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Food and treats are available at several stops. A visit can mean a minute walk or can fill several hours. There is no overhead shelter, so remember hats and sunscreen in summer. Also open Tuesday July and August. Galleries first noticed the low-rent, high-ceilinged former warehouses in far west Chelsea in the s, an area running roughly from 18th to 27th streets between 10th and 11th avenues. The opening of the High Line nearby brought more visitors, and most important galleries have a Chelsea location today.

Among the malls where many dealers are found at one address are West 20th Street, West 26th Street and West 22nd Street. Weekend guides in city newspapers detail current gallery shows, or check the website above. Most galleries open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-6pm. Subway: C to 23rd Street; Bus: M23 westbound. In this dramatic transformation of a former department store, a six-story swirling circular staircase around a central skylit atrium leads to galleries of rarely seen art from the Himalayas, mountainous Asian countries such as Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia, as well as China and India.

The museum opened in with a gift of more than works from the collection of founders Shelley and Donald Rubin. The holdings have grown to some objects from the second century to the present, riches that include intricate carvings, statuary of Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses, paintings, shrines, scrolls, jewelry, and textiles.

The permanent exhibit, What Is It?

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Himalayan Art introduces the traditions and materials of this spiritual art. Upper floors hold changing exhibits. Closed Tuesday. Grit meets chic in this neighborhood where slaughterhouses and butchers have given way to boutiques and bars favored by young, hip New Yorkers. The old industrial buildings and cobbled streets remain, even while dramatic changes take place in the area west of Ninth Avenue between Chelsea and the West Village. Development hastened with the opening of the High Line and continues with the arrival of the Whitney Museum.

Upscale hotels and a host of restaurants and clubs have opened, and Fourteenth Street has become a mecca for high-end fashion names like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. A section of Hudson River Park serves the area for recreation and summer concerts and further development is planned for Piers 57 and 54, which will inspire even more activity. Come to enjoy the amenities and to see firsthand how neighborhoods evolve in this ever-changing city.

A campus green for NYU students, a family playground, a haven for chess players, and a stage for folk singers, musicians, and street performers, Washington Square is the heart of Greenwich Village and a chance to see many facets of New York at play. It was redesigned as a park in , centered by a grand fountain. The park is an ideal starting point to explore the twisty lanes of Greenwich Village, filled with history and charm.

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Download a free self-guided tour here or here , or join the free guided tours sponsored by the Village Alliance on Saturdays at am from June through September. The biggest reason to visit Union Square is the big colorful Greenmarket that fills half the park four days a week with over regional farmers and purveyors offering the best of farm fresh produce, artisanal cheeses and baked goods, flowers, and plants. Saturday brings the most vendors.

In holiday season, an added incentive is the enormous crafts market filling another section of the park, some red and white booths overflowing with gift ideas. The square itself is a National Historic Landmark, with a history dating to Mohandas Gandhi and Marquis de Lafayette. December 24 to 4pm. The name says it all for this striking contemporary building, dedicated to showing the latest works by living artists. Rather than a permanent collection, the provocative exhibits are ever changing to reflect new ideas and new talents.

The museum hosts many special events, talks, and films, and initiates programs such as New Inc , which brings together professionals pursuing new forms in art as well as music, fashion, architecture, film, web development and performing arts. Wednesday to Sunday. The new galleries provide expanded exhibition space in a super-modern building that is intentionally raw, with exposed ceiling wires and unfinished columns, perhaps intended to fit its changing Bowery neighborhood.

Since the founding in by noted photographer Cornell Capa, ICP galleries have featured over exhibitions highlighting the work of more than 3, photographers, from past masters to emerging talents. New exhibits give full due to the growing role of video artists. Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm, to 8pm Thursday. Developed in the late s, cast iron was found to have many advantages. It could be economically mass produced into ornate facades that could be assembled on site and painted to resemble stone.

Some of the finest cast-iron streetscapes are found on Greene Street, where some 50 buildings dating from to are found on five cobble-stoned blocks. Another site of note is the elegant Haughwout Building at the corner of Broadway and Broome streets. The cast iron era waned with the development of steel that allowed for taller buildings, and galleries that once made SoHo an art mecca have been priced out and replaced by shopping.

Take a break from city sights at Chelsea Piers, where once defunct piers on the Hudson River have been transformed into a acre sports complex. The mile-long riverfront esplanade offers wonderful views serves as a departure point for many enjoyable boat rides. Especially recommended are the informative Classic Harbor Lines architectural tours leaving from pier 62, circling Manhattan aboard a s yacht with guides from the American Institute of Architects.

