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CRIOC - centre de recherche et d'information des consommateurs - site www. Fearing that the king would suppress the newly created National Assembly, insurgents stormed the Bastille on 14 July , a date which would become France's National Day. The absolute monarchy was subsequently replaced by a constitutional monarchy.
Through the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen , France established fundamental rights for men. The Declaration affirms "the natural and imprescriptible rights of man" to "liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression". Freedom of speech and press were declared, and arbitrary arrests outlawed. It called for the destruction of aristocratic privileges and proclaimed freedom and equal rights for all men, as well as access to public office based on talent rather than birth.
While Louis XVI, as a constitutional king , enjoyed popularity among the population, his disastrous flight to Varennes seemed to justify rumours he had tied his hopes of political salvation to the prospects of foreign invasion. His credibility was so deeply undermined that the abolition of the monarchy and establishment of a republic became an increasing possibility.
The foreign threat exacerbated France's political turmoil and deepened the sense of urgency among the various factions and war was declared against Austria on 20 April Mob violence occurred during the insurrection of 10 August  and the following month. Louis XVI was convicted of treason and guillotined in Between and , between 16, and 40, people were executed.
In Western France, the civil war between the Bleus "Blues", supporters of the Revolution and the Blancs "Whites", supporters of the Monarchy lasted from to and led to the loss of between , and , lives. Furthermore, it extended greatly its boundaries and established " Sister Republics " in the surrounding countries. As the threat of a foreign invasion receded and France became mostly pacified, the Thermidorian Reaction put an end to Robespierre 's rule and to the Terror.
The abolition of slavery and male universal suffrage , enacted during this radical phase of the revolution, were cancelled by subsequent governments. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the European monarchies against the French Republic, changing sets of European Coalitions declared wars on Napoleon's Empire. His armies conquered most of continental Europe with swift victories such as the battles of Jena-Auerstadt or Austerlitz. He redrew the European political map, while members of the Bonaparte family were appointed as monarchs in some of the newly established kingdoms.
After the catastrophic Russian campaign , and the ensuing uprising of European monarchies against his rule, Napoleon was defeated and the Bourbon monarchy restored. About a million Frenchmen died during the Napoleonic Wars. After his brief return from exile, Napoleon was finally defeated in at the Battle of Waterloo , the monarchy was re-established — , with new constitutional limitations. The discredited Bourbon dynasty was overthrown by the July Revolution of , which established the constitutional July Monarchy , which lasted until , when the French Second Republic was proclaimed, in the wake of the European Revolutions of The abolition of slavery and male universal suffrage , both briefly enacted during the French Revolution were re-enacted in He multiplied French interventions abroad, especially in Crimea , in Mexico and Italy which resulted in the annexation of the duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice , then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
France had colonial possessions , in various forms, since the beginning of the 17th century, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, its global overseas colonial empire extended greatly and became the second largest in the world behind the British Empire. Including metropolitan France , the total area of land under French sovereignty almost reached 13 million square kilometres in the s and s, 8. In , state secularism was officially established. A small part of Northern France was occupied, but France and its allies emerged victorious against the Central Powers at a tremendous human and material cost.
World War I left 1. In France was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany. Metropolitan France was divided into a German occupation zone in the north and Vichy France , a newly established authoritarian regime collaborating with Germany, in the south, while Free France , the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle , was set up in London.
This interim government, established by de Gaulle, aimed to continue to wage war against Germany and to purge collaborators from office. It also made several important reforms suffrage extended to women, creation of a social security system. The GPRF laid the groundwork for a new constitutional order that resulted in the Fourth Republic , which saw spectacular economic growth les Trente Glorieuses. France was one of the founding members of NATO Only months later, France faced another anti-colonialist conflict in Algeria.
Torture and illegal executions were perpetrated by both sides and the debate over whether or not to keep control of Algeria , then home to over one million European settlers ,  wracked the country and nearly led to a coup and civil war. In , the weak and unstable Fourth Republic gave way to the Fifth Republic , which included a strengthened Presidency.
