ties to Ger many would bring it political security and greater economic strength. Thus, the European Coal and Steel Community was formed, which brought the 2 countries and other European nations into a consultative body to discuss the production of steel and coal. The EU, which France was instrumental in creating, has helped it to diminish government intervention in economic affairs by privatizing several industries. In 1992, the Treaty of Maastricht was signed, which was the watershed event in bringing Europe into political and economic union. On a practical level, the lower trade barriers and fewer restrictions that integration has brought have opened doors to French products to be sold in many European countries and has allowed a wider freedom of movement of capital in Europe, all of which has benefitted France. The downside is that France, sharing common trade and tariff policies with the rest of the EU countries, has discussed the erection of trade barriers against non-EU companies and products. France will follow EU policy as a
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): France|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
whole whenever the EU erects trade barriers to foreign goods and firms. The EU has made it clear that it will erect such barriers in cases involving health, safety, and environmental issues, for instance.
France's share of exports to the world's top ten economies was 9.3 percent in 1997, 9.8 percent in 1998, and 9.4 percent in 1999, putting it in fourth place behind the United States, Germany, and Japan. France is also the fourth largest exporter to the world, with over 5 percent of the world export market. France is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products as well as services, including tourism and financial transactions. In the durable goods market, France ranks fourth in the world exports. The biggest trade partners of France are members of the EU, with which France enjoyed an overall trade surplus of 79 billion francs in 1999. The only EU countries with which France has a trade deficit are Germany and Italy. It also had a trade surplus with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries (OECD, a group of countries which promotes free markets and contributes to the development of members' economies through cooperation) of 66 billion francs in 1999. Its deficit with some Asian countries and Russia can be attributed to the economic crises experienced in these regions, which led to lower demand for French products.
Of over 2 million companies located in France, less than 5 percent take part in activities directly related to export, according to the Department of Foreign Trade of France. While mostly French-owned, some of these companies are multinational corporations . Companies such as IBM, Michelin, Hewlett Packard, and Daimler Benz are among France's top 20 exporters, with the top 3 exporters being PSA, Renault, and Airbus Industrie. The top 20 companies export mainly vehicles and such items as tires, aircraft, electricity, office products, plastic goods, industrial equipment, food items, computer products, pharmaceuticals, and chemical goods.
The 4 top exporters account for 10 percent of French exports, which is more than what the 100,000 next smaller companies bring into the country. The top 10 exporters contribute 15 percent of exports, while the first 100 make up 35 percent of it. Since some of these companies are active in more than 1 production area and usually operate under different names using subsidiaries, the real contribution of the largest 10 companies probably amounts to half of France's total exports. Hence, even though they may not appear in the list of large exporters, some conglomerates, such as Alcatel-Alsthom, are among the largest exporters.
The contribution of smaller-scale enterprises to the French export picture has been on the rise since 1990. Almost half of total exported goods and services were produced by companies having somewhere between 10 to 499 employees. These types of companies are called Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Firms hiring fewer than 10 people are called Very Small Enterprises (VSEs). Foreigners control about 27 percent of SMEs in France and about 33 percent of VSEs. SMEs concentrate in agricultural products such as agro-foodstuffs and consumption goods such as wood and leather.
Oil tops the list of French imports. In 1997, petroleum products made up 4.64 percent of all imports. Natural gas is also a major import. Various auto parts, some from French companies located abroad, are also high in the shopping list of France.
Foreign investment in France has steadily increased since 1990. Direct foreign investment in France, in the form of expansion or start-ups, created over 31,000 new jobs in 1999, up 8 percent from its level in 1998. This trend was most likely due to France's skilled labor force combined with the government's efforts to make France attractive to foreign investors. Some 29 percent of all foreign investment-related jobs created in 1999 were due to hiring in U.S. and Canadian firms. This was followed by German investors. The information technologies and communications fields created 15 percent of new jobs. A similar pattern was observed in consultant and service sectors, including call centers and logistics, accounting for 13 percent of the jobs. France is the world's fourth largest receiver of international investments.
Realizing the importance of operating in the country where the market is, French companies have extended their presence abroad. French companies have established a sizable presence in other countries which amounted to 239.7 billion francs in 1998. France is a net exporter of direct capital investments to the rest of the world. The balance of export and import of direct capital investment almost doubled in 1997 from its 1996 value and did not change much in 1998, standing at 74.4 billion francs. This rate was due largely to the increased volume of foreign direct capital investment in France, overall, a remarkable change from the 1990 deficit of 112.3 billion francs. Emerging economies is another reason why French capital opted to take advantage of new markets abroad. But despite new investment in the developing world, two-thirds of French capital in 1998 was invested in the EU and the United States.
The French franc is one of the reserve currencies of the world. However, its influence is nowhere close to that of the United States dollar. In 1999 France, together with certain other countries, agreed to phase out its domestic currency in favor of a common currency in Europe, which will work like the U.S. dollar among U.S. states. The euro was launched at a value slightly above the U.S. dollar,
|Exchange rates: France|
|euros per US$1|
|Note: Amounts prior to 1999 are in French francs per US dollar.|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
but by 2001 it had lost much of its value. The European Central Bank, with the help of the United States Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, undertook a salvage operation aimed at curbing further decline of the euro. The weaker euro made French products, along with other goods produced in the region that uses the euro (also known as the "Euro Zone"), cheaper with respect to the rest of the world. The sale of high-tech goods produced by U.S. firms, such as Intel and Boeing, has suffered during the process, which partly led to the U.S. central bank's participation in the joint effort to save the euro.
