Photo top of page: Music in the streets on the F
de la musique
What was the Front
Populaire ? What does one do with a feuille de soins ?
And when was the Front National set
up ? Look no further, here are concise definitions of these and other
words and names beginning with F
Born 1946. - Former socialist Prime Minister of France (1984-1986)
during the first Mitterrand presidency. Graduate of the ENA (Ecole Normale d'Administration).
Fabius more recently came to much public attention by being the leading
proponent of the victorious "no" vote in the French
referendum on the European Constitution in 2005. He returned to
front-line politics in 2012, becoming French foreign Secretary in the
Hollande administration. In 2016 he stood down, in order to take up the post of President of the French Constitutional Council.
: name commonly used to define parts of French universities. See UFR.
The FCPE, or Fédération des Conseils de
is the biggest parents' association in the French school system, with
325,000 members (2008). Founded in 1947 by the teachers' unions, the
FCPE has the reputation of being instrumentalised by teachers for their
own advantage in decision-making bodies such as school councils where
parent's associations have a statutory place. In political terms, the
FCPE is left of centre. It's main rival is the PEEP, reputed to be a
conservative parent's association. In recent years, both large
associations have lost ground to independent local parent's
associations. The FCPE is sometimes known as the Fédération
Cornec, after the name of a very long-standing chairman Jean
an annual literary prize, awarded to a female writer. see Prix littéraires.
de la Musique
(Nuit de la
musique) : Music night, the night of the summer solstice,
or longest day, 21st June. The first fête de la musique
took place in 1982, and the even was made official the following year
by culture minister Jack Lang. Since then, the idea has been copied by
over 100 countries worldwide. Originally, the idea was that on the
evening of the longest day, anyone who wanted could make music anywhere
in the streets until the early hours of the morning. That is how it was
in the beginning, and except in specially organised events, most of the
music was from amateurs, with minimal amplification. More recently, in
many towns, organisation of the Fête de la Musique
has been largely taken over or coordinated by councils, and the best
places have been allotted to rock groups – to the detriment
less noisy musicians. Following years of complaints from town-centre
residents, most councils have now limited the volume at which bands can
play, and fixed a shut-down time, often 1 a.m.
tradition that is often kept up in rural parts of France. Festivities
organised on the occasion of the annual patron saint's day of the
village church. Depending on the organisers, fêtes patronales
anything from a vin d'honneur
or a meal in the village hall (salle
des fêtes) or a restaurant, to a full blown
Form delivered after a visit to the doctor, dentist or the hospital,
indicating the cost and details of treatment and/or the cost of
medicine prescribed and brought from a chemists shop. For people who do
have a French health insurance card (Carte
Vitale), this form must be completed then
returned to the Caisse Primaire
to claim reimbursement.
See Cinquième république.
le. One of
the main French daily newspapers,
generally conservative in outlook. It is perhaps the nearest French
equivalent to Britain's Daily Telegraph. Founded in 1826, it is the
oldest of the French dailies. Le Figaro currently belongs to
Socopresse, a subsidiary of the Dassault
group of companies.
François : Born
1954. Prime minister of France 2007-2012 - The first prime minister of
first Sarkozy presidency.
François Fillon, a conservative politician,
was minister of
social affairs, and then minister of education in the government of
Jean Pierre Raffarin, during
the second Chirac
In this time, he acquired the reputation of a reformer, pushing through
major reforms of the education system and the retirement system. He is
an anglophile, and has a British wife, Penelope. After winning the
primaries for the conservative Les Républicains party prior
to the 2017
presidential election, and then becoming the front-runner to win,
Fillon was subsequently disgraced following accusations that he had had
his wife handsomely paid out of public funds for a fictitious job. He
refused to withdraw and hand the conservative candidacy to someone
else, but failed to make it through to the second round of the
election. See more under Presidential
nickname for François Hollande, president of
France since 2012. Origin uncertain. Flanby is the brand name
industrially produced milk caramel pudding, sold in pots.
litterally meaning "flower of the lily", the fleur-de-lys is a heraldic
emblem traditionally associated with France. While recognised as an symbol of France, it is not used as
an emblem of modern republican France, since for many people in France
it is seen as a symbol of the "ancien
régime" or the monarchy. Notwithstanding,
feature in the coats of arms of a number of French towns and cities,
including Paris, Blois, Lyon, Rheims, Poitiers, Limoges, Saint-Denis
and in the coats of arms of many French departments and towns - though rarely in the more modern municipal logos. One
modern French region, Burgundy, includes fleur-de-lys in its
contemporary logo. The symbol has survived more strongly outside
France, where it appears for instance in the official flag of Quebec
and in that of the Acadiana region of Louisiana.
literally meaning a flute, the word flute is used
to describe a standard 500 gramme loaf of white bread, usually the same
length, but twice as thick, as a baguette.
See Front National below
one of the biggest trade unions in France, traditionally less militant
and more consensual than the CGT.
