France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
French battleship France
France was the last ship of the four Courbet-class battleships, the first dreadnoughts built for the French Navy. The ship was completed just before World War I, she spent the war in the Mediterranean. France, accompanied by her sister ship Jean Bart, was sent to the Black Sea in 1919 to oppose the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War, her crew mutinied in April 1919 from a combination of war-weariness, Communist sympathizers in the crew and difficult conditions. The mutiny and general lack of morale among her crew caused her to return to France that month. Striking an uncharted rock off the French coast in 1922, she foundered four hours later. By 1909 the French Navy was convinced of the superiority of the all-big-gun battleship like HMS Dreadnought over the mixed-calibre designs like the Danton class which had preceded the Courbets; the following year, the new Minister of the Navy, Augustin Boué de Lapeyrère, selected a design, comparable to the foreign dreadnoughts under construction to be built as part of the 1906 Naval Programme.
The ships were 166 metres long overall and had a beam of 27 metres and a mean draught of 9.04 metres. They displaced 23,475 tonnes at 25,579 tonnes at deep load, their crew increased to 1,187 when serving as a flagship. The ships were powered by two licence-built Parsons steam turbine sets, each driving two propeller shafts. France had 24 Belleville boilers to provide steam for her turbines; these boilers were coal-burning with auxiliary oil sprayers and were designed to produce 28,000 metric horsepower. The ships had a designed speed of 21 knots; the Courbet-class ships carried enough coal and fuel oil to give them a range 4,200 nautical miles at a speed of 10 knots. The main battery of the Courbet class consisted of twelve Canon de 305-millimetre mle 1906–1910 guns mounted in six twin-gun turrets, with two pairs of superfiring turrets fore and aft of the superstructure, a pair of wing turrets amidships, their secondary armament was twenty-two Canon de 138-millimetre mle 1910 guns, which were mounted in casemates in the hull.
Four Canon de 47-millimetre mle 1902 Hotchkiss guns were fitted, two on each broadside in the superstructure. They were armed with four 450-millimetre submerged torpedo tubes and could stow 10 mines below decks; the ships' waterline belt was thickest amidships. The gun turrets were protected by 250 mm of armour and 160 mm plates protected the casemates; the curved armoured deck was 40 mm thick on the 70 mm on the outer slopes. The conning tower had sides. France was ordered on 1 August 1911 from Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire; the ship was laid down on 30 November 1911 at its shipyard in Saint-Nazaire and launched on 7 November 1912. She was formally declared completed on 1 July 1914, although she did not enter service until 10 October, to carry the President of the French Republic, Raymond Poincaré, on a state visit to Saint Petersburg, escorted by her sister, Jean Bart that month. France, upon her return, was ordered, along with her three sister ships, to serve in the Mediterranean Sea against the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Navies.
They spent most of 1914 providing gunfire support for the Montenegrin Army until the submarine U-12 torpedoed Jean Bart on 21 December off Sazan Island. This forced the battleships to fall back to either Bizerte. After the French occupied the neutral Greek island of Corfu in 1916 they moved forward to Corfu and Argostoli, but their activities were limited as many of their crews were used to man anti-submarine ships. After the war and Paris supported Allied forces in the Black Sea in 1919 during the Southern Russia Intervention. Mutinies broke out on both ships in April 1919, but collapsed when Vice-Admiral Jean-Françoise-Charles Amet agreed to meet their main demand to take the ships home. 26 crewmen were sentenced to prison terms upon her return, although they were commuted in 1922 as part of a bargain between Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré and the parties of the Left. On 26 August 1922, she foundered four hours later. Of her crew of 900, only three were lost, she was not modernized before her loss.
