November 13, 1907 The first flight of a helicopter that was both piloted and untethered took place near the commune of Coquainvilliers in northwestern France. The pilot was engineer and bicycle-maker Paul Cornu in a twin-rotor aircraft that he had constructed. This experimental helicopter was outfitted with a 24-horsepower (18-kilowatt) Antoinette engine and had an... Continue Reading →

October 23, 1906 Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont made the first sustained and officially witnessed flight in a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe when he piloted his 14-bis biplane in Paris, France. Santos-Dumont came from a family of wealthy coffee producers in his native Brazil, but devoted his life instead to the study of human flight... Continue Reading →

October 22, 1938 Professional cyclist Alfred Letourneur set a new world record during a motor-paced racing competition at a velodrome in Montlhéry, France. Motor-paced racing involves having a cyclist closely follow a motorized vehicle to gain momentum and speed from that vehicle’s slipstream, and Letourneur – while riding his bicycle behind a motorbike in Monthlhéry... Continue Reading →

September 23, 1913 French aviator Roland Garros established two new airborne records when he successfully undertook the longest overseas plane trip up to that point in time and also became the first person to fly across the Mediterranean Sea. The 24-year-old pilot, flying on his own in a two-seat Morane-Saulnier G monoplane, departed the Fréjus... Continue Reading →

September 20, 1910 The ocean liner SS France, which sailed for the French shipping company Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (CGT), was launched into the River Loire at Saint-Nazaire, France. Approximately 2,000 people were on hand to witness the ship’s grand debut. The France, measuring 712 feet (217 meters) in length, became one of the fastest and... Continue Reading →

August 22, 1882 French aviation pioneer Raymonde de Laroche was born in Paris. While originally known as Élise Raymonde Deroche, she adopted Raymonde de Laroche as her name by the time she turned 20 and had begun an acting career. She enjoyed playing sports as a child, but as a young adult, she acquired an... Continue Reading →

August 14, 1893 With the passage of the Paris Police Ordinance, France became the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration. "Each motor vehicle shall bear on a metal plate and in legible writing the name and address of its owner, also the distinctive number used in the application for authorization,” read this ordinance.  “This plate... Continue Reading →

May 6, 1994 The Channel Tunnel, running beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover and linking the port town of Folkestone in southeastern England with the commune of Coquelles in northern France, was officially opened. (“England and France, Now a Train Trip,” proclaimed a headline in the New York Times.) The 31.35-mile (50.45-kilometer)-long tunnel,... Continue Reading →

November 29, 1882 Aviation pioneer Henri Fabre was born in the French city of Marseille. Fabre’s advanced knowledge of science early on in life helped foster his powerful interest in human flight. With unmatched intensity, he studied and developed designs for planes and propellers. The result of Fabre’s efforts was his creation of the first... Continue Reading →

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