Education in France

France – education

The French school is in many respects a product of the Enlightenment’s human vision, the Napoleonic era of centralism and the separation of church and state. Since World War II, efforts have been made to combine a sharp expansion of education with a democratization of the original elitist system; during democratization, e.g. the educations for the 11-15-year-olds have been gathered under one roof in the so-called collège. Compulsory schooling was extended to ten years (6-16 years) in 1959, and in the same year the private, predominantly Catholic schools were equated with the public in terms of financial support and the ministry’s general requirements for curriculum, organization and inspection. The student uprising in 1968 gave more people access to universities.

Based on the Education Act of 1989, the French education system includes a 3-4-year preschool, école maternelle, for the 2-5-year-olds. It absorbs almost all of 3-5-year-old and just over 1/3 of the two-year (1990). Teachers have the same qualifications as primary school teachers, with particular emphasis on promoting spoken language. The primary school for the 6-10 year olds, école primaire, is five years old. The schooling for the 11-18-year-olds is seven years and is divided into a four-year collège d’enseignement secondaire (CES) and a three-year high school. Despite several attempts to introduce undivided school (1975, 1982), students in college in practice are still divided into lines, filières. The private schools are sought by approximately 14% at the primary level and approximately 20% at the college level (1992).

At the upper secondary level, which is applied for by 80% of a year group, students can choose between a general and a technical line, which is applied for by approximately 70%, and a vocational line, which is sought by approximately 30%. The general and technical line ends with a baccalauréat, and the vocational one with a certificate d’aptitude professionelle (CAP) or with the less specialized letter d’études professionelles (BEP). 25% of these go on to one of the professional baccalauréats, bacs pros, created in 1987.

General higher education at university level is sought by approximately 70% of young people who have passed a baccalauréat. In addition, there are les grandes écoles, which are primarily engineering schools or schools of commerce and administration. They are usually private institutions and only open to a limited number of students; they are considered the path to leading positions in French society.

The French school system is based on a long tradition of the education system being gratuit, laïque et obligatoire (‘free, secular and compulsory’). This means that teaching is in principle free of charge, as in Denmark, that religious instruction takes place outside the school, and that there is compulsory schooling, not just compulsory teaching. The French school system is centrally controlled and has a stronger exam character than the Danish one. The phenomenon of “oversight”, ie. two years at the same grade level, is therefore still quite widespread; for example, in 1991, 64% of the students in the final class were 18 years or older. Recent education reforms, however, have given greater freedom to the individual region and institution.

OFFICIAL NAME: French Republic


POPULATION: 67,000,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)

AREA: 543,965 km²

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): French, Occitan, Arabic, German, Breton, others

RELIGION: Catholics 90%, Protestants 2%, Jews 1%, others 7%

COIN: Euro



POPULATION COMPOSITION: French nationals 92%, Portuguese 1%, Algerians 1%, Moroccans 1%, others 5%

GDP PER residents: $ 23641 (2007)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 77 years, women 84 years (2007)




France is the largest country in the EU. It is located on the west side of the European continent. France has been one of Europe’s cultural centers for centuries; Among other things, had the French Revolution of great importance to social developments and thinking in the Western world. The country is one of the world’s military powers and France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

  • Find two-letter abbreviation for each independent country and territory, such as FR which stands for France.

As one of the co-founders of the later EU, France has a strong position in Europe and is a member of the G7 group. In 1966, France chose to remain outside NATO’s military cooperation; however, relations with NATO in the 1990’s were under reconsideration. The French government is very centralized and the center of French society is Paris, the capital. The population is broadly ethnic, not least due to the country’s past as a colonial power.

France – constitution and political system

The Constitution of the Fifth Republic is from 1958 with later amendments in 2000 and 2003, the form of government is parliamentary. According to constitutional amendments 1998-2000, political parties can be punished financially if they do not have the same number of men and women on the candidate lists.

The legislature

Legislative power lies with a two-chamber parliament, the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly) and Le Sénat(Senate). The National Assembly has 577 members, deputies, of whom 555 are elected in France itself and 22 in the overseas territories. They are elected for five years in direct, general elections in single-member constituencies. If no candidate has initially received more than half of the votes, candidates with more than 12.5% ​​of the votes may meet in another round of voting; often, however, agreements are reached for the purpose of pooling the votes of two candidates in the second round. All French citizens over the age of 18 who are registered in the electoral register have the right to vote. The Senate’s 321 members, senators, are elected for six years in indirect elections by municipal representatives; The Senate is successively renewed by half every three years. In 2005, the number was 321, divided between 296 senators from France itself, 13 from overseas territories and 12 representing French nationals. living outside France or its possessions. The number will increase from 2010 to 346.

The executive

The executive power lies with the president, who has a number of powerful powers: he appoints the prime minister and, on his proposal, the other members of the government, and he chairs the government meetings; he may, on a proposal from the Government, send certain bills to a referendum, he may, after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Speakers of the Chambers, dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections, and he may, in extraordinary situations, govern by decrees; this has only happened once, namely after a military coup attempt in Algeria in 1961. However, the president’s power is significantly curtailed if, after an election, he has to appoint a political opponent as prime minister due to the new composition of parliament. The Constitution emphasizes the leading position of the Prime Minister, but when a majority in Parliament is behind the President, the government becomes in a way an entrepreneurial body for the president. The formal decisions are made in Council of State during his presidency. With him all the threads of the public power apparatus come together, and not least in the management of foreign policy, the president is dominant.

The president is elected for five years by direct election, which takes place at the same time as the parliamentary one. If no candidate gets an absolute majority in the first round, the two candidates will meet with the most votes in the second round. Through the direct presidential elections, the voters decide where the center of power should be located, and thus the presidential election is considered more important than elections to the National Assembly, which to a large extent becomes a stance for or against the president’s policy.

In relation to the president and government, the position of parliament is relatively weak. It appears that the government has a decisive influence on the agendas of the chambers, that the government can demand a bill passed in its entirety if it is not rejected by a vote of no confidence, that government proposals can be considered before MPs’ proposals, that the government does not have to wait for committee resolutions, and that the right to issue regulations has been extended in favor of the government. Not least when the president and government belong to the same party, the opposition has great difficulty asserting itself when it cannot get the National Assembly to cast a no-confidence vote.

Political parties

The French electoral system contributes to a polarization of political life in a clear right-wing and left-wing, and smaller parties with the same ideological background often have to work together to gain influence. With the exception of the Parti radical and Parti communiste français, which were formed in resp. 1901 and 1920, all current parties arose after 1970.

The main bourgeois parties are the Rassemblement pour la république, RPR, and the Union pour la démocratie française, UDF. The RPR, which is the larger of the two, was founded in 1976 by Jacques Chirac as a collection of the Gaullist parties Union des démocrates pour la république, UDR, and Parti populaire français. UDF was formed in 1978 by Valery Giscard d’Estaing; it is a loose association of the otherwise independent parties Parti républicain, Parti radical, Parti social-démocrate and Center des démocrates sociaux. In 2002, the RPR and part of the UDF joined forces to form the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP), which in 2015 changed its name toRepublicans. On the far right is the Front National, the United Nations, founded in 1972 and led by Jean-Marie Le Pen until 2011.

On the left, the Communist Party, PCF, previously had large membership and voter support and experienced during the Fourth Republic to become France’s largest party. In the 1970’s it was overtaken by the Socialist Party and has declined sharply, especially after 1981. In 1971, the Socialist Party, PS, replaced the old Socialist Party, SFIO, and got François Mitterrandas leader. At the same time, it stood out more clearly as a left-wing party and in 1972 adopted a joint program with the PCF. After 1981, however, the PS has ideologically approached the EU Social Democratic parties and today appears as a dominant alternative to the PCF. The far left before 1980 attracted many intellectuals, but never had large numbers of voters. In recent years, France has had several green parties, including Les Verts, which was formed in 1984.

France – economy

France is the world’s sixth largest economy, the world’s leading tourist destination and Europe’s leading agricultural producer. It has had a significant economic growth in the second half of the 1900’s, which was characterized by a massive societal investment in technologically advanced production; however, growth has been modest in recent years. Productivity is high, but the employment rate is low and unemployment is generally high (9% in 2006). Constant public budget deficits increase debt and are in conflict with EU statutes, but can hardly be reduced without increased unemployment and social unrest.

In the years after World War II, the nationalization of the economy, which had begun in the interwar years, when railway operations had passed to the state, continued. The energy sector, air transport, large parts of industry as well as the financial sector gradually came under state control. In parallel with the nationalisations, the government prepared, among other things, five-year plans, which, not least in the first planning periods, became of great importance for both the regional and the overall socio-economic development. Consumer prices, wages and foreign trade were subject to direct control, while economic developments were regulated by monetary and exchange rate policy. Fiscal policy functioned primarily as an allocation policy instrument.

From the mid-1960’s, the state’s direct control over the economy was gradually eased, while fiscal policy was given a more cyclical regulatory role, although devaluations and trade policy measures continued to be used to promote employment and reduce the current account deficit.

A political system shift in 1981, when the Socialists came to power, led to a new wave of nationalization and an active fiscal policy aimed at reducing rapidly growing unemployment. The nationalizations made the state the owner of virtually the entire financial sector and a considerable part of industrial production.

Demand-promoting economic policy resulted in a marked increase in the balance of payments deficit, and from October 1981 to March 1983 the franc had to be written down by about 25% against the D-mark in the framework of the EC countries’ monetary cooperation, the EMS.

In 1983-84, President Mitterrand presented a new strategy that emphasized closer Community integration rather than further strengthening socialist policies. The government announced a firmer exchange rate policy, and in 1985 a liberalization of the international capital movements began, which was fully completed in 1990. Price controls were finally abolished in 1986, after the new Gaulist Jacques Chirac had taken over as prime minister. Chirac also launched an ambitious privatization program, which was halted after the 1988 election but resumed in 1993. included the Banque nationale de Paris, the oil company Elf-Aquitaine and the Renault factories. Yet the French state, however, is heavily involved in many branches of production life.

From 1993, compliance with the convergence criteria of the EU Economic and Monetary Union, which France joined in 1999, became the main economic policy objective. The euro replaced the franc in 2002. Since the early 1990’s, the general government deficit has generally exceeded the convergence criterion of 3% of GDP; in 2004 it was thus 3.7%. In order to reduce it, loans were raised, but in doing so, another EU criterion on maximum government debt (60% of GDP) was violated.

Government revenue transfers account for a relatively large share of total government expenditure. The government has therefore sought a solution to the budgetary problems through a reform of the social expenditure system, which, however, has been met with opposition from the French trade union movement. Another major expense is the public health system, which was named the best in the world by the WHO in 2000.

Budget problems are exacerbated by high unemployment, which in the mid-1990’s was around 12% falling to 8-9% around the turn of the century and then rising slightly again, despite the fact that working hours have been reduced to 35 hours a week with full wage compensation. A solution to the problems in the labor market is hampered by a large number of long-term unemployed as well as illegal immigration of labor from former colonies in North Africa.

In step with the ever closer integration of the western industrialized countries, France’s economic relations with the countries of the franc zone (former and present colonies) have become of a subordinate nature. While these countries accounted for about 1/3 of France’s foreign trade in the years after the second World War, the proportion dropped to a few percent since the 1990’s, when trade with other EU countries, especially Germany, Belgium-Luxembourg, Italy and Spain, dominates.

In 2005, Denmark’s exports to France amounted to DKK 26.0 billion. DKK, while imports from France amounted to 19.3 billion. Among the most important Danish export products are oil, various machines, pharmaceuticals and fish. Vehicles, industrial machinery and wine are essential imports.

France – social conditions

The social system in France is a good example of the “continental European” model, which is based on voluntary organizations in terms of services and social care, and on comprehensive social insurance to secure employees. The health service is largely privately organized. The health insurance reimburses to a certain extent the individual’s expenses for medical care, hospital, etc.; all employees are, through the company in which they are employed, automatically members of public social insurance schemes, which include sickness and maternity benefits, old-age pensions, child family benefits and unemployment benefits. In addition to the general schemes, in some of the areas there are supplementary insurance schemes which provide higher benefits to certain employees, especially in public enterprises. Maternity leave covers 16 weeks, and in addition, there is the possibility of parental leave. As a general rule, unemployment benefits in the event of illness and maternity as well as unemployment amount to 50% of previous income, provided, however, that a maximum amount is set.

Retirement pension can be obtained from the age of 60. The amount depends on the number of years of work and on the salary of the last ten years. At full seniority, the pension is 50%, however with both a maximum and a minimum. With supplementary pension schemes, the coverage can be significantly increased. In order to get invalidity, it is a condition that the working capacity is reduced by 2/3.

Social insurance is mainly financed through contributions from employers and employees; employers pay the majority, but a state subsidy is also provided. The state covers approximately 25% of the total expenditure on social insurance. Elderly care, care for the disabled, child care, etc. is primarily handled by voluntary organizations. Finally, there is a public system, the “solidarity system”, which provides a coercive, lower coverage for those who are not covered by social insurance. Check youremailverifier for France social condition facts.

France – health conditions

French women’s average life expectancy in 1992 was just over 82 years, in Europe surpassed only by Swiss women. French men live on average almost nine years shorter, which is equivalent to the average for men in the EU. This large difference between women and men is mainly due to men’s higher mortality due to traffic accidents and diseases caused by alcohol consumption. The high average alcohol consumption is too declining and is approaching the Danish of 11-12 l pure alcohol per. year. The number of smokers is declining and is below 20% for women, the lowest in the EU. Cancer mortality is slightly declining for women, but slightly increasing for men. For both men and women, there is a significant decrease in mortality from cardiovascular disease.

The mortality rate in the first year of life is now 6.8 per. 1000 live births, which is slightly higher than the Danish.

The incidence of AIDS has been rising sharply since 1985, and at the end of 1995 the total number was 39,755, the highest in Europe.

The French healthcare system is the most expensive in Europe. The country spent 9.1% of GDP on health care in 1991; of which came approximately 75% from public coffers. The country has 2.8 doctors per. 1000 residents, roughly equivalent to Denmark. approximately 70% of general practitioners, approximately 100,000 doctors, work independently and get their pay both from public and from independent health insurance systems. The hospital system has a declining number of beds, in 1992 9.4 beds per. 1000 residents. approximately 2/3 of hospitals are publicly or operated by non-profit organizations, while the remainder are predominantly privately organized.

