Sid Meier's Civilization V

Sid Meier's Civilization V

176 ratings
Zigzagzigal's Guide to France (BNW)
By Zigzagzigal
France has two bonuses to tourism that work in different ways, making them one of the strongest Civs around at cultural victories and a great introductory Civ for such a route. This guide goes into plenty of detail about French strategies, uniques and how to play against them.
Note: This guide assumes you have all game-altering DLC and expansion packs (all Civ packs, Wonders of the Ancient World, Gods & Kings and Brave New World)

Countless nations have risen to prominence before sinking once more into obscurity. In Western Europe, the turbulence after the fall of the Roman Empire saw many such kingdoms. But by the 14th century of the common era, that would change, as a stable French nation would emerge. But so would a stable nation to the north - England. Starting in the Hundred Years' War, the greatest rivalry of all time would begin. France would win, and with the discovery of the "New World" a few decades later, would begin to make their power not just regional, but global. Yet England (later becoming Britain) also gained colonial power, and the Seven Years War from 1756-1763 would see France lose many of their colonial territories. A few years later, France backed the American Revolutionary War against the British, but the ideals of republicanism in the American Revolution helped lead the way to the French Revolution.

In many national histories, such political turmoil would be the end of international power, but then one man would seize power and build an even stronger French Empire - Napoleon. He would eventually be defeated, but over the following century, France would create a vast empire, with claims on every continent. And gradually, the world's two most powerful empires of Britain and France would turn from rivals to allies. And yet, for all their international strength, both nations were left relatively vulnerable in Europe. Two World Wars would devastate them, and shift the world's power away from them. Decolonisation would be a difficult process, but France now remains one of the world's great powers. After over 600 years, France continues to maintain a level of strength that few nations have ever had. Their culture is legendary, their influence persists - the French civilization truly is one built to stand the test of time.

Before I go into depth with this guide, here's an explanation of some terminology I'll be using throughout for the sake of newer players.

Beelining - Focusing on obtaining a technology early by only researching technologies needed to research it and no others. For example, to beeline Iron Working, you'd research Mining, Bronze Working and Iron Working, and nothing else until Iron Working was finished.
Builder Nation/Empire - A generally peaceful nation seeking victories other than domination.
Finisher - The bonus for completing a Social Policy tree (e.g. Free Great Person for Liberty.)
GP - Refers to "Great People" in this guide, rather than "Great Prophet".
GWAM - Great Writers, Artists and Musicians. These are the three Great People who can make Great Works for tourism leading to a cultural victory.
Opener - The bonus for unlocking a Social Policy tree (e.g. +1 culture for every city for Liberty's opener)
Tall Empire - An empire with a low number of cities with a high population each.
Uniques - Collective name for Unique Abilities, Units, Buildings, Tile Improvements and Great People
UA - Unique Ability - The unique thing a Civilization has which doesn't need to be built.
UI - Unique Improvement (also referred to as Unique Tile Improvement) - A special form of worker tile improvement that can only be built by one Civilization. Unlike unique buildings and units, it doesn't replace anything else.
UU - Unique Unit - A replacement for a normal unit that can only be built by one Civilization or provided by Militaristic City-States when allied.
Wide Empire - An empire with a large number of cities with a low population each. An extreme version of this is ICS, or Infinite City Sprawl.
At a glance (Part 1/2)
Start Bias

France has no starting bias.


France's uniques really get going in the mid-game (their UI is medieval-era and their UU comes in the early renaissance) and both their UA and UI get even stronger as the game goes on.

Unique Ability: City of Light

  • Great Work theming bonuses are doubled in the capital*

*The description of the UA claims that only World Wonder and Museum theming bonuses are affected, but in reality it's all of them.

Unique Unit: Musketeer (Replaces the Musketman)

A gunpowder melee unit
Upgrades from
Upgrades to
Production cost
Purchase cost
Resource needed

Renaissance era
1st column
(8th column overall)

Industrial era
1st column
(10th column overall)


*Assumes a normal speed game.

Ranged Strength
Negative Attributes
Positive Attributes
2Movement Points

Positive one-off changes

  • 28 strength, up from 24 (+17%)

Unique Improvement: Chateau
Note: Throughout this guide, I'm spelling this unique as Chateau rather than Château for ease of CTRL+F use.

Terrain Requirement
Base yield
Misc bonuses
Final yield*

Medieval era
2nd column
(7th column overall)

Modern era
1st column
(12th column overall)
Adjacent to a luxury resource** and not another Chateau, in your own territory
  • +50% defence to units on the tile
*Note that Hotels, Airports and the National Visitor Centre will add tourism based off culture produced (Hotels and Airports: 50% of culture generated added to tourism. National Visitor Centre: 100%)
**Any luxury resource works, including sea-based ones and the unique Indonesian luxuries
At a glance (Part 2/2)
Victory Routes

Note these scores are a matter of personal opinion based on experiences with the Civilization. You may discover a way of utilising the Civ more effectively in unconventional ways.

Cultural: 10/10
Diplomatic: 7/10
Domination: 6/10
Scientific: 5/10

France should go for a cultural victory, though Chateau gold is good for a diplomatic backup.

Similar Civs and uniques


The Civ most alike France is Brazil. Both Civs have two sets of tourism bonuses giving them the highest tourism potential of any Civs in the game. France tends to have a higher tourism output than Brazil in the mid-game, but it's often the other way around in the late-game.

Start bias

France's lack of a start bias is shared with America, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, the Maya, Persia, Rome and the Shoshone.