Dumas, Robert. "The French Dreadnoughts: The 23,500 ton Courbet Class". In John Roberts. Warship. IX. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Pp. 154–164, 223–231. ISBN 978-0-87021-984-9. OCLC 26058427. Dumas, Robert & Guiglini, Jean. Les cuirassés français de 23,500 tonnes. Grenoble, France: Editions de 4 Seigneurs. OCLC 7836734. Gardiner, Robert & Chesneau, eds.. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922–1946. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-913-9. Gardiner, Robert & Gray, eds.. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8. Jordan, John & Dumas, Robert. French Battleships 1922–1956. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-416-8. Jordan, John & Caresse, Philippe. French Battleships of World War One. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-59114-639-1. Masson, Philippe. "The French Naval Mutinies, 1919". In Bell, Christopher M.. Cass Series: Naval Policy and History. 19. London: Frank Cass.
ISBN 978-0-7146-5456-0. Schee
Radio France is a French public service radio broadcaster. Radio France offers seven national networks: France Inter — Radio France's "generalist" station, featuring entertaining and informative talk mixed with a wide variety of music, plus hourly news bulletins with extended news coverage in the morning and early-evening peaks France Info — 24-hour news France Culture — cultural programming covering the arts, science, etc. together with in-depth news coverage at peak times France Musique — classical music and jazz France Bleu — a network of 44 regional stations, mixing popular music with locally based talk and information, including: France Bleu 107.1 — for the Paris-Île-de-France region France Bleu Béarn — Pyrénées-Atlantiques France Bleu Nord — Nord and Pas de Calais FIP — specialising in a wide range of music – classical, hip hop, chanson, blues, world music – and minimal speech Mouv' — pop music, aimed at a young audience Radio France's two principal missions are: To create and expand the programming on all of their stations.
6 November 1922: Radiola, the first French private radio transmitter, begins regular broadcasts. It changes its name to Radio Paris in 1924, it is followed by Radio Toulouse and Radio Lyon, in 1932/1933 by Radio Luxembourg. Before World War II, 14 commercial and 12 public sector radios operate in France. 1940–44: In both the German Occupied zone and under the Vichy regime in the south, radio is taken over by the State. 1942–43: With the agreement of Vichy, Radio Monte Carlo and its financial holding company la SOFIRAD are born. 1944: At the Liberation of France, the state broadcasting monopoly is retained for practical and ideological reasons. Public service radio broadcasting is ensured by the RDF, soon to be called the RTF the ORTF in 1964. 1955: The commercial station Europe No. 1 begins broadcasting from across the border in the Sarre region of Germany, freed from French occupation in that year. 1965: Under the management of Roland Dhordain, the four French radio stations are reorganised: France I and II are merged to "RTF Inter" renamed "France Inter".
1975: When the ORTF is broken up into separate TV channels, technical services, archive services and professional training and audiovisual creation services and radio, Radio France gains its independence from other media institutions as the state controlled public service radio broadcaster. 1981: Following pressure from the independent and commercial radio lobbies and pirate broadcasters, the newly elected President François Mitterrand allows the licensing of "free" radio stations, to become "radios locales privées" with a state subsidy and financed by commercial advertising, to group themselves into national networks. A private radio sector broadcasting from within French borders is reborn. 1999: The daily radio audience is 83%. They listen on average for over three hours a day. 99% of French homes have a radio. 80% of French households have a car radio, 26.8% a personal stereo. 2000: Radio France re-organises its radio network. France Bleu becomes a regional-only network on FM and several FIP stations in large cities were closed down and replaced with youth station Le Mouv'.
2015: Radio France announced the end of its Medium Wave broadcasts at the end of December 31. Radio France has its headquarters at the Maison de la Radio, a circular building designed by the architect Henry Bernard and inaugurated in December 1963 by President Charles de Gaulle, which stands beside the River Seine in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. In addition to housing Radio France's central services and the studios of several of its channels, the building is home to the Musée de Radio France, a museum of radio and television broadcasting and recording techniques; the building caught fire in October 2014. Radio France Internationale Public Francophone Radios Information from Geoff Hare, Newcastle University Radio France Radio France Streaming Online
France national football team
The France national football team represents France in international football and is controlled by the French Football Federation known as FFF, or in French: Fédération française de football. The team's colours are blue and red, the coq gaulois its symbol. France are colloquially known as Les Bleus; the French side are the reigning World Cup holders, having won the 2018 FIFA World Cup on 15 July 2018. France play home matches at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis and their manager is Didier Deschamps, they have won two FIFA World Cups, two UEFA European Championships, two FIFA Confederations Cups and one Olympic tournament. France experienced much of its success in four major eras: in the 1950s, 1980s, late 1990s/early 2000s, mid/late 2010s which resulted in numerous major honours. France was one of the four European teams that participated in the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and, although having been eliminated in the qualification stage six times, is one of only three teams that have entered every World Cup qualifying cycle.