Exercise facilities include a golf driving range, bowling alley, indoor ice skating and a summer skate park. The Field House, which serves many leagues and classes, offers a selection of Drop-In Programs between scheduled sessions. These include batting cages, soccer fields, basketball courts, a gymnastics area, and a rock wall. Check what is open when you visit. Day camp activities mean that drop-ins are only available after during summer months. From the Empire State Building on 34th Street to the start of Central Park at 59th, this broad avenue is literally the center of Manhattan, the dividing line between East and West addresses and home to a host of architectural and shopping landmarks.

A stroll is a quintessential New York experience. Anyone visiting the city during Easter should note the annual Easter Parade , an unmatched procession of wild and wacky hats. New York is at its most wondrous seen from the lofty heights of the Empire State Building. The observatory on the nd floor offers degree, mile vistas on a clear day, but the 86th-floor viewing area is even more popular because it includes an outside deck.

Tickets allow access to both. The building, an Art Deco landmark, rose against all odds at the heart of the Depression. The story of the construction is told in the Dare to Dream exhibit on the 80th floor. Take time to admire the Deco-inspired lobby with ceiling murals in karat gold and aluminum leaf, an ornate compass-clock and a famous golden rendering of the building superimposed on a map of New York State. Avoid long lines by ordering tickets online and try to come at less crowded hours, first thing in the morning or late in the day.

Or pay extra for a VIP Express ticket and bypass the lines. Dusk is an ideal time to see the city turn into a dazzle of light. Daily 8am-2am. Housed in an expansive six-story glass building with soaring sightlines, the encyclopedic collection in this ever-growing museum includes almost , works of art by over 10, artists. Along with paintings, the museum offers prints, sculpture, photography, film, and a popular gallery devoted to architecture and the best of modern design, from teapots to helicopters. The bustling Modern bar room offers more moderate prices.

Join the long line and save on Friday after 4 pm. Daily am to pm, Friday to 8pm; Pay what you wish Friday from 4pm. Over five million visitors each year come to admire the Gothic Revival landmark and its many works of art. Designed by James Renwick and opened in , St. The twin spires that rise feet made this the tallest building in New York when they were completed in The Pieta stands beside the Lady Chapel, the largest of several chapels and notable for its stained glass.

The St. The two great organs can be heard at mass and in concert; schedules are posted on the cathedral website, along with times for free guided tours. Daily ampm. This complex of gardens and more than a dozen Art Deco buildings is a virtual city within the city, an architectural landmark stretching from 48th to 51st streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues, and filled with art, entertainment, some shops, and plentiful dining. John D.

Rockefeller Jr. Many adjacent buildings have followed. Enter from Fifth Avenue through the channel gardens, an artful array of sculpture and seasonal blooms, to the flag-rimmed sunken plaza, filled with greenery and cafes. The giant Christmas tree presiding over the winter ice skating rink during the holidays is a treasured tradition. See the website to locate dozens of other important art works, or take a guided tour. Radio City Music Hall and the studios of NBC are part of the complex, both also offering guided tours, and Top of the Rock , a 70th floor observatory, offers panoramic city views.

The daily guided tours or self-guided audio tours, both free, are the best way to appreciate the architecture and the many remarkable rooms here. Monday to Saturday, 10am-6pm. This midtown oasis of greenery and flowers behind the New York Public Library is an ideal stop — whether for relaxing in the shade or enjoying a fanciful year-round parade of free activities, all packed into a compact two square blocks.

Try out the putting green or the ping pong tables; equipment is provided. Visit the Art Cart for free supplies to capture the city scene. Check the park calendar online for lessons in fencing or juggling, classes in tai chi or yoga. The only charges are for rides on Le Carrousel or skate rentals for the free winter ice skating amid the skyscrapers.

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Food possibilities range from carts to fine dining, and the holiday season brings a mini-village of booths with original gift ideas. The park is also a Wi-Fi hot spot. Who would guess that 17 feet beneath it all is storage for over two million library books in a concrete bunker? It is said that if you could stand at busy Times Square long enough, everyone you know would pass by.

The Times Tower, former home of the New York Times, is known worldwide for the electronic newswire and brilliant neon signs that mark the start of the bright lights of Broadway. Every office building on Times Square from 42nd to 47th streets is required to display neon signs, adding to the dazzling light show. Some 40 theaters are located in this area, a few on Broadway, mostly on the adjacent side streets extending into the 50s.

Seeing a Broadway show is for many visitors their favorite New York experience; they are attended by well over 13 million people each year. A gateway to the city since , this Beaux Arts landmark boasts foot-high arched windows, a grand marble staircase styled after the Paris Opera House and a soaring ceiling heaven with stars showing the major constellations.

The four-sided clock above the information booth with faces made of opal has been a meeting place for generations of New Yorkers and has been seen in countless movies, including The Godfather and Superman. As remarkable as the architecture is the engineering that runs a station serving some 82 million passengers every year. It is well worth signing up for the guided tours daily at pm or renting an audio tour. Besides the architecture, the terminal offers many shops, a branch of the Transit Museum, an Apple Store, a spacious downstairs food court, a market and many restaurants, including the landmark Oyster Bar with famed arched tile ceilings by Guastavino.