France – management

Many features of French government go back to the time after the Revolution, when a highly centralized government was introduced. However, the decentralization reform of 1982 created a new division of competences and new forms of cooperation, which is characterized by a close interaction between the central administration and the regions, the departments, which in turn are divided into arrondissements and cantons, and the municipalities.

The central administration as a whole is subordinate to the Prime Minister, who takes care of the coordination between the individual line ministries. The task of the central administration is to create a framework for the whole country and to implement the laws and regulations that apply throughout France. Locally, the central administration is represented in the regions and departments by prefects and associated administrations.

France is divided into 13 regions in addition to the five overseas departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Mayotte and Réunion. Each region comprises from one to eight departments and is governed by a popularly elected conseil régional, headed by a president; it works especially with areas such as regional development, construction, transport and infrastructure, social conditions as well as education and culture. The revenue comes mainly from block grants from the state and from local taxes.

Each of the 96 departments of France itself is again headed by a conseil général consisting of a popularly elected representative of each canton, of which there are 3,500.

France’s smallest administrative units are the 35,756 municipalities (2016). A mayor (maire) heads a popularly elected municipal council, conseil municipal.

At all levels, special arrangements apply to the two major cities of Paris and Lyon, as well as to Corsica and all overseas possessions.

France – legal system

Before Napoleon I in 1804, the Civil Code (Code Napoléon), the great French civil law, put into force for the whole of France, the country had been divided into numerous smaller jurisdictions. In the southern part of the country, legal rules applied in most places, which were essentially based on written Roman law sources. In the northern part, customary law applied.

With the introduction of the Civil Code, the law was given priority. The written law became the supreme source of applicable law. Where a law is given, past custom and case law are supplanted. If the law is clear and precise, the judge must interpret it according to its wording. If it is unclear or vague, the judge has a greater freedom of interpretation.

The Civil Code is divided into three books: on persons’ legal relationships, which include personal and family law, on property and property rights to property, and on the way in which property is acquired, ie. inheritance law, property relations between spouses and bond law.

French law and a large number of the legal systems that have had French law as a model divide private law into a civil law (droit civil) and a commercial law (droit commercial). Commercial law is not what we understand by commercial law (commercial law), but a number of legal rules that are special for crafts, industry, trade, banks, transport professions and more. They are now found in the Code de commerce from 2001, which replaced the previous one from 1804. Civil law is gathered in the Code civil, and here you will find most rules about contractual relationships, eg the general rules about contracts, purchases, loans, rent, etc. and on the matters of property law. In addition, there are several other law books, including a criminal, criminal and civil procedure law, as well as a consumer law book and a law book for road traffic, as well as a large number of individual laws.

Code civil was not given for the poor single mother but for the wealthy man with common sense, enterprise and sense of responsibility. It was his personal freedom and initiative that it was to secure, and his property that it was to safeguard. Legally concluded contracts “apply as law to the parties” (Art. 1134), and this principle that agreements must be kept at all costs is still largely maintained, although the courts have tended to change or override grossly unfair contract terms. Furthermore, in recent times the legislature has also introduced the protection of workers, tenants and consumers. Both before and under the rule of President François Mitterrand, social legislation has been greatly expanded.

France, which in Napoleon’s time was a peasant and artisan society, is today a technically developed service and industrial society with other values. In many areas, new laws have been passed or amended in the Civil Code. However, part of the reform work has been left to the courts. They give the law book’s vague and inclusive provisions a new content and have in several areas extended the law’s provisions further than intended, just as they have created new rules, such as special rules on abuse of law and fraud à la loi.

A civil or criminal case of a certain significance is brought before the local tribunal de grande instance and is decided by legal professional judges. Commercial cases are decided by the local tribunals de commerce by commercial judges who are not legal professional judges, but who have a good knowledge of the legal rules that apply to the cases they decide. Labor disputes are brought before the special conseils de prud’hommes, which includes representatives of both employers and employees. Decisions from these courts can be appealed to one of the approximately 30 cours d’appel, where they are heard by legal judges. Legal issues, but not questions of evidence, can be freely brought before the Supreme Court, Cour de cassation, which sends the judgment to another appellate court for retrial when it does not affirm but dismisses the judgment.

A constitutional council, the Conseil constitutional, can decide whether a law is contrary to the constitution, but only when the highest state bodies, such as the president or the prime minister, demand it. Unlike in Denmark, citizens cannot have this issue tried in the courts, but they can have it tested whether a law is contrary to EU law.

France – military

The Armed Forces is (2006) 255,000. The army is at 133,500, the navy 44,000 and the air force 63,500. The reserve is 21,650. The French arms industry can, in principle, supply all the equipment that the guards need. Thus, the nuclear impact strength (Force de frappe), whose main element is the four missile -carrying submarines, armed with French-produced equipment.

The Army (Armée de terre) includes relatively lightly equipped forces for overseas intervention, including The Foreign Legion (Légion étrangère) and the Marine Corps (Troupes de marine), and forces equipped with armored equipment primarily for use on the European continent. In addition, one can mobilize forces for the country’s territorial defense.

The fleet (Marine national) reflects with the availability of aircraft carriers, landing craft and special forces in the same way as the army’s desire to be able to act as a military superpower.

The Air Force (Armée de l’air) includes, in addition to a contribution to the Nuclear Weapons Forces, tactical air forces, air defense missile units and an air transport capability that is too weak to support major overseas operations.

The Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale) of just over 102,000 with its reserve of 40,000 is the defense’s primary contribution to the security of France itself. In addition, one can mobilize a limited force with total defense tasks.

The French military is the largest in the EU and the 20th largest in the world. France is the third largest nuclear power and spends 2.6% of its gross domestic product on the military (2005). France left NATO’s integrated command structure in 1966, but rejoined in 2009. The country has close military cooperation with Germany in the EU.

France – trade union movement

The ban on trade union organization was lifted in 1884, and in 1886 a trade union national organization was founded under the leadership of the Marxist party Ouvrier français. In addition, there was an association of various local bourses du travail, which rejected party-political ties. The two directions were united in 1895 in the Confédération générale du travail, CGT, which until 1902 developed into the country’s leading professional organization. At the Congress of Amiens in 1906, a declaration was adopted which established the separation between political and trade union struggle, and it became the basis of the syndicalist direction within the trade union movement. Next to the CGT was the Christian national organization Confédération française des travailleurs chrétiens, CFTC.

The degree of organization was low before the First World War, approximately 15% and it continued to be so. The health insurance funds have therefore traditionally been of great importance to the trade union movement, which has had a significant influence on the elections to the health insurance funds’ management.

Immediately after World War II, the CGT was the common national organization, though without Christian participation. The CGT split in 1948, and in addition to the Communist CGT and the Social Democratic Force ouvrière, FO, the Fédération de l’éducation nationale, FEN, which, together with the Confédération générale des cadres, CGC, established in 1944, had emerged. a significantly higher degree of organization than the others.

In the 1990’s, four French national organizations existed, the CGT, the CFTC, the Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT) and the FO, two trade unions, the CGC and the FEN, as well as a number of smaller organizations. The degree of organization was less than 10% in 1995, and the individual national organizations were approximately equal with membership numbers of approximately 500,000, which in connection with the weakened political affiliation of the three secular national organizations to the Communist Party and the Socialist Party improved the possibilities for cooperation. It was emphasized in forb.m. the extensive conflicts in 1995, which were triggered by the planned erosion of social legislation.

Employer side. The larger private companies are represented by the CNPF, Conseil national du patronat français, which under this name dates from 1946. In the mid-1990’s, the CNPF comprises approximately 1.5 million companies with approximately 15 mio. employees. The small and medium-sized private companies are primarily represented by the CGPME, Confédération générale des petites et moyennes entreprises, founded in 1944. In the mid-1990’s, the CGPME comprises approximately 1.5 million companies with approximately 5 mio. employees.

France – Libraries and archives

The main library is the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF), founded in the 1300’s; other important research libraries are the Bibliothèque Mazarine and the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal. The country has 84 university libraries and approximately 1900 municipal. Particular emphasis should be placed on the Bibliothèque publique d’information Georges-Pompidou (1977) in Paris, which with print, audiovisual and electronic media covers all disciplines with an emphasis on the present. For the service of rural municipalities with less than 10,000 residents, there is a central library in each of the 96 departments, which arranges loans via book buses and local custodian libraries.

Duty delivery from the book producers has taken place since 1537. Today, a total of seven copies are handed over to BNF and a few large libraries in the province. From 1994, the compulsory delivery has also included electronic documents as well as radio and television broadcasts.

The large research libraries are interconnected via an electronic joint catalog (Pancatalogue, 1995: 3 million references).

In terms of archives, France has been a pioneering country by already in 1794 introducing public access to the state archives in the French National Archives, established in 1790 in Paris. Archives nationales belong to the Central Agency’s archives from the early Middle Ages to the present, however, so that, for example, the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Defense, the National Assembly and the police are independently organized. The local administration’s archives sort under local departmental archives, to which are added many scientific and business-created archives. Furthermore, there are a number of independent clerical archives.

France – print mass media

La Gazette, founded in 1631 by the physician Théophraste Renaudot (1586-1663), is considered to be the oldest newspaper in France. By virtue of a royal privilege on newspaper publishing throughout the country, it remained the only news agency for more than a hundred years. Real Gazette first faced real competition with the 1777 newspaper Journal de Paris.

Until the French Revolution in 1789, the development of the press was slow. The most important French-language newspapers were imported legally or illegally from the Netherlands, where they benefited from an early developed newspaper technique and an extensive freedom of expression. During the Revolution, the number of newspapers and magazines exploded to approximately 1500, but already under Napoleon a drastic reorganization of the print media was carried out. Thus, from 1811, only four dailies were allowed to publish in Paris.

In 1835, the world’s first news agency, Agence Havas, was set up in Paris. Its function as France’s national and international bureau was continued from 1944 by AFP (Agence France-Presse).

From 1836, La Presse was published as the first modern newspaper with a broad content and a low price. Even more popular was Le Petit Journal from 1863, which introduced sensational journalism. As a counterweight to these trends, Le Figaro was relaunched in 1866 as a modern quality newspaper.

The Declaration of Human Rights in 1789 established the right to freely express all views, but it was not until 1881 that France was given a law on freedom of the press. It led to a significant number of new newspapers, including the Catholic La Croix of 1883 and the socialist L ‘ Humanité of 1904, which from 1920 became the organ of the Communist Party. The newspaper is formally independent in 2006, but still affiliated with the party.

Both World War I and World War II marked significant disruptions in newspaper publishing. With few exceptions, newspapers published during the German occupation were stopped after the war, while new ones were founded. The most important quickly became Le Monde, created in 1944 as France’s serious newspaper a little to the left of center. For decades, the newspaper has maintained its position as France’s most esteemed and most quoted newspaper. Further to the left came in 1973 Libération, while Le Figaro marked himself on the right wing.

The provincial press, in contrast to the capital’s press, expanded in the post-war period and includes France’s largest newspaper, Ouest-France, in Rennes with a circulation of approximately 781,000 (2005). Against this background, the capital circulation seems modest: Le Figaro 342,000, Le Monde 367,000 and Libération 144,000 (all 2005). Sportsavisen L’Équipe, grdl. 1946, has a circulation of 355,000 (2005) and has has been involved in organizing the Tour de France since 1947.

A law to counteract the concentration of the media was abolished in 1986, and in 1995 the magazine king Robert Hersant (1920-96) controlled more than 30% of the daily press’ circulation, Le Figaro. The nationwide newspapers had a dramatic decline of 15% in 1991-94, following a prolonged, slower decline.

To a significant extent, the daily press has faced competition from political news magazines such as Le Nouvel Observateur, grdl. 1964, and L ‘ Express, grdl. 1953, both with a circulation of almost 550,000 (2005). Also the satirical weekly magazine Le Canard enchaîné, grdl. 1915, edition approximately 400,000 (2005), has a wide readership. Compared with, for example, the Scandinavian countries, only a few newspapers are read in France. In the early 2000-t. Parisian dailies experienced the worst crisis of decades with declining circulation and declining advertising revenue. The turbulence resulted in new ownership, while Le Monde, Le Figaro and France Soir were relaunched with new designs.

France – electronic mass media

Radio and television were launched and until the 1980’s maintained as purely state media and as the government’s mouthpiece. Radio broadcasting was state-monopolized in the late 1800’s, and the first public broadcasts were broadcast from the Eiffel Tower in 1921. The radio was operated by the Post and Telegraph Service, and from 1933 the user tax went directly to the Treasury as an extra tax. After 1945, radio and its new television company gradually gained a more central position in the state apparatus, e.g. with its own name, RTF (La Radiodiffusion-Télévision française). France’s first television channel, TF1, was created in 1948, A2 (Antenna 2) in 1964 and FR3 (France Région 3) in 1974.

In 1964, the RTF formally became an independent public institution (L’Office de RTF) under parliamentary control instead of the government’s. However, this did not lead to political neutrality, and not least President Charles de Gaulle used radio and television as a platform for his policies, e.g. during the student uprising in Paris in May 1968. In 1975, ORTF was split into seven state-owned joint stock companies: the radio with three national channels, regional and shortwave radios, and three broadcasters. Advertising was introduced in 1968 and gradually grew to become the main source of income for TF1 and A2, while radio and FR3 remained purely user-paid.

The monopoly was total, as even competing and seemingly private radio stations that engaged in piracy by broadcasting to France from neighboring countries such as Luxembourg and Monaco, among others. the pop channel Radio Luxenbourg, was owned by the French state through cover companies.

From 1982, President François Mitterrand loosened state control, and in 1984, the partly privately owned subscription television station Canal + opened. TF1 was privatized in 1987, and several new private channels followed.

Like the pan-European sports channel Eurosport, TF1 is owned by the industrial giant Bouygues, whose financial interests clearly characterize the channel’s right-wing news dissemination. TF1 is France’s largest TV channel with a market share of 35% and especially aimed at the advertisers’ preferred segment, the able-bodied 20-50 year olds with a main emphasis on women. M6 (Métropole Télévision), which belongs to the German media group Bertelsmann, opened in 1987 and captures a large younger audience with American series, music videos and reality shows, which the channel introduced in France in 2001. Canal +, which has been owned by the beverage group Vivendi since 2000, is, despite the expensive subscription, one of the major providers with several themed channels with new films and sports.

