Interesting facts about France

Interesting facts about France

Today we will let you know about some awesome and interesting facts about France, you will be amazed after reading these facts about France.

Interesting facts about France

Country & Geography

  • France is the largest European country in terms of area after Russia and Ukraine.
  • The 45th parallel north, which marks the points midway between the equator and the North Pole, is often described as the boundary between the cultures of the north of France, where the dialects of Oïl are spoken, and those of south of France, where the dialects of Occitan have traditionally predominated. It is also the rough border separating the cooking with butter from that with olive oil.
  • The Canal du Midi is the oldest still functional canal in Europe. It was built between 1666 and 1681. It is 240 km long, has 63 locks, 126 bridges, 55 aqueducts, 7 canal-bridges, 6 dams and 1 tunnel.
  • The rivers played a major role in the history of France, acting as the main transport axes before the advent of the railway. There are 24 rivers in France more than 300 km long compared to only 2 in the United Kingdom and 4 in Italy. 66 of the 95 metropolitan departments were named after rivers.
  • The tides in the Brittany and Normandy regions are the strongest in Europe, with a difference in level of up to 15 meters between low tide and high tide.
  • According to a 2008 study published by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, the municipality of Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat, between Nice and Monaco, is the most expensive peninsula in the world and the 3rd most expensive place in the world for real estate , after London and Monaco. The price per square meter is twice that in Tokyo and three times higher than in Paris.
  • Briançon, in the department of Hautes-Alpes, is the highest city in the European Union. It lies at an altitude of 1,326 meters.
  • The village of Saint-Véran (Hautes-Alpes department) is the highest municipality in Europe. The village itself is located at 2,042 meters above sea level, and the highest point of its territory reaches 3,175 meters.
  • French seaside resorts have been attributed catchy or poetic names, usually names of (semi) precious stones. On the Channel coast and the North Sea, you will find the Opal Coast, the Alabaster Coast, Côte de Nacre, the Emerald Coast, and the Pink Granite Coast. On the Atlantic coast, stretch the Jade Coast, the Silver Coast and the Côte d’Amour, while on the Mediterranean coast tourists are greeted with colorful names such as Côte d’Amethyst, Côte de Ruby, or, of course, the Côte d’Azur. The latter was the first to acquire his nickname, in 1887.
  • The largest canyon in Europe are the Verdon Gorge, near Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where Provence meets the Alps. They are the second largest gorges in the world, measuring about 25 kilometers long and up to 700 meters deep.
  • Almost 20% of French territory is outside Europe. 2.5 million French citizens live in these overseas departments and territories.

Society & Lifestyle

  • The number of kisses that the French make to greet each other varies according to the region, ranging from one (for example at the tip of Brittany) to four (for example in Paris and most of the north of the country) and sometimes even ‘to 5 (in Corsica).
  • According to the 2003 Durex Global Sex Survey, of all the countries surveyed in the world, the French are the most frequent sex contacts in a year.
  • According to a 2004 FIFG survey, 44% of French people are atheists (up 24% since 1947).
  • The French have the highest female life expectancy and the third highest male in the European Union.
  • According to the World Health Organization (2002 statistics), French men have the lowest incidence of obesity in the EU. Women come in 2nd place, after Denmark.
  • The French are the biggest consumers of psychotropic drugs in the world. About a quarter of the population admit to taking anti-depressants or tranquilizers during the past year.
  • There are between 5 and 6 million people more or less severely disabled in France (nearly 1 in 10 people). These figures include physical, sensory and mental disabilities.
  • A 2007 study found that the French were the biggest drug users in Europe, both in terms of the amount of drugs and the total amount of money spent per person.
    The French are the second largest consumers of alcohol per capita in the Western world – after Luxembourg … (so say the first).
  • France was the first modern country to legalize same-sex sexual activity in 1791. This contrasts strongly with the United States, where homosexual sex was only legalized nationally in 2003.
  • 20% of French people live in the Paris region.
  • André Gide, the Nobel literature writer, said “the French are Italians in a bad mood”.
    Although the French language descends directly from Latin, the French genetic heritage is among the most diverse in Europe, with genes inherited from the Celts (or Gauls), Basques, Romans, Francs (from the Benelux) and Normans (from Denmark ), which explains the great diversity of facial features of the French, but also their hair and eye colors. (=> see map of ethnic groups in Europe )
  • According to Graham Robb in his book The Discovery of France , there were hundreds of small autonomous republics in France until the 18th or 19th century. Some were autonomous hamlets that did not pay taxes at all and were almost totally isolated from the rest of France.
  • Until 1964 French women could not open a bank account or obtain a passport without the permission of their husband.
  • Until the beginning of the 20th century at least two-thirds of the French population was rural and most people lived in communities with fewer than 100 people. Most people knew nothing beyond twenty kilometers of their birthplace, and few identified with France as a nation.


