The Republicans (France)
The Republicans is a centre-right, conservative political party in France. The party was formed on 30 May 2015 by renaming the Union for a Popular Movement party, founded in 2002 under the leadership of former President of France Jacques Chirac; the party used to be one of the two major political parties in the French Fifth Republic along with the centre-left Socialist Party, following the 2017 legislative election, it remains the second largest party in the National Assembly. LR is a member of the European People's Party, the Centrist Democrat International, the International Democrat Union. After the election in November 2014 of Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France from 2007 to 2012, as president of the Union for a Popular Movement, Sarkozy put forward a request to the party's general committee to change its name to "The Republicans" and alter the statutes of the party. With the name chosen, vice-president of the UMP Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet presented Sarkozy and the party's political bureau the proposed new statutes.
The proposed statutes provided for, among other provisions, the election of the presidents of the departmental federations by direct democracy, the end of the political currents and consulting members on election nominations. Critics of Sarkozy claimed it was "illegal" for him to name the party "Republicans" because every French person is a republican if they support the values and ideals of the French Republic that emanated from the French Revolution, as such the term is above party politics; the new name was adopted by the party bureau on 5 May 2015 and approved by the party membership on 28 May by an online "yes" vote of 83.3% on a 45.7% turnout after a court ruling in favour of Sarkozy. The new party statutes were adopted by 96.3% of voters and the composition of the new political bureau by 94.8%. The change to the name "The Republicans" was confirmed at the party's founding congress on 30 May 2015 at the Paris Event Centre in Paris, attended by 10,000 activists. Angela Merkel, chairwoman of the centre-right CDU, sent a congratulatory message to the congress.
The Republicans thus became the legal successor of the UMP and the leading centre-right party in France. The organisation has been declared in the préfecture de Saône-et-Loire on 9 April 2015. According to the statement of this declaration, its aim is to "promote ideas of the right and centre, open to every people who wish to be member and debate in the spirit of a political party with republican ideas in France or outside France"; this party foundation was published in the Journal officiel de la République française on 25 April 2015. On 3 July 2016, Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would resign as leader that year in order to compete to be the right-wing candidate in the 2017 presidential election. After winning the party's presidential primary, François Fillon suffered a historic defeat in the first round of the presidential election, with the candidate of the right failing to continue to the second round for the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic amid "Penelopegate". In the second round of the legislative elections in June, The Republicans and its allies suffered further losses, losing nearly a hundred deputies, which represented its worst performance.
After Emmanuel Macron was elected as president, he appointed three right-wing politicians in his government – Édouard Philippe as Prime Minister, Bruno Le Maire as French Ministry for the Economy and Finance, Gérald Darmanin as Minister of Public Action and Accounts. As a consequence, a parliamentary group including LR dissidents supportive of the government line, "The Constructives", was formed in the National Assembly, separate from the existing group. On 11 July, the political bureau of The Republicans agreed to hold a leadership election for president of the party on 10 and 17 December. Politics of France List of political parties in France The Republicans group The Republicans group Official web site of Les Républicains
Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France in the department of Vaucluse on the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 90,194 inhabitants of the city, about 12,000 live in the ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval ramparts. Between 1309 and 1377, during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791; the town is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts. The historic centre, which includes the Palais des Papes, the cathedral, the Pont d'Avignon, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995; the medieval monuments and the annual Festival d'Avignon have helped to make the town a major centre for tourism. The earliest forms of the name were reported by the Greeks: Аὐενιὼν = Auenion Άουεννίων = Aouennion; the Roman name Avennĭo Cavarum, i.e. "Avignon of Cavares" shows that Avignon was one of the three cities of the Celtic-Ligurian tribe of Cavares, along with Cavaillon and Orange.
