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

France (French: [fʁɑ̃s] Listen), officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. France borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland, Monaco and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south, as well as the Netherlands, Suriname and Brazil in the Americas. The country's eighteen integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.4 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 time zones of any country, with a total of twelve.

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls. The area was annexed by Rome in 51 BC, developing a distinct Gallo-Roman culture that laid the foundation of the French language. The Germanic Franks arrived in 476 and formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia becoming the Kingdom of France in 987.

In the High Middle Ages, France was a highly decentralized feudal kingdom in which the authority of the king was barely felt. King Philip Augustus achieved remarkable success in the strengthening of royal power and the expansion of his realm, doubling its size and defeating his rivals. By the end of his reign, France had emerged as the most powerful state in Europe. In the mid-14th century, French monarchs were embroiled in a series of dynastic conflicts with their English counterparts, collectively known as the Hundred Years' War, from which they ultimately emerged victorious. Disputes with Spain and the Holy Roman Empire soon followed during the Renaissance. Meanwhile, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The second half of the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots), which severely weakened the country. But France once again emerged as Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV following the Thirty Years' War. Despite the wealth of the nation, an inadequate financial model and inequitable taxation system coupled with endless and costly wars meant that the kingdom was left in a precarious economic situation by the end of the 18th century. Especially costly were the Seven Years' War and American War of Independence. The French Revolution in 1789 saw the fall of the absolute monarchy that characterized the Ancien Régime and from its ashes, rose one of modern history's earliest republics, which drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The declaration expresses the nation's ideals to this day.

Following the revolution, France reached its political and military zenith in the early 19th century under Napoleon Bonaparte, subjugating much of continental Europe and establishing the First French Empire. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of European and world history. After the collapse of the empire and a relative decline, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating in the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870 in the midst of the Franco-Prussian War. France was one of the prominent participants of World War I, from which it emerged victorious, and was one of the Allied powers in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis 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 to this day. Algeria and nearly all other French colonies became independent in the 1960s, with most retaining close economic and military connections with France. (Full article...)

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Hotel Chevalier is an American-French short film written and directed by Wes Anderson and released in 2007. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman as former lovers who reunite in a Paris hotel room, the 13-minute film acts as a prologue to Anderson's 2007 feature The Darjeeling Limited. It was shot on location in a Parisian hotel by a small crew and self-financed by Anderson, who initially intended it to be a stand-alone work. Its first showing was at the Venice Film Festival première of the feature film on September 2, 2007, and it made its own debut later that month at Apple Stores in four U.S. cities.

The day after the film's première, it was made freely available from the iTunes Store for one month, during which time it was downloaded more than 500,000 times. The film garnered near universal critical acclaim from reviewers, who compared it favorably to The Darjeeling Limited and praised its richness, poignancy, and careful construction. (Full article...)
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Sophie Blanchard (25 March 1778 – 6 July 1819) was a French aeronaut and the wife of ballooning pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard. Blanchard was the first woman to work as a professional balloonist, and after her husband's death she continued ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for her ballooning exploits, Blanchard entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals", replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official Aeronaut of the Restoration".

Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a few occasions, endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon crashed in a marsh. In 1819, she became the first woman to be killed in an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death. She is commonly referred to as Madame Blanchard and is also known by many combinations of her maiden and married names.

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The Dîner des trois empereurs or Three Emperors Dinner was a banquet held at Café Anglais in Paris, France on 7 June 1867. It consisted of 16 courses with eight wines served over eight hours. (Full article...)
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End of the Irish Invasion ; — or – the Destruction of the French Armada, James Gillray
End of the Irish Invasion ; — or – the Destruction of the French Armada, James Gillray

The French expedition to Ireland, known in French as the Expédition d'Irlande ("Expedition to Ireland"), was an unsuccessful attempt by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars to assist the outlawed Society of United Irishmen, a popular rebel Irish republican group, in their planned rebellion against British rule. The French intended to land a large expeditionary force in Ireland during the winter of 1796–1797 which would join with the United Irishmen and drive the British out of Ireland. The French anticipated that this would be a major blow to British morale, prestige and military effectiveness, and was also intended to possibly be the first stage of an eventual invasion of Britain itself. To this end, the Directory gathered a force of approximately 15,000 soldiers at Brest under General Lazare Hoche during late 1796, in readiness for a major landing at Bantry Bay in December.

