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France above all! ~ Charles Maurras
France cannot be France without greatness. ~ Charles de Gaulle
France will hold on. The French will hold on. Michel Houellebecq
Liberté, égalité, fraternité were, nominally at least, the values of the revolution. They remain the official motto of the French Republic to this day. ~ Jon Stone
France, famed in all great arts, in none supreme. ~ Matthew Arnold
With respect to modern languages, French, as I have before observed, is indispensible. ~ Thomas Jefferson
France has no friends, only interests. ~ Charles de Gaulle
When France has a cold, all Europe sneezes. ~ Klemens von Metternich
England is an empire. Germany, a country. France is a person. ~ Jules Michelet
It seems to me that the United States and France can learn from each other. ~ George M. Fredrickson
I have never liked France or the French, and I have never stopped saying so. ~ Adolf Hitler
Providence has given the French nation precisely two instruments, two arms, so to speak, with which it stirs up the world – the French language and the spirit of proselytism that forms the essence of the nation's character. ~ Joseph de Maistre

France (French: [fʁɑ̃s], officially the French Republic (République française, pronounced [ʁepyblik fʁɑ̃sɛːz], is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions (five of which are situated overseas) span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.08 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Its current head of state is President Emmanuel Macron, and its current head of government is Prime Minister Gabriel Attal. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice. France, including its overseas territories, has the most number of time zones of any country, with a total of 12.

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  • France, famed in all great arts, in none supreme.
    • Matthew Arnold, The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems, "To a Republican Friend" (c. March 1848)


  • The French are wiser than they seem, and the Spaniards seem wiser than they are.
    • Francis Bacon, "Of Seeming Wise", in Essays (1625); Brian Vickers (ed.) The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) p. 389.
  • First of all, let's dispense with this absurd stereotype that the French are rude. The French are not rude. They just happen to hate you. But that is no reason to have bypass this beautiful country, whose master chefs have a well-deserved worldwide reputation for trying to trick people into eating snails. Nobody is sure how this got started. Probably a couple of French master chefs were standing around one day, and they found a snail, and one of them said: "I bet that if we called this something like 'escargot,' tourists would eat it." Then they had a hearty laugh, because "escargot" is the French word for "fat crawling bag of phlegm."
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991), New York: Fawcett Columbine, p. 131
  • Unpredictable events, or the coincidence of vital events happening side by side, play their part in history. In the emerging of the United States of America, the South American nations, South Africa, Canada and Australia the unforeseen mixture of events was especially powerful in the final decades of the 18th century. Many of those events pirouetted around the fortunes of France, whose influence was as decisive when it was losing as when it was winning wars.
  • Perhaps they know that they are in danger as much as anybody. They simply would rather see American men and women, rather than French and German men and women, dying to preserve their safety. Far better, from this cynical perspective, to signal that you will not take on the terrorists, so as to earn their good will amidst the uncertain times ahead.
  • An old sergeant said, if you want to get to France in a hurry, then join the ambulance service, the French are big for ambulance service.
    • Frank Buckles, on how he came to driving ambulances, as quoted in The Tampa Bay Online.


  • France is the land of the inner psyche. The inner expertise. They are wonderful confessives. But when I was young what impressed me most was their high seriousness about literature. Often humorless. But high.
  • We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.
  • According to current birthrate projections, France will be a majority Muslim country anyway in about 50 years... I get a lot of e-mails from Americans who think that Europeans are spineless. And I think they're right.


  • A Frenchman comes here to make money, and that is about all that need be said of him. He is only a Frenchman. He neither learns our language nor loves our country. His hand is on our pocket and his eye on Paris. He gets what he wants and, like a sensible Frenchman, returns to France to spend it.
  • And threat'ning France, plac'd like a painted Jove,
    Kept idle thunder in his lifted hand.


  • France and America clash so often not because they are so irreconcilably different, but because they are so alike.


  • O France, the time of reproach has passed and we have closed like a book; o France, the day of reckoning is at hand. So prepare to receive from us our answer!
  • It seems to me that the United States and France can learn from each other. French universalism, or its equivalent, is a powerful weapon against racism, which is based on the belief in innate unalterable differences among human groups. Stressing what rights all people have because of what they have in common remains at the heart of anti-racism. A stronger awareness of such human commonality may be needed in the United States at a time when a stress on diversity and ethnic particularism may deprive us of any compelling vision of the larger national community and impede cooperation in the pursuit of a free and just society. On the other hand the identification of such universalism with a particular national identity and with specific cultural traits that go beyond essential human rights can lead to an intolerance of the Other that approaches color-coded racism in its harmful effects.
  • By 2040, France and Germany are going to be has-beens, historically. Between population crises and the redefinition of the geopolitics of Europe, the French and Germans will be facing a decisive moment. If they do not assert themselves, their futures will be dictated by others and they will move from decadence to powerlessness. And with powerlessness would come a geopolitical spiral from which they would not recover.