Not all EU member countries have opted to be part of the single monetary bloc. Great Britain's reluctance to join was a major blow to efforts to unite the monetary affairs of Europe. Though 10 countries initially joined, the Euro Zone now includes 12 countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Holland, and Portugal).
The euro is not yet a hard currency . However, it is used throughout the participating EU countries in non-currency financial transactions. Prices are quoted in both the domestic currency, such as franc, and the euro. Domestic currencies coexist with the euro in a fixed exchange rate regime. For example, 1 euro equals 6.56 French francs. However, the domestic currencies and the euro use market forces to determine their values on the world market in a flexible exchange rate regime (synonymous with a floating exchange rate ). The transformation to the single currency will start in July 2001 when the banks begin issuing checks in the euros. A single currency is expected to ease the movement of labor and capital in Europe and generate a common market encompassing 20 percent of the world's trade.
The French monetary system is governed by the central bank of France, the Bank of France. The reserves of the Bank of France amounted to 72.19 billion euros as of January 2001. Of this amount, more than half (39 billion euros) was in foreign exchange, and 27.6 billion euros was in gold. The Monetary Policy Council is the decision-making
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
arm of the Bank, similar to Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the United States. The governor of the Bank and Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance cooperate in making policy decisions. However, with the common currency, a new monetary governing body will be introduced, the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), which includes the European Central Bank and the national central banks of each country.
POVERTY AND WEALTH
World War I and II, which were separated by a widespread depression, had a dramatic impact on the whole of Europe, including France. In addition to the loss of manpower, productivity, and wealth, the infrastructure of the European countries was largely destroyed. In the 1950s, only half of French families had running water in their houses, and access to television and automobiles was highly limited. Half a century later, the picture has changed drastically, at least for the larger part of society. France is an advanced industrial country in every respect, although there are pockets in French society that are still comparatively under-developed. The per capita GDP in 1995 U.S. dollars has increased from under US$20,000 in 1975 to just under US$28,000 in 1998, making France among the highest-income nations in the world. However, men tend to earn US$10,000 (1998 dollars) more than women per year. The educational system, though, is more egalitarian: 94 percent of females and 91 percent
|Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: France|
|Survey year: 1995|
|Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.|
|SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].|
of males have attended either a primary, secondary, or tertiary educational institutions. France spends about 6 percent of the GNP on public education, slightly higher than the average for OECD countries. However, only 5 percent of the students are in science in tertiary educational institutions, which is a concern to policy makers about the country's competitiveness in information age.
Standards of living are difficult to assess, and most economists group the Western European and North American countries close together at the top end of most "quality of life" scales. The United Nations Development Program ranked France as thirteenth on the "Human Development Index" in 2001, a testament to France's excellent health care, literacy, income, and life expectancy.
World Bank data show that the poorest 10 percent of the population receive only 2.8 percent of the national income in France. The poorest 20 percent receive only 7.2 per cent of the income. The highest 20 percent, on the other hand, possess 40.2 percent. Unemployment is a major problem, with a rate of 11.7 percent in 1998. Even though the unemployment rate decreased by 5 percent from 1994 to 1998, the rate is still high enough to cause concern among economists. Another related, but less apparent problem is the insecurity and low pay in
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All Food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|aExcludes energy used for transport.|
|bIncludes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
jobs which do not require special skills. Marginal increases in government aid programs have not alleviated the problem completely.
Worst hit by the economic inequalities in France are immigrants, who are often subjected to severe discrimination. Some authorities in certain parts of the country have tried to encourage the native population to have more children by offering child benefits while denying immigrants the same services. The EU, on the other hand, has special educational programs for minorities and immigrants.
The percentage of people living with AIDS (0.37 percent) is slightly above the OECD average (0.32 percent) according to UNDP statistics. Public expenditures on health increased from 6.6 percent of the GDP in 1990 to 7.1 percent in 1996-98.
Some 25.6 million workers were employed in France by the end of 1999. France's labor force resembles that of many advanced industrial nations and is one of the most highly-educated in Europe. The GDP per employee per hour was US$34, larger than Italy, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. France ranks third in Europe in employee productivity, and fourth in labor costs.
Unionism in France has declined dramatically over time and currently stands at half the level of the United States and reached the lowest level in Europe in 1997. Traditionally, unionism is stronger in Europe than the United States, and unions fight for non-wage rights more than for issues such as job security and vacations. The major labor union in France is the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT) with about 2.4 million members. It is controlled by communists. The independent labor union, Force Ouvriere, is estimated to have about 1 million members. Another independent union serving white-collar labor is Confederation Generale des Cadres with 340,000 members. Other labor unions are the Conseil National du Patronat Francais (Patronat National Council of French Employers, CNPF) and the socialist-leaning labor union Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail (CFDT) with about 800,000 members.
The decline of unions in France has not left the labor force without protection. There are still strong laws and institutional arrangements that give workers a say in running the workplace. The labor code sets standards regarding issues ranging from the workweek to vacations. In companies with more than 10 employees, workers are represented at various decision-making levels and are free to file grievances, individually or collectively, with the courts against the employer. Worker-employer relations are peaceful overall. A total of 8.4 working days are lost per 1,000 working days in France, making it one of the lowest strike countries of Europe. The same number is well over 40 days in Spain.
