mean? What is the CGT
? What are the CRS
? Or where is the Cote
d'Azur ? Look no further, here are the answers to these
questions, and to many others concerning French words or names
beginning with C
The best known of the French stock market indices, the "CAC" (an
acronym ) is the index used to track the performance of the 40
largest capitalisations on the French stock exchange (la Bourse).
In this respect, it is the French equivalent of the FTSE 100 in the UK,
or the Dow Jones index in the USA. See also SBF 250.
manager or executive, notably in private sector employment. Though
there is no formal definition of what a cadre is, the expression is
regularly used in the language of business and industrial relations,
and having the status of cadre within an enterprise usually brings
privileges and specific terms of employment. Cadres
supérieurs are the
French equivalent of senior management. The status of cadre - albeit
undefined - is extended by the French statistical office INSEE to top
noir, le: See under Saumur.
CAF : 1) Caisse des Allocations Familiales
: the offices of the French Social Security system responsible for
paying family allowances, children's allowances, housing
and certain other allowances to eligible beneficiaries, except for
state employees who receive these allowances directly with their pay.
2) See Club
Alpin Français , below.
Café : popular
type of French drinking establishment, usually serving all types of hot
and cold drinks from coffee to spirits. Many cafés also sell
in the morning, and do meals at lunchtime, and sometime in the evening.
In Paris, cafés often charge more for drinks served at a
for drinks taken standing at the bar.
Coffee with thick cream on top. The name was given to the drink by
president Poincaré, in recognition of the resistance to the
invasion in 1914 by the Belgian defences in the area of the city of
Caisse Primaire, or CPAM
Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie, the service in charge of running
the state health insurance
in France. The CPAM is the service that receives national
insurance contributions, and reimburses most people for officially
recognised health care expenditure, such as visiting the doctor or
hospital treatment. It is the organisation from which European
Community visitors, using the European EHIC medical card, should
request reimbursement of their medical expenses in France.
: Apple brandy,
distilled from cider, and produced in the Calvados department of Normandy.
The name given to the wetlands situated in the delta of the
river, which are among the most important wetlands in Europe. The
region is famous for its pink flamingoes, its white horses and its
black bulls. It is also the only area in France where rice is grown.
: 1.) The best known of France's many soft cheeses, named after 2) a
village in Normandy.
For further details, see the Guide
to French cheeses.
: Large mail-order firm, reputed for providing good value for money,
which collapsed in late 2008. A cooperative formerly reserved for
employees of the French state education system, the
to all in its later years, in an attempt to face up to competition from
e-commerce outlets; but its high quality customer-care and after-sales
service left it with huge running costs compared to other distance
selling operations, and the firm went out of business at the end of
the second largest hotel chain in France, with 325 outlets in 2007.
this chain of two-star hotels, with restaurants, belaongs to the Louvre
Canadairs : Canadian
built planes, used by France's airborne firefighters, for combating
forest and brush fires.
Canal Plus :
France's national private encrypted pay-TV channel. Canal
has been a major investor in French film production. Canal Plus's sound
and image are normally encrypted, except for some early evening news /
current affairs programmes.
Canard Enchainé, LeSatirical
French weekly newspaper, the nearest French equivalent to the British
weekly "Private Eye". Over the years, the Canard has been instrumental
in revealing a number of political scandals and tracking down hypocricy
and shady dealings in public life..
One of the most unusual of French cheeses, almost liquid, and produced
only in the Franche Comté region..
la. The most famous street in the
Mediterranean port city of Marseilles
Cannes, Festival de Film
After the Academy Awards, the Cannes film festival is the biggest
annual event in world cinema. It is held each year in May, in the
Mediterranean coastal resort of Cannes, near Nice, and attracts the
glitterati of the world's film industry. A number of
awards are distributed at the Cannes festival, the most important being
Cannes' equivalent of the Oscar for the best film, the Palme
d'Or (golden palm);
this is one of the most coveted prizes in world cinema. Less
"commercial" than the Academy awards, the Cannes festival shows a
broader range of films from a much wider range of countries, and is in
particular the best showcase for the European cinema industry, and for
: An uncooked hard cheese
from the Cantal department in the Massif
Central mountains of Auvergne. .
A territorial subdivision of France. There are over 4000
in modern France; most of these comprise two or more communes
(see below), and serve mainly to define the constituencies used for the
election of members of Departmental (county) councils (Conseils
généraux). In rare cases, cantons may include
just a single commune;
and more rarely, the largest communes may be divided into more than one
government elections, whose purpose is to elect members
of Departmental (county) councils (Conseils
elections take place every three years, with half the seats in each
council being up for reelection each time. As for most elections in
France, voting takes place in two stages, and candidates can only go
through to the second round if they have obtained the votes of at least
10% of registered voters.