This is a nostalgic trip like no other, a chance to call up almost any TV or radio show ever made for a private viewing with your own console and earphones. The center, which also has a branch in Los Angeles, boasts an archive of more than , TV shows, radio broadcasts and commercials, everything from Ed Sullivan and I Love Lucy to early Sesame Street.

Themed screenings take place in the downstairs theater, and personal appearances are often featured.

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Wednesday to Sunday 12pm-6pm, Thursday to 8pm. The library and the collections were opened to the public by J. Morgan, Jr. The sites of the adjacent homes of father and son were eventually added to the museum complex with a garden court uniting the elements. Changing exhibits have expanded in recent years to include topics such as the writings of luminaries including Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill , the drawings of Jean Dubuffet and the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Even if the current exhibits are not of interest, Mr. Tuesday to Thursday: am-5pm; Friday am-9 pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 11am-6pm. The architecture, sculptures, tapestries, murals, and artwork alone are worth a visit, but this one-hour tour is also an inside look at the humanitarian work of this world-wide organization.

The acre site is officially an international zone, with its own stamps and post office. Tourgoers see three council chambers, most notably the handsome Security Council room, plus the domed General Assembly room, spacious enough to accommodate delegations of the member nations. Exhibits explain U. N goals such as disarmament, peacekeeping, and human rights. Outdoor treasures include a Henry Moore sculpture of a reclining woman and a Japanese peace bell housed in a Shinto shrine.

The entry plaza along the East River holds several memorable sculptures, including The Ark of Return, a memorial to the victims of slavery. Tours purchased on site are assigned to the next available slot. To ensure a time, order online in advance. Lobby, shops and post office: 9ampm, Saturday-Sunday 10ampm. Visitors must have official photo ID and go through a security check at the Visitors Check-in Office at First Avenue at 45th Street before entering the building.

The sheer size of this historic aircraft carrier is awesome, accommodating nearly 30 vintage planes on the flight deck, and together with a guided missile submarine, the space shuttle Enterprise, and a speed-record-setting British Airways Concorde, these wonders of invention make for a fascinating day. Military buffs will savor the World War II history told on the Intrepid, but everyone can appreciate the genius that went into creating these technological milestones.

Several films and some interactive exhibits add to the experience and there are frequent special exhibits. Be forewarned: exhibits cover a large area and there is lots of walking, much of it outdoors, so wear comfortable shoes and on sunny days, bring hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Daily, 10am-5pm. April 1 to October 31 until 6pm Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Subway: C to 50th Street; Bus: M50 westbound. Attending a performance here is memorable, especially at night, when the buildings are aglow and the fountain puts on a choreographed show every five minutes from 7pm to pm.

Self-guided tours can be downloaded from the Lincoln Center site to appreciate the architecture and art found throughout these buildings. Guided tours leave across Broadway at the David Rubenstein Atrium. The Atrium also offers half-price tickets to same-day events and free entertainment every Thursday night. The Performing Arts Library and Juilliard offer free concerts and many other free events year round. In the Museum moved to this striking new home on Columbus Circle with an expanded mission, to show all phases of contemporary design, from handcraft to the changes wrought by technology.

Past exhibits have ranged from paper including pieces like a life-size knight on horseback made of paper strips to objects produced by 3-D printers. Artists can be seen at work daily in studios on the sixth floor. The growing permanent collection includes objects of clay, glass, metal, and wood, frequently rotated into current exhibits. The Abyss Zeno of Bruges. The Counterfeiters. The Horseman on the Roof. One Hundred Years of Solitude. The Sound and the Fury. Confusion of Feelings. Gone with the Wind. Lady Chatterley's Lover. Le Silence de la mer. Life: A User's Manual. The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Under the Sun of Satan. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Six Characters in Search of an Author. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. The War of the Worlds. The Lord of the Rings. Les Vrilles de la vigne. Capital of Pain. Ballad of the Salt Sea. The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. Raffarin's popularity rate began to plummet; this, combined with the sharp electoral defeat sustained at the regional elections, was blamed on his social policies. As a consequence, the prime minister dissolved the government, and handpicked Jean-Louis Borloo as minister of social affairs.

However, the prime minister had to handle both the former's social agenda — sustaining rent-controlled housing, backed up by President Chirac — and Sarkozy's extremely conservative managing of the finances. Jean-Pierre Raffarin then faced even more criticism especially from Dominique de Villepin. Raffarin's term of office came to a brisk end after the "no" vote to the referendum held on 29 May , on whether to adopt the project of the European Constitutional Treaty. He offered to resign on 31 May , and was immediately replaced by Dominique de Villepin.

