Portal:France

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

France (French: [fʁɑ̃s] Listen), officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a transcontinental country spanning Western Europe and overseas regions and territories in South America and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Including all of its territories, France has twelve time zones, the most of any country. Its metropolitan area extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea; overseas territories include French Guiana in South America, Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the North Atlantic, the French West Indies, and several islands in Oceania and the Indian Ocean. Due to its several coastal territories, France has the largest exclusive economic zone in the world. France borders Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Andorra and Spain in Europe, as well as the Netherlands, Suriname and Brazil in the Americas. Its eighteen integral regions (five of which are overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi) and over 67 million people (). France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre; other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Inhabited since the Palaeolithic era, the territory of Metropolitan France was settled by Celtic tribes known as Gauls during the Iron Age. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, leading to a distinct Gallo-Roman culture that laid the foundation of the French language. The Germanic Franks arrived in 476 and formed the Kingdom of Francia, which became the heartland of the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned the empire, with West Francia becoming the Kingdom of France in 987.

In the High Middle Ages, France was a powerful but highly decentralised feudal kingdom in which the king's authority was barely felt. King Philip Augustus achieved remarkable success in the strengthening of royal power and the expansion of his realm, defeating his rivals and doubling its size. By the end of his reign, the kingdom had emerged as the most powerful state in Europe. From the mid-14th to the mid-15th century, France was plunged into a series of dynastic conflicts for the French throne, collectively known as the Hundred Years' War, and a distinct French identity emerged as a result. The French Renaissance saw art and culture flourish, various wars with rival powers, and the establishment of a global colonial empire, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world. The second half of the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Catholics and Huguenots that severely weakened the country. But France once again emerged as Europe's dominant cultural, political and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV following the Thirty Years' War. Inadequate economic policies, an inequitable taxation system as well as endless wars (notably a defeat in the Seven Years' War and costly involvement in the American War of Independence), left the kingdom in a precarious economic situation by the end of the 18th century. This precipitated the French Revolution of 1789, which overthrew the absolute monarchy, replaced the Ancien Régime with one of history's first modern republics and produced the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day.

France reached its political and military zenith in the early 19th century under Napoleon Bonaparte, subjugating much of continental Europe and establishing the First French Empire. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of European and world history. The collapse of the empire initiated a period of relative decline, in which France endured a tumultuous succession of governments until the founding of the French Third Republic during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Subsequent decades saw a period of optimism, cultural and scientific flourishing, as well as economic prosperity known as the Belle Époque. France was one of the major participants of World War I, from which it emerged victorious at great human and economic cost. It was among the Allied powers of the World War II, but was soon occupied by the Axis in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, the short-lived Fourth Republic was established and later dissolved in the course of the Algerian War. The current Fifth Republic was formed in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle. Algeria and most French colonies became independent in the 1960s, with the majority retaining close economic and military ties with France. (Full article...)

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A stormy scene under a threatening sky; to the right is a pillared temple screened by palm trees. Outside the temple a woman stands, dressed in white, her robes blown in the wind. To the left in the middle distance a group of men is visible, gathered by the sea shore.
Final scene of act 1 (La Scala, 1886)

Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) is an opera in three acts by the French composer Georges Bizet, to a libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré. It was premiered on 30 September 1863 at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris, and was given 18 performances in its initial run. Set in ancient times on the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the opera tells the story of how two men's vow of eternal friendship is threatened by their love for the same woman, whose own dilemma is the conflict between secular love and her sacred oath as a priestess. The friendship duet "Au fond du temple saint", generally known as "The Pearl Fishers Duet", is one of the best-known in Western opera.

At the time of the premiere, Bizet (born on 25 October 1838) was not yet 25 years old: he had yet to establish himself in the Parisian musical world. The commission to write Les pêcheurs arose from his standing as a former winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome. Despite a good reception by the public, press reactions to the work were generally hostile and dismissive, although other composers, notably Hector Berlioz, found considerable merit in the music. The opera was not revived in Bizet's lifetime, but from 1886 onwards it was performed with some regularity in Europe and North America, and from the mid-20th century has entered the repertory of opera houses worldwide. Because the autograph score was lost, post-1886 productions were based on amended versions of the score that contained significant departures from the original. Since the 1970s, efforts have been made to reconstruct the score in accordance with Bizet's intentions. (Full article...)

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Henry with the New York Red Bulls
Thierry Daniel Henry is a French footballer who plays as a striker for New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer. Henry was born in Les Ulis, Essonne (a suburb of Paris) where he played for an array of local sides as a youngster. He was spotted by AS Monaco in 1990 and signed instantly, making his professional debut in 1994. Good form led to an international call-up in 1998, after which he signed for the Serie A defending champions Juventus. He had a disappointing season playing on the wing, before joining Arsenal for £11 million in 1999.

Henry emerged as Arsenal's top goal-scorer for almost every season of his tenure there. Under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 228 goals in all competitions. The Frenchman won two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners; he was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year twice, was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Footballer of the Year three times. Henry spent his final two seasons with Arsenal as club captain, leading them to the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final.

In June 2007, after eight years with Arsenal, he transferred to Barcelona for a fee of €24 million. His first honours with the Catalan club came in 2009 when they won the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble. In 2010, he joined the New York Red Bulls of the Major League Soccer, and won the Eastern Conference title with them in 2010.

Henry enjoyed similar success with the French national team, having won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2000 and 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. Henry retired from international football after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Off the pitch, Henry is an active spokesperson against racism in football, partially due to his own experiences.

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A Parmesan panna cotta amuse-bouche

An amuse-bouche (/əˌmzˈbʃ/; French: [a.myz.buʃ]) or amuse-gueule (UK: /əˌmzˈɡɜːl/, US: /-ˈɡʌl/; French: [a.myz.ɡœl]) is a single, bite-sized hors d'œuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons but are served free and according to the chef's selection alone. These are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse of the chef's style.

The term is French and literally means "mouth amuser". The plural form may be amuse-bouche or amuse-bouches.

In France, amuse-gueule is traditionally used in conversation and literary writing, while amuse-bouche is not even listed in most dictionaries, being a euphemistic hypercorrection that appeared in the 1980s on restaurant menus and used almost only there. (In French, bouche refers to the human mouth, while gueule may mean the mouth or snout of an animal, though commonly used for mouth and derogatory only in certain expressions.) (Full article...)

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Ouvrage La Ferté, also known as Ouvrage Villy-La Ferté, is a petit ouvrage of the Maginot Line, located in the Fortified Sector of Montmédy, facing Belgium. The ouvrage lies between the towns of Villy and La Ferté-sur-Chiers. It possesses two combat blocks linked by an underground gallery. The westernmost position in its sector, it was a comparatively weakly armed fortification in an exposed position that left it vulnerable to isolation and attack. After a sustained attack during the Battle of France the position was overwhelmed by German forces and was destroyed with its entire garrison killed. The fighting at La Ferté was the heaviest of any position in the Maginot Line. It is preserved as a war memorial. (Full article...)
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