The current name dates to a pre-Indo-European or pre-Latin theme ab-ên with the suffix -i-ōn This theme would be a hydronym – i.e. a name linked to the river, but also an oronym of terrain. The Auenion of the 1st century BC was Latinized to Avennĭo, -ōnis in the 1st century and was written Avinhon in classic Occitan spelling or Avignoun in Mistralian spelling The inhabitants of the commune are called avinhonencs or avignounen in both Occitan and Provençal dialect. Avignon is on the left bank of the Rhône river, a few kilometres above its confluence with the Durance, about 580 km south-east of Paris, 229 km south of Lyon and 85 km north-north-west of Marseille. On the west it shares a border with the department of Gard and the communes of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon and Les Angles and to the south it borders the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and the communes of Barbentane, Rognonas, Châteaurenard, Noves; the city is in the vicinity of Orange, Nîmes, Arles, Salon-de-Provence, Marseille. Directly contiguous to the east and north are the communes of Caumont-sur-Durance, Morières-lès-Avignon, Le Pontet, Sorgues.
The region around Avignon is rich in limestone, used for building material. For example, the current ramparts, measuring 4,330 metres long, were built with the soft limestone abundant in the region called mollasse burdigalienne. Enclosed by the ramparts, the Rocher des Doms is a limestone elevation of urgonian type, 35 metres high and is the original core of the city. Several limestone massifs are present around the commune and they are the result of the oceanisation of the Ligurian-Provençal basin following the migration of the Sardo-Corsican block; the other significant elevation in the commune is the Montfavet Hill – a wooded hill in the east of the commune. The Rhone Valley is an old alluvial zone: loose deposits cover much of the ground, it consists of sandy alluvium more or less coloured with pebbles consisting of siliceous rocks. The islands in the Rhone, such as the Île de la Barthelasse, were created by the accumulation of alluvial deposits and by the work of man; the relief is quite low despite the creation of mounds allowing local protection from flooding.
In the land around the city there are clay, silt and limestone present. The Rhone passes the western edge of the city but is divided into two branches: the Petit Rhône, or "dead arm", for the part that passes next to Avignon and the Grand Rhône, or "live arm", for the western channel which passes Villeneuve-lès-Avignon in the Gard department; the two branches are separated by the Île de la Barthelasse. The southernmost tip of the Île de la Barthelasse once formed of a separated island, the L'Île de Piot; the banks of the Rhone and the Île de la Barthelasse are subject to flooding during autumn and March. The publication Floods in France since the 6th century until today – research and documentation by Maurice Champion tells about a number of them, they have never stopped as shown by the floods in 1943–1944 and again on 23 January 1955 and remain important today – such as the floods of 2 December 2003. As a result, a new risk mapping has been developed; the Durance flows along the southern boundary of the commune into the Rhone and marks the departmental boundary with Bouches-du-Rhône.
It is a river, considered "capricious" and once feared for its floods (it was once called the "3rd scourge of Provence" as well as for its low water: the Durance has both Alpine and Mediterranean morphology, unusual. There are many natural and artificial water lakes in the commune such as the Lake of Saint-Chamand east of the city. There have been many diversions throughout the course of history, such as feeding the moat surrounding Avignon or irrigating crops. In the 10th century part of the waters from the Sorgue d'Entraigues were diverted and today pass under the ramparts to enter the city.. This watercourse is called the Vaucluse Canal but Avignon people still call it the Sorgue or Sorguette, it is visible in the city in the famous Rue des teinturiers. It fed the moat around the first ramparts fed the moat on the newer east
Bouches-du-Rhône is a department in Southern France named after the mouth of the river Rhône. It is the most populous department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region with 2,019,717 inhabitants in 2016, its INSEE and postal code is 13. Marseille is prefecture. Bouches-du-Rhône is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790, it was created from the western part of the former province of Provence and the principalities of Orange and Lambesc. It lost part of its territory in 1793, including Orange and Apt, when the Vaucluse department was created. Following its creation, the department was strongly and supportive of the French Revolution, containing 90 "Jacobin Clubs" by 1794, it was noteworthy that more than 50% of the priests in the department accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which in effect subordinated the church to the government. During the ascendancy of the Communist Party in the twentieth century election results indicated that support for left-wing politics remained strong in the department, in the northern suburbs of Marseille.
The history of the area is linked to that of Provence. Marseille has been an important harbour since before Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul; the Roman presence left numerous monuments across the department. Notable people born in the area include Romantic painter Camille Roqueplan and his brother and theatre director Nestor Roqueplan; the department is part of the current region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It is surrounded by the departments of Gard on the west, Vaucluse on the north, Var on the east, by the Mediterranean Sea on the south; the Rhône river delta forms a vast swampy wetlands area called the Camargue in the southwestern part of the department. Bouches-du-Rhône is bordered by the Rhône to the Durance to the north; the Rhône divides into the Grand Petit Rhône south of Arles. The principal mountains of the department are the Sainte-Baume massif, Mont Sainte-Victoire, the Garlaban massif and Alpilles massif; the department's prefecture and largest city, contains a major industrial harbour and serves as France's largest commercial port.
