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France Geography - History

France Geography - History

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France is located in Western Europe, bordering the Bay of Biscay and English Channel, between Belgium and Spain southeast of the UK; bordering the
Mediterranean Sea, between Italy and Spain.

The terrain of France is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east.

Climate: The climate of France is generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean

Geography of France

The geography of France consists of a terrain that is mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south (including the Massif Central and the Pyrenees) and the east (the highest points being in the Alps). Metropolitan France has a total size of 551,695 km 2 (213,011 sq mi) (Europe only). It is the third largest country in Europe after Russia and Ukraine.

Geography of France
RegionWestern Europe
Coordinates 48°51′N 2°21′E  /  48.850°N 2.350°E  / 48.850 2.350
AreaRanked 42nd
• Total551,695 km 2 (213,011 sq mi)
• Land99.48%
• Water0.52%
Coastline3,427 km (2,129 mi)
Borders4,176 km (2,595 mi)
Highest pointMont Blanc 4,808 m (15,774 ft)
Lowest pointÉtang de Lavalduc −10 m (−33 ft)
Longest riverLoire 1,012 km (629 mi)
Largest lakeLac du Bourget 44.5 km (27.7 mi)
Climateoceanic climate (west), semi-continental climate (north and north-east), lower Rhône valley Mediterranean climate, mountain climate in the Alps and Pyrenees.
TerrainMostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west and mountainous in the south
Natural resourcesCoal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, fish, gold
Natural hazardsFlooding, avalanches, midwinter windstorms, drought, forest fires in the south near the Mediterranean
Environmental issuesWater pollution from public wastes, air pollution from industrial and vehicle exhaust, agricultural runoff, forest damage due to acid rain.
Exclusive economic zoneIn Europe: 334,604 km 2 (129,191 sq mi)
All overseas territories: 11,691,000 km 2 (4,514,000 sq mi)


The région lies in the centre of the Paris Basin and consists of limestone plains with a gently rolling relief. The principal rivers are the Seine and its tributaries—the Marne, Oise, and Aisne.

Île-de-France is the most densely populated région in France. In the century between 1850 and 1950, when most areas of France were losing population, Paris attracted migrants from all over the country, as well as a large number of immigrants. Île-de-France had a fourfold growth in population between 1850 and 1968. Since the 1960s, natural increase has remained strong, because of the région’s youthful population, but growth has slowed, largely as a result of migrational loss. There has been an internal redistribution in the région as people have moved from the congestion and expense of the inner districts of the capital to the outer suburbs and adjacent small towns where housing costs are lower and jobs have been relocated or created. Many of the communes belonging to Île-de-France are still classified as rural despite their proximity to Paris.

The région’s fertile loams support the cultivation of wheat, corn (maize), barley, sunflowers, rapeseed, legumes, and sugar beets. Fruit, vegetables, and flowers are also grown. In Val-d’Oise between Pontoise and Montmorency, mushrooms are grown on a large scale in limestone caves. Owing to the great urban sprawl of Paris, agriculture is concentrated in the outer areas of Île-de-France, particularly in the département of Seine-et-Marne. In general, farm holdings are large, highly mechanized, and produce high yields, yet they employ only a very small percentage of the workforce.

Île-de-France dominates economic activity in France, despite successive attempts to encourage businesses in other parts of the country. The région is the country’s preeminent decision-making centre, in both the public and private sectors. It remains a major industrial hub, although employment is concentrated overwhelmingly in the service sector. In industry, major activities include printing and publishing food processing and the manufacturing of electrical and electronic goods, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and mechanical products. Industry is not spread equally throughout. The centre of the région has lost most of its industries, and inner suburbs in Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, and Hauts-de-Seine have experienced factory closures. As a result, industry has become concentrated in the outer urban areas and especially in the five new towns developed since the 1960s: Évry, Marne-la-Vallée, Sénart, Cergy-Pontoise, and Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.

Office-based employment predominates in the centre and inner suburbs, especially to the west, in the département of Hauts-de-Seine. In Essonne, around Saclay and Orsay, many higher education and research facilities have been established, with the région accounting for more than 40 percent of France’s employment in this field. Île-de-France is renowned for the large number of corporate headquarters located both in Paris and in the business district known as La Défense, just west of Neuilly.

The région is a major tourist destination for international visitors. Of historical interest are the châteaus of Versailles, Mantes-la-Jolie, Rambouillet, Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte, and Champs. A large Disneyland theme park in Marne-la-Vallée also is a significant tourist draw.

Île-de-France is the focus of France’s various communications networks. Apart from its numerous motorways and rail links, it has a series of port zones along the Seine and Marne. Within the région the central areas of Paris are served by the Métro (underground railway), while a newer express line (Réseau Express Régional RER) extends into the Parisian suburbs. There are two international airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly.


Orléans is located in the northern bend of the Loire, which crosses from east to west. Orléans belongs to the vallée de la Loire sector between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire, which was in 2000 inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The capital of Orléanais, 120 kilometres southwest of Paris, is bordered to the north by the Beauce region, more specifically the Orléans Forest (French: forêt d'Orléans) and Orléans-la-Source neighbourhood, and the Sologne region to the south.

