The Vichy France or the French State was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine. It also governed the French colonial empire. It was led by Philippe Pétain, notable for helping to win World War I. When the French and British armies lost the Battle of Dunkirk and the rest of the Battle of France was being lost, the French Parliament made him Prime Minister. He negotiated an armistice with the Germans, agreeing to be neutral in World War II. Pétain became Head of State, effectively dictator, and usually did what the Germans told him to do.
The Axis powers militarily occupied northern France and part of the southeast. The Vichy government, as a client state of Germany, controlled the "Free Zone" or unoccupied parts of France until November1942. The German army ran the Northern half. In 1944, the Vichy government, now effectively a puppet state, moved to Nazi Germany, and later disbanded. It became known as Vichy France after World War II.