In 1958, the team, led by Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine, finished in third place at the FIFA World Cup. In 1984, led by Ballon d'Or winner Michel Platini, won UEFA Euro 1984 and Football at the 1984 Summer Olympics. Under the captaincy of Didier Deschamps and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, France won the FIFA World Cup in 1998. Two years the team triumphed at UEFA Euro 2000. France won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003, reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, which it lost 5–3 on penalties to Italy; the team reached the final of UEFA Euro 2016, where they lost 1–0 to Portugal in extra time. France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup, defeating Croatia 4–2 in the final match on 15 July 2018; this was the second time they had won the tournament after winning it on home soil in 1998. France was the first national team that has won the three most important men's titles recognized by FIFA: the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, the Olympic tournament after victory in the Confederations Cup in 2001.
Since 2001, Argentina and Brazil are the other two national teams. They have won their respective continental championship; the France national football team was created in 1904 around the time of FIFA's foundation on 21 May 1904 and contested its first official international match on 1 May 1904 against Belgium in Brussels, which ended in a 3–3 draw. The following year, on 12 February 1905, France contested their first-ever home match against Switzerland; the match was played at the Parc des Princes in front of 500 supporters. France won the match 1–0 with the only goal coming from Gaston Cyprès. Due to disagreements between FIFA and the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques, the country's sports union, France struggled to establish an identity. On 9 May 1908, the French Interfederal Committee, a rival organization to the USFSA, ruled that FIFA would now be responsible for the club's appearances in forthcoming Olympic Games and not the USFSA. In 1919, the CFI transformed themselves into the French Football Federation.
In 1921, the USFSA merged with the FFF. In July 1930, France appeared in the inaugural FIFA World Cup, held in Uruguay. In their first-ever World Cup match, France defeated Mexico 4–1 at the Estadio Pocitos in Montevideo. Lucien Laurent became notable in the match as he scored not only France's first World Cup goal, but the first goal in World Cup history. Conversely, France became the first team to not score in a match after losing 1–0 to fellow group stage opponents Argentina. Another loss to Chile resulted in the team bowing out in the group stage; the following year saw the first selection of a black player to the national team. Raoul Diagne, of Senegalese descent, earned his first cap on 15 February in a 2–1 defeat to Czechoslovakia. Diagne played with the team at the 1938 World Cup, alongside Larbi Benbarek, one of the first players of North African origin to play for the national team. At the 1934 World Cup, France suffered elimination in the opening round. On the team's return to Paris, they were greeted as heroes by a crowd of over 4,000 supporters.
France hosted the 1938 World Cup and reached the quarter-finals, losing 3–1 to defending champions Italy. The 1950s saw France handed its first Golden Generation composed of players such as Just Fontaine, Raymond Kopa, Jean Vincent, Robert Jonquet, Maryan Wisnieski, Thadée Cisowski, Armand Penverne. At the 1958 World Cup, France reached the semi-finals losing to Brazil. In the third place match, France defeated West Germany 6–3 with Fontaine recording four goals, which brought his goal tally in the competition to 13, a World Cup record; the record still stands today. France hosted the inaugural UEFA European Football Championship in 1960 and, for the second straight international tournament, reached the semi-finals. In the round, France faced Yugoslavia and were shocked 5–4 despite being up 4–2 heading into the 75th minute. In the third-place match, France were defeated 2–0 by the Czechoslovakians; the 1960s and 70s saw France decline playing under several managers and failing to qualify for numerous international tournaments.
