French culture has played an important role in European civilization. Not least during the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries, French culture had a significant position, and the country has maintained a strong influence ever since. France is, among other things, the country that has been awarded the most Nobel Prizes in literature.

As early as the Middle Ages, France, with its Gothic cathedral architecture and science, played an important role in European civilization. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, France, through Impressionism, Expressionism and Cubism, had an almost total dominance in the field of visual art. Names like Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse are central to a revolutionary time in art history.

French film has always had great international influence. The Lumière brothers were pioneers of the film. In the 1930s, director Jean Renoir was a prominent name. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut introduced a new way of thinking in film art with the so-called new wave.

French literature experienced a new golden age during the 20th century. Significant authors include Marcel Proust, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, André Gide (Nobel Laureate 1947) and André Malraux. Leading writers after World War II include Albert Camus (Nobel laureate 1957), Jean-Paul Sartre (Nobel laureate 1964, but he refused to receive the award) and his longtime life partner Simone de Beauvoir, one of the pioneers of the women’s movement. Other notable authors include Claude Simon (Nobel Laureate 1985), Marguerite Yourcenar, Marguerite Duras and Michel Tournier. In 2008 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was awarded France’s 13th Nobel Prize in Literature and in 2014 the author Patrick Modiano received the prize.

Classical French composers include Georges Bizet, Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. In the 20th century, a style of music called chanson (song in French) was developed that is considered to be based more on the rhythm of the French language than other, more English-influenced popular music. Some names in the genre are Édith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and Joe Dassin.

Another aspect of French cultural life takes place at the shows of the big fashion houses. During the 20th century, the leading fashion designers in Paris decided how the women and men of the world should dress. French fashion has recently lost ground, but Paris is still the capital of the entire fashion industry. Names like Coco Chanel, Charles Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent are forever associated with the history of fashion. Today they have successors like Christian Lacroix or Jean-Paul Gaultier.

France Immigration Statistics



Violations of the rights of the paperless

December 19

In a new report, the Human Rights Ombudsman criticizes conditions for paperless migrants in refugee camps in northern France. Their fundamental rights have been violated. The conditions in the temporary camps in Calais, Grande-Synthe and Ouistreham on the English Channel are disastrous. Even in Paris, the problems are great. The fact that the authorities have destroyed camps meant that the migrants had no roof over their heads and the police sometimes used tear gas to evacuate camps. The report on the treatment of unaccompanied minors is particularly critical.

  • Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of France, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.

Protests for the fifth weekend in a row

December 15

According to the Interior Ministry, the Yellow West demonstrations gather 66,000 people across the country. That’s almost half as many as a week ago. In Paris, there is a handgun between protesters and police, who use tear gas to disperse a group trying to break through the police barriers.

Several dead in terrorist act in Strasbourg

December 11

A lone man opens fire to people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg. Four people are killed and several are injured. The offender manages to escape from the scene, but he is killed two days later in connection with a police chase. He is identified as an Islamist who was radicalized while serving a prison sentence. A few days later one of the injured dies.

Macron promises to raise the minimum wage

December 10

Two days after the Yellow West demonstrations and violent protests shook the country for the fourth weekend in a row, President Macron apologizes to the French people in a televised speech. To appease the Yellow West, he promises to raise the minimum wage by 100 euros a month. The government will also lower the tax for pensioners, while the tax on overtime work will also be abolished. However, the president will not reintroduce wealth tax – one of the demands of the protesters – which was removed a year ago.

The government reverses price increases on fuel

December 5

In an attempt to meet the protesters in the Yellow West movement and have them interrupt the ongoing protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe first announced in a live TV talk that the planned increase in gasoline and diesel prices will be postponed by six months. According to the government, increases in electricity and gas prices that would be introduced in January should also be postponed for a few months, as well as planned tightened emission controls for cars. After receiving signals from the protesters that this is not enough and that the protests will continue, Macron and the government shortly afterwards make a full reversal. Now they announce that the price increases will be completely halted in 2019 and that a discussion will be held, among other things, in Parliament on how France can be more climate friendly without affecting individual French people financially.