The public service TV France In 2006 consisted of: France 2 (formerly A2), which is the broad channel for the whole family; France 3 (formerly FR3) with regional stations; the newly launched digital channel France 4 (formerly Festival in cable networks) with young talents and fresh ideas, France 5 (formerly La Cinquième) with purely informative documentary and discussion programs, and RFO (Réseau France Outre-mer, also called France Ô) with both radio and television stations in present and former French colonies.

The satellite channel TV5 broadcasts programs from various French-speaking areas, including also Canada and Switzerland, to the whole world and claims to be the third largest global channel after CNN and MTV. The German-French art and culture channel Arte originates from the German side of ARD and ZDF, while the French partner since 1992 is La Sept (the 7th or La société d’édition des programmes de télévision), which was established in 1987. The Public Radio France now consists of seven national and thematically specialized channels.

To protect the national electronics industry, France introduced its own color television system, Secam (opposite the pan-European Pal) in the 1960’s, and later in the EC and the EU, France also stood for media industry protectionism, especially for television.

France – visual art

The oldest art in France is dealt with in articles on cave painting, Celts, Merovingian art and Carolingian art.

Romanesque art

In the 11th century, Romanesque art emerged, which, like Gothic, was especially associated with the church. Shell

the tour was tied to the architecture, and the main emphasis was on the west facades of the churches, which were often adorned with depictions of doomsday in the tympanum field above the middle door, thus in Autun (signed by Gislebertus), Moissac and Conques. Inside the church, the column capitals showed scenes from the Old Testament, saint legends or fable creatures. The sculptures were originally painted; the style is narrative and vivid, but without attempts at realistic reproduction. In Provence, the heritage of antiquity is expressed in the facade sculptures of Saint-Trophime in Arles and Saint-Gilles-du-Gard.

Only a few Romanesque murals have been preserved. From the time around 1100, when the barrel vaults gave new wall surfaces, there are scenes from the Old Testament and saint stories in Berzé-la-Ville by Cluny and Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe by Poitiers. Among other picture decorations, it is approximately 70 m long embroidered Bayeux wallpaper, made shortly after 1066 for the church in Bayeux in northern France.

Book illustrations were in the Romanesque period marked by the Carolingian tradition; in the early 1100-t. one encounters a new liveliness in the writing rooms of the Monastery of Citeaux.

Gothic art

An innovation in the Gothic churches from the middle of the 12th century were the portals, which by a “hollowing out” of the facade created space for sculpture. The figures on the pages of the portals often depict the kings of the Old Testament and are included as pillars in the architecture, as seen on the King’s Portal in Chartres from approximately 1150. Above the portals sits Jesus or Mary, the Gothic’s favorite motif.

In the first half of 1200-t. the figures began to free themselves from the walls and have their own lives, such as in Reims, Strasbourg and on the transept portals of Chartres. Stained glass mosaics and paintings are known from Romanesque times, but only in the Gothic period did this art come to full expression in an architecture that did not provide space for decorating walls, but of large window surfaces. In the Chartres Cathedral in particular, many are preserved. Both monastery churches and cathedrals had glass mosaics, except for the Cistercian churches, which were built in an ascetic style in protest of the splendor of the cluniac churches.

Paris was the center of art in France 1240-1350 with Louis 9. the Sainte Chapelle’s castle church in Paris from approximately 1250 as a festive highlight. The book painting flourished under the same king. A major work in the field of textile art is the almost 150 m long series of pictorial weaves, the Apocalypse from Angers from the late 1300’s. The Hundred Years’ War against England 1337-1453 prevented larger-scale construction, but not refined works of art.

Several artist names appeared, including the Limbourg brothers, who around 1400 illustrated a diary of the Duke of Berry. They found inspiration in Italy and were part of the international Gothic. The sculptor Claus Sluter from Flanders worked from 1385 in Dijon, where he performed his main work, the Moses Well, and brought new life to the French tomb sculpture.


In the Middle Ages, it was the people of the church who ordered works of art, in the Renaissance the court and the nobility. Only a few new churches were built, but the old ones got new decorations in the form of tombstones, altarpieces and a few new glass mosaics. The private commissioners appeared in the late 15th century.

They had portraits painted, by Jean Fouquet, who was also an excellent book illustrator, characterized by residence in Italy, and by Jean Clouet and his son François Clouet with both Italian and Flemish features. Most important for French Renaissance art was the contact with Italy, which increased after Charles VIII’s campaign in 1494-95. He brought home works of art and also brought Italian artists and artisans to the country.

The center of Renaissance art was the Loire Valley, where the court was located in the 16th century and built a large number of castles. French 1. imported works of art from antiquity and the renaissance and convened many Italian artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, who died in Amboise in 1519, as well as Rosso Fiorentino and Francesco Primaticcio, who from 1530 adorned the long gallery in the Fontainebleau castle with paintings and stucco work.

There was an original painting school, Fontainebleauskolen, approximately 1550. At the end of the century, French painting was in a valley of waves, but the graphics flourished with artists such as Jacques Bellange (d. 1638) and Jacques Callot, both from Nancy and active around 1600.

The sculptural art was also influenced by summoned Italians, Benvenuto Cellini, who executed his famous salt shaker (1542) for Francis 1. He became important to Jean Goujon, whose sculptures for the Louvre in Paris can still be seen on the site.

Goujon was the most important sculptor of the period together with Germain Pilon, who created a number of significant tombstones, including for Henrik 2. and Catherine Medici in the Church of Saint-Denis near Paris (1565-70).

Baroque and Rococo

By the early 17th century, French art was still characterized by Mannerism. New impulses were brought home from Rome by the artists who had come into contact with Caravaggio and his art, such as Simon Vouet, while Georges de La Tour developed his own variant of clairobscur painting. The classical attitude, which Vouet nevertheless maintained in his art, was of great importance to Nicolas Poussin and Philippe de Champaigne. Poussin specialized in mythological and biblical representations, while Champaigne’s force lay in the art of portraiture…. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French art in Baroque and Rococo.

Neoclassicism and romance

The French Revolution brought neoclassicism and the painter J.-L. David forward in the front row. He had attracted attention with the groundbreaking work The Oath of the Horate (Louvre), painted in Rome in 1785, and he later also became a useful tool in Napoleon’s propagandistic state apparatus. The same was true of J.-A.-D. Ingres, who like David was also an excellent portrait painter and a sought after teacher…. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French neoclassicism and romance.

Naturalism and realism

After approximately In 1848, realism and naturalism developed in the field of painting, both of which are characterized by illusionist pictorial effects and a motivic focus on contemporary reality. J.-F. Millet was in several respects consistent with realism, whose main character, however, was Gustave Courbet….. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French naturalism and realism.


In opposition to naturalism appeared in the 1880’s symbolism, which in the pictorial context is also called synthesis, as this term refers to the symbolist pictorial form’s pointing out of decorative holistic effects. The artistic view of symbolism, which was influenced by the aesthetics of the poet Charles Baudelaire, unfolded in both poetry and visual art… AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French symbolism.


The Impressionist painters Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, P.-A. Renoir and Alfred Sisley and others created a sketchy image form that is aesthetically centered on coloristic qualities and motivic on the impact of sunlight and atmosphere on landscape or urban scenery. At their first exhibition in the photographer Nadar’s studio in 1874, Monet’s painting Impression was shown . Soleil levant….. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French Impressionism.

Fauvism and Cubism

Fauvism emerged around 1905 as a predominantly decorative and coloristically styled pictorial style, represented by Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Raoul Dufy. The images of the Fauvists soon signal harmonious well-being (Matisse), soon fiery temperament (Vlaminck). Georges Rouault’s pictorial world has a certain connection to fauvism and expressionism…. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French fauvism and cubism.

Expressionism and surrealism

After approximately In 1912, a French expressionism emerged, represented by painters who combined an often tradition-oriented rigor of form with a figurative and humanly serious subject universe; among these was Marcel Gromaire, who, like the Cubist-educated and later decoratively imaginative Jean Lurçat, also painted templates for tapestries…. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French expressionism and surrealism.

Paris School

Influenced by French art life flourished in the first half of the 1900-t. the so-called Paris School, to which belong a number of foreign visual artists who settled in Paris. Among them were Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani and Chaïm Soutine. Paris has several times in the history of culture been a significant European art center… AAAAAAAAAAAAA about the Paris School.

1950 to 2013

From post-war Paris, abstract art spread to the rest of Europe, while American abstract expressionism created a new art metropolis in New York. The French painting was lyrically emphasized, especially the existentialist-based expression that sought to connect the work’s magic with its texture. The trend was in 1950 termed informal art and a little later tachism….. AAAAAAAAAAAAA about French art from 1950 to 2016.

France – architecture

The French architecture has contributions from many currents, and over time the architecture has been inspired by styles such as. Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Empire, Historicism, Functionalism and Modernism.

The Middle Ages

From the end of the reign of Charles the Great (see Carolingian art), French architecture received its most progressive contributions through the new centers of power, the monasteries, in whose buildings the local traditions merged with the handed down parts of Roman building customs.

The now vanished abbey church of Saint-Riquier in northeastern France from the 790’s, for example, had an extended, richly decorated western part, the beginning of the later widespread west facade with two towers and three portals.

In addition, building elements such as the apse with the radiating small chapels (the choir, first used in Saint-Martin in Tours from shortly after 900) and the side aisles covered by the same roof as the only slightly higher nave in eg hall churches such as Saint-Savin-sur -Gartempe at Poitiers from the end of the 1000’s.

Romanesque architecture

In Burgundy the use of both barrel vaults and pointed arches arose early on; the first are in Saint-Philibert in Tournus from the beginning of the 1000’s used in ways that point towards the subject-divided rib vaults. The Burgundian architectural style gained a significant spread through the lavish Cluniacensic and later ascetic Cistercian architecture.

The mighty monastery of Cluny was connected to a number of churches along the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, such as the richly decorated churches of Vézelay and Autun.

Others such as Saint-Sernin in Toulouse (approximately 1080-1120) and Sainte-Foi in Conques are regular pilgrimage churches with long nave with gallery roofs and the cross-section of the transept highlighted with a tower.

Norman architecture is represented by the abbey churches of Caen; in southernmost France, stylistic features inspired by the existing Roman buildings and by Islamic and Byzantine architecture were used, for example in the domed central church of Périgueux.

Gothic architecture

From the 12th century, the social center of gravity began to shift from the country and the country monasteries to the cities. The transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style found place in the tomb of the French kings, Saint-Denis near Paris. Here entered the abbot Sugers reconstruction 1140-44 three features which previously only had been used separately: pointed arches, ribbehvælvet and strive system. The result was a sky-high height, very thin walls and an incidence of light of an unprecedented extent.

For the next 100 years, the construction of all of France’s best-known cathedrals followed with their rich equipment of sculptures and stained glass windows: Sens, Noyon, Senlis, Notre-Dame in Paris, Laon, Chartres, Bourges, Reims, Amiens and Beauvais. A preliminary sentence was set with the Chapel of the French kings Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (1243-48). Especially in the south of France, the tendency for greater spaciousness was then combined with a greatly simplified exterior as in the cathedral of Albi (1282-approx. 1390).

In the last centuries of the Middle Ages, the emphasis in French architecture was shifted towards the worldly, especially the dwelling. The Romanesque innovation, the inhabited defense tower (donjon), was often rebuilt or incorporated into a complex environment where the residential function became more prominent, such as in the Italian-inspired papal palace in Avignon from the 14th century.

In the 15th century and up to the 16th century, a large number of public buildings, townhouses and palaces were built in the opulent flamboyant style, such as the courthouse in Rouen (1499-1509) and Jacques Coeur’s house in Bourges from the 1440’s.

France – architecture – renaissance

Center for the early French renaissance architecture from approximately 1500-30 was the fertile Loire Valley, where the royal house and aristocracy in the pleasant vicinity of France’s then capital Tours built and rebuilt several castles in a time-typical combination of traditional medieval building style and Italian Renaissance theory and idiom. An avid builder was Francis I, whose rebuilding of the castles in Blois (1515-24) and Fontainebleau (1528-40 by Gilles le Breton) are characteristic examples of the early Renaissance style.

Behind the facades’ richness of classical ornaments, one finds the medieval asymmetry and, in the steep profile of the roofs, the Gothic predilection for celestial verticality. Francis I’s new construction, the hunting castle Chambord (1519-50), also had, according to medieval custom, heavy, castle-like corner towers and a typical Gothic roof profile. The same compromise between medieval building style and Italian-inspired Renaissance ornamentation can be seen in the church architecture of the period, eg Saint-Eustache in Paris (started in 1532), in the bourgeois townhouses and in the nobility’s mansions, among others. Hôtel Lallemant (1518) in Bourges and Hôtel Pincé (1533) in Angers.

In an attempt to outcompete the Italians in art and culture, Francis I started from approximately 1530 to convene Italian artists, architect Sebastiano Serlio. As an architectural theorist, he fully mastered the classical design language, as seen in the pilastered castle Ancy-le-Franc, begun by Serlio in 1546. The same insight is expressed in Pierre Lescot’s Louvre wing in Paris (1546-51), where Pierre Lescot by a correct but independent use of the Italian design language created a classic facade composition with center and side risalites and decoration in low relief; this composition then formed the school of French palace architecture.

Prominent architects in the second half of the 1500’s. were Philibert Delorme and Jean Bullant, who after studying in Rome both mastered the classical Renaissance style. Delorme performed for Henrik II’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers, the castle Anet (1547-52), a three-winged structure, dominated by a different monumentality than hitherto seen; The castle chapel with the circular floor plan is the first French sacred building, where the principle of the Renaissance has been followed, that the circle is the most perfect shape and therefore suitable for the house of God.

In the castle Écouen (approximately 1555) for Anne de Montmorency, Bullant introduced the colossal pilasters in French architecture, a decoration that inspired the design of the Hôtel de Lamoignon (1584) in Paris. Thereafter, under the reign of Henry IV around 1600, Paris became the new center of major construction, and the more pompous Baroque style began to manifest itself in architecture.

France – architecture – baroque and rococo

A breakthrough in French architecture came in 1615 with the architect Salomon de Brosses Luxembourg Palace in Paris, built for Maria Medici. Once again, Italian influence became noticeable, as can also be seen in Jacques Lemercier’s façade of the Pavillon d’Horloge in the west wing of the Louvre (1624) with classical ornaments and columns; churches such as François Mansart’s Val-de-Grâce in Paris (1645) are a restrained version of Roman baroque churches.

