Communes of France
The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany, comuni in Italy or ayuntamiento in Spain; the United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered; the communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France. Communes vary in size and area, from large sprawling cities with millions of inhabitants like Paris, to small hamlets with only a handful of inhabitants. Communes are based on pre-existing villages and facilitate local governance. All communes have names, but not all named geographic areas or groups of people residing together are communes, the difference residing in the lack of administrative powers.
Except for the municipal arrondissements of its largest cities, the communes are the lowest level of administrative division in France and are governed by elected officials with extensive autonomous powers to implement national policy. A commune is city, or other municipality. "Commune" in English has a historical bias, implies an association with socialist political movements or philosophies, collectivist lifestyles, or particular history. There is nothing intrinsically different between commune in French; the French word commune appeared in the 12th century, from Medieval Latin communia, for a large gathering of people sharing a common life. As of January 2015, there were 36,681 communes in France, 36,552 of them in metropolitan France and 129 of them overseas; this is a higher total than that of any other European country, because French communes still reflect the division of France into villages or parishes at the time of the French Revolution. The whole territory of the French Republic is divided into communes.
This is unlike some other countries, such as the United States, where unincorporated areas directly governed by a county or a higher authority can be found. There are only a few exceptions: COM of Saint-Martin, it was a commune inside the Guadeloupe région. The commune structure was abolished when Saint-Martin became an overseas collectivity on 22 February 2007. COM of Wallis and Futuna, which still is divided according to the three traditional chiefdoms. COM of Saint Barthélemy, it was a commune inside the Guadeloupe region. The commune structure was abolished when Saint-Barthélemy became an overseas collectivity on 22 February 2007. Furthermore, two regions without permanent habitation have no communes: TOM of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands Clipperton Island in the Pacific Ocean In metropolitan France, the average area of a commune in 2004 was 14.88 square kilometres. The median area of metropolitan France's communes at the 1999 census was smaller, at 10.73 square kilometres. The median area is a better measure of the area of a typical French commune.
This median area is smaller than that of most European countries. In Italy, the median area of communes is 22 km2. Switzerland and the Länder of Rhineland-Palatinate, Schleswig-Holstein, Thuringia in Germany were the only places in Europe where the communes had a smaller median area than in France; the communes of France's overseas départements such as Réunion and French Guiana are large by French standards. They group into the same commune several villages or towns with sizeable distances among them. In Réunion, demographic expansion and sprawling urbanization have resulted in the administrative splitting of some communes; the median population of metropolitan France's communes at the 1999 census was 380 inhabitants. Again this is a small number, here France stands apart in Europe, with the lowest communes' median population of all the European countries; this small median population of French communes can be compared with Italy, where the median population of communes in 2001 was 2,343 inhabitants, Belgium, or Spain.
The median population given here should not hide the fact that there are pronounced differences in size between French communes. As mentioned in the introduction, a commune can be a city of 2 million inhabitants such as Paris, a town of 10,000 inhabitants, or just a hamlet of 10 inhabitants. What the median population tells us is that the vast majority of the French communes only have a few hundred inhabitants. In metropolitan France just over 50 percent of the 36,683 communes have fewer than 500 inhabitants a
Aude is a department in Southern France, located in the Occitanie region and named after the Aude River. The departmental council calls it "Cathar Country" after a group of religious dissidents active in the 12th century, its prefecture is Carcassonne and its subprefectures are Limoux and Narbonne. As of 2016, it had a population of 368,025. Aude is a frequent feminine French given name in Francophone countries, deriving from Aude or Oda, a wife of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine, mother of Eudo, brother of Saint Hubertus. Aude was the name of Roland's fiancée in the chansons de geste. Aude is located between the Pyrenees Mountains, it is part of the current region of Occitanie. It is surrounded by the departments of Pyrénées-Orientales, Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, with the Golfe du Lion on the east; the countryside in this department falls into several natural regions: 1 – Lauragais 2 – Montagne Noire 3 – Cabardès 4 – Carcassonais 5 – Razès 6 – Quercorb 7 – Pays de Sault 8 – Minervois 9 – Corbières 10 – Narbonnais Each natural region of the Aude has its own particular landscape.
