Photo - vintage Peugeot car
Who are the Partenaires
sociaux in France? And what is a PME ? Or
what is a PV
where is Picardy?
Answers to these and other questions on this page of the dictionary of
: see Procès
- Provence Alpes
south eastern region of France, lying betwen the Rhone valley and the
Italian border. Capital Marseille. This region includes the historic
region of Provence, plus the French Riviera and southern Alps, and
stretches from the Rhone valley in the west to the Italian border in
the east. It is bordered on the north by the region of
on the south by the Mediterranean sea. It consists of the departments
of Bouches du Rhône, Var, Vaucluse, Alpes Maritimes and Alpes
Provence. See regional
guide to Provence .
PACS Pacte Civile de
legal and fiscal terms, a contract of civil partnership including most
of the features of a marriage contract, but open to both heterosexual
and homosexual couples. While originally introduced in 1999 to allow
same-sex couples to formalise their union, ten years later, in 2009,
over 90% of couples signing up to a PACS were heterosexual.
Paysage Audiovisuel Français - term used to
structure, or ‘landscape’, of TV and radio
broadcasting in France
Former church of St. Genevieve, in the 5th Arondissement of Paris,
next to the Sorbonne. One of the finest neo-classical churches in
Europe, it has been used, since the French Revolution, as the burying
place for many of the great of the nation, "les Immortels", including
Hugo and Emile Zola.
Astérix, see Astérix
Park, protected natural area. There are six National Parks in
Metropolitan France: French National Parks are characterised by their
structure, since they are divided into two areas. At the centre of the
Park lies a highly protected area, where visitors are discouraged,
known as the heart (Coeur du Parc); outside this heart lies
peripheral area (called Aire d'Adhésion), which people are
visit at leisure.
regional area of outstanding natural beauty, or environmental value.
Natural Regional Parks are frequently but erroneously described as
National Parks; it is however true to say that the environmental
constraints and legislation applied in many Natural Regional Parks
are similar to those applied in the peripheral areas
National Parks, or in non-wilderness national parks in other countries
(such as Exmoor in the U.K.). There is no intrinsic reason why the
"Cevennes" hills should have the status of National Park, but the "Parc
des Volcans" just north of them be designated as a regional park; but
that is the way it is. As "regional parks", the PNRs are the
responsibility of the regions, not of the state.
Popular French weekly newsmagazines, Paris Match was founded in 1949.
Originally a photonews magazine, concentrating more on well illustrated
reports on national and international affairs, it has progressively
moved in the direction of a showbiz and people magazine, though with a
particular interest in the private lives of politicians and other
: One of
the great annual cycling races in France
: a French democratic principle, whereby many important decisions in
the world of business or public affairs must be taken by a commission
in which different interested parties (such as employees and employers,
or the administration and users of a service) are represented, and have
certain decision-making powers.
The French Parliament, made up of the Senate and
the National Assembly.
sociaux : The
various supposedly representative bodies that must by law be
consulted during the preparatory phase of certain types of social and
industrial legislation, and together manage certain institutions such
as parts of the social security system. In short, the partenaires
sociaux can be described as lobbies or pressure groups, representing on
the one hand employers, and on the other hand trade unions. It can be
argued that trade unions are not "representative" bodies in modern
France, where union membership is down to just 7% of the workforce. Yet
they continue to play a major role as partenaires sociaux, and in the
absence of any more representative body, will doubtless continue to do
as in "se
constituer partie civile". Legal expression. The concept
does not exist in English or American law. A partie civile
is a private party, individual or group, suing for damages or redress
against the accused, in the context of a criminal prosecution brought
by the public prosecutor (le
born 1927 : French conservative politician, Minister of the Interior
(home secretary) from 1986 to 1988, and again from 1993 to
Pasqua enjoyed the reputation of being a hard-line
Famous private medical and biological research institute, founded in
1887, by Louis Pasteur, the man who discovered penicillin. The
institute is one of the world's leading research laboratories in its
field, and was the first to identify the HIV virus. Pasteur researchers
have received the Nobel Prizes on eight occasions.
