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The first department stores in the world were French, and today department store chains in France sell many goods. A large number of people are employed as clerks, shipping staff and managers in these stores.

The French also like shopping at markets. In the cities, markets are often permanent. You could go to them any day and buy from stallholders who have been there every day for many years. Other markets are held only once or twice a week. The stallholders at these markets travel from town to town selling their goods at each town's market day.

All the people employed in these businesses are part of the chain of buyers and sellers in France. They buy their products from wholesalers and then resell them to the public. Or they might buy the raw materials from wholesalers and produce the finished product for their customers. Sometimes the wholesalers are importers who bring goods to France from other countries. Some are co-operatives that market farm produce. Some are representatives of factories and industries where goods are produced.

Exporters are also part of the chain of buyers and sellers. They sell products from France to other countries. Altogether, more than two million people work as buyers and sellers in France.

Energy Sources for France

France has few oil or gas wells within its boundaries. There are deposits of coal, but every year more coal is used and less coal remains. The rivers cannot produce enough hydro-electricity for the country's needs. Where is France to get enough energy for industry, home and transportation?

The country has found several answers to this question. Oil and gas are imported from the Middle East and from countries such as Nigeria. Rivers have been dammed in order to provide hydro-electricity. Now half of France's electricity is produced by hydro-electric plants.

France also has some experimental projects, such as the tidal generating plant on the English Channel, which harnesses power from the ocean tides to produce electricity. France does have large deposits of uranium, which is used to generate nuclear energy in nuclear power plants. The government has decided that the benefits of nuclear power are greater than the possible problems. France now has more than 20 nuclear power plants, which produce more than one third of the country's electricity.

. What are some of the ways that France meets its energy needs?