A vestige of the colonial empire are the French overseas departments and territories. In the context of the Cold War , de Gaulle pursued a policy of "national independence" towards the Western and Eastern blocs. To this end, he withdrew from NATO 's military integrated command, he launched a nuclear development programme and made France the fourth nuclear power. He restored cordial Franco-German relations in order to create a European counterweight between the American and Soviet spheres of influence.
However, he opposed any development of a supranational Europe , favouring a Europe of sovereign Nations. In the wake of the series of worldwide protests of , the revolt of May had an enormous social impact. In France, it is considered to be the watershed moment when a conservative moral ideal religion, patriotism, respect for authority shifted towards a more liberal moral ideal secularism , individualism , sexual revolution.
Although the revolt was a political failure as the Gaullist party emerged even stronger than before it announced a split between the French people and de Gaulle who resigned shortly after. In the post-Gaullist era, France remained one of the most developed economies in the World , but faced several economic crises that resulted in high unemployment rates and increasing public debt.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries France has been at the forefront of the development of a supranational European Union , notably by signing the Maastricht Treaty which created the European Union in , establishing the Eurozone in , and signing the Lisbon Treaty in Since the 19th century France has received many immigrants. These have been mostly male foreign workers from European Catholic countries who generally returned home when not employed.
It resulted in hundreds of thousands of Muslims especially in the larger cities living in subsidised public housing and suffering from very high unemployment rates. They were encouraged to retain their distinctive cultures and traditions and required merely to integrate. The European part of France is called Metropolitan France and it is located in one of the occidental ends of Europe. It is bordered by the North Sea in the north, the English Channel in the north-west, the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean sea in the south-east.
It borders Belgium and Luxembourg in the north east. It also borders Germany and Switzerland in the east, Italy and Monaco in the south-east, Spain and Andorra in the south west. The borders in the south and in the east of the country are mountain ranges: the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Jura, the border in the east is from the Rhine river, while the border in the north and the north east melts in no natural elements. Due to its shape, it is often referred to in French as l'Hexagone "The Hexagon ".
Metropolitan France includes various islands: Corsica and coastal islands. France has Overseas regions across the world. These territories have varying statuses in the territorial administration of France and are located:. France possesses a wide variety of landscapes, from coastal plains in the north and west to mountain ranges of the Alps in the southeast, the Massif Central in the south central and Pyrenees in the southwest.
At 4, France also has extensive river systems such as the Seine , the Loire , the Garonne , and the Rhone , which divides the Massif Central from the Alps and flows into the Mediterranean Sea at the Camargue. Corsica lies off the Mediterranean coast. A small part of the territory bordering the mediterranean basin lies in the Csa and Csb zones. As the French metropolitan territory is relatively large, the climate is not uniform, giving rise to the following climate nuances:. Mediterranean vegetation lavender in Provence. Alpine climate winter in the French Alps. Tropical climate in Bora Bora French Polynesia.
France was one of the first countries to create an environment ministry, in The parks also foster ecological research programmes and public education in the natural sciences. According to the Environmental Performance Index conducted by Yale and Columbia , France was the sixth-most environmentally conscious country in the world, one place higher than the previous report in Metropolitan France has a wide variety of topographical sets and natural landscapes. Large parts of the current territory of France were raised during several tectonic episodes like the Hercynian uplift in the Paleozoic Era which is the origin of Armorican Massif, central, morvandeau, Vosges, Ardennes and corse.
In addition, various routes of natural passage, such as the Rhone valley, allow easy communications. The coastlines offer contrasting landscapes: mountain ranges of benefits the French Riviera, for example , plateaus ending on cliffs the Alabaster Coast , wetlands and forest areas of Sologne or wide sandy plains the Languedoc plain. The latter of lower importance to France but significant to Europe in general. France is mainly divided into 18 administrative regions: 13 regions in metropolitan France including the territorial collectivity of Corsica ,  and five located overseas.
