French Republic


French , rapidly declining regional dialects and languages like Provencal, Breton or Corsican….


approximately 85 % Roman Catholic, 2 % Protestant, 1% Jewish,

10 % Muslim, 2 % unaffiliated

Political System

Democracy - Republic

Chief of State: Jacques Chirac



Geographical Information

Capital: Paris

Area: 547.030 sq km (land: 545.630 sq km without overseas administrative divisions)

Border countries: Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, Switzerland

Coast: 3.427 km

Climate: cool winters especially in the mountains and mild summers except for the Mediterranean region which has mild winters and hot summers (sometimes cold wind called "mistral")

22 regions subdivided into 96 departments (also overseas departments and overseas territorial collectivities)

Very different landscapes from the north to the south with mountains along the Swiss, the Spanish and the Italian borders. The north west of the country is quite low-lying, in the north east the regions are hilly and covered by large forests and nice valleys. The middle of France is hilly with large agricultural fields. The very south west of the country is dominated by the Pyrenees (border to Spain) , the south east along the Meditarrenean See has got large sand beaches with a hilly hinterland. There are also large sand beaches along the East Coast to the Atlantic.

Typical Food and drinks

Large range of wines from different regions (Bordeaux, Alsace, Bourgogne…) and spirits (Cognac, Armagnac, …)

Fresh vegetables dishes, fish and meat dishes, specialities varying from region to region (fish and fish soups at the seaside, sauerkraut and baekeoffe in Alsace, snails, oysters, pies, patés, …)

Fine desserts (mousse au chocolat, caramel cream, cakes, tarts,…)

Holidays and Festivals

National day : 14th of July (fall of the Bastille)

Christmas and New Year and most Roman Catholics Days (e.g. Easter)


First unified by the Romans then divided in 511 at Clovis´ death , part of Charlemangne´s Holy Empire, France has known a lot of wars resulting in division, reunification or conquering of lands and has been ruled by a large number of kings. The most famous are Hugues Capet (987), Philippe Auguste (1180), Philippe le Bel (1285), Philippe VI (Valois dynasty Louis XI (1461), Henri IV (1589 - Bourbons dynasty ),

Louis XIII (1610), Louis XIV (1661) Louis XVI (1774 - was beheaded by the revolutioners).

21st of September 1792 : beginning of the Republic

9th of November 1799 : Napoleon Bonaparte rules the country till 1814 and again for a hundred days in 1815 (ending in Waterloo).

From 1824 till 1848 : different kings

24th of February 1848: 2nd Republic

2nd December 1852: 2nd Empire (Napoleon III)

4th September 1870 : 3rd Republic

During the two World Wars France was occupied by Germany (Vichy government during the war 40-45).

13th October 1946: 4th Republic

1955: war of Indochina

1954: independence war in North Africa

Since the 4th October 1958: 5th Republic

Art and culture

Literature: early tradition (10th century) with minnesingers (Chrétien de Troyes) , then writers like François Villon, François Rabelais, Montaigne, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Corneille, Racine, Molière, Jean de la Fontaine, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, Madame de Sevigny, François Diderot, Marivaux, Beaumarchais, Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo,Théophile Gauthier, Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, Marcel Proust, André Gide, François Mauriac, Nathalie Sarraute,…..

Art: Jean Goujon, Auguste Rodin, Nicolas Poussin, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Antoine Watteau, Jean-Honoré Fragognard, Louis David, Eugène Delacroix, Edouard Monet, Paul Cézanne, George Braque, Marcel Duchamp, ….

Music: Pérotin, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Edgard Berlioz, Claude Debussy, Jacques Offenbach, César Franck, Maurice Ravel, ….

Chansons: Maurice Chevalier, Lucienne Boyer, Tino Rossi, Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, Jacques Prévert, Line Renaud, Yves Montand, Léo Ferré, Jean Ferrat, Gilbert Bécaud, Charles Aznavour, Marie Laforêt, Michel Fugain, Patrick Bruel, Elsa, Georges Brassens, …

Architecture: Pierre Lescot, Philippert d´Orme, Louis Le Vau, André le Nôtre (gardens), …..

Film: René Clair, jean Cocteau, Claude Autant-lara, Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut, Louis Malle, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Sautet (conducters) , stars : Brigitte Bardot, Jacques Tati, Michel Simon,

Dos and don´ts for visiting the country

Respect of traditions and good behaviour/manners are expected.

Politeness and respect of the social position, too.

Privately you should arrive ¼ or ½ hour late (not at official meetings).

Don´t use Christian names if you are not invited to and still say "vous"

A private invitation at home should be considered as a honor. Don´t forget to bring flowers (wrapped) or a cake.

Avoid to speak about the Vichy government , about racism and Jewish people.

Don´t expect that French people speak English.

Population and

% of foreign population /minorities

Original ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin

Minorities: Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque

Population: approximately 59.192.000

French population: 90,4 %

North African population: about 4,8 % (still growing)

Population of EU countries: about 1,9 % (most Portuguese, Spaniards and Italians)

Population of former colonies: about 2,2 % (Black Africa)

Other: from Asia and East Europe

Main Integration Problems





Lack of wish to integrate


Cultural background

Concentration of foreigners in specific town areas


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Latest update of this page: 2005-07-15 
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