Portal:France/Selected article

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Featured articles tagged by WikiProject France are listed in Category:FA-Class France articles.

Selected articles

Selected article 1

Portal:France/Selected article/1

Renault driver Ferenc Szisz, the winner of the Grand Prix, leads the Hotchkiss of Elliott Shepard
The 1906 Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France, commonly known as the 1906 French Grand Prix, was a motor race held on 26 and 27 June 1906, on closed public roads outside the city of Le Mans. The Grand Prix was organised by the Automobile Club de France (ACF) at the prompting of the French automobile industry as an alternative to the Gordon Bennett races, which limited each competing country's number of entries regardless of the size of its industry. France had the largest automobile industry in Europe at the time, and in an attempt to better reflect this the Grand Prix had no limit to the number of entries by any particular country. The ACF chose a 103.18-kilometre (64.11 mi) circuit, composed primarily of dust roads sealed with tar, which would be lapped six times on both days by each competitor, a combined race distance of 1,238.16 kilometres (769.36 mi). Lasting for more than 12 hours overall, the race was won by Ferenc Szisz driving for the Renault team. FIAT driver Felice Nazzaro finished second, and Albert Clément was third in a Clément-Bayard.

Selected article 2

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German forces surrendering in St. Lambert on 19 August 1944.
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12–21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy. Taking its name from the pocket around the town of Falaise within which Army Group B, consisting of the German Seventh and Fifth Panzer Armies became encircled by the advancing Western Allies, the battle is also referred to as the Falaise Gap after the corridor which the Germans sought to maintain to allow their escape. The battle resulted in the destruction of the bulk of Germany's forces west of the River Seine and opened the way to Paris and the German border.

By the evening of 21 August, the pocket was closed for the last time, with around 50,000 Germans trapped inside. Although it is estimated that significant numbers managed to escape, German losses in both men and materiel were huge, and the Allies had achieved a decisive victory. Two days later Paris was liberated, and by 30 August the last German remnants had retreated across the Seine, effectively ending Operation Overlord.

Selected article 3

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From left to right: Giuseppe De Luca (Zurga), Frieda Hempel (Leila) and Enrico Caruso (Nadir), in the New York Met 1916 production
Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers) is an opera in three acts by the French composer Georges Bizet, to a libretto by Eugène Cormon and Michel Carré. It was first performed on 30 September 1863 at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris, and was given 18 performances in its initial run. Set in ancient times on the island of Ceylon, the opera is a story of how two men's vow of eternal friendship is threatened by their love for the same woman, whose own dilemma is the conflict between secular love and her sacred oath as a priestess. The friendship duet "Au fond du temple saint", generally known as "The Pearl Fishers Duet", is one of the best-known numbers in Western opera.

At the time of the premiere, Bizet was 25 years old and had yet to establish himself in the Parisian musical world. The commission to write Les pêcheurs arose from his standing as a former winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome. Despite a good reception by the public, press reactions to the work were generally hostile and dismissive, although other composers, notably Hector Berlioz, found considerable merit in the music. The opera was not revived in Bizet's lifetime, but from 1886 onwards it was performed with some regularity in Europe and America, and from the mid-20th century has entered the repertory of opera houses worldwide. Because the autograph score was lost, post-1886 productions were based on amended versions of the score that contained significant departures from the original. However, since the 1970s, efforts have been made to reconstruct the score in accordance with Bizet's intentions.

Selected article 4

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The Hôtel Raphaël in Paris, which was used as the Hotel Chevalier of the film's title and where all of the scenes were shot
Hotel Chevalier is a short film written and directed by Wes Anderson and released in 2007. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman as former lovers who reunite in a Paris hotel room, the 13-minute film acts as a prologue to Anderson's 2007 feature The Darjeeling Limited. It was shot on location in a Parisian hotel by a small crew and self-financed by Anderson, who initially intended it to be a stand-alone work. Its first showing was at the Venice Film Festival première of the feature film on September 2, 2007, and it made its own debut later that month at Apple Stores in four American cities. The day after its première, it was made available for free from the iTunes Store for one month, during which it was downloaded more than 500,000 times. Hotel Chevalier became one of the most-discussed short films of the year, with much popular attention drawn in particular by Portman's extended nude scene. The film garnered near-universal critical acclaim from reviewers who compared it favorably with The Darjeeling Limited and praised its richness, poignancy, and careful construction.

Selected article 5

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Young Boulonnais stallion
The Boulonnais, also known as the "White Marble Horse", is a heavy draft horse breed. It is known for its large but elegant appearance and is usually gray, although chestnut and black are also allowed by the French breed registry. Originally there were several sub-types, but they were crossbred until only one is seen today. The breed's origins trace to a period before the Crusades and, during the 17th century, Spanish Barb, Arabian and Andalusian blood was added to create the modern type.

During the early 1900s, the Boulonnais were imported in large numbers to the United States and were quite popular in France; however, the European population suffered severe decreases during 20th century wars. The breed nearly became extinct following World War II, but rebounded in France in the 1970s as a popular breed for horse meat. Breed numbers remain low, with an estimation of less than 1,000 horses remaining in Europe, mostly in France with a few in other nations. Studies as early as 1983 indicated a danger of inbreeding within the Boulonnais population, and a 2009 report suggested that the breed should be a priority for conservation within France. The smallest type of Boulonnais was originally used to pull carts full of fresh fish from Boulogne to Paris, while the larger varieties performed heavy draft work, both on farms and in the cities. The Boulonnais was also crossbred to create and refine several other draft breeds.

