FRANCE, a country of western Europe, situated between 51° 5′ and 42° 20′ N., and 4° 42′ W. and 7° 39′ E. It is hexagonal in form, being bounded N.W. by the North Sea, the Strait of Dover (Pas de Calais) and the English Channel (La Manche), W. by the Atlantic Ocean, S.W. by Spain, S.E. by the Mediterranean Sea, E. by Italy, Switzerland and Germany, N.E. by Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium. From north to south its length is about 600 m., measured from Dunkirk to the Col de Falguères; its breadth from east to west is 528 m., from the Vosges to Cape Saint Mathieu at the extremity of Brittany. The total area is estimated[1] at 207,170 sq. m., including the island of Corsica, which comprises 3367 sq. m. The coast-line of France extends for 384 m. on the Mediterranean, 700 on the North Sea, the Strait of Dover and the Channel, and 865 on the Atlantic. The country has the advantage of being separated from its neighbours over the greater part of its frontier by natural barriers of great strength, the Pyrenees forming a powerful bulwark on the south-west, the Alps on the south-east, and the Jura and the greater portion of the Vosges Mountains on the east. The frontier generally follows the crest line of these ranges. Germany possesses both slopes of the Vosges north of Mont Donon, from which point the north-east boundary is conventional and unprotected by nature.

France is geographically remarkable for its possession of great natural and historical highways between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. The one, following the depression between the central plateau and the eastern mountains by way of the valleys of the Rhône and Saône, traverses the Côte d’Or hills and so gains the valley of the Seine; the other, skirting the southern base of the Cévennes, reaches the ocean by way of the Garonne valley. Another natural highway, traversing the lowlands to the west of the central plateau, unites the Seine basin with that of the Garonne.

Physiography.—A line drawn from Bayonne through Agen, Poitiers, Troyes, Reims and Valenciennes divides the country roughly into two dissimilar physical regions—to the west and north-west a country of plains and low plateaus; in the centre, east and south-east a country of mountains and high plateaus with a minimum elevation of 650 ft. To the west of this line the only highlands of importance are the granitic plateaus of Brittany and the hills of Normandy and Perche, which, uniting with the plateau of Beauce, separate the basins of the Seine and Loire. The highest elevations of these ranges do not exceed 1400 ft. The configuration of the region east of the dividing line is widely different. Its most striking feature is the mountainous and eruptive area known as the Massif Central, which covers south-central France. The central point of this huge tract is formed by the mountains of Auvergne comprising the group of Cantal, where the Plomb du Cantal attains 6096 ft., and that of Mont Dore, containing the Puy de Sancy (6188 ft.), the culminating point of the Massif, and to the north the lesser elevations of the Monts Dôme. On the west the downward slope is gradual by way of lofty plateaus to the heights of Limousin and Marche and the table-land of Quercy, thence to the plains of Poitou, Angoumois and Guienne. On the east only river valleys divide the Auvergne mountains from those of Forez and Margeride, western spurs of the Cévennes. On the south the Aubrac mountains and the barren plateaus known as the Causses intervene between them and the Cévennes. The main range of the Cévennes (highest point Mont Lozère, 5584 ft.) sweeps in a wide curve from the granitic table-land of Morvan in the north along the right banks of the Saône and Rhône to the Montagne Noire in the south, where it is separated from the Pyrenean system by the river Aude. On the south-western border of France the Pyrenees include several peaks over 10,000 ft. within French territory; the highest elevation therein, the Vignemale, in the centre of the range, reaches 10,820 ft. On the north their most noteworthy offshoots are, in the centre, the plateau of Lannemezan from which rivers radiate fanwise to join the Adour and Garonne; and in the east the Corbière. On the south-eastern frontier the French Alps, which include Mont Blanc (15,800 ft.), and, more to the south, other summits over 11,000 ft. in height, cover Savoy and most of Dauphiné and Provence, that is to say, nearly the whole of France to the south and east of the Rhône. North of that river the parallel chains of the Jura form an arc of a circle with its convexity towards the north-west. In the southern and most elevated portion of the range there are several summits exceeding 5500 ft. Separated from the Jura by the defile of Belfort (Trouée de Belfort) the Vosges extend northward parallel to the course of the Rhine. Their culminating points in French territory, the Ballon d’Alsace and the Höhneck in the southern portion of the chain, reach 4100 ft. and 4480 ft. The Vosges are buttressed on the west by the Faucilles, which curve southwards to meet the plateau of Langres, and by the plateaus of Haute-Marne, united to the Ardennes on the north-eastern frontier by the wooded highlands of Argonne.

Seaboard.—The shore of the Mediterranean encircling the Gulf of the Lion (Golfe du Lion)[2] from Cape Cerbera to Martigues is low-lying and unbroken, and characterized chiefly by lagoons separated from the sea by sand-dunes. The coast, constantly encroaching on the sea by reason of the alluvium washed down by the rivers of the Pyrenees and Cévennes, is without important harbours saving that of Cette, itself continually invaded by the sand. East of Martigues the coast is rocky and of greater altitude, and is broken by projecting capes (Couronne, Croisette, Sicié, the peninsula of Giens and Cape Antibes), and by deep gulfs forming secure roadsteads such as those of Marseilles, which has the chief port in France, Toulon, with its great naval harbour, and Hyères, to which may be added the Gulf of St Tropez.

Along the Atlantic coast from the mouth of the Adour to the estuary of the Gironde there stretches a monotonous line of sand-dunes bordered by lagoons on the land side, but towards the sea harbourless and unbroken save for the Bay of Arcachon. To the north as far as the rocky point of St Gildas, sheltering the mouth of the Loire, the shore, often occupied by salt marshes (marshes of Poitou and Brittany), is low-lying and hollowed by deep bays sheltered by large islands, those of Oléron and Ré lying opposite the ports of Rochefort and La Rochelle, while Noirmoutier closes the Bay of Bourgneuf.

Beyond the Loire estuary, on the north shore of which is the port of St Nazaire, the peninsula of Brittany projects into the ocean and here begins the most rugged, wild and broken portion of the French seaboard; the chief of innumerable indentations are, on the south the Gulf of Morbihan, which opens into a bay protected to the west by the narrow peninsula of Quiberon, the Bay of Lorient with the port of Lorient, and the Bay of Concarneau; on the west the dangerous Bay of Audierne and the Bay of Douarnenez separated from the spacious roadstead of Brest, with its important naval port, by the peninsula of Crozon, and forming with it a great indentation sheltered by Cape St Mathieu on the north and by Cape Raz on the south; on the north, opening into the English Channel, the Morlaix roads, the Bay of St Brieuc, the estuary of the Rance, with the port of St Malo and the Bay of St Michel. Numerous small archipelagoes and islands, of which the chief are Belle Île, Groix and Ushant, fringe the Breton coast. North of the Bay of St Michel the peninsula of Cotentin, terminating in the promontories of Hague and Barfleur, juts north into the English Channel and closes the bay of the Seine on the west. Cherbourg, its chief harbour, lies on the northern shore between the two promontories. The great port of Le Havre stands at the mouth of the Seine estuary, which opens into the bay of the Seine on the east. North of that point a line of high cliffs, in which occur the ports of Fécamp and Dieppe, stretches nearly to the sandy estuary of the Somme. North of that river the coast is low-lying and bordered by sand-dunes, to which succeed on the Strait of Dover the cliffs in the neighbourhood of the port of Boulogne and the marshes and sand-dunes of Flanders, with the ports of Calais and Dunkirk, the latter the principal French port on the North Sea.

To the maritime ports mentioned above must be added the river ports of Bayonne (on the Adour), Bordeaux (on the Garonne), Nantes (on the Loire), Rouen (on the Seine). On the whole, however, France is inadequately provided with natural harbours; her long tract of coast washed by the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay has scarcely three or four good seaports, and those on the southern shore of the Channel form a striking contrast to the spacious maritime inlets on the English side.

Rivers.—The greater part of the surface of France is divided between four principal and several secondary basins.

The basin of the Rhône, with an area (in France) of about 35,000 sq. m., covers eastern France from the Mediterranean to the Vosges, from the Cévennes and the Plateau de Langres to the crests of the Jura and the Alps. Alone among French rivers, the Rhône, itself Alpine in character in its upper course, is partly fed by Alpine rivers (the Arve, the Isère and the Durance) which have their floods in spring at the melting of the snow, and are maintained by glacier-water in summer. The Rhône, the source of which is in Mont St Gothard, in Switzerland, enters France by the narrow defile of L’Écluse, and has a somewhat meandering course, first flowing south, then north-west, and then west as far as Lyons, whence it runs straight south till it reaches the Mediterranean, into which it discharges itself by two principal branches, which form the delta or island of the Camargue. The Ain, the Saône (which rises in the Faucilles and in the lower part of its course skirting the regions of Bresse and Dombes, receives the Doubs and joins the Rhône at Lyons), the Ardèche and the Gard are the affluents on the right; on the left it is joined by the Arve, the Isère, the Drôme and the Durance. The small independent river, the Var, drains that portion of the Alps which fringes the Mediterranean.

The basin of the Garonne occupies south-western France with the exception of the tracts covered by the secondary basins of the Adour, the Aude, the Hérault, the Orb and other smaller rivers, and the low-lying plain of the Landes, which is watered by numerous coast rivers, notably by the Leyre. Its area is nearly 33,000 sq. m., and extends from the Pyrenees to the uplands of Saintonge, Périgord and Limousin. The Garonne rises in the valley of Aran (Spanish Pyrenees), enters France near Bagnères-de-Luchon, has first a north-west course, then bends to the north-east, and soon resumes its first direction. Joining the Atlantic between Royan and the Pointe de Grave, opposite the tower of Cordouan. In the lower part of its course, from the Bec-d’Ambez, where it receives the Dordogne, it becomes considerably wider, and takes the name of Gironde. The principal affluents are the Ariège, the Tarn with the Aveyron and the Agout, the Lot and the Dordogne, which descends from Mont Dore-les-Bains, and joins the Garonne at Bec-d’Ambez, to form the Gironde. All these affluents are on the right, and with the exception of the Ariège, which descends from the eastern Pyrenees, rise in the mountains of Auvergne and the southern Cévennes, their sources often lying close to those of the rivers of the Loire and Rhône basins. The Neste, a Pyrenean torrent, and the Save, the Gers and the Baïse, rising on the plateau of Lannemezan, are the principal left-hand tributaries of the Garonne. North of the basin of the Garonne an area of over 3800 sq. m. is watered by the secondary system of the Charente, which descends from Chéronnac (Haute-Vienne), traverses Angoulême and falls into the Atlantic near Rochefort. Farther to the north a number of small rivers, the chief of which is the Sèvre Niortaise, drain the coast region to the south of the plateau of Gâtine.

The basin of the Loire, with an area of about 47,000 sq. m., includes a great part of central and western France or nearly a quarter of the whole country. The Loire rises in Mont Gerbier de Jonc, in the range of the Vivarais mountains, flows due north to Nevers, then turns to the north-west as far as Orléans, in the neighbourhood of which it separates the marshy region of the Sologne (q.v.) on the south from the wheat-growing region of Beauce and the Gâtinais on the north. Below Orléans it takes its course towards the south-west, and lastly from Saumur runs west, till it reaches the Atlantic between Paimbœuf and St Nazaire. On the right the Loire receives the waters of the Furens, the Arroux, the Nièvre, the Maine (formed by the Mayenne and the Sarthe with its affluent the Loir), and the Erdre, which joins the Loire at Nantes; on the left, the Allier (which receives the Dore and the Sioule), the Loiret, the Cher, the Indre, the Vienne with its affluent the Creuse, the Thouet, and the Sèvre-Nantaise. The peninsula of Brittany and the coasts of Normandy on both sides of the Seine estuary are watered by numerous independent streams. Amongst these the Vilaine, which passes Rennes and Redon, waters, with its tributaries, an area of 4200 sq. m. The Orne, which rises in the hills of Normandy and falls into the Channel below Caen, is of considerably less importance.

The basin of the Seine, though its area of a little over 30,000 sq. m. is smaller than that of any of the other main systems, comprises the finest network of navigable rivers in the country. It is by far the most important basin of northern France, those of the Somme and Scheldt in the north-west together covering less than 5000 sq. m., those of the Meuse and the Rhine in the north-east less than 7000 sq. m. The Seine descends from the Langres plateau, flows north-west down to Méry, turns to the west, resumes its north-westerly direction at Montereau, passes through Paris and Rouen and discharges itself into the Channel between Le Havre and Honfleur. Its affluents are, on the right, the Aube; the Marne, which joins the Seine at Charenton near Paris; the Oise, which has its source in Belgium and is enlarged by the Aisne; and the Epte; on the left the Yonne, the Loing, the Essonne, the Eure and the Rille.

Lakes.—France has very few lakes. The Lake of Geneva, which forms 32 m. of the frontier, belongs to Switzerland. The most important French lake is that of Grand-Lieu, between Nantes and Paimbœuf (Loire-Inférieure), which presents a surface of 17,300 acres. There may also be mentioned the lakes of Bourget and Annecy (both in Savoy), St Point (Jura), Paladru (Isère) and Nantua (Ain). The marshy districts of Sologne, Brenne, Landes and Dombes still contain large undrained tracts. The coasts present a number of maritime inlets, forming inland bays, which communicate with the sea by channels of greater or less width. Some of these are on the south-west coast, in the Landes, as Carcans, Lacanau, Biscarosse, Cazau, Sanguinet; but more are to be found in the south and south-east, in Languedoc and Provence, as Leucate, Sigean, Thau, Vaccarès, Berre, &c. Their want of depth prevents them from serving as roadsteads for shipping, and they are useful chiefly for fishing or for the manufacture of bay-salt.

Climate.—The north and north-west of France bear a great resemblance, both in temperature and produce, to the south of England, rain occurring frequently, and the country being consequently suited for pasture. In the interior the rains are less frequent, but when they occur are far more heavy, so that there is much less difference in the annual rainfall there as compared with the rest of the country than in the number of rainy days. The annual rainfall for the whole of France averages about 32 in. The precipitation is greatest on the Atlantic seaboard and in the elevated regions of the interior. It attains over 60 in. in the basin of the Adour (71 in. at the western extremity of the Pyrenees), and nearly as much in the Vosges, Morvan, Cévennes and parts of the central plateau. The zone of level country extending from Reims and Troyes to Angers and Poitiers, with the exception of the Loire valley and the Brie, receives less than 24 in. of rain annually (Paris about 23 in.), as also does the Mediterranean coast west of Marseilles. The prevailing winds, mild and humid, are west winds from the Atlantic; continental climatic influence makes itself felt in the east wind, which is frequent in winter and in the east of France, while the mistral, a violent wind from the north-west, is characteristic of the Mediterranean region. The local climates of France may be grouped under the following seven designations: (1) Sequan climate, characterizing the Seine basin and northern France, with a mean temperature of 50° F., the winters being cold, the summers mild; (2) Breton climate, with a mean temperature of 51.8° F., the winters being mild, the summers temperate, it is characterized by west and south-west winds and frequent fine rains; (3) Girondin climate (characterizing Bordeaux, Agen, Pau, &c.), having a mean of 53.6° F., with mild winters and hot summers, the prevailing wind is from the north-west, the average rainfall about 28 in.; (4) Auvergne climate, comprising the Cévennes, central plateau, Clermont, Limoges and Rodez, mean temperature 51.8° F., with cold winters and hot summers; (5) Vosges climate (comprehending Epinal, Mézières and Nancy), having a mean of 48.2° F., with long and severe winters and hot and rainy summers; (6) Rhône climate (experienced by Lyons, Chalon, Mâcon, Grenoble) mean temperature 51.8° F., with cold and wet winters and hot summers, the prevailing winds are north and south; (7) Mediterranean climate, ruling at Valence, Nîmes, Nice and Marseilles, mean temperature, 57.5° F., with mild winters and hot and almost rainless summers.

Flora and Fauna.—The flora of southern France and the Mediterranean is distinct from that of the rest of the country, which does not differ in vegetation from western Europe generally. Evergreens predominate in the south, where grow subtropical plants such as the myrtle, arbutus, laurel, holm-oak, olive and fig; varieties of the same kind are also found on the Atlantic coast (as far north as the Cotentin), where the humidity and mildness of the climate favour their growth. The orange, date-palm and eucalyptus have been acclimatized on the coast of Provence and the Riviera. Other trees of southern France are the cork-oak and the Aleppo and maritime pines. In north and central France the chief trees are the oak, the beech, rare south of the Loire, and the hornbeam; less important varieties are the birch, poplar, ash, elm and walnut. The chestnut covers considerable areas in Périgord, Limousin and Béarn; resinous trees (firs, pines, larches, &c.) form fine forests in the Vosges and Jura.

The indigenous fauna include the bear, now very rare but still found in the Alps and Pyrenees, the wolf, harbouring chiefly in the Cévennes and Vosges, but in continually decreasing areas; the fox, marten, badger, weasel, otter, the beaver in the extreme south of the Rhône valley, and in the Alps the marmot; the red deer and roe deer are preserved in many of the forests, and the wild boar is found in several districts; the chamois and wild goat survive in the Pyrenees and Alps. Hares, rabbits and squirrels are common. Among birds of prey may be mentioned the eagle and various species of hawk, and among game-birds the partridge and pheasant. The reptiles include the ringed-snake, slow-worm, viper and lizard.  (R. Tr.) 

Geology.—Many years ago it was pointed out by Élíe de Beaumont and Dufrénoy that the Jurassic rocks of France form upon the map an incomplete figure of 8. Within the northern circle of the 8 lie the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of the Paris basin, dipping inwards; within the southern circle lie the ancient rocks of the Central Plateau, from which the later beds dip outwards. Outside the northern circle lie on the west the folded Palaeozoic rocks of Brittany, and on the north the Palaeozoic massif of the Ardennes. Outside the southern circle lie on the west the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of the basin of the Garonne, with the Pyrenees beyond, and on the east the Mesozoic and Tertiary beds of the valley of the Rhône, with the Alps beyond.

In the geological history of France there have been two great periods of folding since Archean times. The first of these occurred towards the close of the Palaeozoic era, when a great mountain system was raised in the north running approximately from E. to W., and another chain arose in the south, running from S.W. to N.E. Of the former the remnants are now seen in Brittany and the Ardennes; of the latter the Cévennes and the Montagne Noire are the last traces visible on the surface. The second great folding took place in Tertiary times, and to it was due the final elevation of the Jura and the Western Alps and of the Pyrenees. No great mountain chain was ever raised by a single effort, and folding went on to some extent in other periods besides those mentioned. There were, moreover, other and broader oscillations which raised or lowered extensive areas without much crumpling of the strata, and to these are due some of the most important breaks in the geological series.

The oldest rocks, the gneisses and schists of the Archean period, form nearly the whole of the Central Plateau, and are also exposed in the axes of the folds in Brittany. The Central Plateau has probably been a land mass ever since this period, but the rest of the country was flooded by the Palaeozoic sea. The earlier deposits of that sea now rise to the surface in Brittany, the Ardennes, the Montagne Noire and the Cévennes, and in all these regions they are intensely folded. Towards the close of the Palaeozoic era France had become a part of a great continent; in the north the Coal Measures of the Boulonnais and the Nord were laid down in direct connexion with those of Belgium and England, while in the Central Plateau the Coal Measures were deposited in isolated and scattered basins. The Permian and Triassic deposits were also, for the most part, of continental origin; but with the formation of the Rhaetic beds the sea again began to spread, and throughout the greater part of the Jurassic period it covered nearly the whole of the country except the Central Plateau, Brittany and the Ardennes. Towards the end of the period, however, during the deposition of the Portlandian beds, the sea again retreated, and in the early part of the Cretaceous period was limited (in France) to the catchment basins of the Saône and Rhône—in the Paris basin the contemporaneous deposits were chiefly estuarine and were confined to the northern and eastern rim. Beginning with the Aptian and Albian the sea again gradually spread over the country and attained its maximum in the early part of the Senonian epoch, when once more the ancient massifs of the Central Plateau, Brittany and the Ardennes, alone rose above the waves. There was still, however, a well-marked difference between the deposits of the northern and the southern parts of France, the former consisting of chalk, as in England, and the latter of sandstones and limestones with Hippurites. During the later part of the Cretaceous period the sea gradually retreated and left the whole country dry.

During the Tertiary period arms of the sea spread into France—in the Paris basin from the north, in the basins of the Loire and the Garonne from the west, and in the Rhône area from the south. The changes, however, were too numerous and complex to be dealt with here.

In France, as in Great Britain, volcanic eruptions occurred during several of the Palaeozoic periods, but during the Mesozoic era the country was free from outbursts, except in the regions of the Alps and Pyrenees. In Tertiary times the Central Plateau was the theatre of great volcanic activity from the Miocene to the Pleistocene periods, and many of the volcanoes remain as nearly perfect cones to the present day. The rocks are mainly basalts and andesites, together with trachytes and phonolites, and some of the basaltic flows are of enormous extent.

On the geology of France see the classic Explication de la carte géologique de la France (Paris, vol. i. 1841, vol. ii. 1848), by Dufrénoy and Élie de Beaumont; a more modern account, with full references, is given by A. de Lapparent, Traité de géologie (Paris, 1906).  (J. A. H.) 


The French nation is formed of many different elements. Iberian influence in the south-west, Ligurian on the shores of the Mediterranean, Germanic immigrations from east of the Rhine and Scandinavian immigrations in the north-west have tended to produce ethnographical diversities which ease of intercommunication and other modern conditions have failed to obliterate. The so-called Celtic type, exemplified by individuals of rather less than average height, brown-haired and brachycephalic, is the fundamental element in the nation and peoples the region between the Seine and the Garonne; in southern France a different type, dolichocephalic, short and with black hair and eyes, predominates. The tall, fair and blue-eyed individuals who are found to the north-east of the Seine and in Normandy appear to be nearer in race to the Scandinavian and Germanic invaders; a tall and darker type with long faces and aquiline noses occurs in some parts of Franche-Comté and Champagne, the Vosges and the Perche. From the Celts has been derived the gay, brilliant and adventurous temperament easily moved to extremes of enthusiasm and depression, which

combined with logical and organizing faculties of a high order, the heritage from the Latin domination, and with the industry, frugality and love of the soil natural in an agricultural people go to make up the national character. The Bretons, who most nearly represent the Celts, and the Basques, who inhabit parts of the western versant of the Pyrenees, have preserved their distinctive languages and customs, and are ethnically the most interesting sections of the nation; the Flemings of French Flanders where Flemish is still spoken are also racially distinct. The immigration of Belgians into the northern departments and of Italians into those of the south-east exercise a constant modifying influence on the local populations.

During the 19th century the population of France increased to a less extent than that of any other country (except Ireland) for which definite data exist, and during the last twenty years of that period it was little more than stationary. The following table exhibits the rate of increase as indicated by the censuses from 1876 to 1906.

