Portal:France
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Portal:France

Welcome to the France Portal!
Bienvenue sur le Portail France !

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

France (French: [fs] ), officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a transcontinental country consisting of metropolitan France in Western Europe 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 67.413 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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Viet Minh troops plant their flag over the captured French headquarters at Dien Bien Phu: a still from Soviet filmographer Roman Karmen

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu (French: Bataille de Diên Biên Phu pronounced [bataj d? dj bj fy]; Vietnamese: Chi?n d?ch ?i?n Biên Ph?, IPA: [tj?n zîk? ?î?n? n fû]) was a climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War that took place between 13 March and 7 May 1954. It was fought between the French Union's colonial Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. The United States was officially not a party to the war, but it was secretly involved by providing financial and material aid, which included CIA contracted American personnel participating in the battle.

The French began an operation to insert, then support, their soldiers at ?i?n Biên Ph?, deep in the west of Tonkin, up in the hills of northwestern Vietnam. The operation's purpose was to cut off Viet Minh supply lines into the neighboring Kingdom of Laos (a French ally), and draw the Viet Minh into a major confrontation in order to cripple them. The plan was to resupply the French position by air - based on the belief that the Viet Minh had no anti-aircraft capability. The Viet Minh, however, under General Võ Nguyên Giáp, surrounded and besieged the French. They brought in vast amounts of heavy artillery (including anti-aircraft guns) and managed to move these bulky weapons through difficult terrain up the rear slopes of the mountains. They then dug tunnels through the mountains and arranged the guns to target the French position. (Full article...)

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Nostradamus: original portrait by his son Cesar
Michel de Nostredame (14 or 21 December 1503 - 2 July 1566), usually Latinised as Nostradamus, was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties (The Prophecies), the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Since the publication of this book, which has rarely been out of print since his death, Nostradamus has attracted a following that, along with much of the popular press, credits him with predicting many major world events.

Most academic sources maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus's quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power. Nevertheless, occasional commentators have successfully used a process of free interpretation and determined 'twisting' of their words to predict an apparently imminent event.

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Wikicheese - Roquefort - 20150417 - 003.jpg

Roquefort, is a sheep milk cheese from Southern France, and is one of the world's best known blue cheeses. Though similar cheeses are produced elsewhere, EU law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognised geographical indication, or has a protected designation of origin.

The cheese is white, tangy, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of blue mold. It has a characteristic fragrance and flavor with a notable taste of butyric acid; the blue veins provide a sharp tang. It has no rind; the exterior is edible and slightly salty. A typical wheel of Roquefort weighs between 2.5 and 3 kg (6 and 7 lb), and is about 10 cm (4 in) thick. Each kilogram of finished cheese requires about 4.5 litres (1+14 US gal) of milk to produce. In France, Roquefort is often called the "King of Cheeses" or the "Cheese of Kings", although those names are also used for other cheeses. (Full article...)

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1858 map of Salamanca shows empty spaces in the southwest corner of the city where the forts were located
The siege of the Salamanca forts (17-27 June 1812) saw an 800-man Imperial French garrison directed by Lieutenant Colonel Duchemin defend three fortified convents in the city of Salamanca against the 48,000-strong Anglo-Allied army led by Arthur Wellesley, Lord Wellington. During this time, the French commander Marshal Auguste de Marmont led a 40,000-man French army in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the garrison. An Allied failure to bring sufficient artillery ammunition caused the siege to be prolonged. The garrison repulsed a premature British attempt to storm the fortified convents on 23 June, but finally surrendered four days later after an artillery bombardment breached one fort and set another one on fire. During his maneuvering, Marmont formed the idea that Wellington was only willing to act on the defensive. This mistaken notion would contribute to Marmont's defeat at the Battle of Salamanca a month later. (Full article...)

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French Chasseurs d'Afrique on outpost in Tunis, 1881.

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