Aniseed-flavoured beverages have long been popular in France,
particularly since the banning, for health reasons in 1915, of the
popular and similar drink Absinthe. To this day, Pastis, of which there
are two main brands, Pernod and Ricard, is still a very popular
apéritif, particularly in the south of France. Pastis, which
translucent amber colour when in the bottle, is generally diluted with
about five parts of water, before being drunk. On dilution, it becomes
a cloudy cream colour.
gras : See
Patron: the word basically
person in charge, and not a patron. Thus, the patron
in a business context is the boss, and in a restaurant is the manager
or owner. Les Patrons in the plural, or le
patronat, means company directors. See also MEDEF.
: the aerobatic display unit of the French airforce, similar to the
UK's Red Arrows.
This word is commonly used in contemporary French, and is not usually
pejorative like the English word "peasant". It simply means
‘small farmer’. A synonym is agriculteur.
the French communist party, which in the late sixties was the principal
party of the left in French politics, receiving over 20% of
popular vote. It has been in decline since the end of the Cold War. See
Parties in France
Plan d'Epargne en Actions
: an investment portfolio savings account, in which holdings
be bought and sold without incurring capital gains tax until the
account is closed.
toll, or a section of toll road, on motorways or occasionally on
See Poste d'expansion
: the Fédération
des Parents d'élèves
de l'Enseignement Public
is the second largest parents association in the state education system
in France, with some 300,000 members (2008). Though it has almost as
many members, it has far fewer delegates elected to school boards than
the largest federation, the FCPE.
The PEEP is generally reputed to be a right-wing, or conservative
Plan d'Epargne Logement:
Savings account which, on closure, provides
a loan at
preferential rates for home-buyers, dependent on the amount of savings
in the account and the time for which they have been held.
See Le Pen
or licence or authorisation. The word is often used as a contraction of
"permis de conduire",
meaning a driving licence or drivers license. Passer le permis
means to sit one's driving test. Do not confuse Permis de conduire
with Permis de
construire, which means a building permit.
: In 2008, with the acquisiton of a Swedish company, Pernod-Ricard
became the world’s leading wines and spirits company. The
founding companies of the group, Pernod and Ricard, are the two main
manufacturers of Pastis.
Maréchal Philippe .
A First World War national hero, Pétain
rescue to form an "independent" government for the "free"
southern half of France, while the north was under direct Nazi
occupation. At the end of the war, members of
"collaborationist" Vichy government were arrested and put on trial for
helping the Nazis; Pétain himself was condemned to death,
sentence was reduced to life emprisonment, on account of his age and
his earlier stature.
The most popular form of the game known as boules,
pétanque is the French version of the English game
has been played in a fairly similar form since Roman times, and is
particularly popular in the south of France. The modern game is played
on a gravel surface using solid metal boules
about the size of a tennis ball. Unlike in the English game where the
balls are rolled, in pétanque they are usually lobbed. The
aim of the
game is to get one's boule
as close as possible to the jack, known as the cochonnet in
French. Though the game can be played on any patch of gravel surface,
many towns have special boules
areas known as boulodromes.
déjeuner: Breakfast, à
The classic French breakfast consists of a mug or bowl of
or hot chocolate, with tartines – bread, butter and jam
croissants. In the last thirty years, cereals have also made their
appearance on the breakfast table in a big way. It is very unusual for
people in France to take a cooked breakfast, and hot dishes are not
usually provided, even in hotels.
: One of
France's major automobile manufacturers. Peugeot, whose roots are in
Montbéliard, in the Franche
of eastern France, is today part of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën
is one of the biggest car manufacturers in Europe.
de garde :
in most French towns, there is a pharmacie de garde, a chemists
(pharmacists) shop that remains open at night and at weekends to deal
with emergencies. the job rotates among chemists shops in a given area,
and the address of the pharmacie which is "de garde" is normally
indicated at weekends in each chemists shop.
Philippe, Edouard. Born
1970. Since 2017, prime minister of France, under president Macron.
A socialist in his youth and early career, Edouard Philippe later
joined the conservative UMP Party to work with moderate Conservative leader Alain Juppé, a former prime minister. He was elected as mayor of Le Havre on the UMP ticket. He was part of Juppé's team in the runup to the 2017 presidential election, and began by supporting François Fillon
when the latter won the primary. However he quit the Fillon campaign
when Fillon was accused of financial irregularities, and privately
expressed support for Emmanuel Macron, the former economy minister in the Socialist government of François Hollande, who was running for the presidency on a cross-party ticket.
