Setting the scene France

With thanks to Wikipedia

The name "France" comes from Latin Francia, which literally means "land of the Franks" or "Frankland". There are various theories as to the origin of the name of the Franks. One is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. Another proposed etymology is that in an ancient Germanic language, Frank means free as opposed to slave. This word still exists in French as franc, it is also used as the translation of "Frank" and to name the local money, until the use of the Euro in the 2000s.

However, rather than the ethnic name of the Franks coming from the word frank, it is also possible that the word is derived from the ethnic name of the Franks, the connection being that only the Franks, as the conquering class, had the status of freemen. In German, France is still called Frankreich, which literally means "Realm of the Franks". In order to distinguish from the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne, Modern France is called Frankreich, while the Frankish Realm is called Frankenreich.

Geography

While Metropolitan France is located in Western Europe, France also has a number of territories in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the southern Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and Antarctica. These territories have varying forms of government ranging from overseas department to overseas collectivity.

Metropolitan France covers 547,030 square kilometres (211,209 sq mi), making it the largest country in area in the European Union and slightly larger than Spain. France possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the south-east, the Massif Central in the south-central and Pyrenees in the south-west. At 4,807 metres (15,770 ft) above sea-level, the highest point in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, is situated in the Alps on the border between France and Italy. Metropolitan France also has extensive river systems such as the Loire, the Garonne, the Seine and the Rhône, which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the Mediterranean sea at the Camargue, the lowest point in France (2 m / 6.5 ft below sea level). Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast.

Metropolitan France is situated between 41° and 50° North, on the western edge of Europe and thus lies within the northern temperate zone. The north and northwest have a temperate climate, however, a combination of maritime influences, latitude and altitude produce a varied climate in the rest of Metropolitan France. In the south-east a Mediterranean climate prevails. In the west, the climate is predominantly oceanic with a high level of rainfall, mild winters and cool summers. Inland the climate becomes more continental with hot, stormy summers, colder winters and less rain. The climate of the Alps and other mountainous regions are mainly alpine in nature with the number of days with temperatures below freezing over 150 per year and snowcover lasting for up to six months.

History

Lord Cornwallis' surrender following the Siege of Yorktown. French participation was decisive in this battle, 1781The monarchy ruled France until the French Revolution, in 1789. Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were executed, along with thousands of other French citizens. After a series of short-lived governmental schemes, Napoleon Bonaparte seized control of the Republic in 1799, making himself First Consul, and later Emperor of what is now known as the First Empire (1804–1814). In the course of several wars, his armies conquered most of continental Europe, with members of the Bonaparte family being appointed as monarchs of newly established kingdoms.

Following Napoleon's final defeat in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, the French monarchy was re-established, but with new constitutional limitations. In 1830, a civil uprising established the constitutional July Monarchy, which lasted until 1848. The short-lived Second Republic ended in 1852 when Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte proclaimed the Second Empire. Louis-Napoléon was unseated following defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and his regime was replaced by the Third Republic.

France had colonial possessions, in various forms, since the beginning of the 17th century until the 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, its global overseas colonial empire was the second largest in the world behind the British Empire. At its peak, between 1919 and 1939, the second French colonial empire extended over 12,347,000 square kilometres (4,767,000 sq mi) of land. Including metropolitan France, the total area of land under French sovereignty reached 12,898,000 square kilometres (4,980,000 sq mi) in the 1920s and 1930s, which is 8.6% of the world's land area.