The Bouches-du-Rhône department is urban, with 28 towns having a population of more than 10,000 as of 2008. Marseille, population 853,000 is the departmental and regional capital Aix-en-Provence, population 142,743, subprefecture, a university town and seat of the regional Court of Appeals Arles, population 52,729, sous-préfecture and site of an ancient Roman city Martigues, population 46,471, the leading city for the European petrochemical industry Aubagne, population 46,093, birthplace of Provençal author Marcel Pagnol Istres, population 42,603, sous-préfecture and home to a military airbase Salon-de-Provence, population 41,411, the home city of 16th-century soothsayer Nostradamus Vitrolles, population 36,610 Marignane, population 33,909, site of Marseille Provence Airport La Ciotat, population 33,790 Miramas, population 25,632, regional railway hub Gardanne, population 21,121 Les Pennes-Mirabeau, population 20,187 Allauch, population 18,728 Port-de-Bouc, population 17,207 Fos-sur-Mer, population 15,448 Châteaurenard, population 14,817 Berre-l'Étang, population 13,881 Bouc-Bel-Air, population 13,437 Tarascon, population 13,340 Rognac, population 12,195 Auriol, population 11,969 Châteauneuf-les-Martigues, population 11,564 Plan-de-Cuques, population 11,096 Saint-Martin-de-Crau, population 10,979 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, population 10,662 Septèmes-les-Vallons, population 10,481 Trets, population 10,239 Rivers include: The Rhône, which forms the border with the Gard department The Durance, which forms the border with the Vaucluse department The Arc The HuveauneLakes include: Étang de Berre Étang de Vaccarès, in the CamargueMountains include: Alpilles mountain range Calanques between Marseille and La Ciotat Corniche des Crêtes Garlaban Mont Puget Montagne Sainte-Victoire Sainte-Baume massif The department of Bouches-du-Rhône is known for its seismic activity: the zone II townships of Lambesc Peyrolles-en-Provence and Salon-de-Provence are the most exposed.
Areas Ib including the cantons of Aix-en-Provence, Trets Eyguières, Berre-Pond, Istres-North and South, Ia areas including the other cantons in the district of Aix-en-Provence, Arles-East, Châteaurenard, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Martigues-East and Roquevaire-West, are least exposed. Zone 0 includes the rest of the department. Since the Bouches-du-Rhône department is one of the most populous and diverse departments, it has long been the scene of fierce political battles; the development of the Marseille-Fos Port, the relationship maintained between France and its colonial empire, the industry around coal mining in Provence, significant immigration coming from Italy, from the end the nineteenth century and during the period between the two wars are all factors that led to the emergence of a large and militant working class. From the late nineteenth century, the socialist movement gained influence, such as by in 1881 by the election of the first socialist member of France, Clovis Hugues. Rural areas, in the region of Aix have tended to favor the influence of right-wing parties, including monarchists
Fontaine de Vaucluse (spring)
The Fontaine de Vaucluse is a karst spring in the commune of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Vaucluse department. It is the largest karst spring in metropolitan France by flow, fifth largest in the world, with annual output of 630,000,000 to 700,000,000 cubic metres of water; the spring is the prime example in hydrogeology of a "Vaucluse spring". The Fontaine de Vaucluse is in the commune of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse in the department of Vaucluse; the commune was called "Vaucluse", but being in a department with the same name created many confusions. The commune was therefore renamed "Fontaine-de-Vaucluse", after the spring; the village in which the spring is located was called "Vallis Clausa" in Latin because of its topographical position. This became "Vaucluse"; the name in the Provençal dialect is the spring of the closed valley. The word "font" has two meanings in Provençal, "fountain" and "spring". Here it designates a spring and not a fountain; the Fontaine de Vaucluse was formed after the Messinian salinity crisis, which caused the depth of the exsurgence.