: Picardie is a former region in northern France, lying between the Paris
region and the English Channel. Its capital is Amiens. It is now part of the larger region of Hauts de France.
1912 - 2007 - Born Henri Grouès, Abbé Pierre
(Abbot Pierre) was a
French cleric, and founder of the Communautés
for the reinsertion of long-term unemployed and social misfits. He also
founded the Abbé-Pierre Foundation, to provide housing for
excluded. He was by all acounts the most famous and popular
Catholic priest of his generation in France, and was respected by all
for his unceasing battle for human rights and dignity, and against
social exclusion, and homelessness. When he died in 2007, it was
suggested that he should receive a state funeral; but his supporters
and family requested just a "national hommage". His funeral was
celebrated in Notre Dame cathedral, in the presence of President Chirac
and former President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, and
lined the route of his funeral procession.
- the red light district of Paris, at the foot of Montmartre. It is
famous for its bars, striptease joints and cabarets, such as the
world-famous Moulin Rouge.
– (sometimes written
See under Police Nationale
p.j. - In an email, pièce jointe, or
Born 1935. French intellectual, literary critic, and presenter of a
number of erudite but popular cultural programmes on French television,
and Bouillon de Culture.
In 2004, he was elected to the Goncourt Academy, the first non-author
to receive this honour.
- Special type of savings and investment account, launched by Dominique
Strauss Kahn, former socialist Finance Minister, and former
(2008-2011) president of the International Monetary Fund.
- A redundancy limitation plan. Any firm larger than 50 employees that
wishes or needs to lay off more than 10 employees is obliged
draw up a plan social aimed
at limiting the number of redundancies and finding alternative
opportunities for those that are laid off. A plan social
must be drawn up following discussions between management and workforce
representatives. It must be approved by the Labour Inspectorate
(Inspection du travail) and may be challenged in court by employees, as
Michel, Footballer, captain of the French national team from 1979 to
1987, and team manager from 1988 to 1992. Platini played for the French
first division clubs of Nancy and Saint-Etienne, before moving on to an
international career at Juventus. He is currently (2008) chairman of
des Chemins de fer de
Paris à Lyon et à la
Méditerranée - the name of the most
famous French railway company, which became part of the national SNCF
- PMI - Petites
et moyennes entreprises,
petites et moyennes industries,
the French designation of companies that, in English, would be referred
to as 'small firms', or 'small and medium-sized companies', or - using
the Euro-English expression formed from the French expression, 'SME's'.
A petite entreprise is
a company with less than 50 employees and a turnover of less than 10
million euros, and a moyenne
entreprise is one with between 50 and 250 employees and a
turnover not exceeding 50 million euros.
Centralised horse-race betting system. France does not have off-course
bookmakers. Betting is done in cafés displaying the PMU logo.
(1909 - 1996) - Interim president of France following the resignation
of General de Gaulle in 1969, and again following the death of Georges
Pompidou in 1974. He acceded to the Presidency in his
leader of Sénat, the the upper house in the French
- Popular French weekly newsmagazine, founded in 1972 by a
breakaway group of journalists from L'Express (q.v.). Very
similar in presentation and look to l'Express, it is now established as
one of the leading French political and general interest weeklies. In
political terms it is centre-right, and in recent years has been a
strident voice in favour of major reforms in French society and the
- see PPDA below.
French network of Job Centres, or employment centres, created in
January 2009 from the merger of the former ANPE
and the Assédic.
There are three main types of police in France, the Police Nationale (a
civilian force), the Gendarmerie (a branch of the armed services), and
the Police Municipale (local structures). The first two are national
forces, under the control of the Interior Ministry. See individual
entries for each service.
(see also Police) : Local police forces, under the orders of the local
mayor, Municipal Police exist to ensure the maintenance of order in
towns and cities, and the application of local bylaws. They have
traffic duties, civil protection duties (often on bicycles), and
community liaison operations. They also carry out certain
and administrative formalities for citizens, in municipal offices. They
can issue fines and parking tickets, and take statements.