Certificat d’Aptitude Pédagogique de
Competitive exam (concours) taken by graduates
wishing to become qualified teachers (professseur
in the French state secondary education service. Competition for places
is generally keen, and those who succeed are guaranteed a tenured
teaching job in a lycée or a collège. A number of
places is fixed each
year for each subject, meaning that the level actually required to
become qualified may vary from year to year, depending on the balance
between the number of places and the number of candidates.
French twin-engined first generation jet airliner, that first entered
service in 1959. The Caravelle was produced by Sud Aviation, the
nationalised French plane manufacturer. In under 15 years of
production, 282 Caravelles were built, and sold to airlines in France,
Europe, Africa and even in the USA.
The biggest of France's retail distribution chains,
best known for its Carrefour hypermarkets, and, until 2009,
for Champion, a national chain of smaller hypermarkets and
supermarkets. In 2009, the Champion stores were rebranded as "Carrefour
Market". Carrefour is one of the world's biggest retail
and has expanded its activities worldwide.
the standard French domestic credit or debit card.
the official title of ownership of a motor vehicle in France, printed
on grey paper. The carte grise is issued by the Préfecture,
and must be
changed whenever ownership of a vehicle changes, or the owner moves to
a new department. French motorists are supposed to carry their carte
grise with them whenever using their vehicle, though not to leave the
document in the vehicle.
Carte Orange :
a card entitling residents in the greater Paris area to buy
unlimited travel pass for use on the region's public transport network.
For this and other purposes, the greater
Paris area is
divided into six concentric zones, and cards cover one or more zones,
working out from the centre to the outer zone. The system is currently
being phased out, since different Paris travel concessions are being
centralised within a new smart card system known as Navigo.
Carte verte: Green
card, the French motor insurance certificate. Cars registered and
insured in France must carry their green card at all times. Generally
speaking, French vehicle insurance is automatically valid for use in
other European countries, and in this respect the French Green card is
the equivalent of the international Green card that UK motorists must
usually purchase at extra cost if they intend to take their vehicle out
of the country.
Plastic card, with microchip, attesting that a French resident is
covered under the national health insurance scheme. Since the
introduction of the Carte Vitale, the process of payment for medicines
has been greatly simplified. By presenting their card to the chemist or
pharmacist; card holders now simply pay the difference betwen
cost and reimbursement value, and no longer have to fill
send in forms in order to claim reimbursement.
Casier judiciaire :
put bluntly, a casier judiciaire is a criminal record. Every adult
citizen in France has a casier judiciaire, but fortunately
does not mean that everyone in France has a criminal record in the
English sense of the term. Most people have what is known as a 'casier
judiciaire vierge', litterally a virgin criminal record, i.e. an empty
criminal record or no criminal record. All information is held in a
central database at Nantes; the information logged in a person's casier
judiciaire includes sentences passed by the courts, information
concerning personal bankruptcy, and certain civil or administrative
penalties. This information is not public, but elements,
an 'extrait de casier
can be made available to the courts, or to the authorities, for example
when a person is applying for a public sector job for which a clean
record is required.
: The second largest chain of retail
outlets in France, whose shops include Géant
as well as Casino supermarkets and convenience stores. See shopping in France
: The best-known of France's DIY chains,
present in or around most big towns and cities.
: short for Catéchisme,
religious instruction, preparation for la Première
communion, the Catholic equivalent of Confirmation
in the Anglican church.
CCI - Chambre de Commerce et
Chamber of commerce. These are important and effective tools for the
development of local economies in France, and are responsible for
certain local public services to industry, including professional
training and in some cases also the management of commercial
infrastructures such as ports or even airports. They are mainly
financed through a levy on firms and grants from local authorities, and
have the status of public bodies (établissements
Each chamber covers a limited geographic area, often a department,
sometimes a city, or a group of towns and cities. There are also
regional chambers of commerce.
CCP - Compte
: The name given to bank accounts with France's post office; the
banking arm of the national post office has been recently renamed La Banque Postale.
CDG - Charles de Gaulle
: The name of the principal Paris
airport, located at Roissy en France,
just north of the capital. The airport is the main long-haul and
medium-haul airport for France, but also has domestic flights. It has
two main terminals, Terminal 1 used by many international carriers, and
Terminal 2 used largely by Air France
and its partners. The airport is linked to central Paris by the RER express transit rail link, and to
many cities in France by a TGV
(high speed train) station situated beneath Terminal 2. See also Orly and le Bourget.