Eugène Delacroix - La Liberté guidant le peuple ("Liberty leading the People") , a symbol of the French Revolution of 1830Though ultimately a victor in World War I, France suffered enormous human and material losses that weakened it for decades to come. The 1930s were marked by a variety of social reforms introduced by the Popular Front government. At the start of World War II, France held a series of unsuccessful rescue campaigns in Norway, Belgium and The Netherlands from 1939 to 1940. Upon the May-June 1940 Nazi German blitzkrieg and its Fascist Italian support, France's political leadership disregarded Churchill's proposal of a Franco-British Union and signed the Second Armistice at Compiègne on 22 June 1940. The Germans established a puppet regime under Marshal Philippe Pétain known as Vichy France, which pursued a policy of collaboration with Nazi Germany. The regime's opponents formed the Free French Forces outside of France and the French Resistance inside. France was liberated with the joint effort of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Free French Forces and the French resistance in 1944. Soon the Nouvelle Armée Française ("new French army") was established with the massive help of US-built material and equipment, and pursued the fight along the Allies in various battles including the campaign of Italy.

The Fourth Republic was established after World War II and struggled to maintain its economic and political status as a dominant nation state. France attempted to hold on to its colonial empire, but soon ran into trouble. The half-hearted 1946 attempt at regaining control of French Indochina resulted in the First Indochina War, which ended in French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Only months later, France faced a new, even harsher conflict in Algeria.

The debate over whether or not to keep control of Algeria, then home to over one million European settlers, wracked the country and nearly led to civil war. In 1958, the weak and unstable Fourth Republic gave way to the Fifth Republic, which contained a strengthened Presidency. In the latter role, Charles de Gaulle managed to keep the country together while taking steps to end the war. The Algerian War and Franco-French civil war that resulted in the capital Algiers, was concluded with peace negotiations in 1962 that led to Algerian independence.

In recent decades, France's reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the political and economic integration of the evolving European Union, including the introduction of the euro in January 1999. France has been at the forefront of the European Union member states seeking to exploit the momentum of monetary union to create a more unified and capable European Union political, defence, and security apparatus. However, the French electorate voted against ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty in May 2005.

Government

Logo of the French republic The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with strong democratic traditions. The constitution of the Fifth Republic was approved by referendum on 28 September 1958. It greatly strengthened the authority of the executive in relation to parliament. The executive branch itself has two leaders: the President of the Republic, who is elected directly by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term (formerly 7 years) and is the Head of State, and the Government, led by the president-appointed Prime Minister.

The French parliament is a bicameral legislature comprising a National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) and a Senate. The National Assembly deputies represent local constituencies and are directly elected for 5-year terms. The Assembly has the power to dismiss the cabinet, and thus the majority in the Assembly determines the choice of government. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms (originally 9-year terms) , and one half of the seats are submitted to election every 3 years starting in September 2008. The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say, except for constitutional laws and lois organiques (laws that are directly provided for by the constitution) in some cases. The government has a strong influence in shaping the agenda of Parliament.

French politics are characterised by two politically opposed groupings: one left-wing, centred around the French Socialist Party, and the other right-wing, centred previously around the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR) and now its successor the Union for a Popular Movement. The executive branch is currently composed mostly of the UPM.

Law

The basic principles that the French Republic must respect are found in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the CitizenFrance uses a civil legal system; that is, law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it (though the amount of judge interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law). Basic principles of the rule of law were laid in the Napoleonic Code. In agreement with the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen law should only prohibit actions detrimental to society. As Guy Canivet, first president of the Court of Cassation, wrote about the management of prisons:

Freedom is the rule, and its restriction is the exception; any restriction of Freedom must be provided for by Law and must follow the principles of necessity and proportionality. That is, Law should lay out prohibitions only if they are needed, and if the inconveniences caused by this restriction do not exceed the inconveniences that the prohibition is supposed to remedy. In practice, of course, this ideal is often lost when laws are made.

French law is divided into two principal areas: private law and public law. Private law includes, in particular, civil law and criminal law. Public law includes, in particular, administrative law and constitutional law. However, in practical terms, French law comprises three principal areas of law: civil law; criminal law and administrative law.

