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French art and culture

The rich artistic and cultural heritage of France 

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See also: A short history of art in France

Art and culture: France's great historic heritage

The French are proud of their culture and their cultural heritage; and rightly so. Since the foundations of modern-day Europe were laid down in the times of Charlemagne - king of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor who died in 814 - France has been a major player, and at times the major player, on the European stage.
    In the Middle Ages, in art, architecture, music and literature, the courts and monasteries of France played a pivotal role in the development and refining of what is more generally defined as "western culture". From the Renaissance onwards, national cultures in Europe developed more independently as national languages progressively replaced Latin as vehicles for the expression of ideas and thought. monet 
   In France culture blossomed, producing specifically French traditions in literature and music, and French schools in art and architecture. It was not until the late twentieth century and the unstoppable globalisation of culture, that French art and culture began to lose their identity; and even so, there are many in France today who are determined to fight against the internationalisation of culture, and defend "French" culture against  what is perceived by many as "Anglo-Saxon" or American cultural imperialism.
     Whatever the situation today, France has  contributed massively to the common cultural heritage of humanity.
   In theatre and literature, poetry and philosophy, painting and sculpture, architecture and music, some of the greatest names in history - names such as Molière or Zola, Hugo and Voltaire, Monet, Rodin or Chopin - have been French, and their heritage remains an integral part of European culture to this day.
     Not surprisingly, France is thus an incredibly rich destination when it comes to cultural tourism. Its churches and palaces, châteaux and fortresses, museums and galleries are  a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

    This page is a hub. Use the links below to explore different aspects of the French cultural tradition, and France's amazing historic and cultural heritage.

Cultural tourism

Discover some of France's rich cultural heritage.

French art and culture

Essential background.
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