In 1667, Louis XIV’s Minister J.-B. Colbert the Italian Gianlorenzo Bernini to design a project for the main facade of the Louvre to the east, but it was Claude Perrault’s project with the great colonnade that won (built 1667-74).

The Roman High Baroque did not find a foothold in France, where the term classicism is also used about Louis XIV’s architecture. With Louis Le Vaus’ castle Vaux-le-Vicomte southeast of Paris (1655-61), the prototype was created for the French country castle, a long block with a semicircular protruding central portion.

In Paris, a palace type, hôtel, was developed, with a main wing retracted from the street behind a courtyard.

The main work of the period is the rebuilding and expansion of the castle of Versailles from the years after approximately 1660 by Le Vau and Jules Hardouin Mansart in magnificent connection with André Le Nôtres park.

Centralism in French architecture was strengthened with the founding of the Academy of Architecture in 1671. Its foremost teacher and theorist was François Blondel, a strict classicist. After Louis XIV’s death in 1715, private construction dominated, and JF Blondel ‘s books had a great influence on the design of the numerous mansions and country castles, also when the Rococo breakthrough towards the middle of the century led to a richer, less classical decoration and floor plans that laid larger emphasis on convenience.

France – architecture – neoclassicism

With JG Soufflot’s church Sainte-Geneviève in Paris (later Panthéon, 1757-90) neoclassicism was ushered in with a new interest in antiquity, both Greek and Roman. The leading architect of early neoclassicism was A.-J. Gabriel, who oversaw much of the public construction that resumed under Louis XV, such as the Petit Trianon of Versailles (1762-68).

Under the influence of the theorist Marc Antoine Laugier (1713-69) was born what has later been called revolutionary architecture, although it happened before the French Revolution in 1789.

Architects such as CN Ledoux and É.-L. Boullée designed numerous building projects with clean, strict stereometric basic shapes and sparse decoration; most, however, remained on paper.

France – architecture – empire

Under Napoleon came the true Greek styles, the Doric, in high course, influenced by archaeological finds, also from Egypt. They were diligently used by the empire’s best-known architects Charles Percier and P.-F.-L. Fontaine, who was in charge of the construction of Rue de Rivoli in Paris. With the town plan project, which included the great triumphal arch (1806-36) by JF Chalgrin and the axis over Concorde Square between the Palais Bourbon (National Assembly) and the new Madeleine Church (1806-42) by Pierre Vignon, the large axis and square structures that were set were continued. underway under Louis XV in Reims, Nancy and Bordeaux.

1795-1830, the architect Jean-Nicolas-Louis Durand (1760-1834) at the new École polytechnique taught a rational architecture that summarized the various tendencies of classicism and added features from other styles such as the Renaissance and Gothic. His ideas gained great importance throughout Europe during the transition period from classicism to historicism.

France – architecture – historicism

As in other European countries, French architecture for most of the 19th century can be described as historicist. In a major work such as the Cathedral of Marseille (1845-93), the architect Léon Vaudoyer (1803-72) combined a number of ancient Christian and medieval styles, while Charles Garnier adorned the Paris Opera House (1861-75) with lavish Baroque forms. Inside, huge stairwells and foyers give the nobility and bourgeoisie the opportunity to see and be seen.

Both buildings are examples of major complex tasks that the École des beaux-arts in Paris was internationally renowned for teaching its students to design and perform. The opera crowned the sweeping urban renewal of Paris with the great street breakthroughs, the boulevards, led by GE Haussmann in the 1850’s and 1860’s.

A part of historicism was the increased knowledge of stylistic history, which was presented in EE Viollet-Le-Duc’s books and used in his restorations of, for example, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Cast iron became a relatively commonly used building material, for example for roof structures and pillars in the two libraries in Paris, designed by Henri Labrouste : Sainte-Geneviève (1848-50) and Bibliothèque nationale (1854-75), as well as in churches, market halls and department stores.

Ironwork was used in Menier’s chocolate factory (1871-72) outside Paris. Particularly famous is the Eiffel Tower in Paris, built for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris by Gustave Eiffel. The decorative possibilities of the iron were further cultivated by the art nouveau movement around 1900, as seen in the descents to the Paris metro, carried out by Hector Guimard.

As the first in Europe, the engineer François Hennebique developed the use of reinforced concrete (patented in 1892), which enabled skeletal structures such as the spinning mill in Tourcoing (1895).

Auguste Perret united the construction with a greatly simplified classical design language in a number of buildings. New possibilities were also tested in Tony Garnier’s idea project Cité industrielle, published in 1917 and partly realized in the following decades by construction in Lyon.

France – architecture – functionalism and modernism

Around 1900, historicism was running out of meaning and was gradually replaced by functionalism. The architects who did not continue the tradition responded by simplifying the expression to a form of neoclassicism that continued the classical rules of proportion by making the constructions more pronounced in the form of the building and by transferring the modern industrial forms and production methods to the building.

Absolutely dominant were Le Corbusier’s programmatic writings from the 1920’s, which included both urban planning issues and the industrialization of construction. On a small scale, the ideas were realized in several villas near Paris and in the buildings of Pessac near Bordeaux (1926); particularly refined is the Cité de refuge in Paris (1932-33).

At the 1925 Paris World’s Fair, Le Corbusier’s and Robert Mallet-Stevens ‘ buildings were the only ones to follow the new ideas, apart from the Russian pavilion. In general, the ideas were only slowly realized and then preferably at resorts or as municipal construction, eg the Karl-Marx school in Villejuif (1931-33) by André Lurçat.

After 1945, the functional style came to dominate, helped along the way by state-run reconstruction projects, for example by Le Havre, led by Auguste Perret, and Maubeuge by André Lurçat. Le Corbusier also continued and further developed his architecture with, for example, the residential high-rise Unité d’habitation in Marseille (1947-52) and the church Notre-Dame-du-Haut in Ronchamp (1950-54).

In connection with the student uprising in 1968, the architecture department at the École des beaux-arts was dissolved, which, however, has not changed Paris’ dominance in French architecture. Often the monumental projects are set in motion by the French presidents. The most striking thing about the construction of recent decades in France, however, is that several of the most prestigious tasks performed by foreigners.

This applies to the Pompidou Center in Paris (1977) by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the many classicist residential complexes in the Paris region by Ricardo Bofill and the cubic triumphal arch in the suburb of La Défense by the Danish architect JO von Spreckelsen. Among French architects, Jean Nouvel built the Neo-Modernist Arab Institute in Paris (1987).

France – crafts and design

France’s handicrafts have everywhere exerted great influence through the combination of artistic quality and high technical ability. In the Middle Ages, churches and monasteries were decorated with enamel and ivory works, with silver and gold vessels and with stained glass windows. The production of tapestries began in the 14th century.

The Renaissance followed in Italy the Italian track, but in the Baroque began a flourishing of the craft, stimulated by Louis XIV’s many construction companies and court workshops. The Berain family gave its name to a grotesque ornamentation that gained a foothold in the blue-and-white faience from Nevers, Rouen and Moustiers, on silver and on tapestries.

Floral and Chinese motifs adorn the 18th-century polychrome façades from Marseille and Strasbourg, and from approximately In 1750, porcelain was produced at the factories of Vincennes and Sèvres. Sculptural and ornamental decoration was refined in the carpenter A.-C. Boulles furniture.

It was in France that the European housing ideal was developed in the 18th century. Based on construction for king and nobility, a lifestyle was designed that still applies in the West. With the Rococo, the differentiated furniture was created with a large number of new chair, table and cabinet types, richly inlaid and with exquisite bronze ornamentation.

Expensive silk brocades or tapestry covers cover the upholstered furniture; colors, patterns and motifs should harmonize with the tapestries of the walls from the weaving mills in Beauvais or from Les Gobelins in Paris and with the large, knotted rugs from the Savonnerie factory. The table silver took on new shapes, and new eating habits influenced both this and the ceramics with large, richly decorated tableware from Sèvres.

The classicist Louis Seize style of the latter half of the 18th century is characterized by the straight lines of the furniture and utensils, which, however, are broken by strongly sculptural details and perspective decorations, e.g., in J.-H. Rieseners and Adam Weisweiler’s furniture. Under the directorial style of the late 18th century, the richness of ornament and decoration diminished, and the empire, which was especially developed by Napoleon’s two court architects Charles Percier and P.-F.-L. Fontaine, showed a greater simplicity in the forms, enhanced by the weight of the furniture.

Paris was the starting point, while the province was responsible for a simplified production of often high quality. Technically, 19th century historicism marked a new climax, but stylistically, this period was marked by a resumption of earlier styles, in France almost more than elsewhere.

In the decades around 1900, the Art Nouveau style flourished, which was short-lived, but with a long reverberation. Opposition to historical styles and industrial production, fascination with Japanese art and the forms of nature were embodied in new forms and motifs.

Ceramics by Jean Joseph Marie Carriès (1855-94) and Auguste Delaherche (1857-1940) and glass by Émile Gallé, René Lalique and Daum Frères were of high technical and artistic quality, and soft, curved lines gained ground on furniture and metalwork, which were often asymmetrical as in Hector Guimard.

With the art deco resumed forms and ornamentation from neoclassicism, but in a highly simplified form that formed the transition to functionalism. The Bauhaus aesthetic made its mark with steel furniture, but the design was only rarely social in its intention (Le Corbusier). Among other things. in the field of textile art an ornamentation flourished, which was influenced by African and oriental art.

The latter half of the 20th century, French design was characterized by an internationalism that emanated in particular from the ranks of design firms. Philippe Starck’s work is characterized by simple furniture and imaginative utensils, marketed all over the world.

Not least in industrial graphics and transport design, such as Citroën cars, Mirage aircraft and trains by Roger Tallon (1929-2011), remarkable solutions have been created.

France – literature

Chroniclers and poets like to vote when the weapons speak. The earliest French texts testify to this, from treaties of communion of arms over heroic epics to accounts of the Crusades. The oldest are the Strasbourg oaths, which in 842 sealed an alliance between Charles II the Bald and Louis II the German against Lothar. This Franco-German fraternization is preserved in a manuscript from the late 900’s.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

We get closer to the art of poetry in the next written testimonies, eg the saint descriptions of Saint Eulalie (29 verses from the 800-t.), About the holy Leodegar (900-t.) And about Alexis (1000-t.). These versified life courses unite pious simplicity with a conscious will to form and open the way for a first literary period of greatness from the 1000’s. to the 1200’s, where genres were formed on French soil and themes were designed that were to become widespread throughout Europe – in the present, in the near future and up to the present day. Without a Roland, a Tristan (see Tristan and Isolde), a Lancelot, Europe’s literary history would have been different.

Roland is the hero of the quatrain (see Rolandskvadet) that bears his name (approximately 1100). This opens up for the great epic poetry (chansons de geste) and more precisely for the circle of poems about Charlemagne and his men. It is about defending the Christian ideals against the Gentiles (the Saracens), and we are in the midst of a struggling world of men, calling for the defense of feudal and national values.

approximately 60 years later, the Tristan figure was created, which we have preserved in fragments of Bérouls and Thomas’ works. We are still in the feudal world; but the women and a passionate, destructive love now gain crucial weight. The courtly novel, with love and chivalry as bearing themes, is created.

The Lancelot figure is found in Chrétien de Troyes’ novel of the same name from around 1175. The courtly novels, such as about Tristan and Isolde and about Lancelot, are northern French; but they are inspired both by the southern French troubadour poetry and by the Celtic legend with the legendary King Arthur as the central figure.

As mentioned and known, both Roland, Tristan and Lancelot get a long life. The Italian Renaissance poet Ariosto, for example, built his great epic on The Furious Roland (1516), the story of Tristan and Isolde was among others. to a Norse saga, Tristrams saga (1226), and Lancelot appears in Dante’s The Divine Comedy (approximately 1307-21). The oldest French poetry is born world literature.

The poetry of the following century can be seen as a reaction to the values ​​of the 1100’s. Realism and satire are key words for both the Fox novel, whose animals represent different social classes, and for the fabliaux (verse narratives), which firmly address eg infidelity and show the relationship between marriage and love in a different light than the swarming of the last century.

In parallel, the Grail theme presented by Chrétien de Troyes in his novel Le Conte du Graal (approximately 1185) was continued. A large prose presentation of the Knights’ search for the Holy Grail and of the doom of the Arthurian Knights now shows the theme from a Christian point of view. The verse novel, for its part, was continued with the allegorical Rose novel (1200-t.), Whose large second part (by Jean de Meung) maintains the satirical attitude of the period.

Of dramatic literature in the modern sense, the comedies of Adam de la Halle (approximately 1280) are of particular interest.

1300-t. stands as a period of decline compared to the two previous centuries, but the poetry has distinctive figures such as Charles d’Orléans, whose simple poetry contains true sense of nature. Chronicle writing flourished with Jean de Joinville and Jean Froissart. The latter is the great chronicler of the Hundred Years’ War and has been called the first business writer.

The all-dominant figure in the 1400’s. is the wanderer, the petty criminal and the great poet François Villon. His modest production has remained a monument that can be read both as a radical showdown of time and as a deep personal testimony of humiliation and perishability, maintained in a devilish tone.

That showdown with the values ​​that Villon foretold was fully carried through in the 1500’s. Bloody religious wars preceded the final victory of Catholicism under the monarchy; but at the same time the new view of humanism decisively emerged with an undermining long-term effect on the church. Two figures personify these clashes for posterity: the past beggar monk and doctor François Rabelais and the nobleman, the politician and the lonely thinker Michel de Montaigne.

From 1532 and twenty years onwards, Rabelais published four (some believe five) folk books about the giants Pantagruel and Gargantua. With his vast knowledge and incredible linguistic power, Rabelais parodies the texts of the time, turns norms upside down to such an extent that modern Russian scholar Mikhail Bakhtin has taken as his starting point his theories of laughter and carnival as popular forms of expression of the revolt against the oppression.

Montaigne, who is the father of the modern essay, seeks in his short, reflective texts from the 1580’s to formulate attitudes about, for example, upbringing, tolerance and friendship that can carry through the madness of the civil wars. He gathers in his Essays the ancient formation and modern division into a skeptical attitude, which, however, never loses faith in the possibilities of reason.

