For the vibrancy of contemporary French culture
Outstanding examples include Marion Cotillard, who won the Oscar for best actress in 2008; Jean-Marie Le Clezio, who claimed the Nobel prize in literature the same year; and Michel Houellebecq, the best-known living French author, whose works are available in 30 languages.
Who hasn't heard of Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Gabriel Fauré, or Olivier Messiaen? But since the 1980s, with the work of Jean-Michel Jarre, the "French Touch" in electronic music has reached audiences around the world. Artists such as Air, Daft Punk, Justice, Martin Solveig, David Guetta, and Bob Sinclar fill conference halls on every continent.
Each year, particularly in summer, hundreds of cultural festivals take place throughout France, celebrating contemporary music (Vieilles Charrues, Francofolies, Jazz in Marciac, Eurockéennes), classical music (opera in Aix en Provence, piano in La Roque d'Anthéron), theater (Avignon), and photography (Arles).
Film and photography
France has an uninterrupted cinematic tradition dating back to the creation of the art form by the Lumière brothers in 1895.
The annual Cannes film festival is a must for all film professionals.
France is a leading film producer. Each year French films garner international attention. The works of Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Luc Besson have played on five continents after being screened in France's 2,000 movie theaters.
French photographers Raymond Depardon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bettina Rheims, and Yann Arthus-Bertand have earned an international reputation in the 20th century.
Architecture and design
Many great modern architects have been French. Three of the most prominent are Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty), Le Corbusier, and Jean Nouvel (the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris).
Charlotte Perriand, Andrée Putman, and Philippe Starck are among today's most celebrated designers.
In addition to the country's famous 20th-century artists (Duchamp, Soulages, Klein, Dubuffet, and others), France welcomes and exhibits contemporary from throughout the world. Prominent examples include Jeff Koons and Murakami (at Versailles).