Nîmes is a city in the Occitanie region of southern France. It is the capital of the Gard department. Nîmes is located between the Cévennes mountains; the estimated population of Nîmes is 151,001. Dubbed the most Roman city outside Italy, Nîmes has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire when the city was a regional capital, home to 50,000–60,000 people. Several famous monuments are in Nîmes, such as the Maison Carrée; because of this, Nîmes is referred to as the French Rome. The city derives its name from that of a spring in the Roman village; the contemporary coat of arms of the city of Nîmes includes a crocodile chained to a palm tree with the inscription COL NEM, for Colonia Nemausus, meaning the "colony" or "settlement" of Nemausus, the local Celtic god of the Volcae Arecomici. Veterans of the Roman legions who had served Julius Caesar in his Nile campaigns, at the end of fifteen years of soldiering, were given plots of land to cultivate on the plain of Nîmes; the city was located on the Via Domitia, a Roman road constructed in 118 BC which connected Italy with Spain.
Its name appears in inscriptions in Gaulish as dede matrebo Namausikabo = "he has given to the mothers of Nîmes" and "toutios Namausatis" = "citizen of Nîmes". The site on which the built-up area of Nîmes has become established in the course of centuries is part of the edge of the alluvial plain of the Vistrenque River which butts up against low hills: to the northeast, Mont Duplan; the Neolithic site of Serre Paradis reveals the presence of semi-nomadic cultivators in the period 4000 to 3500 BC on the future site of Nîmes. The population of the site increased during the thousand-year period of the Bronze Age; the menhir of Courbessac stands near the airstrip. This limestone monolith of over two metres in height dates to about 2500 BC, must be considered the oldest monument of Nîmes; the Bronze Age has left traces of villages that were made out of huts and branches The Warrior of Grezan is considered to be the most ancient indigenous sculpture in southern Gaul. The hill named. During the third and 2nd centuries BC a surrounding wall was built, closed at the summit by a dry-stone tower, incorporated into the masonry of the Tour Magne.
The Wars of Gaul and the fall of Marseille allowed Nîmes to regain its autonomy under Rome. Nîmes became a Roman colony sometime before 28 BC, as witnessed by the earliest coins, which bear the abbreviation NEM. COL, "Colony of Nemausus"; some years a sanctuary and other constructions connected with the fountain were raised on the site. Nîmes was under Roman influence, though it was Augustus who made the city the capital of Narbonne province, gave it all its glory, it was known as the birthplace of the family of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. The city had an estimated population of 60,000 in the time of Augustus. Augustus gave the town a ring of ramparts reinforced by fourteen towers. An aqueduct was built to bring water from the hills to the north. Where this crossed the River Gard between Uzes and Remoulins, the spectacular Pont du Gard was built; this is 20 kilometres north east of the city. The Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire.
Nothing remains of some other monuments, the existence of, known from inscriptions or architectural fragments found in the course of excavations. It is known that the town had a civil basilica, a curia, a gymnasium and a circus; the amphitheatre dates from the end of the 2nd century AD and was one of the largest amphitheatres in the Empire. Emperor Constantine endowed the city with baths, it became the seat of the chief administrative officer of southern Gaul. The town was prosperous until the end of the 3rd century – during the 4th and 5th centuries, the nearby town of Arles enjoyed more prosperity. In the early 5th century the Praetorian Prefecture was moved from Trier in northeast Gaul to Arles; the Visigoths captured the city from the Romans in 473 AD. After the Roman period, in the days of invasion and decadence, the Christian Church established in Gaul since the 1st century AD, appeared to be the last refuge of classical civilization – it was remarkably organized and directed by a series of Gallo-Roman aristocrats.