Dominique de Villepin had been named minister of foreign affairs in , upon the reelection of President Chirac. In — 03, France was confronted with a major foreign policy dilemma. Throughout , the United States and United Kingdom were committing troops to the Persian Gulf region, positioning themselves against Iraq and accusing its leader, Saddam Hussein , of possessing weapons of mass destruction.

In the event that Iraq would not disarm itself of any weapons of mass destruction it might possess, it was evident that the United States and United Kingdom might use those troops to force a regime change in Iraq. The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution on 8 November , calling upon Iraq to disarm itself of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons or weapons capabilities, to allow the immediate return of UN and International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA weapons inspectors, and to comply with all previous UN resolutions regarding the country since the end of the Gulf War in The United States and United Kingdom indicated that if Iraq would not comply with the resolution, "serious consequences" might result, meaning military action.

The other three permanent members of the Security Council , France, Russia, and China , expressed their reservations with that position. France was the most vocal opponent of war, and threatened to use its veto power in the Security Council if another Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force was called for.

The United States and United Kingdom abandoned diplomatic efforts at conflict resolution in March , and on 19 March, the coalition went to war in Iraq. Once coalition forces defeated Iraq and plans for reconstruction of the country were being discussed in April, France stressed the need for a strong role to be played by the UN in a postwar Iraq.

In his inaugural speech, he gave himself days to earn the trust of the French people and to give France its confidence back. He was increasingly perceived as a potential presidential candidate, an opinion reinforced by his acting as head of state during the cabinet meeting held on 7 September and for the 60th session of the UN General Assembly held on 14 — 15 September while President Chirac suffered from a cerebral vascular complication.

The eruption of rioting in many parts of France in fall posed the most serious challenge to government authority since the student riots that took place in Paris in The government imposed a state of emergency. Thousands of vehicles were set on fire in nearly towns; more than 1, people had been arrested by mid-November , when the violence began to subside.

Areas with large African and Arab communities were most affected France has Europe's largest Muslim population and over half the country's prison population is Muslim , where anger among many immigrant families over unemployment and discrimination has long been simmering. The unrest caused politicians to rethink their social and economic policies. Under the constitution of the Fifth Republic , as subsequently amended, the president of the republic is elected for a five-year term changed from a seven-year term following a referendum on 24 September by direct universal suffrage.

If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes cast, a runoff election is held between the two candidates having received the most votes. If the presidency falls vacant, the president of the Senate assumes the office until a new election can be held within 20 — 35 days.

The president appoints the prime minister and, on the prime minister's recommendation, the other members of the cabinet. The president has the power to dissolve the National Assembly, in which event new elections must be held in 20 — 40 days. When the national sovereignty is gravely menaced, the president is empowered to take special measures after consultation with the premier and other appropriate officials. The National Assembly, however, may not be dissolved during the exercise of exceptional powers.

The president promulgates laws approved by the legislature, has the right of pardon, and is commander of the armed forces. The bicameral parliament consists of two houses, the National Assembly and the Senate. Under a system enacted in , the National Assembly is composed of deputies, each representing an electoral district. If no candidate receives a clear majority, there is a runoff among those receiving at least All citizens aged 18 or over are eligible to vote.

The deputies' term of office, unless the Assembly is dissolved, is five years. The Senate consisted, as of , of members indirectly elected to nine-year terms, one-third being chosen every three years. Of the total, represented metropolitan France, 13, overseas departments and territories, and 12, French citizens residing abroad; all are chosen by electoral colleges.

In addition, European elections are held to choose 87 French deputies out of in the European Parliament every five years, with proportional representation. To become law, a measure must be passed by parliament. Parliament also has the right to develop in detail and amplify the list of matters on which it may legislate by passing an organic law to that effect. Regular parliamentary sessions occur once a year, lasting nine months each amended in from two shorter sessions a year. A special session may be called by the prime minister or at the request of a majority of the National Assembly. Bills, which may be initiated by the executive, are introduced in either house, except finance bills, which must be introduced in the Assembly.

These proceedings are open to the public, aired on television, and reported. The prime minister and the cabinet formulate national policy and execute the laws. No one may serve concurrently as a member of parliament and a member of the executive. Under certain circumstances, an absolute majority in the National Assembly may force the executive to resign by voting a motion of censure. Under the new law of , members of the government are liable for actions performed in office deemed to be crimes or misdemeanors, and tried by the Court of Justice.

French political life has long been ruled both by considerations of political theory and by the demands of political expediency. Traditional issues such as the separation of church and state help to distinguish between right and left, but otherwise the lines separating all but the extremist political parties are diffi cult to draw. One result of this has been the proliferation of political parties; another, the assumption by political parties of labels that seldom indicate any clear-cut platform or policy.