The operation was launched during one of the stormiest winters of the 18th century, with the French fleet unprepared for such severe conditions. Patrolling British frigates observed the departure of the fleet and notified the British Channel Fleet, most of which was sheltering at Spithead for the winter. The French fleet was subject to confused orders as it left port and was scattered across the approaches to Brest: one ship was wrecked with heavy loss of life and the others widely dispersed. Separated, most of the French fleet managed to reach Bantry Bay late in December, but its commanders were driven miles off course and without them the fleet was unsure of what action to take, with amphibious landings impossible due to the weather conditions, which were the worst recorded since 1708. Within a week the fleet had broken up, small squadrons and individual ships making their way back to Brest through storms, fog and British patrols. (Full article...)
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  • A map of the the French city of Brest, dated to around 1700. Located in the Finistère department of Brittany, Brest lies in a sheltered bay close to the western extremity of metropolitan France. Originally named Bresta, possibly derived from a Celtic word meaning hill, the city came under the rule of the duke of Brittany in 1240. From 1342 to 1397 the city was under English rule, and became part of France in 1491 when a marriage unified Brittany with the French crown. Cardinal Richelieu designated the city a major naval base in 1631, a status it retains today. The city centre was mostly rebuilt after heavy Allied bombing during World War II.
    A map of the the French city of Brest, dated to around 1700. Located in the Finistère department of Brittany, Brest lies in a sheltered bay close to the western extremity of metropolitan France. Originally named Bresta, possibly derived from a Celtic word meaning hill, the city came under the rule of the duke of Brittany in 1240. From 1342 to 1397 the city was under English rule, and became part of France in 1491 when a marriage unified Brittany with the French crown. Cardinal Richelieu designated the city a major naval base in 1631, a status it retains today. The city centre was mostly rebuilt after heavy Allied bombing during World War II.
  • The 15th-century St. Joan of Arc Chapel was initially built in the village of Chasse-sur-Rhône, France. Originally called the Chapelle de St. Martin de Seyssuel, it is said to have been the place at which Joan of Arc prayed in 1429 after she had met King Charles VII of France. The present name was given to the chapel when Gertrude Hill Gavin, the daughter of an American railroad magnate, had the derelict building dismantled, transported to America and rebuilt beside her French Renaissance–style château in Brookville, New York, in 1927. The chapel was undamaged when the château burned down in 1962, and was later given to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, once more being transported stone by stone.
    The 15th-century St. Joan of Arc Chapel was initially built in the village of Chasse-sur-Rhône, France. Originally called the Chapelle de St. Martin de Seyssuel, it is said to have been the place at which Joan of Arc prayed in 1429 after she had met King Charles VII of France. The present name was given to the chapel when Gertrude Hill Gavin, the daughter of an American railroad magnate, had the derelict building dismantled, transported to America and rebuilt beside her French Renaissance–style château in Brookville, New York, in 1927. The chapel was undamaged when the château burned down in 1962, and was later given to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, once more being transported stone by stone.
  • The French franc is a former currency of France and Monaco and, alongside the Spanish peseta, a former de facto currency in Andorra. The first franc was a gold coin introduced in 1360, which showed King John II of France on a richly decorated horse, earning it the name franc à cheval. A later coin, showing Charles VII on foot, under a canopy, was named the franc à pied. The decimal franc was established by the French Revolutionary Convention in 1795 as a decimal unit, and became the official currency of France in 1799. France joined the euro in 1999, and the franc was replaced by euro notes and coins in 2002.This picture shows a 20-franc coin, dated 1803. The obverse shows an image of Napoleon.See also: 1807 40-franc coin
    The French franc is a former currency of France and Monaco and, alongside the Spanish peseta, a former de facto currency in Andorra. The first franc was a gold coin introduced in 1360, which showed King John II of France on a richly decorated horse, earning it the name franc à cheval. A later coin, showing Charles VII on foot, under a canopy, was named the franc à pied. The decimal franc was established by the French Revolutionary Convention in 1795 as a decimal unit, and became the official currency of France in 1799. France joined the euro in 1999, and the franc was replaced by euro notes and coins in 2002.

    This picture shows a 20-franc coin, dated 1803. The obverse shows an image of Napoleon.