1876 .  .  .  36,905,788
1881 .  .  .  37,672,048
1886 .  .  .  38,218,903
1891 .  .  .  38,342,948
1896 .  .  .  38,517,975
1901 .  .  .  38,961,945
1906  .  .  .  39,252,245

Thus the rate of increase during the decade 1891–1901 was .16%, whereas during the same period the population of England increased 1.08%. The birth-rate markedly decreased during the 19th century; despite an increase of population between 1801 and 1901 amounting to 40%, the number of births in the former was 904,000, as against 857,000 in the latter year, the diminution being accompanied by a decrease in the annual number of deaths.[3] In the following table the decrease in births and deaths for the decennial periods during the thirty years ending 1900 are compared.

1871 – 1880 .  .  .  935,000   or   25.4  per 1000
1881 – 1890 .  .  .  909,000 23.9   ”
1891 – 1900 .  .  .  853,000 22.2   ”
1871 – 1880 .  .  .  870,900   or   23.7  per 1000
1881 – 1890 .  .  .  841,700 22.1   ”
1891 – 1900 .  .  .  829,000 21.5   ”

About two-thirds of the French departments, comprising a large proportion of those situated in mountainous districts and in the basin of the Garonne, where the birth-rate is especially feeble, show a decrease in population. Those which show an increase usually possess large centres of industry and are already thickly populated, e.g. Seine and Pas-de-Calais. In most departments the principal cause of decrease of population is the attraction of great centres. The average density of population in France is about 190 to the square mile, the tendency being for the large towns to increase at the expense of the small towns as well as the rural communities. In 1901 37% of the population lived in centres containing more than 2000 inhabitants, whereas in 1861 the proportion was 28%. Besides the industrial districts the most thickly populated regions include the coast of the department of Seine-Inférieure and Brittany, the wine-growing region of the Bordelais and the Riviera.[4]

In the quinquennial period 1901–1905, out of the total number of births the number of illegitimate births to every 1000 inhabitants was 2.0, as compared with 2.1 in the four preceding periods of like duration.

In 1906 the number of foreigners in France was 1,009,415 as compared with 1,027,491 in 1896 and 1,115,214 in 1886. The departments with the largest population of foreigners were Nord (191,678), in which there is a large proportion of Belgians; Bouches-du-Rhône (123,497), Alpes-Maritimes (93,554), Var (47,475), Italians being numerous in these three departments; Seine (153,647), Meurthe-et-Moselle (44,595), Pas-de-Calais (21,436) and Ardennes (21,401).

The following table gives the area in square miles of each of the eighty-seven departments with its population according to the census returns of 1886, 1896 and 1906:

Departments. Area,
sq. m.
1886. 1896. 1906.
Ain .  .  .  .  .  2,249   364,408  351,569  345,856 
Aisne .  .  .  .  .  2,867   555,925  541,613  534,495 
Allier  .  .  .  .  2,849   424,582  424,378  417,961 
Alpes-Maritimes  .  .  1,442   238,057  265,155  334,007 
Ardèche .  .  .  .  2,145   375,472  363,501  347,140 
Ardennes .  .  .  .  2,028   332,759  318,865  317,505 
Ariège  .  .  .  .  1,893   237,619  219,641  205,684 
Aube .  .  .  .  .  2,326   257,374  251,435  243,670 
Aude .  .  .  .  .  2,448   332,080  310,513  308,327 
Aveyron .  .  .  .  3,386   415,826  389,464  377,299 
Basses-Alpes .  .  .  2,698   129,494  118,142  113,126 
Basses-Pyrénées  .  .  2,977   432,999  423,572  426,817 
Belfort, Territoire de  .  235   79,758  88,047  95,421 
Bouches-du-Rhône .  .  2,026   604,857  673,820  765,918 
Calvados .  .  .  .  2,197   437,267  417,176  403,431 
Cantal  .  .  .  .  2,231   241,742  234,382  228,690 
Charente .  .  .  .  2,305   366,408  356,236  351,733 
Charente-Inférieure  .  2,791   462,803  453,455  453,793 
Cher .  .  .  .  .  2,819   355,349  347,725  343,484 
Corrèze  .  .  .  .  2,273   326,494  322,393  317,430 
Corse (Corsica)  .  .  3,367   278,501  290,168  291,160 
Côte-d’Or .  .  .  .  3,392   381,574  368,168  357,959 
Côtes-du-Nord  .  .  2,786   628,256  616,074  611,506 
Creuse  .  .  .  .  2,164   284,942  279,366  274,094 
Deux-Sèvres .  .  .  2,337   353,766  346,694  339,466 
Dordogne .  .  .  .  3,561   492,205  464,822  447,052 
Doubs  .  .  .  .  2,030   310,963  302,046  298,438 
Drôme  .  .  .  .  2,533   314,615  303,491  297,270 
Eure .  .  .  .  .  2,330   358,829  340,652  330,140 
Eure-et-Loir .  .  .  2,293   283,719  280,469  273,823 
Finistère .  .  .  .  2,713   707,820  739,648  795,103 
Gard .  .  .  .  .  2,270   417,099  416,036  421,166 
Gers .  .  .  .  .  2,428   274,391  250,472  231,088 
Girdonde .  .  .  .  4,140   775,845  809,902  823,925 
Haute-Garonne  .  .  2,458   481,169  459,377  442,065 
Haute-Loire .  .  .  1,931   320,063  316,699  314,770 
Haute-Marne .  .  .  2,415   247,781  232,057  221,724 
Hautes-Alpes .  .  .  2,178   122,924  113,229  107,498 
Haute-Saône .  .  .  2,075   290,954  272,891  263,890 
Haute-Savoie .  .  .  1,775   275,018  265,872  260,617 
Hautes-Pyrénées  .  .  1,750   234,825  218,973  209,397 
Haute-Vienne .  .  .  2,144   363,182  375,724  385,732 
Hérault .  .  .  .  2,403   439,044  469,684  482,799 
Ille-et-Vilaine .  .  .  2,699   621,384  622,039  611,805 
Indre .  .  .  .  .  2,666   296,147  289,206  290,216 
Indre-et-Loire .  .  .  2,377   340,921  337,064  337,916 
Isère .  .  .  .  .  3,179   581,680  568,933  562,315 
Jura .  .  .  .  .  1,951   281,292  266,143  257,725 
Landes  .  .  .  .  3,615   302,266  292,884  293,397 
Loir-et-Cher .  .  .  2,479   279,214  278,153  276,019 
Loire .  .  .  .  .  1,853   603,384  625,336  643,943 
Loire-Inférieure  .  .  2,694   643,884  646,172  666,748 
Loiret  .  .  .  .  2,629   374,875  371,019  364,999 
Lot .  .  .  .  .  2,017   271,514  240,403  216,611 
Lot-et-Garonne  .  .  2,079   307,437  286,377  274,610 
Lozère  .  .  .  .  1,999   141,264  132,151  128,016 
Maine-et-Loire  .  .  2,706   527,680  514,870  513,490 
Manche  .  .  .  .  2,475   520,865  500,052  487,443 
Marne  .  .  .  .  3,167   429,494  439,577  434,157 
Mayenne .  .  .  .  2,012   340,063  321,187  305,457 
Meurthe-et-Moselle .  .  2,038   431,693  466,417  517,508 
Meuse  .  .  .  .  2,409   291,971  290,384  280,220 
Morbihan .  .  .  .  2,738   535,256  552,028  573,152 
Nièvre  .  .  .  .  2,659   347,645  333,899  313,972 
Nord .  .  .  .  .  2,229   1,670,184  1,811,868  1,895,861 
Oise .  .  .  .  .  2,272   403,146  404,511  410,049 
Orne .  .  .  .  .  2,372   367,248  339,162  315,993 
Pas-de-Calais .  .  2,606   853,526  906,249  1,012,466 
Puy-de-Dôme .  .  3,094   570,964  555,078  535,419 
Pyrénées-Orientales  .  1,599   211,187  208,387  213,171 
Rhône  .  .  .  .  1,104   772,912  839,329  858,907 
Saône-et-Loire .  .  .  3,330   625,885  621,237  613,377 
Sarthe  .  .  .  .  2,410   436,111  425,077  421,470 
Savoie  .  .  .  .  2,389   267,428  259,790  253,297 
Seine .  .  .  .  .  185   2,961,089  3,340,514  3,848,618 
Seine-Inférieure  .  .  2,448   833,386  837,824  863,879 
Seine-et-Marne  .  .  2,289   355,136  359,044  361,939 
Seine-et-Oise .  .  .  2,184   618,089  669,098  749,753 
Somme .  .  .  .  2,423   548,982  543,279  532,567 
Tarn .  .  .  .  .  2,231   358,757  339,827  330,533 
Tarn-et-Garonne .  .  1,440   214,046  200,390  188,553 
Var .  .  .  .  .  2,325   283,689  309,191  324,638 
Vaucluse .  .  .  .  1,381   241,787  236,313  239,178 
Vendée  .  .  .  .  2,708   434,808  441,735  442,777 
Vienne  .  .  .  .  2,719   342,785  338,114  333,621 
Vosges  .  .  .  .  2,279   413,707  421,412  429,812 
Yonne  .  .  .  .   2,880    355,364   332,656   315,199 
Total .  .   207,076    38,218,903   38,517,975   39,252,245 
The French census uses the commune as the basis of its returns, and employs the following classifications in respect to communal population: (1) Total communal population. (2) Population comptée à part, which includes soldiers and sailors, inmates of prisons, asylums, schools, members of religious communities, and workmen temporarily engaged in public works. (3) Total municipal population, i.e. communal population minus the population comptée à part. (4) Population municipale agglomérée au chef-lieu de la commune, which embraces the urban population as opposed to the rural population. The following tables, showing the growth of the largest towns in France, are drawn up on the basis of the fourth classification, which is used throughout this work in the articles on French towns, except where otherwise stated.

In 1906 there were in France twelve towns with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants. Their growth or decrease from 1886 to 1906 is shown in the following table:

  1886. 1896. 1906.
 Paris  . .  .  .   2,294,108   2,481,223   2,711,931 
 Lyons . .  .  .  344,124  398,867  430,186 
 Marseilles  .  .  249,938  332,515  421,116 
 Bordeaux .   .  225,281  239,806  237,707 
 Lille  .  .  .  143,135  160,723  196,624 
 St Etienne  .  103,229  120,300  130,940 
 Le Havre  .  .  109,199  117,009  129,403 
 Toulouse   .  .  123,040  124,187  125,856 
 Roubaix  .  .  89,781  113,899  119,955 
 Nantes .  .  .  110,638  107,137  118,244 
 Rouen  .  .  .  100,043  106,825  111,402 
 Reims   .  .  .  91,130  99,001  102,800 

In the same years the following eighteen towns, now numbering from 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, each had:

  1886. 1896. 1906.
 Nice  .  .  .   61,464   69,140   99,556 
 Nancy  .  .  .   69,463   83,668   98,302 
 Toulon .  .  .   53,941   70,843   87,997 
 Amiens  .  .   68,177   74,808   78,407 
 Limoges  .  .   56,699   64,718   75,906 
 Angers  .  .  .   65,152   69,484   73,585 
 Brest   .  .  .   59,352   64,144   71,163 
 Nîmes  .  .  .   62,198   66,905   70,708 
 Montpellier  .   45,930   62,717   65,983 
 Dijon  .  .  .   50,684   58,355   65,516 
 Tourcoing  .  .   41,183   55,705   62,694 
 Rennes  .  .  .   52,614   57,249   62,024 
 Tours   .  .  .   51,467   56,706   61,507 
 Calais  .  .  .   52,839   50,818   59,623 
 Grenoble   .  .   43,260   50,084   58,641 
 Orléans  .  .   51,208   56,915   57,544 
 Le Mans   .  .   46,991   49,665   54,907 
 Troyes  .  .  .   44,864   50,676   51,228 

Of the population in 1901, 18,916,889 were males and 19,533,899 females, an excess of females over males of 617,010, i.e. 1.6% or about 508 females to every 492 males. In 1881 the proportion was 501 females to every 499 males, since when the disparity has been slightly more marked at every census. Below is a list of the departments in which the number of women to every thousand men was (1) greatest and (2) least.

(1) (2)
Creuse  .  .  .  .   1131   Belfort.  .  .  .  .  886
Côtes-du-Nord .  .  1117   Basses-Alpes .  .  .  893
Seine .  .  .  .  .  1103   Var.  .  .  .  .  .  894
Calvados.  .  .  .  1100   Meuse .  .  .  .  .  905
Cantal  .  .  .  1098   Hautes-Alpes .  .  908
Seine-Inférieure.  .  1084   Meurthe-et-Moselle .  918
Basses-Pyrénées.  .  1080   Haute-Savoie.  .  947

Departments from which the adult males emigrate regularly either to sea or to seek employment in towns tend to fall under the first head, those in which large bodies of troops are stationed under the second.

The annual number of emigrants from France is small. The Basques of Basses-Pyrénées go in considerable numbers to the Argentine Republic, the inhabitants of Basses Alpes to Mexico and the United States, and there are important French colonies in Algeria and Tunisia.

The following table shows the distribution of the active population of France according to their occupations in 1901.

Occupation. Males. Females. Total.
 Forestry and agriculture .  5,517,617  2,658,952  8,176,569 
 Manufacturing industries  3,695,213  2,124,642  5,819,855 
 Trade .  .  .  .  . 1,132,621  689,999  1,822,620 
 Domestic service .  .  .  223,861  791,176  1,015,037 
 Transport .  .  .  .  .  617,849  212,794  830,643 
 Public service .  .  .  .  1,157,835  139,734  1,297,569 
 Liberal professions  .  .  226,561  173,278  399,839 
 Mining, quarries .  .  .  261,320  5,031  266,351 
 Fishing .  .  .  .  .  .  63,372  4,400  67,772 
 Unclassed .  .  .  .  .  14,316  4,504  18,820 
    Grand Total .  .   12,910,565   6,804,510   19,715,075 


Great alterations were made with regard to religious matters in France by a law of December 1905, supplemented by a law of January 1907 (see below, Law and Institutions). Before that time three religions (cultes) were recognized and supported by the state—the Roman Catholic, the Protestant (subdivided into the Reformed and Lutheran) and the Hebrew. In Algeria the Mahommedan religion received similar recognition. By the law of 1905 all the churches ceased to be recognized or supported by the state and became entirely separated therefrom, while the adherents of all creeds were permitted to form associations for public worship (associations cultuelles), upon which the expenses of maintenance were from that time to devolve. The state, the departments, and the communes were thus relieved from the payment of salaries and grants to religious bodies, an item of expenditure which amounted in the last year of the old system to £1,101,000 paid by the state and £302,200 contributed by the departments and communes. Before these alterations the relations between the state and the Roman Catholic communion, by far the largest and most important in France, were chiefly regulated by the provisions of the Concordat of 1801, concluded between the first consul, Bonaparte, and Pope Pius VII. and by other measures passed in 1802.

France is divided into provinces and dioceses as follows:

Archbishoprics. Bishoprics.
Paris .  .  .  Chartres, Meaux, Orléans, Blois, Versailles.
Aix  .  .  .  Marseilles, Fréjus, Digne, Gap, Nice, Ajaccio.
Albi .  .  .  Rodez, Cahors, Mende, Perpignan.
Auch .  .  .  Aire, Tarbes, Bayonne.
Avignon .  .  Nîmes, Valence, Viviers, Montpellier.
Besançon.  .  Verdun, Bellay, St Dié, Nancy.
Bordeaux  .  Agen, Angoulême, Poitiers, Périgueux, La Rochelle, Luçon.
Bourges .  .  Clermont, Limoges, Le Puy, Tulle, St Flour.
Cambrai .  .  Arras.
Chambéry  .  Annecy, Tarentaise, St Jean-de-Maurienne.
Lyons .  .  .  Autun, Langres, Dijon, St Claude, Grenoble.
Reims .  .  .  Soissons, Châlons-sur-Marne, Beauvais, Amiens.
Rennes  .  .  Quimper, Vannes, St Brieuc.
Rouen .  .  .  Bayeux, Evreux, Sées, Coutances.
Sens  .  .  .  Troyes, Nevers, Moulins.
Toulouse .  .  Montauban, Pamiers, Carcassonne.
Tours .  .  .  Le Mans, Angers, Nantes, Laval.

The dioceses are divided into parishes each under a parish priest known as a curé or desservant (incumbent). The bishops and archbishops, formerly nominated by the government and canonically confirmed by the pope, are now chosen by the latter. The appointment of curés rested with the bishops and had to be confirmed by the government, but this confirmation is now dispensed with. The archbishops used to receive an annual salary of £600 each and the bishops £400.

The archbishops and bishops are assisted by vicars-general (at salaries previously ranging from £100 to £180), and to each cathedral is attached a chapter of canons. A curé, in addition to his regular salary, received fees for baptisms, marriages, funerals and special masses, and had the benefit of a free house called a presbytère. The total personnel of state-paid Roman Catholic clergy amounted in 1903 to 36,169. The Roman priests are drawn from the seminaries, established by the church for the education of young men intending to join its ranks, and divided into lower and higher seminaries (grands et petits séminaires), the latter giving the same class of instruction as the lycées.

The number of Protestants may be estimated at about 600,000 and the Jews at about 70,000. The greatest number of Jews is to be found at Paris, Lyons and Bordeaux, while the departments of the centre and of the south along the range of the Cévennes, where Calvinism flourishes, are the principal Protestant localities, Nîmes being the most important centre. Considerable sprinklings of Protestants are also to be found in the two Charentes, in Dauphiné, in Paris and in Franche-Comté. The two Protestant bodies used to cost the state about £60,000 a year and the Jewish Church about £6000.

Both Protestant churches have a parochial organization and a presbyterian form of church government. In the Reformed Church (far the more numerous of the two bodies) each parish has a council of presbyters, consisting of the pastor and lay-members elected by the congregation. Several parishes form a consistorial circumscription, which has a consistorial council consisting of the council of presbyters of the chief town of the circumscription, the pastor and one delegate of the council of presbyters from each parish and other elected members. There are 103 circumscriptions (including Algeria), which are grouped into 21 provincial synods composed of a pastor and lay delegate from each consistory. All the more important questions of church discipline and all decisions regulating the doctrine and practice of the church are dealt with by the synods. At the head of the whole organization is a General Synod, sitting at Paris. The organization of the Lutheran Church (Église de la confession d’Augsburg) is broadly similar. Its consistories are grouped into two special synods, one at Paris and one at Montbéliard (for the department of Doubs and Haute-Saône and the territory of Belfort, where the churches of this denomination are principally situated). It also has a general synod—composed of 2 inspectors,[5] 5 pastors elected by the synod of Paris, and 6 by that of Montbéliard, 22 laymen and a delegate of the theological faculty at Paris—which holds periodical meetings and is represented in its relations with the government by a permanent executive commission.

The Jewish parishes, called synagogues, are grouped into departmental consistories (Paris, Bordeaux, Nancy, Marseilles, Bayonne, Lille, Vesoul, Besançon and three in Algeria). Each synagogue is served by a rabbi assisted by an officiating minister, and in each consistory is a grand rabbi. At Paris is the central consistory, controlled by the government and presided over by the supreme grand rabbi.


Of the population of France some 17,000,000 depend upon agriculture for their livelihood, though only about 6,500,000 are engaged in work on the land. The cultivable land of the country occupies some 195,000 sq. m. or about 94% of the total area; of this 171,000 sq. m. are cultivated. There are besides 12,300 sq. m. of uncultivable area covered by lakes, rivers, towns, &c. Only the roughest estimate is possible as to the sizes of holdings, but in general terms it may be said that about 3 million persons are proprietors of holdings under 25 acres in extent amounting to between 15 and 20% of the cultivated area, the rest being owned by some 750,000 proprietors, of whom 150,000 possess half the area in holdings averaging 400 acres in extent. About 80% of holdings (amounting to about 60% of the cultivated area) are cultivated by the proprietor; of the rest approximately 13% are let on lease and 7% are worked on the system known as métayage (q.v.).

The capital value of land, which greatly decreased during the last twenty years of the 19th century, is estimated at £3,120,000,000, and that of stock, buildings, implements, &c., at £340,000,000. The value per acre of land, which exceeds £48 in the departments of Seine, Rhône and those fringing the north-west coast from Nord to Manche inclusive, is on the average about £29, though it drops to £16 and less in Morbihan, Landes, Basses-Pyrénées, and parts of the Alps and the central plateau.

While wheat and wine constitute the staples of French agriculture, its distinguishing characteristic is the variety of its products. Cereals occupy about one-third of the cultivated area. For the production of wheat, in respect of which France is self-supporting, French Flanders, the Seine basin, notably the Beauce and the Brie, and the regions bordering on the lower course of the Loire and the upper course of the Garonne, are the chief areas. Rye, on the other hand, one of the least valuable of the cereals, is grown chiefly in the poor agricultural territories of the central plateau and western Brittany. Buckwheat is cultivated mainly in Brittany. Oats and barley are generally cultivated, the former more especially in the Parisian region, the latter in Mayenne and one or two of the neighbouring departments. Meslin, a mixture of wheat and rye, is produced in the great majority of French departments, but to a marked extent in the basin of the Sarthe. Maize covers considerable areas in Landes, Basses-Pyrénées and other south-western departments.

  Average Acreage
(Thousands of Acres).
Average Production
(Thousands of Bushels).
Average Yield
per Acre (Bushels).
1886–1895. 1896–1905. 1886–1895. 1896–1905. 1886–1895. 1896–1905.
 Wheat .  .  .  .     17,004     16,580     294,564     317,707     17.3     19.1  
  Meslin .  .  .  .     720     491     12,193     8,826     16.9     17.0  
  Rye  .  .  .  .     3,888     3,439     64,651     56,612     16.6     16.4  
  Barley .  .  .  .     2,303     1,887     47,197     41,066     20.4     21.0  
  Oats  .  .  .  .     9,507     9,601     240,082     253,799     25.2     26.4  
  Buckwheat  .  .     1,484     1,392     26,345     23,136     17.7     16.6  
  Maize .  .  .  .     1,391     1,330     25,723     24,459     18.4     18.4  

Forage Crops.—The mangold-wurzel, occupying four times the acreage of swedes and turnips, is by far the chief root-crop in France. It is grown largely in the departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais and in those of the Seine basin, the southern limit of its cultivation being roughly a line drawn from Bordeaux to Lyons. The average area occupied by it in the years from 1896 to 1905 was 1,043,000 acres, the total average production being 262,364,000 cwt. and the average production per acre 101/2 tons. Clover, lucerne and sainfoin make up the bulk of artificial pasturage, while vetches, crimson clover and cabbage are the other chief forage crops.