On 25 April 1964, Henri Guérin was installed as the team's first manager. Under Guérin, France failed to qualify for the 1964 European Nations' Cup; the team did return to major international play following qualification for the 1966 World Cup. The team lost in the group stage portion of the tournament. Guérin was fired follo
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris. At its peak in 1712, the territory of New France sometimes known as the French North American Empire or Royal New France, consisted of five colonies, each with its own administration: Canada, the most developed colony and divided into the districts of Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal. In the sixteenth century, the lands were used to draw from the wealth of natural resources such as furs through trade with the various indigenous peoples. In the seventeenth century, successful settlements began in Acadia, in Quebec by the efforts of Champlain. By 1765, the population of the new Province of Quebec reached 70,000 settlers; the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht resulted in France relinquishing its claims to mainland Acadia, the Hudson Bay and Newfoundland to England.
France established the colony of Île Royale, now called Cape Breton Island, where they built the Fortress of Louisbourg. Acadia had a difficult history, with the British causing the Great Upheaval with the forced expulsion of the Acadians in the period from 1755 to 1764; this has been remembered on July 28 each year since 2003. Their descendants are dispersed in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, in Maine and Louisiana in the United States, with small populations in Chéticamp, Nova Scotia and the Magdalen Islands; some went to France. In 1763, France had ceded the rest of New France, except the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, to Great Britain and Spain at the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years' War. Britain received Canada and the parts of French Louisiana which lay east of the Mississippi River – except for the Île d'Orléans, granted to Spain, along with the territory to the west – the larger portion of Louisiana. In 1800, Spain returned its portion of Louisiana to France under the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso.
However, French leader Napoleon Bonaparte in turn sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, permanently ending French colonial efforts on the North American mainland. New France became absorbed within the United States and Canada, with the only vestige remaining under French rule being the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. In the United States, the legacy of New France includes numerous placenames as well as small pockets of French-speaking communities. In Canada, institutional bilingualism and strong Francophone identities are arguably the most enduring legacy of New France. Around 1523, the Florentine navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano convinced King Francis I to commission an expedition to find a western route to Cathay. Late that year, Verrazzano set sail in Dieppe. After exploring the coast of the present-day Carolinas early the following year, he headed north along the coast anchoring in the Narrows of New York Bay; the first European to visit the site of present-day New York, Verrazzano named it Nouvelle-Angoulême in honour of the king, the former count of Angoulême.
Verrazzano's voyage convinced the king to seek to establish a colony in the newly discovered land. Verrazzano gave the names Francesca and Nova Gallia to that land between New Spain and English Newfoundland. In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of King Francis I, it was the first province of New France. The first settlement of 400 people, Fort Charlesbourg-Royal, was attempted in 1541 but lasted only two years. French fishing fleets continued to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Lawrence River, making alliances with Canadian First Nations that became important once France began to occupy the land. French merchants soon realized the St. Lawrence region was full of valuable fur-bearing animals the beaver, which were becoming rare in Europe; the French crown decided to colonize the territory to secure and expand its influence in America. Another early French attempt at settlement in North America took place in 1564 at Fort Caroline, now Jacksonville, Florida.
Intended as a haven for Huguenots, Caroline was founded under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière and Jean Ribault. It was sacked by the Spanish led by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés who established the settlement of St. Augustine on 20 September 1565. Acadia and Canada were inhabited by indigenous nomadic Algonquian peoples and sedentary Iroquoian peoples; these lands were full of valuable natural resources, which attracted all of Europe. By the 1580s, French trading companies had been set up, ships were contracted to bring back furs. Much of what transpired between the indigenous population and their European visitors around that time is not known, for lack of historical records. Other attempts at establishing permanent settlements were failures. In 1598, a French trading post was established on Sable Island, off the coast of Acadia, but was unsuccessful. In 1600, a trading post was established at Tadoussac. In 1604, a settlement w
France 24 is a state-owned international news and current affairs television network based in Paris. Its channels broadcast in French, English and Spanish, its English broadcast service is aimed at the overseas market, similar to DD India, WION, BBC World News, DW and RT. Based in the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux, the service started on 6 December 2006, it is aimed at a worldwide market and is broadcast via satellite and cable operators around the world, but additionally, in 2010, France 24 began broadcasting through its own iPhone and Android apps. The stated mission of the channels is to "provide a global public service and a common editorial stance". Since 2008 the channel has been wholly owned by the French government, via its holding company France Médias Monde, having bought out the minority share of the former partners: Groupe TF1 and France Télévisions; the budget is €100 million per year. France 24 is broadcast on four channels: in English, in Arabic and in Spanish. France 24's programming is divided more or less between news coverage and news magazines or special reports.