Similar to the UA

Other Civs with bonuses around wonders are Egypt (which has a 20% production bonus towards them) and Korea (which gets a lump sum of science if they build the Great Library, National College, Oxford University in their capital (in addition to the four standard science buildings and the Observatory.)

Aside from France and Korea, Civs with capital-centric UAs include Rome (which constructs buildings 25% faster if they already exist in their capital) and Venice (which can only have puppet cities aside from their capital. Neatly, these four Civs fit into each of the four victory routes - France for culture, Korea for science, Rome for domination and Venice for diplomacy.

Similar to Musketeers

The other Musketman UUs are Ottoman Janissaries, American Minutemen and Spanish Tercios. Tercios are the unit most alike Musketeers - they also have a strength bonus (to a lesser extent) and similarly, no unit prior to the industrial era counters them. They're more expensive than Musketeers, but have a bonus towards mounted units.

Another front-line unit with a strength bonus is Rome's Legion.

Similar to Chateaux

Chateaux are one of three unique improvements which add culture (and tourism with Hotels, Airports and the National Visitor Centre) along with Brazilwood Camps and Polynesia's Moai. Unless you get lucky with your land formations as Polynesia, Chateaux tend to have the highest overall yields, but are harder to build in large quantities than the other unique improvements.

Other unique improvements with defensive bonuses akin to a fort include Morocco's Kasbahs and Portugal's Feitoria. The former is restricted to deserts within your own lands, and the latter is restricted to City-State territory.
Unique Ability: City of Light

France has two uniques to help them out at a cultural victory; this UA and the Chateau UI. Both of which will add tourism (the key component of cultural victories) as well as culture, but they work in very different ways. You'll be able to make use of this UA starting around the medieval and renaissance eras, but Chateaux won't add tourism until at least the modern era.

How theming bonuses work

Your UA doubles theming bonuses while in the capital. It helps to know how the whole theming bonus thing works.

When going towards a cultural victory, you'll need lots of tourism. Earlier in the game, the main source of that is Great Works, made by Great Writers, Artists and Musicians. Great Works have to be placed in an appropriate Great Work slot (found in the cultural line of buildings, certain World Wonders and the Cathedral, a religious building.)

Any building or wonder with space for more than one Great Work will have a special culture and tourism bonus if you manage to fill all its slots to its special criteria - this is the theming bonus.

Following is a list of all the buildings and wonders offering theming bonuses; the theming bonuses shown are the base scores before France's UA or the Aesthetics finisher is taken into account. A more detailed one is in the following section.

  • Broadway (World Wonder, 3 base theming bonus)
  • Globe Theatre (World Wonder, 2 base theming bonus)
  • Great Library (World Wonder, 2 base theming bonus)
  • Hermitage (National Wonder, 3 base theming bonus)
  • Louvre (World Wonder, 4 base theming bonus)
  • Museum (Building, 2 base theming bonus, or 1 if the criteria is mostly but not entirely fufilled)
  • Oxford University (National Wonder, 2 base theming bonus)
  • Sistine Chapel (World Wonder, 2 base theming bonus)
  • Sydney Opera House (World Wonder, 2 base theming bonus)
  • Uffizi (World Wonder, 3 base theming bonus)

Pre-renaissance wonders all have Great Writing-based theming bonuses, ones in the renaissance and industral eras all focus on Great Art and Artifacts (aside from the Globe Theatre,) while post-industrial theming bonuses all focus on Great Music.

The total possible base theming bonus in one city is 25, meaning 25 tourism and 25 culture on top of all that from the Great Works. Hotels, Airports and the National Visitor Centre increase tourism from Great Works, but do not affect theming bonuses.

Getting the UA going

Above: These theming bonuses are after getting the Aesthetics finisher, meaning the theming bonuses here are four times the base. Note that Oxford University's bonus isn't doubled by France's UA, being outside the capital. This was a mistake I made, not realising that National Wonder theming bonuses are doubled in the capital.

Tourism generally takes off in the modern era, where the Hotel building is avaliable to add culture from worked tiles and World Wonders to tourism (while also increasing the tourism contribution from Great Works.) France, however, has a fairly decent bonus to tourism before then, meaning until the late-game, you can be the dominant Civ for tourism generation (except maybe those making use of the Sacred Sites Reformation belief.)

There's two significant challenges, however. First of all, most theming bonuses are tied to World Wonders, meaning another Civ can deny you a major chunk of your UA by taking those wonders before you. Additionally, your UA only works in your capital, so you'll need to develop it into a very good wonder-builder (giving it food and production from internal Trade Routes will help here.)

France should build tall in order to make a strong capital, but don't just place all your attention on your capital. It's a good idea to build the National College in a city besides your capital so you don't end up dedicating too many of your capital's citizens towards science rather than production, and having a GWAM-producing city separate from your capital will help take pressure off it, too.

Generally, the way you should play the game is to try and grab technologies with theming bonus wonders as soon as possible, (with the occasional detour such as to Chivalry for Chateaux and Gunpowder for Musketeers,) and achieve such theming bonuses as soon as possible. Avoid using Great Writers and Artists for purposes other than Great Works - your aim is to make as much tourism as possible, as soon as possible. Play peacefully and be sure your capital is well-defended.

Maximising Output

Like any cultural Civ, you'll want to make use of the positive tourism modifiers in order to maximise tourism output on certain Civs. Focus more on those Civs with a particularly high culture output (rival cultural Civs, for example) or those you discovered later than other Civs (you can't accumulate tourism against Civs you haven't met.)

