“”"It's French!" — "So is eating frogs, cruelty to geese, and urinating in the street, but that's no reason to inflict it on the rest of us."
La douce France, officially known as the (Fifth) French Republic, is a country in western Europe. It is populated by
cheese eating surrender monkeys French people, the national language is French, and it has French food (cheese, bread, snails, horse, frog's legs and of course chocolate, can't forget the chocolate), French houses, French cars, French wine and other French stuff. They drive on the right side of the road. They also have mimes, for no readily apparent reason, and they have yet to heed the call of British author Terry Pratchett to "learn the bloody words." They have no French fries or French toast, although they do have French maids. Oo-er missus.
France is blessed with such tyrannical deceitful monstrosities as universal health care, a (relatively) high incidence of atheists, and a tendency to be a founding member of things such as the European Union and the United Nations. They also have a remarkable tendency to ignore other countries, a technique that the United States has borrowed and refined. French diplomacy is exemplified by the word: "non." They also like to pretend to be "above" all that racial nonsense, but racism is still a daily part of the world.
- 1 France at war
- 2 French language
- 3 French traits
- 4 French exports and inventions
- 5 French politics
- 6 Famous Frenchmen and Frenchwomen
- 7 Notes et références
France at war
Before the mid-18th century
Nothing of interest occurred in the first millennium or so post Charlemagne. Apart from the Crusades, the Hundred Years' War, the Seven Years' War, etc.
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War, also called the Seven Years War by
wrongheaded communists the rest of the world, was when France allied with Native Americans in the mid-18th century to fight the Brits over colonial possessions in North America. Ultimately, they lost almost all of what would become Canada, as well as numerous other interests. Arguably, their main mistake (apart from having a much smaller population in the New World) was picking the wrong Indians; they allied with Hurons and Algonquins against the region's mohawk wearing badasses, the Iroquois. The Iroquois then allied with Britain and fought well against both French and Americans for a century or so; of course this did not prevent the British from shafting the Iroquois later.
France then handed over the rights to the Louisiana Territory to Spain, an ally of the French, as compensation for Spain trading Florida to Britain for Cuba and a player to be named later. France then participated at the party known at the American Revolution on the side of the future U.S., which nearly bankrupted the country and was one of the major factors contributing to the French Revolution. It didn't help that the newly formed U.S. abandoned its French allies at the negotiating table, such that France got very little out of its contribution to the American war of independence.
In the early 19th century, France managed to terrify the entire rest of Europe by both espousing some radical revolutionary rhetoric (and toppling a few churches), and then by conquering most of it. Napoleon won at least 6 out of 7 wars (enough for an NBA or World Series Championship), and expanded French borders down through Spain and up to the edge of Russia (with a huge German bit in the middle that didn't become a vassal). Napoleon managed something that had been unknown prior to his time - he got Prussia, Austria, England, Russia, and Spain to all agree on something: namely, trying to stop him. It was all going fine until he included Russia in the alliance against him by making the (soon to be classic) mistake of actually invading the largest country on earth.
World War I
There's something to be said about a war from which what was up to that point the most consistently war-happy country in the history of Europe (possibly in the world) came out disgusted with war altogether. Half-revisionist anecdotes aside, the French did throw more men at this one war than America did in its entire history. (During the Battle of Belleau Wood, the Americans had to fight through the retreating French to get to the Germans. As the Marines were fighting their way through the retreating French, one of the French commanders asked Marine Captain Lloyd Williams why he wasn't retreating. In response, the Marine replied, "Retreat, Hell! We just got here!")
World War II
While France fought the Germans for some 4 years during the first world war, in spite of superior and more numerous tanks, during the second the fighting lasted for less than two months before Paris fell. Blaming the Maginot Line is a bit of a folly; France wanted to extend it to the Belgian border, but the Belgians were a bit upset about "plan hide behind Belgium". They knew the Germans would try to go around, so they put their army behind Belgium anyway, but didn't think the Germans could go through the Ardougne forest. Spoiler alert: they were wrong.
For the Nazi collaborationist regime, see Vichy France. While the Vichy regime ruled France from 1940 to 1944, Charles de Gaulle headed the Free French government in exile. Free French troops and underground anti-Nazi resistance within France helped drive the Vichy regime and Nazi occupation troops out of France starting with D-Day (June 6, 1944).
Post WWII, France formed the French Fourth Republic, during which time France's African colonies decided they wanted to be treated as if they were actually humans, the ingrates. The inability of France to hold onto Algeria in particular led to the collapse of the fourth republic, and De Gaulle came out of retirement. In spite of this, France did see large amounts of economic growth and the addition of various public programs.
Most modern forms of torture were developed by the French in Indo-China (Paola Condor) and Algeria (Philippeville), where their soldiers proved their mettle at fighting opponents tied to a chair, although faring less well against those running around shooting back.