  • There are 4.9 million foreign-born immigrants living in France (8.1% of the country’s population), 1.2 million of whom are Latins (Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese), 1 5 million Maghrebins (Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians) and 570,000 people from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Recent immigrants and their offspring (foreign born + first and second generations of immigrants) make up more than 10% of the population of France, 8.7% of whom are Muslims.
  • 40% of immigrants live in the Paris region. 60% of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa live in the Paris region.


  • French was the language of nobility and diplomacy throughout Europe and the Ottoman Empire, and then became the first true international language until English replaced it in the middle of the 20th century.
  • The French translation of the English word deadline ( deadline for work) is ironically “delay”, and indeed the delay is an integral part of the French working culture.
  • Metropolitan France has several regional languages: Alsatian and Frankish Lorraine (both dialects of High German), Occitan (including Gascon and Provençal), dialects of Oïl (as Picard and Poitevin) -saintongeais), Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican and Franco-Provençal.
  • Despite foreign stereotypes, many French people can speak at least one foreign language (45% are able to participate in a conversation in a foreign language, according to the 2005 Eurobarometer ), and English is the most widely spoken foreign language. commonly spoken (34%).
  • A survey in 1794 revealed that only 11% of the French population were pure Francophones. Even as late as 1880, only 20% of the population could speak French fluently. Today, 86% of French people are French native speakers if this is defined by the language that their parents spoke with them before the age of 5 years. Of the remaining 14% Oc languages ​​represent 3.65% of the population, the languages ​​of OIl 3.10%, German and its dialects 3.15%, and Arabic 2.55%.
  • French was the official language of England for over 300 years (from 1066 until the beginning of the 15th century). It is still the official language of 30 countries around the world.
  • The French language is spoken by 270 million people worldwide (almost as much as the population of the United States), of whom 120 million are native speakers or fluent speakers. There are fewer than 60 million people of European descent among the native speakers of standard French in the world, far less than for English, German, Italian, Spanish or Russian.


  • The name “France” comes from the Franks, a Germanic tribe who settled in the Western Roman Empire (around present-day Belgium) from the 2nd century on, then took over the political control of Gaul after the fall of the empire (see History of the Franks ).
  • The French State is one of the oldest in Europe; it was founded in 843, following the division of the Carolingian Empire, based in Aachen (Belgo-German border).
  • The Paris region has been inhabited since around 4200 BC. The city itself was founded by the Parisii, a Celtic tribe, around 250 BC. The Romans renamed it Luteca in 52 BCE, and it only became known as Paris after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century.
  • The foie gras is probably part of the French cuisine, but its origins go back to ancient Egypt, 4,500 years ago, where it spread to Greece (500 BC), and the recipe was imported by Romans and brought to Gaul.
  • Gothic art originated in the north of France in the middle of the 12th century. The first Gothic building in the world is the abbey of Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, which served as a burial place for many Frankish kings since Clovis, as well as most kings of France. Gothic architecture then spread to Picardy, especially with the cathedrals of Noyon, Laon and Senlis, followed by the Île-de-France. The term “Gothic” was not used until the sixteenth century, during the Renaissance, as a pejorative term to describe a complicated and “barbaric” art, as opposed to the simplicity of the features of the Greco-Roman Renaissance. Today, it is likely that more people appreciate Gothic architecture than the Renaissance.
  • Nicotine was named after Jean Nicot (1530-1600), a French diplomat and scholar who introduced the tobacco plant to France in 1559 (from Portugal).
  • The Marseillaise was composed in Strasbourg in 1792, not in Marseilles, as its name could incite to think it.
  • The first modern fireproof safe was invented by Alexandre Fichet (1799-1862) around 1840.
  • The first true department store in the world was Le Bon Marché in Paris, founded in 1838 by Aristide Boucicaut.
  • The tradition of decorating Christmas trees began in Lorraine in the 16th century (then part of Germany). The trees were then decorated with flowers and fruits (apples, in particular). A drought in 1858 destroyed the apple crop, which prompted a glassblower from Goetzenbruck, a village in Lorraine on the Moselle, to create apple-shaped glass balls. The practice spread rapidly throughout Europe, and by the end of the 19th century the local glass factory in Goetzenbruck was producing tens of thousands of decorative balls.
  • At its peak, between 1919 and 1939, the second largest French colonial empire covered 12,347,000 km², or 8.6% of the world’s land area. It is more than 22 times the size of modern metropolitan France.
  • France has hosted the Summer Olympics five times (the second highest number, after the United States), three times the Olympic Games Winter Games (idem) and twice the World Cup (tied with the Italy and Germany).
  • France won the 4th highest number of Olympic Summer Medals (including gold) in history after the US, the USSR and the UK.
  • The capital of Malta, Valletta, was built by and named after the French noble Jean Parisot de la Valette (1494-1568), grand master of the Knights Hospitallers and ruler of the island.
  • On June 10, 2007, a sword that belonged to Napoleon I was auctioned for $ 4.8 million – the most expensive weapon ever sold.