Vegetables.—Potatoes are not a special product of any region, though grown in great quantities in the Bresse and the Vosges. Early potatoes and other vegetables (primeurs) are largely cultivated in the districts bordering the English Channel. Market-gardening is an important industry in the regions round Paris, Amiens and Angers, as it is round Toulouse, Montauban, Avignon and in southern France generally. The market-gardeners of Paris and its vicinity have a high reputation for skill in the forcing of early vegetables under glass.

Potatoes: Decennial Averages.
  Acreage. Total Yield
 Average Yield 
per Acre
1886–1895 3,690,000 11,150,000 3.02
 1896–1905   3,735,000   11,594,000  3.1 

Industrial Plants.[6]—The manufacture of sugar from beetroot, owing to the increased use of sugar, became highly important during the latter half of the 19th century, the industry both of cultivation and manufacture being concentrated in the northern departments of Aisne, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme and Oise, the first named supplying nearly a quarter of the whole amount produced in France.

Flax and hemp showed a decreasing acreage from 1881 onwards. Flax is cultivated chiefly in the northern departments of Nord, Seine-Inférieure, Pas-de-Calais, Côtes-du-Nord, hemp in Sarthe, Morbihan and Maine-et-Loire.

Colza, grown chiefly in the lower basin of the Seine (Seine-Inférieure and Eure), is the most important of the oil-producing plants, all of which show a diminishing acreage. The three principal regions for the production of tobacco are the basin of the Garonne (Lot-et-Garonne, Dordogne, Lot and Gironde), the basin of the Isère (Isère and Savoie) and the department of Pas-de-Calais. The state controls its cultivation, which is allowed only in a limited number of departments. Hops cover only about 7000 acres, being almost confined to the departments of Nord, Côte d’Or and Meurthe-et-Moselle.

Decennial Averages 1896–1905.
  Acreage. Production
 Average Yield 
per Acre
 Sugar beet  . 672,000  6,868,000 10 .2
 Hemp   .. 64,856 18,451 [7]   .28[7]
 Flax   .. 57,893 17,857 [7]   .30[7]
 Colza   .. 102,454 47,697     .46
 Tobacco   . 41,564 22,453     .54

Vineyards (see Wine).—The vine grows generally in France, except in the extreme north and in Normandy and Brittany. The great wine-producing regions are:

1. The country fringing the Mediterranean coast and including Hérault (240,822,000 gals. in 1905), and Aude (117,483,000 gals. in 1905), the most productive departments in France in this respect.

2. The department of Gironde (95,559,000 gals. in 1905), whence come Médoc and the other wines for which Bordeaux is the market.

3. The lower valley of the Loire, including Touraine and Anjou, and the district of Saumur.

4. The valley of the Rhône.

5. The Burgundian region, including Côte d’Or and the valley of the Saône (Beaujolais, Mâconnais).

6. The Champagne.

7. The Charente region, the grapes of which furnish brandy, as do those of Armagnac (department of Gers).

The decennial averages for the years 1896–1905 were as follows:

Acreage of productive vines. 4,056,725
Total production in gallons.  1,072,622,000
Average production in gallons per acre 260

Fruit.—Fruit-growing is general all over France, which, apart from bananas and pine-apples, produces in the open air all the ordinary species of fruit which its inhabitants consume. Some of these may be specially mentioned. The cider apple, which ranks first in importance, is produced in those districts where cider is the habitual drink, that is to say, chiefly in the region north-west of a line drawn from Paris to the mouth of the Loire. The average annual production of cider during the years 1896 to 1905 was 304,884,000 gallons. Dessert apples and pears are grown there and in the country on both banks of the lower Loire, the valley of which abounds in orchards wherein many varieties of fruit flourish and in nursery-gardens. The hilly regions of Limousin, Périgord and the Cévennes are the home of the chestnut, which in some places is still a staple food; walnuts grow on the lower levels of the central plateau and in lower Dauphiné and Provence, figs and almonds in Provence, oranges and citrons on the Mediterranean coast, apricots in central France, the olive in Provence and the lower valleys of the Rhône and Durance. Truffles are found under the oaks of Périgord, Comtat-Venaissin and lower Dauphiné.

Silk Cocoons.  1891–1895.   1896–1900.   1901–1905. 
 Annual average production over
 quinquennial periods in ℔.
 19,587,000   17,696,000   16,566,000 

The mulberry grows in the valleys of the Rhône and its tributaries, the Isère, the Drôme, the Ardèche, the Gard and the Durance, and also along the coast of the Mediterranean. Silk-worm rearing, which is encouraged by state grants, is carried on in the valleys mentioned and on the Mediterranean coast east of Marseilles. The numbers of growers decreased from 139,000 in 1891 to 124,000 in 1905. The decrease in the annual average production of cocoons is shown in the preceding table.

Snails are reared in some parts of the country as an article of food, those of Burgundy being specially esteemed.

Stock-raising.—From this point of view the soil of France may be divided into four categories:

1. The rich pastoral regions where dairy-farming and the fattening of cattle are carried on with most success, viz. (a) Normandy, Perche, Cotentin and maritime Flanders, where horses are bred in great numbers; (b) the strip of coast between the Gironde and the mouth of the Loire; (c) the Morvan including the Nivernais and the Charolais, from which the famous Charolais breed of oxen takes its name; (d) the central region of the central plateau including the districts of Cantal and Aubrac, the home of the famous beef-breeds of Salers and Aubrac.[8] The famous pré-salé sheep are also reared in the Vendée and Cotentin.

2. The poorer grazing lands on the upper levels of the Alps, Pyrenees, Jura and Vosges, the Landes, the more outlying regions of the central plateau, southern Brittany, Sologne, Berry, Champagne-Pouilleuse, the Crau and the Camargue, these districts being given over for the most part to sheep-raising.

3. The plain of Toulouse, which with the rest of south-western France produces good draught oxen, the Parisian basin, the plains of the north to the east of the maritime region, the lower valley of the Rhône and the Bresse, where there is little or no natural pasturage, and forage is grown from seed.

4. West, west-central and eastern France outside these areas, where meadows are predominant and both dairying and fattening are general. Included therein are the dairying and horse-raising district of northern Brittany and the dairying regions of Jura and Savoy.

In the industrial regions of northern France cattle are stall-fed with the waste products of the beet-sugar factories, oil-works and distilleries. Swine, bred all over France, are more numerous in Brittany, Anjou (whence comes the well-known breed of Craon), Poitou, Burgundy, the west and north of the central plateau and Béarn. Upper Poitou and the zone of south-western France to the north of the Pyrenees are the chief regions for the breeding of mules. Asses are reared in Béarn, Corsica, Upper Poitou, the Limousin, Berry and other central regions. Goats are kept in the mountainous regions (Auvergne, Provence, Corsica). The best poultry come from the Bresse, the district of Houdan (Seine-et-Oise), the district of Le Mans and Crèvecœur (Calvados).

The prés naturels (meadows) and herbages (unmown pastures) of France, i.e. the grass-land of superior quality as distinguished from paturages et pacages, which signifies pasture of poorer quality, increased in area between 1895 and 1905 as is shown below:

   1895 (Acres).   1905 (Acres). 
Prés naturels . 10,852,000 11,715,000
Herbages .. 2,822,000 3,022,000

The following table shows the number of live stock in the country at intervals of ten years since 1885.

Cattle. Sheep and
Pigs. Horses. Mules. Asses.
Cows. Other
1885 6,414,487 6,690,483 13,104,970 22,616,547 5,881,088 2,911,392 238,620 387,227
1895 6,359,795 6,874,033 13,233,828 21,163,767 6,306,019 2,812,447 211,479 357,778
 1905   7,515,564   6,799,988   14,315,552   17,783,209   7,558,779   3,169,224   198,865   365,181 

Agricultural Organization.—In France the interests of agriculture are entrusted to a special ministry, comprising the following divisions: (1) forests, (2) breeding-studs (haras); (3) agriculture, a department which supervises agricultural instruction and the distribution of grants and premiums; (4) agricultural improvements, draining, irrigation, &c.; (5) an intelligence department which prepares statistics, issues information as to prices and markets, &c. The minister is assisted by a superior council of agriculture, the members of which, numbering a hundred, include senators, deputies and prominent agriculturists. The ministry employs inspectors, whose duty it is to visit the different parts of the country and to report on their respective position and wants. The reports which they furnish help to determine the distribution of the moneys dispensed by the state in the form of subventions to agricultural societies and in many other ways. The chief type of agricultural society is the comice agricole, an association for the discussion of agricultural problems and the organization of provincial shows. There are besides several thousands of local syndicates, engaged in the purchase of materials and sale of produce on the most advantageous terms for their members, credit banks and mutual insurance societies (see Co-operation). Three societies demand special mention: the Union centrale des agriculteurs de France, to which the above syndicates are affiliated; the Société nationale d’agriculture, whose mission is to further agricultural progress and to supply the government with information on everything appertaining thereto and the Société des agriculteurs de France.

Among a variety of premiums awarded by the state are those for the best cultivated estates and for irrigation works, and to the owners of the best stallions and brood-mares. Haras or stallion stables containing in all over 3000 horses are established in twenty-two central towns, and annually send stallions, which are at the disposal of private individuals in return for a small fee, to various stations throughout the country. Other institutions belonging to the state are the national sheep-fold of Rambouillet (Seine-et-Oise) and the cow-house of Vieux-Pin (Orne) for the breeding of Durham cows. Four different grades of institution for agricultural instruction are under state direction: (1) farm-schools and schools of apprenticeship in dairying, &c., to which the age of admission is from 14 to 16 years; (2) practical schools, to which boys of from 13 to 18 years of age are admitted. These number forty-eight, and are intended for sons of farmers of good position; (3) national schools, which are established at Grignon (Seine-et-Oise), Rennes and Montpellier, candidates for which must be 17 years of age; (4) the National Agronomic Institute at Paris, which is intended for the training of estate agents, professors, &c. There are also departmental chairs of agriculture, the holders of which give instruction in training-colleges and elsewhere and advise farmers.

Forests.—In relation to its total extent, France presents but a very limited area of forest land, amounting to only 36,700 sq. m. or about 18% of the entire surface of the country. Included under the denomination of “forest” are lands—surfaces boisées—which are bush rather than forest. The most wooded parts of France are the mountains and plateaus of the east and of the north-east, comprising the pine-forests of the Vosges and Jura (including the beautiful Forest of Chaux), the Forest of Haye, the Forest of Ardennes, the Forest of Argonne, &c.; the Landes, where replanting with maritime pines has transformed large areas of marsh into forest; and the departments of Var and Ariège. The Central Mountains and the Morvan also have considerable belts of wood. In the Parisian region there are the Forests of Fontainebleau (66 sq. m.), of Compiègne (56 sq. m.), of Rambouillet, of Villers-Cotterets, &c. The Forest of Orléans, the largest in France, covers about 145 sq. m. The Alps and Pyrenees are in large part deforested, but reafforestation with a view to minimizing the effects of avalanches and sudden floods is continually in progress.

Of the forests of the country approximately one-third belongs to the state, communes and public institutions. The rest belongs to private owners who are, however, subject to certain restrictions. The Department of Waters[9] and Forests (Administration des Eaux et Forêts) forms a branch of the ministry of agriculture. It is administered by a director-general, who has his headquarters at Paris, assisted by three administrators who are charged with the working of the forests, questions of rights and law, finance and plantation works. The establishment consists of 32 conservators, each at the head of a district comprising one or more departments, 200 inspectors, 215 sub-inspectors and about 300 gardes généraux. These officials form the higher grade of the service (agents). There are besides several thousand forest-rangers and other employés (préposés). The department is supplied with officials of the higher class from the National School of Waters and Forests at Nancy, founded in 1824.


In France, as in other countries, the development of machinery, whether run by steam, water-power or other motive forces, has played a great part in the promotion of industry; the increase in the amount of steam horse-power employed in industrial establishments is, to a certain degree, an index to the activity of the country as regards manufactures.

The appended table shows the progress made since 1850 with regard to steam power. Railway and marine locomotives are not included.

 Years  No. of
No. of
 1852  6,543 6,080 76,000
 1861  14,153 15,805 191,000
 1871  22,192 26,146 316,000
 1881  35,712 44,010 576,000
 1891  46,828 58,967 916,000
 1901  58,151 75,866 1,907,730
 1905  61,112 79,203 2,232,263

With the exception of Loire, Bouches-du-Rhône and Rhône, the chief industrial departments of France are to be found in the north and north-east of the country. In 1901 and 1896 those in which the working inhabitants of both sexes were engaged in industry as opposed to agriculture to the extent of 50% (approximately) or over, numbered eleven, viz.:—

Departments.  Total Working 
 Percentage engaged 
 in Industry. 
 1901.   1896. 
  Nord ... 848,306 544,177 64.15 63.45
  Territoire de Belfort  40,703 24,470 60.10 58.77
  Loire ... 292,808 167,693 57.27 54.73
  Seine ... 2,071,344 1,143,809 55.22 53.54
  Bouches-du-Rhône .  341,823 187,801 54.94 51.00
  Rhône.. 449,121 243,571 54.23 54.78
  Meurthe-et-Moselle  215,501 115,214 53.46 50.19
  Ardennes .. 139,270 73,250 52.60 52.42
  Vosges.. 208,142 107,547 51.67 51.05
  Pas-de-Calais  . 404,153 200,402 49.58 46.55
  Seine-Inférieure 428,591 206,612 48.21 49.85

The department of Seine, comprising Paris and its suburbs, which has the largest manufacturing population, is largely occupied with the manufacture of dress, millinery and articles of luxury (perfumery, &c.), but it plays the leading part in almost every great branch of industry with the exception of spinning and weaving. The typically industrial region of France is the department of Nord, the seat of the woollen industry, but also prominently concerned in other textile industries, in metal working, and in a variety of other manufactures, fuel for which is supplied by its coal-fields. The following sketch of the manufacturing industry of France takes account chiefly of those of its branches which are capable in some degree of localization. Many of the great industries of the country, e.g. tanning, brick-making, the manufacture of garments, &c., are evenly distributed throughout it, and are to be found in or near all larger centres of population.

Groups. Basins. Departments.  Average Production 
(Thousands of
Metric Tons)
 Nord and Pas-de-Calais
 Valenciennes  Nord, Pas-de-Calais  20,965
 Le Boulonnais  Pas-de-Calais
 Loire...  St Étienne and Rive-de-Gier   Loire 3,601
 Communay  Isère
 Ste Foy l’Argentière  Rhône
 Roannais  Loire
 Gard...  Alais  Gard, Ardèche 1,954
 Aubenas  Ardèche
 Le Vigan  Gard
 Bourgogne and Nivernais
 Decize  Nièvre 1,881
 La Chapelle-sous-Dun   Saône-et-Loire 
 Bert  Allier
 Sincey  Côte-d’Or 
 Tarn and Aveyron
 Aubin  Aveyron 1,770
 Carmaux and Albi   Tarn
 Rodez  Aveyron
 St Perdoux  Lot
 Bourbonnais .  Commentry and Doyet   Allier 994
 St Eloi  Puy-de-Dôme
 L’Aumance  Allier
 La Queune  Allier

Coal.—The principal mines of France are coal and iron mines. The production of coal and lignite averaging 33,465,000 metric tons[10] in the years 1901–1905 represents about 73% of the total consumption of the country; the surplus is supplied from Great Britain, Belgium and Germany. The preceding table shows the average output of the chief coal-groups for the years 1901–1905 inclusive. The Flemish coal-basin, employing over 100,000 hands, produces 60% of the coal mined in France.

French lignite comes for the most part from the department of Bouches-du-Rhône (near Fuveau).

The development of French coal and lignite mining in the 19th century, together with records of prices, which rose considerably at the end of the period, is set forth in the table below:

Years.  Average Yearly 
 (Thousands of 
 Metric Tons). 
 Average Price 
 per Ton at 
 Pit Mouth 
 1821–1830  1,495   10.23
 1831–1840  2,571   9.83
 1841–1850  4,078 .5 9.69
1851–1860 6,857   11.45
1861–1870 11,831   11.61
1871–1880 16,774   14.34
1881–1890 21,542   11.55
1891–1900 29,190   11.96
1901–1905   33,465   14.18

Iron.—The iron-mines of France are more numerous than its coal-mines, but they do not yield a sufficient quantity of ore for the needs of the metallurgical industries of the country; as will be seen in the table below the production of iron in France gradually increased during the 19th century; on the other hand, a decline in prices operated against a correspondingly marked increase in its annual value.

Years.  Average Annual 
 (Thousands of 
 Metric Tons). 
 Price per 
 Metric Ton 
 1841–1850  1247   6.76
1851–1860 2414 .5 5.51
1861–1870 3035   4.87
1871–1880 2514   5.39
1881–1890 2934   3.99
1891–1900 4206   3.37
1901–1905 6072   3.72

The department of Meurthe-et-Moselle (basins of Nancy and Longwy-Briey) furnished 84% of the total output during the quinquennial period 1901–1905, may be reckoned as one of the principal iron-producing regions of the world. The other chief producers were Pyrénées-Orientales, Calvados, Haute-Marne (Vassy) and Saône-et-Loire (Mazenay and Change).

Other Ores.—The mining of zinc, the chief deposits of which are at Malines (Gard), Les Bormettes (Var) and Planioles (Lot), and of lead, produced especially at Chaliac (Ardèche), ranks next in importance to that of iron. Iron-pyrites come almost entirely from Sain-Bel (Rhône), manganese chiefly from Ariège and Saône-et-Loire, antimony from the departments of Mayenne, Haute-Loire and Cantal. Copper and mispickel are mined only in small quantities. The table below gives the average production of zinc, argentiferous lead, iron-pyrites and other ores during the quinquennial period 1901–1905.

 (Thousands of 
 Metric Tons). 
 Value £. 
 Zinc.. 60.3     206,912    
 Lead.. 18.5     100,424    
 Iron-pyrites    .  297.2     170,312    
 Other ores 36.0     68,376    

Salt, &c.—Rock-salt is worked chiefly in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, which produces more than half the average annual product of salt. For the years 1896–1905, this was 1,010,000 tons, including both rock- and sea-salt. The salt-marshes of the Mediterranean coast, especially the Étang de Berre and those of Loire-Inférieure, are the principal sources of sea-salt. Sulphur is obtained near Apt (Vaucluse) and in a few other localities of south-eastern France; bituminous schist near Autun (Saône-et-Loire) and Buxières (Allier). The most extensive peat-workings are in the valleys of the Somme; asphalt comes from Seyssel (Ain) and Puy-de-Dôme.

The mineral springs of France are numerous, of varied character and much frequented. Leading resorts are: in the Pyrenean region, Amélie-les-Bains, Bagnères-de-Luchon, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Barèges, Cauterets, Eaux-Bonnes, Eaux-Chaudes and Dax; in the Central Plateau, Mont-Dore, La Bourboule, Bourbon l’Archambault, Vichy, Royat, Chaudes-Aigues, Vais, Lamalon; in the Alps, Aix-les-Bains and Evian; in the Vosges and Faucilles, Plombières, Luxeuil, Contrexéville, Vittel, Martigny and Bourbonne-les-Bains. Outside these main groups St Amand-les-Eaux and Foyes-les-Eaux may be mentioned.

Quarry-Products.—Quarries of various descriptions are numerous all over France. Slate is obtained in large quantities from the departments of Maine-et-Loire (Angers), Ardennes (Fumay) and Mayenne (Renazé). Stone-quarrying is specially active in the departments round Paris, Seine-et-Oise employing more persons in this occupation than any other department. The environs of Creil (Oise) and Château-Landon (Seine-et-Marne) are noted for their freestone (pierre de taille), which is also abundant at Euville and Lérouville in Meuse; the production of plaster is particularly important in the environs of Paris, of kaolin of fine quality at Yrieix (Haute-Vienne), of hydraulic lime in Ardèche (Le Teil), of lime phosphates in the department of Somme, of marble in the departments of Haute-Garonne (St Béat), Hautes-Pyrénées (Campan, Sarrancolin), Isère and Pas-de-Calais, and of cement in Pas-de-Calais (vicinity of Boulogne) and Isère (Grenoble). Paving-stone is supplied in large quantities by Seine-et-Oise, and brick-clay is worked chiefly in Nord, Seine and Pas-de-Calais. The products of the quarries of France for the five years 1901–1905 averaged £9,311,000 per annum in value, of which building material brought in over two-thirds.

Metallurgy.—The average production and value of iron and steel manufactured in France in the last four decades of the 19th century is shown below:

Years. Cast Iron.  Wrought Iron and Steel. 
of Metric
of £).
of Metric
of £).
 1861–1870          1191.5         5012     844       8,654    
1871–1880         1391         5783         1058 .5         11,776    
1881–1890         1796         5119     1376       11,488    
1891–1900         2267         5762     1686       14,540    
1903         2841         7334     1896       15,389    

Taking the number of hands engaged in the industry as a basis of comparison, the most important departments as regards iron and steel working in 1901 were:

Department. Chief Centres.  Hands engaged in 
Production of
 Pig-Iron and Steel. 
 Hands engaged in 
Production of
Material and
 Seine..... .......... 600 102,500
 Nord.....  Lille, Anzin, Denain, Douai, Hautmont, Maubeuge  14,000 45,000
 Loire.....  Rive-de-Gier, Firminy, St Étienne, St Chamond 9,500 17,500
 Meurthe-et-Moselle ..  Pont-à-Mousson, Frouard, Longwy, Nancy 16,500 6,500
 Ardennes....  Charleville, Nouzon 800 23,000
Rhône (Lyons), Saône-et-Loire (Le Creusot, Chalon-sur-Saône) and Loire-Inférieure (Basse-Indre, Indret, Couëron, Trignac) also play a considerable part in this industry.

The chief centres for the manufacture of cutlery are Châttelerault (Vienne), Langres (Haute-Marne) and Thiers (Puy-de-Dôme); for that of arms St Etienne, Tulle and Châttelerault; for that of watches and clocks, Besançon (Doubs) and Montbéliard (Doubs); for that of optical and mathematical instruments Paris, Morez (Jura) and St Claude (Jura); for that of locksmiths’ ware the region of Vimeu (Pas-de-Calais).

There are important zinc works at Auby and St Amand (Nord) and Viviez (Aveyron) and Noyelles-Godault (Pas-de-Calais); there are lead works at the latter place, and others of greater importance at Couëron (Loire-Inférieure). Copper is smelted in Ardennes and Pas-de-Calais. The production of these metals, which are by far the most important after iron and steel, increased steadily during the period 1890–1905, and reached its highest point in 1905, details for which year are given below:

  Zinc. Lead. Copper.
 Production (in metric tons)  43,200  24,100  7,600 
 Value...   £1,083,000      £386,000      £526,000 

Wool.—In 1901, 161,000 persons were engaged in the spinning and other preparatory processes and in the weaving of wool. The woollen industry is carried on most extensively in the department of Nord (Roubaix, Tourcoing, Fourmies). Of second rank are Reims and Sedan in the Champagne group; Elbeuf, Louviers and Rouen in Normandy; and Mazamet (Tarn).