However, when the Visigoths were accepted into the Roman Empire, Nîmes was included in their territory after the Frankish victory at the Battle of Vouillé. The urban landscape went through transformation with the Goths, but much of the heritage of the Roman era remained intact. By 725, the Muslim Umayyads had conquered the whole Visigothic territory of Septimania including Nîmes. In 736-737, Charles Martel and his brother led an expedition to Septimania and Provence, destroyed the city, including the amphitheatre, thereafter heading back north; the Muslim government came to an end in 752. In 754, an uprising took place against the Carolingian king, but was put down, count Radulf, a Frank, appointed as master of the city. After the events connected with the war, Nîmes was now only a shadow of the opulent Roman city it had once been; the local authorities installed themselves in the remains of the amphitheatre. Car
Jules Hardouin-Mansart was a French Baroque architect and builder whose major work included the Place des Victoires. His monumental work was designed to glorify the reign of Louis XIV of France. Born Jules Hardouin in Paris in 1646, he studied under his renowned great-uncle François Mansart, one of the originators of the classical tradition in French architecture, he began his career as an entrepreneur in building construction, in partnership with his brother Michel, but decided in 1672 to devote himself to architecture. In 1674 he became one of the group of royal architects working for Louis XIV, his first important project was the Château de Clagny, built for the King's consort, Madame de Montespan. He showed he was a master of bureaucratic diplomacy as well as design and construction, he studied under and collaborated with landscape designer André Le Nôtre, before working directly with the King himself. In 1677 he began working on the expansion of the royal Palace of Versailles, a project which occupied him for the rest of his life.
Soon afterward became a member of the Royal Academy of Architecture. In 1678 he became director of the work at Versailles. and the most prominent architect in the royal entourage. He was named First Architect of the King in 1681 and was raised to the nobility in 1682, he became intendant of the King in 1685, royal inspector-general of buildings 1691, under the elderly superintendent of buildings, whom he replaced in 1699. He owed his rise not just for his ability to please his patron with his designs, but because of his ability to manage enormous and complex projects with many elements and designers, he would sketch out an idea. In the latter part of his career he left more of the details to the architects who worked under him, notably Robert de Cotte, his chosen successor, he was given the title of Count of Sagonne in 1702, but died six months at the royal residence of Marly. Hardouin-Mansart was the leading master of the architectural style that became known as the Louis XIV style or French classicism.
A particular skill of Hardouin was his ability to create a wide variety of structures. He demonstrated an ability to adapt, modify and rehabilitate, without losing the character of the original building, but adding his own original variations on the theme, as he demonstrated in particular at the Palace of Versailles. Much of his success was due to his ability to select and guide talented collaborators, his collaborators included the interior designer Charles Le Brun, who designed many of the interiors of Versailles, in perfect harmony with his architecture, Robert de Cotte, a designer who became his son-in-law and in 1708 became his successor, completing the major projects he had begun in the Palace of Versailles. His architecture is characterized by simplification, he used long rows of columns in front of a facade to give an air of grandeur and to hide the irregularities of the structure. He used the architectural orders to give a special majesty to interior surfaces in the chapel of Versailles, the interiors of the Palace of Versailles and the Grand Trianon.
He was adept at creating a sense of awe, as he demonstrated in the dome of Les Invalides and in the garden facade of the Palace of Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors a Versailles. On March 1, 1676, François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, the Minister of War, summoned Hardouin-Mansart to take over construction of Les Invalides, the enormous hospital and chapel the King was building in the center of Paris for his pensioned and wounded soldiers; the project had been begun in 1671 by Libéral Bruant, some of the residential buildings were completed and occupied, but the centerpiece, the chapel for the soldiers, had not been begun. The King was not satisfied with the plans that were offered to him by Bruant, complained about the slowness of the work. On March 1, 1676, Louvois dismissed Bruant and summoned Hardouin-Mansart, little known outside the royal household, asked him to take over the church; the chapel planned by Bruant for the veterans was modest in size and decoration. Hardouin-Mansart proposed a much more grandiose project with two adjoining parts.
This was beyond what the Minister had proposed, but it pleased the King, after long discussion, Hardouin-Mansart was given the project not only for the church, but for the Hôtel as well. Hardouin-Mansart briskly organized and completed the construction of residences and infirmaries for the pensioners. In 1676 he began work on the portion of the church intended for the pensioners. By the summer of 1677 the roof was in place, in April 1678 he was able to order the woodwork of the stalls, in 1679, the cabinetry for the organ; the work on the royal chapel proceeded more slowly. Its distinctive feature was the dome
Les Invalides, formally the Hôtel national des Invalides, or as Hôtel des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, the Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dôme des Invalides, a large church, the tallest in Paris at a height of 107 meters, with the tombs of some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon. Louis XIV initiated the project by an order dated 24 November 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides; the architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The selected site was in the suburban plain of Grenelle. By the time the enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards, the largest being the cour d'honneur for military parades.