The government holds a crisis meeting after the Paris riots

December 2

According to Abbreviationfinder, about 260 people are injured and over 400 are arrested when the Yellow West organizes protests across the country for the third weekend in a row. In total, more than 100,000 French demonstrators. While protests are still relatively calm in much of the country, the demonstrations in Paris degenerate into the most violent in 50 years. Black-clad, masked anarchists and right-wing extremists are said to have joined the protesters and burnt cars, broken shop windows and destroyed houses. Tourist destinations such as the Champs-Elysees, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe are also vandalized. 133 people are injured, of which 23 are security police. President Macron holds a crisis meeting with several ministers and security services. Prime Minister Eduoard Philippe is tasked with starting a dialogue with the protest leaders.


14 nuclear power plants will be closed by 2035

November 27th

President Macron announces that there will be a change towards a more climate-friendly policy. The country’s four remaining coal-fired power plants will be shut down by 2022 and the use of renewable energy as wind power will increase sharply by 2030. The energy conversion will also mean that 14 of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors will be closed during the period until 2035.

Mass protests against increased gas and diesel prices

November 18

Nearly 300,000 people demonstrate in many parts of the country at high prices for gasoline and diesel. The popular protests, which are organized by a group called the Yellow West (after the traffic jackets that must be used by car drivers in France, for example, in motor stops), block traffic on several roads and cause major disruptions. One person is killed in connection with the protests and hundreds are injured. At the same time as taxes on petrol and diesel have increased, a further increase in diesel prices is planned in early 2019, as a way for the government to influence the French to choose more environmentally friendly cars. Demonstrations and roadblocks continued during the week that followed and in Paris police used tear gas to disperse protesters.

Right-wing extremists planned attacks on Macron

November 10

Four people linked to right-wing extremist movements are being indicted for planning an attack on President Macron. The attack would have taken place in conjunction with ceremonies in connection with the celebration of the end of the First World War on 11 November.

France extends border controls

November 1st

The French government extends checks at the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain for another six months. Identity checks are considered necessary due to terrorist threats in the country. France reintroduced border controls following the Paris 2015 terrorist attacks.


Completely suspected Iranians are punished

October 2

French authorities freeze assets for several people linked to the Iranian government and security services. Iranians are suspected of involvement in plans for a bomb attack against a meeting of exile Iranians outside Paris (see June 30). Iran claims it is all a misunderstanding. The leadership of the regime-critical organization People’s Mujahedin (MEK) and many of its supporters live in exile in France.

Another minister resigns

October 2

President Macron suffers another setback when Secretary of State Gerard Collomb, one of Macron’s most important allies in the government, resigns. Macron refuses to accept a first farewell application filed by Collomb on October 1. But when Collomb submits another farewell application the next day, Macron resigns and approves it. Collomb plans to run for mayor of Lyon – a post he previously held.

Popular artist Aznavour dies

October 1st

The French-Armenian singer and actor Charles Aznavour dies at the age of 94. Aznavour, born as Chahnour Varinag Aznavourian in Paris with parents of Armenian descent, had one of the world’s most long-standing artist careers with appearances up to a very high age. He has often been called France’s Frank Sinatra and got his breakthrough at the classical concert hall Olympia in Paris in the 1950s.


The Minister for the Environment resigns in live broadcast

August 28th

Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot surprisingly announces that he plans to resign during a radio interview. The reason he leaves the government is that “he felt completely alone” in driving environmental issues in the government and that these issues always “fall at the bottom of the priority list”. The decision comes shortly after it was decided that the price of a hunting license should be halved, something that the animal rights advocate and vegetarian Hulot have been critical of. The popular environmental activist Hulot has a background as a program manager for a TV program on environmental issues. His departure is a defeat for President Macron and is believed to adversely affect the view of the government’s climate policy.