Cotton.—In 1901, 166,000 persons were employed in the spinning and weaving of cotton, French cotton goods being distinguished chiefly for the originality of their design. The cotton industry is distributed in three principal groups. The longest established is that of Normandy, having its centres at Rouen, Havre, Evreux, Falaise and Flers. Another group in the north of France has its centres at Lille, Tourcoing, Roubaix, St Quentin and Amiens. That of the Vosges, which has experienced a great extension since the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, comprises Epinal, St Dié, Remiremont and Belfort. Other groups of less importance are situated in the Lyonnais (Roanne and Tarare) and Mayenne (Laval and Mayenne).

Silk.—The silk industry occupied 134,000 hands in 1901. The silk fabrics of France hold the first place, particularly the more expensive kinds. The industry is concentrated in the departments bordering the river Rhône, the chief centres being Lyons (Rhône), Voiron (Isère), St Étienne and St Chamond (Loire) (the two latter being especially noted for their ribbons and trimmings) and Annonay (Ardèche) and other places in the departments of Ain, Gard and Drôme.

Flax, Hemp, Jute, &c.—The preparation and spinning of these materials and the manufacture of nets and rope, together with the weaving of linen and other fabrics, give occupation to 112,000 persons chiefly in the departments of Nord (Lille, Armentières, Dunkirk), Somme (Amiens) and Maine-et-Loire (Angers, Cholet).

Hosiery, the manufacture of which employs 55,000 hands, has its chief centre in Aube (Troyes). The production of lace and guipure, occupying 112,000 persons, is carried on mainly in the towns and villages of Haute-Loire and in Vosges (Mirecourt), Rhône (Lyons), Pas-de-Calais (Calais) and Paris.

Leather.—Tanning and leather-dressing are widely spread industries, and the same may be said of the manufacture of boots and shoes, though these trades employ more hands in the department of Seine than elsewhere; in the manufacture of gloves Isère (Grenoble) and Aveyron (Millau) hold the first place amongst French departments.

Sugar.—The manufacture of sugar is carried on in the departments of the north, in which the cultivation of beetroot is general—Aisne, Nord, Somme, Pas-de-Calais, Oise and Seine-et-Marne, the three first being by far the largest producers. The increase in production in the last twenty years of the 19th century is indicated in the following table:—

Years.  Annual Average of 
Men employed.
 Average Annual 
Production in
Metric Tons.
 1881–1891  43,108 415,786
1891–1901 42,841 696,038
1901–1906 43,061 820,553

Alcohol.—The distillation of alcohol is in the hands of three classes of persons. (1) Professional distillers (bouilleurs et distillateurs de profession); (2) private distillers (bouilleurs de cru) under state control; (3) small private distillers, not under state control, but giving notice to the state that they distil. The two last classes number over 400,000 (1903), but the quantity of alcohol distilled by them is small. Beetroot, molasses and grain are the chief sources of spirit. The department of Nord produces by far the greatest quantity, its average annual output in the decade 1895–1904 being 13,117,000 gallons, or about 26% of the average annual production of France during the same period (49,945,000 gallons). Aisne, Pas-de-Calais and Somme rank next to Nord.

Glass is manufactured in the departments of Nord (Aniche, &c.), Seine, Loire (Rive-de-Gier) and Meurthe-et-Moselle, Baccarat in the latter department being famous for its table-glass. Limoges is the chief centre for the manufacture of porcelain, and the artistic products of the national porcelain factory of Sèvres have a world-wide reputation.

The manufacture of paper and cardboard is largely carried on in Isère (Voiron), Seine-et-Oise (Essonnes), Vosges (Epinal) and of the finer sorts of paper in Charente (Angoulême). That of oil, candles and soap has its chief centre at Marseilles. Brewing and malting are localized chiefly in Nord. There are well-known chemical works at Dombasle (close to Nancy) and Chauny (Aisne) and in Rhône.

Occupations.—The following table, which shows the approximate numbers of persons engaged in the various manufacturing industries of France, who number in all about 5,820,000, indicates their relative importance from the point of view of employment:

Occupation. 1901. 1866.
 Baking...... 163,500   . .
 Milling...... 99,400   . .
 Charcuterie..... 39,600   . .
 Other alimentary industries .. 161,500   .  .
 Alimentary industries: total. 464,000   308,000
 Gas-works..... 26,000   .  .
 Tobacco factories.... 16,000   .  .
 Oil-works ....... 10,000   .  .
 Other “chemical”[11] industries. 58,000   .  .
 Chemical industries: total .. 110,000   49,000
 Rubber factories.... 9,000 25,000
 Paper factories.... 61,000
 Typographic and lithographic printing  76,000   .  .
 Other branches of book production 23,000   .  .
 Book production: total.. 99,000   38,000
 Spinning and weaving... 892,000    1,072,000
 Clothing, millinery and making up of fabrics generally 
 1,484,000 761,000
 Basket work, straw goods, feathers 39,000
 Leather and skin.... 338,000   286,000
 Joinery...... 153,000   .  .
 Builder’s carpentering  ... 94,900   .  .
 Wheelwright’s work... 82,700   .  .
 Cooperage..... 46,600   .  .
 Wooden shoes ..... 52,400   .  .
 Other wood industries  ... 280,400   .  .
 Wood industries: total.. 710,000   671,000
 Metallurgy and metal working. 783,000   345,000
 Goldsmiths’ and jewellers’ work . 35,000   55,000
 Stone-working ..... 56,000   12,000
 Construction, building, decorating 572,000   443,000
 Glass manufacture .... 43,000   .  .
 Tiles ....... 29,000   .  .
 Porcelain and faïence... 27,000   .  .
 Bricks...... 17,000   .  .
 Other kiln industries... 45,000   .  .
 Kiln industries: total.. 161,000   110,000
Some 9000 individuals were engaged in unclassified industries.

Fisheries.—The fishing population of France is most numerous in the Breton departments of Finistère, Côtes-du-Nord and Morbihan and in Pas-de-Calais. Dunkirk, Gravelines, Boulogne and Paimpol send considerable fleets to the Icelandic cod-fisheries, and St Malo, Fécamp, Granville and Cancale to those of Newfoundland. The Dogger Bank is frequented by numbers of French fishing-boats. Besides the above, Boulogne, the most important fishing port in the country, Calais, Dieppe, Concarneau, Douarnenez, Les Sables d’Olonne, La Rochelle, Marennes and Arcachon are leading ports for the herring, sardine, mackerel and other coast-fisheries of the ocean, while Cette, Agde and other Mediterranean ports are engaged in the tunny and anchovy fisheries. Sardine preserving is an important industry at Nantes and other places on the west coast. Oysters are reared chiefly at Marennes, which is the chief French market for them, and at Arcachon, Vannes, Oléron, Auray, Cancale and Courseulles. The total value of the produce of fisheries increased from £4,537,000 in 1892 to £5,259,000 in 1902. In 1902 the number of men employed in the home fisheries was 144,000 and the number of vessels 25,481 (tonnage 127,000); in the deep-sea fisheries 10,500 men and 450 vessels (tonnage 51,000) were employed.


Roads.—Admirable highways known as routes nationales and kept up at the expense of the state radiate from Paris to the great towns of France. Averaging 521/2 ft. in breadth, they covered in 1905 a distance of nearly 24,000 m. The École des Ponts et Chaussées at Paris is maintained by the government for the training of the engineers for the construction and upkeep of roads and bridges. Each department controls and maintains the routes départementales, usually good macadamized roads connecting the chief places within its limits and extending in 1903 over 9700 m. The routes nationales and the routes départementales come under the category of la grande voirie and are under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Works. The urban and rural district roads, covering a much greater mileage and classed as la petite voirie, are maintained chiefly by the communes under the supervision of the Minister of the Interior.

Waterways.[12]—The waterways of France, 7543 m. in length, of which canals cover 3031 m., are also classed under la grande voirie; they are the property of the state, and for the most part are free of tolls. They are divided into two classes. Those of the first class, which comprise rather less than half the entire system, have a minimum depth of 61/2 ft., with locks 126 ft. long and 17 ft. wide; those of the second class are of smaller dimensions. Water traffic, which is chiefly in heavy merchandise, as coal, building materials, and agriculture and food produce, more than doubled in volume between 1881 and 1905. The canal and river system attains its greatest utility in the north, north-east and north-centre of the country; traffic is thickest along the Seine below Paris; along the rivers and small canals of the rich departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais and along the Oise and the canal of St Quentin whereby they communicate with Paris; along the canal from the Marne to the Rhine and the succession of waterways which unite it with the Oise; along the Canal de l’Est (departments of Meuse and Ardennes); and along the waterways uniting Paris with the Saône at Chalon (Seine, Canal du Loing, Canal de Briare, Lateral canal of the Loire and Canal du Centre) and along the Saône between Chalon and Lyons.

In point of length the following are the principal canals:

Est (uniting Meuse with Moselle and Saône). 270
From Nantes to Brest...... 225
Berry (uniting Montluçon with the canalized Cher and the Loire canal)  163
Midi (Toulouse to Mediterranean via Béziers); see Canal 175
Burgundy (uniting the Yonne and Saône) .. 151
Lateral canal of Loire...... 137
From Marne to Rhine (on French territory). 131
Lateral canal of Garonne..... 133
Rhône to Rhine (on French territory). 119
Nivernais (uniting Loire and Yonne) ... 111
Canal de la Somme...... 97
Centre (uniting Saône and Loire)... 81
Canal de l’Ourcq....... 67
Ardennes (uniting Aisne and Canal de l’Est). 62
From Rhône to Cette...... 77
Canal de la Haute Marne..... 60
St Quentin (uniting Scheldt with Somme and Oise) 58

The chief navigable rivers are:

First Class
Miles. Miles.
Seine .... 339 293
Aisne... 37 37
Marne... 114 114
Oise  .... 99 65
Yonne... 67 53
Rhône... 309 30
Saône... 234 234
Adour... 72 21
Garonne  ... 289 96
Dordogne ... 167 26
Loire.... 452 35
Charente ... 106 16
Vilaine... 91 31
Escaut (in France) . 39 39
Scarpe... 41 41
Lys  .... 45 45
Aa   .... 18 18

Railways.—The first important line in France, from Paris to Rouen, was constructed through the instrumentality of Sir Edward Blount (1809–1905), an English banker in Paris, who was afterwards for thirty years chairman of the Ouest railway. After the rejection in 1838 of the government’s proposals for the construction of seven trunk lines to be worked by the state, he obtained a concession for that piece of line on the terms that the French treasury would advance one-third of the capital at 3% if he would raise the remaining two-thirds, half in France and half in England. The contract for building the railway was put in the hands of Thomas Brassey; English navvies were largely employed on the work, and a number of English engine-drivers were employed when traffic was begun in 1843. A law passed in 1842 laid the foundation of the plan under which the railways have since been developed, and mapped out nine main lines, running from Paris to the frontiers and from the Mediterranean to the Rhine and to the Atlantic coast. Under it the cost of the necessary land was to be found as to one-third by the state and as to the residue locally, but this arrangement proved unworkable and was abandoned in 1845, when it was settled that the state should provide the land and construct the earthworks and stations, the various companies which obtained concessions being left to make the permanent way, provide rolling stock and work the lines for certain periods. Construction proceeded under this law, but not with very satisfactory results, and new arrangements had to be made between 1852 and 1857, when the railways were concentrated in the hands of six great companies, the Nord, the Est, the Ouest, the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée, the Orléans and the Midi. Each of these companies was allotted a definite sphere of influence, and was granted a concession for ninety-nine years from its date of formation, the concessions thus terminating at various dates between 1950 and 1960. In return for the privileges granted them the companies undertook the construction out of their own unaided resources of 1500 m. of subsidiary lines, but the railway expenditure of the country at this period was so large that in a few years they found it impossible to raise the capital they required. In these circumstances the state agreed to guarantee the interest on the capital, the sums it paid in this way being regarded as advances to be reimbursed in the future with interest at 4%. This measure proved successful and the projected lines were completed. But demands for more lines were constantly arising, and the existing companies, in view of their financial position, were disinclined to undertake their construction. The government therefore found itself obliged to inaugurate a system of direct subventions, not only to the old large companies, but also to new small ones, to encourage the development of branch and local lines, and local authorities were also empowered to contribute a portion of the required capital. The result came to be that many small lines were begun by companies that had not the means to complete them, and again the state had to come to the rescue. In 1878 it agreed to spend £20,000,000 in purchasing and completing a number of these lines, some of which were handed over to the great companies, while others were retained in the hands of the government, forming the system known as the Chemins de Fer de l’État. Next year a large programme of railway expansion was adopted, at an estimated cost to the state of £140,000,000, and from 1880 to 1882 nearly £40,000,000 was expended and some 1800 m. of line constructed. Then there was a change in the financial situation, and it became difficult to find the money required. In these circumstances the conventions of 1883 were concluded, and the great companies partially relieved the government of its obligations by agreeing to contribute a certain proportion of the cost of the new lines and to provide the rolling stock for working them. In former cases when the railways had had recourse to state aid, it was the state whose contributions were fixed, while the railways were left to find the residue; but on this occasion the position was reversed. The state further guaranteed a minimum rate of interest on the capital invested, and this guarantee, which by the convention of 1859 had applied to “new” lines only, was now extended to cover both “old” and “new” lines, the receipts and expenditure from both kinds being lumped together. As before, the sums paid out in respect of guaranteed dividend were to be regarded as advances which were to be paid back to the state out of the profits made, when these permitted, and when the advances were wiped out, the profits, after payment of a certain dividend, were to be divided between the state and the railway, two-thirds going to the former and one-third to the latter. All the companies, except the Nord, have at one time or another had to take advantage of the guarantee, and the fact that the Ouest had been one of the most persistent and heavy borrowers in this respect was one of the reasons that induced the government to take it over as from the 1st of January 1909. By the 1859 conventions the state railway system obtained an entry into Paris by means of running powers over the Ouest from Chartres, and its position was further improved by the exchange of certain lines with the Orléans company.

The great railway systems of France are as follows:

1. The Nord, which serves the rich mining, industrial and farming districts of Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Aisne and Somme, connecting with the Belgian railways at several points. Its main lines run from Paris to Calais, via Creil, Amiens and Boulogne, from Paris to Lille, via Creil and Arras, and from Paris to Maubeuge via Creil, Tergnier and St Quentin.

2. The Ouest-État, a combination of the West and state systems. The former traversed Normandy in every direction and connected Paris with the towns of Brittany. Its chief lines ran from Paris to Le Havre via Mantes and Rouen, to Dieppe via Rouen, to Cherbourg, to Granville and to Brest. The state railways served a large portion of western France, their chief lines being from Nantes via La Rochelle to Bordeaux, and from Bordeaux via Saintes, Niort and Saumur to Chartres.

3. The Est, running from Paris via Châlons and Nancy to Avricourt (for Strassburg), via Troyes and Langres to Belfort and on via Basel to the Saint Gotthard, and via Reims and Mezières to Longwy.

4. The Orléans, running from Paris to Orléans, and thence serving Bordeaux via Tours, Poitiers and Angoulême, Nantes via Tours and Angers, and Montauban and Toulouse via Vierzon and Limoges.

5. The Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée, connecting Paris with Marseilles via Moret, Laroche, Dijon, Mâcon and Lyons, and with Nîmes via Moret, Nevers and Clermont-Ferrand. It establishes communication between France and Switzerland and Italy via Mâcon and Culoz (for the Mt. Cenis Tunnel) and via Dijon and Pontarlier (for the Simplon), and also has a direct line along the Mediterranean coast from Marseilles to Genoa via Toulon and Nice.

6. The Midi (Southern) has lines radiating from Toulouse to Bordeaux via Agen, to Bayonne via Tarbes and Pau, and to Cette via Carcassonne, Narbonne and Béziers. From Bordeaux there is also a direct line to Bayonne and Irun (for Madrid), and at the other end of the Pyrenees a line leads from Narbonne to Perpignan and Barcelona.

The following table, referring to lines “of general interest,” indicates the development of railways after 1885:

 Year.   Mileage.   Receipts in 
of £.
 Expenses in 
of £.
 Goods carried 
(1000 Metric
1885 18,650 42,324 23,508 214,451  75,192
1890 20,800 46,145 24,239  41,119  92,506
1895 22,650 50,542 27,363 348,852 100,834
1900 23,818 60,674 32,966 453,193 126,830
1904 24,755 60,589 31,477 433,913 130,144

Narrow gauge and normal gauge railways “of local interest” covered 3905 m. in 1904.


After entering on a régime of free trade in 1860 France gradually reverted towards protection; this system triumphed in the Customs Law of 1892, which imposed more or less considerable duties on imports—a law associated with the name of M. Méline. While raising the taxes both on agricultural products and manufactured goods, this law introduced, between France and all the powers trading with her, relations different from those in the past. It left the government free either to apply to foreign countries the general tariff or to enter into negotiations with them for the application, under certain conditions, of a minimum tariff. The policy of protection was further accentuated by raising the impost on corn from 5 to 7 francs per hectolitre (23/4 bushels). This system, however, which is opposed by a powerful party, has at various times undergone modifications. On the one hand it became necessary, in face of an inadequate harvest, to suspend in 1898 the application of the law on the import of corn. On the other hand, in order to check the decline of exports and neutralize the harmful effects of a prolonged customs war, a commercial treaty was in 1896 concluded with Switzerland, carrying with it a reduction, in respect of certain articles, of the imposts which had been fixed by the law of 1892. An accord was likewise in 1898 effected with Italy, which since 1886 had been in a state of economic rupture with France, and in July 1899 an accord was concluded with the United States of America. Almost all other countries, moreover, share in the benefit of the minimum tariff, and profit by the modifications it may successively undergo.

Commerce, in Millions of Pounds Sterling.

  General Special
 Imports.   Exports.   Total.   Imports.   Exports.   Total. 
 1876–1880  210.1 175.3 385.4 171.7 135.1 306.8
1881–1885 224.1 177.8 401.9 183.4 135.3 318.7
1886–1890 208.2 179.4 387.6 168.8 137.6 306.4
1891–1895 205.9 178.6 384.5 163.0 133.8 296.8
1896–1900 237.8 201.0 438.8 171.9 150.8 322.7
1901–1905 233.3 227.5 460.8 182.8 174.7 357.5

Being in the main a self-supporting country France carries on most of her trade within her own borders, and ranks below Great Britain, Germany and the United States in volume of exterior trade. The latter is subdivided into general commerce, which includes all goods entering or leaving the country, and special commerce which includes imports for home use and exports of home produce. The above table shows the developments of French trade during the years from 1876 to 1905 by means of quinquennial averages. A permanent body (the commission permanente des valeurs) fixes the average prices of the articles in the customs list; this value is estimated at the end of the year in accordance with the variations that have taken place and is applied provisionally to the following year.

  Imports. Exports.
of £).
Per cent
 of Total 
of £).
Per cent
 of Total 
 Articles of Food—         
 1886–1890   58,856  34.9   30,830   22.4 
 1891–1895   50,774  30.9   28,287   21.1 
 1896–1900   42,488  24.9   27,838   18.6 
 1901–1905   33,631  18.4   28,716   16.5 
 Raw Materials[13]         
 1886–1890   85,778  50.8   33,848   24.6 
 1891–1895   88,211  54.3   32,557   24.4 
 1896–1900   101,727  59.2   40,060   26.6 
 1901–1905   116,580  63.8   47,385   27.1 
 Manufactured Articles[14]         
 1886–1890   24,125  14.3   72,917   53.0 
 1891–1895   24,054  14.8   72,906   54.5 
 1896–1900   27,330  15.9   82,270   54.8 
 1901–1905   32,554  17.8   98,582   56.4 

Amongst imports raw materials (wool, cotton and silk, coal, oil-seeds, timber, &c.) hold the first place, articles of food (cereals, wine, coffee, &c.) and manufactured goods (especially machinery) ranking next. Amongst exports manufactured goods (silk, cotton and woollen goods, fancy wares, apparel, &c.) come before raw materials and articles of food (wine and dairy products bought chiefly by England).

Divided into these classes the imports and exports (special trade) for quinquennial periods from 1886 to 1905 averaged as shown in the preceding table.

The decline both in imports and in exports of articles of food, which is the most noteworthy fact exhibited in the preceding table, was due to the almost prohibitive tax in the Customs Law of 1892, upon agricultural products.

The average value of the principal articles of import and export (special trade) over quinquennial periods following 1890 is shown in the two tables below.

Principal Imports (Thousands of £).

   1891–1895.   1896–1900.   1901–1905. 
 Coal, coke, &c.  .  .  .   7,018   9,883   10,539 
 Coffee  .  .  .  .  .  .   6,106   4,553   3,717 
 Cotton, raw  .  .  .  .   7,446   7,722   11,987 
 Flax  .  .  .  .  .  .   2,346   2,435   3,173 
 Fruit and seeds (oleaginous)   7,175   6,207   8,464 
 Hides and skins, raw  .  .   6,141   5,261   6,369 
 Machinery .  .  .  .  .   2,181   3,632   4,614 
 Silk, raw  .  .  .  .  .   9,488   10,391   11,765 
 Timber .  .  .  .  .  .   6,054   6,284   6,760 
 Wheat  .  .  .  .  .  .   10,352   5,276   1,995 
 Wine  .  .  .  .  .  .   9,972   10,454   5,167 
 Wool, raw  .  .  .  .  .   13,372   16,750   16,395 

Principal Exports (Thousands of £).

   1891–1895.   1896–1900.   1901–1905. 
 Apparel .  .  .  .  .  .  4,726   4,513   5,079 
 Brandy and other spirits  .   2,402   1,931   1,678 
 Butter  .  .  .  .  .  .   2,789   2,783   2,618 
 Cotton manufactures  .  .   4,233   5,874   7,965 
 Haberdashery[15] .  .  .  .   5,830   6,039   6,599 
 Hides, raw .  .  .  .  .   2,839   3,494   4,813 
 Hides, tanned or curried  .   4,037   4,321   4,753 
 Iron and steel, manufactures of  . .  2,849   4,201 
 Millinery  .  .  .  .  .   1,957   3,308   4,951 
 Motor cars and vehicles .  . .  160   2,147 
 Paper and manufactures of   2,095   2,145   2,551 
 Silk, raw, thrown, waste and cocoons   4,738   4,807   6,090 
 Silk and waste silk, manufactured of   9,769   10,443   11,463 
 Wine  .  .  .  .  .  .   8,824   9,050   9,139 
 Wool, raw  .  .  .  .  .   5,003   7,813   9,159 
 Wool, manufactures of  .   11,998   10,190   8,459 

The following were the countries sending the largest quantities of goods (special trade) to France (during the same periods as in previous table).

