The French language belongs to the group of romance languages like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc. Post Roman Gaul, French was one of the many tongues descended from Latin that was spoken in various parts. The Provençal language was popular at that time, mainly expressed in the southern half of what is today metropolitan France.
In 1539, King Francis-I made French the official language of administration and court proceedings in France, replacing Latin as the official written language of the country. Following a period of unification, regulation, purification, and standardization, the language spoken in the 17th-18th centuries (sometimes referred to as classic French) became the basis of modern French from the 17th century to today.
The French Academy, an institution created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, is official custodians of the French language. The Académie consists of forty members, known informally as les Immortels (the immortals). They have the official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language.
They also publish a dictionary of the French language (official in France), known as the Dictionnaire de L’Académie française. They are also trying to prevent the Anglicization of French by protecting and promoting the French language. Currently, French is spoken in over 50 Francophone countries, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. The French-speaking population in the world is increasing rapidly.
French is the second most-studied foreign language in the world, after English, and It is an official, co-official, or de facto national of 32 countries. It is an official, working, or the official language of many international organizations such as the UN, NATO, FIFA, UNESCO, REDCROSS, to name a few.
French is the only official language of France. However, France has several tongues that are native to its lands. These languages are often referred to as patois (a regional form, i.e., dialects, mainly of French). Breton, Alsatian, French Flemish, Lorraine Franconian, Langues d’oïl, Occitan, Franco-Provençal, Corsican, Gallo Italic are some of the dialects in French. All these languages/dialects are also referred to as mixed languages.
Outside France, there are lots of French varieties. Some of them are Québécois in Québec (Canada), Franco-Ontarians in Ontario (Western Canada), the Maghreb in Northwest Africa. There are also many different French dialects spoken in French-speaking countries like Switzerland, Algeria, Haiti (Caribbean French), Belgium, Indian Ocean (Réunion, Mauritius, and Seychelles), etc.
There is also an Indian French spoken by Indians in former colonies of Mahe, Pondicherry, Karaikal, Chandernagore, and Yanam in Southern India. The future of the French language in India is bright.
Parisian French is most popular these days and generally considered as Standard French for those who want to start learning French. Once you master it, you can learn any other French accent and dialects around the world.