Five bridges in the city cross the Loire River: Pont de l'Europe, Pont du Maréchal Joffre (also called Pont Neuf), Pont George-V (also called Pont Royal, carrying the commune tramway), Pont René-Thinat and Pont de Vierzon (rail bridge).

To the north of the Loire (rive droite) is to be found a small hill (102 m (335 ft) at the pont Georges-V, 110 m (360 ft) at the Place du Martroi) which gently rises to 125 m (410 ft) at la Croix Fleury, at the limits of Fleury-les-Aubrais. Conversely, the south (on the rive gauche) has a gentle depression to about 95 m (312 ft) above sea level (at Saint-Marceau) between the Loire and the Loiret, designated a "zone inondable" (flood-risk zone).

At the end of the 1960s, the Orléans-la-Source neighbourhood was created, 12 kilometres (7 mi)to the south of the original commune and separated from it by the Val d'Orléans and the Loiret River (whose source is in the Parc Floral de la Source). This quarter's altitude varies from about 100 to 110 m (330 to 360 ft).

The Loire and navigation Edit

In Orléans, the Loire is separated by a submerged dike known as the dhuis into the Grande Loire to the north, no longer navigable, and the Petite Loire to the south. This dike is just one part of a vast system of construction that previously allowed the Loire to remain navigable to this point.

The Loire was formerly an important navigation and trading route. With the increase in size of ocean-going ships, large ships can now navigate the estuary only up to about Nantes.

Boats on the river were traditionally flat-bottomed boats, with large but foldable masts so the sails could gather wind from above the river banks, but the masts could be lowered in order to allow the boats to pass under bridges. These vessels are known as "gabarre", "futreau", and so on, and may be viewed by tourists near pont Royal.

The river's irregular flow strongly limits traffic on it, in particular at its ascent, though this can be overcome by boats being given a tow.

An Inexplosible-type paddle steamer owned by the mairie was put in place in August 2007, facing Place de la Loire and containing a bar.

Every two years, the Festival de Loire recalls the role played by the river in the commune's history.

On the river's north bank, near the town centre, is the Canal d'Orléans, which connects to the Canal du Loing and the Canal de Briare at Buges near Montargis. The canal is no longer used along its whole length. Its route within Orléans runs parallel to the river, separated from it by a wall or muret, with a promenade along the top. Its last pound was transformed into an outdoor swimming pool in the 1960s, then filled in. It was reopened in 2007 for the "fêtes de Loire." There are plans to revive use of the canal for recreation and install a pleasure-boat port there.

Prehistory and Roman Empire Edit

Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the tribe of the Carnutes where the Druids held their annual assembly. The Carnutes were massacred and the city was destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC. [6] In the late 3rd century AD, Roman Emperor Aurelian rebuilt the city and renamed it civitas Aurelianorum ("city of Aurelian") after himself. [7] The name later evolved into Orléans. [8]

In 442 Flavius Aetius, the Roman commander in Gaul, requested Goar, head of the Iranian tribe of Alans in the region to come to Orleans and control the rebellious natives and the Visigoths. Accompanying the Vandals, the Alans crossed the Loire in 408. One of their groups, under Goar, joined the Roman forces of Flavius Aetius to fight Attila when he invaded Gaul in 451, taking part in the Battle of Châlons under their king Sangiban. Goar established his capital in Orléans. His successors later took possession of the estates in the region between Orléans and Paris. Installed in Orléans and along the Loire, they were unruly (killing the town's senators when they felt they had been paid too slowly or too little) and resented by the local inhabitants. Many inhabitants around the present city have names bearing witness to the Alan presence – Allaines. Also many places in the region bear names of Alan origin. [9]

Early Middle Ages Edit

In the Merovingian era, the city was capital of the Kingdom of Orléans following Clovis I's division of the kingdom, then under the Capetians it became the capital of a county then duchy held in appanage by the house of Valois-Orléans. The Valois-Orléans family later acceded to the throne of France via Louis XII, then Francis I. In 1108, Louis VI of France became one of the few French monarchs to be crowned outside of Reims when he was crowned in Orléans cathedral by Daimbert, Archbishop of Sens.

High Middle Ages Edit

The city was always a strategic point on the Loire, for it was sited at the river's most northerly point, and thus its closest point to Paris. There were few bridges over the dangerous river Loire, but Orléans had one of them, and so became – with Rouen and Paris – one of medieval France's three richest cities.

On the south bank the "châtelet des Tourelles" protected access to the bridge. This was the site of the battle on 8 May 1429 which allowed Joan of Arc to enter and lift the siege of the Plantagenets during the Hundred Years' War, with the help of the royal generals Dunois and Florent d'Illiers. The city's inhabitants have continued to remain faithful and grateful to her to this day, calling her "la pucelle d'Orléans" (the maid of Orléans), offering her a middle-class house in the city, and contributing to her ransom when she was taken prisoner.