Broadly, since the late s, French politics has been dominated by four political groups: the Gaullists, an independent center-right coalition, the Socialists, and the Communists. After the parliamentary elections of 23 and 30 November , the first to be held under the constitution of the Fifth Republic, the largest single group in the Assembly was the Union for the New Republic UNR , which stood for the policies of Gen. Only 16 members were elected by the center groups and only 10 were Communists. In the first presidential elections held by direct universal suffrage in December , President de Gaulle was reelected on the second ballot with Following nationwide strikes and civil disturbances by workers and students in the spring of , new parliamentary elections were held in June, in which de Gaulle's supporters won a sweeping victory.

On 28 April , following the defeat in a national referendum of a Gaullist plan to reorganize the Senate and regional government, President de Gaulle resigned. During the Pompidou administration, Gaullist control was weakened by an alliance between the Communist and Socialist parties. The Communists and Socialists increased their representation to 72 and , respectively. The remaining seats were won by the RI 55 and by centrists, reformists, and unaffiliated candidates On 2 April , President Pompidou died.

However, as neither had won a majority, a run-off election was held on 19 May. Giscard, with the help of Gaullist votes, defeated Mitterrand by a margin of The Socialists and Communists, who ran on a common platform as the Union of the Left, together won seats Socialists , Communists 86 and Independents, with the remaining 3. In the presidential elections of 26 April and 10 May , Mitterrand received Within weeks, Mitterrand called new legislative elections: that June, the Socialists and their allies won In return for concessions on various political matters, four Communists received cabinet portfolios, none relating directly to foreign affairs or national security.

The sweeping victory of the left was, however, eroded in March when Socialist and Communist officeholders lost their seats in about 30 cities in municipal balloting. Meanwhile, the Communists had become disaffected by government policies and did not seek appointments in the cabinet named when a new Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius, was appointed in July The National Assembly elections held in March represented a major defeat for the Socialist Party and their allies.

The Communists also suffered losses, securing only 24 seats. Minor parties and independents won 26 seats. The Socialists lost of the Socialist seats that were at stake. As a result, the Socialists introduced a new system of proportional voting aimed at reducing their losses in the forthcoming general election of 16 March The Communists, suffering a historic defeat, split the remaining 70 seats evenly with the far-right National Front, which won representation for the first time.

Following his defeat by Mitterand in the May presidential election, Chirac resigned and a minority Socialist government was formed. In , one year before they were scheduled, Chirac called for new parliamentary elections, hoping to achieve a mandate to inaugurate his policy of fiscal austerity. Instead, the Gaullists suffered a stunning defeat by the Socialists and Communists, leading to the appointment of Jospin as prime minister.

In those elections, held 25 May and 1 June , the Gaullists saw their parliamentary presence decline from seats to ; the Socialists and related splinter groups went from 75 seats to ; the Communists from 24 to 38; the Greens from no seats to 8; and the far-right National Front maintained its single seat.

The Greens held only three seats. Its first test occurred in March , during the cantonal and regional elections. While suffering a devastating loss, it managed, through alliances, to secure a relative majority of the votes. Its second test was the European elections, also held in The UDF's relative success was largely caused by the attractive alternative that it offered voters that were unhappy with the government's take on social and European issues.

The relative slump of the right can also be explained by the rise of popularity of the National Front and the unpopularity generated by the Raffarin governments. In , parliament approved a code of regional reforms that had been rejected when proposed previously by President de Gaulle in Under this law, the 96 departments of metropolitan France were grouped into 22 regions.

Regional councils composed of local deputies, senators, and delegates were formed and prefects appointed; in addition, regional economic and social committees, made up of labor and management representatives, were created. This system was superseded by the decentralization law of 2 March , providing for the transfer of administrative and financial authority from the prefect to the general council, which elects its own president; the national government's representative in the department is appointed by the cabinet. The law like-wise replaced the system of regional prefects with regional councils, elected by universal direct suffrage, and, for each region, an economic and social committee that serves in an advisory role; the national government's representative in each region, named by the cabinet, exercises administrative powers.

The first regional assembly to be elected was that of Corsica in August ; the first direct assembly elections in all 22 regions were held in March Each of the 96 departments and four overseas: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Reunion and French Guiana is further subdivided for administrative purposes into arrondissements , cantons, and communes municipalities. The basic unit of local government is the commune, governed by a municipal council and presided over by a mayor.

A commune may be an Alpine village with no more than a dozen inhabitants, or it may be a large city, such as Lyon or Marseille. The majority, however, are small. As of , France had 36, communes. Most recently the trend has been for the smallest communes to merge and create larger urban communities, or to come together as communal syndicates to share responsibilities. Municipal councilors are elected by universal suffrage for six-year terms.

Each council elects a mayor who also serves as a representative of the central government. Several communes are grouped into a canton, and cantons are grouped into arrondissements, which have little administrative significance.