Along with 260 journalists of its own, France 24 can call on the resources of the two main French broadcasters as well as partners such as AFP and RFI. The CEO of France 24 is Alain de Pouzilhac. From 19 May 2010 and the Director of France 24 since 2012 is Marc Saikali, France 24 unveiled a new schedule that prioritizes the morning and evening slots, anchored live by the network's editorial staff. More programming space than before goes to business, sport and studio discussion; as from 2016, France 24 shares its French-language night programming with the France-based France Info. According to Marie-Christine Saragosse, president and CEO of France Médias Monde, "part of the value added of this public channel" would be the fact that " will be wide awake while others would be sleeping"; the media's perception was that the channel was a brainchild of former president Jacques Chirac, famous for defending the position of the French language in the world versus the English domination in this media category.
In 1987 French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac expressed his desire for an international television news channel in French and had requested a report into the activities of current international broadcasts from France and noted the collective offering was "fragmented and ineffective." With the arrival of François Mitterrand as President in 1981 and the naming of Michel Rocard as Prime Minister in 1988, the government launched a new project, Canal France International, a package of programmes aimed at making programmes in French for foreign audiences in Africa, to be developed in parallel as a television channel. The First Gulf War of 1990, relayed across the world by CNN International in particular, revealed the power of international news channels and their role in the formation of opinion. A parliamentary minister, Philippe Séguin, wished to create a French-language equivalent. In 1996, after nineteen governmental reports in ten years, Prime Minister Alain Juppé asked Radio France Internationale president Jean-Paul Cluzel to create a French international news channel.
Cluzel proposed in 1997 to group TV5, RFI, CFI within a corporation entitled Téléfi. The UMP-led government decided to follow that recommendation but, with the return of the Socialist Party to government and the nomination of Hubert Védrine, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, favoured the augmentation of existing outlets such as TV5, which started to produce its own programming, notably its news bulletins, which in turn created its own news team. Additionally with the creation of EuroNews in 1993, the media presence of France overseas became more complex, more fragmented, costlier, without being able to rely on a true round-the-clock international news channel. In 2002, President Jacques Chirac relaunched the project to create a French international news channel. Admittedly, we have with Agence France-Presse a remarkable information tool that we must continue to reinforce, notably in its international mission. Indeed, everyone here recognises the recent progress made by RFI, by TV5, by CFI, thanks to the efforts of their teams and to the determination of the public bodies.
But everybody notices that we are still far from having a large international news channel in French, capable of competing with the BBC or CNN."The recent crises have shown the handicap that a country suffers, a cultural area, which doesn't possess a sufficient weight in the battle of the images and the airwaves. Let us question, in the time of terrestrial television networks, of satellite, of the internet, on our organisation in this domain, notably in the dissipation of public funds which are reserved to them." On 7 March, speaking in the French Senate in front of foreign delegates to France, as part of his presidential campaign, Chirac said: "We must have the ambition of a big, round-the-clock news channel in French, equal to the BBC or CNN for the English-speaking world. It is essential for the influence of our country. For our expatriates, it would be a live and an immediate link to the mainland"After his reelection, the first reflections were engaged at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Do
SS France (1960)
SS France was a Compagnie Générale Transatlantique ocean liner, constructed by the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard at Saint-Nazaire and put into service in February 1962. At the time of her construction in 1960, the 316 m vessel was the longest passenger ship built, a record that remained unchallenged until the construction of the 345 m RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004. France was purchased by Norwegian Cruise Line in 1979, renamed SS Norway and underwent significant modifications that better suited her for cruising duties, she was renamed SS Blue Lady and sold to be scrapped in 2006, scrapping was completed in late 2008. France was the French Line flagship from 1961 to 1974, combining regular five days/nights transatlantic crossings with occasional winter cruises, as well as two world circumnavigations. During her last years, to save fuel costs, crossings took six days/nights; as Norway she was the flagship of the Norwegian Cruise Line from 1980 to 2001. Some, like ship historian John Maxtone-Graham, believe that France was purposely built to serve as both a liner and a cruise ship, stating: "Once again, the company had cruise conversion in mind... for cruises, all baffle doors segregating staircases from taboo decks were opened to permit free circulation throughout the vessel."
