France - The Grande Nation introduces itself
France is the second largest country in Europe by area. However, it has
fewer residents than Germany. The country with its many different regions and
landscapes is not only known for its more than 350 types of cheese, but above
all for its way of life and culture. This varies with the nature of the
country. From the beautiful alpine regions in the north to the Cote d´Azur in
the south, the coast with the azure blue Mediterranean Sea, France offers the
visitor a very interesting and varied backdrop.
The "Grande Nation", as the French proudly call their country, is shaped by
an exciting history that has left its mark throughout the country in the form of
castles, monasteries and churches as well as other architectural monuments. And
the cultural products of artists, writers and thinkers also make France one of
the richest cultures on earth. Anyone looking for culinary delights in addition
to all the stimuli for the eye and the mind will definitely find it in France.
The regionally different cuisine and especially the French wine are known and
loved by all gourmets. So France is definitely worth more than just a trip.
|Name of the country
||République Française/French Republic
|Form of government
||Parliamentary presidential democrats
|Head of state
||President of the Republic, since May 16, 2007 Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP)
||In Central Europe
||July 14 ("Fête nationale") - Storming of the Bastille in 1789
||approximately 65.4 million (Credit:
||French and around 5.5 million foreigners, around 18% Portuguese,
around 18% Algerians, around 15% Moroccans, around 7% Italians and
around 5% Spanish.
||approx. 82% Catholics, 7% Muslims, 1% Protestants, 1% Jews
||French - around 2 million people speak Occitan around Toulouse
||Paris with around 2.2 million residents
||Mont Blanc with a height of 4,807 m
||The Rhine - as a border river - with a length of around 1,320 km.
The Loire is a purely French river with a length of 1,020 km
||Lake Geneva with an area of 234 km²
|International license plate **
||1 euro (€) = 100 cents
|Time difference to CET
|International phone code
|Mains voltage, frequency
||230 volts, 50 hertz
|Top Level Domain (TLD)
** In France, the police chief of Paris had issued an ordinance in 1893,
according to which motor vehicles required a police permit and had to be
provided with a metal plate on which information about the owner and a number
were to be found. It was the hour of birth of the car license plates and is
considered the first license plate because it was issued by the authorities. In
the German Reich, a uniform procedure for motor vehicles did not apply until
October 1st, 1907.
Before the year 1000
The area of what is now France was settled around 10,000 years ago. There
are many testimonies from the Stone Age, such as the cave paintings in southern
France as well as grave and cult structures, from this time. Around 600
BC Chr. Settled Greek merchants on the Mediterranean coast of France
and founded the colony Massila where the present name of the city comes
Abbreviationfinder website, after 500 BC Chr. Were the Celts from the east into the
area. The Iberians settled in the south and the Ligurians on the Mediterranean
coast. 121 BC Chr. The Romans established a province to the
land route between Italy and Spain. Today's Provence was founded in 109
BC.. Chr threatened by Teutons and Cimbri from northern Europe. 102
BC Chr. The Romans defeated the invaders back and destroyed it almost
completely. Caesar made around 50 BC BC Gaul to the Roman
province. Old French eventually developed from the adopted Vulgar Latin.
In the 2nd century Gaul was Christianized. From 300
to 600, the country was hit by a wave of peoples' migration in which
Visigoths, Franks, Burgundians, Huns and Bretons settled in what is now
France. In a battle in 451, the Huns under King Attila were
defeated by the Romans, Visigoths, Franks and Burgundians and withdrew to
The Franks ruled the area from 400 to 800. In the years 482
to 511 the Merovingian king Clovis unified the Franks and became the
founder of the Franconian Empire. In 496 the Franks became
Catholics and received support from the Church. In the same year they were able
to defeat the Alemanni. From 687 the Carolingian king Pippin
ruled the entire Frankish empire. His son Karl Martell was able to defeat the
Arabs entering from Spain at Tours and Poitiers in 732. Pepin
the Younger was anointed by Archbishop Boniface in 751 as the
first Frankish king and helped Pope Stephen II in the fight against the
The Carolingian Charlemagne (748-814) ruled the empire from 772 to
814 and incorporated Upper Italy and the West Germanic tribes of Saxony
and Bavaria. In the year 800 the power of Charles in western
Europe was increased by the imperial coronation in Rome by Pope Leo
III. (750-816) confirmed.
The hereditary monarchy was consolidated in the 9th century. The
Carolingians ruled France until 987. Due to the lack of
central power, large territories such as Champagne, Aquitaine, Brittany,
Normandy, Flanders, etc.
