There are different ways to name the country of France. Some of the examples sometimes describe just a part of France and not all the territory.
Most of those nicknames come from the long history of France. Let’s start the list of names for France!
Main Nicknames for France
- La France
This is the most common way to name this country. The name comes from the 5th century, different Frankish kingdoms succeed in the Roman occupation of Gaul. These kingdoms are spread over parts of northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. The name “France” comes from the word “Franc”.
The Frankish people are a people of warriors who elect their leader, the king of the Franks. They freely decide to go to war with him. This is why the word “Frank” also meant “free man”.
- La République française or La République
Another way to call the country of France, “The Republic”. This comes from after the creation of the first republic of France in 1792 after the French Revolution in 1789.
This nickname refers to the shape of France of a hexagon. We can see a six-sided polygon. There are three land sides and three maritime sides. This is why the expression Hexagon is frequently used to describe the French territory.
- Le pays des droits de l’Homme
This nickname “The country of human rights” is the result here again of the French Revolution in 1789 with the creation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, a central text of the French Revolution.
- La Gaule
The Gaul was a time, more than two thousand years ago, when the borders were close to the ones of actual France. This is a humorous way to name France and to refer to its history.
This part of history gave France its national animal symbol: The rooster. This animal never gives up and fights until the end. For example, you can see the animal on the national jersey of the football, rugby, and handball teams.
- La France métropolitaine or La Métropole
The “Metropolis” is the way, in international law, to call the French territory in Europe. This includes the island of Corsica. By the way, I wrote an article about traveling in Corse with 6 Things to Do in Corsica for a Road Trip.
- La France continentale
“Continental France”, is another way for the names for France to describe the French territory located in Europe.
- DROM-COM or DOM-TOM or La France d’outre mer
With the reform of the regions (=states) set up on 1 January 2016, the Overseas Departments / Les Départements d’Outre-Mer (DOM) and Overseas Territories / Territoires d’Outre-Mer (TOM) have disappeared. The term “DOM-TOM” does not exist anymore but the French people still use it. The new name is DROM-COM.
5 Department and Overseas Region / 5 Département et Région d’Outre-Mer (DROM): DROM is now used for the former DOM:
Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Reunion and Mayotte.
5 Overseas Communities / 5 Collectivités d’Outre-Mer (COM):
Saint-Barthélémy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, French Polynesia, Wallis, and Futuna
1 Oversea Community (COM) with a special status:
3 Overseas Territories / Territoires d’Outre Mer (TOM). The acronym still exists for those territories:
French southern lands, Antarctic Lands, and the Island of Clipperton
Countryside Nicknames of France
- La province
The province is a word that I and non-Parisian French people hate a lot. I hear only this word when I meet Parisian people. The province is everything except Paris. Being from the north or south or anywhere is exactly the same for them. It sounds really arrogant when a Parisian uses it.
Ah, t’es de la province ? (= Ah, you are from the province?)
- La France profonde
The deep France is to describe the parts of France disconnected from the big French cities.
- La diagonale du vide
The empty diagonal is a huge area where the population is quite low. It goes from the northeast to the southwest of France. The “diagonale du vide” is la France profonde.
I hope you learn some new cool information about France. Try to reuse those nicknames in your writing or in your French conversations. This is it for the article about the names for France. Now, I invite you to read some more articles:
- 7 Fun Facts about the Tour de France
- The Most Googled Questions About France by Americans
- The 100 Most Popular French Last Names (Audio + Meanings)
Photo Credit @Suzy Hazelwood