Above the spring there is a limestone cliff 230 metres high with innumerable faults. This acts as a reservoir, a karst aquifer, in which the water circulates along the discontinuities until it meets a barrier of limestone and clay; the spring is the only exit point of a 1,100 square kilometres underground basin capturing waters from Mont Ventoux, the Vaucluse Mountains, the Albion plateau and the Lure Mountain. It feeds the Sorgue; the water of this exsurgence contains an average of 200 milligrams per litre calcium carbonate and has an annual flow of about 700,000,000 cubic metres, so the reservoir loses 50,000 cubic metres of limestone each year. This karstification phenomenon acting on the surface of the impluvium removes an annual volume of 45 cubic metres per square kilometer, which disappears after being dissolved in the water; this figure becomes more meaningful when calculations show that in 3.5 million years, the Vaucluse Mountains, the Albion Plateau and the Lure Mountain, should have lost a thickness of 1,500 metres.
In Antiquity the site was a place of ritual offerings. During various dives in 1998, the members of the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse Speleological Society, were intrigued by the presence of many coins. Prospecting dives were made by SSFV speleologists under the direction of the Department of Underwater and Underwater Archaeological Research; the Spélénaute submarine let them work between −40 and −80 metres in 2001, revealing ancient deposits of currency. A year during a new exploration campaign, speleologists retrieved 400 pieces of great historical value. In 2003 a new archaeological site allowed other discoveries. 1,600 pieces and objects have been recovered, dating from the 1st century BC to the middle of 5th century AD. A legend tells that Saint Veranus, bishop of Cavaillon, rid the Sorgue of a horrible Drac, a devil or dragon, the Coulobre; this Coulobre, whose name could be derived from the Latin word coluber, was a winged creature who lived in the Fontaine de Vaucluse. According to legend, she coupled with dragons who abandoned her, forcing her to raise on her own the small black salamanders to which she gave birth.
She was desperate for a new husband and a father for her children but her ugliness repulsed all suitors. According to Albert Dauzat and Charles Rostaing, the Drac is a Ligurian divinity of tumultuous waters and the Coulobre owes its name to two Celto-Ligurian roots: Kal and Briga; this is the cliff overlooking the spring which still holds the Vache d'Or, the site of an ancient pastoral religion celebrating the strength and form of water and stone. On the trail, we can see the Traou dou Couloubre, symbol of the fight of Saint Veranus against the ancient religions; this legend recounts the story of a minstrel, who fell asleep on the way to the spring and saw a nymph appear. She led him to the edge of the spring, which opened to let them descend to a meadow strewn with supernatural flowers; the nymph showed seven diamonds to the minstrel. By lifting one of them, she made. "Here," she said, "is the secret of the spring. To make it swell I remove the diamonds. With the seventh the water reaches the fig tree.
She disappeared. The first dive in heavy diving gear took place in 1879 when Nello Ottonelli ventured down to 23 metres. Dr. Henri Louis Joseph Ayme organized exploration of the basin and on 24 September 1938 Negri reached a depth of 27.5 metres. It was necessary to wait for the arrival of the scuba diving suit in 1946 when Jacques Cousteau reached 46 metres 74 metres nine years later; this is the limit of dives with air. In 1981 Claude Touloumdjian reached 153 metres with an oxygen-helium mixture. In 1983, Jochen Hasenmayer reached 205 metres. To go deeper and touch the bottom it would be necessary to use robots. In 1985 the Modexa 350 Mission removed the mystery about the depth of the system; the robot touched bottom at a depth of 305 metres. In 1989 another robot, Spélénaute, reached the lowest point known to date in the siphon at a depth of 315 metres. In 1997 the diver Pascal Bernabé descended to the depth of 250 metres. In 2014 a virtual tour was created by the photographer Christoph Gerigk in collaboration with the Speleological Society of Fontaine de Vaucluse from 360° spherical panoram
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
Lyon is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located in the country's east-central part at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, about 470 km south from Paris, 320 km north from Marseille and 56 km northeast from Saint-Étienne. Inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais. Lyon had a population of 513,275 in 2015, it is the capital of the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The Lyon metropolitan area had a population of 2,265,375 in 2014, the second-largest urban area in France; the city is known for its cuisine and gastronomy, historical and architectural landmarks. Lyon was an important area for the production and weaving of silk. Lyon played a significant role in the history of cinema: it is where Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph, it is known for its light festival, the Fête des Lumières, which begins every 8 December and lasts for four days, earning Lyon the title of Capital of Lights. Economically, Lyon is a major centre for banking, as well as for the chemical and biotech industries.