France does not recognise religious law, nor does it recognise religious beliefs or morality as a motivation for the enactment of prohibitions. As a consequence, France has long had neither blasphemy laws nor sodomy laws (the latter being abolished in 1791). However "offences against public decency" (contraires aux bonnes mœurs) or breach of the peace (trouble à l'ordre public) have been used to repress public expressions of homosexuality or street prostitution.

Laws can only address the future and not the past (ex post facto laws are prohibited) ; and to be applicable, laws must be officially published in the Journal Officiel de la République Française.

Foreign relations

France is a member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with veto rights. It is also a member of the WTO, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) , the Indian Ocean Commission (COI). It is an associate member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and a leading member of the International Francophone Organisation (OIF) of fifty-one fully or partly French-speaking countries. It hosts the headquarters of the OECD, UNESCO, Interpol, Alliance Base and the International Bureau for Weights and Measures. In 1953 France received a request from the United Nations to pick a coat of arms that would represent it internationally. Thus the French emblem was adopted and is currently used on passports.

French foreign policy has been largely shaped by membership of the European Union, of which it was a founding member. In the 1960s, France sought to exclude the British from the organization, seeking to build its own standing in continental Europe. Since the 1990s, France has developed close ties with reunified Germany to become the most influential driving force of the EU, but consequently rivaling the U.K. and limiting the influence of newly-inducted East European nations. France is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but under President de Gaulle, it excluded itself from the joint military command to avoid the supposed domination of its foreign and security policies by U.S. political and military influence. In the early 1990s, the country drew considerable criticism from other nations for its underground nuclear tests in Polynesia. France vigorously opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, straining bilateral relations with the U.S. and the U.K. France retains strong political and economic influence in its former African colonies and has supplied economic aid and troops for peace-keeping missions in the Ivory Coast and Chad.

Transportation

A TGV Atlantique.The railway network of France, which stretches 31,840 kilometres (19,784 miles) is the most extensive in Western Europe. It is operated by the SNCF, and high-speed trains include the Thalys, the Eurostar and TGV, which travels at 320 km/h (200 mph) in commercial use. The Eurostar, along with the Eurotunnel Shuttle, connects with the United Kingdom through the Channel Tunnel. Rail connections exist to all other neighbouring countries in Europe, except Andorra. Intra-urban connections are also well developed with both underground services and tramway services complementing bus services.

There is approximately 893,300 kilometres (555,070 mi) of serviceable roadway in France. The Paris region is enveloped with the most dense network of roads and highways that connect it with virtually all parts of the country. French roads also handle substantial international traffic, connecting with cities in neighbouring Belgium, Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. There is no annual registration fee or road tax; however, motorway usage is through tolls except in the vicinity of large communes. The new car market is dominated by national brands such as Renault (27% of cars sold in France in 2003) , Peugeot (20.1%) and Citroën (13.5%).[25] Over 70% of new cars sold in 2004 had diesel engines, far more than contained petrol or LPG engines. France possesses the world's tallest road bridge: the Millau Viaduct, and has built many important bridges such as the Pont de Normandie.

There are approximately 478 airports in France, including landing fields. The Charles de Gaulle International Airport located in the vicinity of Paris is the largest and busiest airport in the country, handling the vast majority of popular and commercial traffic of the country and connecting Paris with virtually all major cities across the world. Air France is the national carrier airline, although numerous private airline companies provide domestic and international travel services. There are ten major ports in France, the largest of which is in Marseille, which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean Sea. 14,932 kilometres (9,278 mi) of waterways traverse France including the Canal du Midi which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean through the Garonne river.

Economy

The first completed Airbus A380 at the "A380 Reveal" event in Toulouse on 18 January 2005. Airbus is a symbol of the globalisation of the French and European economy France's economy combines extensive private enterprise (nearly 2.5 million companies registered) with substantial (though declining) government intervention (see dirigisme). The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunications firms. It has been gradually relaxing its control over these sectors since the early 1990s. The government is slowly selling off holdings in France Télécom, Air France, as well as the insurance, banking, and defence industries.

