"How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?",
Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) was the dominant military and political leader of France, 1940-1969. He was a conservative in the traditionalist sense, and helped restore the leadership of conservatives and Catholics while weakening the Communists and socialists. He was notoriously hostile to the "Anglo-Saxons" (that is the British and the Americans), and pulled France out of the NATO military command, while maintaining political ties with the alliance.
Fleeing the victorious German invaders in 1940, he rejected the new Vichy regime that allied itself to Germany. Général de Gaulle set up his base in London, proclaimed himself the incarnation of France, created the Free French movement, rallied the oversees colonies (especially in Africa), organized the Resistance, and tried, but failed, to gain full recognition from the British and Americans. A firm proponent of democracy, he destroyed the vestiges of the totalitarian Vichy regime. He retired from office in 1946, but returned in 1958 as France verged on civil war over the Algeria crisis. As president (1958-69) during the Fifth Republic, he revised the constitution to provide for presidential control of foreign and military policy, granted independence to Algeria and the African colonies, and restored the nation's economic health. Forging a close bond with Germany, he sought to dominate the European Common Market by vetoing British entry and holding the U.S. at arms length. Exhausted politically and emotionally, he finally left office in 1969. His reputation as the strongest and greatest of French leaders since Napoleon continues into the 21st century.
We may not have always been on good terms with him but I have to wonder if he was the last good president of France?
It looks as though they will turn to another socialist for their salvation in the election today.