1453 to 1699 Edit

Once the Hundred Years' War was over, the city recovered its former prosperity. The bridge brought in tolls and taxes, as did the merchants passing through the city. King Louis XI also greatly contributed to its prosperity, revitalising agriculture in the surrounding area (particularly the exceptionally fertile land around Beauce) and relaunching saffron farming at Pithiviers. Later, during the Renaissance, the city benefited from its becoming fashionable for rich châtelains to travel along the Loire valley (a fashion begun by the king himself, whose royal domains included the nearby châteaus at Chambord, Amboise, Blois, and Chenonceau).

The University of Orléans also contributed to the city's prestige. Specializing in law, it was highly regarded throughout Europe. John Calvin was received and accommodated there (and wrote part of his reforming theses during his stay), and in return Henry VIII of England (who had drawn on Calvin's work in his separation from Rome) offered to fund a scholarship at the university. Many other Protestants were sheltered by the city. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known by his pseudonym Molière, also studied law at the University, but was expelled for attending a carnival contrary to university rules.

From 13 December 1560 to 31 January 1561, the French States-General after the death of Francis II of France, the eldest son of Catherine de Médicis and Henry II. He died in the Hôtel Groslot in Orléans, with his queen Mary at his side.

The cathedral was rebuilt several times. The present structure had its first stone laid by Henry IV, and work on it took a century. It thus is a mix of late Renaissance and early Louis XIV styles, and one of the last cathedrals to be built in France.

1700–1900 Edit

When France colonised America, the territory it conquered was immense, including the whole Mississippi River (whose first European name was the River Colbert), from its mouth to its source at the borders of Canada. Its capital was named la Nouvelle-Orléans in honour of Louis XV's regent, the duke of Orléans, and was settled with French inhabitants against the threat from British troops to the north-east.

The Dukes of Orléans hardly ever visited their city since, as brothers or cousins of the king, they took such a major role in court life that they could hardly ever leave. The duchy of Orléans was the largest of the French duchies, starting at Arpajon, continuing to Chartres, Vendôme, Blois, Vierzon, and Montargis. The duke's son bore the title duke of Chartres. Inheritances from great families and marriage alliances allowed them to accumulate huge wealth, and one of them, Philippe Égalité, is sometimes said to have been the richest man in the world at the time. His son, King Louis-Philippe I, inherited the Penthièvre and Condé family fortunes.

1852 saw the creation of the Compagnies ferroviaires Paris-Orléans and its famous gare d'Orsay in Paris. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the city again became strategically important thanks to its geographical position, and was occupied by the Prussians on 13 October that year. The armée de la Loire was formed under the orders of General d'Aurelle de Paladines and based itself not far from Orléans at Beauce.

1900 to present Edit

During the Second World War, the German army made the Orléans Fleury-les-Aubrais railway station one of their central logistical rail hubs. The Pont Georges V was renamed "pont des Tourelles". [10] A transit camp for deportees was built at Beaune-la-Rolande. During the war, the American Air Force heavily bombed the city and the train station, causing much damage. The city was one of the first to be rebuilt after the war: the reconstruction plan and city improvement initiated by Jean Kérisel and Jean Royer was adopted as early as 1943, and work began as early as the start of 1945. This reconstruction in part identically reproduced what had been lost, such as Royale and its arcades, but also used innovative prefabrication techniques, such as îlot 4 under the direction of the architect Pol Abraham. [11]

The big city of former times is today an average-sized city of 250,000 inhabitants. It is still using its strategically central position less than an hour from the French capital to attract businesses interested in reducing transport costs.

Heraldry Edit

According to Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun in La France Illustrée, 1882, Orléans's arms are "gules, three caillous in cœurs de lys argent, and on a chief azure, three fleurs de lys Or." Charle Grandmaison, in the Dictionnaire Héraldique of 1861, states that it is "Or, with three hearts in gules", without the chief of France. Sometimes, in faulty designs, we find it described "gules, three fleurs de lys argent, and on a chief azure three fleurs de lys Or." [12]

The design shown left shows 3 "cœurs de lys" (heart of a lily), seen from above. This "cœurs de lys" is therefore not a true lily, which would have 6 tepals, but a hypothetical aerial view of a symbolic lily. It has probably also been stylised more and more in heraldry, as in the heart in a pack of cards. Certain authors solve the problem by calling this symbol a "tiercefeuille", defined as a stemless clover leaf, with one leaf at the top and two below, thus making this coat of arms "gules, with three reversed tiercefeuilles in argent, etc".

Motto Edit

"Hoc vernant lilia corde" (granted by Louis XII, then duke of Orléans), meaning "It is by this heart that lilies flourish" or "This heart makes lilies flourish", referring to the fleur de lys, symbol of the French royal family.

Public transport Edit

TAO manages buses and tram lines in Orléans. The first tram line was inaugurated November 20, 2000 and the second line on June 30, 2012. The network contains 29.3km of rail and transported 77,000 passengers in 2014. [15]

Roads and highway Edit

Orléans is an autoroute intersection : the A10 (linking Paris to Bordeaux) links to the commune outskirts, and A71 (whose bridge over the Loire is outside the commune limits) begins here, heading for the Mediterranean via Clermont-Ferrand (where it becomes the A75).

