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Territory in western Europe, ruled since 1958 by the République Française

France, officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe, as well as 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. 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 kilometers and a total population of 67.25 million (as of June 2018). The sovereign state of France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial center. Other major urban centers include Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Nice, Toulouse and Strasbourg.

Geographical type: Territory

Latitude: 47° N — Longitude: 2° E

Area: 551,695 km²

ISO 3166-2 code: FR

Birthplace of

Frédéric Bastiat, Claude Frédéric Bastiat, in Bayonne, on 30 Jun 1801
Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, in Grenoble, on 30 Sep 1714
Étienne de La Boétie, in Sarlat, on 1 Nov 1530
Vilfredo Pareto, in Paris, on 15 Jul 1848
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in Besançon, on 15 Jan 1809
François Quesnay, in Méré, on 4 Jun 1694
Jean-Baptiste Say, in Lyon, on 5 Jan 1767
Alexis de Tocqueville, in Paris, on 29 Jul 1805
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, in Paris, on 10 May 1727
Voltaire, in Paris, on 21 Nov 1694
Léon Walras, in Évreux, on 16 Dec 1834

Deathplace of

Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, in Beaugency, on 3 Aug 1780
Benjamin Constant, in Paris, on 8 Dec 1830
Étienne de La Boétie, in Germignan, on 18 Aug 1563
John Stuart Mill, in Avignon, on 7 May 1873
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in Passy, Paris, on 19 Jan 1865
François Quesnay, in Versailles, on 16 Dec 1774
Jean-Baptiste Say, in Paris, on 15 Nov 1832
Alexis de Tocqueville, in Cannes, on 16 Apr 1859
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, in Paris, on 18 Mar 1781
Voltaire, in Paris, on 30 May 1778

Measures of Freedom

France | Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2024
2016: Status: Free, Aggregate Score: 91, Political Rights: 1, Civil Liberties: 1
The year 2015 was flanked by several horrific attacks in France. On January 7, two French-born brothers of Algerian origin terrorized the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. Two days later, an accomplice took several hostages at a kosher market in the capital, taking four lives before he was killed by police. In the aftermath of these events, the government enacted a law granting security agencies extensive new surveillance powers.
Human Freedom Index [PDF], The Human Freedom Index 2023: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom
2021: 7.86, Rank: 39, Personal freedom: 8.18, Economic freedom: 7.40
Level of Economic Freedom, Economic Freedom of the World
2014: 7.30, Rank: 57