Foie gras: fattened
goose-liver or duck-liver paté. Foie gras, the most famous
of which is
produced in the Périgord region, is an expensive delicacy.
produced from the livers of geese or ducks, which have been force-fed (gavés)
much grain, before slaughter, in order to increase the size of
the liver. The technique has been used for over 4000 years, but has
recently been criticised on the grounds of animal cruelty, and a number
of countries have banned the process. France produces almost 80% of the
world's foie gras, but also imports it. Paté de foie gras is
containing at least 50% of foie gras.
(see also Haut Fonctionnaire) The French
civil service. Tenured
state employees - all 1.75 million of them, including
qualified teachers in the state education system - are
called fonctionnaires; non-tenured
employees are called "agents de la fonction publique"
or "contractuels".. In 2005, state
employees represented 22% of the workforce in France,
more than in any other large European country. Recruitment,
promotion and pension rights are all ordered according to arcane and
complex rules, which successive governments have talked of modifying,
though to little effect. President Sarkozy promised major reforms
of the French civil service, starting with a slimming down of
the number of state employees, largely through the non-replacement of
50% of retiring civil servants.
Jobs in the public sector have always
been much sought after in France,
notably on account of the job security of the tenured and other
essential posts, and good retirement pension schemes. Tenured fonctionnaires
have a job for life, and it is very unusual for a fonctionnaire
to lose his job; this sanction is normally only applied in cases of
serious professional misconduct. Within France,
there is occasional animosity from private-sector workers towards fonctionnaires,
who are sometimes projected by the media as having a sheltered and
relaxed working life - notably when there are public sector
see Fonction Publique
- magnificent renaissance château built for
François 1st, some 40 km.
south of Paris.
Fos sur Mer
petrochemical port on France's Mediterranean coast, Fos is a small town
at the entrance to the inland Etang de Berre.
26% of the surface area of France is now
covered by forest, the French forest being the third most extensive in
Europe after Sweden and Finland. The proportion of France covered by
forest has doubled in the past 200 years. The largest single forested
area in France is the Forêt des
and Biarritz, one of the largest pine
forests in Europe. In upland France, notably in the
and the Ardennes,
most forests are coniferous, with
extensive areas of spruce. However the Franche Comté
region of eastern France has Europe's most extensive area of deciduous
forest, including the large Forêt de Chaux.
- renamed F1
in 2007 Budget one-star hotel chain present
throughout France, offering rooms at very competitive prices. The
hotels offer clean but very basic accommodation, with automated
checkin. They are usually sited beside main roads, or at motorway
exits. The Formule 1 chain belongs to the
Principal petrochemical port on France's
Mediterranean coast, Fos is a small town at the entrance to the inland
Etang de Berre.
Fourme A word that
etymologically just means "cheese", or the mould in which the cheese is
produced. The best known "fourme" is Fourme d'Ambert, a nutty-flavoured
mild blue cheese
from the Massif Central.
français, le: The French national
used from 1795 to 2002, when it was replaced by the Euro. One Euro
replaced 6.5596 French Francs. In the late twentieth century, the Franc
was sometimes referred to as the nouveau
franc, following a realignment of the French currency in
1960, when 100 Old Francs (or anciens
francs) became worth 1
nouveau franc. Until the Franc was replaced by the Euro,
there were still some old people in France who thought in terms of Old
Francs. Branches of the Banque
de France continued to accept and exchange the
last-used French Franc banknotes until February 2012.
The main French public television channel, previously known as Antenne
2, operated by France Télévisions.
network of French regional TV stations operated by the public
television corporation France Télévisions.
The name of the public regional radio stations in France.
Example France Bleu Auvergne is the public regional
radio station for the Auvergne region.
the biggest selling of
“people" magazines, France Dimanche is a colourful
each Friday. It is mainly concerned with the lives of the glitterati,
showbiz, and public figures. Its circulation is over 480,000, and it is
published by the Hachette
Hard left political party founded in 2016 by former Socialist Jean-Luc
Mélenchon. In the 2017 general elections, La France
Insoumise won 17
seats in the French National Assembly
: Former evening
paper, published in Paris. At one time, France Soir was
biggest evening newspaper, with a circulation of over a million. After
a chequered history and several changes of ownership, it finally ceased
publication in 2011, remaining as an Internet-only newspaper until
going out of business in mid 2012.
Télécom Now trading
as Orange (qv), France
Télécom was the state
telecommunications company in
France, responsible for the upkeep of the national telephone and
telecommunications network . Privatised in 1998 by Lionel Jospin's socialist government, it
remains by far the largest landline and mobile telecoms operator in
The French state television service, and operator of the
France 2 and France 3 channels (see above). France
runs RFO and France 5, as well
as the digital TV channel France 4 and a growing number of
cable channels. It is joint owner of the Franco-German TV channel Arte.
see Facts and Figures
Largely hilly or mountainous former region in central
eastern France, just north of Switzerland. Capital
Franche-Comté, now a part of the
Franche-Comté-Bourgogne region, is made up of four
Haute-Saône in the
north, the Jura in the southwest, the Doubs in the centre, and the
small Territoire de Belfort in the north. At the end of the
20th century, it was the region with the highest proportion of the
population employed in industry; this was due to its position as a
largely rural region, with a low population density, containing one
major industrial connurbation, the Belfort-Montbeliard area - home to
two large industrial companies, Peugeot and Alstom, and to many smaller
industrial companies. Today, apart from Peugeot cars and TGVs, the
region is renowned for its dairy products and small components .