Railway Edit

Orléans is served by two main railway stations: the central Gare d'Orléans and the Gare des Aubrais-Orléans, in the northern suburbs. Most long-distance trains call only at the Les Aubrais-Orléans station, which offers connections to Paris, Lille, Tours, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Nevers, and several regional destinations.

Orléans is the birthplace of:

    (born 1982), French writer (born 1977), football player (born 1995), basketball player (1877–1965), geographer
  • Maxence Boitez (Ridsa) (born 1990), singer (1797–1849), anatomist (1790–1857), classical pianist and composer (born 1967), football player (born 1975), actress, not born in Orléans, but grew up there (1948–2020), linguist (1509–1546), scholar and printer (1948–2020), historian (1878–1968), cyclist (1844–1904), neurologist (1550–1613), physician (1876–1932), sculptor (1607–1646), Jesuitmissionary (1797–1873), orientalist (1857–1934), historian (1570–1632), Renaissance architect (1834–1903), writer and musicologist (born 1992), football player (born 1947), composer (1873–1914), poet and essayist (1722–1794), physician (born 1989), basketball player (born 1982), basketball player (born 1993), football player (1904–1944), jurist and politician (born 1954), composer

Historical and secular landmarks Edit

  • The Gallo-Roman town-wall on the north side of the cathedral (4th century AD) and along the rue de la Tour-Neuve
  • The Hôtel Groslot, built between 1550 and 1555 for Jacques Groslot, "bailli d'Orléans" by Jacques Ier Androuet du Cerceau. King François II of France died there in 1560. Kings Charles IX, Henri III of France and Henri IV of France stayed there. The "Hôtel" was restored in 1850. The building became the town Hall of Orléans in 1790 (weddings are still celebrated inside).
  • The hôtel de la Vieille Intendance (early 15th century) (otherwise named hôtel Brachet, formerly "The King's house"), real gothic-renaissance style château made of bricks. [16] Nowadays housing the Administrative Court of Orléans. One can admire its frontage from the entrance in the rue de la Bretonnerie. Yet, the building – which sheltered the highest figures of the kingtom passing by the city, and maybe some kings themselves (Henri IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV of France) – can easily be observed from its gardens, opened to the public (entrance rue d'Alsace-Lorraine).
  • The hôtel de la Motte-Sanguin (18th century) and its gardens, manor built at the behest of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1747–1793), cousin of the King Louis XVI. He was surnamed "Philippe Égalité" / "equality" referring to his support to the 1789 revolutionaries. Nicknamed "the richest man on earth" he voted in favour of the death penalty against his own cousin the king Louis XVI. This is a classic style princely residence (and even royal, since Philippe Égalité's heir accessed the throne of France under the name of Louis-Philippe Ier). It's part of a public park opened to the public (via the Solférino street).
  • The school of artillery, next to the Hôtel de la Motte-Sanguin which it is often confused with, formerly housing a military school, it was built in the 19th century near the Loire river. [17]
  • Remains of the University of Orléans (a 15th-century building housing the thesis room), founded in 1306 by pope Clement V, in which, among many other great historical figures, the Protestant John Calvin studied and taught. The University was so famous that it attracted students from all over Europe, particularly Germany. The city of Orléans is one of the cradles of Protestantism.
  • The House of Louis XI (end of the 15th century), on Saint-Aignan square. Built at the behest of the king, who particularly revered Saint Aignan. [18]
  • The House of Joan of Arc, where she stayed during the siege of Orléans (this is actually an approximate reconstitution, the original building being bombed in 1940 during the Battle of France)
  • Place du Martroi, heart of the city, with the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc at its center, made by Denis Foyatier. This statue was damaged during the Second World War, then repaired by Paul Belmondo, father of the famous 1950s to 1980s French actor.
  • Duke of Orléans' Chancellerie (XVIIIe), located next to the Place du Matroi, also bombed during the Second world war, only the frontage resisted.
  • The Bannier gate-house, discovered in 1986 under the statue of Joan of Arc (Place du Martroi). It was built in the 14th century. It can be seen through a window in the subterranean car-park under the square, or visited under certain conditions.
  • The rue de Bourgogne and surrounding streets, Orléans' main street since the Antiquity, it's the former Roman decumanus, crossing the city from east to west. Joan of Arc entered the city in 1429 by the "Bourgogne" gatehouse situated at its Easter end. Until today it is still giving access to the "Prefecture", where the "Prefet" (officer who represents the French State in the Region) lives, many pubs, night clubs, restaurants and shops such as the "Galeries Lafayette". It is more than a mile long. One can admire many medieval houses on its sides.
  • The Tour Blanche / White Tower, it is one of the only medieval defensive towers remaining in the city (still in use at the time of the siege of Orléans). It nowadays houses city's archaeological department.
  • The Docks, (Port of Orléans) once the most important inland port of France (18th century). While boats could not sail on the river Seine because of the windings, they could sail to Orléans on the Loire river with the wind in their back. Then the merchandise was brought to Paris by roadways. Wine, and sugar from the colonies, were shipped to Orléans where they were stored and refined. Vinegar is still a city' speciality due to the lapsing of wine stocks during the shipment. One can admire the old pavement of the docks (18th and 19th centuries) on the north bank of the river in the city and on the island in the middle, that was used to channel the water
  • The Hôpital Madeleine (former hospital), built by King Louis XIV (18th century) and his successors (notably an important part of the 18th century).
  • Saint-Charles chapel, located within the grounds of the Madeleine Hospital, it was built in 1713 by Jacques V Gabriel, one of Louis XIV architects.
  • The Hôtel Cabu, otherwise named house of Diane de Poitiers, built at the behest of Philippe Cabu, barrister, in 1547, famous architect Jacques Ier Androuet du Cerceau providing the plans.
  • The Hôtel Hatte, 16th century. Today's Charles-Péguy Center.
  • The Hôtel Toutin, 16th century
  • The Hôtel Pommeret d'Orléans, 16th century
  • The Hôtel Ducerceau, 16th century
  • The maison de la coquille, 16th century
  • The Hôtel des Créneaux, former city hall, flanked by its bell tower (15th century). It nowadays houses the city's school of music. This is a magnificent piece of late gothic secular architecture (15th century) that reminds the famous and much more recent Parisian city hall.
  • The House of Jean Dalibert, 16th century
  • The Study of Jacques Bouchet (16th century), which can be admired from the public square "Jacques Bouchet"
  • The mansions, rue d'Escure (17th and 18th centuries)
  • The "Préfecture" : former Benedictine monastery, built in 1670 and housing the "Préfecture du Loiret" since 1800.
  • The Pont de l'Europe, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is an inclined bow-string ark bridge particularly original.
  • The Pont Royal / George V Royal bridge, the oldest bridge of the city. Built between 1751 and 1760, at the request of Daniel-Charles Trudaine, administrator and civil engineer. It was renamed in honour of King George V after the World War II out of respect of Britain's role in the war.
  • The Pont des Tourelles, built in 1140 and demolished in 1760, was the first stone-made bridge of Orléans. When the river Loire is low, one can see remains of it in the water
  • The Palais épiscopal d'Orléans, former Bishop's Palace. It was built between 1635 and 1641. Napoléon stayed there. It is nowadays housing the international center for research, part of University of Orléans.
  • The courthouse (18th to 20th centuries)
  • The "salle de l'Institut", located on the "place Sainte Croix", is a small concert hall which can be converted into a ballroom. Its acoustics are remarkable.
  • Mansions, rue de la Bretonnerie. This street concentrates many particular mansions, of all styles and ages (15th to 20th centuries). High society members, politicians, barristers, doctors. continue to live there.
  • Mansions, rue d'Alsace-Lorraine, 19th century bourgeoisie style houses.
  • Statue La Baigneuse by Paul Belmondo, aside the rue Royale (1955).
  • Statue of Calvin, by Daniel Leclercq, facing the Calvinist temple (2009). [19]
  • The FRAC Centre building named "Les turbulences", an advanced piece of architecture covered with L.E.Ds.
  • Memorial Museum to the Children of Vel d'Hiv at the Centre d'étude et de recherche sur les camps d'internement du Loiret (Study and Research Centre on the Internment Camps in Loiret), commemorating over 4,000 Jewish children who were concentrated at the Vélodrome d´Hiver cycling arena in Paris in July 1942, after which they were interned at either Pithiviers or Beaune-la-Rolande, and eventually deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp. [20]