: Name of the administrative region in the middle of France, south west
of Paris. Capital Orléans, largest city
region is not a historic province of France, but encompasses an area
that was historically the heartland of the old kingdom of France, the
Orléanais (region of Orléans), Berry, and
Touraine (the area round
Tours). It comprises six departments, Cher,
Eure-et-Loir, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher
and Loiret. The north of the region includes the large wheat
of the Beauce, the south of the region has many forests and wetlands.
For more information see Centre
region of France regional guide .
see Collège : middle school, normally
aged 11 to 15.
One of Metropolitan France's six national parks, located
mostly in the department of the Gard, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region,
and covering a part of the Cevennes mountains, the south eastern range
of the Massif Central.
Française du Travail : one of the three big
in France, traditionally less hard-line and more consensual than the
CGT (see below).
Générale du Travail
biggest trade union in France, formerly with strong ties to the French
Communist Party. Since the 1990s, official links with the PCF have been
abandoned as the CGT has sought to modernise its image; but many GCT
activists remain members of the party.
Jacques (1915 - 2000): Conservative
prime minister of
France, 1969 - 1972. Chaban Delmas was a wartime leader in the French
Resistance movement, who entered politics in the days of the Fourth
Republic. At this time, he was a Radical and a Social Republican. He
was a minister in the centre-left coalition government of Pierre
Mendès-France in 1954-55 and minister of Defence in the
Socialist Gaillard government 1957-8. He then rallied to the Gaullist
movement in 1958, though was mistrusted by many leading Gaullists, and
did not serve as minister during the De
Gaulle presidencies, though was elected leader of the
National Assembly. He was appointed prime minister by Georges Pompidou.
As well as his national duties, Chaban-Delmas was also Mayor of
Bordeaux for 48 years, from 1947 to 1995, and also
Député for the city
- a classic example of cumul
Town lying at an altitude of 1100 metres, in the Haute Savoie
department, renowned as the French capital of mountaineering. Chamonix
is the departure point for the ascent of Mont Blanc,
by foot or by cable car. It is also a border post at the entrance to
the Mont Blanc road tunnel.
French equivalent of "bed
The most famous sparkling
wine in the world, produced in the 34,000 hectares of
registered vineyards in the
Champagne-Ardenne region of north-east France . The two main
centres for Champagne production are the areas of Reims and Epernay.
Champagne is an Appellation
name can only be used to describe sparkling wine produced in the
Champagne area. Other areas used to label traditionally produced
sparkling wines as being "méthode champenoise",
but even this
adjectival use of the word is now prohibited.
The Champagne region contains
the most northerly of France's major vineyards.
Unlike most French wines, champagnes are blended in order to produce
either non vintage champagnes (blended from different years) or vintage
champagne, blended from wines of the same harvest. Consequently, since
the quality of the champagne ultimately depends on a balance between
the quality of the grapes and the skill of the blenders, Champagnes are
also ranked and promoted by producer, not by any more finely delimited
appellation . Among the most highly rated of blends are Krug, Mumm,
Bollinger and Heidsieck, not to mention the very well known brands of
Moët & Chandon and Taittinger.
taste and purity of real champagne is certainly due to the chalky soil
and the continental growing conditions that abound in the Champagne
region. Several of the main French Champagne producers have set up
branches and vineyards in California, but in spite of bringing over
their best master-blenders, have never been able to achieve quite the
Although many people imagine that Champagnes are all white,
this is not the case. Rosé champagnes also exist.
: Region in north east France, lying betwen Paris and south west
Belgium. Capital Rheims (Reims). The region consists of four
Ardennes, Haute-Marne and
Marne. It borders on the regions of Lorraine, Franche-Comté,
Ile de France, Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It is one of France's
principal regions for the production of wheat, sugar beet and oilseed
rape, as well as including over 28,000 hectares of vineyards, mostly
for the production of Champagne. Over recent decades it has lost
population, due to rural exodus and to the attraction of other regions
with a warmer climate. For more information see Champagne region of France
regional guide .
prestigious avenue in Paris, running between the
Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe in the
Place de l'Etoile. The broad avenue is the
traditional venue for national parades, and in particular for the Bastille
Day parade on July 14th.
The street is lined by some of the most expensive shops and
Chancellerie, la :
Chancery, a name used to designate the French Ministry of Justice. See
also Garde des Sceaux.
Charles de Gaulle: See
(Paris airport) or General de Gaulle
(president of France) . Also, name of one of France's nuclear powered
: A small French Grande Ecole, founded in 1821, and located
the Sorbonne. Graduates of the school are destined for careers as
museum curators, librarians and directors of public archives.
units of the French army, responsible for search and rescue missions in
high mountain terrain, and more generally trained in mountain skills.
born 1932. (adj. Chiraquien)
Former conservative (Gaullist) President of France, from 1995 to 2007.