Adam Smith—"I had almost forgot that I was the author of the inquiry concerning The Wealth of Nations", by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Mar 1995
Biographical essay
[In] January 1764, [Smith] traveled to Toulouse ... For anyone interested in liberty, France was an ideal destination at that time. Smith saw firsthand how the French were struggling with a much more costly, interventionist government than he had experienced. Smith visited with leading intellectual rebels. In Paris, he met Francois Quesnay, founder of the Physiocratic school of laissez faire economics. Smith got to know Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, the passionate French advocate of laissez faire policies. Smith visited Geneva and met Voltaire who reportedly declared: "This Smith is an excellent man!"
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Who First Put Laissez-Faire Principles into Action, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Aug 1997
Biographical essay, covering his life, works and involvement with the Physiocrats, as well as his accomplishments as an administrator
On May 10, 1774, King Louis XV died of smallpox. He was succeeded by his awkward, timid 19-year-old grandson, who became Louis XVI ... France had the biggest government in Europe except for Russia. The French government was in desperate shape, having incurred massive debts during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) with Britain. The royal palace of Versailles was an enormous drain. On the payroll were eight architects, 47 musicians, 56 hunters, 295 cooks, 886 nobles with their wives and children, plus secretaries, couriers, physicians, and chaplains, and some 10,000 soldiers who guarded the place.
Annotated Bibliography of Frédéric Bastiat, by Sheldon Richman, Jul 2000
Opens with a biography, then discusses Bastiat's major works and concludes with a current perspective; includes short list of works about Bastiat and links to other sites
In 1846 [Bastiat] organized the French Free Trade Association in Bordeaux, before moving to Paris ... In the revolutionary year of 1848, the French people, disgusted with monarchical corruption on behalf of special-interests, forced their king from power. In the turmoil that followed, socialist and other utopian schemes gained adherents. To combat these ideas, Bastiat, sick from tuberculosis, won a seat in the National Assembly from Landes. His earlier amicable contact with the poet Lamartine had made the future leader of the Second Republic something of a free trader.
Benjamin Franklin: The Man Who Invented the American Dream, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Apr 1997
Lengthy biographical essay, including a section on the posthumous publication and reaction to Franklin's Autobiography
With war underway, the best bet for help was France, which, having lost a war with Britain, would surely have wanted the British Empire to come apart. But the French were circumspect. They were at peace with Britain. The Americans were the underdogs, and nobody, including the French, wanted to publicly back a loser. King Louis XVI saw danger in supporting revolution against another monarchy. The Americans, for their part, felt some uneasiness seeking help from a king who claimed absolute power, and they didn't want the French to know how desperate they were.
Benjamin Tucker, Individualism, & Liberty: Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order, by Wendy McElroy, Literature of Liberty, 1981
Bibliographical essay covering the people and radical movements that influenced Tucker in his founding and publishing of Liberty, its major themes and contributors
Given the immense influence Proudhon had upon Tucker, Liberty naturally felt strong ties to radical movements in France. These ties manifested themselves in two ways: translations and reprints ... The periodical from which articles were most frequently translated and reprinted in Liberty was Henri Rochefort's L'Intransigeant. Next in importance was George Clemenceau's L'Aurore. Le Révolté (subsequently La Révolté) edited by Pierre Kropotkin received praise from Tucker as "our ardent and admirable contemporary." ... Le Temps and L'Audace were also quoted briefly.
Constant, Benjamin (1767-1830), by David M. Hart, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Constant began his political career in 1799, when he was elected a member of the Tribunate under Napoleon's Consulate. He served there until 1802 ... Surprisingly, Constant was invited back to Paris by Napoleon after his escape from Elba in 1814 to draw up a new constitution, the Acte additionnel aux constitutions de l'empire, or the "Benjamine" as it was known ... When Napoleon fell from power again, Constant was once again forced into exile ... He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1819, where he served until his death in 1830, first representing Sarthe and then Paris. He also served as president of the Council of State.
The Early Economists Who Tried to Save France, by Richard Ebeling, 31 Oct 2016
Discusses the Physiocrats, focusing on Quesnay and Turgot
In August 1774, Jacques Turgot was appointed comptroller-general of the finances of France by the new king, Louis XVI. The finances of the French government were in total chaos because of the exorbitant expenditures of the royal house ... Turgot wrote to the king saying that bankruptcy of the government had to be avoided ... [and] that the government should institute a policy of retrenchment through deep cuts in spending. He also told the king that he realized the anger he could expect from those who had become accustomed to financial favors, privileges, and subsidies from the government.
Étienne de La Boétie, Part 1, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Apr 2003
Provides biographical background on La Boétie and begins examination of his "Discourse"
[Sixteenth]-century France, with an estimated population of 16 million, was the richest, most civilized, most populous nation in Europe. France was also an absolute monarchy, which meant that national power was not distributed between parliaments or local authorities but rested with the king alone. To raise money for war, [King] Francis [I] sold titles to the "nouveaux riche" who formed a new aristocracy ... The rise of Protestants in France—called Huguenots—meant that a growing segment of society did not recognize the king's divine authority.
The French Employment Fiasco, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 11 Apr 2006
Discusses the business and labor situation in France where a 2006 law deregulating job contracts led to protests and a repeal of the law
The change in labor law would have permitted employers to fire workers, age 25 years or younger, in the first two years of employment ... The unemployment rate in France exceeds 10 percent, and it is on the rise. Among the group hit by the proposed reform, the rate is 22 percent ... It is not easy to start a business in France or hire people. The taxes, mandates, and wage controls are wickedly restrictive. In the name of human rights, France has managed to deny people their most basic right of contributing to society in a manner of their own choosing.