• Many historical houses and mansions (hundreds) can still be admired in the city center which is one of the largest in France due to the great importance of the city until the 20th century. The historical center dating back to the 15th century extends far beyond the limits of the pedestrian sector that has been extensively restored in the past few years. In fact it corresponds to the portion of the modern city which is enclosed by the Boulevards. Many historical monuments remain in the non-pedestrian sectors of the city (for example, at rue Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance, at rue des Carmes, at rue de la Bretonnerie, at Square Saint-Aignan).

Museums Edit

Parks Edit

Media Edit

Music Edit

  • Annual week-long classical music festival Semaines musicales internationales d'Orléans, founded in 1968. [23]

Sport Edit

Orléans has a basketball team: Orléans Loiret Basket which is in the French first division. The club won the "Coupe de France" of basketball, its first major trophy, in the season 2009 – 2010.

Orléans also has a football club, the US Orléans, which plays in Ligue 2.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Food plays a major role in the country's social life. Wine and cheese are sources of national pride and reflect regional differences. Meals are ritualized, and full of social and cultural meaning. There are also political aspects to the meaning of food. For instance, there has recently been much concern about the quality of "engineered" food and a rejection of foods that have been genetically altered. Another recent concern has been la vache folle (mad cow disease) the French have rejected the importation of English beef, which has been a major issue in the EU.

The three main meals are le petit déjeuner (break-fast), le déjeuner (lunch), and le dîner (dinner). Although the midday meal had great importance in an agricultural economy and is still the main meal in rural areas, there is a tendency for families to eat the largest meal in the evening. Breakfast is a light meal of bread, cereal, yogurt, and coffee or hot chocolate. Lunch and dinner generally involve several courses, at minimum a first course ( l'entree ) and a main dish ( le plat ), followed by cheese and/or dessert. In restaurants, it is common to have a price that includes all these courses, with a choice of dishes. Children eat a snack after school, le goûter or quatre-heures, which usually includes cookies, bread and jam or chocolate, and a drink.

