The Vichy France, officially the French State, was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine and also governed the French colonial empire. It was led by Philippe Pétain, who had been notable for helping to win World War I.
When the French and the British Armies lost the Battle of Dunkirk, and the rest of the Battle of France was being lost, the French Parliament made Pétain Minister. He negotiated an armistice with the Germans and agreed to be neutral in World War II.
He became head of state, effectively a dictator, and usually did what the Germans told him to.
The Axis powers militarily occupied northern and western France, and part of the country's southeast. The Vichy government, as a client state of Germany, controlled the Free Zone, the unoccupied parts of France. In November 1942 the United States joined the North African Campaign by invading French North Africa, so the German army occupied the Vichy zone.