These are all the positive tourism modifiers towards single Civs, excluding those from ideologies:

  • International Trade Route with them, doesn't matter who set it up (+25% tourism, +40% with Cultural Diplomacy in the Aesthetics Social Policy tree)
  • Open Borders with them (+25% tourism, +40% with Cultural Diplomacy)
  • Shared religion in a majority of your and their cities, doesn't matter who's religion it is (+25% tourism, +40% with Cultural Diplomacy)
  • A Diplomat in the Civ's capital (+25% tourism)
  • The Internet technology, unless they have the Great Firewall wonder (+100% tourism)

You will have a 33% penalty to tourism to Civs with a different ideology to you.

Advantages of early tourism

France is one of the strongest Civs around at pre-modern era tourism, though that typically won't win you the game. Still, there are advantages of getting influential over other Civs early on. International Trade Routes with such Civs will generate you extra science, which makes the routes practical to use even if you have a tech advantage. Spies become more effecitve.

Most interestingly, this can happen.

Above: A Civ with 20 unhappiness or worse, with a different ideology to you, can end up peacefully losing cities to you. Wide Civs tend to have more culture to defend against your tourism, but less happiness to stop city-flipping.


France is probably the most capital-dependent of the cultural Civs. It's important to make your capital as capable as possible of building theming-bonus wonders, while your other cities deal with other aspects of running your empire. France doesn't play the same way as it did before the Brave New World expansion - it's best off playing defensively rather than aggressively.
List of Theming Bonuses
Following is a detailed list of all the buildings and wonders which have theming bonuses for filling their Great Work slots in the correct way. These are listed in order of chronology of technology, or alphabetical order for buildings and wonders in the same tech column.

Great Library

  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Writing technology (Ancient era, 2nd column, 3rd column overall)
  • 2 x Great Writing slots
  • Theming bonus: 2 (4 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 8 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be of different Civs and eras.
  • Note: Due to the theming bonus' requirement of different eras and the fact the earliest you can generate a Great Writer is the classical era, it's impossible to achieve the theming bonus until the medieval era.

Oxford University
  • National Wonder
  • Requires the Education technology (Medieval era, 2nd column, 5th column overall)
  • 2 x Great Writing slots
  • Theming bonus: 2 (4 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 8 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be of different eras, and their origin cannot be from your Civ.

Globe Theatre

  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Printing Press technology (Renaissance era, 1st column, 6th column overall)
  • 2 x Great Writing slots
  • Theming bonus: 2 (4 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 8 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be of the same era and Civ.
  • Note: Provides a free Great Writer

Sistine Chapel
  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Acoustics technology (Renaissance era, 1st column, 6th column overall)
  • 2 x Great Art/Artifact slots
  • Theming bonus: 2 (4 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 8 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be Art, from the same era and Civ.


  • National Wonder
  • Requires the Architecture technology (Renaissance era, 2nd column, 7th column overall)
  • 3 x Great Art/Artifact slots
  • Theming bonus: 3 (6 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 12 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be Art, from different eras and Civs.

  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Architecture technology (Renaissance era, 2nd column, 7th column overall)
  • 3 x Great Art/Artifact slots
  • Theming bonus: 3 (6 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 12 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be of the same era and Civ.
  • Note: Provides a free Great Artist. Requires opening the Aesthetics tree to build.


  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Archaeology technology (Industrial era, 1st column, 8th column overall)
  • 4 x Great Art/Artifact slots
  • Theming bonus: 4 (8 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 16 with both)
  • To achieve: 2 Great Works should be Art, the other 2 Artifacts. They must be all of different Civs and eras to each other.
  • Note: Provides a free Great Artist. Requires opening the Exploration tree to build.

  • Building
  • Requires the Archaeology technology (Industrial era, 1st column, 8th column overall)
  • 2 x Great Art/Artifact slots
  • Theming bonus: 2 (4 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 8 with both)
  • To achieve: Both slots should be filled with either Artifacts or Great Art, from the same Civ and the same era.
  • Note: Requires an Opera House in the city to build. Achieving two of the criteria will give half the theming bonus. This is the only regular building with a theming bonus; all other things with theming bonuses can only be built in one city.


  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Radio technology (Modern era, 1st column, 9th column overall)
  • 3 x Great Music slots
  • Theming bonus: 3 (6 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 12 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be of the same era and Civ.
  • Note: Provides a free Great Musician. Remember that Great Music cannot be traded, so it's a good idea to hang on to a Great Musician until the modern era to help with getting the theming bonus.

Sydney Opera House

  • World Wonder
  • Requires the Ecology technology (Atomic era, 2nd column, 12th column overall)
  • 2 x Great Music slots
  • Theming bonus: 2 (4 in France's capital or with the Aesthetics finisher, 8 with both)
  • To achieve: Great Works must be of the same Civ but different eras
  • Note: Remember that Great Music cannot be traded.
Unique Improvement: Chateau

Your UA will become somewhat less effective in the late-game as the tourism there gets drowned out by other sources, but thankfully, France has another way - the Chateau UI. Hotels, Airports and the National Visitor Centre will add tourism based off the cultural output of Chateaux.

It'll take a while to get there, though, so let's first consider the uses of Chateaux before they start adding tourism.

Pre-modern era

Chateaux become available in with the Chivalry technology, which isn't far off Acoustics and is on the way to Architecture - both technologies strong for cultural Civs. As such, you don't need to make any great diversion to pick up Chateaux. (You do need to go on quite a diversion for Musketeers, but their strength allows you to hold off on further military technologies for quite a while.)