As many economists have stressed repeatedly over the years, the main issue with the French economy is not an issue of productivity. In their opinion, it is an issue of structural reforms, in order to increase the size of the working population in the overall population. Liberal and Keynesian economists have different answers to that issue. Lower working hours and the reluctance to reform the labour market are mentioned as weak spots of the French economy in the view of the right and lack of government policies fostering social justice by the left. Recent government attempts at adjusting the youth labour market, to combat unemployment, have met with fierce resistance.

France has an important aerospace industry led by the European consortium Airbus, and is the only European power (excluding Russia) to have its own national spaceport (Centre Spatial Guyanais). France is also the most energy independent Western country due to heavy investment in nuclear power, which also makes France the smallest producer of carbon dioxide among the seven most industrialised countries in the world. As a result of large investments in nuclear technology, most of the electricity produced in the country is generated by nuclear power plants (78.1% in 2006, up from only 8% in 1973, 24% in 1980, and 75% in 1990).

Large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, and EU subsidies have combined to make France the leading agricultural producer and exporter in Europe. Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as an internationally recognised foodstuff and wine industry are primary French agricultural exports. EU agriculture subsidies to France total almost $14 billion. Since the end of the Second World War the government made efforts to integrate more and more with Germany, both economically and politically. Today the two countries form what is often referred to as the "core" countries in favour of greater integration of the European Union.

Demography

Metropolitan French cities with over 100,000 inhabitants With an estimated population of 64.5 million people, France is the 19th most populous country in the world. France's largest cities are Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Nice, and Nantes.

In 2003, France's natural population growth (excluding immigration) was responsible for almost all natural population growth in the European Union. In 2004, population growth was 0.68% and then in 2005 birth and fertility rates continued to increase. The natural increase of births over deaths rose to 299,800 in 2006. The lifetime fertility rate rose to 2.00 in 2007, from 1.92 in 2004.

In 2004, a total of 140,033 people immigrated to France. Of them, 90,250 were from Africa and 13,710 from Europe. In 2005, immigration level fell slightly to 135,890. France is an ethnically diverse nation. According to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, it has an estimated 4.9 million foreign-born immigrants, of which 2 million have acquired French citizenship. France is the leading asylum destination in Western Europe with an estimated 50,000 applications in 2005 (a 15% decrease from 2004). The European Union allows free movement between the member states. While the UK (along with Ireland) did not impose restrictions, France put in place controls to curb Eastern European migration.

Religion

France is a secular country as freedom of religion is a constitutional right, although some religious doctrines such as Scientology, Children of God, the Unification Church, and the Order of the Solar Temple are considered cults. According to a January 2007 poll by the Catholic World News: 51% identified as being Catholics, 31% identified as being agnostics or atheists. (Another poll concluded that 27% identified as being atheists.) , 10% identified as being from other religions or being without opinion, 4% identified as Muslim, 3% identified as Protestant, 1% identified as Jewish.

According to one study, 32% of people in France declare themselves to be atheists, with an additional 32% declaring themselves agnostic. The current Jewish community in France numbers around 600,000 according to the World Jewish Congress and is the largest in Europe. Estimates of the number of Muslims in France vary widely. According to the 1999 French census returns, there were only 3.7 million people of "possible Muslim faith" in France (6.3% of the total population). There are an estimated 200,000 to 1 million illegal immigrants in France.

Public health

The French healthcare system was ranked first worldwide by the World Health Organization in 1997. It is almost entirely free for people affected by chronic diseases (Affections de longues durées) such as cancers, AIDS or Cystic Fibrosis. Average life expectancy at birth is 79.73 years.

France, as all EU countries, is under an EU directive to reduce sewage discharge to sensitive areas. As of 2006, France is only 40% in compliance with this directive, placing it as one of the lowest achieving countries within the EU with regard to this wastewater treatment standard .

