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Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

"There are three authors whose works should be perused before entering France: Caesar, for its ancient history; Froissart, for its feudal history; and Arthur Young, for the picture of France before the revolution: his vivid local descriptions hold good to the present day.

To those who would attain some insight into the French character, previously to any personal intercourse with the people, no more agreeable or useful work can be recommended than “A Comparative View of the Social Condition of England and France,” by the Editor of Madame du Deffand’s Letters, the author of which has studied the national character through the double medium of long personal intercourse with the highest classes of society — and of an intimate acquaintance with the history of the country."--Hand-book for Travellers in France (1843) by John Murray

"What’s heaven? Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and the bankers are Swiss.

So then, what’s hell? Hell is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss and the bankers are Italian." [...]

"The Persian “sages” inform us, in their wisdom, that “Frangistan” is a large country, governed by several kings, and consisting of various tribes, which shave their chins, wear hats and tight clothes, drink wine, eat pork, worship images, and do not believe in Mohammed."--The Modern History and Condition of Egypt (1843) by William Holt Yates

Key people

Georges Bataille - Charles Baudelaire - Céline - Gilles Deleuze - Marquis de Sade - Marcel Duchamp - Serge Gainsbourg - Alain Robbe-Grillet - Michel Houellebecq - Éric Losfeld


Barbarella - cabaret - cinéma vérité - Cahiers du Cinéma - Cinémathèque - Emmanuelle - Fascination - fantastique - Fantômas - femme fatale - film noir - L'Histoire d'O - May 68 - Moulin Rouge - Midi Minuit Fantastique - négritude - Nouvelle Vague - noir - Obelisk Press - Olympia Press - Paris - Radio Nova - Salon des Refusés - Série noire - Le Sexe qui parle - fin de siècle - French Revolution - vaudeville

People, a checklist

A - Guillaume Apollinaire - B - Gaston Bachelard - Brigitte Bardot - Roland Barthes - Georges Bataille - André Bazin - Sylvia Beach - José Bénazéraf - Jean de Berg - Henri Bergson - Gilles Berquet - Alfred Binet - Michel Blanc - Bertrand Blier - François Boucher - Charles Baudelaire - Jean Baudrillard - Pierre Bourdieu - Guy Bourdin - Étienne-Louis Boullée - Robert Bresson - André Breton - Restif de la Bretonne - Catherine Breillat - Charles de Brosses - C - Rupert Carabin - Pierre Cardin - Paul Chabas - Claude Chabrol - Manu Chao - Céline - Jean Cocteau - Gustave Courbet - André Courrèges - D - Dalida - Anatole Dauman - Honoré Daumier - Guy Debord - Régis Debray - Claude Debussy - Gilles Deleuze - Gérard Depardieu - Gilles de Rais - Jacques Derrida - René Descartes - Robert Desnos - Achille Devéria - Denis Diderot - Gustave Doré - Marcel Duchamp - Germaine Dulac - E - Paul Éluard - Jean Epstein - F - Louis Feuillade - Gustave Flaubert - Michel Foucault - Georges Franju - Emmanuel Frémiet - G - Abel Gance - Serge Gainsbourg - Théophile Gautier - Jean-Léon Gérôme - Jean Giraud - Maurice Girodias - Jean-Luc Godard - Alain Goraguer - Urbain Grandier - Grandville - Alain Robbe-Grillet - Félix Guattari - H - Michel Houellebecq - Joris Karl Huysmans - I - Ingres - Luce Irigaray - J - Just Jaeckin - Alfred Jarry - K - François Kevorkian - Yves Klein - Pierre Klossowski - Julia Kristeva - Ado Kyrou - L - Jacques Lacan - Henri Langlois - René Laloux - Lautréamont - Toulouse-Lautrec - Patrice Leconte - Henri Lefebvre - Jean-Jacques Lequeu - Gaston Leroux - Éric Losfeld - Lyotard - M - Louis Malle - André Pieyre de Mandiargues - Édouard Manet - Georges Méliès - Henri Michaux - Octave Mirbeau - Pierre Molinier - N - Nerciat - Gilles Néret - Gaspar Noé - O - Orlan - François Ozon - P - Pauvert - Francis Picabia - Richard Pinhas - Georges Pichard - Max Pécas - R - Paco Rabanne - Pauline Réage - Jean Renoir - Alain Resnais - Janine Reynaud - Bettina Rheims - Jacques Rivette - Albert Robida - Jean Rollin - Jean-Jacques Rousseau - S - Pierre Schaeffer - Barbet Schroeder - Marquis de Sade - Jean-Paul Sartre - Delphine Seyrig - Georges Simenon - Romain Slocombe - Stendhal - T - Clovis Trouille - Jacques Tardi - Jacques Tati - François Truffaut - U - Octave Uzanne - V - Roger Vadim - Paul Valéry - Edgar Varèse - Jules Verne - Boris Vian - Paul Virilio - W - Georges Wolinski - Z - Régine Zylberberg