Chirac's reelection in 2002 was an unexpected twist of fortune, caused
by the elimination of the front-runner, socialist Lionel Jospin, pipped
into third place in the first round of the election by a surge in the
vote for the far right wing leader of the French National Front, Jean
Marie Le Pen. Facing Le Pen in
the second round,
Chirac was reelected with a massive majority in what was in essence a
contest between the the extreme right and everyone else. Had the second
round of the election been a classic left-right contest, Chirac's
re-election would not have been guaranteed.
Chirac was a highly ambitious career politician, who worked his way
rapidly up the ranks of the Gaullist movement; yet his first steps in
politics were actually as a militant for the Communist party, and as a
student he sold the communist newspaper l'Humanité on the
Paris. After graduating from "Sciences
Po", he changed tack, married into Parisian high society,
studied at the elite ENA
(Ecole Nationale d'Administration), and then began a career in
politics, working for the office of the prime minister, Georges
Pompidou. In 1976, he was appointed junior minister for employment in
the third Pompidou government, and from then after he remained one of
the most omnipresent of conservative politicians in France. From
Gaullist, he became a supporter of Valéry Giscard
during Giscard's 1974 bid for the presidency - against the Gaullist
Chaban-Delmas - and was appointed Prime Minister when Giscard won. Two
years later, he resigned, complaining that Giscard was cramping his
This was the start of his rise to the
top. No longer prime minister, in 1977 he set about building his own
power base, or rather his own two power bases, firstly as leader of a
new political party, the RPR,
created out of the old Gaullist UDR,
and secondly by becoming elected Mayor of Paris. In 1981, he challenged
Giscard for the presidency, but came third in the first round of the
election, which was won by François Mitterrand.
1986 he was clear leader of the conservative opposition. When the
conservatives won the general election of that year, he was appointed
prime minister, ushering in the first period of cohabitation
below) between a president and a government of different political
In 1988, he was again a candidate
in the presidential election, and again lost; but with his power base
in Paris and in the RPR, he then had seven years in which to prepare
his third, and first successful, challenge for the presidency.
He served two terms as president, the
seven years, the second of five – though as already stated,
reelection in 2002 was more due to the failure of the Socialist
campaign and the surprise presence of Le Pen in the second round, than
in his own popularity. It is still rather early to judge the Chirac
presidency in a historic perspective, but early appraisals suggest that
it will not be remembered as a great period in French history. It was a
time during which France dramatically failed to adapt to the changes in
the modern world - the end of the Cold War and the challenge of
globalisation - and failed to push through
the social and
economic reforms that were allowing other developed nations such as
France, Germany or Spain, to find their place in the new world order.
CHU, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire
- University hospital, teaching hospital.
The Fifth Republic, the current constitutional structure of France, set
up in 1958. It is a parliamentary democracy, with unusually strong
presidential powers. See Constitution
Electoral constituency. There are currently 555 electoral
constituencies in Metroploitan France, plus 15 for the
departments, and 7 for other overseas territories. Though
each constituency returns a single député to
constituencies are massively imbalanced in terms of representation; in
2007, 18 constituencies had under 70,000 voters (the smallest having
less than half that figure), while the 21 largest constituencies each
had over 140,000 voters. A redefining of electoral boundaries has been
recommended by the Constitutional Council, and new constituiencies
should be defined by 2009
a complex of buildings, but not usually in the sense of the English
word "city". By itself the word most commonly means a housing
development, usually but not always social housing. The term is used in
a number of common compound expresions. See below.
local government offices.
Cité scolaire :
normally an educational complex including at least two different
schools, or else one school and other educational facilities
Cité universitaire : University
halls of residence (en-gb), or student dormitories (en-us),
heavily subsidised but fairly basic forms of accommodation for students.
: One of France's three major brands of car. Citroën is now
PSA, the Peugeot-Citroën group. the company was particularly
the 1960s and 1970s for its idiosyncratic and innovative models, such
as the iconic 2CV or "Deux
the most basic production car ever mass-produced, or the aerodynamic DS
(Déesse), one of the most comfortable cars ever produced, on
Claret : Word used
in English to describe red wines from the Bordeaux area. The French
from which claret is derived, is not used in this sense in France.
Literally a claret means a red wine that is lighter (plus clair) than
the darker reds from the Mediterranean area.
classes provided in major lycées ,
for competitive exams for entry into selective institutes of
higher education. See article on Higher education in
fictitious village that has come to represent the
community in deepest France, with its ridiculous petty squabbles and
rivalries. The village was created by author Gabriel Chevallier in the
eponymous comic novel, published in 1934 and popular ever since.
