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 consisting 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 borders Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland, Monaco, 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 67.07 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 12.

During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by the Gauls, a collection of Celtic tribes. 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, King Philip Augustus achieved remarkable success in the expansion of his realm, defeating his rivals and doubling its size. 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, which lasted over 100 years. Emerging victorious from said conflicts, disputes with Spain and the Holy Roman Empire soon followed during the Renaissance but were ultimately less successful. However, 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 severly weakened the country. But France once again emerged as Europe's dominant cultural, political, and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. Endless and costly wars, notably colonial struggles with Great Britain and intervention in the American War of Independence, left the state on the brink of economic collapse by the end of the 18th century. The French Revolution in 1789 overthrew the absolute monarchy that characterized the Ancien Régime and established one of modern history's earliest republics, drafting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which 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 who subjugated much of continental Europe and established 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.

France retains its centuries-long status as a global centre of art, science, and philosophy. It hosts the world's fifth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving over 89 million foreign visitors in 2018. France is a developed country with the world's seventh-largest economy by nominal GDP, and the tenth-largest by PPP. 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. It remains a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and an official nuclear-weapon state. France is a founding and leading member 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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La bataille d'Austerlitz. 2 decembre 1805, François Gérard

The Battle of Austerlitz (2 December 1805/11 Frimaire An XIV FRC), also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars. In what is widely regarded as the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, the Grande Armée of France defeated a larger Russian and Austrian army led by Emperor Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The battle occurred near the town of Austerlitz in the Austrian Empire (modern-day Slavkov u Brna in the Czech Republic). Austerlitz brought the War of the Third Coalition to a rapid end, with the Treaty of Pressburg signed by the Austrians later in the month. The battle is often cited as a tactical masterpiece, in the same league as other historic engagements like Cannae or Gaugamela.

After eliminating an Austrian army during the Ulm Campaign, French forces seized Vienna in November 1805. The Austrians avoided further conflict until the arrival of the Russians bolstered Allied numbers. Napoleon sent his army north in pursuit of the Allies, but then ordered his forces to retreat so he could feign a grave weakness. Desperate to lure the Allies into battle, Napoleon gave every indication in the days preceding the engagement that the French army was in a pitiful state, even abandoning the dominant Pratzen Heights near Austerlitz. He deployed the French army below the Pratzen Heights and deliberately weakened his right flank, enticing the Allies to launch a major assault there in the hopes of rolling up the whole French line. A forced march from Vienna by Marshal Davout and his III Corps plugged the gap left by Napoleon just in time. Meanwhile, the heavy Allied deployment against the French right weakened the allied center on the Pratzen Heights, which was viciously attacked by the IV Corps of Marshal Soult. With the Allied centre demolished, the French swept through both enemy flanks and sent the Allies fleeing chaotically, capturing thousands of prisoners in the process. Read more...

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Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, 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] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help) ("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.

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A Rouennaise duckling served with Rouennaise sauce and fresh spinach.
Pressed duck (French: Canard à la presse, Caneton à la presse, Canard à la rouennaise, Caneton à la rouennaise or Canard au sang) is a traditional French dish. The complex dish is a specialty of Rouen and its creation attributed to an innkeeper from the city of Duclair. Since the 19th century, it has also been a specialty of the Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris where it is formally known as the Caneton Tour d'Argent (Tour d'Argent duckling). It consists of various parts of a duck served in a sauce of its blood and bone marrow, which is extracted by way of a press. It has been considered "the height of elegance." Read more...

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General Count Nansouty

Étienne-Marie-Antoine Champion, comte de Nansouty (30 May 1768 – 12 February 1815) was a French cavalry commander during the French Revolutionary Wars who rose to the rank of General of Division in 1803 and subsequently held important military commands during the Napoleonic Wars.

Of noble Burgundian descent, he was a student at the Brienne military school, then was a graduate of the Paris military school. Nansouty began his military career in 1785, as a sub-lieutenant in the regiment Bourgogne-Infanterie, where his father had served during the wars of Louis XV. A cavalry officer at the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792, Nansouty was commissioned as an aide-de-camp to Marshal Nicolas Luckner. During the First Coalition, he saw service as a lieutenant-colonel and squadron commander in the 9th (heavy) Cavalry Regiment, campaigning with the French armies on the Rhine and in Germany. Promoted to Colonel in 1793 and given the command of the 9th Cavalry, he was noted for several well-led cavalry actions. Finally made a Brigadier General in 1799, after he had refused the promotion several times in the past, Nansouty fought the next year under General Jean Victor Moreau in southern Germany, in a decisive campaign of the Second Coalition. Read more...
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The Little St Bernard Pass (French: Col du Petit Saint-Bernard) is a mountain pass in the Alps, located in Savoie, France, to the south of the Mont Blanc Massif, and close to the border with Italy.
Photo credit: Vberger

Vannes Cathedral.

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