This number is used in postal codes and was formerly used on vehicle number plates. The departments are subdivided into arrondissements , which are, in turn, subdivided into 2, cantons. The regions, departments and communes are all known as territorial collectivities , meaning they possess local assemblies as well as an executive. Arrondissements and cantons are merely administrative divisions. However, this was not always the case. Until , the arrondissements were territorial collectivities with an elected assembly, but these were suspended by the Vichy regime and definitely abolished by the Fourth Republic in Overseas collectivities and territories form part of the French Republic, but do not form part of the European Union or its fiscal area with the exception of St.
Bartelemy, which seceded from Guadeloupe in In contrast, the five overseas regions used the French franc and now use the euro. The French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic with strong democratic traditions. Senators are chosen by an electoral college for 6-year terms originally 9-year terms , and one half of the seats are submitted to election every 3 years starting in September The Senate's legislative powers are limited; in the event of disagreement between the two chambers, the National Assembly has the final say.
France uses a civil legal system;  that is, law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it though the amount of judicial interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law. Basic principles of the rule of law were laid in the Napoleonic Code which was, in turn, largely based on the royal law codified under Louis XIV.
In agreement with the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, law should only prohibit actions detrimental to society. As Guy Canivet , first president of the Court of Cassation , wrote about the management of prisons: Freedom is the rule, and its restriction is the exception; any restriction of Freedom must be provided for by Law and must follow the principles of necessity and proportionality.
That is, Law should lay out prohibitions only if they are needed, and if the inconveniences caused by this restriction do not exceed the inconveniences that the prohibition is supposed to remedy. French law is divided into two principal areas: private law and public law. Private law includes, in particular, civil law and criminal law. Public law includes, in particular, administrative law and constitutional law.
However, in practical terms, French law comprises three principal areas of law: civil law, criminal law, and administrative law. Criminal laws can only address the future and not the past criminal ex post facto laws are prohibited. France does not recognise religious law as a motivation for the enactment of prohibitions. France has long had neither blasphemy laws nor sodomy laws the latter being abolished in Since , civil unions for homosexual couples are permitted, and since May , same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption are legal in France.
Some consider however that hate speech laws in France are too broad or severe and damage freedom of speech. France's attitude towards freedom of religion is complex. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitutional rights set forth in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. However, since the French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State , the State tries to prevent its policy-making from being influenced by religion and became suspicious in recent decades towards new religious tendencies of the French society: the Parliament has listed many religious movements as dangerous cults since , and has banned wearing conspicuous religious symbols in schools since In , it banned the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils in public.
As some have complained that they have suffered from discrimination thus, and after criticism by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch ,   these laws remain controversial, although they are supported by most of the population. France is a founding member of the United Nations and serves as one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto rights. Postwar French foreign policy has been largely shaped by membership of the European Union, of which it was a founding member.
Since the s , France has developed close ties with reunified Germany to become the most influential driving force of the EU.
However, since , France has maintained an " Entente cordiale " with the United Kingdom , and there has been a strengthening of links between the countries, especially militarily. France is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO , but under President de Gaulle, it excluded itself from the joint military command to protest the special relationship between the United States and Britain and to preserve the independence of French foreign and security policies.
In the early s, the country drew considerable criticism from other nations for its underground nuclear tests in French Polynesia. In , France was the fourth largest in absolute terms donor of development aid in the world, behind the US, the UK and Germany. This represents 0. Together they are among the largest armed forces in the world and the largest in the EU. While the Gendarmerie is an integral part of the French armed forces gendarmes are career soldiers , and therefore under the purview of the Ministry of Defence , it is operationally attached to the Ministry of the Interior as far as its civil police duties are concerned.
When acting as general purpose police force, the Gendarmerie encompasses the counter terrorist units of the Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie Escadron Parachutiste d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale , the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale , the Search Sections of the National Gendarmerie Sections de Recherche de la Gendarmerie Nationale , responsible for criminal enquiries, and the Mobile Brigades of the National Gendarmerie Brigades mobiles de la Gendarmerie Nationale , or in short Gendarmerie mobile which have the task to maintain public order.
