Q:

What are the physical characteristics of French people?

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Quick Answer

Although most ethnic French have the fair skin associated with the scientifically controversial racial classification of "Caucasoid," the broad similarities end there. France is an ethnically complex country. It has been settled or invaded by many peoples, including but not limited to: Celts, Basques, Greeks, Romans, Germans and Norse. As a result, modern French people are a genetic mix.

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Full Answer

"Caucasoid" denotes the lighter-complexioned theoretically racial group of humankind, which includes the peoples indigenous to Europe, north Africa, southwest Asia, and the Indian subcontinent and their descendants in other parts of the world. The term was used in biological anthropology for many people from these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone. First introduced in early racial science and anthropometry, the term has historically been used to denote one of the proposed major races of humankind. Its validity and utility is disputed by many modern anthropologists.

Multiple so-called "Caucasoid" peoples have settled France in known history, and recent genetic testing has determined a great deal of diversity in modern France. Celtic genes can be found all over France, with concentrations of Germanic traits in Normandy, Picardy, Champagne, Lorraine and Alsace. The Mediterranean coast was settled by Greeks and then by Romans, so the genetic makeup of the French in areas such as Provence, the Langeudoc and Rhone is often shared by modern day Greeks and Italians.

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