Another challenge the French labor force faces is the eroding job security as a result of adjustment to the common market policies of the EU. Cheaper labor from such countries as Greece and Spain may drive unskilled French workers out of jobs. Adding to this problem is the possibility that France's skilled workers may find extended opportunities in other member countries. In 1999, the government introduced a 35-hour work week to ease the unemployment problem by creating more positions for the unemployed. (The 35-hour workweek is paid on a 39 hour basis.) Starting in the year 2000, companies gradually phased in the 35-hour workweek schedule. Businesses were vehemently opposed to the initiative, though some agreed to it after negotiations with the government. Firms that implement the rule earlier than they are required to are promised government aid based on the number of workers they employ, which is expected to be a significant burden on the national budget. The government has proposed dipping into the unemployment benefits fund to pay the costs of the new policy.
COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
843. The treaty of Verdun roughly determines the borders of France. Charles the Bald becomes first monarch.
1338. The Hundred Years' War with England begins.
1643. Louis XIV's reign begins.
1789. The monarchy is overthrown by French Revolution. First Republic is founded.
1804. Napoleon Bonaparte declares himself the first emperor.
1914. France is invaded by Germany during World War I and suffers enormous losses before winning the war, with the Allies, in 1918.
1940. France is invaded again by Germans during World War II. Allies liberate France in 1944. General Charles de Gaulle becomes head of the provisional government.
1946. France joins NATO.
1951. France plays a key role in the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the first step towards the eventual formation of the European Union.
1954. France withdraws from Indochina (Vietnam) after its military defeat there.
1968. Students and workers strike in Paris in opposition to government policies regarding the poor; De Gaulle resigns after losing referendum on constitutional reform.
1974. Conservative Giscard d'Estaing becomes president.
1981. Socialist Francois Mitterand becomes president; massive nationalization campaign by the government begins.
1986. Jacques Chirac becomes the prime minister of the center-right coalition; the government embarks on privatization efforts.
1988. Francois Mitterand is elected for a second term and brings France much closer to integration with the EU.
1991. Socialist Edith Cresson becomes the first woman prime minister of France.
1992. The Treaty of Maastricht is signed, which calls for the political and economic union of European countries. A common monetary policy and legal structure is announced.
1993. France tightens immigration requirements and makes it easier to deport foreigners.
1995. Jacques Chirac wins presidency on his third try, cements relations with Germany and the European union.
1997. Socialist Lionel Jospin becomes prime minister.
1999. EU adopts the euro as the currency.
France suffered twice from war in the 20th century at the hands of its neighbor Germany. The 21st century, however, looks much brighter than the preceding one. France is part of a European coalition which may create a United States of Europe in the future. Not only is France one of the leading players in this effort, it also has strong relations with Germany, once its invader, which brings it security. By joining the common currency efforts in Europe, France has secured an influential role for itself in European affairs, both economically and politically. It has already started to reap the benefits of one of the largest markets in the world by receiving a large volume of foreign direct investment and exporting its agricultural and other products within Europe in a tariff-free environment.
Recent liberalization and privatization efforts of the government, which reversed an earlier course of the 1980s, both brought confidence to markets and increased efficiency to the government, which is now much smaller than before. Its main problems lie in its relatively high unemployment rate and low population growth. The EU may provide a solution to the unemployment problem, but with a more integrated Europe comes the possibility that France may lose many of its more talented workers if they leave for better jobs. Coupled with rigid immigration policies and xenophobia, France may experience a shortage of technically capable individuals. Germany, which has many of the same racial difficulties, recently initiated a program which is similar to the U.S. green card and may encourage technologically savvy people to come to Germany. France may soon have to confront the same problem. Decreasing population growth may seem to be an answer to unemployment in the short run, but it is a fact that the burden of supporting the retired will have to be shared by fewer working people as France's demographics change. This situation may mean the need for higher spending on health care and related services, which will drain government aid funds. Perhaps this problem is the biggest challenge France has to deal with in the 21st century.
France has no territories or colonies.
Airbus. <http://www1.airbus.com>. Accessed April 2001.
Aron, Raymond. "The French Economy: A Study in Paradoxes." The Atlantic Monthly. June 1958.
Brogna, Brunner, editor. "France." Time Almanac 2000. Boston, MA: Time Inc., 2000.
Discover France. <http://www.discoverfrance.net>. Accessed January 2001.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: France. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2000.
Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry. Welcome to MINEFI. <http://www.minefi.gouv.fr>. Accessed February 2001.
Ministry of Tourism. Tourisme. <http://www.tourisme.gouv.fr>. Accessed April 2001.
National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (L'Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques). Insee. <http://www.insee.fr/en/home/home_page.asp>. Accessed January 2001.
United Nations Development Program. World Population Trends. <http://www.undp.org/popin/wdtrends>. Accessed January 2001.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed July 2001.
U.S. Department of State. FY2001 Country Commercial Guide: France. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/europe/france_ccg2001.pdf>. Accessed November 2001.
—Ismail H. Genc
Emine U. Genc
French Franc (FRF). A franc equals 100 centimes. Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 francs, and 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimes. Paper currency is in denominations of FRF 50, 100, 200, and 500. In 1999, the European Union (EU), of which France is a member, introduced a new currency, called the euro, to be the common currency among the participating member countries. The euro is scheduled to circulate amongst the members of the European Monetary Union (EMU) by 2002. When this happens, it will be the sole currency in member states, including France. The exchange rate between the euro and franc is fixed at 6.56 francs per euro. Both the franc and euro currently float against all other currencies. The exchange rate for 1 U.S. dollar was 0.98 euros at the euro's inception, but it has lost substantial value since then. There are 100 cents in a euro. Coins will come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, as well as 1 and 2 euros. Paper currency will be issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros.
Machinery and transportation equipment, chemicals, iron and steel products, agricultural products, textiles and clothing.