But also the pure art of poetry lives in this turbulent period: the poetry school Plejaden (with among others Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay) carried out a poetic renaissance based on the beauty of Greek and Latin and on poems taken from and from eg Francesco Petrarcas Italian 1300-ts poetry. Most lasting significance was given to Ronsard’s love poetry, where theme and form sometimes harmonize sublimely with personal inspiration.

The state of civil war also called for the poets. The strongest contribution here came from the Protestant side with TA d’Aubignés Les Tragiques (1616), whose violent depictions of the horrors of war contain magnificent poetry.

The classic century

The following two centuries became France’s heyday in literature. 1600-t. traditionally drawn by Louis XIV and by the classicism of the Versailles period. But it is more rewarding to see this whole century as a fruitful turning point between baroque and classical.

In the first half of the century, the aesthetics of the Baroque dominated with the use of magnificent rhetoric, rules inviting transcendence, and open, unfinished forms, such as single-length novels (Charles Sorel, Honoré d’Urfé), self-reflective comedies (Pierre Corneilles Illusion, 1636) or poetry with ingenious series of images (Marc Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant, Tristan l’Hermite). Contrasts dominate, thus also in the thematic, where fullness of life and profit are confronted with the idea of ​​death.

However, it was the classical view of man and art that prevailed in the second half of the century: a pessimistic view of life, performed in a finely chiseled artistic form, whose preferred verse measure was the Alexandrin’s 12 syllables. It was the time of pure French tragedy, especially with Jean Racine, while Corneille was torn between the baroque of her youth and the desire to be recognized as a classicist. At the same time, a number of short forms were developed: Blaise Pascal’s Thoughts (1670) and also the maxim (François de La Rochefoucauld), the character study (Mme de La Fayette) or the didactic fable (Jean de La Fontaine). In this way, the 1660’s and the following decade stand as a uniquely rich period, seen from a European perspective: the French influence became immeasurable, most clearly through Molière’s everywhere treasured comedies.

The classical period perceived itself as the heir of the literary patterns of antiquity, and it was Nicolas Boileau who in 1674 collected these classicist efforts for the constant further development of the same literary forms in his Art poétique (On Poetry).

Ideologically, this literature suited both the political ideas of the time about autocracy and the gloomy Jansenist view of life that was strong in the theology of these decades. When Louis XIV in his old age turned his back on art, the party ebbed into Versailles’ chambers; but French literature had then established a foreign reputation that was to become long-lasting.

It is worth noting that both this rich period as well as the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Valdemar Vedel has had its domestic mediator par excellence that in several studies from the first half of 1900-t. has also enriched international research in these fields.

A decisive breakthrough in the spiritual climate and at the same time the first small steps towards the Age of Enlightenment and revolution took place at the death of Louis XIV in 1715. The following period of reign was a breath of fresh air, with currents from outside decisively shifting perspective: as the center.

The new worlds emerged with commercial opportunities, but also with alternatives to the morality and human view traditionally based on the church. Ethics no longer seemed inextricably linked to Christianity; the many journeys left their mark on both authentic and fictional travel descriptions that could be exploited for a more or less camouflaged critique of society.

The most important example is Montesquieu’s Persian Letters (1721), which subtly mixes open satire and profound moral issues. But also the theater regained its vitality after decades of drowsiness. With new blood and inspiration from Italian troops, Pierre Marivaux reborn the French comedy in a refined game that combines elements of the commedia dell’arte with sharp analysis of the origin of love. Also in Marivaux’s theater, critical thinking is making its way, and the normal order of society is being turned upside down.

But it was not until the second half of the 1700’s that the critical-reasoning line really took hold. A symbol of this is the great encyclopedia project, which, especially thanks to Denis Diderot’s tireless efforts, was carried through to victory in spite of opposition from both the central power and the clergy. The people of critical thinking had to be prepared for battle.

It got both François de Voltaire and Diderot noticed in the form of short-term imprisonment at the beginning of their careers; and throughout their lives they had to fight against censorship and abuse of power: publications abroad were among their countermeasures, just as both at times sought refuge abroad. Also Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Geneva citizen who even constantly felt like a pariah in the French intellectual environment may sometimes seek shelter from the storms.

At the time, Voltaire had the dominant role of the three: tragedies, satirical-philosophical narratives, historical works, narrative poems, and engaging debate posts flowed from his pen. Against this, Rousseau, the ridiculed, was only too little to count. But for posterity, his ideas about social conditions and child rearing (Émile, 1762) and his autobiographical works gained immense importance. Diderot, whose struggle for the Encyclopedia was known and admired, also wrote stories and novels, among others. Rameau’s nephew and the Fatalist Jacques, which was first published long after his death, but which makes him one of the main characters of the period, a pattern for both a personal commitment and a reflective novel art.

In such a militant period, culminating in the French Revolution of 1789, poetry had poor conditions. But the theater could be exploited, to the extent censorship allowed. Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais showed both dramatic talent and political acumen in the 1780’s with The Barber of Seville and Figaro’s Wedding, comedies that, thanks to Gioacchino Rossini’s and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera versions, would have a long afterlife on world stages.

Romance and realism

1800-t. became for fiction as a whole a strong period in which poetry flourished throughout the century, theater experienced several highlights, and the novel reaffirmed its position as the bourgeoisie’s preferred literary genre. To promote the overview, one can resort to four labels from the literary-historical tradition: romanticism, realism, naturalism and symbolism.

The first big name of romance is François-René de Chateaubriand, who in many respects stands as a transitional figure between the old and the new century. The leading figure in the romantic movement, however, is Victor Hugo, whose dramas definitely broke with the classical French tradition and sought Shakespeare, while his visionary poetry and great novel frescoes, such as The Miserable (1862), made him a unique figure throughout the century. Poetry and drama were also cultivated by romantics such as Alfred de Vigny and Alfred de Musset, while Gérard de Nerval in his poetry and in his narratives anticipated surrealism and modern narrative art.

In his novels Red and Black (1831) and The Palace of Parma (1839), Stendhal showed how the genre can embrace the complex psychology of the individual and the spiritual and social life of the era. In her mighty novel cycle The Human Comedy (1830’s and 1840’s), Honoré de Balzac also followed this realistic path. He showed with strong empathy the stratified French society and the individual’s will to buoy or fight against doom. The modern psychological and socially depicting novel was created, and the model was developed narratively by Gustave Flaubert (eg Madame Bovary, 1857), while naturalists such as Guy de Maupassantand Émile Zola greatly emphasized the social aspects, the first in a series of novels and short stories, the second in the great novel series on the Rougon-Macquart family (1871-93).

A new flourishing of poetry came in the second part of the century, where the symbolists lured the language into a suggestive musicality, often in a depiction of the big city and its people. Charles Baudelaire (Flowers of Sin, 1857) and Paul Verlaine gained international significance, here at home especially for Johannes Jørgensen and Sophus Claussen, while Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé with their pioneering idiom became father figures for 1900’s poetry.

1800’s French literature found here its first and foremost communicator in Georg Brandes, whose Hovedstrømninger (1872 ff.) Placed French poetry at the center of a European perspective.

1900’s first half

The novel. Such a leading European role largely corresponded to contemporary French self-understanding, and in the first years of the 1900’s France continued to enjoy international renown, especially through names such as Zola, André Gide and Anatole France, while Paul Valéry and Paul Claudel later made their breakthroughs.

Valéry, whose academic poetry was for the few, gained the attention of theorists in the second half of the century. It was now his records of art and aesthetics that spoke. Gide’s greatest importance is due to his novels, but he was a central figure throughout the first half of the century, also in the French publishing world. His main work is The Counterfeiters (1925), which was a first step towards the paths the novel would take in the following decades. Claudel’s decisive work lies as a playwright, in which he reproduced the theater with a bold poetic form, an artistic ambition that extended beyond naturalism.

An essential part of the literary heritage from the 1800’s. was the novel, and it remained throughout the first half of the new century the bourgeoisie’s preferred approach to the world of literature. 1. World War did not end, on the contrary: The essential artistic testimony of the trench of the horror were novels like Henri Barbusse Fire (1916) or RL Dorgelès’ wooden crosses (1919), as in the interwar period writers like Roger Martin du Gard and Jules Romains inserting scenes of war years in their great novel frescoes, the so-called romans fleuves (‘novel rivers’). Martin du Gard gave with the Thibault Family(1922-40) a precise time picture and at the same time with psychological feeling drew the generation gap in the first half of the century; Romains tried with the Good Wills (1932-44) to give a Balzac picture of French society. The prelude’s belief in the possibilities of good will was denied during the project of the war, which characterizes the artistic implementation of the great work.

But first part of 1900-t. also experienced a crucial breakthrough for the novel as a genre. At the same time as the traditional, well-tried form continued, with Marcel Proust and his novel On the Trail of Lost Time (1913-27) there was a leap towards a completely new novel form: long, linked images of memory, where one constantly jumps back and forth in time, Proust breaks down the notion of a timeline and instead sets an open, cyclical time experience that only the work of art can create and maintain. Proust’s significance for subsequent generations can hardly be overstated. He connects the legacy of Balzac (the time picture and the psychological analysis) with a completely new, nerve-wracking, searching narrative form that points to the second half of the century.

Poetry and theater. Around the same time as Proust revolutionized the French novel, it arose on the basis of the rootlessness that war created among young intellectuals, an international current whose earliest examples are French-language: surrealism. In opposition to the existing cultural pattern and with a voracious appetite for the spontaneous, happenings and texts were arranged that mobilize the deeper layers of the life of consciousness and draw their inspiration from our dreams and otherwise distant from Western European tradition. At the literary level, it was poetry that was most lasting and comprehensive. André Breton became the banner bearer and author of the movement’s first manifesto (1924), but also other great writers of the following decades (Paul Éluardand Louis Aragon) was attached to the group that had Guiilaume Apollinaire (d. 1918) as one of its important preconditions. The scope and significance of surrealism, for example, for Danish lyrical modernism is indisputable.

The understanding of drama that Claudel had stood for was continued in the 1930’s as French theater sought to return to its classical roots. It happened at the play of Jean Cocteau and Jean Giraudoux with the Greek myths and tragedies, which were later carried on by both Jean Anouilh (Antigone, 1944) and Jean-Paul Sartre (The Flies, 1942).

It was Cocteau who opened the series with The Hell Machine (1934), whose title is a picture of the inevitability of tragedy. It is the Oedipus story that Cocteau worked with here, while Giraudoux took care of Elektra (1937) and in addition, among other things. The fate of Amphitryon and the Trojan War as a picture of the current European situation prior to World War II. These plays show a clearly modern form of tragedy, where smile and irony have their place, without the substance’s original connection to the fateful being betrayed.

The commitment to the problems of the time, as evidenced by Giraudoux’s theater, for example, is found in a more realistic form in the contemporary novelist André Malraux. In the East, in the 1920’s, he experienced the Chinese Revolution, which forms the backdrop for his literary breakthrough books The Conquerors (1928) and The Lot of Man (1933). The political commitment and its costs are bearing themes here. International attention attracted Hope (1937), which depicts the war’s beliefs, hatred and atrocities based on his own experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

1900’s second half

An international highlight won French literature in the 1940’s and 1950’s with Sartre and Albert Camus. After World War II, they were perceived everywhere as a couple whose involvement in political and moral issues made them world-renowned exponents of literary existentialism. But the distance between them was considerable, and in the early 1950’s it came to a rupture based on a different assessment of the necessary attitude to the cost of the revolution, in this case the Russian.

The breakthrough work became for both the short novel: Sartre with Nausea (1939) and Camus with The Stranger (1942). Two confrontations with the absurdity of everyday life and the same emphasis on the individual’s responsibility for himself, on freedom as a burden and moral challenge. Several novels, short stories, essays and plays together created the two authors’ unique position. The philosopher Sartre demonstrated his theses on freedom and responsibility in plays and novels, while the moralist Camus increasingly made his showdown over time a self-showdown (cf. The Fall of 1956). A party post describing their friendship and later conflicts can be seen in Simone de Beauvoir’s novel The Mandarins (1955).

The absurdity was a main theme in both Sartre and Camus. This concept broke through in the 1950’s as governing a whole new dramatic form, purified of the naturalistic theater’s imitation of reality. In pieces with a stylized action and a direct, unadorned dialogue, template-like characters portray our absurd everyday life and whole life. With surprising comedy and revealing “naivety” showed the Irish-born Samuel Beckett and the Romanian-French Eugène Ionesco a new theater, “the absurd”, which attracted a great deal of attention and found many successors who, however, could only to a limited extent expand the experience of plays such as Beckett’s We Wait for Godot or Ionesco’s Chairs(both 1952). The absurd theater became, with its form of simplification, an end station. The drama had to find ways forward from other positions, such as adaptations of epic works or large stage “shows”, where the staging may seem to be the overall dialogue.

Also the French novel got its breakthrough in the second half of the 1900-t. In fact, it can be dated as early as 1939, when Nathalie Sarraute published her Tropisms; but it was not until the late 1950’s that she and writers such as Alain Robbe-Grillet, Michel Butor and Claude Simon really broke through with the so-called new novel. The common features that initially hid significant differences in these writers are a deliberate break with the orderly course of the classic novel form, clear character drawing and precise environment. The new novel aesthetic allows the reader to arrange the diverse elements that are sometimes presented in an almost chaotic course of text. It can be difficult to find the story or see the characters in some of these narratives that gained greater acceptance in university environments and among critics than among audiences. However, the significance of the new novel should not be underestimated: the traditional narrative model was shaken, and the problematic in all artistic depiction of reality was sharply highlighted.

However, the more classical storytelling did not disappear. Authors such as Marguerite Yourcenar (Emperor Hadrian’s Memoirs, 1951), Michel Tournier (Friday, 1967) and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (The Gold Finder, 1985) went back to the myths and past of novels that can be seen as typical efforts to renew the novel. on the basis of tradition.

Poetry, which had played a significant role during the resistance struggle in the 1940’s, attracted less attention after World War II, however, with Henri Michaux and especially René Char as notable exceptions. Both had roots in the modernist breakthroughs of the 1920’s and even became landmarks for new generations.

The 1970’s and 1980’s were, in France as in many other countries, decades in which new voices emerged with documentaries, reality stories, everyday portraits and, above all, women’s literature. This last, diverse concept had in France an important point of inspiration in Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex from 1949. Beauvoir, whose novels were never really successful, but who was especially famous for his memoir, had a late renaissance as the great old lady of feminism. A large number of especially younger writers took up the legacy and gave words to specific women’s experiences. Christiane Rochefort, Marguerite Duras, Hélène Cixous, Marie Cardinal and Annie Ernaux are characteristic examples of this, in widely differing literary registers.