In the east, lagoons or coastal lakes form a barrier between sea. These were formed by accumulated sediments brought down by the rivers Orb and Hérault. There are many such lakes of brackish water; this environment is demanding for flora and fauna, as it suffers from the rigours of sea, sun and floods. Halophile plants grow there; the area is noted for the pink flamingo and white stilt. Inland to the east and scrub dominate the landscape of the drylands of the Aude and Corbières; this landscape was maintained by the raising of livestock. The flora is typical with many species of orchids; the Sault countryside is dominated by beech groves and fir plantations up to the mountains. These forests are known for their mushrooms and have a rich flora and fauna, including the Pyrenean lily, the euproctis moth and horsetail of the woods. To the north and west, the Black Mountain country is made up of forests of beech; the Lauragais is a wooded landscape. There are bodies of water like the Lac de la Ganguise.
The high valley of the Aude, otherwise called the Razès, consists of a riparian forest made of beech, poplar or ash. It includes some peatlands that are rare in southern France; the landscapes of Aude can be explained by geology. In the south, there are sedimentary rocks folded during the formation of the Pyrenees. To the north and centre, the sedimentary rocks are less folded. At the extreme east, near the Mediterranean, the rocks are carved by normal collapse faults which are due to the opening of the Golfe du Lion; the Black Mountain and Minervois to the north consist of schist and marble forming the southern boundary of the Massif Central. These ancient rocks were formed over 300 million years ago and deformed by the formation of the Hercynian chain; the Montagne d'Alaric is an antiform made of limestone. Aude is under the influence of a Mediterranean climate; the autumn is characterized by short storms. The summer is hot and dry, favorable to the culture of the vine and the olive-trees. Yet, the department has several contrasts in climate: In the north, the Montagne Noire and, in the south, the Pays de Sault, have a mountainous climate with temperatures sometimes low in winter.
In the west, the climate is under Aquitaine influence with heavier precipitation, while in the east the climate is purely Mediterranean. In the centre, in the Limouxin and Razès areas, the climate is known as intermediary with significant exposure to winds; the winds are present in Aude. It is one of the windiest French departments, with 300 to 350 days of wind per year; this phenomenon is due to the variations in relief north and south which create a kind of corridor. In the north-west blows the Cers, called Tramontane in Provence, a ground wind, it is cold in winter. In the south-east blows the Autan, locally called the Marin, hot and wet and comes from the sea; these regular winds made it possible to install an industrial park of wind turbines, as in the area of Avignonet-Lauragais. The drainage system of Aude is dominated by its river of the same name; the river rises at the Roc d'Aude and passes through the Matemale and Puyvalador dams on the Capcir plateau at 1500m crosses the department from south to north across Axat and Quillan following the upper valley of the Aude.
At Carcassonne, the river changes direction toward the Mediterranean Sea to the east, where it empties near Fleury. Human traces have been found dating from 1,500,000 BC in the form of hammers and worked tools on the hill of Grazailles at Carcassonne; the most interesting discovery, however, is that of the skull of Tautavel Man, made by Henry de Lumley in 1971 in the commune of Tautavel in the Pyrénées-Orientales department. It is the oldest skull known in Europe, it dates from about 450,000 years BC. It is that Tautavel Man lived in all of this region; the Romans, led by the consul-general Domitius Ahenobarbus, first occupied Narbonne in 118 BC on the oppidum of Montlaurès. This became the provincial capital and a active mercantile port; the position was strategically important since it stood at the crossroads of two Roman roads, the Via Aquitania and the Via Domitia, as well as by the sea near the mouth of the River Aude. Carcassonne became Latin in 30 BC with the creation of numerous grain farms.
For two centuries, Aude enjoyed peace and strong economic growth. The Visigoths invaded the are
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
Departments of France
In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, five are overseas departments, which are classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; each department is administered by an elected body called a departmental council. From 1800 to April 2015, these were called general councils; each council has a president. Their main areas of responsibility include the management of a number of social and welfare allowances, of junior high school buildings and technical staff, local roads and school and rural buses, a contribution to municipal infrastructures. Local services of the state administration are traditionally organised at departmental level, where the prefect represents the government; the departments were created in 1790 as a rational replacement of Ancien Régime provinces with a view to strengthen national unity.