Crude oil, machinery and equipment, chemicals, agricultural products.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
US$1.373 trillion (in purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$304.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999). Imports: US$280.8 billion (f.o.b., 1999).
"France." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 10, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france
"France." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Retrieved June 10, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/france
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American Psychological Association
Early Belief in Sorcery
According to occultist Éliphas Lévi, the practice of magic in pre-Roman France originated with the Druids and was nearly identical to that of the Draids in Britain, from which it derived. It is unlikely that Roman magic gained any footing in Gaul, but there is little evidence of whether this was or was not the case.
In his book The History of Magic (1913), Lévi states that in the early Frankish period of the Merovingian dynasty, Fredegond, wife of Hilperic, king of Soissons, destroyed many people apparently through sorcery, or malevolent magic. She also experimented with black magic, the calling up of spirit entities, and protected many practitioners of the art, Lévi says. On one occasion, she saved a sorceress who had been arrested by Ageric, bishop of Verdun, by hiding her in the palace.
The practice of magic was not punished under the rule of the early French kings, except on those occasions when (usually through poisonings) it intruded into the royal caste and thus became a political offense, as in the case of the military leader Mummol, who was tortured by command of Hilperic for sorcery. One of the Salic laws attributed to Pharamond by Sigebert stated: "If any one shall testify that another had acted as hèrèburge or strioporte [titles applied to those who carry the copper vessel to the spot where the vampires perform their enchantments] and if he fail to convict him, he shall be condemned hereby to a forfeit of 7,500 deniers, being 180 1/2 sous…. If a vampire shall devour a man and be found guilty, she shall forfeit 8,000 deniers, being 200 sous."
The Christian church also legislated against sorcerers and vampires, and the Council of Agde in Languedoc, held in 506C.E., pronounced excommunication against them. The first Council of Orleans, convened in 541, condemned divination and augury. The Council of Narbonne, in 589, excommunicated all sorcerers and ordained that they be sold as slaves for the benefit of the poor. Those who allegedly had dealings with the devil were condemned to whipping.
Some extraordinary phenomena are said to have occurred in France during the reign of Pepin le Bref (714?-768): the air seemed to be alive with human shapes, mirages filled the heavens, and sorcerers were seen among the clouds, scattering powders and poisons with open hands. Crops failed, cattle died, and many people perished. Such visions may have been stimulated by the teachings of the famous Kabbalist Zedekias. He presided over a school of occult science, where he withheld the secrets of his art and contented himself with postulating his ideas about elemental spirits. The spirits he stated, had been subservient to him before the fall of man. The aforementioned visions might have been caused by mass belief that sylphs and salamanders were descending in search of their former masters. Lévi wrote as follows:
"Voyages to the land of sylphs were talked of on all sides as we talk at the present day of animated tables and fluidic manifestations. The folly took possession even of strong minds, and it was time for an intervention on the part of the church, which does not relish the supernatural being hawked in the public streets, seeing that such disclosures, by imperilling the respect due to authority and to the hierarchic chain of instruction, cannot be attributed to the spirit of order and light. The cloud phantoms were therefore arraigned and accused of being hell-born illusions, while the people—anxious to get something into their hands—began a crusade against sorcerers. The public folly turned into a paroxysm of mania; strangers in country places were accused of descending from heaven and were killed without mercy; imbeciles confessed that they had been abducted by sylphs or demons; others who had boasted like this previously either would not or could not unsay it; they were burned or drowned, and, according to Garinet, the number who perished throughout the kingdom almost exceeds belief. It is the common catastrophe of dramas in which the first parts are played by ignorance or fear.
"Such visionary epidemics recurred in the reigns following, and all the power of Charlemagne was put in action to calm the public agitation. An edict, afterwards renewed by Louis the Pious, forbade sylphs to manifest under the heaviest penalties. It will be understood that in the absence of the aerial beings the judgments fell upon those who had made a boast of having seen them, and hence they ceased to be seen. The ships in air sailed back to the port of oblivion, and no one claimed any longer to have journeyed through the blue distance. Other popular frenzies replaced the previous mania, while the romantic splendors of the great reign of Charlemagne furnished the makers of legends with new prodigies to believe and new marvels to relate."
Mysterious legends grew around the figure of Charlemagne. It was said that the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III, a collection of written magic charms, was presented to Charlemagne. Lévi illustrates the condition of affairs in Charlemagne's France:
"We know that superstitions die hard and that degenerated Druidism had struck its roots deeply in the savage lands of the North. The recurring insurrections of Saxons testified to a fanaticism which was (a) always turbulent, and (b) incapable of repression by moral force alone. All defeated forms of worship— Roman paganism, Germanic idolatry, Jewish rancour— conspired against victorious Christianity. Nocturnal assemblies took place; thereat the conspirators cemented their alliance with the blood of human victims; and a pantheistic idol of monstrous form, with the horns of a goat, presided over festivals which might be called agapœ of hatred. In a word, the Sabbat was still celebrated in every forest and wild if yet unreclaimed provinces. The adepts who attended them were masked and otherwise unrecognisable; the assemblies extinguished their lights and broke up before daybreak, the guilty were to be found everywhere, and they could be brought to book nowhere. It came about therefore that Charlemagne determined to fight them with their own weapons.
