Under the influence of Carl Sauer, cultural landscape geography developed as the main branch of geography. "Sauer was explicitly concerned to counter an environmental determinism which had dominated the American geography of the previous generation, within which human agency was given scant autonomy in the shaping of the visible landscape," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_landscape
He believed that culture is the main force in shaping all visible features of physical environment of earth's surface and he calls it 'human cultural action.' They provoke action, responses and adaptation by humans. He touches the cultural traits imposed by Europeans during colonization on various parts of the world and says that this cultural imposition on pre-existing cultures, shaped these new cultures in a different way. "Culture is the agent, the natural area is the medium, the cultural landscape is the result. Under the influence of a given culture, itself changing through time, the landscape undergoes development, passing through phases, and probably reaching ultimately the end of its cycle of development. With the introduction of a different - that is an alien - culture, a rejuvenation of the cultural landscape sets in, or a new landscape is superimposed on remnants of an older one," Sauer (1925), The Morphology of Landscape." University of California Publications.
French regional geography was a model of what Sauer propagated. French seafarers were crowned with initial success and the French school of geography was highly influential. It 'became known for its descriptive regional monographs presented in a lucid and flowing manner, human and historical geography were its forte.' Even though there were criticisms that the emphasis has shifted several times between the approaches and viewpoints, all geographers had recognised their interdependence and complimentary importance. There is no denial that French regional geography also reflected the historical and military developments of the country. Talking about hundred years' war between France and Britain, Sauer says (Northern Mists) that France lost most of her ports and her north and southwest regions were ravaged.
France had unending political rivalry with Britain. Napoleon's wars had left bitter memories in both the countries. The French revolution had far reaching affects all over the world. French landscape, its geography and culture were influenced by all these events. By then, France was involved in the colonial hunt and fresh rivalry in newly found lands had begun with England, Spain and Portugal. Colonies had left far reaching impacts on European nations. Use of tobacco spread rapidly in France. Most of the European countries were competing with each other for gaining colonies all over the world. Immigration, especially to America was continuing with gusto.
Due to the above historical background and the climatic changes, vegetation was not considerable in France. Sauer says European agriculture did not originate in Europe. Agriculture did not advance much over the centuries either. "Fields were plowed and planted principally in order to raise grain, which supplied the starch and a good deal of the protein in the diet of the people. To a far greater extent than is true today, the farmers of Northwest Europe made their living in the growing of