However, such as ship historian William Miller, have asserted that France was the "last purposely designed year-round transatlantic supership." France was constructed to replace the line's other ageing ships like SS Ile de France and SS Liberté, which were outdated by the 1950s. Without these vessels the French Line had no ability to compete against their rivals, most notably the Cunard Line, which had plans for constructing a new modern liner, it was rumoured that this ship would be a 75,000-ton replacement for their ships RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth. Further, the United States Lines had put into service in 1952 SS United States, which had broken all speed records on her maiden voyage, with an average speed of 35.59 knots. At first, the idea of two 35,000-ton running mates was considered to replace Ile de France and Liberté. Charles de Gaulle opined that it would be better for French national pride flagging due to the ongoing Algerian War of Independence, to construct one grand ocean liner, in the tradition of SS Normandie, as an ocean-going showcase for France.
The idea of such a publicly funded liner was controversial, leading to raucous debates in the French parliament. The dealing lasted three and a half years, though the letter commissioning the construction was signed by the Chairman of the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, Jean Marie, on 25 July 1956, debate about the form and construction schedule for France lasted a further year. Beyond the luxuries, the French Line had to face the realities that transatlantic passenger trade was forecast to decline due to increased air travel. Costs to operate ships were increasing due to prices of crude oil. Thus, the new ship would be smaller and cheaper to operate than Normandie, she would only be a two-class liner, which would, like the built SS Rotterdam, be able to be converted from a segregated, class restricted crossing mode to a unified, classless cruising mode, thereby allowing the ship to be more versatile in its operations. Despite these requirements, she was still to be the longest ship built, as well as one of the fastest, meaning not only an advanced propulsion system, but a hull design which would withstand the rigours of the North Atlantic at high speed.
Hull G19 was built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard, in Saint-Nazaire, her keel being laid down on 7 September 1957. She was built in a pioneering manner: rather than constructing a skeleton, covered in steel hull plating, large parts of the ship were prefabricated in other cities; the hull was welded, leading to weight savings, two sets of stabilisers were fitted. She was blessed by the Bishop of Nantes, Monseigneur Villepelet, launched on 11 May 1960, at 4:15 pm, by Madame Yvonne de Gaulle, wife of the President, was named France, in honour both of the country, of the two previous CGT ships to bear the name. By 4:22 pm France was afloat and under command of tugs. President De Gaulle was in attendance at the launch, gave a patriotic speech, announcing that France had been given a new Normandie, they were able to compete now with Cunard's Queens, the Blue Riband was within their reach. In reality, the 35 knots speed of United States would prove impossible to beat. After the launch, the propellers were installed, the distinctive funnels affixed to the upper decks, the superstructure completed, life boats placed in their davits, the interiors fitted out.
France undertook her sea trials on 19 November 1961, averaged an unexpected 35.21 knots. With the French Line satisfied, the ship was handed over, undertook a trial cruise to the Canary Islands with a full complement of passengers and crew. During this short trip she met, at sea, Liberté, on her way to the shipbreakers. France's maiden voyage to New York took place on 3 February 1962, with many of France's film stars and aristocracy aboard. On 14 December 1962, France carried the Mona Lisa from Le Havre to New York, where the painting was to embark on an American tour, she sailed the North Atlantic run between New York for thirteen years. By the beginning of the 1970s jet travel was by far more popular than