  • Toute ma vie, je me suis fait une certaine idée de la France.
    • Translated: "All my life I have had a certain idea of France".
    • Charles de Gaulle, opening sentence of his Mémoires de guerre.
  • La France a perdu une bataille, mais la France n'a pas perdu la guerre.
    • Translated: "France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war".
    • Charles de Gaulle, Proclamation, June 18 1940.
  • France cannot be France without greatness.
    • La France ne peut être la France sans la grandeur.
    • Charles de Gaulle, Mémoires de guerre (1954)
  • France had been the cradle of anarchism, fathered for a long time by some of her most brilliant sons, of whom Proudhon was the greatest.
  • I hate the French because they are all slaves and wear wooden shoes.
    • Oliver Goldsmith, Essays (Ed. 1765), 24. Appeared in the British Magazine, June, 1760. Also in Essay on the History of a Disabled Soldier. Dove—English Classics.
  • Gay, sprightly, land of mirth and social ease
    Pleased with thyself, whom all the world can please.


  • I have never liked France or the French, and I have never stopped saying so.
    • Adolf Hitler, The Political Testament of Adolf Hitler (15 February 1945)


  • Being one of the scholars who immediately reacted to the 1995 report through press conferences, articles, and a book, I warned that the list [of 173 “cults” by a French Parliamentary Commission] was the most dangerous feature of the whole [anti-cult] enterprise. ...I and other scholars coined the expression “effet de liste” (list effect), indicating that the damages done to groups that had committed no crimes and their members was irreparable. It took ten years [for] the French government to recognize that the list had perhaps not been such a good idea, and in 2005 it stated that it should no longer be used as a reference.


  • With respect to modern languages, French, as I have before observed, is indispensible. Next to this the Spanish is most important to an American. Our connection with Spain is already important and will become daily more so. Besides this the antient part of American history is written chiefly in Spanish.


  • I worked at a factory owned by Germans, at coal pits owned by Frenchmen, and at a chemical plant owned by Belgians. There I discovered something about capitalists. They are all alike, whatever the nationality. All they wanted from me was the most work for the least money that kept me alive. So I became a communist.




  • Providence has given the French nation precisely two instruments, two arms, so to speak, with which it stirs up the world – the French language and the spirit of proselytism that forms the essence of the nation's character.
  • A man over forty is in his prime. When can one live if not now? When does one know how to live if not in these years? It's not with twenty, but with forty that one comes into one's true youth. In France they understand these things.
    • Anna Margolin "In France" published in 1909 in the New York newspaper Di Fraye arbeter shtime, translated from Yiddish by Daniel Kennedy
  • You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who is still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it.
  • [Mi manca] il calore delle persone [italiane]: c'è una grande facilità nella comunicazione, mentre i francesi non sono così estroversi. D'altra parte, in Francia c'è una grande vivacità nel mondo del cinema: si producono almeno duecento film all'anno e le occasioni di lavoro sono moltissime. Purtroppo non c'è paragone col cinema italiano
  • [I miss] the warmth of the [Italian] people: it is very easy to communicate with them, while the French are not such extroverts. On the other hand, there is a vibrant film industry in France: at least two hundred films are produced there, and the job opportunities are many. Unfortunately, the Italian film industry does not compare.
  • When France has a cold, all Europe sneezes.
    • Klemens von Metternich, reported by Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) as unverified in the English translations of his Mémoires. It is attributed to him in George P. Gooch, The Second Empire (1960), p. 18 and, in variant form, in Alan W. Palmer, Quotations in History (1976), p. 154. An American variation is: "There are those in South Carolina, and Mr. Pickens among the number who do not 'sneese when Mr. Calhoun takes snuff.' We are always amused when we hear the oft repeated slang—that South Carolina never speaks until Mr. Calhoun is heard." The Charleston Mercury (June 20, 1846), p. 2, referring to former Representative Francis W. Pickens and to Senator John C. Calhoun.
  • England is an empire; Germany, a country — a race; France is a person.
    • Jules Michelet, History of France: from the earliest period to the present time (1845), Volume 1, D. Appleton & Co., 1845, p. 182.
  • …I was accused of believing in elves, dwarves, angels, and fairies, as if it were a big crime—as if beliefs, in France, were not free.