In the 1990’s, there was a return to the novel form in its more traditional form, for example with Patrick Modiano. But the joy of storytelling by writers such as Daniel Pennac and Patrick Deville (b. 1957) did not put previous decades’ exploration of the art of storytelling out of control in, for example, the great female writers Sylvie Germain (b. 1954) and Anne-Marie Garat (b. 1946).

Strongest in the very latest French prose literature are two tendencies: the autofictional novel, which with Georges Perec as forerunner began in the 1980’s with novels by Alain Robbe-Grillet and Claude Simon and continued in the 1990’s with the younger Jean Rouaud and Pierre Bergounioux (f. 1949). The second trend is a new committed or realistic novel with Michel Houellebecq and François Bon (b. 1953) as prominent representatives.

Perhaps with the exception of Jacques Réda (b. 1929) and his pictorial poems and prose poems from wanderings in Paris and the surrounding area, the poetry since the 1950’s is still influenced by the poetry of René Char and Yves Bonnefoy. Renewal is found in free forms of poetry, for example in Jude Stéfan (b. 1930) and Michel Deguy, who seeks to maintain the “soulless” things, or Anne-Marie Albiach (1937-2012) and Bernard Noël (b. 1930), as in ultra-short forms in which the old distinction between verse and prose is abolished works to seek words for the almost wordless osmosis or the brutal clashes between word, body, and material reality.

France – theater

French culture is rich in collective manifestations with spectacular elements, and the theatrical is registered at different levels of French society. French theater has often been epoch-making and style-creating in Western theater.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

The oldest forms of theater in France were developed by the Catholic Mass and liturgy during the 900’s. with the church room as a stage. Miracle games associated with the church year or local patron saints later moved out of the church and were often relegated to the town square. The beginnings of a profane theater grew with the traveling jugglers and troubadours. In carnival times, the farce was a popular theatrical form with burlesque, often obscene elements, but with a moral undertone, while sotie was a farce with distinctly satirical sting; the stage was a primitive grandstand, which was set up wherever one could find an audience. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the mystery games becamean important form of theater with both serious and comic elements. Men played all roles, but locally women also participated in the plays, which were performed for a paying audience, usually outdoors with temporarily built spectator seats; the scene was often a so-called simultaneous scene.

The Italian Renaissance left significant traces in French theater. Towards the end of the 1500’s. dominated the Italian masked comedy, commedia dell’arte, which was imported with Italian acting troupes. Maria Medici, who became French queen in 1600, brought the Florentine court to the country; it came to serve as a model for the court parties at the Palace of Versailles, where the theater played a central role.

National, professional theater

In the early 1600’s. the foundation was laid for a French theater in the modern sense. Paris had its first theater building in 1548, the Hôtel de Bourgogne, where various theater troupes guest-played with farces or seriously profane theater, tragedies in ancient tradition. Louis XIII personally contributed to improving the reputation of the theater and the social status of the actors, something which the church stubbornly continued to oppose. Hôtel de Bourgogne got its regular troupe in 1629. Here the classic French repertoire was created, where comedy and tragedy dominate, although Pierre Corneille also worked with a mixed genre, tragi-comédie. Later, Molière became the most significant representative of the comedy, both as a writer and actor, while Jean Racineconsidered the master of tragedy. For most of the 1600’s. there was an intense theatrical activity in Paris, not least thanks to active royal support. The same troops that spread splendor at Versailles were allowed to perform their plays for ordinary people in Paris. The Académie royale de musique, the Paris Opera, was created on royal initiative in 1669, and in 1680, Europe’s first national stage, the Comédie-Française, was created.

Towards the end of Louis XIV’s reign, the conditions of the theater deteriorated: after the Italians were expelled in 1697, there were only two major theaters in Paris, the Opera and the Comédie-Française, both with state monopolies; in 1701 censorship was introduced. A new Italian troupe was called to the city in 1716, after the king’s death, and resumed the Comédie-Italians. The comedy was moving towards greater seriousness, but the tragedy had played its part. With his bourgeois drama, Denis Diderot tried to bring the tragedy down to an everyday level, while the classic tragedy with its ancient heroes found a home in the opera’s tragédie lyrique.

The French Revolution led to a break with the theater tradition. In 1791 the monopoly was abolished, censorship abolished, and the Comédie-Française divided into two parts. New theaters were opened and theater buildings were erected. The repertoire was colored by political developments: patriotic plays were performed and newly written songs were incorporated into older works. But above all, there was a street dramaturgy. One of the theaters founded during the Revolution was the Théâtre Feydeau. It had mainly a lyrical repertoire, but also worked with mixed genres such as opéra-comique. In 1801, the theater merged with Théâtre Favart, the former Comédie-Italienne, to form the Opéra-Comique.

Next to the state-subsidized theaters grew in the 1800’s. the number of private theaters, which were concentrated around the Boulevard du Temple, called the Boulevard du Crime (‘the boulevard of crime’), alluding both to the theaters’ repertoire and to the life of the people. The theaters became a popular pastime with light genres such as melodrama, vaudeville and pantomime. Spectacular effects were appreciated, and scenography and technique developed rapidly. The performances became more and more complicated; it required technical and artistic coordination, and the concept of mise en scène(‘staging’) became commonplace. In parallel with the theater striving for the highest possible realism, another development took place towards an increasingly abstract idiom. At the end of the century, this paradox culminated in the aesthetic directions of naturalism and symbolism, which were cultivated on resp. Théâtre libre and Théâtre de l’œuvre. Both of these theaters have through the 1900’s. served as models for artistic experimental theaters, and their directors, André Antoine and Aurélien-Marie Lugné-Poë, initiated the modern directorial theater in France.


Jacques Copeau wanted to realize the idea of ​​a free artistic theater with a classical repertoire and founded the Théâtre du vieux-colombier in 1913. It became a hothouse for those who came to dominate the interwar period in French theater, the so-called Cartel, which consisted of Gaston Baty, Charles Dullin, Louis Jouvet and Georges Pitoëff. Next to the established theater, a considerable avant-garde theater emerged; to it are attached names such as Antonin Artaud, Jean-Louis Barrault and Roger Blin, all active both as actors and directors. It culminated after 1945 in the new theater that introduced the modern playwrights Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet and Eugène Ionesco.

As director of the Théâtre national populaire from 1951, Jean Vilar wanted to create quality theater for a wide audience. The Avignon Festival was another step in this endeavor. In the 1960’s, extensive decentralization was carried out and houses of culture were built in many smaller cities as well as in the suburbs of Paris; to them were attached regional ensembles.

In the last decades of the 1900-t. French theater, with the help of new advanced technology, has developed in an elitist direction towards increasingly expensive performances for a well-educated but limited audience. Prominent directors such as Antoine Vitez (1930-90) at the Théâtre de Chaillot and Patrice Chéreau at the Theater in Nanterre outside Paris have meant that French theater has won world renown for its artistic standard. At the same time, Paris has become an international forum for experimental theater, something to which the British theater man Peter Brook has contributed with his multicultural ensemble at Bouffes-du-nord, as well as Ariane Mnouchkine with her collective Théâtre du soleil. In 1983 it became the international associationThéâtre de l’Europe founded with affiliation in Théâtre de l’Odéon.

France – ballet

For several centuries France was the leading country in classical ballet. The art form was founded at the court in the late 1500’s, where it helped to emphasize the power and splendor of autocracy. Under Louis XIV, who himself was an excellent dancer, ballet flourished, with Molière creating the genre of comedy ballet. In 1669, the L’Académie royale de musique was founded, which became the Paris Opera.

In the 1700’s. the theatrical dance removed itself from the company dance. Ballet became a profession, and the Paris Opera School became grdl. in 1713. The ballet of action, le ballet d’action, was the dominant genre, and the choreographer Jean-Georges Noverre described in Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets (1760) the theory of ballet and equated it with the other arts in the ability to portray emotions..

Passions became central to the romantic ballet that flourished at the Paris Opera in the 1830’s and 1840’s with a new spectacular and atmospheric theater, where the ballerinas Marie Taglioni, Fanny Elssler and Carlotta Grisi floated and danced on their toes in Sylfiden (1832) and Giselle (1841). In the second half of the century, ballet lost ground, and only Coppelia (1870) has survived.

In the 1900’s. the ballet gained new strength in France. It happened with Serge Diaghilev’s Les Ballets Russes, who was Russian in origin but who, based in Monte Carlo, had his annual premieres in Paris. After Diaghilev’s death, the Paris Opera engaged his last great dancer Serge Lifar, who for the next 30 years gave French ballet its self-respect back with Yvette Chauviré as the company’s star. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Dane Harald Lander worked as a ballet master and choreographer at the Paris Opera, but slowly the institution’s monopoly on French ballet began to be broken. Roland Petit and Maurice Béjartworking at the opera, but primarily for their own companies. In recent times, the Russian Rudolf Nureyev is the ballet master who has created the most fanfare about the Paris Opera, whose strength is first and foremost the ballet school.

With the strong position of classical ballet, the new dance got underway late. It was not until the 1980’s, not least thanks to André Malraux’s idea of ​​cultural houses across the country, that a number of smaller companies emerged, in which a new, often postmodernist dance was created with names such as Jean-Claude Galotta (b. 1953), Mark Tompkins (b. 1954), Angelin Preljocaj (b. 1961) and Maguy Marin (b. 1951).

France – music

Within the geographical area comprising present-day France and adjoining parts of the country, in particular the former Burgundian possessions in Belgium and Flanders, a considerable number of musical genres and forms of expression have emerged over time which have had a decisive influence on music. history in general. In addition, foreign musicians have periodically worked in France, whose musical life has thereby been enriched through a significant outside influence.

The oldest times

The oldest known testimonies of a unique French musical tradition date from the 400’s. As in other parts of the Christian world, during this period a local rite prevailed in France, called the Gallican; its melody, however, is only sparsely handed down. Pippin III the Little’s close contact with the pope meant that the ancient Roman rite during his reign in the 700-t. presumably began to mix with the Gallican, which it gradually supplanted. The kind of unanimous chorale that has been termed “Gregorian chant” since the Middle Ages may have originated in the Frankish Empire.

This development took place at the same time as there were a number of innovations in other areas of music with far-reaching consequences. Thus, the first forms of polyphony appeared during this period (800-t.), Just as several new genres such as tropics and sequences, liturgical dramas, and various types of worldly songs contributed to the diversity of musical life. In particular, the tropics and sequences with their free texts, which were added to the liturgical words, quickly spread and reached all over the Christian part of the world during the Middle Ages.

1100’s and 1200’s.

One of the earliest forms of polyphony was developed in the 1100’s. in the southwestern part of present-day France, Aquitaine. Aquitanian polyphony is characterized by the addition of an upper part to a present (Gregorian) melody, so that each note in the original melody has a chain of notes (a melism) in the upper part. This is also provided with a text that is either a tropical or more rarely a sequence. Many polyphonic movements of this type, called free organum, have been handed down in manuscripts from Aquitaine; the aquitanic polyphony was cultivated in the Saint-Martial monastery of Limoges.

The center of gravity shifted around 1200 to Paris, where polyphony reached one of its first peaks in the style that has become known as the Notre-Dame school or modal era with some of history’s first known composer names : Léonin and Pérotin. The first was the originator of a collection of two-part postponements of the fair’s proprium joint for the entire church year, Magnus Liber Organi(The Great Organum Book), which has been lost, but whose contents are handed down scattered in other sources. His successor, Pérotin, further composed on Léonin’s movements by adding a third and in some cases a fourth voice. Characteristic of the Notre-Dame school is the division of the sentences into sections written in alternately melismatic style, ie. with many notes in the upper part to one note in the original, Gregorian melody, and in strict note-to-node-rate, where to each note in the Gregorian melody corresponds one note in each of the upper voices (punctus contra punctum, hence the term counterpoint).

These latter sections, called clauses, were treated as more or less independent rates that could be used in other contexts and performed alone. Their freely composed overtones could be provided with new words, in particular tropics, and thus a new musical genre emerged, the motet (from fr. Mot ‘word’).

The subsequent generations of composers, which are attributed to the ars antiqua period (approximately 1250-1320), contributed to the history of music especially through the development of the modal rhythm, ie. a principle of the rhythmic design of the melodies. These composers include Adam de la Halle, who was also a poet and wrote both multi-voiced motets and unanimous songs for secular lyrics.

The secular music of the same period was cultivated by the troubadours in the south of France and the troubadours in the north of France. In both cases there were usually nobles who acted as poets and composers, but also men of lower birth were admitted to the circle. Their songs, which often have the unattainable love as a subject, are gathered in chansonniers. Wandering professional musicians, jugglers or ménestrels, preferred the songs of others, about heroic deeds. A famous example is Rolandskvadet, which depicts a battle during Charles the Great’s campaign in Spain.


In an attempt to provide a fixed framework for the composition process, which in previous generations had been characterized by freedom and thus by an inevitable confusion, the composer Philippe de Vitry wrote approximately 1320 a writing, Ars nova (New Art), in which he depicts the isorhythmic principle that became dominant in the following hundred years. It involves dividing a melody into a number of rhythmically similar groups. The main character in the ars nova period was the composer and poet Guillaume de Machaut. In addition to a number of songs, he is best known for his Messe de Nostre-Dame, the first complete mass written by one and the same composer. The work is a polyphonic postponement of the five ordinary stages: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.

1400’s and 1500’s.

Machaut’s Mass was for generations the subject of general admiration, but it was considered a weakness that the rates were written according to alternating principles and therefore appear inconsistent. The desire arose to provide an inner musical context in a fair, and based on e.g. in the movements of the Englishman John Dunstable, the Flemish or northern French composer Guillaume Dufay in particular contributed to this development. His technique consisted of letting one and the same Gregorian or secular melody form the pervasive “skeleton”, cantus firmus, in all the movements. He was thus the first of many to write a mass of the secular song L’Homme army(The armed man). The principle of this type of fair, called the cantus firmus fair, was quickly taken over and cultivated diligently by other composers. Later in the century, it was replaced by another technique, which consisted of converting a polyphonic movement (e.g., motet or madrigal) into each of the five mass stages. This newer type of fair, called the parody fair, was used by the Flemish Josquin des Prés and continued throughout Europe until approximately 1600 (see also the Franco-Dutch tradition).