Trade with Principal Countries. Imports (Thousands of £).

   1891–1895.   1896–1900.   1901–1905. 
 Germany .  .  .  .  .   13,178   13,904   17,363
 Belgium .  .  .  .  .   15,438   13,113   13,057
 United Kingdom.  .  .   20,697   22,132   22,725
 Spain  .  .  .  .  .   10,294   10,560  6,525 [16]
 United States  .  .  .  .   15,577   18,491   19,334
 Argentine Republic.  .   7,119   10,009   10,094

Other countries importing largely into France are Russia, Algeria and British India, whose imports in each case averaged over £9,000,000 in value in the period 1901–1905; China (average value £7,000,000); and Italy (average value £6,000,000).

The following are the principal countries receiving the exports of France (special trade), with values for the same periods.

Trade with Principal Countries. Exports (Thousands of £).

   1891–1895.   1896–1900.   1901–1905. 
 Germany  .  .  .  .  .    13,712     16,285     21,021  
 Belgium  .  .  .  .  .   19,857     22,135     24,542  
 United Kingdom.  .  .    39,310     45,203     49,156  
 United States  .  .  .  .    9,337     9,497     10,411  
 Algeria .  .  .  .  .  .    7,872     9,434     11,652  

The other chief customers of France were Switzerland and Italy, whose imports from France averaged in 1901–1905 nearly £10,000,000 and over £7,200,000 respectively in value. In the same period Spain received exports from France averaging £4,700,000.

The trade of France was divided between foreign countries and her colonies in the following proportions (imports and exports combined).

  General Trade. Special Trade.
  Colonies.   Foreign
 1891–1895    92.00     8.00     90.89     9.11  
 1896–1900    91.18     8.82     89.86     10.14  
 1901–1905    90.41     9.59     88.78     11.22  

The respective shares of the leading customs in the trade of the country is approximately shown in the following table, which gives the value of their exports and imports (general trade) in 1905 in millions sterling.

  £   £
Marseilles .  .  .  .  88.8   Boulogne .  .  .  .  17.5
Le Havre .  .  .  .  79.5   Calais .  .  .  .  .  14.1
Paris .  .  .  .  .  42.8   Dieppe  .  .  .  .  13.5
Dunkirk  .  .  .  .  34.8   Rouen .  .  .  .  .  11.3
Bordeaux .  .  .  .  27.4   Belfort-Petit-Croix  .  10.7

In the same year the other chief customs in order of importance were Tourcoing, Jeumont, Cette, St Nazaire and Avricourt.

The chief local bodies concerned with commerce and industry are the chambres de commerce and the chambres consultatives d’arts et manufactures, the members of which are elected from their own number by the traders and industrialists of a certain standing. They are established in the chief towns, and their principal function is to advise the government on measures for improving and facilitating commerce and industry within their circumscription. See also Banks and Banking; Savings Banks; Post and Postal Service.

Shipping.—The following table shows the increase in tonnage of sailing and steam shipping engaged in foreign trade entered and cleared at the ports of France over quinquennial periods from 1890.

  Entered. Cleared.
French. Foreign. French. Foreign.
 1891–1895   4,277,967   9,947,893   4,521,928   10,091,000 
 1896–1900   4,665,268   12,037,571   5,005,563   12,103,358 
 1901–1905   4,782,101   14,744,626   5,503,463   14,823,217 

The increase of the French mercantile marine (which is fifth in importance in the world) over the same period is traced in the following table. Vessels of 2 net tons and upwards are enumerated.

  Sailing. Steam. Total.
 Tonnage.   Number 
 Tonnage.   Number 
 1891–1895   14,183   402,982   1182   502,363   15,365   905,345 
 1896–1900   14,327   437,468   1231   504,674   15,558   942,142 
 1901–1905   14,867   642,562   1388   617,536   16,255   1,260,098 

At the beginning of 1908 the total was 17,193 (tonnage, 1,402,647); of these 13,601 (tonnage, 81,833) were vessels of less than 20 tons, while 502 (tonnage, 1,014,506) were over 800 tons.

The increase in the tonnage of sailing vessels, which in other countries tends to decline, was due to the bounties voted by parliament to its merchant sailing fleet with the view of increasing the number of skilled seamen. The prosperity of the French shipping trade is hampered by the costliness of shipbuilding and by the scarcity of outward-bound cargo. Shipping has been fostered by paying bounties for vessels constructed in France and sailing under the French flag, and by reserving the coasting trade, traffic between France and Algeria, &c., to French vessels. Despite these monopolies, three-fourths of the shipping in French ports is foreign, and France is without shipping companies comparable in importance to those of other great maritime nations. The three chief companies are the Messageries Maritimes (Marseilles and Bordeaux), the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (Le Havre, St Nazaire and Marseilles) and the Chargeurs Réunis (Le Havre).

Government and Administration.

Central Government.—The principles upon which the French constitution is based are representative government (by two chambers), manhood suffrage, responsibility of ministers and irresponsibility of the head of the state. Alterations or modifications of the constitution can only be effected by the National Assembly, consisting of both chambers sitting together ad hoc. The legislative power resides in these two chambers—the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies; the executive is vested in the president of the republic and the ministers. The members of both chambers owe their election to universal suffrage; but the Senate is not elected directly by the people and the Chamber of Deputies is.

The Chamber of Deputies, consisting of 584 members, is elected by the scrutin d’arrondissement (each elector voting for one deputy) for a term of four years, the conditions of election being as follows: Each arrondissement sends one deputy if its population does not exceed 100,000, and an additional deputy for every additional 100,000 inhabitants or fraction of that number. Every citizen of twenty-one years of age, unless subject to some legal disability, such as actual engagement in military service, bankruptcy or condemnation to certain punishments, has a vote, provided that he can prove a residence of six months’ duration in any one town or commune. A deputy must be a French citizen, not under twenty-five years old. Each candidate must make, at least five days before the elections, a declaration setting forth in what constituency he intends to stand. He may only stand for one, and all votes given for him in any other than that specified in the declaration are void. To secure election a candidate must at the first voting poll an absolute majority and a number of votes equal to one-fourth of the number of electors. If a second poll is necessary a relative majority is sufficient.

The Senate (see below, Law and Institutions) is composed of 300 members who must be French citizens at least forty years of age. They are elected by the “scrutin de liste” for a period of nine years, and one-third of the body retires every three years. The department which is to elect a senator when a vacancy occurs is settled by lot.

Both senators and deputies receive a salary of £600 per annum. No member of a family that has reigned in France is eligible for either chamber.

Bills may be proposed either by ministers (in the name of the president of the republic), or by private members, and may be initiated in either chamber, but money-bills must be submitted in the first place to the Chamber of Deputies. Every bill is first examined by a committee, a member of which is chosen to “report” on it to the chamber, after which it must go through two readings (délibérations), before it is presented to the other chamber. Either house may pass a vote of no confidence in the government, and in practice the government resigns in face of the passing of such a vote by the deputies, but not if it is passed by the Senate only. The chambers usually assemble in January each year, and the ordinary session lasts not less than five months; usually it continues till July. There is an extraordinary session from October till Christmas.

The president (see below, Law and Institutions) is elected for seven years, by a majority of votes, by the Senate and Chamber of Deputies sitting together as the National Assembly. Any French citizen may be chosen president, no fixed age being required. The only exception to this rule is that no member of a royal family which has once reigned in France can be elected. The president receives 1,200,000 francs (£48,000) a year, half as salary, half for travelling expenses and the charges incumbent upon the official representative of the country. Both the chambers are summoned by the president, who has the power of dissolving the Chamber of Deputies with the assent of the Senate. When a change of Government occurs the president chooses a prominent parliamentarian as premier and president of the council. This personage, who himself holds a portfolio, nominates the other ministers, his choice being subject to the ratification of the chief of the state. The ministerial council (conseil des ministres) is presided over by the president of the republic; less formal meetings (conseils de cabinet) under the presidency of the premier, or even of some other minister, are also held.

The ministers, whether members of parliament or not, have the right to sit in both chambers and can address the house whenever they choose, though a minister may only vote in the chamber of which he happens to be a member. There are twelve ministries[17] comprising those of justice; finance; war; the interior; marine; colonies; public instruction and fine arts; foreign affairs; commerce and industry; agriculture; public works; and labour and public thrift. Individual ministers are responsible for all acts done in connexion with their own departments, and the body of ministers collectively is responsible for the general policy of the government.

The council of state (conseil d’état) is the principal council of the head of the state and his ministers, who consult it on various legislative problems, more particularly on questions of administration. It is divided for despatch of business into four sections, each of which corresponds to a group of two or three ministerial departments, and is composed of (1) 32 councillors “en service ordinaire” (comprising a vice-president and sectional presidents), and 19 councillors “en service extraordinaire,” i.e. government officials who are deputed to watch the interests of the ministerial departments to which they belong, and in matters not concerned with those departments have a merely consultative position; (2) 32 maîtres des requêtes; (3) 40 auditors.

The presidency of the council of state belongs ex officio to the minister of justice.

The theory of “droit administratif” lays down the principle that an agent of the government cannot be prosecuted or sued for acts relating to his administrative functions before the ordinary tribunals. Consequently there is a special system of administrative jurisdiction for the trial of “le contentieux administratif” or disputes in which the administration is concerned. The council of state is the highest administrative tribunal, and includes a special “Section du contentieux” to deal with judicial work of this nature.

Local Government.—France is divided into 86 administrative departments (including Corsica) or 87 if the Territory of Belfort, a remnant of the Haut Rhin department, be included. These departments are subdivided into 362 arrondissements, 2911 cantons and 36,222 communes.

Departments. Capital Towns. Ancient Provinces.[18]
 Ain ......  Bourg.....  Bourgogne (Bresse, Bugey, Valromey, Dombes).
 Aisne.....  Laon ......  Île-de-France; Picardie.
 Allier.....  Moulins .....  Bourbonnais.
 Alpes-Maritimes..  Nice  
 Ardèche .....  Privas.....  Languedoc (Vivarais).
 Ardennes....  Mézières.....  Champagne.
 Ariège .....  Foix ......  Foix; Gascogne (Cousérans).
 Aube.....  Troyes.....  Champagne; Bourgogne.
 Aude.....  Carcassonne ....  Languedoc.
 Aveyron....  Rodez.....  Guienne (Rouergue).
 Basses-Alpes ....  Digne.....  Provence.
 Basses-Pyrénées ...  Pau ......  Béarn; Gascogne (Basse-Navarre, Soule, Labourd). 
 Belfort, Territoire de.  Belfort.....  Alsace.
 Bouches-du-Rhône..  Marseilles....  Provence.
 Calvados .....  Caen ......  Normandie (Bessin, Bocage).
 Cantal.....  Aurillac.....  Auvergne.
 Charente....  Angoulême....  Angoumois; Saintonge.
 Charente-Inférieure.  La Rochelle....  Aunis; Saintonge.
 Cher.....  Bourges .....  Berry; Bourbonnais.
 Corrèze .....  Tulle.....  Limousin.
 Côte-d’Or....  Dijon.....  Bourgogne (Dijonnais, Auxois).
 Côtes-du-Nord...  St Brieuc .....  Bretagne.
 Creuse.....  Guéret.....  Marche.
 Deux-Sèvres ....  Niort.....  Poitou.
 Dordogne  Périgueux  Guienne (Périgord).
 Doubs.....  Besançon .....  Franche-Comté; Montbéliard.
 Drôme.....  Valence.....  Dauphiné.
 Eure ......  Évreux.....  Normandie; Perche.
 Eure-et-Loir ....  Chartres .....  Orléanais; Normandie.
 Finistère....  Quimper .....  Bretagne.
 Gard ......  Nîmes.....  Languedoc.
 Gers ......  Auch ......  Gascogne (Astarac, Armagnac).
 Girdonde .....  Bordeaux .....   Guienne (Bordelais, Bazadais).
 Haute-Garonne...  Toulouse .....  Languedoc; Gascogne (Comminges).
 Haute-Loire ....  Le Puy. .   ...  Languedoc (Velay); Auvergne; Lyonnais.
 Haute-Marne...  Chaumont....  Champagne (Bassigny, Vallage).
 Hautes-Alpes...  Gap ......  Dauphiné.
 Haute-Saône ....  Vesoul.....  Franche-Comté.
 Haute-Savoie...  Annecy  
 Hautes-Pyrénées..  Tarbes.....  Gascogne.
 Haute-Vienne...  Limoges  Limousin; Marche.
 Hérault  Montpellier  Languedoc.
 Ille-et-Vilaine  Rennes  Bretagne.
 Indre  Châteauroux  Berry.
 Indre-et-Loire  Tours  Touraine.
 Isère  Grenoble  Dauphiné.
 Jura  Lons-le-Saunier  Franche-Comté.
 Landes  Mont-de-Marsan  Gascogne (Landes, Chalosse).
 Loire  St-Étienne  Lyonnais.
 Loire-Inférieure  Nantes  Bretagne.
 Loiret  Orléans  Orléanais (Orléanais proper, Gâtinais, Dunois).
 Loir-et-Cher  Blois  Orléanais.
 Lot  Cahors  Guienne (Quercy).
 Lot-et-Garonne  Agen  Guienne; Gascogne.
 Lozère  Mende  Languedoc (Gévaudan).
 Maine-et-Loire  Angers  Anjou.
 Manche  St-Lô  Normandie (Cotentin).
 Marne  Châlons-sur-Marne  Champagne.
 Mayenne  Laval  Maine; Anjou.
 Meurthe-et-Moselle  Nancy  Lorraine; Trois-Évêchés.
 Meuse  Bar-le-Duc  Lorraine (Barrois, Verdunois).
 Morbihan  Vannes  Bretagne.
 Nièvre  Nevers  Nivernais; Orléanais.
 Nord  Lille  Flandre; Hainaut.
 Oise  Beauvais  Île-de-France.
 Orne  Alençon  Normandie; Perche.
 Pas-de-Calais  Arras  Artois; Picardie.
 Puy-de-Dôme  Clermont-Ferrand  Auvergne.
 Pyrénées-Orientales  Perpignan  Roussillon; Languedoc.
 Rhône  Lyon  Lyonnais; Beaujolais.
 Saône-et-Loire  Mâcon  Bourgogne.
 Sarthe  Le Mans  Maine; Anjou.
 Savoie  Chambéry  
 Seine  Paris  Île-de-France.
 Seine-et-Marne  Melun  Île-de-France; Champagne.
 Seine-et-Oise  Versailles  Île-de-France.
 Seine-Inférieure  Rouen  Normandie.
 Somme  Amiens  Picardie.
 Tarn  Albi  Languedoc (Albigeois).
 Tarn-et-Garonne  Montauban  Guienne; Gascogne; Languedoc.
 Var  Draguignan  Provence.
 Vaucluse  Avignon  Comtat; Venaissin; Provence; Principauté d’Orange. 
 Vendée  La Roche-sur-Yon  Poitou.
 Vienne  Poitiers  Poitou; Touraine.
 Vosges  Épinal  Lorraine.
 Yonne  Auxerre  Bourgogne; Champagne.
 Corse (Corsica)  Ajaccio  Corse.

Before 1790 France was divided into thirty-three great and seven small military governments, often called provinces, which are, however, to be distinguished from the provinces formed under the feudal system. The great governments were: Alsace, Saintonge and Angournois, Anjou, Artois, Aunis, Auvergne, Béarn and Navarre, Berry, Bourbonnais; Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Champagne, Dauphiné, Flandre, Foix, Franche-Comté, Guienne and Gascogne (Gascony), Île-de-France, Languedoc, Limousin, Lorraine, Lyonnais, Maine, Marche, Nivernais, Normandie, Orléanais, Picardie, Poitou, Provence, Roussillon, Touraine and Corse. The eight small governments were: Paris, Boulogne and Boulonnais, Le Havre, Sedan, Toulois, Pays Messin and Verdunois and Saumurois.

At the head of each department is a prefect, a political official nominated by the minister of the interior and appointed by the president, who acts as general agent of the government and representative of the central authority. To aid him the prefect has a general secretary and an advisory body (conseil de préfecture), the members of which are appointed by the president, which has jurisdiction in certain classes of disputes arising out of administration and must, in certain cases, be consulted, though the prefect is not compelled to follow its advice. The prefect supervises the execution of the laws; has wide authority in regard to policing, public hygiene and relief of pauper children; has the nomination of various subordinate officials; and is in correspondence with the subordinate functionaries in his department, to whom he transmits the orders and instructions of the government. Although the management of local affairs is in the hands of the prefect his power with regard to these is checked by a deliberative body known as the general council (conseil général). This council, which consists for the most part of business and professional men, is elected by universal suffrage, each canton in the department contributing one member. The general council controls the departmental administration of the prefect, and its decisions on points of local government are usually final. It assigns its quota of taxes (contingent) to each arrondissement, authorizes the sale, purchase or exchange of departmental property, superintends the management thereof, authorizes the construction of new roads, railways or canals, and advises on matters of local interest. Political questions are rigorously excluded from its deliberations. The general council, when not sitting, is represented by a permanent delegation (commission départementale).

As the prefect in the department, so the sub-prefect in the arrondissement, though with a more limited power, is the representative of the central authority. He is assisted, and in some degree controlled, in his work by the district council (conseil d’arrondissement), to which each canton sends a member, chosen by universal suffrage. As the arrondissement has neither property nor budget, the principal business of the council is to allot to each commune its share of the direct taxes imposed on the arrondissement by the general council.

The canton is purely an administrative division, containing, on an average, about twelve communes, though some exceptional communes are big enough to contain more than one canton. It is the seat of a justice of the peace, and is the electoral unit for the general council and the district council.

The communes, varying greatly in area and population, are the administrative units in France. The chief magistrate of the commune is the mayor (maire), who is (1) the agent of the central government and charged as such with the local promulgation and execution of the general laws and decrees of the country; (2) the executive head of the municipality, in which capacity he supervises the police, the revenue and public works of the commune, and acts as the representative of the corporation in general. He also acts as registrar of births, deaths and marriages, and officiates at civil marriages. Mayors are usually assisted by deputies (adjoints). In a commune of 2500 inhabitants or less there is one deputy; in more populous communes there may be more, but in no case must the number exceed twelve, except at Lyons, where as many as seventeen are allowed. Both mayors and deputy mayors are elected by and from among members of the municipal council for four years. This body consists, according to the population of the commune, of from 10 to 36 members, elected for four years on the principle of the scrutin de liste by Frenchmen who have reached the age of twenty-one years and have a six months’ residence qualification.

The local affairs of the commune are decided by the municipal council, and its decisions become operative after the expiration of a month, save in matters which involve interests transcending those of the commune. In such cases the prefect must approve them, and in some cases the sanction of the general council or even ratification by the president is necessary. The council also chooses communal delegates to elect senators; and draws up the list of répartiteurs, whose function is to settle how the commune’s share of direct taxes shall be allotted among the taxpayers. The sub-prefect then selects from this list ten of whom he approves for the post. The meetings of the council are open to the public.


The ordinary judicial system of France comprises two classes of courts: (1) civil and criminal, (2) special, including courts dealing only with purely commercial cases; in addition there are the administrative courts, including bodies, the Conseil d’État and the Conseils de Préfecture, which deal, in their judicial capacity, with cases coming under the droit administratif. Mention may also be made of the Tribunal des Conflits, a special court whose function it is to decide which is the competent tribunal when an administration and a judicial court both claim or refuse to deal with a given case.

Taking the first class of courts, which have both civil and criminal jurisdiction, the lowest tribunal in the system is that of the juge de paix.

In each canton is a juge de paix, who in his capacity as a civil judge takes cognizance, without appeal, of disputes where the amount sought to be recovered does not exceed £12 in value. Where the amount exceeds £12 but not £24 an appeal lies from his decision to the court of first instance. In some particular cases where special promptitude or local knowledge is necessary, as disputes between hotelkeepers and travellers, and the like, he has jurisdiction (subject to appeal to the court of first instance) up to £60. He has also a criminal jurisdiction in contraventions, i.e. breaches of law punishable by a fine not exceeding 12s. or by imprisonment not exceeding five days. If the sentence be one of imprisonment or the fine exceeds 4s., appeal lies to the court of first instance. It is an important function of the juge de paix to endeavour to reconcile disputants who come before him, and no suit can be brought before the court of first instance until he has endeavoured without success to bring the parties to an agreement.

Tribunaux de première instance, also called tribunaux d’arrondissement, of which there is one in every arrondissement (with few exceptions), besides serving as courts of appeal from the juges de paix have an original jurisdiction in matters civil and criminal. The court consists of a president, one or more vice-presidents and a variable number of judges. A procureur, or public prosecutor, is also attached to each court. In civil matters the tribunal takes cognizance of actions relating to personal property to the value of £60, and actions relating to land to the value of 60 fr. (£2: 8s.) per annum. When it deals with matters involving larger sums an appeal lies to the courts of appeal. In penal cases its jurisdiction extends to all offences of the class known as délits—offences punishable by a more serious penalty than the “contraventions” dealt with by the juge de paix, but not entailing such heavy penalties as the code applies to crimes, with which the assize courts (see below) deal. When sitting in its capacity as a criminal court it is known as the tribunal correctionnel. Its judgments are invariably subject in these matters to appeal before the court of appeal.

There are twenty-six courts of appeal (cours d’appel), to each of which are attached from one to five departments.

Cours d'Appel.  Departments depending on them.
Paris Seine, Aube, Eure-et-Loir, Marne, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-et-Oise, Yonne.
Agen Gers, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne.
Aix Basses-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var.
Amiens Aisne, Oise, Somme.
Angers Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe.
Bastia Corse.
Besançon Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône, Territoire de Belfort.
Bordeaux Charente, Dordogne, Gironde.
Bourges Cher, Indre, Nièvre.
Caen Calvados, Manche, Orne.
Chambéry Savoie, Haute-Savoie.
Dijon Côte-d'Or, Haute-Marne, Saône-et-Loire.
Douai Nord, Pas-de-Calais.
Grenoble Hautes-Alpes, Drôme, Isère.
Limoges Corrèze, Creuse, Haute-Vienne.
Lyons Ain, Loire, Rhône.
Montpellier Aude, Aveyron, Hérault, Pyrénées-Orientales.
Nancy Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Vosges, Ardennes.
Nîmes Ardèche, Gard, Lozère, Vaucluse.
Orléans Indre-et-Loire, Loir-et-Cher, Loiret.
Pau Landes, Basses-Pyrénées, Hautes-Pyrénées.
Poitiers Charente-Inférieure, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée, Vienne.
Rennes Côtes-du-Nord, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Inférieure, Morbihan.
Riom Allier, Cantal, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme.
Rouen Eure, Seine-Inférieure.
Toulouse Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne.