Chateaux at first generate 1 gold and 2 culture per turn, making them completely superior to trading posts when you first get them. You can place them on any land terrain type, including hills. One catch, however - you can only place them next to luxury resources, and not next to each other. This creates an interesting puzzle of how to position your Chateaux in order to get as many workable as possible.

Above: I replaced this Chateau with a farm and placed a new one to the south-west, then I moved the one to the north-east of my Worker to the right to allow for an extra one. Having to go through the process of replacing Chateaux is my own fault for not planning out the placement of them.

Under standard conditions on a map with randomised resource locations, you should have at least two luxuries in range of your capital (3 is common, but it can be as much as 4.) This often means that your capital will have some of the best Chateau potential in your empire, though as Chateaux don't offer production or food to help out with building tall and wonder construction, it may be best for your capital not to work too many earlier on, if any.

So, what to use that gold and culture for? Well, the culture is mainly useful for eating up Social Policies - for example, to complete the Aesthetics tree sooner and take advantage of its tourism bonuses. The gold can let you dedicate some trade routes to provide Paris with extra production and food without your economy ending up in a poor state, or maybe buy off some City-States to help push the World Congress the way you want.

Aside from the gold and culture (and the tourism later on,) Chateaux offer a 50% defensive bonus identical to that of a Fort - as your capital should have a high number of potential Chateau spots, you can keep it well-defended without having to build yield-free improvements. The fact you can't place Chateaux adjacent to each other isn't really a problem due to the Zone of Control mechanic (though Autocracy Civs can ignore that when using armoured units, with the Lightning Warfare tenet.)

The Problem

While Chateaux offer good culture and some gold, that comes at the cost of working food and production tiles. Prior to late-game tourism buildings, it's probably best not to be working them full-time as a result. Instead, switch from food tiles if you're having happiness issues, or from production tiles if you've got little worth building in a city.


With the Flight technology, Chateaux gain 2 gold and 1 culture. They now offer the gold of Trading Posts boosted by both Economics and the Commerce finisher, combined with 3 culture, making them one of the highest yielding UIs around. The tripling of Chateau gold comes at a time where competition for City-States in the World Congress gets more fierce, so you can stay competitive there and carry on pushing for what you want to pass.

Around the same time is when Hotels come along, making your Chateaux add to tourism. From this point, it's a good idea to work as many Chateaux as possible (except for cities building wonders.) You can win the game very quickly with use of tourism multipliers, even before placing the National Visitor Centre in your capital or reaching the Internet technology.

So, France has two bonuses to tourism that work in different ways. Doubled theming bonuses in the capital, (which is strongest in the mid-game,) and late-game tourism added to Chateaux. While in the end-game, Brazil (the other Civ with two tourism bonuses) will be better at gaining tourism than France, France is better at accumulating tourism earlier on, which can lead to an earlier cultural victory.
Unique Unit: Musketeer

While the Musketeer is the one unique thing France has that didn't change for the Brave New World expansion, its role has changed due to France's UA and UI encouraging a more peaceful path. They still are one of the strongest pre-industrial era units in pure strength, but they're only 17% strongest than a standard Musketman, and going to invade other Civs with them will distract you from all the important wonders of the era.

Instead, use your Musketeers defensively. Unlike other high-strength UUs of the renaissance era, Musketeers receive defensive bonuses - place them on top of a Chateau, and they'll defend at effectively 42 strength, making them able to resist pretty much any attack that comes their way until the modern era. As such, after researching Gunpowder, you can safely put off further military technologies for quite some time to focus on getting more cultural technologies.

Special promotions kept on upgrade

Social Policies
Start with Tradition for the capital and wonder-building bonuses. Then, getting Aesthetics will help for culture, and the Exploration opener allows the Louvre wonder, which has a bigger theming bonus than any other wonder. After that, you could finish Exploration for the hidden Antiquity Sites, but the rest of the tree lacks synergy with your uniques. If all else fails, Rationalism is an all-round tree which will get you to Hotels and Airports faster.



City borders tend to expand towards luxury resources fairly early on, so quicker border expansion via culture makes it easier to get all those good Chateau spots.


Saves you a little bit of cash on unit maintenance and lets you quickly kill any enemies getting too close to your cities.


New cities (up to your 4th) can expand their borders right away, and you'll save on a bit of production and maintenance.

Landed Elite

Let's make Paris bigger! Your capital will be the source of most of your empire's tourism, after all, so you'll want to make it as good as possible.


The time to take this policy is flexible depending on when you plan to build your first wonder. If you want a shot at a wonder earlier, take this policy earlier and vice versa.


It's important to make your capital a tall and strong city for building wonders. Monarchy makes sure growing Paris to a great height won't hurt your happiness much, and rewards you with a helpful sum of gold for whatever purpose you see fit.


Helps Paris and your other first cities to grow taller. A nice advantage of Tradition's finisher is that you don't need to research Engineering in order to get those Aqueducts, so if you're too busy on the top half of the tech tree, it doesn't matter as much.

Additionally, finishing Tradition lets you faith-purchase Great Engineers once you're in the industrial era. Usually, you should spend faith on GWAMs (finishing Aesthetics allows that) but if you need to rush a cultural wonder, a Great Engineer can often be more useful.



There's only ever two specialist slots for each kind of GWAM, so a bonus to their generation will certainly be useful. This opener also unlocks the Uffizi wonder, one of those with a theming bonus.