All of them were named after physical geographical features, rather than after historical or cultural territories which could have their own loyalties. The division of France into departments was a project identified with the French revolutionary leader the Abbé Sieyès, although it had been discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers; the earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. They have inspired similar divisions in some of them former French colonies. Most French departments are assigned a two-digit number, the "Official Geographical Code", allocated by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. Overseas departments have a three-digit number; the number is used, for example, in the postal code, was until used for all vehicle registration plates. While residents use the numbers to refer to their own department or a neighbouring one, more distant departments are referred to by their names, as few people know the numbers of all the departments.
For example, inhabitants of Loiret might refer to their department as "the 45". In 2014, President François Hollande proposed to abolish departmental councils by 2020, which would have maintained the departments as administrative divisions, to transfer their powers to other levels of governance; this reform project has since been abandoned. The first French territorial departments were proposed in 1665 by Marc-René d'Argenson to serve as administrative areas purely for the Ponts et Chaussées infrastructure administration. Before the French Revolution, France gained territory through the annexation of a mosaic of independent entities. By the close of the Ancien Régime, it was organised into provinces. During the period of the Revolution, these were dissolved in order to weaken old loyalties; the modern departments, as all-purpose units of the government, were created on 4 March 1790 by the National Constituent Assembly to replace the provinces with what the Assembly deemed a more rational structure.
Their boundaries served two purposes: Boundaries were chosen to break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Boundaries were set so that every settlement in the country was within a day's ride of the capital of a department; this was a security measure, intended to keep the entire national territory under close control. This measure was directly inspired by the Great Terror, during which the government had lost control of many rural areas far from any centre of government; the old nomenclature was avoided in naming the new departments. Most were named after other physical features. Paris was in the department of Seine. Savoy became the department of Mont-Blanc; the number of departments 83, had been increased to 130 by 1809 with the territorial gains of the Republic and of the First French Empire. Following Napoleon's defeats in 1814–1815, the Congress of Vienna returned France to its pre-war size and the number of departments was reduced to 86.
In 1860, France acquired the County of Nice and Savoy, which led to the creation of three new departments. Two were added from the new Savoyard territory, while the department of Alpes-Maritimes was created from Nice and a portion of the Var department; the 89 departments were given numbers based on the alphabetical order of their names. The department of Bas-Rhin and parts of Meurthe, Moselle and Haut-Rhin were ceded to the German Empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. A small part of Haut-Rhin became known as the Territoire de Belfort; when France regained the ceded departments after World War I, the Territoire de Belfort was not re-integrated into Haut-Rhin. In 1922, it became France's 90th department; the Lorraine departments were not changed back to their original boundaries, a new Moselle department was created in the regaine
Château de Roquetaillade
The Château de Roquetaillade is a castle in Mazères, in the French département of Gironde. Charlemagne, on his way to the Pyrenees with Roland, built the first fortification there. Of this old castle, nothing remains but imposing ruins. In 1306, with the permission of the English King Edward I, Cardinal de la Mothe, nephew of Pope Clement V built a second fortress; this new castle was square in plan with six towers and a central keep. The entire structure was restored and transformed by Viollet-le-Duc and one of his pupils, between 1860 and 1870; the extraordinary interior decorations, with its furnishings and paintings, were created by Viollet-le-Duc and are listed as French Heritage. The château park includes remains of the medieval curtain wall with the barbican, the Pesquey stream and its banks, the 19th century chalet, the Crampet pigeon loft, it has been listed since 1976 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture and is open to the public. The castle has been lived in by the same family for over 700 years.
It is the most visited in the Bordeaux region. Open all year round, visits in English with the owners are possible. Other activities at the castle include a famous production of white Graves wines "Chateaufort de Roquetaillade", Bazadais cattle breeding; the castle been used as a location in several films, including Fantômas contre Scotland Yard and Le Pacte des loups. List of castles in France Official site in English Article and photos on the Château de Roquetaillade Ministry of Culture listing Ministry of Culture photos