At the head of each court, which is divided into sections (chambres), is a premier président. Each section (chambre) consists of a président de chambre and four judges (conseillers). Procureurs-généraux and avocats-généraux are also attached to the parquet, or permanent official staff, of the courts of appeal. The principal function of these courts is the hearing of appeals both civil and criminal from the courts of first instance; only in some few cases (e.g. discharge of bankrupts) do they exercise an original jurisdiction. One of the sections is termed the chambre des mises en accusation. Its function is to examine criminal cases and to decide whether they shall be referred for trial to the lower courts or the cours d’assises. It may also dismiss a case on grounds of insufficient evidence.

The cours d’assises are not separate and permanent tribunals. Every three months an assize is held in each department, usually at the chief town, by a conseiller, appointed ad hoc, of the court of appeal upon which the department depends. The cour d’assises occupies itself entirely with offences of the most serious type, classified under the penal code as crimes, in accordance with the severity of the penalties attached. The president is assisted in his duties by two other magistrates, who may be chosen either from among the conseillers of the court of appeal or the presidents or judges of the local court of first instance. In this court and in this court alone there is always a jury of twelve. They decide, as in England, on facts only, leaving the application of the law to the judges. The verdict is given by a simple majority.

In all criminal prosecutions, other than those coming before the juge de paix, a secret preliminary investigation is made by an official called a juge d’instruction. He may either dismiss the case at once by an order of “non-lieu,” or order it to be tried, when the prosecution is undertaken by the procureur or procureur-général. This process in some degree corresponds to the manner in which English magistrates dismiss a case or commit the prisoner to quarter sessions or assizes, but the powers of the juge d’instruction are more arbitrary and absolute.

The highest tribunal in France is the cour de cassation, sitting at Paris, and consisting of a first president, three sectional presidents and forty-five conseillers, with a ministerial staff (parquet) consisting of a procureur-général and six advocates-general. It is divided into three sections: the Chambre des Requêtes, or court of petitions, the civil court and the criminal court. The cour de cassation can review the decision of any other tribunal, except administrative courts. Criminal appeals usually go straight to the criminal section, while civil appeals are generally taken before the Chambre des Requêtes, where they undergo a preliminary examination. If the demand for rehearing is refused such refusal is final; but if it is granted the case is then heard by the civil chamber, and after argument cassation (annulment) is granted or refused. The Court of Cassation does not give the ultimate decision on a case; it pronounces, not on the question of fact, but on the legal principle at issue, or the competence of the court giving the original decision. Any decision, even one of a cour d’assises, may be brought before it in the last resort, and may be cassé—annulled. If it pronounces cassation it remits the case to the hearing of a court of the same order.

Commercial courts (tribunaux de commerce) are established in all the more important commercial towns to decide as expeditiously as possible disputed points arising out of business transactions. They consist of judges, chosen, from among the leading merchants, and elected by commerçants patentés depuis cinq ans, i.e. persons who have held the licence to trade (see Finance) for five years and upwards. In the absence of a tribunal de commerce commercial cases come before the ordinary tribunal d’arrondissement.

In important industrial towns tribunals called conseils de prud’hommes are instituted to deal with disputes between employers and employees, actions arising out of contracts of apprenticeship and the like. They are composed of employers and workmen in equal numbers and are established by decree of the council of state, advised by the minister of justice. The minister of justice is notified of the necessity for a conseil de prud’hommes by the prefect, acting on the advice of the municipal council and the Chamber of Commerce or the Chamber of Arts and Manufactures. The judges are elected by employers and workmen of a certain standing. When the amount claimed exceeds £12 appeal lies to the tribunaux d’arrondissement.

Police.—Broadly, the police of France may be divided into two great branches—administrative police (la police administrative) and judicial police (la police judiciaire), the former having for its object the maintenance of order, and the latter charged with tracing out offenders, collecting the proofs, and delivering the presumed offenders to the tribunals charged by law with their trial and punishment. Subdivisions may be, and often are, named according to the particular duties to which they are assigned, as la police politique, police des mœurs, police sanitaire, &c. The officers of the judicial police comprise the juge de paix (equivalent to the English police magistrate), the maire, the commissaire de police, the gendarmerie and, in rural districts, the gardes champêtres and the gardes forestiers. Gardiens de la paix (sometimes called sergents de ville, gardes de ville or agents de police) are not to be confounded with the gendarmerie, being a branch of the administrative police and corresponding more or less nearly with the English equivalent “police constables,” which the gendarmerie do not, although both perform police duty. The gendarmerie, however, differ from the agents or gardes both in uniform and in the fact that they are for the most part country patrols. The organization of the Paris police, which is typical of that in other large towns, may be outlined briefly. The central administration (administration centrale) comprises three classes of functions which together constitute la police. First there is the office or cabinet of the prefect for the general police (la police générale), with bureaus for various objects, such as the safety of the president of the republic, the regulation and order of public ceremonies, theatres, amusements and entertainments, &c.; secondly, the judicial police (la police judiciaire), with numerous bureaus also, in constant communication with the courts of judicature; thirdly, the administrative police (la police administrative) including bureaus, which superintend navigation, public carriages, animals, public health, &c. Concurrently with these divisions there is the municipal police, which comprises all the agents in enforcing police regulations in the streets or public thoroughfares, acting under the orders of a chief (chef de la police municipale) with a central bureau. The municipal police is divided into two principal branches—the service in uniform of the agents de police and the service out of uniform of inspecteurs de police. In Paris the municipal police are divided among the twenty arrondissements, which the uniform police patrol (see further Paris and Police).

Prisons.—The prisons of France, some of them attached to the ministry of the interior, are complex in their classification. It is only from the middle of the 19th century that close attention has been given to the principle of individual separation. Cellular imprisonment was, however, partially adopted for persons awaiting trial. Central prisons, in which prisoners lived and worked in association, had been in existence from the commencement of the 19th century. These prisons received all sentenced to short terms of imprisonment, the long-term convicts going to the bagnes (the great convict prisons at the arsenals of Rochefort, Brest and Toulon), while in 1851 transportation to penal colonies was adopted. In 1869 and 1871 commissions were appointed to inquire into prison discipline, and as a consequence of the report of the last commission, issued in 1874, the principle of cellular confinement was put in operation the following year. There were, however, but few prisons in France adapted for the cellular system, and the process of reconstruction has been slow. In 1898 the old Paris prisons of Grande-Roquette, Saint-Pélagie and Mazas were demolished, and to replace them a large prison with 1500 cells was erected at Fresnes-lès-Rungis. There are (1) the maison d’arrêt, temporary places of durance in every arrondissement for persons charged with offences, and those sentenced to more than a year’s imprisonment who are awaiting transfer to a maison centrale; (2) the maison de justice, often part and parcel of the former, but only existing in the assize court towns for the safe custody of those tried or condemned at the assizes; (3) departmental prisons, or maisons de correction, for summary convictions, or those sentenced to less than a year, or, if provided with sufficient cells, those amenable to separate confinement; (4) maisons centrales and pénitenciers agricoles, for all sentenced to imprisonment for more than a year, or to hard labour, or to those condemned to travaux forcés for offences committed in prison. There are eleven maisons centrales, nine for men (Loos, Clairvaux, Beaulieu, Poissy, Melun, Fontevrault, Thouars, Riom and Nîmes); two for women (Rennes and Montpellier). The pénitenciers agricoles only differ from the maisons centrales in the matter of régime; there are two—at Castelluccio and at Chiavari (Corsica). There are also reformatory establishments for juvenile offenders, and dépôts de sûreté for prisoners who are travelling, at places where there are no other prisons. For the penal settlements at a distance from France see Deportation.


At the head of the financial organization of France, and exercising a general jurisdiction, is the minister of finance, who co-ordinates in one general budget the separate budgets prepared by his colleagues and assigns to each ministerial department the sums necessary for its expenses.

The financial year in France begins on the 1st of January, and the budget of each financial year must be laid on the table of the Chamber of Deputies in the course of the ordinary session of the preceding year in time for the discussion upon it to begin in October and be concluded before the 31st of Budget. December. It is then submitted to a special commission of the Chamber of Deputies, elected for one year, who appoint a general reporter and one or more special reporters for each of the ministries. When the Chamber of Deputies has voted the budget it is submitted to a similar course of procedure in the Senate. When the budget has passed both chambers it is promulgated by the president under the title of Loi des finances. In the event of its not being voted before the 31st of December, recourse is had to the system of “provisional twelfths” (douzièmes provisoires), whereby the government is authorized by parliament to incur expenses for one, two or three months on the scale of the previous year. The expenditure of the government has several times been regulated for as long as six months upon this system.

In each department an official collector (Trésorier payeur général) receives the taxes and public revenue collected therein and accounts for them to the central authority in Paris. In view of his responsibilities he has, before appointment, to pay a large deposit to the treasury. Besides receiving taxes, they pay the Taxation. creditors of the state in their departments, conduct all operations affecting departmental loans, buy and sell government stock (rentes) on behalf of individuals, and conduct certain banking operations. The trésorier nearly always lives at the chief town of the department, and is assisted by a receveur particulier des finances in each arrondissement (except that in which the trésorier himself resides). From the receveur is demanded a security equal to five times his total income. The direct taxes are actually collected by percepteurs. In the commune an official known as the receveur municipal receives all moneys due to it, and, subject to the authorization of the mayor, makes all payments due from it. In communes with a revenue of less than £2400 the percepteur fulfils the functions of receveur municipal, but a special official may be appointed in communes with large incomes.

The direct taxes fall into two classes. (1) Impôts de répartition (apportionment), the amount to be raised being fixed in advance annually and then apportioned among the departments. They include the land tax,[19] the personal and habitation tax (contribution personnelle-mobilière), and door and window tax. (2) Impôts de quotité, which are levied directly on the individual, who pays his quota according to a fixed tariff. These comprise the tax on buildings[19] and the trade-licence tax (impôt des patentes). Besides these, certain other taxes (taxes assimilées aux contributions directes) are included under the heading of direct taxation, e.g. the tax on property in mortmain, dues for the verification of weights and measures, the tax on royalties from mines, on horses, mules and carriages, on cycles, &c.

The land tax falls upon land not built upon in proportion to its net yearly revenue. It is collected in accordance with a register of property (cadastre) drawn up for the most part in the first half of the 19th century, dealing with every piece of property in France, and giving its extent and value and the name of the owner. The responsibility of keeping this register accurate and up to date is divided between the state, the departments and the communes, and involves a special service and staff of experts. The building tax consists of a levy of 3.20% of the rental value of the property, and is charged upon the owner.

The personal and habitation tax consists in fact of two different taxes, one imposing a fixed capitation charge on all citizens alike of every department, the charge, however, varying according to the department from 1 fc. 50 c. (1s. 3d.) to 4 fcs. 50 c. (3s. 9d.), the other levied on every occupier of a furnished house or of apartments in proportion to its rental value.

The tax on doors and windows is levied in each case according to the number of apertures, and is fixed with reference to population, the inhabitants of the more populous paying more than those of the less populous communes.

The trade-licence tax (impôt des patentes) is imposed on every person carrying on any business whatever; it affects professional men, bankers and manufacturers, as well as wholesale and retail traders, and consists of (1) a fixed duty levied not on actual profits but with reference to the extent of a business or calling as indicated by number of employés, population of the locality and other considerations. (2) An assessment on the letting value of the premises in which a business or profession is carried on.

The administrative staff includes, for the purpose of computing the individual quotas of the direct taxes, a director assisted by contrôleurs in each department and subordinate to a central authority in Paris, the direction générale des contributions directes.

The indirect taxes comprise the charges on registration; stamps; customs; and a group of taxes specially described as “indirect taxes.”

Registration (enregistrement) duties are charged on the transfer of property in the way of business (à titre onéreux); on changes in ownership effected in the way of donation or succession (à titre gratuit), and on a variety of other transactions which must be registered according to law. The revenue from stamps includes as its chief items the returns from stamped paper, stamps on goods traffic, securities and share certificates and receipts and cheques.

The Direction générale de l’enregistrement, des domaines et du timbre, comprising a central department and a director and staff of agents in each department, combines the administration of state property (not including forests) with the exaction of registration and stamp duties.

The Customs (douane), at one time only a branch of the administration of the contributions indirectes, were organized in 1869 as a special service. The central office at Paris consists of a directeur général and two administrateurs, nominated by the president of the republic. These officials form a council of administration presided over by the minister of finance. The service in the departments comprises brigades, which are actually engaged in guarding the frontiers, and a clerical staff (service de bureau) entrusted with the collection of the duties. There are twenty-four districts, each under the control of a directeur, assisted by inspectors, sub-inspectors and other officials. The chief towns of these districts are Algiers, Bayonne, Besançon, Bordeaux, Boulogne, Brest, Chambéry, Charleville, Dunkirk, Épinal, La Rochelle, Le Havre, Lille, Lyons, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nancy, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Perpignan, Rouen, St-Malo, Valenciennes. There is also an official performing the functions of a director at Bastia, in Corsica.

The group specially described as indirect taxes includes those on alcohol, wine, beer, cider and other alcoholic drinks, on passenger and goods traffic by railway, on licences to distillers, spirit-sellers, &c., on salt and on sugar of home manufacture. The collection of these excise duties as well as the sale of matches, tobacco and gunpowder to retailers, is assigned to a special service in each department subordinated to a central administration. To the above taxes must be added the tax on Stock Exchange transactions and the tax of 4 % on dividends from stocks and shares (other than state loans).

Other main sources of revenue are: the domains and forests managed by the state; government monopolies, comprising tobacco, matches, gunpowder; posts, telegraphs, telephones; and state railways. An administrative tribunal called the cour des comptes subjects the accounts of the state’s financial agents (trésoriers-payeurs, receveurs of registration fees, of customs, of indirect taxes, &c.) and of the communes[20] to a close investigation, and a vote of definitive settlement is finally passed by parliament. The Cour des Comptes, an ancient tribunal, was abolished in 1791, and reorganized by Napoleon I. in 1807. It consists of a president and 110 other officials, assisted by 25 auditors. All these are nominated for life by the president of the republic. Besides the accounts of the state and of the communes, those of charitable institutions[20] and training colleges[20] and a great variety of other public establishments are scrutinized by the Cour des Comptes.

The following table shows the rapid growth of the state revenue of France during the period 1875–1905, the figures for the specified years representing millions of pounds.

 1875.   1880.   1885.   1890.   1895.  Average
108 118 122 129 137 144 147

Of the revenue in 1905 (1501/2 million pounds) the four direct taxes produced approximately 20 millions. Other principal items of revenue were: Registration 25 millions, stamps 71/2 millions, customs 18 millions, inland revenue on liquors 161/2 millions, receipts from the tobacco monopoly 18 millions, receipts from post office 101/2 millions.

Since 1875 the expenditure of the state has passed through considerable fluctuations. It reached its maximum in 1883, descended in 1888 and 1889, and since then has continuously increased. It was formerly the custom to divide the credits voted for the discharge of the public services into two Expenditure. heads—the ordinary and extraordinary budget. The ordinary budget of expenditure was that met entirely by the produce of the taxes, while the extraordinary budget of expenditure was that which had to be incurred either in the way of an immediate loan or in aid of the funds of the floating debt. The policy adopted after 1890 of incorporating in the ordinary budget the expenditure on war, marine and public works, each under its own head, rendered the “extraordinary budget” obsolete, but there are still, besides the ordinary budget, budgets annexes, comprising the credits voted to certain establishments under state supervision, e.g. the National Savings Bank, state railways, &c. The growth of the expenditure of France is shown in the following summary figures, which represent millions of pounds.

 1875.   1880.   1885.   1890.   1895.  Average
117 135 139 132 137 143 147

The chief item of expenditure (which totalled 148 million pounds in 1905) is the service of the public debt, which in 1905 cost 481/4 million pounds sterling. Of the rest of the sum assigned to the ministry of finance (593/4 millions in all) 81/2 millions went in the expense of collection of revenue. The other ministries with the largest outgoings were the ministry of war (the expenditure of which rose from 251/2 millions in 1895 to over 30 millions in 1905), the ministry of marine (103/4 millions in 1895, over 121/2 millions in 1905), the ministry of public works (with an expenditure in 1905 of over 20 millions, 10 millions of which was assigned to posts, telegraphs and telephones) and the ministry of public instruction, fine arts and public worship, the expenditure on education having risen from 71/2 millions in 1895 to 91/2 millions in 1905.

Public Debt.—The national debt of France is the heaviest of any country in the world. Its foundation was laid early in the 15th century, and the continuous wars of succeeding centuries, combined with the extravagance of the monarchs, as well as deliberate disregard of financial and economic conditions, increased it at an alarming rate. The duke of Sully carried out a revision in 1604, and other attempts were made by Mazarin and Colbert, but the extravagances of Louis XV. swelled it again heavily. In 1764 the national debt amounted to 2,360,000,000 livres, and the annual change to 93,000,000 livres. A consolidation was effected in 1793, but the lavish issue of assignats (q.v.) destroyed whatever advantage might have accrued, and the debt was again dealt with by a law of the 9th of Vendémiaire year VI. (27th of September 1797), the annual interest paid yearly to creditors then amounting to 40,216,000 francs (£1,600,000). During the Directory a sum of £250,000 was added to the interest charge, and by 1814 this annual charge had risen to £2,530,000. This large increase is to be accounted for by the fact that during the Napoleonic régime the government steadily refused to issue inconvertible paper currency or to meet war expenditure by borrowing. The following table shows the increase of the funded debt since 1814.[21]

Date.  Nominal Capital 
(Millions of £).
 (Millions of £). 

 April 1, 1814
 April 1, 1830
 March 1, 1848
 January 1,  1852 
  503/4  21/2
 177   8 
 2381/4  93/4
 2203/4  91/2
 4981/4 151/2
 7961/4 30 
 9861/2 341/4
 10383/4[22] 321/2
10371/4 31 

The French debt as constituted in 1905 was made up of funded debt and floating debt as follows:

Funded Debt.
Perpetual 3% rentes £888,870,400
Terminable 3% rentes 148,490,400
  Total of funded debt £1,037,360,800

Guarantees to railway companies, &c. (in capital)  £89,724,080
Other debt in capital 46,800,840
Floating Debt.
Exchequer bills £9,923,480
Liabilities on behalf of communes and public
 establishments, including departmental services 17,366,520
Deposit and current accounts of Caisse des
 dépôts, &c., including savings banks 15,328,840
Caution money of Trésoriers payeurs-généraux 1,431,680
Other liabilities 6,456,200
   Total of floating debt £50,506,720

Departmental Finances.—Every department has a budget of its own, which is prepared and presented by the prefect, voted by the departmental council and approved by decree of the president of the republic. The ordinary receipts include the revenues from the property of the department, the produce of additional centimes, which are levied in conjunction with the direct taxes for the maintenance of both departmental and communal finances, state subventions and contributions of the communes towards certain branches of poor relief and to maintenance of roads. The chief expenses of the departments are the care of pauper children and lunatics, the maintenance of high-roads and the service of the departmental debt.

Communal Finances.—The budget of the commune is prepared by the mayor, voted by the municipal council and approved by the prefect. But in communes the revenues of which exceed £120,000, the budget is always submitted to the president of the republic. The ordinary revenues include the produce of “additional centimes” allocated to communal purposes, the rents and profits of communal property, sums produced by municipal taxes and dues, concessions to gas, water and other companies, and by the octroi (q.v.) or duty on a variety of articles imported into the commune for local consumption. The repairing of highways, the upkeep of public buildings, the support of public education, the remuneration of numerous officials connected with the collection of state taxes, the keeping of the cadastre, &c., constitute the principal objects of communal expenditure.

Both the departments and the communes have considerable public debts. The departmental debt in 1904 stood at 24 million pounds, and the communal debt at 153 million pounds.  (R. Tr.) 


Recruiting and Strength.—Universal compulsory service was adopted after the disasters of 1870–1871, though in principle it had been established by Marshal Niel’s reforms a few years before that date. The most important of the recruiting laws passed since 1870 are those of 1872, 1889 and 1905, the last the “loi de deux ans” which embodies the last efforts of the French war department to keep pace with the ever-growing numbers of the German empire. Compulsory service with the colours is in Germany no longer universal, as there are twice as many able-bodied men presented by the recruiting commissions as the active army can absorb. France, with a greatly inferior population, now trains every man who is physically capable. This law naturally made a deep impression on military Europe, not merely because the period of colour service was reduced—Germany had taken this step years before—but because of the almost entire absence of the usual exemptions. Even bread-winners are required to serve, the state pensioning their dependants (75 centimes per diem, up to 10% of the strength) during their period of service. Dispensations, and also the one-year voluntariat, which had become a short cut for the so-called “intellectual class” to employment in the civil service rather than a means of training reserve officers, were abolished. Every Frenchman therefore is a member of the army practically or potentially from the age of twenty to the age of forty-five. Each year there is drawn up in every commune a list of the young men who attained the age of twenty during the previous year. These young men are then examined by a revising body (Conseil de révision cantonal) composed of civil and military officials. Men physically unfit are wholly exempted, and men who have not, at the time of the examination, attained the required physical standard are put back for re-examination after an interval. Men who, otherwise suitable, have some slight infirmity are drafted into the non-combatant branches. The minimum height for the infantry soldier is 1.54 m., or 5 ft. 1/2 in., but men of special physique are taken below this height. In 1904, under the old system of three-years’ service with numerous total and partial exemptions, 324,253 men became liable to incorporation, of whom 25,432 were rejected as unfit, 55,265 were admitted as one-year volunteers, 62,160 were put back, 27,825 had already enlisted with a view to making the army a career, 5257 were taken for the navy, and thus, with a few extra details and casualties, the contingent for full service dwindled to 147,549 recruits. In 1906, 326,793 men had to present themselves, 25,348 had already enlisted, 4923 went to the navy, 68,526 were put back, 33,777 found unfit, which, deducting 3128 details, gives an actual incorporated contingent of 191,091 young men of twenty-one to serve for two full years (in each case, for the sake of comparison, men put back from former years who were enrolled are omitted). In theory a two-years’ contingent of course should be half as large again as a three-years’ one, but in practice, France has not men enough for so great an increase. Still the law of 1905 provides a system whereby there is room with the colours for every available man, and moreover ensures his services. The net gain in the 1906 class is not far short of 50,000, and the proportion of the new contingent to the old is practically 5 : 4. The loi des cadres of 1907 introduced many important changes of detail supplementary to the loi de deux ans. Important changes were also made in the provisions and administration of military law. The active army, then, at a given moment, say November 1, 1908, is composed of all the young men, not legally exempted, who have reached the age of twenty in the years 1906 and 1907. It is at the disposal of the minister of war, who can decree the recall of all men discharged to the reserve the previous year and all those whose time of service has for any reason been shortened. The reserves of the active army are composed of those who have served the legal period in the active army. These are recalled twice, in the eleven years during which they are members of the reserve, for refresher courses. The active army and its reserve are not localized, but drawn from and distributed over the whole of France. The advantages of a purely territorial system have tempted various War Ministers to apply it, but the results were not good, owing to the want of uniformity in the military qualities and the political subordination of the different districts. One result of this is that mobilization and concentration are much slower processes than they are in Germany.