Club Alpin Français -.officially
since 2005 the FFCAM. Founded in 1874, this is a large association of
hikers, mountaineers and mountain-lovers; it is a lobby for the
sometimes contradictory causes of the development of mountain areas for
sport and outdoor activities, and the protection of the mountain
environment. It manages a network of 131 high-mountain refuges,
and visitor centres.
CNPF : Conseil National du
Patronat Français - Former confederation of
industry, see MEDEF.
COB – Commission des
de Bourse :
the watchdog responsible for overseeing trading operations on the
French stock exchange, which was merged in 2003 into a new
organization, the AMF.
cockerel : In
the bestiary of symbolism, the cock is the symbolic creature for
France, as the lion is for England or the dragon for Wales. This
symbolism is very ancient, having its roots in Gallo-Roman times due to
a partial homonymy between the Latin word Gallus, a cock, and Gallia,
Gaul - the Latin name for the area today known as France. The effigy of
the cock is still used as a symbol of modern France; it features on the
great seal of state, standing on the rudder of the ship steered by
Liberty. However, le coq
is most commonly seen as a symbol or mascot for French teams in the
world of sport.
Cocos, les : slang
for Communists, the equivalent of "Commies".
Civil : Also known as the Code Napoléon
. The compendium of French Civil law, originally drawn up under
Napoleon. The Code Civil covers the principles of the rule of law,
family law, property law, contract law and individual rights and
du Travail : The very complex and full set of
rules and regulations covering employment and labour law in France.
Cognac: Cognac is a
brandy produced in the Charentes
area of southwest France, around the town of Cognac. Cognac is
distilled from the local wine, which is also used in the production of
a fruity apéritif wine known as Pineau des Charentes.
Cohn Bendit, Daniel
: Nicknamed "Danny le rouge".
Cohn-Bendit was the most famous and charismatic of
leaders of the left-wing student uprising in 1 968, which
toppled the government of General de
the events, Cohn-Bendit, who had dual French and German
nationality, left France and settled in Germany, where he more recently
achieved prominence as a Euro MP, and member of the German Green Party.
He has been a MEP for both the French and the German Green
parties, and was reelected in 2009, when he led the greens to a
remarkable third place in the popular vote, within a few thousand votes
of the Socialist party.
school, the intermediate level in French school education between
primary school and lycée. For more details see Primary and
Secondary Education in France.
de France : Founded by François I in
located close to the Sorbonne in
Paris, the Collège de France is an academy of learning which
the normal education system. It provides a programme of lectures and
seminars conducted by some of the greatest academics in France, but
open to the public. It does not deliver any degrees or diplomas.
Members are elected for life from among leading academics, and the
title Professeur au
Collège de France is the highest distinction
les Deux Eglises : Village in the
Haute Marne department of Champagne-Ardenne in
which General de Gaulle
had his country retreat, la Boisserie. De Gaulle died here in 1970, and
is buried in the village churchyard, which has become a pilgrimage
point for his followers. Political leaders regularly make a point of
visiting Colombey in order to demonstrate their attachment to the
Gaullist heritage. Contrary to a popular misconception, de Gaulle was
not born here, nor was Colombey the ancestral seat of his family.
Coluche : Michel
Gérard Joseph Colucci (1944-1986) - Very popular
comedian, whose most outstanding legacy was to have set up the "Restos du coeur",
a national chain of associations working to provide food for the
homeless and the needy, particularly in winter. Coluche died in a
motorcycle accident, while at the height of his popularity.
the original and most prestigious of France's national theatres, and
the only state theatre with a permanent troup of actors. Founded in
1680 under Louis XIV, it has been associated with many of the most
famous playwrights in french history, from Molière onwards.
theatre is based (since 1799) in the Salle Richelieu, in the Palais
Royal in the centre of Paris (1° arrondissement).
Works council. Structure representing the interests of employers and
employees within a company or place of work. Comités
been obligatory since 1945 in all companies with 50 employees or more.
When a company has more than one site, they are called Comités
These committees must, by law, meet at periodic intervals, and are the
channel through which management normally communicates important
information to the workforce. Employers must consult with the
committees on a number of major types of development concerning the
future of the company, such as restructuring, collective layoffs, or
significant changes in work practices. However in such matters the
committees have only a consultative role, and cannot impose their view
on management. Their main active role is to manage social and cultural
activities in the company. Comités d’entreprise
are made up of
management, elected representatives of the workforce, and sometimes -
as non-voting observers - appointed trade union
Elected members serve a term of between 2 and 4 years. Frequently, but
by no means always, they are trade union representatives.
Communauté de communes:
local government administrative structure, whereby several communes
, particularly small communes, manage local affairs coherently as a
group of communes, rather than each one acting independently.
basic unit of local government and administration in France.