Architecture

Saint Louis' Sainte Chapelle represents the French impact on religious architecture. There is, technically speaking, no architecture named French Architecture, although that has not always been true. Gothic Architecture's old name was French Architecture (or Opus Francigenum). The term "Gothic" appeared later as a stylistic insult and was widely adopted. Northern France is the home of some of the most important Gothic cathedrals and basilicas, the first of these being the Saint Denis Basilica (used as the royal necropolis) ; other majestuous and important French Gothic cathedrals are Notre-Dame de Chartres and Notre-Dame d'Amiens. The kings were crowned in another important Gothic church: Notre-Dame de Reims. Aside from churches, Gothic Architecture had been used for many religious palaces, the most important one being the Palais des Papes in Avignon.

During the Middle Ages, fortified castles were built by feudal nobles to mark their powers against their rivals. When King Philip II took Rouen from King John, for example, he demolished the ducal castle to build a bigger one. Fortified cities were also common, unfortunately most French castles did not survive the passage of time. This is why Richard Lionheart's castle -Château-Gaillard- was demolished as well as the Château de Lusignan. Some important French castles that survived are Chinon Castle, Château d'Angers, the massive Château de Vincennes and the so called Cathar castles.

Before the appearance of this architecture France had been using romanesque architecture like most of Western Europe (with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula, which used Mooresque architecture). Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque Churches in France are the Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse and the remains of the Cluniac Abbey (largely destroyed during the Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars).


 

Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse

The end of the Hundred Years' War marked an important stage in the evolution of French architecture. It was the time of the French Renaissance and several artists from Italy and Spain were invited to the French court; many residential palaces, Italian-inspired, were built, mainly in the Loire Valley. Such residential castles were the Château de Chambord, the Château de Chenonceau, or the Château d'Amboise. Following the renaissance and the end of the Middle Ages, Baroque Architecture replaced the gothic one. However, in France, baroque architecture found a greater success in the secular domain than in the religious one.[46] In the secular domain the Palace of Versailles has many baroque features. Jules Hardouin Mansart can be said to be the most influential French architect of the baroque style, with his very famous baroque dome of Les Invalides. Some of the most impressive provincial baroque architecture is found in places that were not yet French such as the Place Stanislas in Nancy. On the military architectural side Vauban designed some of the most efficient fortresses of Europe and became a very influential military architect.

After the French revolution the Republicans favoured Neoclassicism although neoclassicism was introduced in France prior to the revolution with such building as the Parisian Pantheon or the Capitole de Toulouse. Built during the French Empire the Arc de Triomphe and Sainte Marie-Madeleine represent this trend the best.

Under Napoleon III a new wave of urbanism and architecture was given birth. If some very extravagant buildings such as the neo-baroque Palais Garnier were built, the urban planning of the time was very organised and rigorous. For example Baron Haussmann rebuilt Paris. These times also saw a strong Gothic-Revival trend across Europe, in France the associated architect was Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. In the late 19th century Gustave Eiffel designed many bridges (like the Garabit viaduct) and remains one of the most influential bridge designer of his time, although he is best remembered for the Eiffel Tower.

In the 20th century the Swiss Architect Le Corbusier designed several buildings in France. More recently French architects have combined both modern and old architectural styles. The Louvre Pyramid is a good example of modern architecture added to an older building. Certainly the most difficult buildings to integrate within French cities are skyscrapers, as they are visible from afar. France's largest financial district is La Defense, where a significant number of skyscrapers are located. Other massive buildings that are a challenge to integrate into their environment are large bridges; a good example of the way this has been done is the Millau Viaduct. Some famous modern French architects include Jean Nouvel or Paul Andreu.