Dufay’s compatriot and contemporary Gilles Binchois, who worked at the Burgundian court, also wrote church music, but he became especially known for his worldly chansons.

The accession of Francis I to the throne in 1515 did not only mean new political and social conditions in France. As life at court became dominant, the monarchy also gained increasing importance for culture, a trend that culminated in the splendor of Louis XIV and Louis XV and ended abruptly with the French Revolution.

Francis I’s victory at Marignano in 1515 became the subject of Clément Janequin’s musical depiction in the famous polyphonic chanson La Guerre (The War), typical of the genre’s use of tonemaleric effects (see battaglia). The French chanson, which also Claudin de Sermisy contributed to, became known under the name canzona in Italy, where, depending on the manner of performance, a distinction was made between a vocal and an instrumental form; the first, canzona cantata, eventually became the cantata, the second, canzona sonata, the sonata. French chansons were, in addition to masses, motets and other forms of music, published from 1528 by Pierre Attaignant, who was one of the first sheet music printers in history.


The most important innovation of the Baroque period, the opera, which originated around 1600 in Italy, reached beyond the country’s borders and thus also to France in the first half of the century. Most important was the Italian-born composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, who worked at the Royal Court in Versailles, for which he in collaboration with Molière wrote the music for a number of opera ballets, the special French form of musical theater performance with a mixture of song, instrumental music and dance. Together with the tragedy writer Philippe Quinault (1635-88), he also developed the special French opera type, tragédie lyrique, which in contrast to the Italian Baroque opera seriais not composed of sharply separated secco-recitatives and arias in fixed form patterns, but mainly comprises erios sections of alternating character; the words also have greater weight and meaning than in Italian opera, and characteristic of the music is that it is both melodic and rhythmically adapted to the French language tone. Among the French composers who continued the tradition is André Campra and, above all, Jean-Philippe Rameau. Also as a music theorist, the latter gained great importance; with his textbooks in harmony (1722, 1726) he described the functional harmonics, the principles of which became prevalent in classical music until around 1900.

In the 1600’s. and first half of 1700-t. numerous French composers contributed to the music for harpsichord; among the most important of them, the so-called clavecinists, belong François Couperin, nicknamed Le Grand (‘the great’) and Rameau. Church music wrote Marc-Antoine Charpentier, who in addition to operas has left behind a significant number of oratorios, motets, masses, cantatas and other liturgical works.


In 1752, the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s intermezzo La serva padrona was performed in Paris, giving rise to a fierce battle over Italian style over French tradition, the so-called querelle des bouffons (‘the buffonist battle’). The leading composers of the time took part in the feud, which lasted for several years.

The construction in 1764 of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s reform opera Orfeo ed Euridice from 1762 was followed by a series of new works by him written for Paris: Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride (1774, 1779). Thus began a new period in French opera history, which in the early days is mainly characterized by foreign names. The Italian Luigi Cherubini, who became director of the Paris Conservatory, wrote a number of significant works for the stage, including opera Médée (1797); his most famous work is Anacréon (1803). The French capital also attracted other foreign composers; Italian Gioacchino Rossinidelivered a number of theatrical works for the Paris Opera, of which Wilhelm Tell (1829) was the last. Among the native French opera composers are Étienne-Nicolas Méhul and Jacques-Fromental Halévy, who especially contributed to the so-called grand opera on a serious subject and with music for all the lines. Opposite this stood the lighter opéra-comique, the forerunner of the operetta.


Both as a composer and as a theorist, Hector Berlioz exerted considerable influence on music in Romanticism in general. Hans Symphonie fantastique (1830), which follows a programmatic course, together with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony formed the basis for symphonic poetry, which became a very widespread genre during the period (Franz Liszt, Antonín Dvořák, Richard Strauss and others; see program music). With the textbook in instrumentation (1843), Berlioz also contributed to the continued development of orchestral music.

While Charles Gounod and Georges Bizet are especially remembered for their operas (including Gounods Faust, 1859, and Bizet’s Carmen, 1875), Gabriel Fauré drew particular attention to the smaller forms such as lied (melody) and character piece for piano. With her symphonies, piano concerts, chamber music, operas and church music works, Camille Saint-Saëns is a typical representative of French elegance.

Organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll developed in the second half of the 1800’s. an organ type whose purpose was to imitate the symphony orchestra. A number of composers, including Charles-Marie Widor and Louis Vierne, wrote symphonies for organ alone. Together with the Belgian César Franck, who worked as an organist in Paris, they laid the foundation for a special French organ tradition, which was continued by Marcel Dupré and Olivier Messiaen.


With his impressionist music, which was influenced by his distinctive compatriot Erik Satie and by the tonal art of foreign cultures (e.g. gamelan music from Bali), Claude Debussy definitely distanced himself from the classical harmonica. The order of the chords is no longer determined by their interrelationships (eg dominant tonic), but they are perceived as independent sounds whose purely sonic properties are given the greatest value. Thus, Impressionism gained crucial importance for atonality in general. The music for Igor Stravinsky’s three ballets, which had their first performance in Paris: The Firebird (1910) and in particular Petrushka (1911) and the scandal-stricken, also contributed to this.Le Sacre du printemps (1913).

Debussy’s musical aesthetic was to some extent continued by Maurice Ravel. The Spaniard Manuel de Falla, the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos and the Finn Leevi Madetoja are some of the foreigners who were more or less influenced by French Impressionism.

In the aftermath of World War I, a circle of French and French-speaking composers reacted against Debussy’s sonic universe. With the writer Jean Cocteau as the unifying figure they seemed known as Les Six (The Six). Instead of stagnant sounds, they put rhythm and melody in the foreground, which heard in works by the group’s most prominent members, Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc, as well as the Swiss Arthur Honegger, who was educated at the Paris Conservatory.

The neoclassical, which in the interwar years was cultivated as a reaction against the modern currents in music (including twelve-tone technique), was in addition to the members of Les Six represented in France by Albert Roussel.

Olivier Messiaen, an important figure in the summer courses at Darmstadt School, further developed the twelve-tone technique with his piano piece Mode de valeurs et d’intensités (1949), thus laying the foundation for serialism, which is characterized by all the components of music (pitch and length, strength, sound, etc.) in advance “arranged” in series. Pierre Boulez is one of the most important contributors to the technique.

In the years after World War II, Pierre Schaeffer produced the kind of electronic music based on natural or “concrete” sounds, musique concrète.

The youngest generation of composers in France includes Gilbert Amy, Gérard Grisey (b. 1946) and Gérard Pesson (b. 1958).


The participation of the American soldiers in the First World War meant that jazz music became known in various forms in Europe and thus also in France, but it took some time before this form of music took hold and native musicians began to assert themselves. Among the most prominent are the violinist Stéphane Grappelli and the guitarist Django Reinhardt, who were both members of the Quintet du Hot Club de France from 1934, a group that gained importance for the spread of jazz in Europe. Numerous French musicians have worked in swing, bebop and newer forms of jazz, but apart from the pianists Martial Solal and Michel Petrucciani, no one has really become known outside the country’s borders.

Folk music

A systematic collection of French folk songs began in 1852 under Napoleon 3. This nationwide undertaking brought in a motley mix of lyrics and melodies, compiled under the title Poésies populaires de la France. While the older versions of folk songs contained almost exclusively lyrics, the new ones usually also brought the accompanying melodies. With the phonograph approximately 1900 and the tape recorder approximately In 1950, the work with the melodies was strengthened, and as something new, they now also began to investigate and describe the instrumental music, in which context Claudie Marcel-Dubois’ (1913-1989) significance should be emphasized.

Despite the decline of traditional folk music, oral tradition still exists in the countryside, and new songs are created from traditional formulas. In general, it is sung unanimously and solo, in the Pyrenees and in Corsica, however, also polyphonically. The songs are preferably kept in simple rhythms and structured in three-part stanza form with short lines of text, possibly. with choruses and meaningless syllables. Modern major and minor are more common than older modes and pentatonic. Typical instruments are the turntable (vielle à roue) and the bagpipe (cornemuse)), on which the melody is accompanied by a lying tone (bordun or drone). Another form of drone melody is known in Provence, where a drum creates the dull-sounding background of a whistle melody; a single person operates both instruments, the very long cylindrical drum with two skins, tambourine, and the small one-handed flute with three holes, the galoubet. A variant of this is seen in Gascony in the Pyrenees, where the flute, lleoto, is accompanied by a string drum, tambourin à cordes, a kind of citation whose strings, tuned in root and fifth, are strung with a cane. In Brittany, one encounters ensembles with oboskalmejer, bombardes, and small bagpipes, binious.

There are interesting regional styles in France, very special types of melody, but by and large folk music is characterized by the art music of changing times. Conversely, folk music has inspired several composers, including Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957), who in 1923-30 published four collections of songs with orchestra, Chants d’Auvergne.

Popular music

The epitome of Parisian vibe is created by the flattering musette music on the accordion, which is also used for singing accompaniment. But French entertainment music is equally marked by Jacques Offenbach’s melodic and disrespectful operettas from around 1860, which introduced a world audience for cancan and other Gallic frivolity. Exponents of the amusement establishment Moulin Rouge and the associated equipment performances were in the first half of the 20th century Yvette Guilbert, Mistinguett and the American-born Josephine Baker. A special French phenomenon is the modern chanson populaire, originated from the Parisian cabaret scene. The term covers an instrumentally accompanied, usually extremely linguistically refined show, often performed by the author himself (poète chansonnier). Both the musical attire and the lyrical approach of these very personally insistent, almost declamatory songs reflect the times: Maurice Chevaliers, Lucienne Boyers and Charles Trenet’s romantic performances from the 1930’s, Edith Piaf’s fragile and expressive style from the 1940’s and 1950’s, the critically satirical societal comments of the Belgian-French Jacques Brels and Georges Brassens in a linguistically refined wrapping. Yves Montand,Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud (1927-2001) and Juliette Gréco are later interpreters of this tradition, musically inspired by jazz music. Mireille Mathieu, whose voice volume and pathos are superficially reminiscent of Piafs, rather belongs in European mainstream pop, just as she has a large audience in Germany.

French rock music has followed two lines since the 1960’s: an Anglo-American inspired one that adheres to the international trends in popular music, albeit in a French version, and a very experimental, fusion-influenced and distinctive work-oriented music, represented by the artist collective Gong and the group Magma.

Music institutions

approximately 1610-20 an instrumental ensemble was developed at the court, Les 24 violons du roy, which despite the name included strings in various sizes. Among other things, it had to the task of playing at official occasions such as royal weddings and other celebrations. In this, Jean-Baptiste Lully worked as a violinist, but he founded a rival ensemble, Les petits violons, which consisted of 16 musicians. In 1725, a concert company, Concert spiritualuel, was established, which became very important for the development of instrumental music in the second half of the century, through performances of Haydn’s and Mozart’s symphonic works at public concerts.

The Théâtre de l’opéra (Paris Opera) was founded in 1669 under the name Académie royale de musique with Robert Cambert (approximately 1628-77) as director. The theater changed address several times until the current building, designed by Charles Garnier, was inaugurated in 1875. The Théâtre de l’opéra-comique, established in 1715 for the performance of opera comics with music, dance and spoken dialogue, has also housed in various buildings in Paris. In 1939, the two scenes received joint administration. Opera theaters are also found in major provincial cities such as Lyon and Bordeaux.

The Benedictine monks of the monastery of Saint Pierre de Solesmes have been of great importance to church music in recent times; they stood for the reform of the Gregorian chant that led to the publication of the revised Graduale Romanum in 1908.

The center of music education in France has since 1784 been the institution in Paris, which was established as the École de musique de la garde nationale, and which after several name changes since 1831 has become known as the Conservatoire national de musique; as directors of the Paris Conservatory have Luigi Cherubini, Gabriel Fauré and Marcel Dupré performed (see also Grand prix de Rome). After World War II, local music schools were established in many French provincial cities (including Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Rouen, Strasbourg, Toulouse).

France – folk music

A systematic collection of French folk songs began in 1852 under Napoleon 3. This nationwide undertaking brought in a motley mix of lyrics and melodies, compiled under the title Poésies populaires de la France. While the older versions of folk songs contained almost exclusively lyrics, the new ones usually also brought the accompanying melodies. With the phonograph approximately 1900 and the tape recorder approximately In 1950, the work with the melodies was strengthened, and as something new, they now also began to investigate and describe the instrumental music, in which context Claudie Marcel-Dubois’ (1913-1989) significance should be emphasized.

Despite the decline of traditional folk music, oral tradition still exists in the countryside, and new songs are created from traditional formulas. In general, it is sung unanimously and solo, in the Pyrenees and in Corsica, however, also polyphonically. The songs are preferably kept in simple rhythms and structured in three-part stanza form with short lines of text, possibly. with choruses and meaningless syllables. Modern major and minor are more common than older modes and pentatonic. Typical instruments are the turntable (vielle à roue) and the bagpipe (cornemuse)), on which the melody is accompanied by a lying tone (bordun or drone). Another form of drone melody is known in Provence, where a drum creates the dull-sounding background of a whistle melody; a single person operates both instruments, the very long cylindrical drum with two skins, tambourine, and the small one-handed flute with three holes, the galoubet. A variant of this is seen in Gascony in the Pyrenees, where the flute, lleoto, is accompanied by a string drum, tambourin à cordes, a kind of citation whose strings, tuned in root and fifth, are strung with a cane. In Brittany, one encounters ensembles with oboskalmejer, bombardes, and small bagpipes, binious.

There are interesting regional styles in France, very special types of melody, but by and large folk music is characterized by the art music of changing times. Conversely, folk music has inspired several composers, including Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957), who in 1923-30 published four collections of songs with orchestra, Chants d’Auvergne.

France – popular music

The epitome of Parisian mood is created by the flattering musette music on accordion, which is also used for singing accompaniment.

But French entertainment music is equally marked by Jacques Offenbach’s melodic and disrespectful operettas from around 1860, which introduced a world audience for cancan and other Gallic frivolity. Exponents of the amusement establishment Moulin Rouge and the associated equipment performances were in the first half of the 20th century Yvette Guilbert, Mistinguett and the American-born Josephine Baker.

A special French phenomenon is the modern chanson populaire, originating from the Parisian cabaret scene. The term covers an instrumentally accompanied, usually extremely linguistically refined show, often performed by the author himself (poète chansonnier).