In 1985 French agents sank Greenpeace's ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, New Zealand where it was waiting for other ships and boats prior to sailing to Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific to protest French nuclear tests (remember that this was when Greenpeace was still a respectable environmentalist group rather than a thinly veiled anti-everything movement). One man was killed. This naval victory represents more ships sunk by the French than at Trafalgar, the Nile, Quiberon Bay, Saint's Passage, Chesapeake Bay, Vigo, Glorious First of June, Finisterre, Ushant (First and Second), La Hogue, and WWII - combined... unless you count French ships sunk by their own men during WWII.
Blowing things up
France conducted its last atomic test in 1996. France does still have its own nuclear weapons and strongly asserts their independence from the rather larger collection in America. France's nuclear policy can be summed up as "We don't give a merde about US nuclear policy. When the first Russian army boot steps over the frontier onto French soil, it's goodbye Moscow. Do I make myself clear?"
The frogs France has never actually used its nuclear arsenal in anger. However, France's peacetime use of nuclear power is extensive: a massive 75% of its electricity is nuclear in origin. Unlike neighboring Germany, there is hardly any debate regarding the merits of nuclear energy. It also has the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Western Europe.
Because of this snub, American right wing chickenhawks didn't like France for a time and renamed french fries "freedom fries" on the Congressional cafeteria menu in retaliation (though equating the French with freedom does seem an odd way to retaliate). Many private establishments followed suit, some maintaining the charade until late 2008. Since nobody outside of America (except Canada, Finland and Iceland) calls them "french fries" (the British prefer the term "chips", the French call them "fried potatoes" or simply "fries" as many Americans do when they're not going out of their way to make a ridiculous point, etc.) no one else really gave a fuck.
Around the beginning of the Iraq war, Americans mocked France for its poor military record, thus expressing belated gratitude for the decisive French military intervention in the Yorktown Campaign of 1781. The most well-known and lasting instance was the curious hack demonstrated by entering "French military victories" into Google - it would then ask if you meant "French military defeats". Unlike other so-called Google Bombs such as "miserable failure", this has lasted, and can still work from most versions of Google.
France has laws to maintain the "purity of the French language", and indeed French is mandated by the French constitution as the nation's official language. Moreover, a long-established Academy devotes itself to keeping the mother tongue free of such foreign invasions as: "Web," "CD," and "ROM." French people, however, use "Web", "CD" and "ROM" – and even "Coke" – with an attitude of "I fart in your general direction" to the Academy.
Many parts of France, however, originally had different native languages. These are not allowed to be spoken by teachers in French public schools (which is remarkable in a nation that prides itself on its freedom) and many of these tongues have died out or are dying out. Other native languages in France include:
Corsicans are especially offended by mandatory French and insisted on Corsican road signs; which they got, but bilingual with the original native Corsican names in italics to emphasize their unofficialness.
French women (and to a large extent, men) have a terrific sense of fashion, which explains why many fashion houses have grown and prospered there.
Perfume is a very French thing. Any rumours that this is because they hate to immerse their bodies in water is a vile canard.
France denies that races exist. No reference to race ever takes places in the public debate and there's no definition of race in any law. When someone wants to speak about black and Arabic French, he usually uses sentences like "French originated from immigration" or "Muslims" if he's a politician, "those people" if he's an everyday racist.
The idea of having to put one's race on a census is totally alien to the French, and the government does not maintain any statistics regarding the racial or religious makeup of the population. Some events made them a bit reluctant to do so. This renders very difficult any try at Affirmative Action.
This doesn't prevent France, as stated above, from having pesky little skirmishs pop up in the banlieues.
French tend to be quite open-minded about their fellow countrymen's sexuality. François Mitterand served 14 years as a president, from 1981 to 1995, while sustaining two families (on state money), without the media ever finding the fact noteworthy. Nobody except the extreme Christian right much cared when the mayor of Paris turned out to be homosexual. And the fuss about now-former president Nicolas Sarkozy divorcing and marrying a model was more due to the bride being
incredibly hot famous. His successor, Francois Hollande, also divorced his wife while campaigning and quickly replaced his girlfriend with a mistress while in office to considerable ridicule in the American media but hardly a mention in the French press. Reportedly, French president Félix Faure (1895-99) died while getting head from his lover, Marguerite Steinheil, in the Élysée Palace; instead of being vilified, he became the butt (no pun intended!) of countless jokes and puns.
A lot of the male politicians have been known for their womanizing ways, and the news were met with reactions ranging from polite ignorance (in the case of them requiring all inclusive accommodations) to pride and admiration (in the case of them being known seducers). Of course, when IMF president Dominique Strauss-Kahn, known to be in the second category, was arrested for sexual assault in New York, that amounted to a kick in the collective unconscious groin of the French by the US, and a lot of conspiracy theories were dreamt of to excuse him (he was not found guilty, though).
Despite this sexual openness, France still didn't act on gay marriage until Spring 2013, only allowing civil unions until then that lack sorely in terms of inheritance or protection of the surviving spouse. In May 2012, newly elected president François Hollande included the legalization of same-sex marriage in his list of legislative priorities. This was passed the next year along with gay adoption, despite some of the biggest protests seen there in recent years (which is saying something).