It was felt that the veterans required a chapel. Jules Hardouin-Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant's designs after the elder architect's death; this chapel was known as Église Saint-Louis des Invalides, daily attendance of the veterans in the church services was required. Shortly after the veterans' chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature; the domed chapel was finished in 1708. Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d'artillerie was located within the building to be joined by the musée historique des armées in 1896; the two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l'armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris; the reason was that the adoption of a conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose; the modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers. On the north front of Les Invalides, Hardouin-Mansart's chapel dome is large enough to dominate the long façade, yet harmonizes with Bruant's door under an arched pediment.
To the north, the courtyard is extended by a wide public esplanade where the embassies of Austria and Finland are neighbors of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all forming one of the grand open spaces in the heart of Paris. At its far end, the Pont Alexandre III links this grand urbanistic axis with the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais; the Pont des Invalides is downstream the Seine river. The buildings still comprise the Institution Nationale des Invalides, a national institution for disabled war veterans; the institution comprises: a retirement home a medical and surgical centre a centre for external medical consultations. In 1676, Jules Hardouin-Mansart was commissioned to construct a place of worship on the site, he designed a building. In this way, the King and his soldiers could attend mass while entering the place of worship though different entrances, as prescribed by court etiquette; this separation was reinforced in the 19th century with the erection of the tomb of Napoleon I, the creation of the two separate altars and with the construction of a glass wall between the two chapels.
When the Army Museum at Les Invalides was founded in 1905, the veterans' chapel was placed under its administrative control. It is now the cathedral of the Diocese of the French Armed Forces known as Cathédrale Saint-Louis-des-Invalides; the Dôme des Invalides is a large former church in the centre of the Les Invalides complex, 107 metres high. The dôme was designated to become Napoleon's funeral place by a law dated 10 June 1840. Ousted in 1815 by the allied armies, Napoleon had stayed so popular in France that Louis-Philippe, the King of France from 1830 to 1848, returned his "ashes" in 1840; the excavation and erection of the crypt, which modified the interior of the domed church, took twenty years to complete and was finished in 1861. Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the original for all baroque domes, the Dôme des Invalides is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. Mansart raised its drum with an attic storey over its main cornice, employed the paired columns motif in his more complicated rhythmic theme.
The Église Saint-Augustin de Paris is a Catholic church located at 46 boulevard Malesherbes in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The church was designed to provide a prominent vista at the end of the boulevard both of which were built during Haussmann's renovation of Paris under the Second French Empire; the closest métro station is Saint-Augustin During the reign of Napoleon III in the 1850s and 60s Paris experienced a dramatic transformation under the direction of Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Haussmann cut many boulevards through the crowded, medieval city placing prominent public buildings at the boulevard ends to provide impressive vistas; the boulevard Malesherbes was laid out cutting northwest from La Madeleine. Saint-Augustin, close to the spot where Haussmann was born, was built to provide a counterpoint to the famous columns of La Madeleine at the other end of the boulevard, it was designed to be visible from the Arc de Triomphe down the avenue de Friedland. The chosen site, an odd shaped lot at the intersection of four streets, the need for a dome of 200 feet so as to be visible from the Arc de Triomphe, dictated unusual proportions for the building.
The church was designed by Haussmann's fellow Protestant, architect Victor Baltard who famously designed Les Halles markets. While Baltard's use of iron in Saint-Augustin's structure is praised for its inventiveness, at least one critic has described the church as, "an eyesore: ridiculously sited, without proportion, crushed beneath an outsized dome." The neighborhood around the church is now one of the most expensive in Paris. Saint-Augustin was built between 1860 and 1868 in an eclectic style combining Tuscan Gothic and Romanesque elements; the structure is 300 feet in length and 240 feet in width, was one of the first sizable buildings in Paris constructed around a metal frame. Saint-Augustin's facade features a frieze by François Jouffroy depicting Jesus and the twelve apostles above the four evangelists. Internally, the stained glass windows depict bishops and martyrs of the first centuries and the cast-iron columns are decorated with polychrome angels. A statue of Joan of Arc, by Paul Dubois, was erected in the church in 1896.