The city contains a significant software industry with a particular focus on video games, in recent years has fostered a growing local start-up sector. Lyon hosts the international headquarters of Interpol, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and Euronews, it was ranked 19th globally and second in France for innovation in 2014. It ranked second in 39th globally in Mercer's 2015 liveability rankings. According to the historian Dio Cassius, in 43 BC, the Roman Senate ordered the creation of a settlement for Roman refugees of war with the Allobroges; these refugees had been expelled from Vienne and were now encamped at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers. The foundation was built on Fourvière hill and called Colonia Copia Felix Munatia, a name invoking prosperity and the blessing of the gods; the city became referred to as Lugdunum. The earliest translation of this Gaulish place-name as "Desired Mountain" is offered by the 9th-century Endlicher Glossary. In contrast, some modern scholars have proposed a Gaulish hill-fort named Lugdunon, after the Celtic god Lugus, dúnon.
The Romans recognised that Lugdunum's strategic location at the convergence of two navigable rivers made it a natural communications hub. The city became the starting point of the principal Roman roads in the area, it became the capital of the province, Gallia Lugdunensis. Two Emperors were born in this city: Claudius, whose speech is preserved in the Lyon Tablet in which he justifies the nomination of Gallic Senators, Caracalla. Early Christians in Lyon were martyred for their beliefs under the reigns of various Roman emperors, most notably Marcus Aurelius and Septimius Severus. Local saints from this period include Blandina and Epipodius, among others. In the second century AD, the great Christian bishop of Lyon was Irenaeus. To this day, the archbishop of Lyon is still referred to as "Primat des Gaules". Burgundians fleeing the destruction of Worms by the Huns in 437 were re-settled at Lugdunum. In 443 the Romans established the Kingdom of the Burgundians, Lugdunum became its capital in 461.
In 843, by the Treaty of Verdun, Lyon went to the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I. It was made part of the Kingdom of Arles. Lyon did not come under French control until the 14th century. Fernand Braudel remarked, "Historians of Lyon are not sufficiently aware of the bi-polarity between Paris and Lyon, a constant structure in French development...from the late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution". In the late 15th century, the fairs introduced by Italian merchants made Lyon the economic counting house of France; the Bourse, built in 1749, resembled a public bazaar where accounts were settled in the open air. When international banking moved to Genoa Amsterdam, Lyon remained the banking centre of France. During the Renaissance, the city's development was driven by the silk trade, which strengthened its ties to Italy. Italian influence on Lyon's architecture is still visible among historic buildings. In the 1400s and 1500s Lyon was a key centre of literary activity and book publishing, both of French writers and of Italians in exile.
In 1572, Lyon was a scene of mass violence by Catholics against Protestant Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Two centuries Lyon was again convulsed by violence when, during the French Revolution, the citizenry rose up against the National Convention and supported the Girondins; the city was besieged by Revolutionary armies for over two months before surrendering in October 1793. Many buildings were destroyed around the Place Bellecour, while Jean-Marie Collot d'Herbois and Joseph Fouché administered the execution of more than 2,000 people; the Convention ordered that its name be changed to "Liberated City" and a plaque was erected that proclaimed "Lyons made war on Liberty. A decade Napoleon ordered the reconstruction of all the buildings demolished during this period; the Convention was not the only target within Lyon during the 1789-1799 French Revolution. After the National Convention faded into history, the French Directory appeared and days after the September 4, 1797, Coup of 18 Fructidor, a Directory's commissioner was assassinated in Ly
Les Plus Beaux Villages de France
Les Plus Beaux Villages de France is an independent association, created in 1982, for the promotion of the tourist appeal of small rural villages with a rich cultural heritage. As of September 2016, it numbers 156 member villages. Membership requires meeting certain selection criteria and offers a strategy for development and promotion to tourists; the three initial selection criteria are the rural nature of the village, the presence of at least two national heritage sites and local support in the form of a vote by the council. Each village must pay an annual fee to the association and the mayor must sign the association’s Quality Charter. If the village fails to meet the requirements of the charter it may be excluded; the association claims membership can bring a rise of between 50 % in visitor numbers. The southern departments of the Dordogne and Aveyron have the most number of member villages, with ten in each, they are followed by Vaucluse, with seven, Lot, with six. Following the success of the French certification, similar associations have been formed in Wallonia, Italy and Japan.
