According to Programingplease, France can be cited as an example of a state in which the population has a notable character of national unity, despite the diversity of the elements that contributed to its formation. Various causes explain this condition of things: first of all, the antiquity of the territorial political unity; then, the geographical position of France, which, despite being contiguous to central Europe, is part of western and peninsular Europe, where the great movements of the peoples originating in Asia arrived relatively attenuated.
It is true that anthropology reveals some contrasts in France, but the writers do not agree at all on a classification of physical types; and, in any case, it is simply a tendency for certain characters to predominate in some regions.
According to Deniker, almost all of northern France shows the crossing of a sub-Nordic, dolichocephalic and blond breed, with a breed he calls sub-Adriatic, brown and brachycephalic. The subnordic race has the attenuated characters of the typical Nordic race (tall stature, wavy blond hair, light blue eyes, long head and straight nose), well known in Denmark and Scandinavia, and of which the invasions of the Normans have left much traces at the edge of the Cotentin, as well as in the Pays de Caux. The sub-Adriatic breed has the attenuated characters of the Adriatic or Dinaric breed, which is strongly brachycephalic with dark eyes and a rather brown complexion. The southern part of the Massif Central (Cévennes and Causses), a part of the Alps (Savoy and Dauphiné) and the Pyrenees (Ariège) offer a type,cévenol, stocky, of short stature (1.63 m), with rounded skull and face, brown hair, light or dark brown eyes: it would be Homo alpinus. Deniker also distinguishes two non-brachycephalic brown breeds in France. The first, which has an affinity with Spain, has been recognized in the west of the Massif Central (Limousin), in Périgord and Poitou: it is of short stature (1.61 m), with a very elongated head (cephalic ratio 73- 76), sometimes ringed hair, very dark eyes; it would be equivalent to the “Mediterranean lineage” of Sergi. The other, with a rather Italic affinity, exists not only in Provence and Languedoc, but also in the western and central Pyrenees and on the Loire: it is somewhat above average in stature, rather mesocephalous, with dark eyes. Overall, it can be said that the blond and dolichocephalic types tend to predominate in the north of France, and the brown, mesocephalous or brachycephalic types in the south.
Unfortunately, the history of the population of France is known only from around the Celtic era. The new elements that begin to appear from those times are, without exception, Arî linked by close ties of kinship; there are no Finno-ugri (Attila and his Huns were driven back in the battle of the Catalaunian fields); not Semites (the Arabs only made a very brief appearance in Aquitaine, where they were defeated by Carlo Martello); and not even Slavs; but there are only Latins and Germans. And this too is undoubtedly one of the reasons that explain French national unity. Of the elements prior to the Celts, only the Iberians and the Ligurians are known by name, traces of which perhaps remain in central and southern France, among those dark-eyed, dark-eyed and small or medium-sized populations. The Celts themselves must have already been a cross of different lineages, but it seems that tall stature and blond hair predominated among them. Coming from the north-east or the east by the Danube route, they had been at least three or four centuries old between the Rhine and the Garonne, when Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. And it seems that even in those times there was the contrast observed in our days between the blond north and the brown south, a contrast that subsequently had to be accentuated, due to the introduction of new Mediterranean elements in the south and new blond elements in the north, and perhaps also for the preservation of ancient elements (such as the typecévenol in the mountains). The Roman influence strengthened the southern element in Provence and Narbonne, and the barbarian invasions brought in considerable quantities the types from the north into the countries of the Seine, Moselle and Rhine; but, in reality, among the barbarians only the Germans arrived in great numbers and took up permanent residence. Some Germanic tribes, and in particular that of the Franks, settled on the Lower Rhine since the century. I a. C., had already had contact with the Latin civilization, which, together with the language, had imposed itself on all of Gaul; and it is believed that at the time of Clovis both the composition of the population of France and the conditions of the language were definitively fixed.
The languages used in France (see further on, page 964 ff.), In addition to the common language, which is literary French everywhere, are 9/10 neo-Latin dialects. Among the Germans, only the Alemanni preserved their language and imposed it in almost all of Alsace and in the north-east of Lorraine. The Alsatian dialect is also spoken today throughout the eastern side of the Vosges, except for the valleys which have easier communication with the Lorraine side, such as that of Sainte-Marie. In Lorraine the French border is marked by a line that passes through Monte Donon and Sarrebourg, continues to the NW. up to Albestroff, turns W for Bensdorf for a few km., then resumes the NW direction. up to the Moselle, which crosses a little south of Thionville, and ends at the Luxembourg border, near Ottange. As you can see, when it was annexed in 1871 it left a good part of French-speaking Lorraine in German territory. Brittany (v.) Is the only region of France that preserves traces of the Celtic language; this is due in large part to its condition as a peninsula and to the difficulty of its relations with Latinized Gaul, and in part also to the relatively recent immigration of Celtic populations, who came by sea from Cornwall and Ireland. Breton (v.Celts: Languages) is spoken only in the countryside of Brittany to the West of a line roughly in the N.-S. direction, which starts from Saint-Quay on the north coast to the West of Saint-Brieuc and ends about at the mouth of the Vilaine on the south coast, via Plouagat, Corlay, Mur, Rohan and Elven near Vannes. Catalan (see Catalonia: Lingua) is spoken, together with French, in the ancient country of Roussillon: the plain of Perpignan and the mountainous basin of Têt and Tech, up to the Spanish border and Andorra. French, on the other hand, is the language of the Aran valley, the region of the sources of the Garonne, which politically belongs to Spain. Finally, in a small part of the south-west of France, it should be noted the persistence of a language that is absolutely unto itself:Basque, Lingua), spoken by the residents of the department of the Low Pyrenees, south of the Gave d’Oloron and the lower Adour to the Spanish border and beyond.
The differences in language, which, with the exception of Basque and Breton, are generally of little importance, play a very minor part in national life. More emphasis should be placed on differences in temperament, which perhaps depend more on the environment than on the nature of ethnic crossbreeding. There are in France a clearly distinct north and south: on the one hand, more slowness, more gravity, more discipline; on the other hand, more vivacity, more gaiety, more individualism. A distinction could also be made between some provincial temperaments; but for several centuries the capital has attracted all energies to itself.
Lastly, another element of diversity should be noted: religion. Catholicism and Protestantism fought over France for a hundred years, with bloody struggles; in the seventeenth century the absolute monarchy recognized Catholicism as the state religion. The efforts made to eradicate Protestantism, while having the effect of removing some of the best elements of the population from the center and south of the country, failed to get rid of religious dualism in those regions. Presently, Catholicism is the religion of the whole north of France; Protestantism, on the other hand, has a notable diffusion only in Aquitaine and Languedoc, rarely predominating in the countryside and being the religion of a large part of the bourgeoisie of the cities, especially in Toulouse, in Montpellier, in Nîmes, etc. Nowhere in France do Jews form, as in Central and Eastern Europe, notable and isolated groups; they are quite numerous only in large cities, mainly in Paris.