France is a founding member of both the United Nations and the European Union. It is the largest country in the European Union, and the fifth largest economy on earth.
Under Louis XIV -- the Sun King, who reigned for 72 years (1643-1715) -- a series of costly wars and aristocratic extravagances brought the monarchy to an end with the French Revolution in 1792.
Seven years into the First Republic, Napoleon came on the scene and it would take until 1815 to finally stop him. France then tried monarchy again, and went through a series of Republics and two world wars before arriving at the present day Fifth Republic founded by Charles de Gaulle in 1958.
France on Wikipedia