Literature

Molière is the most played author in the Comédie-FrançaiseFrench literature tracks its origins back to the Middle Ages. French was not yet a uniform language but was divided into several dialects (mainly: northern oil, southern or dialects). Each writer used his own spelling and grammar. Several French mediaeval texts are not signed- such is the case with Tristan and Iseult, or with Lancelot and the Holy Grail, among many others. A significant part of mediaeval French poetry and literature was inspired by the Matter of France, such as the The Song of Roland and the various Chansons de geste. The "Roman de Renart" was written in 1175 by Perrout de Saint Cloude, and told the story of the medieval character Reynard ('the Fox') it is also a popular example of early French story-telling.

In spite of the anonymous character of many French writings of the Middle-Ages, some medieval writers became quite famous: Chrétien de Troyes, for instance. 'Oc' culture was also quite influent in the Middle Ages. An early example of a vernacular poet writing in Occitan was Duke William IX of Aquitaine. About the history of the French language, one of the most important writer is unquestionably François Rabelais. Modern French took a great deal from his style. His most famous work is quite probably Gargantua and Pantagruel. Later on, Jean de La Fontaine wrote his famous "Fables", a collection of short stories, written in verse, and usually ending with a "moral teaching".

During the 17th century Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine and Molière's plays, Blaise Pascal and René Descartes's moral and philosophical books deeply influenced the aristocracy leaving an important heritage for the authors of the following decades.

But it is most certainly in the 18th and 19th centuries which French literature and poetry reach its highest point. The 18th century saw the writings of such huge writers, essayists and moralists as Voltaire, Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As concerns French children's literature in those times, Charles Perrault was probably the most prolific writer, with stories such as: "Puss in Boots", "Cinderella", "Sleeping Beauty" and "Bluebeard".

The 19th century saw the birth of many French novels of world renown; Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne are probably among the most famous among these writers, both in and outside of France, with such highly popular novels such as The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte-Cristo, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Other 19th century fiction writers include Emile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Théophile Gautier and Stendhal.

Symbolist poetry of the turn of the 19th century also proved to be a strong movement in French poetry, with artists such as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé. Now also famous outside of France (whereas they used to be mostly known inside of France) are Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Albert Camus. One of the most well-known 20th century writers is Antoine de St.-Exupéry, whose "Little Prince" has been translated and become a bestseller in a great many countries, remaining popular both with children and adults. Nowadays, the Prix Goncourt (first given in 1903) rewards "the best and most imaginative prose work of the year". It has quite probably become France's best-known contemporary literary award.

Sport

Popular sports include football (soccer), both codes of rugby football and in certain regions basketball and handball. France has hosted events such as the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, and hosted the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup. Stade de France in Paris is the largest stadium in France and was the venue for the 1998 FIFA World Cup final, and hosted the 2007 Rugby World Cup final in October 2007. France also hosts the annual Tour de France, the most famous road bicycle race in the world. France is also famous for its 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car endurance race held in the Sarthe department. Several major tennis tournaments take place in France, including the Paris Masters and the French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

France is the country of creation of the Modern Olympic Games, due to a French aristocrat, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, in the end of the 19th century. After Athens in reference to the Greek origin of the ancient Olympic Games, Paris hosted the second Games in 1900. Paris was also the first home of the IOC, before moving to Lausanne for more neutrality. During the Modern era, France has hosted the Olympic Games fives times: two Summer Games (1900 and 1924, both in Paris) and three Winter Games (1924 in Chamonix -the first edition-, 1968 in Grenoble and 1992 in Albertville).

Both the national football team and the national rugby union team are nicknamed "Les Bleus" in reference to the team's shirt colour as well as the national French tricolour flag. The football team is regarded as one of the most skilful teams in the world with one FIFA World Cup victory in 1998, one FIFA World Cup second place in 2006, and two European Championships in 1984 and 2000. The top national football club competition is the Ligue 1. Rugby is also very popular, particularly in Paris and the southwest of France. The national rugby team has competed at every Rugby World Cup, and takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship. Following from a strong domestic tournament the French rugby team has won sixteen Six Nations Championships, including eight grand slams; and have reached the semi-finals and final of the Rugby World Cup.

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