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  • As of 1 January , France had 36, communes of them overseas. There are two types of lower judicial courts in France, the civil courts tribunaux d'instance and tribunaux de grande instance in , including overseas departments and the criminal courts tribunaux de police for petty offenses such as parking violations, tribunaux correctionnels for criminal misdemeanors.

    The most serious crimes, for which the penalties may range to life imprisonment, are tried in assize courts cours d'assises ; these do not sit regularly but are called into session when necessary. They are presided over by judges from the appeals courts. In addition, there are special commercial courts tribunaux de commerce , composed of judges elected among themselves by tradesmen and manufacturers, to decide commercial cases; conciliation boards conseils de prud'hommes , made up of employees and employers, to decide their disputes; and professional courts with disciplinary powers within the professions.

    Special administrative courts tribunaux administratifs deal with disputes between individuals and government agencies. From the lower civil and criminal courts alike, appeals may be taken to appeals courts cours d'Appel , of which there were 27 in Judgments of the appeals courts and the courts of assize are final, except that appeals on the interpretation of the law or points of procedure may be taken to the highest of the judicial courts, the Court of Cassation in Paris.

    If it finds that either the letter or spirit of the law has been misapplied, it may annual a judgment and return a case for retrial by the lower courts. The High Court of Justice Haute Cour de Justice , consisting of judges and members of parliament, is convened to pass judgment on the president and cabinet members if a formal accusation of treason or criminal behavior has been voted by an absolute majority of both the National Assembly and the Senate. The death penalty was abolished in The Conseil Constitutionnel, created by the constitution, is now the only French forum available for constitutional review of legislation.

    Challenges to legislation may be raised by the president of the republic, the prime minister, the president of the Senate, the president of the National Assembly, 60 senators, or 60 deputies of the National Assembly during the period between passage and promulgation signature of president.

    Once promulgated, French legislation is not subject to judicial review. The French judiciary is fully independent from the executive and legislative branches. The judiciary is subject to European Union mandates, which guide national law. This has been the case in the Court of Cassation since , in the Council of State since , and now even in the civil courts. In there were , active personnel in the French armed services. An additional , served in the Gendarmerie Nationale, which is heavily armed. Reserves totaled 21, from all services. France's strategic nuclear forces in had 4, active personnel, of which 2, were Navy personnel, 1, Air Force, and 41 Gendarmarie Nationale.

    The French have the third-largest nuclear arsenal in the world with a suspected total of weapons. The Army in numbered , military and 28, civilian personnel. Included were 7, members of the Foreign Legion, a 14, member marine force and an estimated 2, Special Operations Forces, as part of the French Army. Equipment included main battle tanks, 1, reconnaissance vehicles, armored infantry fighting vehicles, 4, armored personnel carriers, and artillery pieces towed. The French Navy numbered 46, active personnel and 10, civilians in For that year, the Navy was equipped with 10 modern submarines 4 SSBNs and 6 SSNs , 34 principal surface combatants including one CVN and one CVH or helicopter carrier , and 85 other ships for mine warfare, amphibious operations, and logistics and support.


    France had 6, naval aviation personnel. There were also 2, naval marines, including commandos. The Navy also provided coast guard services and fishery protection. The French Air Force numbered 65, active members, plus 5, civilians, and operated combat capable aircraft. France maintains substantial forces abroad in a number of countries, current and former possessions, and protectorates.

    These forces are supported by aircraft and naval ships in the Indian and Pacific oceans, and in the Carribean. Troops are also deployed on peacekeeping missions in several different regions and countries. France joined the WTO in France is also a founding member of the European Union.

    In December , the country announced an intention to increase participation in the NATO military wing once again. France is one of the most richly endowed countries of Europe. The favorable climate, extensive areas of rich soil, and long-established tradition of skilled agriculture have created ideal conditions for a thriving farm economy. Agriculture and the agro-food industries account for a larger share of economic activity than in many other west European nations. Large deposits of iron ore, a wellintegrated network of power plants, important domestic reserves of natural gas , good transport, and high standards of industrial workmanship have made the French industrial complex one of the most modern in Europe.

    After World War II , France's economy was stronger than it had been in the period between the two world wars. But on the debit side were the extremely high costs of France's colonial campaigns in Indochina and North Africa; the periodic lack of confidence of French investors in the nation's economy, resulting in the largescale flight of funds; and the successive devaluations of the franc. Through most of the s and early s, the French economy expanded steadily, with GDP more than doubling between and Further oil price increases in — 80 marked the beginning of a prolonged recession, with high inflation, high unemployment, balance-of-payments deficits, declining private investment, and shortages in foreign exchange reserves.

    However, GDP grew by an annual average of 2. By the late s, however, the economy began to record higher growth rates. In the French economy grew by 3. Unemployment, however, remained high at To combat this, the Socialist-led coalition of Lionel Jospin enacted legislation cutting the work week to 35 hours in However, France's exports increased at a greater rate than imports, fueling the economy.

