Eleanor Beardsley

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For 10 days every winter, nearly a million people show up to visit a Paris convention center that's been transformed into a piece of the French countryside.

In the southern French city of Toulon, 39-year-old presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is greeted by cheering crowds as he makes his way onstage at a rally. The former investment banker, who served briefly as President Francois Hollande's economy minister, has never been elected to political office. Yet he stands a good chance of becoming the next French president.

This year, the Paris museum that looks like a jumble of giant, colored pipes with an escalator in a clear plastic tube zigzagging up its side turns 40.

Nowadays, that museum — the Pompidou Center — has a secure place in the heart of Paris and in Parisians' hearts. But it wasn't always the case.

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The carpeted prayer hall at the grand mosque in the French city of Bordeaux is full on a recent Friday afternoon. Behind a sculpted wooden railing on a small raised pulpit, Tareq Oubrou, a popular imam, is delivering his sermon in French as well as Arabic.

Bilingual sermons are rare in French mosques. Most Muslim clerics in France are foreign and speak in Arabic, which most young French Muslims don't understand. Oubrou says that's one reason why Muslim religious leaders are out of touch with a generation of French Muslims.

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A confident Marine Le Pen strides into a room in her new campaign headquarters, greeting reporters in her signature, husky voice.

The candidate takes a seat in front of a calming blue campaign poster that bears no mention of the National Front party or the Le Pen surname. It says simply, "IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE: Marine – President."

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Ah, to work in France: plenty of vacation and a 35-hour workweek. And, as of Jan. 1, a new law that gives French employees the right to disconnect. Companies in France are now required to stop encroaching on workers' personal and family time with emails and calls.

On a September day in 1940 while much of Europe was engulfed in war, four teenagers were walking through a forest in southern France when their dog fell down a hole.

As they called for it they heard an echo. Crawling in to rescue the dog, the boys discovered a cave with hundreds of prehistoric animals painted across its walls and ceiling. It turned out to be one of the world's best examples of prehistoric art.

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