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A Dictionary of France

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  The About-France.com thematic guide to France   - French institutions, society, travel and tourism.

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A dictionary of France, including institutions, places, a few significant people (excluding film stars and "people" people), French specialities, and a selection of other useful or intriguing expressions....

A B C D E F G H I
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R S T U V W X Y Z


K-bis (Pronounced Car-bis) : an "Extrait K-bis" is an official document certifying that a company is duly registered as such, and thus has a legal existence. Delivered by the local Tribunal de commerce, or Commercial tribunal, it provides a brief but detailed statement of the company's legal status, identity, ownership, and field of business. It is sometimes demanded by banks and administrations, or by corporate suppliers who require a guarantee before opening up an account for a new customer

Kanaks : Indiginous inhabitants of the French south pacific territory of New Caledonia (Nouvelle Calédonie).

Képi :  cylindrical cap worn as formal headwear by soldiers and gendarmes in France.  As a form of headwear rarely found outside France or areas of French influence, the képi has become one of the iconic symbols of France. For instance almost all the famous photos and cartoons of General de Gaulle show him wearing his general's képi.  See photo of General de Gaulle, top of page.

Khâgne: The first year of classes préparatoires in the litterary stream. Students who have just passed the litterary or economics/social baccalaureate, and who want to take the concours (competitive entrance exams) for certain grandes écoles, may well choose to stay on for two more years at lycée, in small select classes called khâgne and hypokhâgne, rather than enrol in large classes in the first two years of university arts or social science faculties.  See Higher Education in France

Kiabi : Major chain of off-the-peg clothing retail outlets in France, founded in 1978. In mid 2008, Kiabi had about 150 outlets in France, plus outlets in Spain, Italy  and the Middle East. Kiabi belongs to the Mulliez group, one of France's large family companies that also owns the Auchan hypermarket chain (q.v.). The name is a play on words: put the name of a town after it, for instance "Kiabi Paris", and it sounds just like "Qui habille Paris?", or Who clothes Paris?

Kinésithérapeutie:  physiotherapy

Kir  :  popular apéritif drink, also known as a "blanc-cassis" or a "blanc-ca", made up of a dash of blackcurrant liqueur in a glass of white whine.  an alternative version, called Kir Royal, is a dash of blackcurant liqueur in a glass of champagne or sparkling white wine. The drink is named in honour of Chanoine Kir (Canon Félix Kir), a catholic priest who became a Resistance heron in World War II, and later mayor of Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, and who regularly offered it to guests. Blackcurrants are a local speciality in the Dijon area.

Kouchner, Bernard : born 1939. Doctor, politician.  Kouchner was co-founder of the international medical charity Médecins sans Frontières (q.v.) . As a politician, he was a leading member of the Socialist Party, and held ministerial portfolios, as Minister of health, under four Socialist prime ministers. However, disappointed by the failure of the Socialist Party to modernise, he was one of the leading Socialists to accept an invitation to join the "open" conservative government of François Fillon, following the election of President Sarkozy. He remained France's foreign secretary until 2010, when he was replaced by Michèle Aliot Marie.

Krazucki, Henri : (1924 - 2003)  Of Polish-Jewish extraction, Krazucki was born in Warsaw,   For four decades he held senior positions in the French Communist Party, and from 1982 to 1992 was Secretary General of the CGT, France's biggest trade union.

Krivine, Alain : (Born 1941) Once one of the leaders of the student uprising in France in 1968, Alain Krivine has remained a militant Trotskyist all his life, and a member of the extreme left-wing political party, the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, or LCR. Thanks to the system of proportional representation, he was elected and sat as an MEP in the European parliament from 1998 to 2004.

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