France Culture

Science, technology and education

Great inventors were born in France such as the Montgolfier Brothers (inventors of the hot air balloon), Nicéphore Niepce (chemist, lithographer and amateur scientist who, together with his brother, invented a motor for boats and, together with Louis Daguerre, photography), Clément Ader (inventor of the airplane, a microphone and the first improvements of the telephone), the Lumière Brothers (inventors of the movie projector), René Théophile Hyacinthe Laënnec (inventor of the stethoscope), Louis Pasteur (the technique known as pasteurization), Jacques Lacan considered by many theorists as the most important for psychoanalysis among others; whose contributions to science have been decisive in the history of humanity. In France, education is free at all levels, both for French and foreign students.


As a country that is a member of European Union defined by, France is the country with the most Nobel Prize winners for Literature (fourteen). French citizens, as well as francographers from other countries (such as Maurice Maeterlinck from Belgium, Léopold Sédar Senghor from Senegal or Daniel Herrendorf from Luxembourg), make up what is known as French literature, which has had a deep relationship with the literature of important authors, countries and languages. Such is the case of the Cuban Alejo Carpentier or the so-called Latin American boom.

Fine arts

The first manifestations come from prehistoric art, in the Franco-Cantabrian style. The Carolingian era marks the birth of a school of illuminators that lasted throughout the Middle Ages, culminating in the illustrations in the book The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry.

The classical painters of the French seventeenth century are Poussin and Lorrain. In the 18th century the Rococo predominated, with Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard. At the end of the century the classicism of a Jacques-Louis David begins. Romanticism is dominated by the figures of Géricault and Delacroix. The realistic landscape of the Barbizon School has its continuation in artists of a more testimonial realism about the social reality of their time, such as Millet and Courbet. At the end of the 19th century, Paris, turned into the center of painting, saw the birth of Impressionism, preceded by the work of Édouard Manet. These are followed by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Cézanne. Already in the twentieth century, the Fauvists emerged around Matisse and Cubism at the hands of Georges Braque and the Spaniard Picasso who works in Paris. Other artistic movements are taking place in interwar Paris, declining as a world pictorial center after World War II.

In France, sculpture has evolved since ancient times by various styles, standing out in all of them: prehistoric, Roman, Christian, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, neoclassical (Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi: Statue of Liberty), romantic (Auguste Rodin: The thinker), and contemporaries.


With regard to architecture, the Celts also left their mark on the erection of great monoliths or megaliths, and the Greek presence from the 6th century BC. C. is remembered today in the classical heritage of Massalia (Marseille).

The Roman style has examples in the Maison Carrée, a Roman temple built between 138–161 BC, or in the Pont du Gard built between 40 and 60 AD. C., in Nimes and declared universal heritage in 1985. In France the Gothic style was invented, reflected in cathedrals such as those of Chartres, Amiens, Notre Dame, Strasbourg or the Abbey Santa Maria de Villelongue considered a historical monument.

The Renaissance that emerged in Italy, has its architectural style masterfully represented in the Castle of Blois or the Palace of Fontainebleau among others.

Baroque art (also of Italian origin), and Rococo (French invention) have extraordinary works in France. Such is the case of the Louvre Palace and the Pantheon in Paris among many others.

Modernism or modern art in architecture spans the entire 19th century and the middle of the 20th, and in it Gustave Eiffel revolutionized the architectural theory and practice of his time in the construction of gigantic bridges and in the use of materials such as steel. His most famous work is the so-called Eiffel Tower. Another great of universal architecture is Le Corbusier, an innovator and functionalist who is especially celebrated for his urban contributions to housing and housing complexes.


In French music since before the year 1000, the Gregorian chant used in liturgies stands out. Polyphony was created in France. In the so-called Ars Antiqua, the Scholae Cantorum is attributed to Charlemagne. The Oaths of Strasbourg is the most important French lyrical work of the Middle Ages, a period in which the Song of Deeds such as the Song of Roldán are developed. France was the cradle of the troubadours in the 12th century, as well as of the Ars Nova two centuries later. During Romanticism Paris it became the musical center of the world and today France maintains a privileged place in musical creation thanks to new generations of composers. Among the exponents of French popular music, there are figures such as Edith Piaf, Dalida, Charles Aznavour, Gilbert Becaud and Serge Gainsbourg.


The official language is French, coming from French, a linguistic variant spoken in the Ile de France that at the beginning of the Middle Ages and, over the centuries, has prevailed over the rest of the languages and linguistic variants that are spoken in any part of the territory.

Often times, this imposition of French has been the result of political decisions made throughout history, with the aim of creating a linguistically uniform state. In fact, article 2 of the French Constitution of 1958 says verbatim that “La langue de la République est le français”.

This article has served to not allow the official use in the fields of cultured use of the languages that are spoken in France, until in 1999 the Cerquiglini Report established 75 regional and minority languages spoken in metropolitan France and overseas. Since 2006, 13 of them have been taught as an optional second foreign language in public schools, such as Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Occitan, Basque, Alsatian, Tahitian and 4 Melanesian languages. Immigration from outside the country, as well as from exclusively Francophone regions, means that the percentage of speakers of these languages is increasingly low.

It is one of the states that have not signed the European Charter for minority languages. In spite of everything, nowadays, some private institutions have tried to promote the use of these languages by creating media, cultural associations, primary and secondary schools to teach these languages and to take advocacy actions in favor of an alternative linguistic policy.

France Culture