The culture of France is diverse, reflecting regional differences as well as the influence of recent immigration. France has played an important role for centuries as a cultural center, with Paris as a world center of high culture.

France has produced a large number of leading philosophers in the European humanist tradition. One of the first was Montaigne, in the 16th century, an inspired moralist who established the essay as an art form. Then came Descartes, the master of logic, and the philosopher Pascal.

Writers of France
Writers and intellectuals traditionally enjoy high prestige in France. One of the most august of French institutions is the Academie francaise, whose 40 members, most of them writers, have pronounced on national events and, on occasion, held public office.

The Three classic playwrights of French literature, Racine, Moli�re and Corneille, lived in the 17th century. Moli�re's comedies satirized the vanities and foibles of human nature. Corneille and Racine wrote noble verse tragedies.

The greatest of early French poets was Ronsard, who wrote sonnets about nature and love in the 16th century. Lamartine, a major poet of the early 19th century, also took nature as one of his themes (his poem Le Lac laments a lost love).

French Food
French cuisine is extremely diverse. This variety is supported by the French passion for good food in all its forms, France's extraordinary range of different geographies and climates which support the local production of all types of ingredients, and France's long and varied history. In many ways, an understanding of the culture of French food is an understanding of France itself.