    France in fell from being the world's fourth-largest industrialized economy to fifth, being replaced by the United Kingdom. In , real GDP growth was 1. In , real GDP growth was expected to slow to 1. France and the United States are the world's top two exporting countries in defense products, agricultural goods, and services. Taxes remain the highest in the G-8 industrialized countries, and the tax structure is seen as a hindrance to business activity. The fastest-growing sectors of the economy have been telecommunications, aerospace, consulting services, meat and milk products, public works, insurance and financial services, and recreation, culture, and sports.

    Although the government has privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, it still controls large sectors of the economy, including energy, transportation, and the defense industry. The French social model, characterized by heavy state involvement in the economy, a tax on wealth, and generous benefits for workers, has proved to be a strong disincentive to growth and job creation. Unemployment, at 9. The pension system and rising healthcare costs strain public finances. Attempts to liberalize the economy have met strong resistance from labor unions and the left. Pension reforms proposed by the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin in early were met by huge protests and strikes in France.

    Discontent with the economy played a large role in France's rejection of the EU constitution in May Violent unrest in hundreds of towns erupted in the fall of , triggered by frustration over high unemployment among urban youth. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity PPP rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1. The average inflation rate in was 1. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.

    Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period to household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 1. It was estimated that in about 6. In , the French workforce was estimated at In the latest year for which data was available , Workers freely exercise their right to strike unless it is prohibited due to public safety.

    Many unions are members of international labor organizations. Collective bargaining is prevalent. It is illegal to discriminate against union activity. This amount provides a decent standard of living for a family. The standard legal workweek is set at 35 hours with restrictions on overtime.


    Children under age 16 are not permitted to work, and there are restrictions pertaining to employment of those under Child labor laws are strictly enforced. The labor code and other laws provide for work, safety, and health standards. Agriculture remains a vital sector of the French economy, even though it engages only about 3. In , France's fulltime farm labor force of , was still the second-highest in the EU.

    France is one of the leaders in Europe in the value of agricultural exports — chiefly wheat, sugar, wine, and beef. Tropical commodities, cotton, tobacco, and vegetable oils are among the chief agricultural imports. About There were , farms in France in , of which only , were managed by full-time farmers.

    Since the s, the number of farms has declined and the size of individual holdings has increased. By there were about 1. Average farm size had grown to around 50 hectares acres in Because French law provides for equal rights of inheritance, traditionally much of the farmland came to be split up into small, scattered fragments. One of the major aims of postwar plans for rural improvement has been the consolidation of these through reallotment. Such consolidation also fosters the growth of mechanization. In there were 1,, tractors fourth in the world after the United States, Japan , and Italy compared with , in , and 1,, in The most productive farms are in northern France, but specialized areas, such as the vegetable farms of Brittany, the great commercial vineyards of the Languedoc, Burgundy, and Bordeaux districts, and the flower gardens, olive groves, and orchards of Provence, also contribute heavily to the farm economy.

    Among agricultural products, cereals wheat, barley, oats, corn, and sorghum , industrial crops sugar beets, flax , root crops potatoes , and wine are by far the most important. In , the wheat crop totaled 39,, tons and barley, 11,, tons. Other totals in tons included oats, ,; corn, 16,,; sugar beets, 30,,; rapeseed, 3,, tons; and sunflower seed, 1,, tons.

    Wine production in totaled million liters from 7,, tons of grapes. There is large-scale production of fruits, chiefly apples, pears, peaches, and cherries. In , farm animals included Poultry and rabbits are raised in large numbers, both for farm families and for city markets. Meat production in included 1,, tons of beef and veal, 2,, tons of pork, 1,, tons of poultry, and , tons of mutton. Dairy farming flourishes in the rich grasslands of Normandy.

    Total cows' milk production in was 25,, tons. France produces some kinds of cheese; in , production totaled about 1,, tons. Butter and egg production were , and 1,, tons, respectively. France's 4, km 2, mi of coastline, dotted with numerous small harbors, has long supported a flourishing coastal and highseas fishing industry.

    French aquaculture consists mainly of oyster and mussel production; most of the facilities are located along the English Channel and the Atlantic coasts. Herring, skate, whiting, sole, mackerel, tuna, sardines, lobsters, and mussels make up the principal seafood catch, along with cod, mostly from the fishing banks off northern North America , where French fishing vessels have sailed for centuries. Production of canned seafood products in totaled 80, tons, mostly tuna, mackerel, and sardines. The United Kingdom and Norway are France's leading seafood suppliers.

    Forestry production in France has been encouraged by the government since the 16th century, when wood was a strategic resource in building warships. Although much of the original forest cover was cut in the course of centuries, strict forest management practices and sizable reforestation projects during the last years have restored French forests considerably. Since , the government has subsidized the afforestation and replanting of 2.

