|Capital = Paris
France starts with very good tanks, having unlocked 2 levels of the light tanks tree. This is offset by a major penalty to doctrine research, making it extremely time-consuming to develop proper doctrines. In addition, France's focus tree lacks many research boosts that other majors (and even minors) do have, such as infantry equipment and industry. This makes France a technologically weak country by the time Germany invades.
=== National spirits ===
France starts with four National Spirits in Man the Guns:
[[File:France Maginot Line.jpeg|thumbnail|France relies on the heavy fortifications at the border against [[Germany]] to defend them there.]]
== Strategies and Guides ==
1}} ===Veteran Democratic France - Extend the Maginot=== HoI4 France in 1936 lacks any sort of significant military industry and the political power needed to change mobilization or conscription ideas. In veteran or elite difficulty, France actually loses political power. In addition, French divisions are severely lacking in equipment at the 1936 start, requiring significant time just to get all divisions up to strength. Because of these factors, a democratic France (especially on Veteran/Elite) is unable to field an offensive army by 1939 and should focus purely on defense. ===Focuses=== On veteran difficulty it is absolutely essential to take the political focus tree down to Strengthen Government Support first. It is possible to go either with the Allies or form the Little Entente, but if neither Romania or Yugoslavia join the Little Entente the alliance is pointless (since there's no way to help Czechoslovakia). Of note is that The Little Entende focus gives you extra +10% war support over Go with Britain. That's enough to push you over the 25% needed to enter Partial Mobilization in 1936. After finishing Strengthen Government Support, France gains a national spirit that increases stability for 365 days. Take the French industrial tree down to the extra research slot during this time (350 days total) and then take the defensive military focus. Upon conclusion of the military focus, The strengthen government support national spirit will no longer be present and it will be possible to take the Defensive Stratagems focus, removing Disjointed Government. Alternatively, it is possible to delay taking any focus after the research slot to wait for the government support spirit to disappear and then take Defensive Stratagems. The next focus to take is Levée en Masse. The infantry equipment production bonus is important to give France enough equipment to arm all of its divisions. After that the fortification focus should be taken. During a Little Entente run, the fort construction focuses must be taken and then immediately the invitation focuses to other nations to join the French faction must be taken. During an Allies run, it is possible to first take the Algerian industry focuses and then the fort construction ones. Once these focuses are complete it is up to the player to decide their priorities. ===Research=== France begins with only 3 research slots and a massive penalty to land doctrine research. It is advisable to not research land doctrine until you get rid of the Victors of the Great War debuff and instead focus on industry. It is useful to start the game researching anti-tank so as to have divisions equipped with 1940 anti-tank when war with Germany begins. Researching 1936 fighters before 1937-1938 should also be done so as to begin production before war begins. ===Industry=== All industry should be producing military factories. The default French infantry division template works, though ideally you should add a infantry battalion to make it 20 width, plus support engineers and anti-tank. A good military factory allocation is 8-10 factories to infantry equipment, 4 to support equipment, then 2-3 on artillery and 4-5 on anti-tank. After those are covered, military factories should be devoted to fighters and CAS. In early or mid 1938 industry should be turned to construction of land forts along the Italian and Belgian borders. Land forts cost more to produce the higher the level they are, but the focuses to extend the Maginot line add 2 levels to the Italian and Belgian borders regardless of the current fort level there, so it is more efficient to first construct 3 levels of forts on each state before completing the focuses. ===Army, Air Force, and Navy=== Most French divisions in mainland France should be converted to the basic infantry division at the start of the game. If the player considers having armored divisions, all divisions should be converted to the "Légère Méchanisée" template. However, on veteran difficulty it is more efficient to not use armored divisions at all (until later on in the war when France fully mobilizes) as they require significant industrial investment. It is advised to station about a dozen divisions in Algeria and 4-5 in Egypt (if joining the Allies). Divisions will have to be exercised to gain enough military experience to improve their templates. Engineering and Recon support battalions are useful. Adding anti-tank support battalions is highly recommended when eventually fighting Germany. The French Air Force should get as many fighters as possible after the Army is equipped. Air superiority will prevent forts on the German and Belgian borders from being damaged. Close air support allows for infantry-based pushes and naval bombing in the Mediterranean. The French Navy is useful, but does not require much attention. The default production lines given at the start of 1936 are fine and should complete sometime around 1939 if all dockyards are used to produce it. Be sure to place the two battlecruisers in the Mediterranean to fight the Italian navy. ===War=== War will either break out in 1938 or 1939 depending on what route the player is taking. Players looking to protect Czechoslovakia should have 20-24 infantry divisions sent to Czechoslovakia and 8-12 divisions sent to Yugoslavia to help hold the line. 20 or so divisions is enough to hold the Maginot line in 1938, and all remaining divisions should be placed on the Italian border in the very likely case that Italy declares war on France. As many divisions as possible should be trained the moment war begins to help the Italian front and hold the Belgian border. In the case of a war in 1938, it is possible to launch offensives from Czechoslovakia to create a small pocket against Western Poland, drastically shortening the front and freeing divisions to exploit gaps the stupid AI makes. Without Czechoslovakian factories and with an extremely large front to defend, France can capitulate Germany by 1939 with careful micromanagement. If going to war in 1939, France should have 48-56 divisions on a defensive line from Switzerland to the English Channel along the border with Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Care should be taken to reinforce the tip of the Maginot line, as the easternmost state can be attacked by 24 divisions at once. All remaining divisions should be sent to the Alps against the Italians. As of patch 1.5.4, it seems that the AI will never seriously commit to attacking states with forts over level 6. From my experience, the only time Germany will ever attack the Maginot line seems to be during the initial push into Belgium, presumably because the AI executes a plan across the entire front. Thus, it is possible to hold the line with just 2-3 colonial divisions on each state bordering Germany and Italy. This leaves the player free to commit better divisions to roll over North Africa, hold Switzerland and potentially Spain, invade Italy, and hold Southeast Asia. It is probably also possible to build level 4 forts in limited parts of northern France or on the Italian border to ensure Germany/Italy attacks them and wastes their manpower and equipment, but this is untested.
=== Forming the European Union ===
'''NOTE:''' ''This strategy should not be taken literally (as there is a slight element of randomness in every playthrough, which can complicate things, not to mention that the player is free to devise their own strategies) and should instead be viewed as more of a general guideline.''
France is quite possibly the best candidate to form the European Union as if staying democratic, it can expect to end up in a defensive war against both Germany and Italy, allowing both countries to be annexed in a single peace treaty. The main problem with forming the EU as France is the inability to annex Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg but this can be worked around by going down the French Entente line in the focus tree. Be sure to kick Czechoslovakia out of the faction before Sudetenland as otherwise you will end up in a war with Germany too early. Wait for Germany to capitulate all the minors on the mainland before justifying on an axis member and joining the war.