Cultural Centres

With all those theming bonus wonders, your capital will have little time for anything else. As such, saving time on cultural building construction will be of a great benefit. Note that this bonus doesn't apply to buying the buildings - spend gold on production and science buildings instead, and construct cultural buildings the old fashioned way for maximum efficency.

Fine Arts

Generally, this policy is relatively weak. A small amount of culture will help Social Policy gain a little, but on the whole the main reason to get this policy is because it's required to get any further.

Flourishing of the Arts

This is a huge bonus to culture in your capital in particular due to the extra culture from increased theming bonuses. You can really eat up those Social Policies now.

Cultural Exchange

Do not neglect these tourism modifiers. All three together are now worth a 120% bonus. Add a diplomat in the other Civ's capital, and it's 145%. That's just a little short of two and a half times normal tourism output.

Remember that a religion in more than half of your cities and more than half of the cities of another Civ will grant the "shared religion" bonus, regardless of whether or not the religion was founded by you. The Open Borders agreement can be a one-sided one (where you have open borders with another Civ and they don't have it with you) and the International Trade Route can be owned by either of you.

Artistic Genius

Generally, I'd take this policy last. Partially due to the power of Cultural Exchange, and partially due to the fact Great Art slots are rare earlier in the game. If you can't fill a Great Work slot with that Great Artist, hang on to it until you can - the tourism and theming bonus potential will be more useful than a short Golden Age.


Essentially, your UA in Social Policy form (though this affects all cities, not just your capital.) Together, theming bonuses are now worth four times the culture and tourism that they are to any other Civ without this finisher - the Louvre is worth 16 points of each, for example.



You're not here for the speed and sight bonuses for naval units (though they are useful for exploring uncharted seas.) It's all about the Louvre wonder. The 16 tourism theming bonus (with the Aesthetics finisher) is too good to pass up.

Unless your empire is mostly coastal, it's not really worth completing the Exploration tree just for the sake of a few hidden Antiquity Sites.



After Aesthetics and the Exploration opener, there's no particular Social Policy tree that shines out for France, though getting more science will be useful to get Hotels and Airports going sooner to make full use of your Chateaux. More science, such as that from this opener.


Now, filling all those GWAM slots will pay off with some science. Which means you can get to Hotels and Airports faster, etcetera...


If you lack befriended Civs or gold, go down the right-hand-side of Rationalism first. Otherwise, you can head towards Scientific Revolution for the bonus to Research Agreements. The gold Sovereignty offers will help you in that endeavour.

Scientific Revolution

Research Agreements are a good use of Chateau gold, and this policy helps you to get more out of them. The science gained by both Civs is based on the lowest science generation of the two Civs (meaning it's equal for the two of you before modifiers such as this policy are taken into account) so you don't need to worry about the other Civ getting more science than you (unless they have both this policy and the Porcelain Tower.)


The Great Person Point costs of GWAMs aren't raised by generating other types of Great People, so it's fine to dedicate a city to Great Scientist generation.

Free Thought

Universities now have a 50% science multiplier rather than 33%. The trading post bonus is fairly useless as Chateaux are better at the role of being a gold-generating improvement (the main function of trading posts.)


Free technologies are good for everyone. It's rather useful for dealing with a fork in the technology tree where there's two useful technologies - just research one and rush the other with this finisher.
Freedom suits France's style of gameplay the best of the three ideologies, with bonuses to building tall and the most reliable tourism bonus of the three ideologies.

In this section, I'll show the best choices from each "inverted pyramid" of tenets (3 from level one, 2 from level two, 1 from level three.) The situation you have in your game may merit choices different to those I have listed here (e.g. taking Capitalism in the Freedom tree if you're particularly low on happiness.)

Level One Policies - Freedom

Avant Garde

A Great Person generation bonus means more frequent GWAMs.

Creative Expression

A good boost to culture will get you to the more powerful bonuses of this tree even faster.

Civil Society

Helps to grow your capital to even greater heights, helpful for building the last few wonders or suchlike.

Level Two Policies - Freedom

New Deal

Antiquity Sites in range of a city are worth turning into a Landmark due to the high culture contribution, as well as tourism with a Hotel, Airport or the National Visitor Centre. New Deal adds 4 culture to Landmarks, which is worth at least 4 tourism per Landmark with both Hotels and Airports in cities.

Additionally, Great Tile Improvements (aside from Citadels) are more effective. As generating Great People that can place Great Tile Improvements won't affect the generation of GWAMs and vice versa, it's fine to make plenty of them over the course of the game, meaning you can take full advantage of this bonus.

Universal Suffrage

Golden Ages might not help your tourism (you're not Brazil, after all) but they are good for production for wonder-building. Your Great Artists should still generally be used for Great Works rather than Golden Ages, but thanks to the extra happiness, Golden Ages generated the normal way will be more frequent.

Level Three Policy - Freedom

Media Culture

Getting a Broadcast Tower up in Paris isn't hard at all, and unlike Order's Dictatorship of the Proletariat or Autocracy's Cult of Personality, maintaining that tourism bonus is effortless. This will greatly help on the way to victory.
Getting a religion will be of great advantage to France, particularly if it can be pushed as a World Religion in the World Congress. Your Chateau gold will help in buying City-State alliances to help you in this cause (or bribing full Civs to vote on your side.) Alternatively, send Missionaries to a Civ focused on City-State alliances to encourage them to vote your way.

Above: With your bulk of your tourism based in your capital, making it your holy city and getting that 50% bonus there goes further than it does for any other Civ. Germany had the bulk of World Congress votes in this game, so I could easily pass the resolution.

