October 19, 2021
The French are all the people who individually enjoy French nationality and collectively France as a sovereign territory, as a free people or nation. Historically and genetically, the French are descended from different peoples. The ethnonym that refers to German-speaking Francs has survived and now applies to modern French. Until the end of the 19th century, France was still a mosaic of local and regional customs and identities, for example at the linguistic level. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, most French people speak French as their mother tongue, but some languages such as Alsatian, Breton, Norman, Occitan, Auvergne, Corsican, Basque, Flemish French or Creole remains spoken in some regions (see: Linguistic Policy of France). The history of the French people begins with the kings of the Kingdom of France but reflections on its nature did not begin until the French Revolution, with an antinomy between an assimilationist and voluntarist political conception, and a more ethnocultural vision that can be based on the law of blood. Due to its history and geographical position in Europe, France has always known migratory movements, of varying proportions. This immigration became a notable phenomenon during the 1920s, especially to make up for the heavy human losses caused by the First World War. The trend intensified after the Second World War through an unprecedented and massive phenomenon of resorting to populations of non-European origin, largely from countries from the second colonial empire, including the African continent. Starting from a definition of France as an inclusive nation with universal republican values, a historian like Gérard Noiriel considers French society as a "crucible". Universal intended values were indeed used for the individual assimilation of immigrants who had to adhere to traditional French values and cultural norms. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of this assimilationist model is increasingly being questioned in reflections on the theme of immigration, as in the recent migration crises shaking France and more generally in Western Europe. On the other hand, French citizens have assimilated their nationality to their citizenship as French law does. For historical (especially colonial), cultural or economic reasons, French people and people of French descent, some of whom claim a French cultural identity, can be found all over the world, and therefore outside metropolitan France: in the overseas departments and territories of France such as the French West Indies, or in foreign countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany or 'Argentina.