From the year 1000 to the 17th century
The Capetians ruled France from 987 to 1328. In
1066, Duke William of Normandy conquered England.
Between 1096 and 1270, many crusades began in France,
orders were formed, Christian architecture and knightly poetry served as a model
throughout Europe. In 1253 the University of Sorbonne was
founded as a theological institute and a supreme court called parliament.
Under Louis VIII, France became a hereditary monarchy in 1223 with
the coronation city of Reims. The Popes resided in Avignon from 1309 to
1377. In 1328 the French crown passed to the
Valois family until 1498.
From 1339 to 1453 the 100 Years War raged between France and
England. The English could not be defeated until 1429 by the
French under the leadership of Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) near Orleans and
only expelled from the French mainland in 1453 to Calais.
Louis XI. During his reign from 1461 to 1483, the
centralized monarchy finally prevailed over the high nobility. Between 1480
and 1491, Anjou, Maine and Brittany were annexed to the empire. In
1484 the Estates General of all provinces met in Tours for the first
time. The city representatives were designated as representatives of the third
Between 1556 and 1559 the Spanish and French fought in the
Spanish War. France waived claims in Italy and Burgundy.
From 1562, France was hit by the Reformation, whereupon the
Huguenot Wars break out. The Protestant Huguenots were murdered by the thousands
on the so-called Bartholomäusnacht in 1572 by order of
Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), wife of the French King Henry II (1519-1559)
during the wedding celebrations of their daughter Maria. Her daughter Maria von
Valois (1553-1615) married the later King Henry IV (1553-1610) of the house of
the Bourbons, who had converted from Protestantism to Catholicism. The war with
the Protestants could only be ended in 1598 with the Edict of
Tolerance of Nantes, which promised freedom of religion and civic equality.
Between 1610 and 1789, absolutism prevailed in
France. Cardinal Richelieu took over from 1624 to 1642 under
Louis XIII. the state leadership and secured the absolute power of the crown.
From 1635 France was involved in the Thirty Years War and
received the Habsburg possessions in Alsace in the Peace of Westphalia.
Between 1643 and 1661, Cardinal Mazarin directed the
affairs of state for Louis XIV (1638-1715). In 1648 the
so-called Fronde revolt of the nobility, parliament and the population against
the absolutist royal power took place in Paris, but the revolt was suppressed
From 1661, Louis XIV ruled as the so-called Sun King in
France. Under him absolutism reached its greatest development.
Colbert's financial and economic policies, including mercantilism, made the
following wars of conquest possible. Between 1667 and 1768 Spain,
Lille and other Dutch fortresses, Burgundy, Strasbourg, Lorraine and Corsica
went to France.
In 1685 the Edict of Nantes was repealed, which resulted in
the flight of about half a million Huguenots, especially to Prussia under
Elector Friedrich Wilhelm I the Great Elector (1620-1688).
In the 18th and 19th centuries
Louis XIV died in 1715, leaving behind a ruined empire and
an impoverished peasantry. Wars and lavish court rulings had resulted in
excessive national debt. Under Louis XV. the situation could not be
improved. The reform attempts by Louis XVI. failed.
