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[Portal] France

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Map of France in the world and position of its largest single land territory in continental Europe.

France (French: [fʁɑ̃s] (About this soundlisten)), officially the French Republic (French: République française, pronounced [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz] (About this soundlisten)), is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million (). France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice. France, including its overseas territories, has the most number of time zones with total 12 time zones.

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into East Francia, Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia, which became the Kingdom of France in 987, emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages, following its victory in the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453). During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). France became Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, establishing one of modern history's earliest republics and drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.

In the 19th century, Napoleon took power and established the First French Empire. His subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803–15) shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870. France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, was formed in 1958 and remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France.

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

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1906 French Grand Prix Szisz.jpg

The 1906 Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France, commonly known as the 1906 French Grand Prix, was a motor race held on 26 and 27 June 1906, on closed public roads outside the city of Le Mans. The Grand Prix was organised by the Automobile Club de France (ACF) at the prompting of the French automobile industry as an alternative to the Gordon Bennett races, which limited each competing country's number of entries regardless of the size of its industry. France had the largest automobile industry in Europe at the time, and in an attempt to better reflect this the Grand Prix had no limit to the number of entries by any particular country. The ACF chose a 103.18-kilometre (64.11 mi) circuit, composed primarily of dust roads sealed with tar, which would be lapped six times on both days by each competitor, a combined race distance of 1,238.16 kilometres (769.36 mi). Lasting for more than 12 hours overall, the race was won by Ferenc Szisz driving for the Renault team. FIAT driver Felice Nazzaro finished second, and Albert Clément was third in a Clément-Bayard.

Paul Baras of Brasier set the fastest lap of the race on his first lap. He held on to the lead until the third lap, when Szisz took over first position, defending it to the finish. Hot conditions melted the road tar, which the cars kicked up into the faces of the drivers, blinding them and making the racing treacherous. Punctures were common; tyre manufacturer Michelin introduced a detachable rim with a tyre already affixed, which could be quickly swapped onto a car after a puncture, saving a significant amount of time over manually replacing the tyre. This helped Nazzaro pass Clément on the second day, as the FIAT—unlike the Clément-Bayard—made use of the rims. Read more...

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Painting, ca. 1485. An artist's interpretation, since the only known direct portrait has not survived. (Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris, AE II 2490)
Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans), is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. She was born a peasant girl in what is now eastern France. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France. She was captured by the Burgundians, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy", and was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old.

Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is – along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux – one of the patron saints of France. Joan said that she had visions from God that instructed her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims.

To the present day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western civilization.

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An example of nouvelle cuisine presentation

Nouvelle cuisine (French, "new cuisine") is an approach to cooking and food presentation in French cuisine. In contrast to cuisine classique, an older form of haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine is characterized by lighter, more delicate dishes and an increased emphasis on presentation. It was popularized in the 1960s by the food critic Henri Gault, who invented the phrase, and his colleagues André Gayot and Christian Millau in a new restaurant guide, the Gault-Millau, or LNouveau Guide. Read more...

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An Auxois horse at the Salon International de l'Agriculture 2013 in Paris

The Auxois is a horse breed from eastern France. It is a large breed, with some individuals weighing over 910 kilograms (2,010 lb), bred for horse meat, agricultural work and leisure pursuits. Overall, members of the breed are solid and muscular in appearance. They are usually bay or bay roan in color, although some other colors are accepted by the breed registry, and are known for their power and docility.

The Auxois is a direct descendant of the Bourguignon of the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, blood was added from other French draft breeds before the creation of a stud book in 1912. After the creation of the stud book, only purebred Auxois or Ardennais and Trait du Nord crosses could be registered. World War I interrupted efforts to set the breed standard, but testing resumed in 1920, and between then and World War II the Auxois was the pride of regional farmers. The breed reached its peak in the 1930s, but by the 1960s began to decline with the advent of mechanization. Read more...

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ChampsElyseesXmas2.jpg


Looking west along the Champs-Élysées avenue toward the Arc de Triomphe during Christmas season.
Photo credit: Anthony Atkielski

Macarons on sale.

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