French exports and inventions
France is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of wine in the world by volume and value. While some wine snobs claim that the only good wine is French, this is a less popular view today even within France. France is also known to make some mass-produced wine of such staggering mediocrity that even wine consumption by the French themselves has been falling in recent decades. Instead it is regularly distilled into industrial alcohol—therefore saying "This wine is only good for stripping paint" now has a certain truth behind it.
A Frenchman invented canned food. An Englishman invented the can opener.
French revolutionaries also invented the Metric system, which was why the meter was originally defined as one ten-millionth of the distance between the north pole and the equator on a line running through Paris.
No, French fries weren't invented there (that was Belgium). Nor croissants (Austria), nor the French horn (Germany), nor French kissing. They also did not invent the largely defensive weapon of guillotine, although they were the last to use it in 1977.
As a whole the French may seem more liberal than your average American politician. Even if that is debatable, it's clear than some subjects are almost unheard of in politics. For most French, seeing an American presidential candidate saying that he's anti-abortion or pandering overtly to a religious group is pure and simple madness. In the same bag, the French don't understand the discussion about creationism and the separation of church and state. French secularism dates to the third Republic (they are currently on their fifth) and has survived two world wars, one foreign occupation and several revolutions. Oh, and they recently outlawed ostentatious religious signs in school, although they also banned face covering, which include burqas, in public places, so make of that what you will.
There is a pretty strong sense of Islamophobia and antisemitism within French society, although many would argue they're not really secular as opposed to xenophobic. French Christians never have to deal with institutional discrimination, and a common catchphrase is that French Christians "wear the cross on the inside." Interestingly, their societal make-up — immigrants wanting a better life, but being mistreated frequently; a massive influx of refugees and a corresponding hatred of the refugees; religious, cultural, and racial minorities facing disenfranchisement despite being full-fledged citizens; and a political establishment that loves austerity — runs parallel to that of many of its European counterparts, including the United Kingdom.
The Fifth Republic has been dominated by Parti Socialiste and Les Républicains, though third parties have had a far greater role in the system than under first past the post. However, the party En Marche! has come to dominate French politics throughout 2017, being a centrist party, and the most pro-Europeanist major party in France. In 2017, its first election, its founder ascended to the presidency, and the party took an absolute majority in the National Assembly.
Famous Frenchmen and Frenchwomen
Important French people include the following:
- André-Marie Ampère, August-Louis Cauchy, Joseph-Louis Lagrange, Pierre-Simon de Laplace, Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier, and Henri Poincare
- Astérix and Obélix
- d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis
- Simone Beck
- M. Bigot
- Charles de Gaulle
- Pierre Beaumarchais
- Napoléon Bonaparte
- M. Chauvin
- Maurice Chevalier (Sank 'eaven for leetle girrlss -- He had more luck with that than Polanski)
- Anacharsis Cloots
- Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau
- Marie and Pierre Curie (Marie born in Poland)
- Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo)
- Simone de Beauvoir
Brigitte Bardot Gérard Depardieu
- René Descartes
- Georges-Auguste Escoffier
- Michel Foucault
- Victor Hugo
- André the Giant
- Christine Lagarde
- Marcel Marceau
- Blaise Pascal
- Louis Pasteur
- Pepé Le Pew
- Jean-Luc Picard
- Jean-Luc Godard
- François Hollande, and
Ségolène Royal, Valérie Trierweiler, Julie Gayet
- Ségolène Royal (rehabilitated April 2014)
- Jean-Marie Le Pen
- Jean-Paul Sartre
- Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and
Hélène Dumas, Brigitte Guillemette, Anne Sinclair, Myriam L'Aouffir and assorted hotel chambermaids
- Zinedine Zidane
- Donatien Alphonse Francoise, Marquis de Sade
Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, or Jeanne D'Arc as the French insist on spelling her name, is the French national symbol of resistance to foreign tyranny. She was killed by the English after the
French Burgundians sold her to them and the very king that she'd helped refused to ransom her.
The British electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the
D'Arc Dark also wrote three songs about her that were UK chart hits - you know, the waltzy one with the bagpipes and all the drums called "Maid Of Orleans (The Waltz Joan Of Arc)," and the uhm other one that they called "Joan Of Arc," and the other other one they called "La Femme Accident."
Other notable OMD songs include "Enola Gay Of Arc," "Joan of Architecture and Morality," and "Joanetic Engineering." As if we didn't have bad puns already.
Notes et références
- The French have a strange obsession with delivering medicaments per anum: Suppositories are the favoured method of delivery.
- http://spec.lib.vt.edu/archives/databook/text/chap2/2_11.htm Williams was promptly KIA, but on the plus side, got a posthumous promotion to Major and a building on the Virginia Tech campus named after him.
- BBC report on Rainbow Warrior
- France & The Bomb
- The relevant page still appears first in a Google Search for the phrase
- France - French Language Law
- Workplace language law
- Also see the Front National
- (Insert "gay Paree" joke here)
- Mariage homosexuel : Hollande suscite craintes et espoirs. Retrieved 2012/8/1.
- Same-sex marriage: French parliament approves new law. Retrieved 2016/11/15.