Sometimes, getting a religion isn't viable (particularly on very high difficulties, and building tall makes it harder to found a religion) and you can certainly win without one, but the potential gain will make the rest of the game easier.


Note: As usual, highly-situational Pantheons (e.g. resource dependent ones) aren't listed here. Some kind of faith-giving Pantheon is a good idea for giving you a better shot at getting a religion.


A lovely multipurpose Pantheon, which has quite an impact early in the game. It has faith, to help get to a religion sooner. It has production, helping to build some early wonders. On top of gold, culture and science. True, it's only one point of each, but that makes a massive difference when you're only generating single digits of each.

God of Craftsmen

A helpful advantage for getting through those really early wonders, or developing your capital's infrastructure so it's ready for them.

Monument to the Gods

The fact this is the only Pantheon that obseletes is a problem, but it'll help you out with certain wonders like the Great Library and the Parthenon. The former is the earliest wonder with theming bonuses, the latter one of the earliest sources of tourism.

Fertility Rites

Helps to grow your cities (particularly your capital) just a little bit faster.



Tithe is a great choice as a belief if you don't think you'll be able to spread your religion much beyond your own cities, but it's also useful for buying out City-States' favour to help push through a World Religion vote.


More faith helps to give you an edge to Missionary and Great Prophet generation, in turn helping to convert even more cities and win over more Civs to your World Religion cause.

World Church

More culture helps to eat through Social Policies faster. In particular, it'll be good for finishing the Aesthetics tree and getting those tourism bonuses sooner.


Religious Community

There's up to a 15% production bonus on offer here, which is of great benefit to wonder building in the capital or just building things in general. Additionally, as follower beliefs go, it's one of the harder ones for other Civs to use if you spread your religion to their lands due to the requirement of a high number of followers to get the full bonus. As such, replacing a rival religion with your own in other Civs' cities can both help you and weaken the other Civs at the same time.


Prior to the industrial era, Great Art slots are rather rare and as such you may have to hold on to Great Artists for quite some time. With this belief, you can solve that problem.

Divine Inspiration

Making Paris your Holy City makes it incredibly difficult for any Civ to convert it, meaning you can make great use of this faith from wonders to push your religion into other Civs' lands.

Religious Art

While this is only useful for one city in your empire, that will make it harder for other Civs to exploit the culture and tourism bonuses if your religion spreads into their lands. Notably, it's one of only two beliefs to directly add to tourism (the other being Sacred Sites, but that requires getting the Reformation Social Policy.)


Religious Texts

Helps to keep rival religions at bay without having to spend lots of faith on it.


You'll generate a lot of Great People over the course of the game due to building tall, so you can get a decent amount of faith out of it with this belief. That'll be good for pushing your religion further, or simply for buying more GWAMs later in the game.

Defender of the Faith

Musketeers and Chateau defence will only go so far, and you have so much resting on your capital, you won't want it to fall. A 20% bonus to combat near your cities with your religion is quite significant (it makes Musketeers roughly equal to Riflemen, assuming no other bonuses on either side) and will make it easier to repel invaders.
World Congress
You can use Chateaux gold to buy favour in City-States to get the decisions you want in the World Congress. Notably important decisions not listed here includes the World Religion decision (which can give you 50% extra tourism in your holy city - make it your capital and rake in those tourists) and preventing embargoes towards other Civs (it'll deny you the tourism bonus from trading with them.)

Note "priority" refers to how high you should prioritise your votes if it comes up, not how much you should prioritise putting them forward. If Babylon wants Science Funding, you should prioritise to vote no, for example. If you could put forward a vote, then it'd be a bad idea to put Science Funding on the table.

Arts Funding

High priority
Vote yes

Cultural Heritage Sites

Very High priority
Vote yes

More culture for wonders will mean more tourism with Hotels, Airports and the National Visitor Centre.

Embargo City-States

Very Low priority

No point angering anyone over this vote. You won't really need to trade with City-States.

Historical Landmarks

High priority
Vote yes unless you lack Antiquity Sites and Great Tile Improvements

Landmark culture can be added to tourism, so increasing it is a powerful move.

International Games

Very High priority
Vote yes

If it passes, drop everything and concentrate on contributing to it. That double tourism is very strong indeed and may very well win you the game before it runs out.

International Space Station

High priority
Vote no

Natural Heritage Sites

Low priority
Vote yes unless you have no Natural Wonders

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Medium-High priority
Vote yes

Scholars in Residence

Medium priority
Vote yes unless you're in the lead technologically speaking

Sciences Funding

High priority
Vote no

Standing Army Tax

Medium priority
Vote yes

World's Fair

High priority
Vote yes
To make the most of your UA, you'll need to build plenty of wonders with theming bonuses in your capital. Because your capital will almost certainly receive the National Visitor Centre later on, any high-culture wonders will be worth having there too. Other useful wonders should go in cities besides your capital to not overstretch it (with the exception of single-city infrastructure wonders like the Hanging Gardens.)

Here is a selection of some of the best wonders for France, arranged alphabetically in each era.

Ancient Era

Great Library
Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

You can't actually get the theming bonus going until at you're in at least the classical era, and one Civ is at least in the medieval era, but this wonder is still the earliest source of theming bonuses. The problem is, the free technology and science makes it a very powerful and hence competed-over wonder. On the highest difficulties, pass up this wonder and go for something else instead.


Useful for getting a religion going sooner. If you can establish a religion early on, you can spread it sooner hence making it easier to win support for a World Religion proposal.

Additionally, Stonehenge offers a Great Engineer point. This can help get you a Great Engineer in time for the midgame theming bonus wonders.