 L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière. It was first screened on December 28 1895 in Paris, France, and was shown to a paying audience January 6 1896.
L'arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière. It was first screened on December 28 1895 in Paris, France, and was shown to a paying audience January 6 1896.
Rue de la Colonie (1900) by Eugène Atget
Rue de la Colonie (1900) by Eugène Atget
The Aiguille Blaitiere (c. 1856) by John Ruskin, see Aiguilles de Chamonix
The Aiguille Blaitiere (c. 1856) by John Ruskin, see Aiguilles de Chamonix
View of the Grande Place of Marville
View of the Grande Place of Marville

Related e



France is a European country bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Andorra, and Spain.

France is the most visited country in the world, receiving over 75 million foreign tourists (including business visitors) annually.



Originally applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin Francia, or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today Francia in Italian and Spanish, Frankreich in German and Frankrijk in Dutch, all of which have the same historical meaning.

There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank (free) in English. It has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation. Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around.

The name of the Franks itself is also said to come "the free men", based on the fact that the word frank meant "free" in the ancient Germanic languages. However, rather than the ethnic name of the Franks coming from the word frank ("free"), it is more probable that the word frank ("free") comes from the ethnic name of the Franks, the connection being that only the Franks, as the conquering class, had the status of freemen.



French literature

The earliest French literature dates from the Middle Ages when the area that is modern France did not have a single, uniform language. There were several languages and dialects and each writer used his own spelling and grammar. The author of many French mediaeval texts is unknown, for example Tristan and Iseult and Lancelot and the Holy Grail. Much mediaeval French poetry and literature was inspired by the legends of the Matter of France, such as the The Song of Roland and the various Chansons de geste. The “Roman de Renart”, written in 1175 by Perrout de Saint Cloude tells the story of the mediaeval character Reynard ('the Fox') and is another example of early French writing. The names of some authors from this period are known, for example Chrétien de Troyes and Duke William IX of Aquitaine, who wrote in Occitan.

An important 16th century writer was François Rabelais who influenced modern French vocabulary and metaphor. During the 17th century Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine and Molière's plays, Blaise Pascal and René Descartes's moral and philosophical books deeply influenced the aristocracy leaving an important heritage for the authors of the following decades. Jean de La Fontaine was an important poet from this century. French literature and poetry flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries. The 18th century saw the works of writers, essayists and moralists such as Voltaire, Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Charles Perrault was a prolific writer of children's stories such as: “Puss in Boots”, “Cinderella”, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Bluebeard”.

At the turn of the 19th century symbolist poetry was an important movement in French literature, with poets such as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé. The 19th century saw the writing of many French novels of world renown with Victor Hugo (Les Misérables), Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte-Cristo), and Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) among the most well-known in France and beyond. Other 19th century fiction writers include Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Théophile Gautier and Stendhal.

The Prix Goncourt is a French literary prize first awarded in 1903. Important writers of the 20th century include Marcel Proust, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Antoine de Saint Exupéry wrote Little Prince which has remained popular for decades with children and adults around the world.


French art

The origins of French art were very much influenced by Flemish art and by Italian art at the time of the Renaissance. Jean Fouquet, the most famous medieval French painter, is said to have been the first to travel to Italy and experience the Early Renaissance at first hand. The Renaissance painting School of Fontainebleau was directly inspired by Italian painters such as Primaticcio and Rosso Fiorentino, who both worked in France. Two of the most famous French artists of the time of Baroque era, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, lived in Italy.

