Literally, The French (Language) Academy

My translation of a few of the things on their website:

"The French Academy, founded in 1635 under the rule of Louis XIII by Cardinal Richelieu, is one of the oldest institutions in France."

What does it do?
"The role of the French Academy is two-fold: to manage the French Language, and to accomplish acts of patronage."

My own words
Basically it's a group of stodgy academics who decide what does and does not become part of the French language. They have been historically stubborn and unmoving as far as the addition of new words goes.

They publish Le Dictionnaire de L'Academie Francaise which is the definitive guide to the French language(as spoken in France, French in Quebec is different).

This seems to be exemplary of the French need to have everything put into to writing. Another example of this is their Napoleonic legal system: the civil code.

Quebec, a (largely francophone) province of Canada, also uses a Civil Code legal system, while the rest of the country uses Common Law. Quebec also has a "language police" but I'm not sure what they're called.

The page d'accueil(webpage) of L'Academie Francaise can be found at