The church features paintings by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, Émile Signol, Alexandre-Dominique Denuelle and sculpture by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and Henri Chapu. It was intended to be the resting place of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie who died in exile and were instead interred in St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough in England; the organ is celebrated in the world of organ building. The church's main organ was built by Charles Spackman Barker. One of the earliest organs to employ electricity, it features 54 stops with three 54-key manual keyboards and pedalboards. Jordan, David P.. Transforming Paris: The Life and Labors of Baron Haussman. Simon and Schuster. Official church website Lartnouveau.com article
Place du Carrousel
The Place du Carrousel is a public square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, located at the open end of the courtyard of the Louvre Palace, a space occupied, prior to 1883, by the Tuileries Palace. Sitting directly between the museum and the Tuileries Garden, the Place du Carrousel delineates the eastern end of the gardens just as the Place de la Concorde defines its western end; the name "carrousel" refers to a type of military dressage, an equine demonstration now called military drill. The Place du Carrousel was named in 1662, when it was used for such a display by Louis XIV. On 5 October 1789, a mob from Paris descended upon Versailles and forced the royal family — Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, their children, along with the comte de Provence, his wife, Madame Elisabeth, the youngest sister of the king — to move to Paris under the watchful eye of the Garde Nationale; the king and queen were installed in the Tuileries Palace under surveillance. During this time, there were many plots designed to help members of the royal family escape from France.
The queen rejected several. Other opportunities to rescue the family were frittered away by the indecisive king. After many delays, the escape occurred on 21 June 1791, it was a failure; the entire family was captured twenty-four hours at Varennes and taken back to Paris within a week On 20 June 1792, "a mob of terrifying aspect" broke into the Tuileries and made the king wear the bonnet rouge to show his loyalty to France. The vulnerability of the king was exposed on 10 August of that year when an armed mob, on the verge of forcing its way into the Tuileries Palace, forced the king and the royal family to seek refuge at the Legislative Assembly. An hour and a half the palace was invaded by the mob, they massacred the Swiss Guards, who fought with blind desperation. Some seven hundred were killed, their bloodied bodies decorated the yard in front of the palace, in the gardens of the palace, along the banks of the Seine. On 13 August, the royal family was imprisoned in the tower of the Temple in the Le Marais district, under conditions harsher than their previous confinement in the Tuileries.
On 21 August 1792, the guillotine was erected in the Place du Carrousel, it remained there, with two short interruptions, until 11 May 1793. In total, thirty-five people were guillotined there. On 2 August 1793, at the former site of the guillotine, a wooden pyramid was constructed as a tribute to Jean-Paul Marat, it bore an inscription: "To the spirit of the late Marat, 13 July, year I. From his underground tomb, he still makes the traitors tremble. A treacherous hand thwarted the affections of the people." There was an exhibit of the famous hip bath of Marat and his desk where some of his most impassioned polemics were drafted. These items stayed in place until 9 Thermidor Year II. During the revolution of 1848, the Tuileries Palace was looted and damaged by rioters. On 23 May 23, 1871, during the suppression of the Paris Commune, twelve men under the orders of a Communard, set the Tuileries on fire at seven in the evening, using petroleum, liquid tar, turpentine; the fire lasted for forty-eight hours and consumed the palace.
The ruins of the Tuileries stood on the site for eleven years. In 1882, the French National Assembly voted for the demolition of the ruins, despite much contrary sentiment, this was accomplished in 1883; the salvageable remains of the building were sold to a private entrepreneur. Once the palace had been cleared away, the ground, known as the "Place du Carrousel" since 1662, once again, be used as a public square. With the disappearance of the palace, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built between 1806 and 1808 to serve as an entrance of honor at the Tuileries, became the dominant feature of the Place du Carrousel, it is a triumphal arch, commissioned in 1806 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of the previous year. The more famous Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile nearby was designed in the same year, but it took thirty years to build, it is about twice as massive. Arnaud II de la Porte, minister Jacques Cazotte, writer This site is served by the metro station named Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre.