Established after the French Revolution in 1789, the commune system of
local administration was designed for another age, in which France was
very much a rural nation. Even today, there are still over 36,000
communes, each with its Maire and
council, each with its budget and responsibilities, including local
taxation and local public services. Needless to say, with some
small rural communes having less than 1000 inhabitants, finding enough
skilled people to run a modern commune is often a hard task; yet in
spite of efforts to rationalise, such as the grouping of rural communes
into Communautés de communes, the system
resistant to change, the loss of a commune being frequently seen as the
loss of local identity, not to mention the loss of a local power base
See commune de Paris
de Paris: Revolutionary
proto-communist administration that governed Paris for two months in
1871, following French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. The people
running the Commune de Paris were known as Communards, not
Républicaine de Sécurité,
voluntary additional retirement pension, based on the
personal contributions made during a persons's working life.
The French equivalent of the cheese that
in Switzerland is called Gruyère. Comté is an AOC
cheese, manufactured only from the milk of Montbéliard cows,
upland pastures in the Franche Comté
of the Swiss border.
Franco-British supersonic aircraft, in service from 1976 to 2003: the
world's only supersonic commercial airliner. Concorde had a
distinguished career, until this was brought to a stop
fatal accident in the year 2000, at Gonesse, near Paris. All Concordes
were withdrawn from service (by BA and Air France) following
disaster, and though the plane later took to the air again, commercial
operations were stopped in 2003, following further fears about the
plane's safety. Concorde was a magnificent product of the brave new
world of 1960's optimism, designed at a time when environmental
considerations and fuel economy were just not issues. Its extravagent
operating costs meant that it was never really profitable except on the
London-New York route, and was never bought by any airlines
than the British and French national flag carriers. It was nonetheless
a magnificent symbol of prestige, used by Presidents and other VIPs, as
well as a fantastic technological achievement. This technological
prowess seems even more significant, when one remembers
that Concorde was designed and built at a time when computer
operated systems were in their infancy.
This is the expression used to describe industrial unrest, or tensions
between employers and employees in the workplace. Generally speaking,
les conflits sociaux include all kinds of industrial unrest, in
particular strikes (les
grèves), working-to-rule (grève du
France does not have a permanent Arbitration and Conciliation service,
but in the event of a major stoppage, a médiateur can be
try and find a solution to the conflict. France has a reputation of
being a country of strikers, but this is not really the case. Conflits
sociaux are relatively unusual in the private sector, but do tend to be
more common in a number of high-profile public-sector areas, such as
the state education system, and the SNCF,
where they can have a massive impact on everyday life.
French trade unions (Syndicats),
notably the CGT and SUD, tend
to be rather quicker on the draw when it comes to calling strikes, than
their counterparts in other parts of Europe, but
negotiation is increasingly seen as a better solution than resorting to
le: The French Congress, a joint convention of the two
chambers of Parliament, the Assemblée Nationale
the Sénat, required for the voting of
changes to the Constitution.
Defining congress, 1971, in the life of the French Socialist party. It
was at this congress that the Mitterrand faction took control
the newly formed Socialist party, setting the ball rolling for the
party's rise towards government.
Popularly known as Bidasses, conscrits were young men engaged in
military service, le service national, in France, until this was phased
out in 1997.
Composed of nine nominated members, the Constitutional Council, like
the US Supreme Court, oversees the running of elections in France, and
can be called upon to rule on the constitutionality of legislation
passed by the French parliament. See Government and politics in
Conseil départemental :
the local authority responsible for the running of a French
"département" or county. Formerly known as the "Conseil
Conseil des Ministres.
French Cabinet (in British English) or Administration (in US English).
In France - unusually for a parliamentary democracy - the Cabinet is
presided over by the head of state, the Président. Cabinet
usually take place each week on Wednesdays, in the Elysée
President's official residence. See Government and politics in
The highest administrative court in France, the Council of State is the
body ultimately responsible for determining the legality of
administrative measures. It may also be consulted by the government to
determine the legality of forthcoming decrees
or parliamentary bills.
Conseil du Culte Musulman :
the French Muslim council, a body responsible for overseeing Islamic
affairs in France
Former name given to county councils in France, the local authority responsible for running a
French département, and now known as the "Conseil départemental".