There has been no national conscription since France has a special military corps, the French Foreign Legion , founded in , which consists of foreign nationals from over countries who are willing to serve in the French Armed Forces and become French citizens after the end of their service period. The only other countries having similar units are Spain the Spanish Foreign Legion, called Tercio , was founded in and Luxembourg foreigners can serve in the National Army provided they speak Luxembourgish. France is a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN , and a recognised nuclear state since French nuclear deterrence, formerly known as " Force de Frappe " , relies on complete independence.
The current French nuclear force consists of four Triomphant class submarines equipped with submarine-launched ballistic missiles. France has major military industries with one of the largest aerospace industries in the world. France is a major arms seller,   with most of its arsenal's designs available for the export market with the notable exception of nuclear-powered devices.
The military parade held in Paris each 14 July for France's national day , called Bastille Day in English-speaking countries but not in France , is the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe. In June, Hollande's Socialist Party won a supermajority in legislative elections capable of amending the French Constitution and enabling the immediate enactment of the promised reforms. The French government has run a budget deficit each year since the early s.
In , French government debt levels reached 1. In late , credit rating agencies warned that growing French government debt levels risked France's AAA credit rating , raising the possibility of a future downgrade and subsequent higher borrowing costs for the French government. A member of the Group of 7 formerly G8 leading industrialised countries, as of , it is ranked as the world's ninth largest and the EU's second largest economy by purchasing power parity. France has a mixed economy that combines extensive private enterprise   with substantial state enterprise and government intervention.
The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications. According to the World Trade Organization WTO , in France was the world's sixth largest exporter and the fourth largest importer of manufactured goods. Financial services, banking and the insurance sector are an important part of the economy. France is part of the European single market which represents more than million consumers. Several domestic commercial policies are determined by agreements among European Union EU members and by EU legislation.
France introduced the common European currency, the Euro in French companies have maintained key positions in the insurance and banking industries: AXA is the world's largest insurance company. France has historically been a large producer of agricultural products.
Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, as well as internationally recognised processed foods are the primary French agricultural exports. Agriculture is an important sector of France's economy: 3. It is third in income from tourism due to shorter duration of visits. The " Remarkable Gardens " label is a list of the over gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture.
This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks. France attracts many religious pilgrims on their way to St. Disneyland Paris is Europe's most popular theme park, with 15 million combined visitors to the resort's Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park in The most popular tourist sites include: according to a ranking  visitors per year : Eiffel Tower 6. France is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the G8 , due to its heavy investment in nuclear power. Rail connections exist to all other neighbouring countries in Europe, except Andorra.
French roads also handle substantial international traffic, connecting with cities in neighbouring Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Andorra and Monaco. There is no annual registration fee or road tax ; however, usage of the mostly privately owned motorways is through tolls except in the vicinity of large communes. There are airports in France. Air France is the national carrier airline, although numerous private airline companies provide domestic and international travel services.
There are ten major ports in France, the largest of which is in Marseille ,  which also is the largest bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Since the Middle Ages , France has been a major contributor to scientific and technological achievement. Around the beginning of the 11th century Pope Sylvester II , born Gerbert d'Aurillac, reintroduced the abacus and armillary sphere , and introduced Arabic numerals and clocks to northern and western Europe. They were both key figures of the Scientific revolution , which blossomed in Europe during this period.
It was at the forefront of scientific developments in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is one of the earliest academies of sciences. Other eminent French scientists of the 19th century have their names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. Hand transplantation was developed on 23 September in Lyon by a team assembled from different countries around the world including Jean-Michel Dubernard who, shortly thereafter, performed the first successful double hand transplant.
