The France national rugby union team
in rugby union
. They compete annually against England
in the Six Nations Championship
. They have won the championship outright sixteen times, shared it a further eight times, and have completed nine grand slams
. Eight former French players have been inducted into either the International Rugby Hall of Fame
or the IRB Hall of Fame
—two to the International Hall only, two to the IRB Hall only, and four to both Halls of Fame.
France traditionally play in blue shirts with white shorts and red socks, and are commonly referred to as les tricolores or les bleus. The French emblem is a golden rooster imposed upon a red shield. Their alternative strip is composed of a white shirt and navy blue shorts and socks. French international matches are played at several venues across the country; the Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis is used for their games during the Six Nations, and they have a formidable home record at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille where they have only lost twice, to Argentina in 2004 and to New Zealand in 2009.
was a French composer, organist
, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex (he was interested in rhythms from ancient Greek
and from Hindu
sources); harmonically and melodically
it is based on modes of limited transposition
, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations. Many of his compositions depict what he termed "the marvellous aspects of the faith", and drew on his deeply held Roman Catholicism.
Messiaen entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11 and was taught by Paul Dukas, Maurice Emmanuel, Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupré, among others. He was appointed organist at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris in 1931, a post held until his death. He taught at the Schola Cantorum de Paris during the 1930s. On the fall of France in 1940, Messiaen was made a prisoner of war, during which time he composed his Quatuor pour la fin du temps ("Quartet for the end of time") for the four available instruments—piano, violin, cello and clarinet. He was appointed professor of harmony soon after his release in 1941, and professor of composition in 1966 at the Paris Conservatoire, positions he held until his retirement in 1978. His many distinguished pupils included Pierre Boulez and Yvonne Loriod, who became his second wife.
He found birdsong fascinating, believed birds to be the greatest musicians, and considered himself as much an ornithologist as a composer. He notated bird songs worldwide and incorporated birdsong transcriptions into most of his music. His innovative use of colour, his conception of the relationship between time and music, his use of birdsong and his desire to express religious ideas are among features that make Messiaen's music distinctive.