is the Académie
What do the letters AFP
stand for? What was the Appel
du 18 juin?
Look no further, here are the answers to these questions, and to many
others concerning French words, initials, eponyms or names beginning
Photo top of page: the A
- Agriculture Biologique -
label is a French certification for organic food products. The word "bio" or "biologique" are the
French words for "organic", in the food and agricultural meaning of the
most commonly used to refer to the Local Education Authority in a
French region, as in "L'Académie
de Dijon", which is the local education authority for the
Burgundy area. The director of an Académie
is a senior civil servant known as the Rector (le
. The French Academy is an academy of letters, whose main function is
to monitor and prescribe the development of the French language. It is
one of the mostr respected of French institutions. Founded in
1635 during the reign of King Louis XIII, it is a
self-perpetuating Academy of forty members, known as "les Imortelles".
Academicians are elected for life by the other Academicians. The
Acadamy publishes an official dictionary of the French language, but
its opinions are not always respected even by the writers of official
documents. In recent years, the Academy has been slow to adapt to the
changes in the French language resulting from the influence of English
and American, and of youth culture in general. It has fought a
rearguard but generally unsuccessful action to preserve the French
language from contamination by English; some successes have however
been marked up, such as the replacement of "une pipeline"
by "un oléoduc"
the main word to describe a pipeline, "pipeline" has
virtually disappeared from modern French), or - to a lesser extent - "hit
now coexists with "palmarès".
Yet in spite of its efforts, the flow of neologisms from
English to French continues unabated.
The official document, signed by all parties concerned,
attesting the sale of a property. See buying property in France.
Acte notarié A
document of any sort whose
authenticity is duly vouched for by the signature of a notaire
(notary, or lawyer).
wing urban guerilla organisation responsible between 1979 and 1987 for
a campaign of bombings and assassinations, including that of the former
Renault boss Georges Besse; allied for a period with Germany's Red Army
Faction. The group was always very small, with only a handful
of active participants.
Digital Subscriber Line) : the expression generally used in France to
describe a broadband Internet connection or service.
normalisation : the AFNOR is the French standards
and a member of the International Standards
Organisation (ISO). It is responsible for determining French
industrial standards, in line with European standards, and if necessary
overseeing their application. AFNOR delivers certificates of
conformity, allowing products to display the AFNOR label, the French
equivalent of Britain's Kitemark.
- Agence France Presse:
The main French press agency (like Reuter's in the UK or AP in the
USA), providing raw news and information to the press and broadcast
media in France and worldwide. AFP is the world's oldest
established news agency, founded in 1835 by Charles-Louis Havas, the
father of global journalism.
: see Agrégation
The Agrégation is a competitive exam for the recruitment of
privileged category of secondary-school (high school) teachers in
France, known as agrégés. The system was first
introduced in 1766. The
exam is open to candidates who are either already qualified secondary
teachers, or else students who have already completed at
least one year of postgraduate studies (a maîtrise
or the first year of a masters). Each year, a number of places are made
available in each of the subjects for which an Agrégation
There are always far more candidates than places, since
obtaining the agrégation puts teachers or future teachers on
track to promotion, gives them less teaching hours than ordinary
qualified teachers, better chances of getting a job in a top
in some though not all cases is a virtual prerequisite for applying for
lectureships in French universities. Though the agrégation
specifically a qualification for the teaching profession, the
competitive exam itself has little or nothing to do with teaching,
being academic and research-based. Consequently, the system has been
regularly criticized from within the teaching world as being outdated
and inappropriate. In the disciplines of law and
medicine, the agrégation is specifically a
for the qualification of university professors.
French national airline, which merged with KLM in 2007.
The main operator of domestic flights in France, and one of
the world's biggest international airlines.
française. The French equivalent of
the British Council, a public agency in charge of promoting French
culture and the French language in France and worldwide.
Founded in 1883, the Alliance runs the flagship school in
Paris (website) dedicated to the teaching
of French as a foreign language , plus language schools in
other French cities and abroad. It also runs teacher training
courses, oversees certification of diplomas, and promotes French
culture and cultural events abroad.
France's and Europe's highest mountain range. The summit of Mont Blanc,
the highest peak in the Alps, is situated on the French-Italian border.
The French Alps spread over two regions, Rhone Alpes in the north, and
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south.
easterly region of France, lying between the Vosges mountains
and the Rhine, capital Strasbourg.
Many of the inhabitants of this
region are bilingual, speaking both French and Alsatian, a dialect of
German. See the Alsace
vins d'. Alsace wines, mostly white. See the Guide to French Wines and Wine regions.