France was the fourth country to achieve nuclear capability  and has the third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. The TGV has been the fastest wheeled train in commercial use since reaching a speed of As of , 68 French people have been awarded a Nobel Prize  and 12 have received the Fields Medal. With an estimated total population of around France is an outlier among developed countries in general, and European countries in particular, in having a fairly high rate of natural population growth: by birth rates alone, France was responsible for almost all natural population growth in the European Union in , with the natural growth rate excess of births over deaths rising to , Large-scale immigration over the last century and a half has led to a more multicultural society.
A law originating from the revolution and reaffirmed in the French Constitution makes it illegal for the French state to collect data on ethnicity and ancestry. In , the TeO "Trajectories and origins" poll conducted jointly by INED and the French National Institute of Statistics   estimated that 5 million people were of Italian ancestry the largest immigrant community , followed by 3 million   to 6 million  people of North African ancestry, 2.
There are also sizeable minorities of other European ethnic groups , namely Spanish , Portuguese , Polish , and Greek. France has a significant Gypsy Gitan population, numbering around , Gypsies inspired the French novel Hunchback of Notre Dame. However, many Romani people get deported, expelled and kicked back to Bulgaria and Romania frequently. France remains a major destination for immigrants, accepting about , legal immigrants annually.
Thus, nearly a fifth of the country's population were either first or second-generation immigrants, of which more than 5 million where of European origin and 4 million of Maghrebi ancestry. According to the French Institute, this increase resulting from the financial crisis that hit several European countries in that period, has pushed up the number of Europeans installed in France. France is a highly urbanized country, with its largest cities in terms of metropolitan area population in  being Paris 12,, inh.
Note: There are significant differences between the metropolitan population figures just cited and those in the following table, which only include the core population. Rural flight was a perennial political issue throughout most of the 20th century. According to Article 2 of the Constitution, the official language of France is French,  a Romance language derived from Latin.
The French government does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications. In addition to mandating the use of French in the territory of the Republic, the French government tries to promote French in the European Union and globally through institutions such as La Francophonie. The perceived threat from anglicisation has prompted efforts to safeguard the position of the French language in France.
Besides French, there exist 77 vernacular minority languages of France, eight spoken in French metropolitan territory and 69 in the French overseas territories. From the 17th to the midth century, French served as the pre-eminent international language of diplomacy and international affairs as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe.
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As a result of France's extensive colonial ambitions between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to the Americas, Africa, Polynesia, South-East Asia, and the Caribbean. French is the second most studied foreign language in the world after English,  and is a lingua franca in some regions, notably in Africa.
The legacy of French as a living language outside Europe is mixed: it is nearly extinct in some former French colonies The Levant, South and Southeast Asia , while creoles and pidgins based on French have emerged in the French departments in the West Indies and the South Pacific French Polynesia. On the other hand, many former French colonies have adopted French as an official language, and the total number of French speakers is increasing, especially in Africa.
It is estimated that between million  and million  people worldwide can speak French, either as a mother tongue or a second language. France is a secular country, and freedom of religion is a constitutional right. Catholicism has been the predominant religion in France for more than a millennium, though it is not as actively practised today as it was.
During the French Revolution , activists conducted a brutal campaign of de-Christianisation , ending the established state status of the Catholic Church. In some cases clergy and churches were attacked, with iconoclasm stripping the churches of statues and ornament. Estimates of the number of Muslims in France vary widely.
The current Jewish community in France numbers around ,, according to the World Jewish Congress , and is the largest in Europe. It is the third-largest in the world, after those in Israel and the United States. It recognises religious organisations, according to formal legal criteria that do not address religious doctrine. Conversely, religious organisations are expected to refrain from intervening in policy-making. Secte is considered a pejorative term in France.
The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France provided the "close to best overall health care" in the world. Average life expectancy at birth is 78 years for men and 85 years for women, one of the highest of the European Union. Even if the French have the reputation of being one of the thinnest people in developed countries,       France—like other rich countries—faces an increasing and recent epidemic of obesity , due mostly to the replacement in French eating habits of traditional healthy French cuisine by junk food.