Selected article 6

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France playing Wales during the Six Nations Championship
The France national rugby union team represents France in rugby union. They compete annually against England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in the Six Nations Championship. They have won the championship outright sixteen times, shared it a further eight times, and have completed nine grand slams. Eight former French players have been inducted into either the International Rugby Hall of Fame or the IRB Hall of Fame—two to the International Hall only, two to the IRB Hall only, and four to both Halls of Fame.

France traditionally play in blue shirts with white shorts and red socks, and are commonly referred to as les tricolores or les bleus. The French emblem is a golden rooster imposed upon a red shield. Their alternative strip is composed of a white shirt and navy blue shorts and socks. French international matches are played at several venues across the country; the Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis is used for their games during the Six Nations, and they have a formidable home record at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille where they have only lost twice, to Argentina in 2004 and to New Zealand in 2009.

Selected article 7

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Catherine had two galleries built on Diane's bridge over the Cher River at Chenonceau
Catherine de' Medici's building projects included the Valois chapel at Saint-Denis, the Tuileries Palace, and the Hôtel de la Reine in Paris, and extensions to the château of Chenonceau, near Blois. Born in 1519 in Florence to an Italian father and a French mother, Catherine de' Medici was a daughter of both the Italian and the French Renaissance. In 1533, at the age of fourteen, she left Italy and married Henry, the second son of Francis I and Queen Claude of France. On doing so, she entered the greatest Renaissance court in northern Europe.

King Francis set his daughter-in-law an example of kingship and artistic patronage that she never forgot. She witnessed his huge architectural schemes at Chambord and Fontainebleau. She saw Italian and French craftsmen at work together, forging the style that became known as the first School of Fontainebleau. Francis died in 1547, and Catherine became queen consort of France. But it wasn't until her husband King Henry's death in 1559 that Catherine came into her own as a patron of architecture. Over the next three decades, she launched a series of costly building projects aimed at enhancing the grandeur of the monarchy.

Though she spent colossal sums on the building and embellishment of monuments and palaces, little remains of Catherine's investment today. Catherine de' Medici's reputation as a sponsor of buildings rests instead on the designs and treatises of her architects.

Selected article 8

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The Battle of Vimy Ridge, a painting by Richard Jack. Canadian War Museum.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a military engagement fought primarily as part of the Battle of Arras, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, during the First World War. The main combatants were the Canadian Corps, of four divisions, against three divisions of the German Sixth Army. The battle, which took place from 9 to 12 April 1917, was part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras, a diversionary attack for the French Nivelle Offensive.

The objective of the Canadian Corps was to take control of the German-held high ground along an escarpment at the northernmost end of the Arras Offensive. Supported by a creeping barrage, the Canadian Corps captured most of the ridge during the first day of the attack. The town of Thélus fell during the second day of the attack, as did the crest of the ridge once the Canadian Corps overcame a salient of considerable German resistance. The final objective, a fortified knoll located outside the town of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, fell to the Canadian Corps on 12 April. The German forces then retreated to the OppyMéricourt line.

Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps in capturing the ridge to a mixture of technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support and extensive training, as well as the failure of the German Sixth Army to properly apply the new German defensive doctrine. A 100 ha (250 acres) portion of the former battleground serves as a preserved memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

Selected article 9

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The Bal des Ardents depicted in a 15th-century miniature from Froissart's Chronicles.
The Bal des Ardents (Ball of the Burning Men) was a masquerade ball held on 28 January 1393 in Paris at which Charles VI of France performed in a dance with five members of the French nobility. Four of the dancers were killed in a fire caused by a torch brought in by a spectator, Charles' brother Louis, Duke of Orléans. Charles and another of the dancers survived. The ball was one of a number of events intended to entertain the young king, who in the previous summer had suffered an attack of insanity. The event undermined confidence in Charles' capacity to rule; Parisians considered it proof of courtly decadence and threatened to rebel against the more powerful members of the nobility. The public's outrage forced the king and his brother Orléans, whom a contemporary chronicler accused of attempted regicide and sorcery, into offering penance for the event.

The event was chronicled by contemporary writers such as the Monk of St Denis and Jean Froissart, and illustrated in a number of 15th-century illuminated manuscripts by painters such as the Master of Anthony of Burgundy.

Selected article 10

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View of the dome of La Coupole
La Coupole (English: The Dome), also known as the Coupole d'Helfaut-Wizernes is a Second World War bunker complex in the Pas-de-Calais départment of northern France, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Saint-Omer. It was built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets directed against London and southern England.

Constructed in the side of a disused chalk quarry, the most prominent feature of the complex is an immense concrete dome, to which its modern name refers. It was built above a network of tunnels housing storage areas, launch facilities and crew quarters. The facility was designed to store a large stockpile of V-2s, warheads and fuel and was intended to launch V-2s on an industrial scale. Dozens of missiles a day were to be fuelled, prepared and launched in rapid sequence against London and southern England.

However, after repeated heavy bombing by Allied forces during Operation Crossbow, the Germans were unable to complete the construction works and the complex never entered service. It remained derelict until the mid-1990s. In 1997 it opened to the public for the first time, as a museum. Exhibits in the tunnels and under the dome tell the story of the German occupation of France during World War II, the V-weapons and the history of space exploration.


Historical archive

The portal used to display a month-by-month selection. An archive of the selections is at Portal:France/Featured Article Archive.

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