(see also Police) : The main national police force in France.
principal remit of the Police National in France is the maintenance of
law and order in French towns and cities (In rural areas, this is the
responsibility of the Gendarmerie (q.v.)). The National Police force
comprises six main operational divisions: Public security (the DCSP),
by far the largest division, and responsible for everyday policing
duties. The riot police (CRS, Compagnie Républicaine de
Police Judiciaire (PJ, or "Pégie"), responsible for criminal
investigations, the border police (Police aux
Police training service, and the surveillance department, known since
2008 as the DCRI (Direction Centrale du Renseignement
Française, see French
plan Plan d'intervention
contre la Pollution Maritime
: contingency plan thet can be rapidly applied in the event of any
serious indicent of marine pollution, such as an oil spillage, off or
on the French coastline.
- One of the most prestigious and selective of France's
Ecoles", to all intents and purposes a super-university, which ranks
among the best in the world. See Higher Education in
- 1974) President of France from 1969 until his death in 1974,
successor to General de Gaulle. Conservative (Gaullist) Prime minister
1962-1968. The Pompidou years were the final phase of the
Gaullist Fifth Republic; Pompidou was succeeded (after the brief
caretaker presidency of Alain Poher)
by Valéry Giscard
who, although a conservative, was an Independent Republican, not a
member of the Gaullist party.
Centre - Centre Georges
Pompidou : Also known popularly as "Beaubourg". Located
on Place Beaubourg, in the Marais district of Central Paris, the Centre Pompidou is
one of the most visited museums in Paris, thanks to its collection of
modern and contemporary European art, and its large public
reference library with facilities for over 2,000 readers, its theatres
and its lecture rooms. The glass steel and concrete building, designed
by the Richard Rogers partnership, and opened in 1977, is one of the
most remarkable examples of 1970's architecture. It is distinguished by
having most of its service infrastucture (lifts, escalators, utility
ducts) on the outside of the building.
In May 2010, a satellite of the Pompidou Centre
opened in the city of Metz, in Lorraine.
This brand-new museum will show a selection of works from the Paris
collection, including some of the finest, and also stage its own
French fire service or fire brigade. In rural France, les pompiers are
the front-line emergency service, providing a rapid response to all
kinds of accident, from fires to people breaking a leg on a hike. There
are thousands of local fire brigades staffed by volunteers trained in
first aid and essential rescue techniques; they are usually first on
the spot in any rural emergncy. They will be aided by professionals
from the nearest town, if this is necessary. Urban fire services are
staffed by full-time professionals.
l'Eveque - a
type of soft cheese
manufactured in Normandy; it is not unlike a square version of Camembert
A pont is a working day that happens to fall
between a public holiday, jour férié,
weekend. For example, if the Quatorze Juillet were
a Tuesday, millions of French employees would "faire le pont"
by taking the Monday off and making a long weekend .
In 2001 the population of France was 60.7 million inhabitants, with an
average density of 107 people per
square kilometre, close to the European average. France contains 52
urban areas of over 150,000 inhabitants, the five largest being Paris
(9.8 million), Lyons (1.4 million), Marseille/Aix
en Provence (1.4 million), Lille
(1.1 million) and Toulouse (0.9 million).
: one of the historic gates of the city of Paris, and now the location
of the capital’s main exhibition ground, the site of many of
most important consumer and trade shows, known in French as “salons�?.
One of the biggest annual events is the Salon de
- Plan d'Occupation des Sols - zoning
or planning regulations applicable in a town or commune,
specifying the type of building or construction acceptable in given
areas - residential, commercial, industrial, none at all, or
mixed. POS are supposed to be phased out and replaced by PLU's
(local urban plans), but the changeover is not yet underway.
la. The French post office and mail delivery
service. A nationalised service, today's La Poste was known, until
recently, as les PTT,
Poste, Télégraphe et
Télécommunications; the PTT was
divided up into its two principal constituents, the postal service and
telecommunications, in order to prepare France Telecom
for partial privatisation. La Poste benefits from a national monopoly
in delivery of letters, but has become increasingly subject to
competition from specialised companies for the delivery of parcels, and
is currently (2008) on the verge of transformation into a private
company (S.A.). La Poste also runs a banking service, known as the
Banque Postale (formerly the CCP).
(PEE) Name given to the
Commercial Services of French diplomatic missions - embassies,
consulates - abroad. French trade commissions.
See under Marc.