Meals involve a succession of courses eaten one at a time. A typical family meal starts with a soup, followed by vegetables and a meat dish and then a salad, cheese, and dessert. Wine is commonly served at meals. Children begin to drink wine during family dinners in their early teens, often drinking wine diluted with water. Most daily food preparation is done by wives and mothers in family settings even if both spouses work full-time. The need to prepare wholesome meals that reflect traditional values is an increasing source of stress for working women who feel pressed for time. Convenience foods are becoming more prevalent, and fast food is a growing trend.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Large family gatherings and dinner parties involve more elaborate food preparation and more courses than daily family meals. At such occasions, drink is more important. An apéritif is served with small snacks or appetizers before the meal. Different regions have particular apéritifs : pastis is associated with southern France, and Suze (gentian liqueur) with the Auvergne. Wines complement the courses. Champagne often is served to mark ceremonial occasions and is drunk after the meal. This is followed by coffee and a digestif (liqueur). It is not uncommon for ceremonial meals to last three or more hours. In Normandy, a tradition that involves having a drink of calvados after each course further lengthens the meal.

Holidays are associated with special foods. Elaborate meals are served on Christmas Eve by Catholic families who attend midnight Mass. These meals involve salmon, oysters, turkey, and la bûche de noël cake. In many regions, crêpes are eaten on 2 February, the Feast of the Virgin. The ceremonial nature and symbolism of food are evident in rural wedding ceremonies. Often, mixtures of food and drink are presented to the wedding couple in a chamber pot in the early hours of the morning after the wedding. These mixtures can include champagne and chocolate or savory soups with carrots and onion.

In many rural regions, it is still common for families to slaughter a pig each winter and make sausages, patés, hams, roasts, and chops for freezing. These are ceremonial occasions, and each person who helps the family is given a portion of the pig.

Basic Economy. The "thirty glorious years" of expansion of industry after World War II ended with the oil crises of the 1970s. Since then, the country has rebuilt its economy and has one of the four leading economies in Western Europe. Most of the gross national product (GNP) comes from services, with industry generating one fourth of the GNP. France is also a major agricultural nation and is self-sufficient in this sector. Agriculture now accounts for less than 3 percent of the GNP, however. The major agricultural crop is wheat. High unemployment has plagued the country since the 1970s, particularly among youth. The unemployment rate was almost 13 percent in 1997. Inclusion in the EU has had a major impact on the economy, opening some markets and restricting others. In 2002, France will convert from the franc to the euro for all financial transactions. After several decades of nationalization of major industries, France deregulated those sectors in the 1990s, to create a freer market.

Land Tenure and Property. Until the middle of the twentieth century, agriculture was dominated by small holdings and family farms. Two factors have affected rural land holdings since World War II. There has been an acceleration of the rural exodus leading to a strong migration toward cities, along with a consolidation of farm lands that had been scattered through inheritance patterns. This was called le remembrement and was more successful in some regions than in others.

Commercial Activities. There are many small businesses and shops on city streets, and street markets thrive in the major cities. In the centers of towns, small shops and specialty boutiques abound. However, there are also large hypermarchés or grandes surfaces at the outskirts of most cities that sell food, clothing, and furniture. Prices are fixed in stores for the most part, but at markets there is still a lot of bargaining. The commercial services of rural villages have declined during the last twenty years, as a result of depopulation and the attraction of new chain stores. Increasingly, the butchers, bakers, and grocers have closed shop, and people make purchases in small shopping markets or travel to the nearest city to buy less expensive goods.

Major Industries. Industry historically was centered in the northeast and eastern part of the nation, primarily in Paris, Lille, and Lyon. This has changed with the penetration of industry into the hinterlands and the south. The leading industries are steel, machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aeronautics, electronics, mining, and textiles. Tourism is a growing industry in the countryside. Food processing and agribusiness are important to the national economy. The government controls several industrial sectors, including railroads, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunications. A move toward privatizing these industries has been under way since the early 1990s.

Trade. Although the country traditionally took a protectionist stance toward trade and did not play a major role in the world economy, this has changed with the opening of markets through the European Economic Community and the Common Market. Foreign trade grew during the 1950s, under de Gaulle, and by the mid-1960s, France was the fourth largest exporter in the world. Most exports

Division of Labor. Employment is categorized by the eight PCS (professions and socioprofessional categories): farmers artisans, small shopkeepers, and small business managers professionals middle management white-collar workers manual workers unemployed persons who have never worked and military personnel. While the nation had a large agricultural population well into the twentieth century, only 3 percent of the people now work in that sector, although 10 percent of the population works in either agriculture or agribusiness. Unemployment (almost 12 percent in 1998) is higher among women and youth. Labor unions are strong. The current thirty-nine-hour workweek will fall to thirty-five hours in 2002.

A Brief History of French Cuisine

When you think of fine food, you may well think of French cuisine, but how did this type of food become so highly revered? As a culinary arts student you will not only study how to prepare food, but the history and culture behind food. Here is a brief history of some French cuisine to get you started on your culinary journey!