"In those days, moreover, feudal tyrants were in league with sectarians against lawful authority; female sorcerers were attached to castles as courtesans; bandits who frequented the Sabbats divided with nobles the bloodstained loot of rapine; feudal courts were at the command of the highest bidder; and the public burdens weighed with all their force only on the weak and poor. The evil was at its height in Westphalia, and faithful agents were despatched thither by Charlemagne entrusted with a secret mission. Whatsoever energy remained among the oppressed, whosoever still loved justice, whether among the people or among the nobility, were drawn by these emissaries together, bound by pledges and vigilance in common. To the initiates thus incorporated they made known the full powers which they carried from the emperor himself, and they proceeded to institute the Tribunal of Free Judges."
Lévi's observations must be taken with a grain of salt, however. It is unlikely that the Sabbat was celebrated to such an extreme. Also, the Vehmgericht was founded 450 years after Charlemagne's reign.
From the reign of Robert the Pious to that of St. Louis (1215-70), there is not much to stimulate the student of occult history. In St. Louis's time flourished the famous Rabbi Jachiel, a celebrated master of the Kabbalah. There is some reason to believe that he possessed electricity, because a radiant star was said to appear in his home at night, the light so brilliant that no one could look at it without being dazzled, and it gave off rainbow colors. It appeared to be inexhaustible and was never replenished with oil or any other combustible substance. When the rabbi was annoyed by intruders at his door he struck a nail fixed in his cabinet, producing a blue spark on the head of the nail and on the door-knocker, to which, if the intruder clung, he received a severe shock.
German scholar and scientist Albertus Magnus lived during the same period.
The twelfth century had seen the founding of the Knights Templars of the Temple of Solomon, a French-based religious order of military men dedicated to protecting pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. The order prospered until its prosecution by Philip the Fair (1268-1314), who accused the order of various occult crimes, including the worship of the devil in the form of the idol, Baphomet. Another prosecution for sorcery was that of the sadistic Gilles de Laval (1404-40), lord of Rais, the prototype of Bluebeard. Laval was a renowned sorcerer who, with two assistants, practiced diabolical rites at his castle of Machecoul, celebrating the black mass in an alarming manner. He slaughtered children as part of a ritual he hoped would assist him in his search for the philosophers' stone. Jeanne d'Arc, under whom Gilles had fought at the siege of Orleáns, was suspected of sorcery but was actually condemned as a heretic.
The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries
As early as the thirteenth century, a charge of sorcery was made as a means of branding the Waldenses, who were accused of selling themselves to the devil and of holding sabbatical orgies. About the middle of the fifteenth century France began to oppress suspected sorcerers.
In 1315 Enguerraud de Marigny, a minister of Philip the Fair who had conducted the execution of the Templars, was hung along with an adventurer named Paviot for attempting to kill the counts of Valois and St. Paul. In 1334 the countess of Artois and her son were thrown into prison on suspicion of sorcery.
In 1393, during the reign of Charles VI, his sister-in-law, the duchess of Orleans, who was the daughter of the Duke of Milan, was accused of driving the king mad by sorcery. The ministers of the court resolved to pit a magician against her, and a certain Arnaud Guillaume was brought from Guienne as a suitable adversary to the noble lady. He possessed a book Smagorad, and said the original was given to Adam by God to console him for the loss of his son Abel. Guillaume claimed that the possessor of this volume could hold the stars in subjection and command the four elements. He assured the king's advisers that Charles was suffering because of a sorcerer's malice but in the meantime the young monarch recovered, and Gillaume fell back into his original obscurity.
Five years later the king had another attack, and two Augustine friars were sent from Guienne to cure him. But their conduct was so outrageous that they were executed.
A third attack in 1403 was combated by two sorcerers of Dijon. They established themselves in a thick wood near the gates of Dijon, where they made a magic circle of iron that was supported by iron columns the height of an average man, to which 12 chains of iron were attached. The King's subjects were so anxious for his recovery that the two sorcerers were able to persuade 12 of the town's principal persons to enter the circle and allow themselves to be chained. The sorcerers then proceeded with their incantations, but without result. They were arrested and burned for their pretenses.
After the duke of Burgundy ordered the duke of Orleans murdered, he attempted to justify his crime by alleging that the dead duke had attempted to kill him by means of sorcery.
By the year 1400 belief in the nightly meetings of the witches' Sabbat was widespread. In Paris alone, in the time of Charles IX, there were said to be no less than thirty thousand sorcerers,and it was estimated that France contained more than three times that number during the reign of Henry III. Not a town or village was exempt from accusations and trials. The accused belonged to all classes, and generally met the same fate, regardless of rank, age, or sex. Children of the tenderest years and nonagenarians alike were committed to the flames. The terror of being publicly accused as a sorcerer hung like a black cloud over the life of every successful man because it was a charge readily available to an envious enemy who wished him destroyed.
England had no edict regarding witchcraft at this period, but in France and other Continental countries (especially Germany) a law had been taking shape. By the end of the fifteenth century there was an international belief in the efficacy of sorcery and a conviction that witchcraft was a religion of devil worshipers. In the 1480s the pope gave his official approval for the Inquisition to move against the supposed witches, and two Dominican fathers wrote a textbook describing them, their crimes, and the method of proceeding against them.
During the early sixteenth century witchcraft trials were rare in France, and there are few cases recorded before the year 1560. The first instance would almost be humorous if it were not a taste of things to come. In 1561 a number of persons were brought to trial at Vernon, accused of having held their Sabbat gathering in a ruined castle. The "witches" were accused of having arrived at the castle in the shape of cats. Witnesses were deposed who claimed to have seen the assembly and to have been attacked by the pseudofeline conspirators. After a good laugh and the proper expression of righteous indignation, the court dismissed the charges as worthy only of ridicule.