Long time anchor of the main evening news programme on TF1 television,
Poivre d'Arvor was for many years France's most respected and trusted
newsreader. He was replaced, amid much controversy, in 2009, by
les Précaires : Literally
'precarity", people in a precarious situation. The word précaires
is used to describe people in France who live in a precarious working
or social environment. The words are particularly, though not only,
used in the language of the far left, for whom la
is seen as the byproduct of liberal economics, an inadmissable
applicable to anyone who does not have a secure job, a decent place to
live, or enough money.
(see also Préfet). Residence of a Préfet
(Prefect), and building
housing local offices of national government services. The word is also
used to denote the chief town or capital of a Department or a region.
For example, the city of Montpellier is described as the
of the department of Hérault, and the "Préfecture
de région" for the Languedoc-Roussillon
…. (see also Préfet de Police, Préfet
Maritime): the Prefect, the chief
representative of central government in a French department. His
official residence is the Préfecture. Until the
Decentralisation Law of
1982, the Prefect was the appointed chief executive of local government
in each department and region of France; since decentralisation, and
the passing of powers and financial responsibilities to departmental
and regional councils , the role of prefects has been greatly
diminshed. Nonetheless, Prefects retain considerable powers in matters
of public order, immigration, and emergencies. The prefect is also
responsible for the organisation of territorial and national elections,
and for ensuring that local authorities do not exceed their powers, but
act within the framework of the law. Prefects are in theory required to
be a-political and neutral, but many appointments are politically
Maritime: A special Prefect,
in charge of France's coastal waters. Responsible for policing, coastal
defence, environmental protection, and the general administration of
coastal waters. There are three préfets maritimes, based in
Brest and Toulon.
(banking) : Direct debit. Suppliers of ongoing services (utilities,
insurance etc.) which are billed for varying amounts according to
consumption, frequently suggest payment by prélèvement.
Mai - May
1st, Labour Day, a public holiday in France, marked by processions in
most towns, organised by trade unions.
The role of Prime Minister in France is not the same as that of the
Prime Minister of Britain. While the British Prime Minister is
politically (though not constitutionally) Britain's head of state, the
French Prime Minister is only the head of the French government, and
nominated as such by the President. Weekly meetings of the French
cabinet (see Conseil des Ministres) are therefore
presided over by the President,
not by the Prime Minister. When President and Prime Minister are of the
same political leaning ("left" or "right"), government policy will tend
to be lead by the two; when they are from different political families
(a situation known as cohabitation), the Prime
and decision-making power are considerably strengthened. The Prime
Minister is responsible for forming the government, but the list of
names has to be approved by the President. See Balladur, Barre, Chaban
Jospin, Raffarin, Rocard,
communion : First communion, the
French Catholic rite of initiation into the faith,
corresponding to the ceremony of confirmation in the Anglican church.
Traditionally, girls dress in white, and
boys in a smart suit for the ceremony.
See under Classes Préparatoires
The head of state, under the constitution of the French Fifth Republic (Cinquième république)
. The French
president is elected by direct universal suffrage, for a term of five
years in office. Since the 2008
constitutional reform introduced by President Sarkozy,
a president may serve no more than two five-year terms in office.
Election by universal suffrage was first introduced following a
referendum organised by General de Gaulle in 1962.
Originally the presidential term in office was seven years, with one
president, F. Mitterrand,
serving a full two terms. With presidential and legislative elections
operating according to different calendars, swings in the popularity of
parties and their leaders led in the mid eighties to situations or "Cohabitation",
with presidents and parliamentary majorities from different sides of
the political spectrum. In 2002, presidential and legislative elections
were held within two months of each other, each leading to five year
terms in office for those elected; thus president Chirac
emerged for a second term in office with a
solid parliamentary majority of his own supporters.
The president is responsible for choosing his
Prime Minister (see Premier Ministre),
who proposes a team of government ministers which the president must
approve. He is the chief of the executive, who oversees weekly cabinet
meetings (see Conseil des ministres), and
promulgates new laws. He is also the commander in chief of French
forces. He has the power to dissolve the National Assembly
and call legislative elections – a power used rather
1997 by Jacques Chirac, who
dissolved the Assembly in attempt to give his "presidential majority" a
rather less slender majority, only to see the Socialist
opposition voted into power.