Back in Time: Medieval Cuisine

The historical background of French food goes back to the medieval times. During this era, French cuisine was fundamentally the same as Moorish Cuisine. It was availed in a manner called service en confusion, meaning that meals were served at the same time. Meals comprised of spiced meats, for example, pork, poultry, beef, and fish.

In numerous occasions, meals where dictated by the period, and the kind of food that was in abundance. Meats were smoked and salted to preserve, vegetables were as well salted and put in jugs to save for the winter months.

During this time the presentation of the food was also critical. The richer and more beautiful the display, the better, and cooks would utilize consumable things, for example, egg yolk, saffron, spinach, and sunflower for color. One of the most unrestrained dinners of this time was a peacock or roast swan, which was sewn back into its skin and quills to look intact. The feet and nose were plated with gold to finish the exhibition.

Moving Ahead: Influences in French Cooking

During the 15th and 16th centuries the French were influenced by the progressing culinary arts in Italy. Much of this happened because of Catherine de' Medici (a Florentine princess) who married Henry duc d'Orleans (who later became King Henry II). Italian cooks were light years ahead of French culinary specialists. These chefs had started making a variety of dishes. For example, manicotti, and lasagna. In addition, they had tested the use of ingredients like garlic, truffles, and mushrooms.

When Catherine wedded King Henry II, she carried alongside her Italian cooks who in turn acquainted Italian culinary practices with the French court. Despite the fact that the culinary cultures of these two nations have taken distinctive ways, the French owe a lot of their culinary advancement to the Italians and their intervention in the 1500s.

A Restrictive Regime Halts Culinary Advancements

The period between the 16th and 18th centuries was called the Ancien Regime, and during this time Paris was alluded to as a focal point of culture and activity, including culinary activity. In the Ancien Regime distribution was managed by the city government as societies, and these organizations set up confinements that permitted certain food businesses to work in assigned regions.

Guilds were isolated into two groups: individuals who provided the raw materials to make food, and the general population who sold already prepared food. The restriction set up by societies hampered the advancement of culinary arts during this time, by limiting certain gourmet experts to allotted territories.

The Advent of Haute Cuisine

During the 17th and 18th century, there was an advancement in Haute Cuisine or simply "High Cuisine", and its origins can be discovered in the recipes of a gourmet specialist named La Varenne. He was the writer of what is referred to today as the first "true French cookbook".

Not similar to the cooking styles of the medieval times, Verenne's cookbook (Cvisinier François) had new recipes which concentrated on modest and less extravagant meals. It was a popular trend all through the historical background of French food, with more culinary specialists continuing to tone down on the plenitude of a meal, and concentrating on the ingredients in the food.

The French Revolution Brings Many Changes

The French Revolution additionally achieved a defining moment in the food industry, since it initiated the fall of guilds. With guilds no longer functional, any French cook could create as well as offer any kind of food product they wished. This led to a type of enlightenment inside the French food industry. More gourmet specialists started to explore different avenues regarding different types of ingredients and meals.

In the late 19th century and mid-20th century there started a modernization of haute cooking. Much of this new food owes its improvement to Georges Escoffier Auguste. Auguste was chef and a proprietor of numerous restaurants, and in addition, a culinary writer. A lot of Escoffier strategies in modernizing haute cooking were drawn from the formulas invented by Marine-Antonie Carême, a pioneer of grande cuisine.

By streamlining Carême's formulas and also including his own particular touches, Escoffier was able to discover a modern day French cuisine. In his endeavors to modernize French food Escoffier additionally established a framework to organize and manage a modern kitchen, known as mise en place.

If you would like learn more about cooking, cuisine, and the culture of food, consider ECPI University and our Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts. With an accelerated schedule and year-round classes, you could earn your degree in as little as 15 months. For more information, contact an ECPI University admissions representative.

It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

Geography of France

Abbeville, Ajaccio, Albertville, Albi, Amiens, Angers, Angouleme, Aurillac, Bastia, Besançon, Bordeaux, Belfort, Brest, Brive, Caen, Cahors, Calais, Cannes, Carcassonne, Chamonix, Charleville-Mezieres, Chatellerault, Chinon, Clermont-Ferrand, Colmar, Deauville, Dieppe, France, Digne-les-Bains, Dijon, Dole, Domremy, Dreux, Dunkerque, Evreux, Grenoble, La Baule, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Mende, Metz, Mont-de-Marsan, Montauban, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Nimes, Orléans, Paris, Pau, Perigueux, Perpignan, Poitiers, Quimper, Reims, Rennes, Rodez, Roubaix,Rouen, Saint-Gaudens, Saint-Etienne, Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Tropez, Saumur, Sete, Soissons, Strasbourg, Tarbes, Toulon, Toulouse, Tours, Tourcoing, Valence, Vichy

Topography of France viewed from Space

France, viewed from the NASA Shuttle Topography Radar Mission.

France, viewed from the NASA Shuttle”:

France, viewed from the NASA Shuttle Topography Radar Mission.
Larger picture

This image of France was generated with data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). For this broad view the resolution of the data was reduced, resampled to a Mercator projection and the French border outlined.

The variety of landforms comprising the country is readily apparent.