The 17th century was the period when French painting became prominent and individualized itself through classicism. Louis XIV's prime minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert founded in 1648 the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture to protect these artists, and in 1666 he created the still-active French Academy in Rome to have direct relations with Italian artists.

French artists developed the rococo style in the 18th century, as a more intimate imitation of old baroque style, the works of the court-endorsed artists Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard being the most representative in the country. The French Revolution brought great changes, as Napoleon favoured artists of neoclassic style such as Jacques-Louis David and the highly influential Académie des Beaux-Arts defined the style known as Academism. At this time France had become a centre of artistic creation, the first half of the 19th century being dominated by two successive movements, at first Romanticism with Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix, and Realism with Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet, a style that eventually evolved into Naturalism.

In the second part of the 19th century, France's influence over painting became even more important, with the development of new styles of painting such as Impressionism and Symbolism. The most famous impressionist painters of the period were Camille Pissarro, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. The second generation of impressionist-style painters, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and Georges Seurat, were also at the avant-garde of artistic evolutions, as well as the fauvist artists Henri Matisse, André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck.

At the beginning of 20th century, Cubism was developed by Georges Braque and the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, living in Paris. Other foreign artists also settled and worked in or near Paris, such as Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani and Wassily Kandinsky.

Many museums in France are entirely or partly devoted to sculptures and painting works. A huge collection of old masterpieces created before or during the 18th century are displayed in the state-owned Musée du Louvre, such as Mona Lisa, also known as La Joconde. While the Louvre Palace has been for a long time a museum, the Musée d'Orsay was inaugurated in 1986 in the old railway station Gare d'Orsay, in a major reorganization of national art collections, to gather French paintings from the second part of the 19th century (mainly Impressionism and Fauvism movements).

Modern works are presented in the Musée National d'Art Moderne, which moved in 1976 to the Centre Georges Pompidou. These three state-owned museums welcome close to 17 million people a year. Other national museums hosting paintings include the Grand Palais (1.3 million visitors in 2008), but there are also many museums owned by cities, the most visited being the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (0.8 million entries in 2008), which hosts contemporary works.

Outside Paris, all the large cities have a Museum of Fine Arts with a section dedicated to European and French painting. Some of the finest collections are in Lyon, Lille, Rouen, Dijon, Rennes and Grenoble.


French philosophy

Medieval philosophy was dominated by Scholasticism until the emergence of Humanism in the Renaissance. Modern philosophy began in France in the 17th century with the philosophy of René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Nicolas Malebranche. Descartes revitalised Western philosophy, which had been declined after the Greek and Roman eras. His Meditations on First Philosophy changed the primary object of philosophical thought and raised some of the most fundamental problems for foreigners such as Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant.

During the 18th century, French philosophers produced one of the most important works of the Age of Enlightenment. In The Spirit of the Laws, Baron de Montesquieu theorized the principle of separation of powers, which has been implemented in all liberal democracies since it was first applied in the United States. In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau openly criticized the European divine right monarchies and strongly affirmed the principle of the sovereignty of the people. Voltaire came to embody the Enlightenment with his defence of civil liberties, such as the right to a free trial and freedom of religion.

19th-century French thought was targeted at responding to the social malaise following the French Revolution. Rationalist philosophers such as Victor Cousin and Auguste Comte, who called for a new social doctrine, were opposed by reactionnary thinkers such as Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald and Lamennais, who blamed the rationalist rejection of traditional order. De Maistre is considered, together with the Englishman Edmund Burke, one of the founders of European conservatism, while Comte is regarded as the founder of positivism and sociology.

In the early 20th century, French spiritualist thinkers such as Maine de Biran and Henri Bergson influenced Anglo-Saxon thought, including the Americans Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, and the Englishman Alfred North Whitehead. In the late 20th century, partly influenced by German phenomenology and existentialism, postmodern philosophy began in France, with notable post-structuralist thinkers including Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "France" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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