Pont du Carrousel Tuileries Palace
Ange-Jacques Gabriel was the principal architect of King Louis XV of France. His major works included the Place de la Concorde, the École Militaire, the Petit Trianon and opera theater at the Palace of Versailles, his style was a careful balance between French Baroque architecture and French neoclassicism. Ange-Jacques Gabriel was born on October 23, 1698 to a famous Parisian family of architects, was connected by marriage with another celebrated architect of the time, François Mansart, his grandfather was an architect, his father, Jacques Gabriel received the title of Controller of the Buildings of the King at the age twenty-one. His father's major projects included the Place Royale in Bordeaux; the young Ange-Jacques became a member of the Académie royale d'architecture in 1728, assisted his father on the Place de la Bourse. He became the principal assistant to his father as Premier Architecte at the Versailles from 1735 and, after his father's death, succeeded him as chief architect of the King.
In his new position He served the supervision of two successive Directors of the Buildings of the King and Abel-François Poisson, the Marquis de Marigny, the brother of the King's mistress and cultural advisor, Madame de Pompadour. The Place Louis XV, today's Place de la Concorde, was the first major project undertaken by Gabriel, in 1748, he was asked to find a compromise between several competing plans for the development of the marshy land between the gates of the Tuileries Palace gardens and the new Champs-Elysees. The land was donated by the King. Gabriel took elements of several different plans, being careful leave the view toward the Seine open, to preserve unobstructed the long axis between the Tuileries and the Champs-Elysees, he created a new north-south axis, connecting the Place with the new Madeleine church, under construction, two symmetrical palace-on the north side of the square, on either side of Rue Rye Royale. The facades of the palaces, with rows of Corinthian columns, were modeled after the colonnades of the Louvre.
The centerpiece of the square was an equestrian statue of Louis XV. The project was finalized in 1754 and was completed in 1763; the statue of Louis XV was removed during the French Revolution, the obelisk and fountains were added in the 19th century. Louis XV decided in 1751 to create the Ecole Militaire, the first French military academy, to train five hundred young men from poor noble families "gentlemen" in the art of warfare; the site chosen was next to the plain of Grenelle, on the left bank to the west of the city center. Gabriel's plan called for a "chateau" with two wings flanking a central pavilion with a dome, similar to that of the Louvre; the building featured a facade with a colonnade of the Doric order, to the rear had a large courtyard with a facade of superimposed orders of columns, opening onto Place Fontenoy, A chapel was artfully integrated into the architecture of the main building. The interior featured a lavishly-decorated salon, now the Salle des Marechals, connected to the grand floor by a majestic ramp, the Chapel of Louis IX, or Saint Louis, the patron saint of the Army.
Two additional wings along Avenue de la Motte-Piquet were added in the 19th century. At the request of Madame Pompadour, Gabriel had made plans for a smaller pavilion at Versailles away from the main palace and the Trianon. With the end of the expensive Seven Years' War Louis XV approved the plans, between 1763 and 1768 the small chateau was constructed; the building was cubic, each facade was different. The facades of the Petit Trianon represented in its most pure form the emerging style of Neoclassicism in France. Much of his attention was devoted to modifications of the Palace of Versailles desired by Louis XV; the palace lacked a proper opera theater. Gabriel made a new proposal for the same sit in 1748, but it was put on hold due to the cost. Occupied himself with numerous modifications to the exterior of the Palace, notably the completion and extension of the North Wing, following the original designs of Mansard This was completed in 1764; the Opera project was revived in 1765 and was accelerated in 1770 for the celebrations of the marriage of the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI, to the Archiduchesse of Austria, Marie-Antoinette.
To finish the project and at lower cost, the theater was made of wood, painted to resemble marble, but giving it exceptionally good acoustics. The theater was in blue and gold, made in shape of truncated ellipse or oval, surrounded by tiers of boxes, decorated with carved and gilded wood, illuminated by three thousand candles whose light was reflected in mirrors. By this time Louis XV had a new mistress, Madame Du Barry, the royal box, the size of three ordinary boxes, had a grill to protect their privacy. Sculptures by Augustin Pajou and a painted ceiling by Louis Jean-Jacques Durameau completed the interior. Gabriel and his chief architectural engineer, Blaise Arnaud, studied installing a mechanism to hoist the floor of the theater up to the level of the stage, to create an enormous ballroom, but this was never completed, his final projects were the completion of the facades of the buildings he designed for the Place de la Concorde.
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