The idea of an association to gather the most beautiful villages of France was born in Collonges-la-Rouge, Corrèze in 1981. Charles Ceyrac, mayor of the village, was inspired by a Reader's Digest book entitled Les Plus Beaux Villages de France which included pictures of Collonges, he decided to launch an association that would unite villages to give them a public face and revitalise their economies. He wrote to the mayors of one hundred villages included in the book. Sixty-six mayors responded and the association was founded on 6 March 1982 at Salers, Cantal. Charles Ceyrac remained the president of the association until 1996, when he was succeeded by Maurice Chabert, mayor of Gordes, the current president; the association is still situated in Collonges-la-Rouge. The association and its certification have been successful. Many competing certifications exist in France, differentiated by their targets, stringency of criteria and the cost of membership; the association has four employees and an annual budget of €479,000.
An application, as well as each six-yearly review, requires evaluation by the Quality Committee at the cost of €800 plus €0.50 per inhabitant. Each member village contributes an annual fee calculated at the rate of three euros per inhabitant. Since 2000, the president of the association has had a seat on the Conseil national du tourisme. Since 7 July 2012, Les Plus Beaux Villages de France has been part of the international association Les Plus Beaux Villages de la Terre; the association was set up to help villages promoting their touristic potentials. It targets villages that are sometimes neglected by wider regional or national touristic strategies; the association believes in improving life in French countryside and it places an emphasis on bringing back economical activities to villages. Most of the labelled villages are in regions that suffer from rural flight. Many villages can be considered dead when most of their houses are either in ruins or transformed into holiday properties by foreigners or French people living in other regions.
The association does not encourage open-air museums and other museum-villages. One of the major principles of the association is the protection of the historical and cultural heritage. Labelled villages must show a real strategy to promote their heritage; the association encourages environmentally friendly tourism, for instance by encouraging tailor-made breaks rather than mere passing trade. The association asks candidate municipalities to fill out an application form for the village or hamlet they wish to see receive the label; the locality must have a rural character with no more than 2,000 inhabitants and it must include two national heritage sites and their protection perimeter. The municipality must show real interest and the local council must have deliberated on the application. After the form is returned to the association, it sends experts to evaluate the application, they consider its appearance. The dossier is given to a commission who decides if the village receives the label or not.
If it is successful, the municipality must sign a quality charter. Bas-Rhin Hunspach pop. 684 Mittelbergheim pop. 605 Haut-Rhin Eguisheim pop. 1572 Hunawihr pop. 611 Riquewihr pop. 1300 Dordogne Belvès Beynac-et-Cazenac Castelnaud-la-Chapelle Domme La Roque-Gageac Limeuil Monpazier Saint-Amand-de-Coly Saint-Jean-de-Côle Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère Lot-et-Garonne Monflanquin Pujols-le-Haut Pyrénées-Atlantiques Ainhoa La Bastide-Clairence Navarrenx Sare Allier Charroux Cantal Salers Tournemire Haute-Loire Arlempdes Blesle Lavaudieu Pradelles Puy-de-Dôme Montpeyroux Saint-Floret Saint-Saturnin Usson Côtes d'Armor Moncontour Finistère Le Faou Île-de-Sein Locronan Ille-et-Vilaine Saint-Suliac Morbihan Rochefort-en-Terre Côte-d'Or Châteauneuf-en-Auxois Flavigny-sur-Ozerain Saône-et-Loire Semur-en-Brionnais Yonne Noyers Vézelay Cher Apremont-sur-Allier Indre Gargilesse-Dampierre Saint-Benoît-du-Sault Indre-et-Loire Candes-Saint-Martin Crissay-sur-Manse Montrésor Loir-et-Cher Lavardin Loiret Yèvre-le-Châtel (