The Renaissance chateau at Azay-le-Rideau - one of the grand sights of the Loire valley
© AA Photo Library
15,000 BC Lascaux cave paintings; first works by tribal group in area now covered by modern France.
3000 BC Carnac stones erected.
58 BC Julius Caesar invades Gaul.
AD 500 Frankish King Clovis unites tribes to form France.
800 Charlemagne crowned first Holy Roman Emperor.
1431 Joan of Arc burned at the stake; resulting patriotism gives France national identity.
1763 France loses North American possessions to England at end of Seven Years War.
1789 Start of French Revolution; monarchy overthrown and republic established.
1804 Napoleon proclaimed emperor; Napoleon defeated at Waterloo in 1815.
1874 First exhibition of Impressionist art.
1889 Eiffel Tower built for Paris Exhibition; beginning of Belle Èpoque era.
1914-18 France allies with Britain, Russia and United States against Germany and Austro-Hungary to fight World War I.
1939-45 France swiftly defeated by Germans in World War II; Charles de Gaulle leads Free French Army from England.
1958 France becomes a founder member of European Community.
1985 French agents blow up Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland, New Zealand.
1998 France wins soccer World Cup; country erupts in euphoria.
1999 France is among the first countries to adopt euro currency.
2003 The French government votes against military intervention in Iraq and takes no part in the coalition action.