    See also: 1807 40-franc coin
  • Les Invalides is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine. It is also home to the Dôme des Invalides, a large church where some of France's war heroes, including Napoleon Bonaparte, are buried.
    Les Invalides is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, containing museums and monuments relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine. It is also home to the Dôme des Invalides, a large church where some of France's war heroes, including Napoleon Bonaparte, are buried.
  • Louis XVI of France (1754–1793) was King of France (later King of the French) from 1774 until his deposition in 1792. His early reign was marked by attempts to reform France in accordance with Enlightenment ideals, including ultimately quashed efforts to abolish serfdom, remove the taille, and increase tolerance toward non-Catholics. However, after several years of national debt and financial and food crises, Louis was arrested during the insurrection of 10 August 1792, found guilty of high treason, and executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793.
    Louis XVI of France (1754–1793) was King of France (later King of the French) from 1774 until his deposition in 1792. His early reign was marked by attempts to reform France in accordance with Enlightenment ideals, including ultimately quashed efforts to abolish serfdom, remove the taille, and increase tolerance toward non-Catholics. However, after several years of national debt and financial and food crises, Louis was arrested during the insurrection of 10 August 1792, found guilty of high treason, and executed by guillotine on 21 January 1793.
  • Guillaume Budé (26 January 1467 – 23 August 1540) was a French scholar and humanist. He was involved in the founding of Collegium Trilingue, which later became the Collège de France. Budé was also the first keeper of the royal library at the Palace of Fontainebleau, which was later moved to Paris, where it became the Bibliothèque nationale de France. He was an ambassador to Rome and held several important judicial and civil administrative posts.This picture is an oil-on-panel portrait of Budé, produced around 1536 by Jean Clouet, a painter at the court of King Francis I of France. He was a very skilful painter and many fine portraits are attributed to him, but his picture of Budé is his only documented work, being mentioned in Budé's handwritten notes. The painting is now held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
    Guillaume Budé (26 January 1467 – 23 August 1540) was a French scholar and humanist. He was involved in the founding of Collegium Trilingue, which later became the Collège de France. Budé was also the first keeper of the royal library at the Palace of Fontainebleau, which was later moved to Paris, where it became the Bibliothèque nationale de France. He was an ambassador to Rome and held several important judicial and civil administrative posts.

    This picture is an oil-on-panel portrait of Budé, produced around 1536 by Jean Clouet, a painter at the court of King Francis I of France. He was a very skilful painter and many fine portraits are attributed to him, but his picture of Budé is his only documented work, being mentioned in Budé's handwritten notes. The painting is now held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
  • The Palais Galliera, formally known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, is a museum of fashion and fashion history located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, France. Following the death of her husband in 1876, the Duchess of Galliera gave land and funds for the erection of a museum to house his collection of paintings and fine art that she proposed to give to the state. The building was completed in 1894, but the collections were in fact donated to Genoa, Italy, where they are now displayed at the Palazzo Rosso and the Palazzo Bianco.
    The Palais Galliera, formally known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, is a museum of fashion and fashion history located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, France. Following the death of her husband in 1876, the Duchess of Galliera gave land and funds for the erection of a museum to house his collection of paintings and fine art that she proposed to give to the state. The building was completed in 1894, but the collections were in fact donated to Genoa, Italy, where they are now displayed at the Palazzo Rosso and the Palazzo Bianco.
  • The Basilica of Mary Magdalene in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume is a conservative 13th century Gothic church in Provence, France. Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume is a commune of southern France, in the département of Var.
    The Basilica of Mary Magdalene in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume is a conservative 13th century Gothic church in Provence, France. Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume is a commune of southern France, in the département of Var.
  • Joséphine Fodor (13 October 1789 or in 1793 – 10 August 1870) was a French lyrical artist (soprano) with Hungarian and Dutch ancestors. Her family moved to Saint Petersburg when she was an infant, probably because of the French Revolution. After marrying in 1812, Fodor and her husband moved back to France when Saint Petersburg came under attack during the French invasion of Russia. She performed roles for the Opéra-Comique in Paris, later being engaged by the Comédie-Italienne, and also appeared in London, Venice, Naples and Vienna. Experiencing problems with her voice, she gradually ended her operatic career and withdrew from the stage. This lithograph depicts her in 1815.
    Joséphine Fodor (13 October 1789 or in 1793 – 10 August 1870) was a French lyrical artist (soprano) with Hungarian and Dutch ancestors. Her family moved to Saint Petersburg when she was an infant, probably because of the French Revolution. After marrying in 1812, Fodor and her husband moved back to France when Saint Petersburg came under attack during the French invasion of Russia. She performed roles for the Opéra-Comique in Paris, later being engaged by the Comédie-Italienne, and also appeared in London, Venice, Naples and Vienna. Experiencing problems with her voice, she gradually ended her operatic career and withdrew from the stage. This lithograph depicts her in 1815.
  • Saint George Palace is an historic building in the city of Rennes, France.  Built in 1670, it was used as an abbey residence, replacing a much older abbey building that stood on the same site.  During the French Revolution the abbey was closed and the property was seized by the government.  Since 1930 the building has been listed as a monument historique of France. It now houses the fire services for the city and other civil administrative offices.
    Saint George Palace is an historic building in the city of Rennes, France. Built in 1670, it was used as an abbey residence, replacing a much older abbey building that stood on the same site. During the French Revolution the abbey was closed and the property was seized by the government. Since 1930 the building has been listed as a monument historique of France. It now houses the fire services for the city and other civil administrative offices.
  • Graziella is an 1852 novel by the French author Alphonse de Lamartine. It tells of a young French man who falls in love with the eponymous character, a fisherman's granddaughter, during a trip to Naples, Italy; they are separated when he must return to France, and Graziella dies soon afterwards. The novel received popular acclaim; an operatic adaptation had been completed by the end of the year, and the work influenced paintings, poems, novels, and films. This 1878 oil-on-canvas painting by the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre shows Graziella sitting on a rock, fishing net in hand, gazing over her shoulder at a smoking Mount Vesuvius in the distance. The painting is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
    Graziella is an 1852 novel by the French author Alphonse de Lamartine. It tells of a young French man who falls in love with the eponymous character, a fisherman's granddaughter, during a trip to Naples, Italy; they are separated when he must return to France, and Graziella dies soon afterwards. The novel received popular acclaim; an operatic adaptation had been completed by the end of the year, and the work influenced paintings, poems, novels, and films. This 1878 oil-on-canvas painting by the French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre shows Graziella sitting on a rock, fishing net in hand, gazing over her shoulder at a smoking Mount Vesuvius in the distance. The painting is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
  • The French franc is a former currency of France and Monaco and, alongside the Spanish peseta, a former de facto currency in Andorra. The first franc was a gold coin introduced in 1360, which showed King John II of France on a richly decorated horse, earning it the name franc à cheval. A later coin, showing Charles VII on foot, under a canopy, was named the franc à pied. The decimal franc was established by the French Revolutionary Convention in 1795 as a decimal unit, and became the official currency of France in 1799. France joined the euro in 1999, and the franc was replaced by euro notes and coins in 2002.This picture shows a 100-franc gold coin, dated 1889, with a "winged genius" designed by Augustin Dupré on the obverse. Only a hundred proof coins of this design were minted.
    The French franc is a former currency of France and Monaco and, alongside the Spanish peseta, a former de facto currency in Andorra. The first franc was a gold coin introduced in 1360, which showed King John II of France on a richly decorated horse, earning it the name franc à cheval. A later coin, showing Charles VII on foot, under a canopy, was named the franc à pied. The decimal franc was established by the French Revolutionary Convention in 1795 as a decimal unit, and became the official currency of France in 1799. France joined the euro in 1999, and the franc was replaced by euro notes and coins in 2002.