Related Topics: Free Market, Labor, Unemployment
From John Law to John Maynard Keynes, by Steve H. Hanke, GlobeAsia, 1 Feb 2009
Compares the proposed "mega-Keynesian stimulus package" offered as solution to the 2008 financial crisis to John Law's actions in 18th century France
The opportunity for [John] Law to implement his ideas arose after Law learned that his good friend, the Duc d'Orleans, had become the Regent of France. In 1710, the Scotsman emigrated from London to Paris. France was in financial trouble ... With the prospect of spectacular returns, Paris became swollen with investors from all parts of Europe. And ... the price of the Mississippi Company's shares soared. So did Law's fortunes. Among other things, in December 1719, he was appointed Controller‐​General of Finances—a position that made him the virtual Prime Minister of France.
Give Me Liberty [PDF], by Rose Wilder Lane, 1936
Originally published as an article titled "Credo" in the Saturday Evening Post; describes her experiences in and history of Soviet Russia and Europe, contrasting them with the history of the United States, emphasizing the individualist themes
[T]he French demand order, discipline, the restraint of traditional forms, the bureaucratic regulation of human lives by centralized police power, and ... the fierce French democracy is not a cry for individual liberty but an insistence that the upper classes shall not too harshly exploit the lower classes ... French merchants ... could not install ... a swift accounting system in a central cashier's department ... They would still be obliged to have every purchase recorded in writing in a ledger, in the presence of both buyer and seller, as Napoleon decreed.
Goethe on National Greatness, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe, The Free Market, Oct 1999
Discusses Goethe's thoughts on political centralization, as told to Johann Peter Eckermann, contrasting the German Confederation (Bund) to centralized France
It was during this last phase of his life when Goethe ... made the following remarks ... '... A thoughtful Frenchman, I believe Daupin, has drawn up a map regarding the state of culture in France, indicating the higher or lower level of enlightenment of its various "Departements" by lighter or darker colors. There we find, especially in the southern provinces, far away from the capital, some "Departements" painted entirely in black, indicating a complete cultural darkness. Would this be the case if the beautiful France had ten centers, instead of just one, from which light and life radiated? ...'
Related Topics: Democracy, Germany
Historian Paul Johnson on American Liberty, by Paul Johnson, The Freeman, Jun 1996
Topics discussed include religious freedom, abolishing slavery, the impact of immigration, the Founding Fathers, the U.S. Constitution, individualism, reining in government and the prospects for liberty in America
By contrast, during their Revolution the French cut themselves off from past experience. They changed the names of the months. They changed reckoning of years. They threw out religion. In their hurry to push political change, they established even more centralization than there had been under the monarchy. Political change occurred not through open debate, as in America, but through violence. It escalated into the Terror, followed by Napoleon's authoritarian regime and more than a decade of war which led to even more centralization.
Jean-Baptiste Say (1767 - 1832), Religion & Liberty, Jun 2002
Highlights Say's contributions on entrepreneurship, his troubles and later vindication in France, and his influence on Jefferson and Madison
While popular abroad, Say's Treatise brought put him into conflict with Napoleon, who was furious at Say's refusal to tone down his criticism of France's disastrous fiscal policies. This run in with the French dictator soon forced Say to put his theory into practice. He was removed from the French government, and his book was suppressed. ... It was not until 1814, with Napoleon exiled, that Say's Treatise came back into print in France. Say himself was finally appointed to ... the College de France, where he occupied France's first chair in political economy.
Libertarianism: Left or Right?, by Sheldon Richman, Freedom Daily, Jun 2007
Examines the origin of the political terms "left" and "right" and makes the case that libertarianism is "planted squarely on the Left"
The terms were apparently first used in the French Legislative Assembly after the revolution of 1789 ... [T]hose who sat on the right side of the assembly were steadfast supporters of ... the ancien régime ... while those who sat on the left opposed its reinstatement ... Frédéric Bastiat, the radical laissez-faire writer and activist, was a member of the assembly (1848–1850) and sat on the left side along with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the "mutualist" ... [T]he early 19th-century bourgeois radical liberals Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer, ... first formulated the theory of class conflict.
Mont Pelerin: 1947-1978: The Road to Libertarianism, by Ralph Raico, Libertarian Review, Jan 1979
Reviews the presentations and discussions at the 1978 meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, with an overview of the Society's history and particularly the 1958 meeting which had similar themes
Henri Lepage reported that an intellectual revolution is occuring in France, a revolution which sees freedom doomed by government intervention in the functioning of society. The challenge of the "New Philosophers" to statism, he said, is matched by that of the "New Economists." Led by Jean Jacques Rosa, these French economists stress the new liberalism against traditional Keynesian conservatism. In addition, Lepage saw as a promising development "the coming out of a French 'libertarian movement' ... whose mere existence, even if it is yet mostly informal, is also proof that something is changing in France."
The Physiocrats, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, Dec 2010
Discusses the 18th century French economists and their influences on Adam Smith, on American agriarianism and on Henry George
Under Louis XV ... and Louis XVI ..., France was plagued by ruinously expensive warfare along with economic instability. A huge schism existed between the elite ... and the vast majority of people ... In 1789, the French Revolution erupted. ... [U]nder the Jacobin leadership of Maximilien Robespierre and Louis de Saint-Just, the Reign of Terror (1793–1794) was unleashed ... [T]he deceptively named Committee of Public Safety directed the widespread execution of those considered to be enemies of the state ... Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, were guillotined as counterrevolutionaries.