Both the musical attire and the lyrical approach of these very personally insistent, almost declamatory songs reflect the times: Maurice Chevaliers, Lucienne Boyers and Charles Trenet’s romantic performances from the 1930’s, Edith Piaf’s fragile and expressive style from the 1940’s and 1950’s, the critically satirical societal comments of the Belgian-French Jacques Brels and Georges Brassens in a linguistically refined wrapping. Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Bécaud (1927-2001) and Juliette Gréco are later interpreters of this tradition, musically inspired by jazz music.

Mireille Mathieu, whose voice volume and pathos are superficially reminiscent of Piafs, rather belongs in European mainstream pop, just as she has a large audience in Germany. One voice that was more in tune with the international youth pop culture of the 1960’s was the style icon Francoise Hardy (b. 1944), while the French attempt to establish a rock star with Johnny Hallyday (b. 1943) remained a national affair. The gifted provocateur Serge Gainsbourg went further, both as a soloist and songwriter.

French rock music has followed two lines since the 1960’s: an Anglo-American inspired one that adheres to the international trends in popular music, albeit in a French version, and a very experimental, fusion-influenced and distinctive work-oriented music, represented by the artist collective Gong and the group Magma.

France – film

The French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière are often mentioned as the fathers of the film, and their first screenings for a paying audience, on 28.12.1895, are usually considered the film’s official birthdays. While the Lumière brothers’ short strips mainly immortalized small realistic everyday scenes, the magician Georges Méliès used the medium as early as 1896 for trick performances and fantastic stories.

From the outset, France organized the film as an industry. With their many foreign branches, the two companies Gaumont and Pathé came to dominate the international market until World War I, which closed the export markets and paved the way for American film.

Farces with stars such as André Deed (1884-1938) and Max Linder were the great highlights of early French film. In an attempt to make the new media salon-capable, the company Film d’art was established in 1908, which without much success produced theater films with the big stage names of the time, such as Sarah Bernhardt.

Only in the cultural avant-garde climate of the interwar period was the foundation laid for an actual film art. The directors Louis Delluc (1890-1924), Germaine Dulac (1882-1942), Jean Epstein (1897-1953), Abel Gance and others theorized about the nature of the film and made films as “optical symphonies”. The pure cinema of the 1920’s was an attempt by artists such as Henri Chomette (1896-1941), Fernand Léger and Man Ray to make “pure film”, ie. films which were merely movement, light effects and rhythm, and which were not indebted to other arts. René Clair gave Dadaism cinematic form in Entr’acte (1924), and with Salvador Dalís and Luis Buñuels Un Chien andalou (1928, The Andalusian Dog) also kept surrealism on the canvas.

With the transition to sound film in the late 1920’s, the experiments ceased to some extent. René Clair masterfully exploited the possibilities of sound film in Sous les toits de Paris (1930, Under Paris’ Tage) and À nous la liberté (1931, Leve Friheden). Film magazines and clubs began to emerge, and in 1936 the French Film Archive and Museum, Cinémathèque française, was founded. In the light of the political climate of the period, the French films of the 1930’s stood first and foremost in the sign of so-called poetic realism. Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier and partner Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévertportrayed the situation of the working class in a tragic-romantic tinge, often starring Jean Gabin, such as Renoir’s La Bête humaine (1938, The Human Beast), Duvivier’s La belle équipe (1936, We Hold Together) and Carnés Le Jour se lève (1939, – and at Dawn).

The German occupation of France during World War II drove many of the driving forces of French film into exile, including Renoir, Duvivier, Clair and Gabin, who spent the war years in Hollywood. Carné stayed behind and made the masterpiece Les Enfants du paradis (1945, Children of Paradise). In 1943, the film school Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC) was founded and in 1946 the state Center National de la Cinématographie (CNC), which introduced import quota schemes to protect the national film industry. Even today, it is the CNC that manages the state French film support.

In the second half of the 1940’s and 1950’s, a number of singles made themselves noticed, including the ascetic Robert Bresson, the elegant comedian Jacques Tati and the poetic multi-artist Jean Cocteau. Dominant, however, were film adaptations of literary classics, especially by the directors Jean Delannoy (1908-2008) and Claude Autant-Lara. They were in the film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, which had been founded in 1951 by the critic André Bazin, the subject of violent attacks by young film critics, who at the end of the decade were to form the core of what became known as the new wave of French film: François Truffaut,Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette.

1959 was a landmark year for French film. Then both Truffaut’s debut film Les 400 coups (Young Escape) and Hiroshima, mon amour (Hiroshima, my beloved) won Alain Resnai’s main awards at the Cannes Film Festival, which since 1946 has been one of Europe’s most important markets for the artistic film. The new wave, which also included Jacques Demy, Agnès Varda, Louis Malle and Roger Vadim, bottled up their own star actors, among others. Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean-Paul Belmondo andBrigitte Bardot. The wave was a renewal in French film; a personal film art often created for little money and outside the established studios. With Godard, there was also a radical confrontation with the conventional film language, which he already demonstrated with his debut film, À Bout de souffle (1960, Breathless).

The documentary also came to life in the 1950’s, first with singles such as Georges Franju and Alain Resnais and around 1960 in the form of the so-called cinéma vérité movement, led by Jean Rouch, which used the new 16 mm lightweight cameras for a more spontaneous representation of reality.

In the politically radical climate of the 1960’s, Truffaut and Godard pioneered the closure of the Cannes Film Festival in May 1968. They also demonstrated, along with the rest of the wave in the streets of Paris, against the Minister of Culture’s firing of the director of the Cinémathèque française, Henri Langlois, who they felt owed their great film culture.

The new wave and the associated modernist film art paved the way for the French films of the following decades. With Diva (1981) by Jean-Jacques Beineix, the young postmodernist films of the 1980’s began, which were also represented by Luc Besson and Leos Carax (b. 1960). In parallel, the French gained an international audience with literary film adaptations such as Jean de Florette (1985, The Source in Provence) and Manon des sources (1986, Manon and the Source), Uranus (1990) and Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), all with French film superstar Gérard Depardieu on the cast.

In the face of both Hollywood competition and the 1980’s television explosion, French film has fared better than most other European countries’ film industries. The explanation lies not least in the extensive public support schemes, co-production agreements with the TV channels and rules for showing films on the same. France has also marked itself at the forefront of European film mobilization against American dominance in the film and television market.

Since the 1990’s, however, French film has been able to offer only a few filmmakers of international format. These include Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with eg the comedy Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001, The Fabulous Amélie from Montmartre), and François Ozon (b. 1967), with eg the psychological drama Sous le sable (2000, Under the Sand).

France – fashion

French fashion was not a national phenomenon until the middle of the 1600’s. Italian, Burgundian and later Spanish fashion had a major influence on the French court from around the 1300’s. The preconditions for French fashion were import restrictions on exclusive fabrics in the 1500’s. at the same time as national support for weaving and production. However, it was Louis 14., which from 1660 made French fashion a European concept whose undisputed center was Paris. He supported the low organization of tailors and seamstresses and encouraged the local manufacture of lace that adorned the man’s suit imposed by the court. The fashion was spread using fashion dolls, the small and large Pandora, who was dressed in the latest fashion, which could then be copied and enlarged by tailors in the big cities. Fashion journals with copper engravings emerged from the early 1700’s.

After the French Revolution, the inspiration for the modern men’s suit came from England. Paris’ status as the world fashion center, however, remained undisputed when it came to women’s fashion. The British-born Charles Frederick Worth was the first fashion designer (créateur) who, on the basis of the mass production of woven fabrics, gave the tailoring profession an artistic touch in haute couture. Later, designers such as Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent strengthened the design element of 1900’s clothing.

The collection and novelty were the signature of fashion until the 1970’s, when Paris lost its status as the center of fashion. Since World War II, demand in the American market in particular has made ready-to- wear clothing (prêt-à-porter) a mass item. Today, where the use of handmade decoration is minimal, fashion production takes place in many continents. The elegance and perfection of French design are on the rise, although the Parisian fashion shows of especially haute couture are still receiving a lot of attention.

France – kitchen

French cuisine, as it is known today, excellent and a measure of the world’s cuisine, has, according to the prevailing view, emerged under the influence of Italian cuisine culture, especially mediated by Katarina Medici’s marriage in 1533 to the later King Henrik 2. An Italian influence of a much broader, but hardly so decisive character, however, had already left its mark from the end of the 1400’s. with the immigration of merchants and artisans from Italy.

French cuisine has since developed completely independently, so that today it is the internationally leading major cuisine. This is partly due to the French princes’ special use of the banquet as a demonstration of power and spectacle for the people. The lavish meals of the royals and the nobility were consumed in the presence of large crowds of wandering spectators and leftovers and frequently consisted of up to 50 dishes. Some state banquets included more than 100 different dishes.

These large meals created a need for written instructions for the kitchens, and thanks to a few great chefs, haute cuisine (‘the noble kitchen’) developed into a described system with a fixed structure and terminology, where the dishes are arranged according to their function in the meal and interrelationships. Although greatly simplified, this classical tradition continues to this day, preserved by gastronomes such as Marie Antoine Carême, Auguste Escoffier and Prosper Montagné, the latter as editor of the standard work Larousse gastronomique (1st ed. 1938).

Another reason for the strength of French cuisine is that the culinary and confectionery profession has been respected and had distinguished traditions, just as the cultivation and trade of food and beverages was early professionalized and firmly organized. Interest in food quality emerged in the highest circles during Ludvig 15. The royalty and nobility even went into the kitchen, and food and wine were cultivated with zeal by Louis 18.s and Napoleon 3.s courts, after an interruption during and after the French Revolution.

During the Revolution, the large houses were dismantled, and the chefs searched the market as suppliers of prepared food (traiteurs) and as restaurateurs. This made finer food available to the bourgeoisie, and the novices took over the role of the old nobility as hosts. The guests were fewer and the scope of the menu smaller, but soup, fish, roast and dessert with intermittent dishes (relevés and entremets) belonged in the better-off families right up until the First World War.

The present

The two great wars forced restrictions on opulence; nowadays, a banquet meal will often group around a main course, which is served after a hors d’oeuvre, a soup or an entrée and is followed by a salad, cheese and/or dessert. The boundary between hors d’oeuvre and entrée is fluid; however, the entrée is always a hot dish.

The foundations of the large hotel kitchens with their specialized kitchen brigades have disappeared. Renewal and simplification have been moved to smaller restaurants where the proprietor himself is the chef. A less regular kitchen has been developed here due partly to the daily supply of goods and partly to the chef’s inspiration. This nouvelle cuisine has quickly taken off internationally, led by a circle of talents such as Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers and Roger Vergé, paradoxically all thoroughly educated in classic cuisine.

From the outside, French cuisine is particularly characterized by its extensive use of named garnishes and sauces, which frequently give name to the dish in which they are included. Escoffier lists 131 such garnishes and 264 sauces. The names can be formed according to localities, ingredients, personal names or free imagination. With the French language as the lingua franca of the culinary profession, these names have become international standard designations. Sauce béarnaise is one and the same sauce, no matter where in the world it is served.

Characteristic of French cuisine is also that almost anything can be eaten: frog legs, snails, brains, komave, sea urchins, pig’s toes, calf heads, etc. However, according to studies, the Frenchman’s favorite is oven-roasted lamb chops with white beans (gigot d’agneau à l’haricots blancs).

Alongside haute and nouvelle cuisine, a large number of regional kitchens have been thriving since ancient times with dishes prepared in the homes according to tradition and based on the area’s products. The regional courts reflect that present-day France encompasses large areas that were long independent or under foreign rule. The traveler mostly experiences French cuisine precisely through the regional dishes, although the knowledge of them outside the regions’ households is of a fairly recent date, significantly promoted by Curnonsky’s mapping. In Alsace you meet foie gras (goose or duck liver) and choucroute (sauerkraut); in the southwestern provinces, Basque omelet (piperade) and Atlantic fish soup (ttoro) are offered, not to be confused with bouillabaisse, fish soup from Provence. In Normandy, sole is eaten with mussels, shrimp and oysters (sole normande) and cauliflower stew from Caen.

In the context of the importance of food for tourism, the new cuisine has been heavily promoted both by the public and by business organizations; in this context, the Guide Michelin also plays a major role. A cult-like interest has developed, and France’s leading chefs, les grands toques (‘the tall hats’), were cultivated for a time in line with the stars of film and sport.

In 2010, French cuisine was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

France – wine

France is undisputedly the world’s leading wine country, and it is French grape varieties and methods that are imitated in all newer wine countries. More than 2000 years of experience and experiments with viticulture are the background for the French AOC system introduced in 1935. Appellation d’origine contrôlée is based on the view that the geographical origin and soil are crucial for the character and type of wine.. The French wine law is the strictest in the world and has precise rules for soil, vines and pruning, alcohol content and harvest yield. These are the classic wine districts of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône, Alsace and the Loire, which has made French wines famous. Other wine countries have mimicked the French AOC system, but France is the only country that also has classifications where the best wineries and castles in certain districts are included in official rankings, Grand Cru or Grand Cru Classé.

Despite a position as the most important wine country in the world, France’s position has been less prominent in recent years, and market shares in many countries have been declining (in Denmark declining from 40% in 2000 to 24% in 2004). It has led to economic crisis among many producers of more modest qualities and state- and EU-supported set-aside of many vineyards to counter overproduction of cheap table wines. At the other end of the spectrum, there has never been greater demand and higher prices for the most exclusive wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône.

After World War II, French consumption of wine fell from 120 liters to 65 liters in 1995. Wine was previously the only and natural beverage in the countryside that everyone grew up with, and which even the youngest children drank, mixed with water, which it is still customary with smoother wines. When there has been a decrease in consumption, this is partly due to the fact that less is produced and that wine, especially among young people, has been replaced by cola and other types of soda. In the larger cities, the Frenchman has had a cooler relationship with wine and drinks less but better. 40% of all French wine now has AOC, while the regular table wine, vin de table, is down to 17%. A similar amount is used for distillation of cognac and armagnac. Of the French wines are 1/3 white and 2 /3 are red or rosé.

Wine is a natural part of French culture, and the local gastronomy always suits the local wines that the French most often drink themselves. 47% of French winemakers are affiliated with one of the more than 10,000 cooperatives that dominate local life, especially in the south of France.

France Education