AMF - Autorité des
Marchés Financiers : Founded in 2003, the AMF is
the watchdog body
responsible for overseeing operations on the French stock exchange, la Bourse.
The AMF resulted from the merging of the former COB,
the CMF (Conseil des marchés financiers) and the CDGP. It
on Britain's Financial Services Authority, though does
not cover quite the same range of responsibilities as the latter.
that ran onto rocks off the Breton coast in 1978, causing one of the
world's major oil spillages. 1.6 million barrels of oil spilled into
the ocean, and a lot of it ended up on the Breton coast.
or amuse-bouche :
more formally known as Mise en bouche : appetizer, small savoury pastry
or delicacy presented usually with an apéritif or a pre-meal
Agence Nationale Pour l'Emploi - the former French equivalent of UK
Jobcentres. Publicly run employment offices, the ANPE were merged into
a new structure known as Pole Emploi
at the start of 2009.
protégée. See Appellation
the former name of what is now known as France 2, the main
public television channel in France.
du 18 Juin -
the most famous wartime speech made by General de Gaulle
on 18 June 1940, calling all Frenchmen to arms in defence against the
Nazi invader. The speech was given from London, on the airwaves of the
BBC, and was widely printed and circulated in France from the next day
onwards. It is generally considered to be the founding speech of the
French Resistance movement.
contrôlée (or AOC)…
Quality label used to given to certain types of food or drink (notably wines and cheeses) that come from a
specific geographic area, and are produced according to specific
quality and quantity criteria. Since 2009, AOC labels are in
the process of becoming AOP labels, Appellation d'Origine
following a shake up in wine classification affecting the whole
The south west region
of France, capital Bordeaux. It covers large parts
of the historic provinces of Guyenne and Gascony, and stretches from
Perigord in the north to the Pyrenees in the south. For more
information see Aquitaine
regional guide .
The great triumphal arch located in Paris, at
la Place de l'Etoile, the top end of the Champs Elysées,
Louvre and la Défense. The arch was commissioned by
Napoléon in 1806
de Triomphe, Prix
the "Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe" is one of the four great
events in the French horse racing calendar. It is a 2400 metre flat
race, run each year at the racecourse at Longchamp, just outside Paris,
on the first Sunday in October.
L' : Famous
French car magazine, listing the resale prices of used cars. The
de l'argus" is used as a benchmark when buying or selling a used
phasing out of conscription in 2001,
the French armed forces have become fully professional. In 2001, the
total manpower of the French military was 516,112 people, 216,538 of
them in the Armée de Terre (the land
in the Armée de l'Air (the Air Force),
in the Marine Nationale (the navy). The total
figure also includes 100,358 men and women in the Gendarmerie,
which, though a police force, is considered as one of the armed forces
in France. A further 65,964 people were employed in
general military support and social services.
An arrêté is an order, a
decree or a by-law, signed by someone in power, such as a minister or
the head of some level of territorial authority. An arrêté
préfectoral is thus a by-law or order, signed by
and applying to some issue, location or activity under his jurisdiction.
word used to define the administrative districts of the major French
cities, notably Paris, Lyon and Marseilles.
The city of Paris (that is Paris within the limits of the old walls and
the modern boulevard périphérique)
is divided into 20
numbered clockwise and in concentric circles from the centre. Probably
the two most famous arrondissements are the fifth, containing the Latin
quarter and the Sorbonne, and the
sixteenth, the most affluent district of central Paris. Each
arrondissement has its local council and its mayor, as well as its town
hall or hotel de ville.
Controversial article in the
constitution of the Fifth
constitution), allowing a government to push unpopular measures through
pariliament without a vote. In 2008, President Sarkozy introduced a constitutional
reform which, among other things, limited the scope of
application of this article.
popularly used to refer to the University
of Paris II. Paris II was created in 1968, when the big University of
Paris was broken down into constituent elements. Assas is principally
renowned as France's main law school, though it also offers
courses in business, politics and economics. Its students have a
reputation of being rather conservative. Former students include
President Mitterrand, and former prime ministers Michel Rocard,
Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique de Villepin.
pour l'emploi dans l'industrie et le
commerce : Organisations responsible for collecting
unemployment benefit contributions from employers, and distributing
unemployment benefit to claimants. ASSEDIC are also responsible for
overseeing the management of unemployment in France, and
the training of job-seekers. Since January 2009, the ASSEDIC
has been merged with the ANPE.