Temple of Artemis

Helps with both building tall (it grants a 10% food bonus, not growth, which is significantly better than it may at first appear) and defence with fast ranged unit production. Good if you don't think you'll have time to build many early wonders.

Like Stonehenge, the Temple of Artemis offers an early Great Engineer point.

Classical Era

Hanging Gardens (Tradition Only)
Infrastructure wonder - favour building in your capital

The huge bonus to food will help Paris to grow into a strong city, which will be great for wonder-building.


While a lower-priority wonder as early ones go, a free Social Policy will still be useful for finishing the Tradition tree sooner, or getting into Aesthetics faster.


While not a theming bonus wonder, it nonetheless is useful for having one of the game's earliest sources of tourism, which can really accumulate by the end of the game.

Medieval Era

Borobudur or Hagia Sophia

Either of these will help out with spreading a religion early on

Renaissance Era

By now, you hopefully should have a city besides your capital capable of building wonders. You're going to need it, as Paris is going to be very busy with theming bonus wonders...

Globe Theatre
Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

The last source of Great Writing slots, beyond this point it's going to get difficult to find spaces to put Great Writing unless you've got plenty of cities. So, it's important to pick up this wonder to stop a Great Writer going to waste.

Himeji Castle
Favour building this outside your capital

If you need some extra defence. Himeji Castle comes at the same technology as Musketeers, so unlike other defensive wonders, you don't need a huge diversion to get there. A 15% bonus will make Musketeers in friendly terrain roughly half way between a non-boosted Gatling Gun and a Rifleman in strength.

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Favour building this outside your capital

A highly-competitive wonder but one of the only ways to increase GWAM generation. Plus, you get a free Great Person. A Great Engineer to rush a theming bonus wonder isn't a bad idea.

Porcelain Tower (Rationalism Only)
Favour building this outside your capital

A free Great Scientist is good for everyone. Remember, try to get a city aside from your capital with the National College, and plant an academy there rather than taking precious food, production and Chateau potential away from Paris. Additionally, Research Agreements are more effective with this wonder if you feel like spending some Chateau gold on some.

Sistine Chapel
Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

France's culture generation is already high, so a 25% bonus goes a long way. More importantly, this wonder's a source of Great Art slots, which are rare at this point in the game.

Uffizi (Aesthetics Only)
Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

Another source of Great Art slots, with a good theming bonus and a free Great Artist.

Industrial Era

Louvre (Exploration Only)
Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

There's a potential theming bonus of 16 here, which is a really significant amount of tourism at this point in the game. No-one gets as much out of the Louvre as France, so make sure you get it before someone else!

Modern Era

Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

You can't trade Great Music, so keep hold of a couple of Great Musicians for the modern era or have some faith ready to buy some.

Cristo Redentor
High culture wonder - favour building in your capital

A lower-priority wonder, but one that adds a good amount of tourism once the National Visitor Centre is up and running.

Eiffel Tower
Favour building this outside your capital

The Eiffel Tower offers a good amount of tourism, but it doesn't really matter which city you build it in. Have it outside the capital so it can focus on other wonders.

Statue of Liberty (Freedom Only)
Favour building this outside your capital

All specialists and unemployed citizens gain a point of production, which will make quite a contribution to production in your taller cities. A high-priority wonder due to its power, but you don't have to build it in your capital.

Atomic Era

Great Firewall
Favour building this outside your capital

The Great Firewall blocks the doubled tourism from the Internet technology, and as such, you won't want any other Civ getting hold of it. France's high culture output combined with this wonder will also make things difficult for other cultural Civs.

Sydney Opera House
Theming bonus wonder - favour building in your capital

Even if your capital's not coastal, the Sydney Opera House will still be a useful wonder for the two Great Music slots and its theming bonus.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Originally, before the Brave New World expansion, France was a kind of cultural/warmonger hybrid Civ. Now, they're more of a peaceful cultural Civ. Don't make the mistake of playing them the same way as they used to be played, and watch out for these other pitfalls:

Diving right into the Great Library

It's the earliest wonder with theming bonuses, but on higher difficulties, the Great Library is incredibly difficult to obtain. Plus, time spent on building it is time that could be spent on building infrastructure in your capital for further wonders.

Making your capital build lots of non-theming bonus wonders

You don't have time to dedicate your capital to every wonder you want. Build up a good second city so useful non-theming bonus wonders like the Statue of Liberty can go there, taking some pressure off your capital.

Building the Hermitage and Oxford University outside the capital

These are the two National Wonders with theming bonuses, which are doubled by France's UA if in the capital (despite the wording suggesting otherwise.) Those two National Wonders and the Museum building are the only 100% reliable sources of theming bonuses - all the others are tied to World Wonders, which someone else can build before you.

Not carefully planning Chateau spots

Going into the strategic view can make it easier to see where your Chateaux are in relation to each other and luxuries. Try to make as many in range of your cities as possible - position them carefully so you don't have to move any.

Beelining Gunpowder

Musketeers are best-used defensively, so you can keep invaders at bay while focusing on cultural technologies. Beelining a UU you intend to use defensively is redundant unless you're threatened with an attack very soon. If you want to conquer the world with a Musketman UU, try playing America or the Ottomans - their other uniques sync better with such a route.
City of Darkness: The Counter-Strategies
France has above-average defence and will have the game's highest consistent tourism output if not kept in check, but they do have quite a few vulnerabilities.

Playing against the City of Light

Nearly all theming bonuses are tied to World Wonders. Build them yourself, and even if France conquered your city, they'd never get the doubled theming bonus.

