The first remains of man in France date back to 450,000BC and Tautavel man is one of the oldest such finds in Europe.
These first settlers, thought to have been from India and the Middle East, appear to have become extinct due to the climatic impact of an ice age.
The remains of buildings, tombs and artifacts indicate that man had again become established in France between 7500BC and 1500BC.
Around 2500BC celts arrived from central Europe and occupied France (then Gaul) until the arrival of other Mediterranean invaders. They were later termed Gauls.
Remains of Etruscan settlements dating back to 800BC have been found. Little is known about the Etruscans, or their language, but they were an advanced people thought to have originated in India prior to settling in North Italy. From their Italian base they became Mediterranean traders. Excavation and research is being carried out at Lattes, Nr Montpellier on one believed settlement.
By 600BC the Greeks had established colonies around the Mediterranean. These colonies were self sufficient and produced wine and olives. Marseille and Agde are both said to have been founded by the Greeks.
They were followed by the Phoenicians, who had established settlements by 550BC. The Phoenicians were an ancient people who occupied the area roughly corresponding to the Lebanon of today. They had been long distance marine traders from at least 1000BC.
Although there had been visits and settlements previously, the Romans began to systematically occupy France around 100BC. By 44BC the majority of modern France (and much of the Mediterranean coast) was controlled by Rome. The Roman empire lasted for around 500 years and at it's greatest extent controlled much of Europe, North Africa and the middle East.
The Romans established cities, linked by roads, throughout their empire.There are many remains in France from this period. The engineering ability of the Romans was greatly superior to anything seen previously in France and many of their construction projects survive today.