  • How old I am! I'm eighty years!
    I've worked both hard and long,
    Yet patient as my life has been,
    One dearest sight I have not seen—
    It almost seems a wrong;
    A dream I had when life was new,
    Alas our dreams! they come not true;
    I thought to see fair Carcassonne,
    That lovely city—Carcassonne!
    • Gustave Nadaud, Carcassonne; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 89.


  • I just want to make a few brief comments about the attacks across Paris tonight. Once again, we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.
    We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again. And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
    Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress. Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong. The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share. And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.
    We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.


  • sweet France, the land of the handkerchief-size gardens (lieu commun)


  • Ah! This movement of force and energy, this love of happiness, this plan of courage amid the insane who surround us attests to the strength of reason, which has imperceptibly advanced across the centuries. So many sublime outbursts of patriotism on the part of the French prove that servitude is an outrage to the dignity of human nature, and that there is no nation on earth that can return them to their former slavery.
    • "Jacques Roux, "On the Majesty of the French People" (August 12, 1793)


  • We have intelligence, and virtue, and patriotism. All that is required is to cultivate and perpetuate these. Intelligence will not do without virtue. France was a nation of philosophers. These philosophers become Jacobins. They lacked that virtue, that devotion to moral principle, and that patriotism which is essential to good government
  • Fuck the French! Fuck the French, if we hadn't had saved their ass in two World Wars, they'd be speakin' German right now!


  • One doctor said, `In France, we think that abortion is more moral earlier.' And I thought to myself, we think so too in the United States, but we don't dare say it.
    • Charlotte Taft, abortion counselor and consultant, "When abortions come late in a pregnancy; Though rare, most aren't for medical reasons", US News & World Report (January 19, 1998).
  • Paris was attacked not because of what the French do, as some Blame-The-West intellectuals claim, but because of what the French are: infidels who refuse to see the light of Islam. The hope is that just as the Prophet forced the Arab tribes to accept Islam in exchange for protection, the “infidel” nations will also decide that it is in their best interest to submit. Today, however, I see no sign the French tend toward submission. As always, the terrorists may end up like the man who, having won a great many tokens at the roulette table, is surprised when the casino tells him his winnings cannot be cashed.
  • "They order," said I, "this matter better in France."
  • A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German's self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth--science--which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
    • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, (1865-1869). Book 9, Chapter 10.




  • The sum of the whole matter is that France has earned and has won the brotherhood of the world. She has stood at the chief post of danger, and the thoughts of mankind and her brothers everywhere, her brothers in freedom, turn to her and center upon her. If this be true, as I believe it to be, France is fortunate to have suffered. She is fortunate to have proved her mettle as one of the champions of liberty, and she has tied to herself once and for all, all those who love freedom and truly believe in the progress and rights of man.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 293-294.
  • La France est une monarchie absolue, tempérée par des chansons.
    • France is an absolute monarchy, tempered by ballads.
    • Quoted by Chamfort.
  • The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk,
    Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk,
    Is always happy, reign whoever may,
    And laughs the sense of mis'ry far away.
  • Adieu, plaisant pays de France!
    O, ma patrie
    La plus cherie,
    Qui a nourrie ma jeune enfance!
    Adieu, France—adieu, mes beaux jours.
    • Adieu, delightful land of France! O my country so dear, which nourished my infancy! Adieu France—adieu my beautiful days!
    • Lines attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, but a forgery of De Querlon.
  • Yet, who can help loving the land that has taught us
    Six hundred and eighty-five ways to dress eggs?
  • Have the French for friends, but not for neighbors.
    • Emperor Nicephorus (803) while treating with ambassadors of Charlemagne.
  • On connoit en France 685 manières differentes d'accommoder les œufs.
    • One knows in France 685 different ways of preparing eggs.
    • La Reynière.
  • Ye sons of France, awake to glory!
    Hark! Hark! what myriads bid you rise!
    Your children, wives, and grandsires hoary,
    Behold their tears and hear their cries!
  • In 1793, the French were shouting: 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!' What they got was Napoleon.
    • Ayn Rand, as quoted in The Ayn Rand Column.
  • Une nation de singes à larynx de perroquets.

See also

At Wikiversity, you can learn about:
  • Encyclopedic article on France on Wikipedia
  • Media related to France on Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of France on Wiktionary