Conseil Régional :
Regional council, the local authority responsible for running
a French administrative region.
public sector music school. Most French towns and
have their conservatoire de musique; musical education is technical and
classic, and strongly competitive. Students who do not reach the grade
are not allowed to continue; those who complete their studies become
higly competent musicians,and often go on to become music teachers or
professionals. The top Conservatoire is the "Conservatoire de
Paris", whose diplomas are highly prestigious.
the French. France is a republic; the institutions of governance of
France are defined by the Constitution, more specifically by the
current constitution, being that of the Cinquième
République, or Fifth
Republic. The Constitution has been modified several times since the
start of the Fifth Republic, most recently in July 2008, when the
French Congrès approved - by 1 vote over
majority required - constitutional changes proposed by President Sarkozy.
The Fifth Republic was established in 1958, and was largely the work of
Gaulle - its first president, and Michel Debré
his prime minister. It has been amended 17 times. Though the French
constitution is parliamentary, it gave relatively extensive powers to
the executive (President and Ministers) compared to other western
Council, see Conseil Constitutionnelle
de travail : All private
sector and contractual public sector employees working in France
under French law require a work contract. There are two basic
categories of contract, the CDD (Contrat à
fixed-term contract, and the CDI (Contrat à
permanent contract. All types of contract must stipulate working
conditions and hours, and provide for employee rights in terms of paid
holiday. All work contracts provide social security and health cover.
On account of the complexities and difficulty of terminating CDI
contracts, many employers prefer to use CDD contracts whenever
possible, particularly for new recruits and young employees. There are
however rules to prevent employers signing successions of CDD contracts
where a CDI contract would be quite feasible.
complexity of the system is judged to be one of the reasons behind the
high level of youth unemployment in France (19.4% in 2007, compared to
an EU average of 15.2% according to Eurostat).
proposed reforms to work-place legislations have long been plans to
simplify the system of employment contracts, notably with the
introduction of a contrat unique, or standard work contract, that no
longer distinguishes between-fixed term and permanent contracts.
Première Embauche, CPE : The CPE was
by the Villepin
government in 2006, in an attempt to reduce France’s high
youth unemployment. It created a new form of work contract for young
people, with less guarantees of job security than normal French work
contracts. Left-wing student unions, encouraged by opposition parties,
protested vigorously against the new contract, calling it
discriminatory against youth, and an attack on the acquired social
rights of employees. It was portrayed as a contract by which employers
would be free to sack young employees without reason. In scenes
reminiscent of 1968 (see soixante-huit), students
closed down a
number of universities and set up barricades. After initially refusing
to give in, the government eventually decided to scrap the CPE which by
the, according to opinion polls, had become a very unpopular plan.
Coq sportif, le : A
designer brand of French sportswear. See Cock above.
Corail, train. Comfortable
intercity express trains running on routes not designed for TGVs. Since
2004, express services on several long-distance routes have been
upgraded with the introduction of newer "Corail Téoz"
carriages. See Rail
Travel in France
Corse - Corsica . One
of the larger islands in the Mediterranean, lying south east of the
French Riviera, and north of Sardinia, Corsica is an integral part of
metropolitan France, and has the status of a region. It is divided into
two departments, Corse-du-sud
(Southern Corsica) and Haute Corse (Upper
Corsica). See also the following article.
Corse, la Question. Corsica,
the large island lying between France and Italy, has long been the
scene of periodic violence, including bombings and assassinations,
perpetrated by radical nationalists against symbols of French
government. Corsican nationalist parties and factions have strong local
support, though it is clear that most Corsicans do not want
independence from France. The Corsican question has dragged
for four decades or more, damaging the Island's economy and tourist
industry; and while there is less in the way of violence today than
there was at times in the past, the problem shows no sign of going
d'Azur : the
French Riviera, the Mediterranean coast of France, between Toulon and
the Italian border. The area includes many of France's most prestigeous
resorts, such as Saint Tropez, Antibes, Juan les Pins and St. Jean Cap
Côte d'Emeraude : name
of the northern coast of Brittany,
betwen Cancale in the east, and Cap Fréhel in the west. Its
important towns are St Malo and Dinard.
Côte d'Opale :
the north east coastline of France, bordering the Straits of Dover, and
stretching from the Baie de Somme to the Belgian border.
Major French vineyard. The Côtes du Rhône vineyard
runs for over 200
kilometres down the Rhone valley from the south of Lyons to the
Camargue. Within the region, there are a number of prestigious smaller
areas such as Côte Rotie (in the northern part of the
Hermitage or Chateauneuf du Pape (near Avignon). The vast majority of
Côtes du Rhône wine is sold under the generic
appellations, "Côtes du
Rhône" or "Côtes du Rhone Villages".