The Territorial Army and its reserve (members of which undergo two short periods of training) are, however, allocated to local service. The soldier spends six years in the Territorial Army, and six in the reserve of the Territorial Army. The reserves of the active army and the Territorial Army and its reserve can only be recalled to active service in case of emergency and by decree of the head of the state.

The total service rendered by the individual soldier is thus twenty-five years. He is registered at the age of twenty, is called to the colours on the 1st of October of the next year, discharged to the active army reserve on the 30th of September of the second year thereafter, to the Territorial Army at the same date thirteen complete years after his incorporation, and finally discharged from the reserve of the Territorial Army on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his entry into the active army. On November 1, 1908, then the active army was composed of the classes registered 1906 and 1907, the reserve of the classes 1895–1905, the Territorial Army of those of 1889–1894 and the Territorial Army reserve of those of 1883–1888.

In 1906 the peace strength of the army in France was estimated at 532,593 officers and men; in Algeria 54,580; in Tunis 20,320; total 607,493. Deducting vacancies, sick and absent, the effective strength of the active army in 1906 was 540,563; of the gendarmerie and Garde Républicaine 24,512; of colonial troops in the colonies 58,568. The full number of persons liable to be called upon for military service and engaged in such service is calculated (1908) as 4,800,000, of whom 1,350,000 of the active army and the younger classes of army reserve would constitute the field armies set on foot at the outbreak of war. 150,000 horses and mules are maintained on a peace footing and 600,000 on a war footing.

Organization.—The general organization of the French army at home is based on the system of permanent army corps, the headquarters of which are as follows: I. Lille, II. Amiens, III. Rouen, IV. Le Mans, V. Orléans, VI. Châlons-sur-Marne, VII. Besançon, VIII. Bourges, IX. Tours, X. Rennes, XI. Nantes, XII. Limoges, XIII. Clermont-Ferrand, XIV. Lyons, XV. Marseilles, XVI. Montpellier, XVII. Toulouse, XVIII. Bordeaux, XIX. Algiers and XX. Nancy. Each army corps consists in principle of two infantry divisions, one cavalry brigade, one brigade of horse and field artillery, one engineer battalion and one squadron of train. But certain army corps have a special organization. The VI. corps (Châlons) and the VII. (Besançon) consist of three divisions each, and the XIX. (Algiers) has three divisions of its own as well as the division occupying Tunis. In addition to these corps there are eight permanent cavalry divisions with headquarters at Paris, Lunéville, Meaux, Sedan, Reims, Lyons, Melun and Dôle. The military government of Paris is independent of the army corps system and comprises, besides a division of the colonial army corps (see below), 31/2 others detached from the II., III., IV. and V. corps, as well as the 1st and 3rd cavalry divisions and many smaller bodies of troops. The military government of Lyons is another independent and special command; it comprises practically the XIV. army corps and the 6th cavalry division. The infantry division consists of 2 brigades, each of 2 regiments of 3 or 4 battalions (the 4 battalion regiments have recently been reduced for the most part to 3), with 1 squadron cavalry and 12 batteries, attached from the corps troops, in war a proportion of the artillery would, however, be taken back to form the corps artillery (see Artillery and Tactics). The cavalry division consists of 2 or 3 brigades, each of 2 regiments or 8 squadrons, with 2 horse artillery batteries attached. The army corps consists of headquarters, 2 (or 3) infantry divisions, 1 cavalry brigade, 1 artillery brigade (2 regiments, comprising 21 field and 2 horse batteries), 1 engineer battalion, &c. In war a group of “Rimailho” heavy howitzers (see Ordnance: Heavy Field and Light Siege Units) would be attached. It is proposed, and accepted in principle, to increase the number of guns in the army corps by converting the horse batteries in 18 army corps to field batteries, which, with other measures, enables the number of the latter to be increased to 36 (144 guns).

The organization of the “metropolitan troops” by regiments is (a) 163 regiments of line infantry, some of which are affected to “regional” duties and do not enter into the composition of their army corps for war, 31 battalions of chasseurs à pied, mostly stationed in the Alps and the Vosges, 4 regiments of Zouaves, 4 regiments of Algerian tirailleurs (natives, often called Turcos[23]), 2 foreign legion regiments, 5 battalions of African light infantry (disciplinary regiments), &c.; (b) 12 regiments of cuirassiers, 32 of dragoons, 21 of chasseurs à cheval, 14 of hussars, 6 of chasseurs d’Afrique and 4 of Spahis (Algerian natives); (c) 40 regiments of artillery, comprising 445 field batteries, 14 mountain batteries and 52 horse batteries (see, however, above), 18 battalions of garrison artillery, with in addition 13 companies of artificers, &c.; (d) 6 regiments of engineers forming 22 battalions, and 1 railway regiment; (e) 20 squadrons of train, 27 legions of gendarmerie and the Paris Garde Républicaine, administrative and medical units.

Colonial Troops.—These form an expeditionary army corps in France to which are attached the actual corps of occupation to the various colonies, part white, part natives. The colonial army corps, headquarters at Paris, has three divisions, at Paris, Toulon and Brest.

The French colonial (formerly marine) infantry, recruited by voluntary enlistment, comprises 18 regiments and 5 independent battalions (of which 12 regiments are at home), 74 batteries of field, fortress and mountain artillery (of which 32 are at home), with a few cavalry and engineers, &c., and other services in proportion. The native troops include 13 regiments and 8 independent battalions. The strength of this army corps is 28,700 in France and 61,300 in the colonies.

Command.—The commander-in-chief of all the armed forces is the president of the Republic, but the practical direction of affairs lies in the hand of the minister of war, who is assisted by the Conseil supérieur de la guerre, a body of senior generals who have been selected to be appointed to the higher commands in war. The vice-president is the destined commander-in-chief of the field armies and is styled the generalissimo. The chief of staff of the army is also a member of the council. In war the latter would probably remain at the ministry of war in Paris, and the generalissimo would have his own chief of staff. The ministry of war is divided into branches for infantry, cavalry, &c.—and services for special subjects such as military law, explosives, health, &c. The general staff (état major de l’armée) has its functions classed as follows: personnel; material and finance; 1st bureau (organization and mobilization), 2nd (intelligence), 3rd (military operations and training) and 4th (communications and transport); and the famous historical section. The president of the Republic has a military household, and the minister a cabinet, both of which are occupied chiefly with questions of promotion, patronage and decorations.

The general staff and also the staff of the corps and divisions are composed of certificated (brevetés) officers who have passed all through the École de Guerre. In time of peace an officer is attached to the staff for not more than four years. He must then return to regimental duty for at least two years.

The officers of the army are obtained partly from the old-established military schools, partly from the ranks of the non-commissioned officers, the proportion of the latter being about one-third of the total number of officers. Artillery and engineer officers come from the École Polytechnique, infantry and cavalry from the École spéciale militaire de St-Cyr. Other important training institutions are the staff college (École supérieure de Guerre) which trains annually 70 to 90 selected captains and lieutenants; the musketry school of Châlons, the gymnastic school at Joinville-le-Pont and the schools of St Maixent, Saumur and Versailles for the preparation of non-commissioned officers for commissions in the infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineers respectively. The non-commissioned officers are, as usual in universal service armies, drawn partly from men who voluntarily enlist at a relatively early age, and partly from men who at the end of their compulsory period of service are re-engaged. Voluntary enlistments in the French army are permissible, within certain limits, at the age of eighteen, and the engagés serve for at least three years. The law further provides for the re-engagement of men of all ranks, under conditions varying according to their rank. Such re-engagements are for one to three years’ effective service but may be extended to fifteen. They date from the time of the legal expiry of each man’s compulsory active service. Rengagés receive a bounty, a higher rate of pay and a pension at the conclusion of their service. The total number of men who had re-enlisted stood in 1903 at 8594.

Armament.—The field artillery is armed with the 75 mm. gun, a shielded quick-firer (see Ordnance: Field Equipments, for illustration and details); this weapon was the forerunner of all modern models of field gun, and is handled on tactical principles specially adapted for it, which gives the French field artillery a unique position amongst the military nations. The infantry, which was the first in Europe to be armed with the magazine rifle, still carries this, the Lebel, rifle which dates from 1886. It is believed, however, that a satisfactory type of automatic rifle (see Rifle) has been evolved and is now (1908) in process of manufacture. Details are kept strictly secret. The cavalry weapons are a straight sword (that of the heavy cavalry is illustrated in the article Sword), a bamboo lance and the Lebel carbine.

It is convenient to mention in this place certain institutions attached to the war department and completing the French military organization. The Hôtel des Invalides founded by Louis XIV. and Louvois is a house of refuge for old and infirm soldiers of all grades. The number of the inmates is decreasing; but the institution is an expensive one. In 1875 the “Invalides” numbered 642, and the hôtel cost the state 1,123,053 francs. The order of the Legion of Honour is treated under Knighthood and Chivalry. The médaille militaire is awarded to private soldiers and non-commissioned officers who have distinguished themselves or rendered long and meritorious services. This was introduced in 1852, carries a yearly pension of 100 frs. and has been granted occasionally to officers.

Fortifications.—After 1870 France embarked upon a policy of elaborate frontier and inner defences, with the object of ensuring, as against an unexpected German invasion, the time necessary for the effective development of her military forces, which were then in process of reorganization. Some information as to the types of fortification adopted in 1870–1875 will be found in Fortification and Siegecraft. The general lines of the scheme adopted were as follows: On the Meuse, which forms the principal natural barrier on the side of Lorraine, Verdun (q.v.) was fortified as a large entrenched camp, and along the river above this were constructed a series of forts d’arrêt (see Meuse Line) ending in another entrenched camp at Toul (q.v.). From this point a gap (the trouée d’Épinal) was left, so as “in some sort to canalize the flow of invasion” (General Bonnal), until the upper Moselle was reached at Épinal (q.v.). Here another entrenched camp was made and from it the “Moselle line” (q.v.) of forts d’arrêt continues the barrier to Belfort (q.v.), another large entrenched camp, beyond which a series of fortifications at Montbéliard and the Lomont range carries the line of defence to the Swiss border, which in turn is protected by works at Pontarlier and elsewhere. In rear of these lines Verdun-Toul and Épinal-Belfort, respectively, lie two large defended areas in which under certain circumstances the main armies would assemble preparatory to offensive movements. One of these areas is defined by the three fortresses, La Fère, Laon and Reims, the other by the triangle, Langres—Dijon—Besançon. On the side of Belgium the danger of irruption through neutral territory, which has for many years been foreseen, is provided against by the fortresses of Lille, Valenciennes and Maubeuge, but (with a view to tempting the Germans to attack through Luxemburg, as is stated by German authorities) the frontier between Maubeuge and Verdun is left practically undefended. The real defence of this region lies in the field army which would, if the case arose, assemble in the area La Fère-Reims-Laon. On the Italian frontier the numerous forts d’arrêt in the mountains are strongly supported by the entrenched camps of Besançon, Grenoble and Nice. Behind all this huge development of fixed defences lie the central fortresses of Paris and Lyons. The defences, of the Spanish frontier consist of the entrenched camps of Bayonne and Perpignan and the various small forts d’arrêt of the Pyrenees. Of the coast defences the principal are Toulon, Antibes, Rochefort, Lorient, Brest, Oléron, La Rochelle, Belle-Isle, Cherbourg, St-Malo, Havre, Calais, Gravelines and Dunkirk. A number of the older fortresses, dating for the most part from Louis XIV.’s time, are still in existence, but are no longer of military importance. Such are Arras, Longwy, Mézières and Montmédy.


Central Administration.—The head of the French navy is the Minister of Marine, who like the other ministers is appointed by decree of the head of the state, and is usually a civilian. He selects for himself a staff of civilians (the cabinet du ministre), which is divided into bureaux for the despatch of business. The head of the cabinet prepares for the consideration of the minister all the business of the navy, especially questions of general importance. His chief professional assistant is the chef d’état-major général (chief of the general staff), a vice-admiral, who is responsible for the organization of the naval forces, the mobilization and movements of the fleet, &c.

The central organization also comprises a number of departments (services) entrusted with the various branches of naval administration, such as administration of the active fleet, construction of ships, arsenals, recruiting, finance, &c. The minister has the assistance of the Conseil supérieur de la Marine, over which he presides, consisting of three vice-admirals, the chief of staff and some other members. The Conseil supérieur devotes its attention to all questions touching the fighting efficiency of the fleet, naval bases and arsenals and coast defence. Besides the Conseil supérieur the minister is advised on a very wide range of naval topics (including pay, quarters and recruiting) by the Comité consultatif de la Marine. Advisory committees are also appointed to deal with special subjects, e.g. the commissions de classement which attend to questions of promotion in the various branches of the navy, the naval works council and others.

The French coast is divided into five naval arrondissements, which have their headquarters at the five naval ports, of which Cherbourg, Brest, and Toulon are the most important, Lorient and Rochefort being of lesser degree. All are building and fitting-out yards. Each arrondissement is divided into sous-arrondissements, having their centres in the great commercial ports, but this arrangement is purely for the embodiment of the men of the Inscription Maritime, and has nothing to do with the dockyards as naval arsenals. In each arrondissement the vice-admiral, who is naval prefect, is the immediate representative of the minister of marine, and has full direction and command of the arsenal, which is his headquarters. He is thus commander-in-chief, as also governor-designate for time of war, but his authority does not extend to ships belonging to organized squadrons or divisions. The naval prefect is assisted by a rear-admiral as chief of the staff (except at Lorient and Rochefort, where the office is filled by a captain), and a certain number of other officers, the special functions of the chief of the staff having relation principally to the efficiency and personnel of the fleet, while the “major-general,” who is usually a rear-admiral, is concerned chiefly with the matériel. There are also directors of stores, of naval construction, of the medical service, and of the submarine defences (which are concerned with torpedoes, mines and torpedo-boats), as well as of naval ordnance and works, The prefect directs the operations of the arsenal, and is responsible for its efficiency and for that of the ships which are there in reserve. In regard to the constitution and maintenance of the naval forces, the administration of the arsenals is divided into three principal departments, the first concerned with naval construction, the second with ordnance, including gun-mountings and small-arms, and the third with the so-called submarine defences, dealing with all torpedo matériel.

The French navy is manned partly by voluntary enlistment, partly by the transference to the navy of a certain proportion of each year’s recruits for the army, but mainly by a system known as inscription maritime. This system, devised and introduced by Colbert in 1681, has continued, with various modifications, ever since. All French sailors between the ages of eighteen and fifty must be enrolled as members of the armée de mer. The term sailor is used in a very wide sense and includes all persons earning their living by navigation on the sea, or in the harbours or roadsteads, or on salt lakes or canals within the maritime domain of the state, or on rivers and canals as far as the tide goes up or sea-going ships can pass. The inscript usually begins his service at the age of twenty and passes through a period of obligatory service lasting seven years, and generally comprising five years of active service and two years furlough.

Besides the important harbours already referred to, the French fleet has naval bases at Oran in Algeria, Bizerta in Tunisia, Saigon in Cochin China and Hongaj in Tongking, Diégo-Suarez in Madagascar, Dakar in Senegal, Fort de France in Martinique, Nouméa in New Caledonia.

The ordnance department of the navy is carried on by a large detachment of artillery officers and artificers provided by the war office for this special duty.

The fleet is divided into the Mediterranean squadron, the Northern squadron, the Atlantic division, the Far Eastern division, the Pacific division, the Indian Ocean division, the Cochin China division.

The chief naval school is the École navale at Brest, which is devoted to the training of officers; the age of admission is from fifteen to eighteen years, and pupils after completing their course pass a year on a frigate school. At Paris there is a more advanced school (École supérieure de la Marine) for the supplementary training of officers. Other schools are the school of naval medicine at Bordeaux with annexes at Toulon, Brest and Rochefort; schools of torpedoes and mines and of gunnery at Toulon, &c., &c. The écoles d’hydrographie established at various ports are for theoretical training for the higher grades of the merchant service. (See also Navy.)

The total personnel of the armée de mer in 1909 is given as 56,800 officers and men. As to the number of vessels, which fluctuates from month to month, little can be said that is wholly accurate at any given moment, but, very roughly, the French navy in 1909 included 25 battleships, 7 coast defence ironclads, 19 armoured cruisers, 36 protected cruisers, 22 sloops, gunboats, &c., 45 destroyers, 319 torpedo boats, 71 submersibles and submarines and 8 auxiliary cruisers. It was stated that, according to proposed arrangements, the principal fighting elements of the fleet would be, in 1919, 34 battleships, 36 armoured cruisers, 6 smaller cruisers of modern type, 109 destroyers, 170 torpedo boats and 171 submersibles and submarines. The budgetary cost of the navy in 1908 was stated as 312,000,000 fr. (£12,480,000).  (C. F. A.) 


The burden of public instruction in France is shared by the communes, departments and state, while side by side with the public schools of all grades are private schools subjected to a state supervision and certain restrictions. At the head of the whole organization is the minister of public instruction. He is assisted and advised by the superior council of public instruction, over which he presides.

France is divided into sixteen académies or educational districts, having their centres at the seats of the universities. The capitals of these académies, together with the departments included in them, are tabulated below:

Académies. Departments depending on them.
Paris Seine, Cher, Eure-et-Loir, Loir-et-Cher, Loiret, Marne, Oise, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-et-Oise.
Aix Bouches-du-Rhône, Basses-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Corse, Var, Vaucluse.
Besançon Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône, Territoire de Belfort.
Bordeaux Gironde, Dordogne, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Basses-Pyrénées.
Caen Calvados, Eure, Manche, Orne, Sarthe, Seine-Inférieure.
Chambéry Savoie, Haute-Savoie.
Clermont-Ferrand Puy-de-Dôme, Allier, Cantal, Corrèze, Creuse, Haute-Loire.
Dijon Côte-d’Or, Aube, Haute-Marne, Nièvre, Yonne.
Grenoble Isère, Hautes-Alpes, Ardèche, Drôme.
Lille Nord, Aisne, Ardennes, Pas-de-Calais, Somme.
Lyons Rhône, Ain, Loire, Saône-et-Loire.
Montpellier Hérault, Aude, Gard, Lozère, Pyrénées-Orientales.
Nancy Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Vosges.
Poitiers Vienne, Charente, Charente-Inférieure, Indre, Indre-et-Loire, Deux-Sèvres, Vendée, Haute-Vienne.
Rennes Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-du-Nord, Finistère, Loire-Inférieure, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Morbihan.
Toulouse Haute-Garonne, Ariège, Aveyron, Gers, Lot, Hautes-Pyrénées, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne.
 There is also an académie comprising Algeria.

For the administrative organization of education in France see Education.

Any person fulfilling certain legal requirements with regard to capacity, age and character may set up privately an educational establishment of any grade, but by the law of 1904 all religious congregations are prohibited from keeping schools of any kind whatever.

Primary Instruction.—All primary public instruction is free and compulsory for children of both sexes between the ages of six and thirteen, but if a child can gain a certificate of primary studies at the age of eleven or after, he may be excused the rest of the period demanded by law. A child may receive instruction in a public or private school or at home. But if the parents wish him to be taught in a private school they must give notice to the mayor of the commune of their intention and the school chosen. If educated at home, the child (after two years of the compulsory period has expired) must undergo a yearly examination, and if it is unsatisfactory the parents will be compelled to send him to a public or private school.

Each commune is in theory obliged to maintain at least one public primary school, but with the approval of the minister, the departmental council may authorize a commune to combine with other communes in the upkeep of a school. If the number of inhabitants exceed 500, the commune must also provide a special school for girls, unless the Departmental Council authorizes it to substitute a mixed school. Each department is bound to maintain two primary training colleges, one for masters, the other for mistresses of primary schools. There are two higher training colleges of primary instruction at Fontenay-aux-Roses and St Cloud for the training of mistresses and masters of training colleges and higher primary schools.

The Laws of 1882 and 1886 “laicized” the schools of this class, the former suppressing religious instruction, the latter providing that only laymen should be eligible for masterships. There were also a great many schools in the control of various religious congregations, but a law of 1904 required that they should all be suppressed within ten years from the date of its enactment.

Public primary schools include (1) écoles maternelles—infant schools for children from two to six years old; (2) elementary primary schools—these are the ordinary schools for children from six to thirteen; (3) higher primary schools (écoles primaires supérieures) and “supplementary courses”; these admit pupils who have gained the certificate of primary elementary studies (certificat d’études primaires), offer a more advanced course and prepare for technical instruction; (4) primary technical schools (écoles manuelles d’apprentissage, écoles primaires supérieures professionnelles) kept by the communes or departments. Primary courses for adults are instituted by the prefect on the recommendation of the municipal council and academy inspector.

Persons keeping private primary schools are free with regard to their methods, programmes and books employed, except that they may not use books expressly prohibited by the superior council of public instruction. Before opening a private school the person proposing to do so must give notice to the mayor, prefect and academy inspector, and forward his diplomas and other particulars to the latter official.

Secondary Education.—Secondary education is given by the state in lycées, by the communes in collèges and by private individuals and associations in private secondary schools. It is not compulsory, nor is it entirely gratuitous, but the fees are small and the state offers a great many scholarships, by means of which a clever child can pay for its own instruction. Cost of tuition (simply) ranges from £2 to £16 a year. The lycées also take boarders—the cost of boarding ranging from £22 to £52 a year. A lycée is founded in a town by decree of the president of the republic, with the advice of the superior council of public instruction. The municipality has to pay the cost of building, furnishing and upkeep. At the head of the lycée is the principal (proviseur), an official nominated by the minister, and assisted by a teaching staff of professors and chargés de cours or teachers of somewhat lower standing. To become professor in a lycée it is necessary to pass an examination known as the “agrégation,” candidates for which must be licentiates of a faculty (or have passed through the École normale supérieure).

The system of studies—reorganized in 1902—embraces a full curriculum of seven years, which is divided into two periods. The first lasts four years, and at the end of this the pupil may obtain (after examination) the “certificate of secondary studies.” During the second period the pupil has a choice of four courses: (1) Latin and Greek; (2) Latin and sciences; (3) Latin and modern languages; (4) sciences and modern languages. At the end of this period he presents himself for a degree called the Baccalauréat de l’enseignement secondaire. This is granted (after two examinations) by the faculties of letters and sciences jointly (see below), and in most cases it is necessary for a student to hold this general degree before he may be enrolled in a particular faculty of a university and proceed to a Baccalauréat in a particular subject, such as law, theology or medicine.