The upper central part of this scene is dominated by the Paris Basin, which consists of a layered sequence of sedimentary rocks. Fertile soils over much of the area make good agricultural land. The River Seine flows through.

The Normandie coast to the upper left is characterized by high, chalk cliffs, while the Brittany coast (the peninsula to the left) is highly indented where deep valleys were drowned by the sea, and the Biscay coast to the southwest is marked by flat, sandy beaches.

To the south, the Pyreneesform a natural border between France and Spain, and the south-central part of the country is dominated by the ancient Massif Central.

Subject to volcanism that has only subsided in the last 10,000 years, these central mountains are separated from the Alps by the north-south trending Rhone River Basin.

Two visualization methods were combined to produce the image: shading and color coding of topographic height.

The shade image was derived by computing topographic slope in the northwest-southeast direction, so that northwest slopes appear bright and southeast slopes appear dark.

Color coding is directly related to topographic height, with green at the lower elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest elevations.

Elevation data used in this image were acquired by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, launched on Feb. 11, 2000.

SRTM used the same radar instrument that comprised the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) that flew twice on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1994. SRTM was designed to collect 3-D measurements of the Earth’s surface.

To collect the 3-D data, engineers added a 60-meter (approximately 200-foot) mast, installed additional C-band and X-band antennas, and improved tracking and navigation devices.

Location: 42 to 51.5 ° North, 5.5 West to 8 ° East.

Orientation: North toward the top, Mercator projection.

Image Data: shaded and colored SRTM elevation model.

Original Data Resolution: 1 arcsecond (

Date Acquired: February 2000.
Image Courtesy SRTM Team NASA/JPL/NIMA

France’s climate is temperate, but divided into four distinct climatic areas. The oceanic climate of western France brings average rainfall spread over many days, and modest annual temperature variations (Brittany, Normandy, Atlantic Loire, Loire Valley). Central and eastern France’s continental climate harbours cold winters and hot summers (the Champagne region, Burgundy, Alsace). The Mediterranean climate of south-eastern France is responsible for hot, dry summers, with rainfall from October to April (when the weather is damp but mild) and ample sunshine all year round (Provence, Côte d'Azur and Corsica). Above 600-800m altitudes, France’s mountain climate brings heavy rainfall, and snow three to six months per year.

France is much larger than many people realise! Stretching 1,000km (600 miles) from north to south and the same from east to west, it’s the third largest country in Europe after Russia and Ukraine, covering an area of 551,500km² (213,000 square miles).

Metropolitan France has four coastlines – the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea – with a combined coastline length of 3,427km (2,129 miles). With the exception of its north-eastern border, the country is bounded either by water or by mountains – namely the Rhine and Jura, the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Outside metropolitan France, the national territory extends to the ‘départements d’outre-mer’ and ‘territoires d’outre-mer’, collectively referred to as ‘DOM-TOMs’. These are French Guiana in South America the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin in the Caribbean the islands of Réunion and Mayotte off the coast of Africa Saint-Pierre and Miquelon south-east of Canada and French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna in the South Pacific. With the inclusion of these overseas territories, France’s total land area rises to 675,417km² (254,000 square miles).

Hugh Capet becomes King 987

After a period of heavy fragmentation within the regions of modern France, the Capet family were rewarded with the title “Duke of the Franks.” In 987, the first duke's son Hugh Capet (939–996) ousted his rival Charles of Lorraine and declared himself King of West Francia. It was this kingdom, notionally large but with a small power base, which would grow, slowly incorporating the neighboring areas, into the powerful kingdom of France during the Middle Ages.

France’s climate is temperate, but divided into four distinct climatic areas. The oceanic climate of western France brings average rainfall spread over many days, and modest annual temperature variations (Brittany, Normandy, Atlantic Loire, Loire Valley). Central and eastern France’s continental climate harbours cold winters and hot summers (the Champagne region, Burgundy, Alsace). The Mediterranean climate of south-eastern France is responsible for hot, dry summers, with rainfall from October to April (when the weather is damp but mild) and ample sunshine all year round (Provence, Côte d'Azur and Corsica). Above 600-800m altitudes, France’s mountain climate brings heavy rainfall, and snow three to six months per year.

France is much larger than many people realise! Stretching 1,000km (600 miles) from north to south and the same from east to west, it’s the third largest country in Europe after Russia and Ukraine, covering an area of 551,500km² (213,000 square miles).

Metropolitan France has four coastlines – the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea – with a combined coastline length of 3,427km (2,129 miles). With the exception of its north-eastern border, the country is bounded either by water or by mountains – namely the Rhine and Jura, the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Outside metropolitan France, the national territory extends to the ‘départements d’outre-mer’ and ‘territoires d’outre-mer’, collectively referred to as ‘DOM-TOMs’. These are French Guiana in South America the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin in the Caribbean the islands of Réunion and Mayotte off the coast of Africa Saint-Pierre and Miquelon south-east of Canada and French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna in the South Pacific. With the inclusion of these overseas territories, France’s total land area rises to 675,417km² (254,000 square miles).

Watch the video: Η ιστορία της Γαλλίας (July 2022).


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