Côtes du Rhône wines are blended
from several different grape varieties, including most notably
Viognier, Syrah, and Grenache. Price-wise, Côtes du
Rhône are often at
the cheaper end of the "appellation contrôlée"
social security and health insurance contributions, paid in France by
both employers and employees. The levels are high, and add over 50% to
basic wage costs in France; but they are still insufficient to pay for
the cost of running France’s very full social and health
Coupe de France :
the French national football cup
d'Appel. Appeals court
court, the major criminal courts, with judges and juries, in which
people accused of serious crimes are judged and sentenced.
de Cassation. The highest appeal court in
France, equivalent in this respect to the House of Lords in the UK or
the Supreme Court in the USA.
Accounts court, or Public Auditor's Office. The mission of the Cour des
Comptes is to audit the accounts of public bodies, notably the accounts
of the state, of the Social Security system, and private bodies using
public funds. The Cour des Comptes is independent of the government. In
the regions, public accounts - for instance those of Departments or
Universities - are audited by the Chambre Régional
Crédit Agricole: a
semi cooperative bank, the biggest retail banking
France, and the second largest in Europe. It is quoted on the Paris
Stock Exchange, and on the New York stock exchange, and is a CAC 40
company. Crédit Agricole was founded in the nineteenth
provide local banking facilities for France's millions of small farmers
- a function that it still fills to this day. Today, the
Agricole is made up of 39 autonomous cooperative regional banks (caisses régionales),
which together have over 7,000 retail banking outlets in France.
However it is also a major corporate player, with private investors as
well as its co-operative owners, and owns, or has a major stake in, a
dozen banks outside France. It also now owns LCL, the former
Crédit Lyonnais -
One of the big French retail banks. Once one of the biggest
in France, the Crédit Lyonnais was a nationalised
to 1999. Duing the 1980s, the bank ran up massive debts due to bad
loans and financial scandals, some of them involving subsidiaries and
operations in the USA. The bank was saved from collapse by a massive
rescue operation by the French state. In 2003, the Crédit
bought by rival bank Crédit Agricole (see above), many of
activities were wound down, and its high-street banks began trading as
a sparkling wine very similar to Champagne, but produced in a different
area of France. Notably Crémant de Bourgogne,
and Crémant d'Alsace. these wines are generally produced in
same way as Champagne, can be as good as ordinary Champagne, but are
far cheaper because they do not have the same prestigious name.
Edith (born 1934).
Prime minister of France 1991-1992. The first (and only) woman to have
been appointed Prime minister of France, Edith Cresson is also the
shortest-serving prime minister of the Fifth Republic. As prime
minister, she rapidly lost popularity, and led the Socialists to a
resounding defeat in the 1992 regional elections. She was later
appointed European commissioner, but resigned four years later
amid allegations of corruption directed against her
and against the Santer commission, of which she was a member. In 2006,
the European court of Justice found her guilty of favouritism during
her time in office.
The seaside boulevard at Cannes. The Cannes congress centre,
which hosts the annual Cannes Film Festival, is located
the Croisette, which stretches for about 1.5 miles along the shore of
Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité.
The CRS are best known for their
role as French riot police. This reputation was originally acquired in
1968, when they were used with great effect as frontline troops by the
government in order to contain and repel protesting students and
factory workers. They are regularly called out to supervise large
street demonstrations, to protect public buildings, and to intervene
the moment things get out of hand. Among their other jobs are the
protection of government ministers, supporting other police forces when
they are stretched, and undertaking motorcycle patrols on main roads.
bourgeois region;; quality label given
to some wines from the Bordeaux lower than a Grand Cru
classification, but superior to the standard Appellation
designation. for further details, see wines section..
de l'Audiovisuel. The official watchdog overseeing the broadcast media
Cumul des mandats.Expression
used to describe the cumulation, by a single politician, of a range of
different representative functions, such as parliamentarian and mayor,
or mayor and president of a regional council. The principle
combining different representative roles is deeply anchored in the
French political tradition, where national politicians frequently built
up their reputation and power bases in their local fiefdoms, and local
politics were often in the hands of local "notables" with their fingers
in many pies. . Jacques Chirac, for example, had a range of elected and
ministerial jobs, and was at one time simultaneously
député for the Corrèze
department, President of the General council of Corrèze, and
Paris. Since the 1990's, there have been attempts to outlaw the
practice of double mandates. Lionel Jospin forbade ministers in his
government from being mayor at the same time, and this
rule continued to be applied - more or less - until the end of the
Chirac presidency. Since the start of the Sarkozy presidency, it has
been enforced less stringently. According to a 2007 opinion poll for Le Nouvel Observateur,
74% of French people disapprove of the principle of cumul des mandats.
Reform of this aspect of French life would surely be appreciated by
voters, but the principle is so well rooted in the French
socio-political system, and so many decision-makers and advisors- of
all political persuasions - have a vested interest in the system, that
this is a reform that will likely prove very difficult to implement.
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