‘Forty years on, this very French, eclectic gathering, lubricated by copious wine and fromages to die for, provided some telling snapshots of the country’s, and particularly its left’s, uncertain, confused, and depressed mood and the langueur of its politics.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Paris in the springtime. Around the tables in the country garden on this balmy evening, pals, old schoolfriends, and family celebrated last weekend on(...)

EDF chief executive Jean-Bernard Lévy: offering employees a one-off €10,000 payment to persuade them to work 212 days a year, rather than the current 196. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

For years, employees of the French company EDF have enjoyed a perk almost inconceivable to their counterparts in the rest of the industrialised wor(...)

Josephine  de Beauharnais: dsescribed by 19th century historian Frédéric Masson as a woman of easy virtue who spent a huge amount of money. Image: Musée du Luxembourg

“I awake filled with you. Your portrait and yesterday’s intoxicating evening left no repose for my senses. Gentle, incomparable Josephine, what(...)

Only 73 French people have been interred in the Pantheon in Paris, more than half by Napoleon. “Pantheonisation” is one of the last privileges left to a French president, but like everything else, it has turned into a dilemma for François Hollande. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

It was a day devoted to the quest for heroes, in an age that no longer seems to produce them. Three former prime ministers, six of France’s leading hi(...)

The base pension of French senators on retirement is €4,382 per month. They enjoy free transportation by air, rail and taxi.

The French national assembly is often accused of being a rubber stamp for the executive. Less so the senate, which has repeatedly clashed with politic(...)

Laetitia, a 30-year-old unemployed Frenchwoman and member of CVStreet group, uses a brush to paste posters of herself and others unemployed people in the streets of Marseille. The main idea is to break the anonymity for the unemployed by posting their portraits in the street.

French governments have struggled with the jobless young issue since 1977, when then prime minister Raymond Barre launched the “pact for youth employm(...)