In 1564 three men and a woman were executed at Poitiers, having been forced to confess to various acts of sorcery. They said they had regularly attended the witches' Sabbat held three times a year, and that the demon who presided at it ended by burning himself to make powder for his agents to use in mis-chief. These first executions were followed by a series of others in the 1570s.
In 1571 a mere conjurer who played tricks with cards was thrown into prison in Paris, forced to confess that he was an attendant on the Sabbat, and was executed. In 1573 a man was burned at Dôle on the charge of changing himself into a wolf and devouring children. Several persons who confessed to having been at the Sabbats were condemned to be burned that same year in different parts of France. In 1578 another man was tried and condemned in Paris for changing himself into a wolf, and a man was condemned at Orleans for the same supposed crime in 1583.
Wolves were prolifie in France and people often connected their ravages with witchcraft. The belief in what were in England called werewolves (men-wolves) and in France loupsgarous was ancient and widespread.
In 1578 a woman was burned at Compiègne after she confessed that she had given herself to the devil, who appeared to her as a great black man on horseback, booted and spurred. Another supposed witch was burned the same year; she also stated that the Evil One came to her in the shape of a black man. In 1582 and 1583 several "witches" were burned.
Local councils of the time passed severe laws against witchcraft, and a significant number of victims were put to death in France under such accusations. In the course of only 15 years, from 1580 to 1595, in the province of Lorraine alone, the president Remigius burned nine hundred witches, and as many more fled the country to save their lives. About the close of the century, a French judge stated that the crime of witchcraft had become so common that there were not enough jails to hold the prisoners or judges to hear their cases. A trial he witnessed in 1568 induced physician Jean Bodin to write De la Demonomanie des Sorciers (1580), which became a standard French textbook on the subject of witchcraft.
Among English witches, the devil was generally said to come in person to seduce his victims, but in France and other countries this seems to have been unnecessary. Once initiated each person became seized with an uncontrollable desire to make converts, whom he or she carried to the Sabbat to be duly enrolled as witches. According to Bodin's imaginings, one witch was enough to corrupt five hundred honest persons. The infection quickly ran through a family and was generally carried down from generation to generation, which explained satisfactorily, according to his commentary on demonology, the extent to which witchcraft had supposedly spread in his day. The novice received a burlesque rite of baptism and was marked with the sign of the demon on some unexposed part of the body. The first act of compliance with the devil was then performed, and it was frequently repeated, the evil one presenting himself to the converts as a member of the opposite sex, as Bodin tells it.
Toward the end of the sixteenth century, infatuation with witchcraft had risen to its greatest height in France. Not only the lower classes but also persons of the highest rank in society were liable to suspicion of dealing in sorcery. Such charges were publicly made against King Henry III and Queen Catherine de Medici and early in the following century became grounds for state trials that had fatal conclusions.
In 1610, during the reign of Louis XIII, the cause cŒlèbre of the marechale d'Ancre occurred. Among Marie de Medici's servants was a certain Eleanora Dori, who married Concini, a prodigal spendthrift. As guardian to her son, Marie de Medici was ruler of France and considerable power was exercised by these favorite servants. Because of this favor the peers of France joined together against the upstarts, but with little result at first. Concini was named marechal of France, with the title of marquis d'Ancre.
His wife, who was very superstitious, became sick, which she blamed on sorcery. The result was that d'Ancre was assassinated by the nobles during a hunting expedition. The mob dragged d'Ancre's corpse from its grave and hanged it on the Pont Neuf. His wretched widow was accused of sorcery and bewitching the Queen.
The exorcists who had helped her free herself from illness advised her to sacrifice a cock, which was thought to be connected with the Devil. Also the astrological nativities of the royal family were found in her possession, as were several occult books, and a great number of magic symbols. After being tortured, she was beheaded and burned. Strangely enough the anger of the Parisian mob then turned to general commiseration.
Many other interesting cases occurred in France in the seventeenth century, including several cases of reputed demoniac possession among the Ursulines at Aix (see Louis Gaufridi ), the nuns of Louviers, and the nuns of Auxonne. The case of the nuns of Loudon resulted in the burning alive of Urbain Grandier.
The Rise of Modern Occultism
The eighteenth century in France is rich in occult history. At a time when the Enlightenment was destroying the older supernatural magic, a new magic was beginning to evolve that made use of scientific information. While the eighteenth century was the low point in practice of the occult in Europe, the founders of modern occultism were emerging. Perhaps the most striking personality of this age was the Comte de Saint Germain, who was credited with possessing the secrets of alchemy and magic. His family connections were unknown, and he spoke as if he had lived for many centuries. Another mysterious adept was an alchemist calling himself Lascaris, who literally sowed his path through Europe with gold.
Then followed Cagliostro, who attained a fame unrivaled in the history of French occultism. He founded many Masonic lodges throughout the country, Freemasonry being credited with spreading the democratic beliefs underlying the French Revolution and the democratic upheavals across the continent during the next century.
A school of initiates was founded by Martinez de Pasqually, which appeared in some measure to have incorporated the teachings of the later European adepts. Another important figure at this time was Louis Claude de Saint-Martin, known as "le Philosophe Inconnu" (the unknown philosopher), who came under the influence of Pasqually, and later that of the writings of the mystical Jakob Boehme, whose works Saint-Martin translated. Jacques Cazotte was one of the first men associated with both magic and the Revolution. Much of the Revolutions inception is owed to those mysterious brotherhoods of France and Germany, which during the eighteenth century sowed the seeds of equality and Illuminism throughout Europe.