The collèges, though of a lower grade, are in most respects similar to the lycées, but they are financed by the communes: the professors may have certain less important qualifications in lieu of the “agrégation.” Private secondary schools are subjected to state inspection. The teachers must not belong to any congregation, and must have a diploma of aptitude for teaching and the degree of “licencié.” The establishment of lycées for girls was first attempted in 1880. They give an education similar to that offered in the lycées for boys—with certain modifications—in a curriculum of five or six years. There is a training-college for teachers in secondary schools for girls at Sèvres.

Higher education is given by the state in the universities, and in special higher schools; and, since the law of 1875 established the freedom of higher education, by private individuals and bodies in private schools and “faculties” (facultés libres). The law of 1880 reserved to the state “faculties” the right to confer degrees, and the law of 1896 established various universities each containing one or more faculties. There are five kinds of faculties: medicine, letters, science, law and Protestant theology. The faculties of letters and sciences, besides granting the Baccalauréat de l’enseignement secondaire, confer the degrees of licentiate and doctor (la Licence, le Doctorat). The faculties of medicine confer the degree of doctor of medicine. The faculties of theology confer the degrees of bachelor, licentiate and doctor of theology. The faculties of law confer the same degrees in law and also grant “certificates of capacity,” which enable the holder to practise as an avoué; a licence is necessary for the profession of barrister. Students of the private faculties have to be examined by and take their degrees from the state faculties. There are 2 faculties of Protestant theology (Paris and Montauban); 12 faculties of law (Paris, Aix, Bordeaux, Caen, Grenoble, Lille, Lyons, Montpellier, Nancy, Poitiers, Rennes, Toulouse); 3 faculties of medicine (Paris, Montpellier and Nancy), and 4 joint faculties of medicine and pharmacy (Bordeaux, Lille, Lyons, Toulouse); 15 faculties of sciences (Paris, Besançon, Bordeaux, Caen, Clermont, Dijon, Grenoble, Lille, Lyons, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nancy, Poitiers, Rennes, Toulouse); 15 faculties of letters (at the same towns, substituting Aix for Marseilles). The private faculties are at Paris (the Catholic Institute with a faculty of law); Angers (law, science and letters); Lille (law, medicine and pharmacy, science, letters); Lyons (law, science, letters); Marseilles (law); Toulouse (Catholic Institute with faculties of theology and letters). The work of the faculties of medicine and pharmacy is in some measure shared by the écoles supérieures de pharmacie (Paris, Montpellier, Nancy), which grant the highest degrees in pharmacy, and by the écoles de plein exercice de médecine et de pharmacie (Marseilles, Rennes and Nantes) and the more numerous écoles préparatoires de médecine et de pharmacie; there are also écoles préparatoires à l’enseignement supérieur des sciences et des lettres at Chambéry, Rouen and Nantes.

Besides the faculties there are a number of institutions, both state-supported and private, giving higher instruction of various special kinds. In the first class must be mentioned the Collège de France, founded 1530, giving courses of highest study of all sorts, the Museum of Natural History, the École des Chartes (palaeography and archives), the School of Modern Oriental Languages, the École Pratique des Hautes Études (scientific research), &c. All these institutions are in Paris. The most important free institution in this class is the École des Sciences Politiques, which prepares pupils for the civil services and teaches a great number of political subjects, connected with France and foreign countries, not included in the state programmes.

Commercial and technical instruction is given in various institutions comprising national establishments such as the écoles nationales professionnelles of Armentières, Vierzon, Voiron and Nantes for the education of working men; the more advanced écoles d’arts et métiers of Châlons, Angers, Aix, Lille and Cluny; and the Central School of Arts and Manufactures at Paris; schools depending on the communes and state in combination, e.g. the écoles pratiques de commerce et d’industrie for the training of clerks and workmen; private schools controlled by the state, such as the écoles supérieures de commerce; certain municipal schools, such as the Industrial Institute of Lille; and private establishments, e.g. the school of watch-making at Paris. At Paris the École Supérieure des Mines and the École des Ponts et Chaussées are controlled by the minister of public works, the École des Beaux-Arts, the École des Arts Décoratifs and the Conservatoire National de Musique et de Déclamation by the under-secretary for fine arts, and other schools mentioned elsewhere are attached to several of the ministries. In the provinces there are national schools of fine art and of music and other establishments and free subventioned schools.

In addition to the educational work done by the state, communes and private individuals, there exist in France a good many societies which disseminate instruction by giving courses of lectures and holding classes both for children and adults. Examples of such bodies are the Society for Elementary Instruction, the Polytechnic Association, the Philotechnic Association and the French Union of the Young at Paris; the Philomathic Society of Bordeaux; the Popular Education Society at Havre; the Rhône Society of Professional Instruction at Lyons; the Industrial Society of Amiens and others.

The highest institution of learning is the Institut de France, founded and kept up by the French government on behalf of science and literature, and composed of five academies: the Académie française, the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, the Académie des Sciences, the Académie des Beaux-Arts and the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (see Academies). The Académie de Médecine is a separate body.

Poor Relief (Assistance publique).—In France the pauper, as such, has no legal claim to help from the community, which however, is bound to provide for destitute children (see Foundling Hospitals) and pauper lunatics (both these being under the care of the department), aged and infirm people without resources and victims of incurable illness, and to furnish medical assistance gratuitously to those without resources who are afflicted with curable illness. The funds for these purposes are provided by the department, the commune and the central authority.

There are four main types of public benevolent institutions, all of which are communal in character: (1) The hôpital, for maternity cases and cases of curable illness; (2) the hospice, where the aged poor, cases of incurable malady, orphans, foundlings and other children without means of support, and in some cases lunatics, are received; (3) the bureau de bienfaisance, charged with the provision of out-door relief (secours à domicile) in money or in kind, to the aged poor or those who, though capable of working, are prevented from doing so by illness or strikes; (4) the bureau d’assistance, which dispenses free medical treatment to the destitute.

These institutions are under the supervision of a branch of the ministry of the interior. The hospices and hôpitaux and the bureaux de bienfaisance, the foundation of which is optional for the commune, are managed by committees consisting of the mayor of the municipality and six members, two elected by the municipal council and four nominated by the prefect. The members of these committees are unpaid, and have no concern with ways and means which are in the hands of a paid treasurer (receveur). The bureaux de bienfaisance in the larger centres are aided by unpaid workers (commissaires or dames de charité), and in the big towns by paid inquiry officers. Bureaux d’assistance exist in every commune, and are managed by the combined committees of the hospices and the bureaux de bienfaisance or by one of these in municipalities, where only one of those institutions exists.

No poor-rate is levied in France. Funds for hôpitals, hospices and bureaux de bienfaisance comprise:

  1. A 10% surtax on the fees of admission to places of public amusement.
  2. A proportion of the sums payable in return for concessions of land in municipal cemeteries.
  3. Profits of the communal Monts de Piété (pawn-shops).
  4. Donations, bequests and the product of collections in churches.
  5. The product of certain fines.
  6. Subventions from the departments and communes.
  7. Income from endowments.

 (R. Tr.) 


In the extent and importance of her colonial dominion France is second only to Great Britain. The following table gives the name, area and population of each colony and protectorate as well as the date of acquisition or establishment of a protectorate. It should be noted that the figures for area and population are, as a rule, only estimates, but in most instances they probably approximate closely to accuracy. Detailed notices of the separate countries will be found under their several heads:

Colony. Date of
 Area in sq. m.   Population. 
 In Asia—
  Establishments in India 1683–1750 200  273,000 
  In Indo-China—
  Annam 1883 60,000  6,000,000 
  Cambodia 1863 65,000  1,500,000 
  Cochin-China 1862 22,000  3,000,000 
  Tongking 1883 46,000  6,000,000 
  Laos 1893 100,000  600,000 
  Kwang-Chow-Wan 1898 325  189,000 
    Total in Asia . . 293,525  17,562,000 
 In Africa and the Indian Ocean—
  Algeria 1830–1847 185,000  5,231,850 
  Algerian Sahara 1872–1890 760,000  . .
  Tunisia 1881 51,000  2,000,000 
 West Africa—
  Senegal 1626 74,000  1,800,000 
  Upper Senegal and Niger[24] 1880 1,580,000  4,000,000 
  Guinea 1848 107,000  2,500,000 
  Ivory Coast 1842 129,000  2,000,000 
  Dahomey 1863–1894 40,000  1,000,000 
 Congo (French Equatorial Africa)—
700,000  376,000 
  Mid. Congo 259,000 
  Ubangi-Chad 3,015,000 
228,000  2,664,000 
  Nossi-be Island
  Ste Marie Island
  Comoro Islands 1843–1886 760  82,000 
 Somali Coast 1862–1884 12,000  50,000 
 Réunion 1643 965  173,315 
St Paul
 Kerguelen[25] 1893
   Total in Africa and Indian Ocean.   3,869,147  25,151,165 
 In America—
  Guiana 1626 51,000  30,000 
  Guadeloupe 1634 619  182,112 
  Martinique 1635 380  182,024 
  St Pierre and Miquelon 1635 92  6,500 
    Total in America   52,092  400,636 
 In Oceania—
  New Caledonia and Dependencies 1854–1887 7,500  72,000 
  Establishments in Oceania 1841–1881 1,641  34,300 
    Total in Oceania   9,141  106,300 
      Grand Total   4,223,905  43,220,101 

It will be seen that nearly all the colonies and protectorates lie within the tropics. The only countries in which there is a considerable white population are Algeria, Tunisia and New Caledonia. The “year of acquisition” in the table, when one date only is given, indicates the period when the country or some part of it first fell under French influence, and does not imply continuous possession since.

Government.—The principle underlying the administration of the French possessions overseas, from the earliest days until the close of the 19th century, was that of “domination” and “assimilation,” notwithstanding that after the loss of Canada and the sale of Louisiana France ceased to hold any considerable colony in which Europeans could settle in large numbers. With the vast extension of the colonial empire in tropical countries in the last quarter of the 19th century the evils of the system of assimilation, involving also intense centralization, became obvious. This, coupled with the realization of the fact that the value to France of her colonies was mainly commercial, led at length to the abandonment of the attempt to impose on a great number of diverse peoples, some possessing (as in Indo-China and parts of West Africa) ancient and highly complex civilizations, French laws, habits of mind, tastes and manners. For the policy of assimilation there was substituted the policy of “association,” which had for aim the development of the colonies and protectorates upon natural, i.e. national, lines. Existing civilizations were respected, a considerable degree of autonomy was granted, and every effort made to raise the moral and economic status of the natives. The first step taken in this direction was in 1900 when a law was passed which laid down that the colonies were to provide for their own civil expenditure. This law was followed by further measures tending to decentralization and the protection of the native races.

The system of administration bears nevertheless many marks of the “assimilation” era. None of the French possessions is self-governing in the manner of the chief British colonies. Several colonies, however, elect members of the French legislature, in which body is the power of fixing the form of government and the laws of each colony or protectorate. In default of legislation the necessary measures are taken by decree of the head of the state; these decrees having the force of law. A partial exception to this rule is found in Algeria, where all laws in force in France before the conquest of the country are also (in theory, not in practice) in force in Algeria. In all colonies Europeans preserve the political rights they held in France, and these rights have been extended, in whole or in part, to various classes of natives. Where these rights have not been conferred, native races are subjects and not citizens. To this rule Tunisia presents an exception, Tunisians retaining their nationality and laws.

In addition to Algeria, which sends three senators and six deputies to Paris and is treated in many respects not as a colony but as part of France, the colonies represented in the legislature are: Martinique, Guadeloupe and Réunion (each electing one senator and two deputies), French India (one senator and one deputy), Guiana, Senegal and Cochin-China (one deputy each). The franchise in the three first-named colonies is enjoyed by all classes of inhabitants, white, negro and mulatto, who are all French citizens. In India the franchise is exercised without distinction of colour or nationality; in Senegal the electors are the inhabitants (black and white) of the communes which have been given full powers. In Guiana and Cochin-China the franchise is restricted to citizens, in which category the natives (in those colonies) are not included.[26] The inhabitants of Tahiti though accorded French citizenship have not been allotted a representative in parliament. The colonial representatives enjoy equal rights with those elected for constituencies in France.

The oversight of all the colonies and protectorates save Algeria and Tunisia is confided to a minister of the colonies (law of March 20, 1894)[27] whose powers correspond to those exercised in France by the minister of the interior. The colonial army is nevertheless attached (law of 1900) to the ministry of war. The colonial minister is assisted by a number of organizations of which the most important is the superior council of the colonies (created by decree in 1883), an advisory body which includes the senators and deputies elected by the colonies, and delegates elected by the universal suffrage of all citizens in the colonies and protectorates which do not return members to parliament. To the ministry appertains the duty of fixing the duties on foreign produce in those colonies which have not been, by law, subjected to the same tariff as in France. (Nearly all the colonies save those of West Africa and the Congo have been, with certain modifications, placed under the French tariff.) The budget of all colonies not possessing a council general (see below) must also be approved by the minister. Each colony and protectorate, including Algeria, has a separate budget. As provided by the law of 1900 all local charges are borne by the colonies—supplemented at need by grants in aid—but the military expenses are borne by the state. In all the colonies the judicature has been rendered independent of the executive.

The colonies are divisible into two classes, (1) those possessing considerable powers of local self-government, (2) those in which the local government is autocratic. To this second class may be added the protectorates (and some colonies) where the native form of government is maintained under the supervision of French officials.

Class (1) includes the American colonies, Réunion, French India, Senegal, Cochin-China and New Caledonia. In these colonies the system of assimilation was carried to great lengths. At the head of the administration is a governor under whom is a secretary-general, who replaces him at need. The governor is aided by a privy council, an advisory body to which the governor nominates a minority of unofficial members, and a council general, to which is confided the control of local affairs, including the voting of the budget. The councils general are elected by universal suffrage of all citizens and those who, though not citizens, have been granted the political franchise. In Cochin-China, in place of a council general, there is a colonial council which fulfils the functions of a council general.

In the second class of colonies the governor, sometimes assisted by a privy council, on which non-official members find seats, sometimes simply by a council of administration, is responsible only to the minister of the colonies. In Indo-China, West Africa, French Congo and Madagascar, the colonies and protectorates are grouped under governors-general, and to these high officials extensive powers have been granted by presidential decree. The colonies under the governor-general of West Africa are ruled by lieutenant-governors with restricted powers, the budget of each colony being fixed by the governor-general, who is assisted by an advisory government council comprising representatives of all the colonies under his control. In Indo-China the governor-general has under his authority the lieutenant-governor of the colony of Cochin-China, and the residents superior at the courts of the kings of Cambodia and Annam and in Tongking (nominally a viceroyalty of Annam). There is a superior council for the whole of Indo-China on which the natives and the European commercial community are represented, while in Cochin-China a privy council, and in the protectorates a council of the protectorate, assists in the work of administration. In each of the governments general there is a financial controller with extensive powers who corresponds directly with the metropolitan authorities (decree of March 22, 1907). Details and local differences in form of government will be found under the headings of the various colonies and protectorates.

Colonial Finance.—The cost of the extra-European possessions, other than Algeria and Tunisia, to the state is shown in the expenses of the colonial ministry. In the budget of 1885 these expenses were put at £1,380,000; in 1895 they had increased to £3,200,000 and in 1900 to £5,100,000. In 1905 they were placed at £4,431,000. Fully three-fourths of the state contributions is expenditure on military necessities; in addition there are subventions to various colonies and to colonial railways and cables, and the expenditure on the penitentiary establishments; an item not properly chargeable to the colonies. In return the state receives the produce of convict labour in Guiana and New Caledonia. Save for the small item of military expenditure Tunisia is no charge to the French exchequer. The similar expenses of Algeria borne by the state are not separately shown, but are estimated at £2,000,000.

The colonial budgets totalled in 1907 some £16,760,000, being divisible into six categories: Algeria £4,120,000; Tunisia £3,640,000; Indo-China[28] about £5,000,000; West Africa £1,600,000; Madagascar £960,000; all other colonies combined £1,440,000.

The authorized colonial loans, omitting Algeria and Tunisia, during the period 1884–1904 amounted to £19,200,000, the sums paid for interest and sinking funds on loans varying from £600,000 to £800,000 a year. The amount of French capital invested in French colonies and protectorates, including Algeria and Tunisia, was estimated in 1905 at £120,000,000, French capital invested in foreign countries at the same date being estimated at ten times that amount (see Ques. Dip. et Col., February 16, 1905).

Commerce.—The value of the external trade of the French possessions, exclusive of Algeria and Tunisia, increased in the ten years 1896–1905 from £18,784,060 to £34,957,479. In the last-named year the commerce of Algeria amounted to £24,506,020 and that of Tunisia to £5,969,248, making a grand total for French colonial trade in 1905 of £65,432,746. The figures were made up as follows:

  Imports. Exports. Total.
Algeria £15,355,500  £9,150,520  £24,506,020 
Tunisia 3,638,185  2,331,063  5,969,248 
Indo-China 10,182,411  6,750,306  16,932,717 
West Africa 3,874,698  2,248,317  6,123,015 
Madagascar 1,247,936  914,024  2,161,960 
All other colonies   4,258,134  5,481,652  9,739,786 
Total   £38,556,864   £26,875,882   £65,432,746 

Over three-fourths of the trade of Algeria and Tunisia is with France and other French possessions. In the other colonies and protectorates more than half the trade is with foreign countries. The foreign countries trading most largely with the French colonies are, in the order named, British colonies and Great Britain, China and Japan, the United States and Germany. The value of the trade with British colonies and Great Britain in 1905 was over £7,200,000.  (F. R. C.) 

Bibliography.—P. Joanne, Dictionnaire géographique et administrative de la France (8 vols., Paris, 1890–1905); C. Brossard, La France et ses colonies (6 vols., Paris, 1900–1906); O. Reclus, Le Plus Beau Royaume sous le ciel (Paris, 1899); Vidal de La Blache, La France. Tableau géographique (Paris, 1908); V. E. Ardouin-Dumazet, Voyage en France (Paris, 1894); H. Havard, La France artistique et monumentale (6 vols., Paris, 1892–1895); A. Lebon and P. Pelet, France as it is, tr. Mrs W. Arnold (London, 1888); articles on “Local Government in France” in the Stock Exchange Official Intelligence Annuals (London, 1908 and 1909); M. Block, Dictionnaire de l’administration française, the articles in which contain full bibliographies (2 vols., Paris, 1905); E. Levasseur, La France et ses colonies (3 vols., Paris, 1890); M. Fallex and A. Mairey, La France et ses colonies au début du XX e siècle, which has numerous bibliographies (Paris, 1909); J. du Plessis de Grenédan, Géographie agricole de la France et du monde (Paris, 1903); F. de St Genis, La Propriété rurale en France (Paris, 1902); H. Baudrillart, Les Populations agricoles de la France (3 vols., Paris, 1885–1893); J. E. C. Bodley, France (London, 1899); A. Girault, Principes de colonisation et de législation coloniale (3 vols., Paris, 1907–1908); Les Colonies françaises, an encyclopaedia edited by M. Petit (2 vols., Paris, 1902). Official statistical works: Annuaire statistique de la France (a summary of the statistical publications of the government), Statistique agricole annuelle, Statistique de l’industrie minérale et des appareils de vapeur, Tableau général du commerce et de la navigation, Reports on the various colonies issued annually by the British Foreign Office, &c. Guide Books: Karl Baedeker, Northern France, Southern France; P. Joanne, Nord, Champagne et Ardenne; Normandie; and other volumes dealing with every region of the country.

  1. By the Service géographique de l’armée.
  2. The etymology of this name (sometimes wrongly written Golfe de Lyon) is unknown.
  3. In 1907 deaths were superior in number to births by nearly 20,000.
  4. The following list comprises the three most densely-populated and the three most sparsely populated departments in France:
    Inhabitants to the Square Mile.
    Seine .  .  .  20,803   Basses-Alpes .  .  42
    Nord .  .  .  850   Hautes-Alpes .  .  49
    Rhône .  .  .  778   Lozère .  .  .  .  64
  5. Inspectors are placed at the head of the synodal circumscriptions; their functions are to consecrate candidates for the ministry, install the pastors, &c.
  6. Cultures industrielles.—Under this head the French group beetroot, hemp, flax and other plants, the products of which pass through some process of manufacture before they reach the consumer.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Fibre only. In the years 1896–1905, 8130 tons of hemp-seed and 12,137 tons of flax-seed was the average annual production in addition to fibre.
  8. The chief breeds of horses are the Boulonnais (heavy draught), the Percheron (light and heavy draught), the Anglo-Norman (light draught and heavy cavalry) and the Tarbais of the western Pyrenees (saddle horses and light cavalry). Of cattle besides the breeds named the Norman (beef and milk), the Limousin (beef), the Montbéliard, the Bazadais, the Flamand, the Breton and the Parthenais breeds may be mentioned.
  9. The department is also entrusted with surveillance over river-fishing, pisciculture and the amelioration of pasture.
  10. The metric ton = 1000 kilogrammes or 2204 ℔.
  11. Includes manufactories of glue, tallow, soap, perfumery, fertilizers, soda, &c.
  12. See the Guide officiel de la navigation intérieure issued by the ministry of public works (Paris, 1903).
  13. Includes horses, mules and asses.
  14. Except certain manufactures which come under the category of articles of food.
  15. Includes small fancy wares, toys, also wooden wares and furniture, brushes, &c.
  16. Decrease largely due to Spanish-American War (1898).
  17. The administration of posts, telegraphs and telephones is assigned to the ministry of commerce and industry or to that of public works.
  18. The province or provinces named are those out of which the department was chiefly formed.
  19. 19.0 19.1 The tax on land (propriétés non bâties) and that on buildings (propriétés bâties) are included under the head of contribution foncière.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 With revenues of over £1200.
  21. For a history of the French debt, see C. F. Bastable, Public Finance (1903).
  22. In 1894 the rentes then standing at 41/2% were reduced to 31/2%, and in 1902 to 3%.
  23. Algerian native troops are recruited by voluntary enlistment. But in 1908, owing to the prevailing want of trained soldiers in France, it was proposed to set free the white troops in Algeria by applying the principles of universal service to the natives, as in Tunis.
  24. Including part of Sahara.
  25. Kerguelen lies in the Great Southern Ocean, but is included here for the sake of convenience.
  26. In 1906 the number of registered electors in these colonies was 199,055, of whom 106,695 exercised their suffrage.
  27. In the case of Madagascar by decree of the 11th of December 1895.
  28. The Indo-China budget is reckoned in piastres, a silver coin of fluctuating value (1s. 10d. to 2s.). The budget of 1907 balanced at 50,000,000 piastres.