Finally, in 1789, the French Revolution broke out. On July 14,
1789, the storming of the Bastille proclaimed the end of feudal order
and the rule of the people. In 1791 a new constitution with a
constitutional monarchy was passed and in 1792 the first
republic with a legislative national assembly was established. The reign of
terror under Robespierre began with the execution of Louis XVI. and Marie
Antoinette (on January 21, 1793) as well as the Girondists and numerous nobles. In
1794 this reign of terror ended with the overthrow and execution of
The Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte, who had won many foreign policy victories
for France in recent years, was elected consul for ten years by a plebiscite in 1799 and made
consul for life in 1802. In the period that followed, the
Napoleonic wars against European countries began. In 1804 Napoleon
was crowned Emperor of the French and French law was standardized in the Code
Napoleon crowned himself King of Italy in 1805, defeated
the Austrians and Russians in the Battle of Austerlitz and defeated the
Prussians in 1806. It was not until 1812 that Napoleon
saw the failure of his Russian campaign near Moscow. Napoleon also lost the
Battle of the Nations near Leipzig in 1813. After returning to
Paris in 1814, he abdicated and retired to Elba. He left the
throne to Louis XVIII. In 1815 Napoleon returned to France. In
the reign of the hundred days he again seized power, but lost in the Battle of
Waterloo against the Prussians and British and was finally exiled to St. Helena
in the Atlantic, where he was in 1821 died.
From 1850 on, France participated in the colonialist and
imperialist endeavors of the great powers of Europe. Algeria was
conquered between 1830 and 1847.
In 1848 the February Revolution took place in Paris, which
resulted in the abdication of King Ludwig Philip and the proclamation of France
as a republic. Prince Louis Napoleon was elected President. In 1851,
Louis Napoleon was elected president for ten years following a coup and in 1852
he was elected Emperor of the French until 1870. Years
of war and the expansion of the colonies followed. France received Nice and
Savoy as well as colonies in Southeast Asia.
Between 1870 and 1871 war raged between Germany and
France. Louis Napoleon was captured and a republic was again proclaimed in
France. France lost Alsace-Lorraine to Germany. The Wilhelminian style houses,
which were very popular in Germany, were paid for with reparations money from
Other colonies such as Madagascar, Indochina, Tunis and parts of Central Africa
20th and 21st centuries
In 1904, in the Entente Cordiale, England and France decided
to rule England in Egypt and France in Morocco. The alliance was expanded in 1907 to
form the British-Russian-French Entente.
From 1914 to 1918 France was involved in the First World
War. On August 3, 1914, Germany declared war on France. The
German advance into France was halted in the Battle of the Marne. It came to
trench warfare. In the battle for Verdun in 1916, the French
emerged victorious. However, there were extreme losses on both sides. The
Franco-German armistice took place in 1918.
In the Versailles Peace Treaty, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to
France. France received Tongo and Cameroon as additional areas, as well as
economic sovereignty over the Saarland. In 1923 the French
occupied the Ruhr area, which was cleared again in 1929. In
the Locarnopact of 1925, Germany guaranteed the inviolability
of the French eastern border.
France was involved in World War II from 1939 to 1945. After
Germany invaded Poland, France declared war on Germany on September 3,
1939. Germany was able to occupy Paris. France was then divided into
occupied northern and eastern France and an unoccupied southern France. The
Vichy government under Marshal Petain in southern France sympathized and
collaborated with the German Empire. Meanwhile, a strong Resistance movement was
forming in France. In 1942 the Allied troops landed in French
North Africa, whereupon German troops occupied the previously unoccupied part of
France. De Gaulle formed in 1943in Algiers the National
Liberation Committee. On June 6, 1944, the
Allies landed in Normandy and southern France and liberated France. The
Resistance and De Gaulle formed a new French government, while supporters and
collaborators of the Vichy regime were convicted.
France received a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in 1945 and
joined NATO and the Council of Europe in 1949.
Between 1946 and 1954 France was involved in the Indochina
War, which it finally lost in 1954. In addition, France had to
give Tunisia, Morocco, French West and Equatorial Africa independence. The
Algerian War of 1954 and the coup of 1958 also led to
Algeria's independence in the 1962 Evian Agreement. From 1966 France
built up its own nuclear force.
The euro has been the official currency in France since January 1st,
2001. In 2005, France voted with a clear no to the
On May 6, 2012, after 17 years, François Hollande became
President of the country again - his swearing-in took place on May 15, 2012. He
won the runoff election with 51.67% against incumbent Sarkozy, who received
48.33%. Nicolas Sarkozy ruled from 2007 to 2012.
His predecessor was Jacques Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007. The
socialist François Mitterrand ruled from 1981 to 1995.