Loiséaut, a parishioner of Sainte-Mandé, formed a mystical society in 1772 that met in great secrecy, awaiting a vision of John the Baptist, who supposedly came to them to foretell the Revolution. The spiritual director of this circle was a monk named Dom Gerle, one of the first mesmerists in Paris, who was said to have foretold the dreadful fame of Robespierre through the seeress Catherine Théot. He was expelled by the members of the circle, who acted on the advice of member Sister Françoise André, who wanted to preserve the crown for the future reign of Louis XVII.
The appearance of Marie Lenormand, as a prophetess at the end of the eighteenth century, may be said to have ended a chapter of the occult history of that age. With the beginning of the nineteenth century the influence of Austrian physician Franz A. Mesmer (1733-1825) had led to a widespread interest in animal magnetism, which in turn culminated in the growth of Spiritualism. The Baron du Potet de Sennevoy did much to advance Mesmer's views which by this time were being seriously pursued by Cahagnet and others.
By the middle of the nineteenth century the new occultism was well established in Paris. A story by Alphonse Esquiros titled The Magician (1838) led to the founding of a school of magic fantasy, which was assiduously developed by Henri Delaage, who was said to have the gift of ubiquity and who collected recipes for acquiring physical beauty from the old magicians. In his works The Reform of Philosophy and Yes or No, J. M. Hoene-Wronski claimed to have discovered the first theorems of the Kabbalah and later beguiled rich persons of weak intellect into paying him large sums in return for knowledge of the Absolute.
The celebrated Curé D'Ars, founder of the D'Ars "Providence," and many other noble works of charity, was born Jean Baptiste Vianney in the vicinity of Lyons in 1786. At school he was remembered as a somewhat dull student. Circumstances opened the way for his becoming a priest, although he had only enough Latin to say mass and no learning beyond the routine of his profession. His amiable nature and unaffected piety won him friends wherever he went. After some changes of fortune and the rejection of two good offers of rich positions, he accepted the pastoral charge of the little agricultural village of D'Ars, now in the arrondisement of Trevoux.
Very soon his reputation for beneficence drew to him a much larger circle of poor dependents than he could provide for, and it was then that he began his extraordinary life of faith, supplicating in fervent prayer for whatever means were necessary to carry out his divine mission of blessing his unfortunate fellow creatures. In this way the sphere of his benevolence and the wonderful results of the prayer he employed to maintain it reached remarkable proportions.
But a more wonderful thing was to happen in the blessed region of D'Ars. The sick began to experience sudden cures while praying before the altar or making confessions to the curé. The fame of this new miracle soon spread abroad, until the Abbé Monnin declared that more than twenty thousand persons annually came from Germany, Italy, Belgium, all parts of France, and even from England to see the curé, and that in less than six years, this number increased to an average of eighty thousand. Diseases of every kind that had been pronounced incurable were cured at once. The curé gave himself up to his work, heart and soul. His church stayed open day and night, and the immense crowds that surrounded it had to wait for hours and sometimes days to reach the healer.
No one was allowed to take precedence over others except in cases of extreme poverty or extreme suffering. Princes, nobles, and great ladies often drove up as near as they could to the church in grand carriages and were astonished when they found out they too had to wait in line.
The curé only allowed himself to sleep four hours a night, namely from 11:00 to 3:00, and when he woke the church was always packed. Omnibuses were established to convey patients from Lyons to D'Ars, and the Saône was crowded with boats full of anxious pilgrims.
Spiritualism and Animal Magnetism
The Comte d'Ourches was the first to introduce automatic writing and table turning to France. Baron Ludwig von Guldenstubbe, in his Practical Experimental Pneumatology; or, the Reality of Spirits and the Marvellous Phenomena of their Direct Writing (first published in French in 1857) gives an account of his discovery:
"It was in the course of the year 1850, or about three years prior to the epidemic of table-rapping, that the author sought to introduce into France the circles of American spiritualism, the mysterious Rochester knockings and the purely automatic writings of mediums. Unfortunately he met with many obstacles raised by other mesmerists. Those who were committed to the hypothesis of a magnetic fluid, and even those who styled themselves Spiritual Mesmerists, but who were really inferior inducers of somnambulism, treated the mysterious knockings of American spiritualism as visionary follies. It was therefore only after more than six months that the author was able to form his first circle on the American plan, and then thanks to the zealous concurrence of M. Rousaan, a former member of the Sociètè des Magnètiseurs Spiritualistes, a simple man who was full of enthusiasm for the holy cause of spiritualism. We were joined by a number of other persons, amongst whom was the Abbé Châtel, founder of the Eglise Française, who, despite his rationalistic tendencies, ended by admitting the reality of objective and supernatural revelation, as an indispensable condition of spiritualism and all practical religions. Setting aside the moral conditions which are equally requisite, it is known that American circles are based on the distinction of positive and electric or negative magnetic currents.
"The circles consist of twelve persons, representing in equal proportions the positive and negative or sensitive elements. This distinction does not follow the sex of the members, though generally women are negative and sensitive, while men are positive and magnetic. The mental and physical constitution of each individual must be studied before forming the circles, for some delicate women have masculine qualities, while some strong men are, morally speaking, women. A table is placed in a clear and ventilated spot; the medium is seated at one end and entirely isolated; by his calm and contemplative quietude he serves as a conductor for the electricity, and it may be noted that a good somnambulist is usually an excellent medium. The six electrical or negative dispositions, which are generally recognised by their emotional qualities and their sensibility, are placed at the right of the medium, the most sensitive of all being next him. The same rule is followed with the positive personalities, who are at the left of the medium, with the most positive next to him. In order to form a chain, the twelve persons each place their right hand on the table. Observe that the medium or mediums, if there be more than one, are entirely isolated from those who form the chain.