Professor Ludwig von Mises Discusses Free Enterprise, La Prensa, 2 Jun 1959
Full title: De la Libre Empresa Habló el Profesor Dr. Ludwig von Mises
Translation of article reporting Mises' visit to Buenos Aires; discusses his views on free enterprise, inflation, the policies of De Gaulle and Adenauer and the possibility of an Argentine economic recovery
In reference to the reactions against the inflationary process, [Mises] noted the "healthy reaction in France, where General de Gaulle tries to fight budget deficits, aiming to restore the finances of his country." He added that "maybe he will find imitators in other western countries," and he made clear that his approval of the Gaullist policy was for the financial policies mentioned. He added later that "regarding this, the French government is applying the policy adopted with success by Dr. Adenauer's government in West Germany."
The Railroads of France, by Murray N. Rothbard, Ideas on Liberty, Sep 1955
Recounts the history of gradual nationalization of French railroads from 1876 to 1938, as well as a comparison between the Belgian state-owned railway and the then privately-owned French Northern Railway
... the French government purchased the large and important Western Railway system in 1908, in spite of strong opposition in the Senate. The purchase was authorized only after Premier Clemenceau threatened to resign if the proposal did not pass. ... Not until 1937 was the campaign to nationalize all French railroads completed. The government ... formed a National French Railway Company. ... The results? The railroad operating loss was 2.6 billion francs in 1938. In addition to such losses, the French taxpayers have footed the bill for a 38 billion franc Reconstruction Fund, and a 33 billion franc Modernization and Equipment Fund.
Related Topics: Belgium, Transportation
Say, Jean-Baptiste (1767-1832), by David M. Hart, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical and bibliographical essay
[Say's] constantly changing careers were in large part due to the political and economic upheavals that his generation had to endure: the French Revolution, the Revolutionary Wars, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, economic warfare with Britain, and eventually the fall of the Empire and the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy ... Say [moved] to Auchy in Pas-de-Calais, where he set up a cotton-spinning plant using the latest machinery ... After 8 successful years as a businessman, in which he employed between 400 and 500 people in his factory, Say sold [it] and returned to Paris in 1813.
Related Topics: Jean-Baptiste Say, Economics
Tocqueville, Alexis de (1805-1859), by Jason Kuznicki, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
Tocqueville's unfinished masterpiece L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution argued that the French Old Regime improperly individualized and atomized French society. As the central government grew in power, it obliterated the private communal bonds that could otherwise have brought the citizens a more equitable and enriching social life. Each person was instead brought into a relationship of dependence on the state, in which the individual sought to extract state privileges ... Tocqueville documented ... how Paris, the capital city, had grown enormously in population and concentrated wealth.
Turgot, Anne-Robert-Jacques (1727-1781), by David M. Hart, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
... Gournay ... is reputed to have coined the expression 'laissez faire, laissez passer' when asked what government economic policy should be. ... Turgot had two opportunities to put free-market reforms into practice: on a local scale when he was appointed Intendant of Limoges in 1761–1774 and on a national level when the new King Louis XVI made him Minister of Finances. ... Turgot's attempted reforms were extensive and comprise a veritable 'revolution in government.' Had they succeeded, the French Old Regime might well have opened up its economy, overcome its internal economic problems, and thus averted the Revolution that was to break out in 1789.
Understanding the Paris Violence, by Sheldon Richman, 14 Jan 2015
Examines the statements of Amedy Coulibaly, the man who, in the wake of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack, killed four people and held others hostage at a kosher supermarket in Paris
[Coulibaly] focused on how they as taxpayers supported France's violence in Muslim countries ... judging by the recording, what was on Coulibaly’s mind was not his hostages' religion but their support for the French government's violence against Arabs and Muslims. "You pay taxes, so that means you agree" with France's policy in the Middle East and Muslim Africa, Coulibaly apparently said. ... Coulibaly responded that 30 percent of tax revenues go to France's military. He also said that if a march could be held for Charlie Hebdo, why not one to oppose France's foreign intervention.
Related Topic: Foreign entanglements
Wants, Efforts, Satisfactions, by Frédéric Bastiat, Economic Harmonies, 1850
Examines the concepts of sensation, pain, wants, satisfactions and connects them by the concepts of activity or human effort to postulate that the exchange of services in a social framework are what constitute the science of economics
What a profoundly appalling spectacle France presents! It would be difficult to say whether anarchy has passed from a theory to a fact or from a fact to a theory, but it is certain that it has spread everywhere. The poor have risen against the rich; the proletariat against the capitalists; agriculture against industry; the country against the city; the provinces against the capital; the native-born against the foreigners. And now the theorists who seek to build a system out of all this division and conflict step forward. "It is the inevitable result," they say, "of the nature of things ..."
Related Topics: Children, Economics, Labor, Metaphysics
Yahoo! We Have Free Speech, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 1 Mar 2001
Discusses a French court's order to Yahoo to stop selling Nazi memorabilia and contrasts attitudes regarding freedom of speech, recalling the story of "The White Rose" resistance group in 1940s Nazi Germany
A recent ruling by a French court in a lawsuit brought against reflects the dramatically different way in which Americans and Europeans view the importance of individual liberty. The case involved Yahoo's online auctions of Nazi memorabilia. In France, ... such sales constitute a severe criminal offense. While Yahoo was not permitting the auctions on its French website, there was nothing to prevent Frenchmen from accessing Yahoo's U.S. site ... The French court ordered Yahoo to block French users from accessing online auctions of Nazi materials on its U.S. site, a process that is not technologically possible.


