Looking at the Past
Anne-Marie's ancestors lived in the same valley her family lives in now. If she wished, she could probably trace her family back hundreds of years to some of the early inhabitants of France.
The present people of France are descended from many different groups. Some came here to make war. Some came peacefully, to farm the land. Many of these groups came to France thousands of years ago.
People were living in France as far back as 30 000 years ago. Anthropologists think they were hunters who lived in caves. Some of their cave paintings have been discovered in central France.
Over the next 2000 years, many different peoples came to France. People from Africa settled in southern France. A tribe of farmers crossed the Alps to plant crops in eastern France. Invaders from southern Britain-blonde, blue-eyed people known as Celts---came to western France, where they became known as the Gauls.
Around the same time, Greeks came to live on the Mediterranean coast of France. They planted France's first grapes for making wine, and the first olive trees. They also built the first cities in France.
Next the Romans extended their empire into France. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the Romans left and fighting tribes invaded from the east and the southwest. In the eighth century, Arabs and Africans called Moors invaded France. A century later, Vikings from Scandinavia sailed up the River Seine (sen) and settled in the area that is now Paris.
More than three quarters of France's population is descended from these many different groups. The other quarter is descended from people who moved to France from other countries in the last two centuries. For this reason, there are many different types of French people. Some are blonde and blue-eyed, and some are dark-haired and dark-skinned. Many have characteristics from several different groups, a result of many marriages between groups over the centuries.