"After a number of séances, certain remarkable phenomena have been obtained, such as simultaneous shocks, felt by all present at the moment of mental evocation on the part of the most intelligent persons. It is the same with mysterious knockings and other strange sounds; many people, including those least sensitive, have had simultaneous visions, though remaining in the ordinary waking state. Sensitive persons have acquired that most wonderful gift of mediumship, namely, automatic writing, as the result of an invisible attraction which uses the nonintelligent instrument of a human arm to express its ideas. For the rest, non-sensitive persons experience the mysterious influence of an external wind, but the effect is not strong enough to put their limbs in motion. All these phenomena, obtained according to the mode of American spiritualism, have the defect of being more or less indirect, because it is impossible in these experiments to dispense with the mediation of a human being or medium. It is the same with the table-turning which invaded Europe in the middle of the year 1853.
"The author has had many table experiences with his honourable friend, the Comte d'Ourches, one of the most instructed persons in Magic and the Occult Sciences. We attained by degrees the point when tables moved, apart from any contact whatever, while the Comte d'Ourches has caused them to rise, also without contact. The author has made tables rush across a room with great rapidity, and not only without contact but without the magnetic aid of a circle of sitters. The vibrations of piano-chords under similar circumstances took place on January 20, 1856, in the presence of the Comte de Szapary and Comte d'Ourches. Now all such phenomena are proof positive of certain occult forces, but they do not demonstrate adequately the real and substantial existence of unseen intelligences, independent of our will and imagination, though the limits of these have been vastly extended in respect of their possibilities. Hence the reproach made against American spiritualists, because their communications with the world of spirits are so insignificant in character, being confined to mysterious knockings and other sound vibrations. As a fact, there is no direct phenomenon at once intelligent and material, independent of our will and imagination, to compare with the direct writing of spirits, who have neither been invoked or evoked, and it is this only which offers irrefutable proof as to the reality of the super-natural world."
Spiritualism was popular in France for the rest of the century.
After public attention was drawn to animal magnetism by Mesmer and D'Eslon, several distinguished scientists followed their experiments with great success. Among them was the Baron Du Potet, whose deep interest in the subject of magnetism led him to publish the periodical Journal du Magnètisme.
Du Potet's investigations began about 1836, and for the next decade he chronicled the production of remarkable phenomena and their attestation by scientific and eminent witnesses. The baron's magnetized subjects reportedly experienced clairvoyance, trance speaking, healing, stigmata (raised letters and figures on the subject's body), levitation, and insensibility to fire, injury, or touch. In the presence of the magnetized subjects, heavy bodies were moved without human contact and distant objects materialized through walls and closed doors (generally termed apports ). Sometimes the "lucides" (magnetized clairvoyants) described scenes in the spirit world, found lost property, prophesied, and spoke in foreign languages.
In 1840 Du Potet wrote that he had "rediscovered in magnetism the magic of antiquity."
"Let the savants," he stated, "reject the doctrine of spiritual appearances; the enquirer of to-day is compelled to believe it; from an examination of undeniable facts…. If the knowledge of ancient magic is lost, all the facts remain on which to reconstruct it."
But of all those to whom French Spiritualism was indebted for evidence of supermundane intercourse, none was more prominent than Alphonse Cahagnet, author of Magnètisme: Arcanes de la vie future dévoilés (2 vols., 1948-49), which was translated into English in 1850.
Cahagnet was a mechanic, though he was a sensible and interesting writer. He said he was a "materialist" when he was first attracted to the subject of animal magnetism, but he determined to devote all his leisure time to a thorough examination of its possibilities. When he found that he could induce the magnetic sleep in others, he proceeded with a task generally adopted by mesmerists—to substitute his own senses, mind, and will for those of the sleeper.
Cahagnet discovered that he could cure disease and determined to put all his energy into healing. However, a new obstacle arose to confound his philosophy and theories: some of his subjects, instead of representing what he willed, began to wander off to regions they persisted in calling the "land of spirits" and to describe people whom they emphatically affirmed to be the souls of the dead.
For a long time Cahagnet fought what he termed these "wild hallucinations," but when he found them recurring and saw that many of those who came to witness the experiments in magnetism recognized dead individuals in descriptions given by the somnambulists, he was compelled to admit there was another dimension to clairvoyance. After a long series of experiments Cahagnet wrote The Celestial Telegraph; or, Secrets of the Life to Come.
In her book Nineteenth Century Miracles (1884), Emma Hardinge Britten quotes from the anonymous author of Art Magic (1876):
"The narrow conservatism of the age, and the pitiful jealousy of the Medical Faculty, rendered it difficult and harassing to conduct magnetic experiments openly in Europe within several years of Mesmer's decease. Still such experiments were not wanting, and to show their results, we give a few excerpts from the correspondence between the famous French Magnetists, MM. Deleuze and Billot, from the years 1829 to 1840. By these letters, published in 1836 [ sic ], it appears that M. Billot commenced his experiments in magnetizing as early as 1789, and that during forty years, he had an opportunity of witnessing facts in clairvoyance, ecstasy, and somnambulism, which at the time of their publication transcended the belief of the general mass of readers. On many occasions in the presence of entranced subjects, spirits recognised as having once lived on earth in mortal form would come in bodily presence before the eyes of an assembled multitude and at request bring flowers, fruits, and objects, removed by distance from th