    by Paul Johnson, May 2002
Contents: The Corsican background - Revolutionary, General, Consul, Emperor - The Master of the Battlefield - The Flawed and Fragile Empire - The Graveyards of Europe - Elba and Waterloo - The Long Good-bye


Paris Loves Ron Paul, 14 Dec 2007


NewThe Isle of Rats: Colonial Mauritius, by Anthony Comegna, Liberty Chronicles, 3 Oct 2017
Relates the history of Mauritius from the Dutch arrival in 1598, through the French period from 1715 to the British takeover in 1810 and the abolition of slavery in 1835
With the Dutch gone, the French swooped in to claim Mauritius. They did so in 1715 as part of John Law's growing Mississippi Bubble and the French East India Company put settlers there in 1721 ... Old regime France, that is France before the revolution in 1789, France under the kings, was marked by a Baroque imperial ideal ... Baroque style combined lusciousness, luxuriousness, grandeur, and stunning complexity into an awe-​inducing inspiring work that swept you up in the glamor and universalism of the Catholic Church or the universalism of the absolute monarch that you lived under.
Related Topics: Mauritius, Slavery
UpdThe Libertarian Student Movement, by Wolf von Laer, Aaron Ross Powell (host), Caleb Brown (host), Free Thoughts, 17 Feb 2017
Interview with Wolf von Laer, CEO of Students for Liberty, to discuss the status of the liberty movement on college campuses
Wolf von Laer: ... Just recently, one of our ... Local Coordinators, one of our volunteers, was on French national television, quoting Frédéric Bastiat and defending Uber. These are kids who are like twenty-two years, twenty-three years old. And he's not an outlier ...
I've already alluded to France, but when we started on the board, actually, we had seven people sitting on it and planning the future, how are we going to do this, organizing events. And we said, "Oh, we're not going to touch France because nobody is Libertarian there whatsoever." And now it's like one of our strongholds there.

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "France" as of 25 Sep 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.