Claude - popular sixties and seventies French pop idol,
who died in his prime by electrocuting himself in the bath. His female
backup singers were known as the Claudettes.
à la bonne - To eat à
la bonne franquette means to eat in simple but classic
French style, at home or in a restaurant.
second biggest French Internet service provider after Orange (France
Télécom), Free has been a pioneer in the world of
Internet since its
launch in 1999. It was one of the first ISPs to offer Internet dial-up
access without the use of a premium rate number, and one of
the first to offer ADSL
broadband. If not the cheapest, Free has persistently offered Internet
packages at very competitive rates; in 2003 it was the first ISP to
include free national telephone services by VoIP. Free
international calls began in 2005, as did free television for
subscribers with unbundled access. In 2019, about 3.2
million customers were using Free's broadband packages,
representing a market share of slightly around 23%. Free is traded on
the Paris stock exchange under the name of its parent company Iliad SA.
collection of small islands in
the far south Pacific, and a section of the Antarctic continent, mostly
used for scientific research. Total population about 150 inhabitants.
Polynesia : Fench
overseas territory in the south Pacific, including Tahiti.
National, FN :
Extreme right-wing and xenophobic political party, founded by Jean
Marie Le Pen in
1972. The party is strongly Eurosceptic, anti-immigration, and
traditionalist; party members, including Le Pen, have been prosecuted
for racist remarks, negationism, and the downplaying of war-crimes.
Current leader (2016) Marine Le Pen.
The Front National has been a
significant force in French politics since the 1980's, particularly
where they have been aided by proportional representation. They won 10
seats at the European Parliament in 1984, and then 35 seats in the
French general election of 1986, after François Mitterrand
introduced a degree of proportional representation into the
voting system. PR was quickly dropped again after this, and
the FN has never since had more than a single Député.
However, in European elections, where PR has remained, the FN has
continued to pick up seats, with 7 in the 2004 election.
In 1995, the Front National won
municipal elections in three towns in the south of France, Orange,
Vitrolles and Marignane, in "triangular" second rounds for which
neither the socialists (PS) nor the main
conservative party would withdraw their candidates.
Perhaps the FN's most visible success
was that of its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the 2002 Presidential
election, when he obtained second place in the first round, thus
securing a place in the runoff. It is interesting to note that in this
second round, which was a massive victory for Jacques Chirac, le Pen took less than 1% more
of the vote than in the first round.
The high profile of the FN in French
politics surprises many foreign observers, but it is not really a
surprise in a country with a fragmented party political
structure. France's biggest mainstream political parties have a
tradition of instrumentalising whatever means possible in order to
damage their opponents, and for a long time French left-wing
parties have sought to portray the Front National as
the natural ally of other conservative parties. Yet
by blurring the distinction between this far right
party other mainstream conservative parties, they
paradoxically helped to legitimise the FN. Mitterrand's introduction of
PR into the voting system for general elections in 1984, which
propelled the FN into the limelight, was actually intended to stop the
mainstream conservative parties from winning. The policy backfired,
since the conservatives won anyway, and the FN obtained its own "group"
in the French parliament.
Following a slight decline when the
voters to other right-wing parties, and had to
sell off its flagship headquarters building in Neuilly-sur-Seine, in
order to pay its debts, the FN has revived under the leadership of its
new president Marine Le Pen, the daughter of founder Jean-marie Le
Pen. In the 2015 regional elections, it garnered the largest
share of the popular vote in the first round of voting, and came close
to winning control of at least three regions, Nord-Picardie, Grand Est
and PACA. However the withdrawal of the Socialists from the second
round in Nord-Picardie and PACA, and tactical voting in the Grand Est
prevented the FN getting into power in any region..
In 2018, under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, the Front National changed its name to Rassemblement National. See Political
Parties in France
Front) : an alliance of French left-wing parties
prior to the Second World War. In power from 1936 to 1938,
but most significantly from 1936 to 1937, under the leadership of Leon
Blum, the Popular Front intruduced important new labour laws, including
the right to strike, two week's annual paid holiday for all, and
républicain : term used to describe the
unofficial alliance of voters from the traditional parties, combining
to defeat Front National
when these make it through to the second round of an election. It is a
classic example of successful tactical voting, whereby for instance
many socialist voters vote for the conservative candidate in a runoff
between a conservative and an FN candidate, rather than abstaining, and
conservative voters vote for the left-wing candidate in the event of a
runoff between a left-wing candidate and a National Front candidate.
future-oriented and modernistic theme park and technology centre, just
north of Poitiers.
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