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An A-Z Dictionary of France

  L is for Loire.....
the connoisseur's 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....


L’Oréal : L’Oréal is France’s and the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty products company. In 2006, it took over the Body Shop in a move that angered many of the latter’s customers, since L’Oréal uses animal testing in its laboratories – a practice contrary to the Body Shop ethic. L’Oréal is a CAC 40 company. L'Oreal is owned 30% by the Bettencourt family and 26% by Nestlé. In 2010, chief shareholder Liliane Bettencourt, daughter of the company's founder, was at the centre of a media frenzy over allegations of tax evasion and political favours involving President Sarkozy's Minister for the Budget Eric Woerth.

Laguiller, Arlette:  Born 1940. The Passionaria of French politics in the last third of the 20th Century.  A Trotskyist, she was the high-profile leader of the left-wing Lutte Ouvrière (LO) political party for over 30 years, and holds the record for the number of times she has stood as a candidate in Presidential elections, six. In 2002, she polled over 5% of the vote.   

Laïcité, la : Many people in France get passionate about the principle of laïcité to a degree that their neighbours often find hard to understand. Laïcité litterally translates as ‘secularism’, and refers to the principal of the separation of church and state, and the fact that there is no established religion in France. Most frequently, the term is nowadays used in two contexts, on the one hand as a reminder that there is no place for religious instruction in the state education system, and on the other to counter the development of Islamic fundamentalism.
   It has often been argued that the issue of laïcité arouses such heated passions among some of its activists inFrance, that it is almost a religion in its own right, a form of atheism.
   Passions over laïcité are a heritage of the years of the French Revolution, notably the time of the Terror, when religion was temporarily outlawed. The principle of laïcité in education was established in 1881 by the Jules Ferry law, and the separation of church and state finally established by law in 1905. While the Communist party, and other far left parties, are the most stalwart defenders of laicité in modern France, politicians of all parties, both left and right, regularly express their attachment to the principle. The principle of laïcité is one that applies to public life, and does not infringe on the individual's right to practice religion.

Lalonde, Brice  Born 1946.  Lalonde was the first "green" politician in France to gain a position of influence in French government. President of the Student Union UNEF during the events of 1968, he later founded the French branch of Friends of the Earth, and subsequently became a Greenpeace activist, campaiging against French nuclear tests in the south Pacific. He was director of campaign for the first green candidate in a presidential election, René Dumont in 1974, and subsequently ran for president himself. In 1990, he founded the first successful Green party, called Génération Ecologie, and was appointed Minister of the environment in the Socialist government of Edith Cresson, a post he held for just one year. 

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