Not able to do that? Well, cultural technologies tend to be on the opposite side of the tech tree to military ones. If France has to focus highly on defending itself, it'll fall behind in the race for wonders. If they're greatly ahead in terms of wonders, they may be leaving themselves vulnerable to attack. And if their capital falls, that'll be a blow from which they'll struggle to recover.

Playing against Chateaux

Like all Unique Improvements, Chateaux are vulnerable to pillaging which makes "choke"-style gameplay (wars to wear down an opponent rather than to take land off them) rather effective. But then again, like all Unique Improvements, capturing France's cities lets you use their Chateaux for yourself, and take advantage of the gold and culture.

While Chateaux cannot be placed adjacent to each other, the Zone of Control mechanic means it's hard to slip a unit between two well-defended ones - unless you're using the Lightning Warfare tenet in the Autocracy tree. Parallels with early parts of the Second World War are purely coincidental.

Playing against Musketeers

Musketeers have no real counter, but no great strengths either. They're only 17% stronger than a regular Musketman, so it's quite alright to fight them in a similar way to the generic unit. Just make sure you have superior numbers and you should be fine.

A point about Egypt

France's UA can be nearly entirely shut down by being denied theming bonus wonders. No-one does this better than Egypt, with their 20% wonder contruction bonus. Aside from that, War Chariots offer Egypt an opportunity to rush French cities before they have any sort of defensive abilities going, but the main strength of Egypt over France is wonder-building.

Strategy by Style

Early-game Aggressors - Not a particularly hard target, nothing particularly notable to point out here.

Mid-game Warmongers - Rush in some fast units to pillage unprotected Chateaux. Use ranged attacks to deal with units defending on them. Bring superior numbers so Musketeers don't pose any problems.

Late-game Warmongers - Go straight for France's capital if possible. You can use aircraft and Artillery to batter down Paris' defences, then rush in a few fast units for the final hit. Once the capital's down, France won't be much of a threat any more.

Cultural Players - While France will be building theming bonus wonders in only one city, you can dedicate several to the task and deny them some good wonders. Try to deny them getting tourism bonuses on you, and keep your culture generation high - France is one of the highest tourism-generating Civs around.

Diplomatic Players - Get France embargoed to deny them the tourism bonus from International Trade Routes. Make sure they don't get the World Religion.

Scientific Players - Use your tech advantage to grab wonders like the Statue of Liberty before France has a chance. You can also use a tech advantage to invade France - the industrial era's a good time as they'll be more focused with cultural wonders than defence at that point.
Other Guides

These guides cover every Civ in the game and can be used as quick reference guides.

Civ-specific guides, in alphabetical order

All 43 Civs are covered in in-depth guides linked below. In brackets are the favoured victory routes of each Civ.
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Zigzagzigal  [author] Aug 3, 2017 @ 6:14am 
Yes. Below Prince difficulty, you're given bonuses and above Prince difficulty the AI is. I expect the reason for that is that having a scaling AI requires a lot of work that could be put into improving the AI as a whole.
SolarFlare1234 Aug 2, 2017 @ 3:49pm 
I've heard that the AI, instead of being made smarter each difficulty step up, it's just given bonuses and more starting units. Is this true?
Zigzagzigal  [author] Oct 23, 2016 @ 12:10pm 
I feel Civ is a game that works better when games are shown in a series of screenshots rather than videos. Playing through a game of Civ involves lots of time making decisions rather than actually implementing anything, which doesn't really make for compelling viewing (well, commentaries help, but if you do the wrong thing, you can't correct it as easily as you can with a written guide). I barely ever play multiplayer so I can't really help there.

Generally Deity play rests more on exploiting the AI's weaknesses rather than anything else. The huge AI bonuses contrain how you can play; you have a lot fewer options earlier on but just as many late in the game. I prefer Emperor difficulty because the early-game isn't so constrained (you can still build wonders and so forth).
Crappy Robot Oct 22, 2016 @ 9:05pm 
Have you ever considered doing videos of play-throughs of civ 5, or if possible multiplayer matches? Would be interesting to watch good people play civ 5 and learn from them. Also how much of an accomplishment is beating Deity difficulty? Is it like something most people can't do or.....
Zigzagzigal  [author] Oct 21, 2016 @ 7:08am 
Seems like a little mistake that slipped through. Thanks, it's corrected now.
Crappy Robot Oct 21, 2016 @ 2:29am 
Ummmm are you sure that the hermitage's theming bonus comes from great works of the same civ? I tried it and I'm very sure the works I put in were of different eras and of my civ
Crappy Robot Oct 21, 2016 @ 12:31am 
Ok. Thanks!
Zigzagzigal  [author] Oct 20, 2016 @ 10:59pm 
Oh, right. Completely forgot about them. They can be pretty great in the right context, but for particularly important wonders (e.g. Petra in a desert hill-heavy city, the Louvre for France, etc.) it's probably best to use them to rush wonders with.
Crappy Robot Oct 20, 2016 @ 9:25pm 
By manufactories I refer to the great engineers(I can't spell) tile improvement, their called manufactories if I remember correctly
Zigzagzigal  [author] Oct 20, 2016 @ 7:02pm 
If by manufactories you mean factories, they're good to have around. Any production boost will help you pick up wonders faster.

National College timing is for normal-speed games. For quick, it's turn 67. For Epic, 150. For Marathon, 300.

The best indicator of how good your science is doing is the demographics screen. If your literacy percentage is the best of all Civs, or close to the top, you should do fine in the wonders race.