Macron implicated in scandal surrounding bodyguard

23 July

The opposition is accusing the government and Macron of trying to conceal a security adviser and bodyguard to the president for, among other things, defeating first-party protesters wearing police helmets. Macron is criticized by the opposition for allowing the bodyguard, after being suspended for two weeks, to continue on his post. After the event becomes known, the bodyguard is fired at the same time as Macron chooses to carry out a major reorganization in its immediate circle. Hearings are also being made in Parliament by Macron’s staff. The scandal is the most serious for Macron since he became president.

Le Pen’s party financially threatened

July 9

Marine Le Pen, party leader of the National Collection, previously called the National Front, states that the party is in a crisis that could threaten its existence. According to Le Pen, there is no means to pay salaries to employees. The reason is that EU judges decided to withhold two million euros of support to be given to the party. The whole thing is an attempt to guarantee that the European Parliament gets back money that EU parliamentarians from the National Assembly, according to an ongoing investigation, wrongly paid to assistants. In addition, the European Parliament recently demanded that the political parliamentary group that includes the National Assembly should repay EUR 500,000 which the parties correctly listed as expenses and demanded compensation for, including expensive dinners and champagne.

France offers 80 refugees from asylum rescue vessels

July 3

France grants 80 people from the Aquarius refugee boat, which was received by Spain after Italy and Malta refused to allow it to call ports in their countries. French authorities say that they interviewed 135 people from mainly African countries who were on board Aquarius. France also promises to receive 52 people rescued from the sea by the German boat Lifeline and now in Malta.


Iranian diplomat suspected in bomb plot

June 30th

An official at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a bomb plot on French soil against an Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mujahedin. Iran claims that the accusations, which have led to a seizure in several European countries, are false and aimed at overshadowing a trip that President Rohani will make in Europe following the US resignation from the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

Parliament approves rail reform

June 14

The Senate says yes to changes in the state railway company SNCF, which will, among other things, be reorganized and converted into a public limited company. The parliamentary decision is yet another success for Macron’s reform policy. Since April, train strikes have been held by train drivers and other railway workers in protest of the reform. But gradually, the number of employees who participated in the strikes has thinned out. According to the government, the indebted SNCF needs to cut costs and increase its efficiency.

The IMF commends Macron’s reform policy

June 4th

The recovery of the French economy is impressive, the IMF believes, and provides strong support for President Macron’s reforms, including the changes to the SNCF state railway. But it is important that the reform policy continues in order for the economic situation to continue to improve, according to the organization.


Migrant camps are evacuated in Paris

30 May

The largest migrant camp in Paris, called Millenaire, near the Porte de la Villette metro station is evacuated by police. Over 1,700 people from mainly Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia live in the camp. In the wake of the refugee crisis in Europe 2015, several camps were formed in Paris. Two more camps in the capital are to be closed down by the police.

Terrorist act in Paris

May 12

One man is killed and four seriously injured in a knife attack in central Paris. The perpetrator is a French national with roots in Chechnya. The terrorist movement IS assumes responsibility for the act.


The National Assembly approves tougher immigration law

April 24

According to the proposal for a new tougher immigration legislation, the time for keeping migrants illegally staying in the country can be kept in detention from 45 to 90 days. The asylum process should also be made more efficient and shortened from one year to six months, so that refugees will be notified faster if they are granted asylum. The bill will be raised in the Senate in June.

Protests against Macron’s reforms

April 19

Over one hundred thousand Frenchmen demonstrate against Macron’s planned reforms across the country. In Paris, the demonstrations gather around 10,000 people. It is the left-wing trade union CGT that has called for the demonstrations against Macron’s planned changes and cuts in the public sector. Not least, the planned turnaround of the state railway company SNCF raises upset feelings.

France participates in bomb attack against Syria

April 14

Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, France launches bomb attacks on plants in Syria where the regime is reported to manufacture chemical weapons. The attacks are a response to the information that Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against residents of the city of Duma, Syria. President Macron says France “cannot tolerate the normalization of chemical weapons”.