    This picture shows a 100-franc gold coin, dated 1889, with a "winged genius" designed by Augustin Dupré on the obverse. Only a hundred proof coins of this design were minted.
  • The écu was a gold and silver coinage system introduced in France in 1266 by Louis IX, so called because the coins featured the French coat of arms. The silver coin proved popular but the gold did not, because of the unrealistic ratio of 1:10 used, which did not properly reflect the metals' exchange rate. The écu remained in use for 500 years. Depicted here are two écu coins, the first made of gold and minted in 1641, in the reign of Louis XIII, and the second made of silver and minted in 1784, in the reign of Louis XVI. Between these two dates, exchange rates were unstable, new coins were issued, and existing ones revalued periodically.
    The écu was a gold and silver coinage system introduced in France in 1266 by Louis IX, so called because the coins featured the French coat of arms. The silver coin proved popular but the gold did not, because of the unrealistic ratio of 1:10 used, which did not properly reflect the metals' exchange rate. The écu remained in use for 500 years. Depicted here are two écu coins, the first made of gold and minted in 1641, in the reign of Louis XIII, and the second made of silver and minted in 1784, in the reign of Louis XVI. Between these two dates, exchange rates were unstable, new coins were issued, and existing ones revalued periodically.
  • Marie Leszczyńska (23 June 1703 – 24 June 1768) was a Polish noblewoman and French queen consort. The daughter of King Stanisław I Leszczyński of Poland and Catherine Opalińska, she married King Louis XV of France in 1725 and became queen consort of France, serving in that role for 42 years until her death, the longest of any French queen. Marie was popular due to her generosity and piety. She was the grandmother of future French kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X.This picture is an oil-on-canvas portrait of Marie by French painter Charles-André van Loo, commissioned by Louis XV in 1747. She is depicted wearing the Sancy diamond, part of the French Crown Jewels. The painting now hangs in the Palace of Versailles.
    Marie Leszczyńska (23 June 1703 – 24 June 1768) was a Polish noblewoman and French queen consort. The daughter of King Stanisław I Leszczyński of Poland and Catherine Opalińska, she married King Louis XV of France in 1725 and became queen consort of France, serving in that role for 42 years until her death, the longest of any French queen. Marie was popular due to her generosity and piety. She was the grandmother of future French kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X.

    This picture is an oil-on-canvas portrait of Marie by French painter Charles-André van Loo, commissioned by Louis XV in 1747. She is depicted wearing the Sancy diamond, part of the French Crown Jewels. The painting now hangs in the Palace of Versailles.
  • A Lantern of the Dead in Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne, France. Such small stone towers are found chiefly in the centre and west of France. They are often thought to have indicated cemeteries through lights exhibited at the top of the structures.
    A Lantern of the Dead in Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne, France. Such small stone towers are found chiefly in the centre and west of France. They are often thought to have indicated cemeteries through lights exhibited at the top of the structures.

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