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France (officially the French Republic (French: République française), is a sovereign state comprising territory in western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The European, or metropolitan, area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. France spans 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and has a total population of 66.7 million. It is a unitary semi-presidential republic with the capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. The name "France" comes from the Latin Francia, or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today Francia in Italian and Spanish, Frankreich in German and Frankrijk in Dutch, all of which have the same historical meaning.

Links To Peel



Peel travelled many times to France; these included going on a road trip through France with his brother Alan and Sheila in 1969, watching Liverpool beat Real Madrid in the 1981 European Cup Final in Paris and travelling through France by car to Belgium for the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest in Brussels and Spain for the Sonar festival in Barcelona. French was the only foreign language in which he had any fluency, although he remarked that when in France he tended to rely on his wife Sheila's superior language skills.

France is Britain's nearest neighbour and therefore many British artists performed there in the 1960s and 1970s. Although some, notably the Beatles, were less successful there than at home, others, like Peel favourites Soft Machine and early Pink Floyd, became popular with young French audiences, especially students, who were a far bigger percentage of the population than in the UK where the numbers in higher education were still quite small. In the archives of French TV there are performances by other groups he played who seldom appeared on British TV, like the Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention.

In the same era, French pop music had a following in the UK, with French radio stations (France Inter, Europe 1, Radio Luxembourg's French service) audible on long wave. Many French artists had records released in the UK but Peel paid little attention to them until the 1970s, when folk (Malicorne), progressive (Magma, Gong) and punk-influenced (Little Bob Story, Métal Urbain) French groups appeared. He also played a track by yé-yé star Sylvie Vartan, "L'Amour, c'est comme une cigarette" on the show of 01 February 1982; it was a version of Sheena Easton's hit "Nine to Five" with new French lyrics which amused him.In the same year, he played a track by another 1960s French star, Jacques Dutronc, describing it as "awful" (14 April 1982) but this didn't prevent him from playing another track by the artist on the show of 27 November 1997. Other French artists who appeared in his playlists included the bands Telephone (02 July 1979) and Marie Et Les Garcons (19 April 1979).

In 1983, Peel hosted the European chart on Top Of The Pops from Boulogne on 28 April 1983 (TOTP) and from Paris on 01 September 1983 (TOTP). During the latter he stated that "the last time I was in Paris was for the European Cup when we beat Real Madrid 1-0". This would have been on 27 May 1981.[1]

Peel mentioned in an interview with Michael Kerr of the Daily Telegraph in May 2004 that one of his favourite travel destinations was his 2003 family holiday in a chateau in Dordogne in southern France.[1] He commented many times on his radio shows how the French had excellent customer service compared to the British.


The following artists from France recorded sessions for the John Peel Show:[2]

Festive Fifty

The following artists from France had Festive Fifty entries for the John Peel Show:

See Also

  • Bernard Lenoir
  • Countries
  • Wckr Spgt: 'Francis Mitterand', the US band's ode to the two-term French president, was a long-term Peel show favourite: "One minute and thirty seconds that has already transformed my understanding of European politics" (26 October 1991).
  • Stéphanie: In 1986, Peel played Princess Stephanie of Monaco’s single ‘Ouragan’, which became a big hit in mainland Europe.
  • Football Compilations: From the ‘Bent It’ series, Peel twice played ‘Saint Etienne 76-Allez Les Verts’ by Les Supporters, a record about the Saint Etienne football team, based in the industrial town of that name in central France and the dominant club in French football of the 1970s. His favourite Liverpool team knocked the celebrated French side out of the 1977 European Cup in a famous late win at Anfield.[2] The French club (rather than the town, regarded as an unglamorous place and not on France's tourist trail) later inspired the name of British band Saint Etienne.

External Links


  1. 1980-1981 European Cup Final - wikipedia
  2. Session bands with just one French member include Stereolab (Lætitia Sadier, vocals/keyboards/guitar), while Stranglers bass player Jean-Jacques Burnel was born in London to French parents. Many Congolese soukous artists who did Peel sessions were based in Paris, including Diblo Dibala, Kanda Bongo Man and Papa Wemba.
  3. There was also a US band of the same name who had a 1989 single on Sub Pop.
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