Train strikes in protest of railway reform

April 3

Comprehensive railway strikes are held in the country. The unions have called for a two-day strike for train employees every five days for the next three months. The strikes are held in protest of Macron’s turnaround plans by the railway company SNCF.


Russian diplomats are expelled

March 27th

France expels four Russian diplomats as a result of a nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK in early March. It is taking place in concerted action with some 20 countries, mainly in the EU, in solidarity with the British government accusing Russia of being behind the attack. In total, over 100 Russian diplomats are expelled, 60 of whom are from the United States. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack and threatens with countermeasures.

Four dead after terrorist acts

24th of March

A 25-year-old man born in Morocco kills four people in the terrorist attack in Carcassone, southern France. One of them is a policeman who hands himself to the perpetrator in exchange for a woman taken hostage.

New prosecution against Sarkozy

21 March

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy is indicted for corruption and illegal financing. According to prosecutors, Sarkozy should have received support for his 2007 election campaign from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy is also being investigated in connection with two other ongoing charges: one for having used false invoices in connection with the 2012 election and one where he is suspected of trying to exert influence on a judge.


The government wants to increase the defense budget

February 8

According to a bill proposed by the government, military force spending is to be increased from EUR 34 billion in 2018 to EUR 50 billion in 2025. Thus, the defense budget will meet NATO’s target that defense budgets among its members should equal 2 percent of GDP.

Macron dismisses claims by Corsican nationalists

February 7

During a visit to Corsica, President Macron says no to Corsican recognition as an official language in France and to giving islanders priority over other French people in the Corsican real estate market. Nor does he agree with the demands of politicians in the nationalist regime in Corsica that detained Corsican separatists be released. On the other hand, he is positive to another of the nationalists’ wishes: that Corsica is specifically mentioned in the constitution.


The economy is growing faster than in many years

30th of January

France’s gross domestic product grew by 1.9 percent in 2017, new figures from the statistics authority show. It was a clear improvement over 2016, and the best result in six years. Economic growth was particularly stimulated by increasing investments, at the same time as exports and imports increased.

Macron wants to strengthen the EU

January 24th

At the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, President Macron proposes that the EU develop a ten-year strategy to strengthen the Union. Among other things, he believes that the EU should focus on energy, digital technology, migration and investment.

Border agreement at summit with UK

January 19

At President Macron’s first state visit to the UK, he agrees with British Prime Minister Theresa May on further cooperation on the common border. The two heads of state decided to stick to a 15-year-old border agreement, which allows countries to carry out immigration checks in the border area. At the same time, a new agreement was signed that France, with the UK paying an additional € 50 million, should strengthen surveillance and security at Calais and other port cities to prevent refugees from trying to enter the UK illegally. Britain will also be allowed to borrow the famous medieval so-called Bayeux wallpaper in 2022, which shows William the Conqueror’s invasion of England 1066.

The birth rate decreases

January 17

France is still the country in the EU where most children are born, but the number of births is decreasing. Ireland ranks second when it comes to childbirth in the EU. In 2017, 767,000 children were born in France, a decrease of just over 2 percentage points compared to 2016. On average, French women now give birth to 1.88 children. At the same time, the proportion of older people in the population is also increasing.

Migration problems in focus for EU countries in the south

January 11

Leaders of seven EU countries in southern Europe (France, Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Portugal) gather for a summit in Rome. There, they make a joint statement expressing their support for the EU’s common migration policy. They have agreed that the EU needs to strengthen the guarding of the Union’s external border, fight human smuggling and do more to address problems in migrant homelands. They call on all EU countries to do more to help those countries receiving the most asylum seekers / migrants.

Record number of asylum applications 2017

January 10

Statistics show that over 100,000 people applied for asylum in France in 2017. That was a historically high number according to the French refugee agency OFPRA. Most applications came from Albanians, although Albania is defined as a “safe” country by a French government.

France Culture and Traditions
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