    The reforestation project in the Landes region of southwestern France has been particularly successful. During — , the forested area increased by an annual average of 0. There were some 16 million hectares The forestry and wood products sector employed , persons in 35, companies in Production of roundwood in was Hardwood log production reached 6. Softwood log production totaled 13 million cu m million cu ft in In December , a hurricane hit France and damaged an estimated 50 million cu m 1. France was a major European mineral producer, despite significant declines in the production of traditional minerals in recent years.

    France was among the leading producers of coal, was Europe's only producer of andalusite, and counted iron among its top export commodities in France was also self-suffi cient in salt, potash, fluorspar, and talc. Talc de Luzenac, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, was the leading producer of talc in the world. In addition, France had sizable deposits of antimony, bauxite, magnesium, pyrites, tungsten, and certain radioactive minerals.

    One of the world's most developed economies, France had to make considerable changes in the structure of its industries, particularly those mineral industries controlled by the state. Prior to , the state's heavy economic and political involvement was a main element of national mineral policy. Cessation of government subsidies to unprofitable operations, cheaper foreign sources, and depletion of mineral reserves have greatly affected the industry, particularly bauxite, coal, iron ore, lead, uranium, and zinc. The government has made efforts to promote the private sector, to proceed with a program of privatization, and to reduce the dependence of state-owned companies on subsidies.

    To encourage exploration, the government in passed a law expediting the granting of surveying and mining licenses. Production figures for were: agricultural and industrial limestone, 12, metric tons; hydraulic cement, 20 million tons; salt rock, refined brine, marine, and in solution , 6. In France also produced copper; gold; silver; powder tungsten; uranium; elemental bromine; refractory clays; diatomite; lime; nitrogen; mineral, natural, and iron oxide pigments; Thomas slag phosphates; pozzolan and lapilli; and soda ash and sodium sulfate.

    No iron ore was produced in ; the iron ore basin, stretching from Lorraine northward, used to produce more than 50 million tons per year, but its high phosphorus and low iron content limited its desirability. Terres Rouges Mine, the last to operate in Lorraine, closed in France ceased producing bauxite named after Les Baux, in southern France in Mining of lead and zinc has completely ceased.

    France's energy and power sector is marked by modest reserves of oil, natural gas and coal, and a heavy reliance upon nuclear energy to meet its energy needs. As of 1 January , France had estimated proven oil reserves of 0. In , crude oil production was 28, barrels per day, but declined to 23, barrels per day in In , domestic demand for oil came to an estimated 1, As a result of the disparity between consumption and production, France has had to import crude oil.

    In , net imports of crude oil came to 1. Like its oil resources, France's coal and natural gas reserves are very limited. As of 1 January , the country had an estimated billion cu ft of proven natural gas reserves. Production and consumption of natural gas in totaled an estimated billion cu ft and 1, France's recoverable coal reserves, production, and consumption in were estimated at In April , France closed its last operating coal mine and has since relied on coal imports to meet its demand for coal.

    During the s France became increasingly dependent on outside sources for petroleum. Although petroleum and natural gas continued to be produced in France itself as they are today , the nation came to rely almost entirely on imports from oil fields of the Middle East , putting a heavy strain on the country's foreign exchange reserves. Discoveries of large supplies of natural gas and petroleum in the Sahara Desert changed the outlook radically; in France was able to meet almost half its fuel needs from countries within the franc zone.

    Petroleum production from the Saharan fields rose spectacularly from 8. Although France lost title to the Saharan deposits after Algerian independence, arrangements were made with the Algerian government to keep up the flow of oil to France. Developments in the s exposed the limitations of this strategy. Algeria took controlling interest in French oil company subsidiaries in The oil shocks of the mid-and late s drove France's fuel and energy imports up; in , fuel imports accounted for In response, France began an energy conservation program, but oil consumption continued to increase between and , when fuel imports made up Mergers involving France's top oil companies in and created the fourth-largest oil company in the world, TotalFinaElf.

    France's electric power sector is marked by a heavy reliance upon nuclear power. France has become the world's leading producer of nuclear power per capita, with the world's second-greatest nuclear power capacity exceeded only by the United States. Nuclear power accounts for In , France had an installed generating capacity estimated at GW, with production and consumption estimated at All electric power generation and distribution is controlled by the state-owned monopoly, Electricite de France EdF.

    However, France has slowly begun to deregulate its electricity sector and to privatize EdF. France is also Europe's second-largest power market, exceeded only by Germany. Industry has expanded considerably since World War II, with particularly significant progress in the electronics, transport, processing, and construction industries.

    France is the world's fourth-leading industrial power, after the United States, Japan, and Germany although France was surpassed by the United Kingdom in as the world's fourth-largest economy. In , the industrial sector accounted for