The principal French legislative assembly, also referred to as the
Chambre des Députés. The Assembly is made up of
members of parliament who are elected by direct universal suffrage
during legislative elections that take place every five years. In the
event of disagreement between the National Assembly and the Senate,
it is the opinion of the Assembly that takes precedence.
literally sworn in. Adjective describing an official or individual who
has taken an oath of office, or been sworn in. Foreigners in France may
sometimes need to provide certified translations of official documents
from their country of origin. These must be translated into French by a
state recognised translator, who has been sworn in as a translator, and
is known as a traducteur
The official French definition of a duly constituted and
registered non-profit organisation, as specified by a law on non-profit
associations passed in 1901.
doubt the most famous French cartoon character, first created
in 1959 by writer René Goscinny and illustrator
Uderzo. Asterix, a small but determined Gaul, first appeared
in the French comic Pilote, and the first of the popular albums came
out in 1961. Over 30 albums have been published, and several films
made; Asterix books have been translated into over 100 languages,
including Latin and Ancient Greek. Set in Roman times, the albums tell
of the adventures of Asterix and Obelix
, a joyous Laurel-and-Hardy type pair of heroes who lead the
resistance of the ultimate Gaulish village that refuses to bow to the
Roman occupier. The stories can be read on many levels, are witty and
full of inuendo, and thus appeal to readers of all ages.
Parc. Amusement park north of Paris, devoted to
the cartoon character Astérix and his
1950. Daughter of Jacques Delors, Martine Aubry is a French socialist
politician, elected as leader of the Socialist Party (PS) in November
2008 after a fierce contest with her centre-left rival
As minister of employment in the Jospin government from 1997 to 2000,
Aubry is best known for having introduced the statutory 35-hour working
week into French labour law, a move heavily criticized by her political
opponents, as having severly damaged France's international
competitiveness and thereby boosted unemployment rather than reducing
it. Though the Jospin government to which she belonged was committed to
getting rid of "cumul des mandats", Aubry in early 2009 was
simultaneously first secretary of the Socialist Party, Mayor
and president of the Lille metropolitan area.
As leader of the PS, she was much criticised from
within, firstly for her very narrow
victory in the leadership contest (50.04%), secondly for being a
"three-day-week" leader of the PS (the rest of the week being devoted
to her functions in Lille) and thirdly for leading the party to its
hitherto worst electoral score, in the 2009 European elections, where
Socialists obtained under 15% of the vote, just a short way in front of
the Green party.
Since the Strauss-Kahn affair rocked
the Socialist party in 2011, Aubry was one of the two main
contenders for nomination as the PS's candidate in the French 2012
Presidential election - the other being her predecessor the more social
democratic François Hollande. Following Hollande's
she took an unofficial role as head of the left-wing opposition
within Hollande's own Socialist party, subsequently moving off the
national political scene to concentrate on her role as Mayor of the
city of Lille
of the main French hypermarket chains, owned by the Mulliez family.
Gare d'. The principal Paris railway terminus
serving routes to the south west, a segment stretching from Toulouse
to the Loire Valley. A significant
long distance express traffic was removed from the Gare d'Austerlitz
from 1989 onwards, following the opening of the south western TGV
line, that terminates at Gare Montparnasse.
Austerlitz is the name of one of the famous military
victories of Napoleon, in 1805.
business structure introduced in 2009, to encourage entrepreneurship in
France. The system has proved even more successful than predicted, and
hundreds of thousands of people signed up for the new status in the
first six months. The great attraction and innovation of this system is
its simplicity. In the past, setting up as a sole trader or
self-employed in France was a very complex formality,
involving registration with at least three different organisations
(depending on the nature of the work), for tax , social security and
health service benefits; it was also fiscally heavy, with
high contributions to the various "caisses", bearing no
relation at all to actual earnings during the first two years.
The new "statut de l'autoentrepreneur" has done
away with all this; signing up is a simple process, done on
line, and those choosing this status have one single periodic payment
to make, covering all their social security and health contribution
charges, and even income tax. Payments are strictly based on actual
earnings, so a self employed person who earned only 10 Euros in a poor
month now pays his social security charge as a proportion of the sum
actually earned. There are three contribution rates ,
depending on the nature of the activity, sales, services or
Anyone can sign up for this new status,
which covers not only the self employed, but also those who have a job
with an employer, but also wish to undertake entrepreneurial activities
as a sideline.
A secondary advantage of this new
system has been to bring into the system people who previously did the
odd job on the side here and there, but never declared these earnings,
on account of the complexity and expense of the previous systems..
region in the centre of southern France, capital Clermont Ferrand. Further information
The most important theatre and music festival in France,
founded in 1947 by Jean Vilar. Like the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland,
the official Avignon Festival, which takes place each year in
July, is now surpassed in size by its Fringe, known as the
Festival de film d'
Annual cinema festival, focusing on the Fantastic, which took
place at Avoriaz, in the French Alps, from 1973 to 1993.
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