France. Visit Countryaah official website to get information about the capital city of France. The French year started off well. After a brief fall in economic growth in the winter of 1998, the economy regained momentum again in the spring. At the same time, unemployment fell and real wages increased. The Socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, successfully managed to hold together the coalition government, which also includes the Communist Party, the PCF, and the Environment Party. Jospin’s government was the only left-dominated government in the EU that continued to receive support from the people in the European elections in June. After the European elections, the Conservative parties in France are more divided than ever. President Jacques Chirac’s party, RPR, received no more than 12.8% of the vote and is no longer F’s largest conservative party. Instead, it is RPF, led by EU skeptic Charles Pasqua, defender from RPR. But the ragged RPR intends to take revenge with the help of the party’s newly elected leader, Michèle Alliot-Marie. She is the first female party leader in France and was elected in December by a large majority to lead the Gaullist party.
After the summer, however, problems began to dry up, both domestic and EU political. When the EU lifted the British meat export ban, the French government refused to approve the decision. The newly established Food Safety Authority, Afssa, said it was not entirely risk-free to eat British meat, which had previously been banned from export because of mad cow disease. Jospin could not sweep that judgment under the rug, especially not in light of the trials of three ministers that went on during the year. They were charged with failing to introduce strict controls on HIV-infected blood, which caused the death of 600 people. Despite attempts at persuasion by the British Government and the European Commission, France stood up and caused extremely strained relations between France and the other EU countries.
At the same time as the battle for British meat was going on, Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahns resigned following suspicions of fraud. An investigating judge in Paris is investigating whether he received more than SEK 800,000 in 1997 from the insurance company MNEF, which in turn is suspected of several similar, illegal payments to the Socialist Party and its officials. According to the suspicions, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, together with MNEF’s management, must have produced false documents to hide the fraud.
When Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned, he was hailed as responsible for the economic upswing in recent years in France. His successor, Budget Minister Christian Sautter, will follow Strauss-Kahn’s policies, a pragmatic blend of Keynesian socialism and free market politics.
In the autumn, the government also collided with the French employers, who in October gathered for a protest march against the 35-hour week. At least 20,000 employers from all over the country marched in Paris against the new law, which comes into force in January 2000 in all private companies with more than 20 employees. The government hopes that the law will create 123,000 new jobs, which employers doubt.
Older Stone Age
The early Paleolithic cultures Abbevillien (Chelléen), Acheuléen, Clactonia and Levalloisien were first discovered in the terraced formations in the northern French river valleys; the unusually rich findings from here continue to provide the most important basis for the discussion of these sections of prehistory.
The following time is mainly known from central and southern France. Here you have several discoveries that link the Neanderthal to the Moustérien. Likewise, the main finds from the Upper Paleolithic cultures come from these areas of France, especially from cave dwellings (Aurignacien, Solutréen, Magdalénien). Some of these hold funerals, others have provided outstanding examples of ice age art in the form of cave paintings, including Lascaux’s, carvings and sculptures in bones and stones.
The post-glacial, Mesolithic cultures are widely represented in France, the Microlithic Azile and the Tardenoisien from discoveries all over the country and the younger, macrolithic Campignia especially from northern and central France.
Younger Stone Age
Younger Stone Age in France has different developments in different parts of the country. Groups that have kept livestock are known from the Mediterranean region from around 5000 BCE. The ribbon ceramic culture with its characteristic long houses is known from the Paris basin from around 4500 BCE. Younger Stone Age and the subsequent period down to the beginning of the actual Bronze Age (c. 1800 BCE) shows a very complicated picture of local Neolithic groups.
One of the basic features is the contradictions between northeastern France, especially Alsace and Lorraine, which from now on and throughout prehistoric times are closely related to or belonging to the West German-Rhinean cultural area, and the rest of the country, which is part of the Western European cultural circle.
The time around 3500-3000 BCE. represents an expansion phase, as the Neolithic society based on agriculture and livestock was spread throughout the country, and the Chassey culture with its characteristic pottery is represented in caves, settlements and megalithic tombs.
In the megalithic cultural groups it is possible to distinguish between a Mediterranean and an Atlantic zone. The first includes the districts of the Pyrenees and the southern French Mediterranean to the middle Rhône. It is characterized by strong Iberian impulses. The material is mainly known from grave finds in the numerous megalithic stone coffins with and without passage, and in artificial or natural caves. Among the ceramics are mentioned pottery vessels with a characteristic decor. Copper and bronze have been widely used for utensils and jewelery, and beads of various imported materials are common.
In the Atlantic zone, two distinct, megalithic cultural centers can be separated, a southern one in the coastal area of Charente and Gironde with numerous, simple megalithic tombs, and a northern one in Brittany, which is especially known for its unusual wealth of megalithic monuments. The shape of the tombs is very varied and can often be difficult facilities with several chambers and hallways, besides there are also numerous other megalithic monuments, single stones, stone circles and rows of raised stones (see Carnac).
The flint industry is generally of poor quality, while large and finely ground axes are common and often copy metal shapes. Axes, daggers and pearls of copper and pearls of gold occur, but metal is still rare. The ceramics exhibit several decorated special types. As a whole, the megalithic culture along the French Atlantic coast is characterized by connections from the Iberian Peninsula and on to the British Isles.
The Seine-Oise-Marne culture, which is widespread in Ile-de-France and surrounding areas, is best known by the many local groups in the interior of the country. It has produced finds from artificially carved burial caves and heavy stone burial chests, and is characterized by a rich flint industry with Campignian traditions and by coarse and undecorated pottery.