Secondary education also consists of two phases. Examples of France's military. The 17th century was the period when French painting became prominent and individualised itself through classicism. Faroe Islands constituent country. On this sad seventeenth anniversary of the launching of the criminal aggression on Iraq my thoughts are with all Iraqi patriots who are fighting to free their country from the foreign occupiers.
Rates of childhood obesity are slowing in France, while continuing to grow in other countries. Nowadays, the schooling system in France is centralised, and is composed of three stages, primary education, secondary education, and higher education. In France, education is compulsory from six to sixteen years old, and the public school is secular and free. If training and remuneration of teachers, and the choice of programmes, are the state spring, the management of primary and secondary schools is the responsibility of local authorities. Primary education is made in two phases. The nursery school, which welcome very young children has as a main goal their awakening, their socialisation and the development of basic tools that are the language and the number.
Then, around the age of six, children are greeted by elementary school, whose primary objectives are: learning, writing, arithmetic and civics. Secondary education also takes place in two cycles. The second is offered in high school and results in national exams and ends the bachelor professional, technical or general and the Certificate of Professional Competence CAPA in agricultural education.
Health insurance for students is free until the age of France has been a centre of Western cultural development for centuries. Many French artists have been among the most renowned of their time, and France is still recognised in the world for its rich cultural tradition.
The successive political regimes have always promoted artistic creation, and the creation of the Ministry of Culture in helped preserve the cultural heritage of the country and make it available to the public. The Ministry of Culture has been very active since its creation, granting subsidies to artists, promoting French culture in the world, supporting festivals and cultural events, protecting historical monuments. The French government also succeeded in maintaining a cultural exception to defend audiovisual products made in the country. France receives the highest number of tourists per year, largely thanks to the numerous cultural establishments and historical buildings implanted all over the territory.
The origins of French art were very much influenced by Flemish art and by Italian art at the time of the Renaissance. Jean Fouquet , the most famous medieval French painter, is said to have been the first to travel to Italy and experience the Early Renaissance at first hand. The Renaissance painting School of Fontainebleau was directly inspired by Italian painters such as Primaticcio and Rosso Fiorentino , who both worked in France.
The 17th century was the period when French painting became prominent and individualised itself through classicism. In the second part of the 19th century, France's influence over painting became even more important, with the development of new styles of painting such as Impressionism and Symbolism. Many museums in France are entirely or partly devoted to sculptures and painting works.
Outside Paris, all the large cities have a Museum of Fine Arts with a section dedicated to European and French painting.
During the Middle Ages, many fortified castles were built by feudal nobles to mark their powers. During this era, France had been using Romanesque architecture like most of Western Europe. Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque churches in France are the Saint Sernin Basilica in Toulouse , the largest romanesque church in Europe,  and the remains of the Cluniac Abbey.
The kings were crowned in another important Gothic church: Notre-Dame de Reims. The final victory in the Hundred Years' War marked an important stage in the evolution of French architecture. It was the time of the French Renaissance and several artists from Italy were invited to the French court; many residential palaces were built in the Loire Valley. Following the renaissance and the end of the Middle Ages, Baroque architecture replaced the traditional Gothic style.
However, in France, baroque architecture found a greater success in the secular domain than in a religious one. Jules Hardouin Mansart , who designed the extensions to Versailles, was one of the most influential French architect of the baroque era; he is famous for his dome at Les Invalides. On the military architectural side, Vauban designed some of the most efficient fortresses in Europe and became an influential military architect; as a result, imitations of his works can be found all over Europe, the Americas, Russia and Turkey.
After the Revolution, the Republicans favoured Neoclassicism although neoclassicism was introduced in France prior to the revolution with such building as the Parisian Pantheon or the Capitole de Toulouse. Under Napoleon III , a new wave of urbanism and architecture was given birth; extravagant buildings such as the neo-baroque Palais Garnier were built. The urban planning of the time was very organised and rigorous; for example, Haussmann's renovation of Paris.
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