In exceptional cases of national emergency,
Article 16 of the Constitution gives the president
the power to rule without the consent of parliament.
also Giscard d'Estaing,
, known until 2009 as NMPP
(Nouvelles Messageries de la Presse Parisienne) is
a private company holding a virtual monopoly over the distribution of
newspapers and magazines in France.
Set up in 1947 with the aim of ensuring that all publications so
wishing could benefit from guaranteed national or regional
distribution, it today distributes over 100 dailies and over 3500
magazines, representing some 80% of the market - to some
points of sale in France. Prestalis's dominant position in press
distribution has its drawbacks; the company has been attacked for
abusing its position and for fixing minimum quantity levels
magazine distribution, making its services too costly for many niche
market publications. Prestalis is a joint-venture owned by Hachette
(49%) and France's main magazine publishers.
French peer-to-peer e-commerce site, founded in 2000.. Used by private
individuals as well as distributors offloading surplus stock, the site
is a haven for bargain hunters. Growth has been spectacular and by
early 2010 the company was employing 200 people at its Paris
headquarters, and the website attracting 23 million visits per month.
Since 2008 the company has expanded its activities to the UK and Spain,
with the aim of beoming the leading European e-commerce site.
Minister, see Premier Ministre.
France has a long history of literary prizes, and today there are
dozens of such awards. The oldest and most prestigious is the Prix
Goncourt, first awarded in 1903 by the Académie Goncourt, a
society established according to the terms of the will of the famous
nineteenth century critic Edmond de Goncourt. Other famous prizes
include the Prix Femina, created in 1904, and the Prix Renaudot,
created in 1926.
: A written record of something, most commonly the written notification
of a fine (for instance, a parking ticket), or the minutes of a meeting.
de Lyon, Le
: regional daily newspaper, founded in 1859, published in Lyon, and
distributed in Lyon and the surrounding departments. Formerly
part of the Hersant media empire, the newspaper currently belongs to
the Est Républicain (EBRA) group. See Newspapers in France.
des Anglais. The seaside esplanade at Nice,
on the Côte d'Azur.
The esplanade took its name in the early nineteenth century, when the
little fishing port of Nice (Nissa) began to become popular with the
first tourists from England. Whereas the local population had seen the
sea as a source of their livelihood, the first Anglais
to stay saw it as leisure facility, and the sea front as a place to be
admired. The beach being pebbly and difficult to walk on, the first
tourists chose instead to walk back and forth just above the beach
line, thus creating one of the world's first seaside promenades.
driver. The most successful French Formula One driver of the second
half of the twentieth century.
see also Eglise Réformée de France.
Since the spread of Protestantism in the 16th century, France
always had a Protestant minority, sometimes tolerated, sometimes
persecuted. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 led to a mass
exodus of French Protestants (some estimates put the figure as high as
a million), to neighbouring countries, and to the New World.
Pockets of Protestantism survived in the Cévennes mountains
of southern France, and in Alsace and the region of
eastern France. These are France's main Protestant areas today.
(PACA) South eastern region of France, lying
Rhone valley and the Italian border. Capital Marseille. See regional guide to
: Local arbitration and conciliation committees, composed of
elected representatives of employers and employees, and responsible for
passing judgement in cases of workplace litigation, or claims of unfair
- Parti Socialiste :
the French socialist party, formed betwen 1969 and 1971, from the
fusion of existing non-communist left-wing parties in France. Since the
seventies, and the fading of the Communist Party, the PS has been the
principal party of the left in France, and has formed a number of
governments, the most recent of which was the Jospin Government, from
2002 to 2007. One of the founding members of the party was
François Mitterrand, who was President of France
from 1981 to
1995. The current first Secretary is Martine Aubry. See
Political Parties in France
holding company of the Peugeot-Citroën automobile
. Left-wing political party that existed from 1960 to 1989.
the political spectrum, the PSU was betwen the Socialists and the
Communists, and as such was always a small movement. It's most
prominent member was Michel Rocard (q.v.), who later, after joining the
Socialist Party, became Prime Minister under
see Poste, la above.
: the biggest and most famous French communications and advertising
company, founded in 1926. It is the third largest communications group
in the world, and currently owns Saatchi & Saatchi,
Bogle Hegarty, and other major advertising companies.
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