Government & Politics

  • The “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen” of 1789 was the first ever universal declaration of human rights in the world, applying not only to French citizens or “free men” (as opposed to slaves), but also to all people in the world.
  • France has changed form of government 9 times since 1789, including 5 republics, 2 empires and 2 constitutional monarchies.
  • France had only 3 presidents during the 33 years from 1974 to 2007: Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.
  • France ruled the second largest colonial empire in the world (after Great Britain) from the late 19th century to the 1960s, controlling 8.6% of the world’s land area.

Legal and tax system

  • In France, in exceptional cases, it is possible to marry a deceased person, with the authorization of the President of the Republic.
  • France has the highest wealth tax of any European country.
  • France is the only country in the EU to have decimal fractions for all its VAT rates (19.6%, 5.5% or 2.1%). Only Great Britain and Ireland also use some tariffs with decimal fractions.
  • In the city of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in Provence, a 1954 municipal bylaw forbade flying saucers landing within the boundaries of the municipality (!)

Culture & Heritage

  • The Barnenez Cairn in Brittany, dating back to around 6800 years ago, is one of the first megalithic monuments built in Europe and is considered the oldest surviving building in the world, this one antedating the oldest Egyptian pyramid. by more than 2000 years.
  • There are about 40,000 castles (including castles, mansions, palaces …) in France.
    The Louvre is the largest castle / palace in the world. It covers an area of ​​210,000 m², of which the Louvre Museum occupies 60,600 m². In comparison, the Palace of Versailles measures 67,000 m², Buckingham Palace 77,000 m² and the Vatican Apostolic Palace 162,000 m².
  • France is the country that has won the most Nobel literature prize (13 from 2013, the last dating back to 2008).
  • There are more than 300 kinds of cheese made in France.
  • There are 28 categories of sites in France listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List , including the 3 Roman sites (Arles, Orange and Le Gard), 4 cathedrals (Amiens, Bourges, Chartres, Reims), 4 abbeys (Fontenay, Reims, Saint-Savin on Gartempe and Vézelay), 8 historical city centers (Paris, Strasbourg, Lyon, Avignon, Le Havre, Mont-Saint-Michel, Provins and Carcassonne), as well as many belfries, castles and palace.
    81 million tourists visited France in 2012, more than any other country in the world, and a constantly increasing number. France is one of the few countries (with Spain, Austria and Greece) hosting more tourists per year than its population.
  • The show “Ionesco” has been performed at the Théâtre de La Huchette since 1957, totaling over 15,000 performances since then – a world record.
  • There are about two new cookbooks published daily in France.
  • Singer Claude François (1939-1978) is still as popular as ever in France 30 years after his accidental death. Two of his songs have been consistently in the top 10 of the music played in the nightclub for the past 20 years. A real cult has developed around him. In many ways, Claude François can be considered the French equivalent of Elvis Presley.
  • About a quarter of French people today want to be cremated when they die, instead of the traditional Catholic burial.
  • ” Remember, in case of complaint, in France, the customer is always wrong. (From Ridley Scott’s A Great Year ).

Science & Inventions

  • Famous French inventions include the calculator (Blaise Pascal’s arithmetic machine), hot-air balloon, airship, parachute, submarine, ambulance service, photography, animated films and cinema .
  • The first international scientific conference was held in Paris on February 2, 1799.
  • France has won more Nobel literature awards than any country (13 so far) and the second highest number of Fields medals (mathematics) after the United States.
  • The French inventor Denis Papin was the first to develop the paddlewheel (in 1704) and to design a functional steamship, although he never built it. The first steamship in the world to sail successfully was the Palmipède created in 1774 by another Frenchman, Marquis Claude de Jouffroy, and launched in June 1776.
  • The 400 crocodiles at the crocodile farm in Pierrelatte, near Montélimar, can enjoy the tropical conditions in their pools thanks to the hot water provided by the nearby Tricasti nuclear site.

Food & Beverages

  • Gervais’s famous little Swiss is not from Switzerland, but from Normandy.
  • Pancakes, one of the most popular recipes in Europe, have their origins in Brittany.
  • There are 450 different wine appellations in France. There are tens of thousands of small wine estates, but only 15% of French wines enjoy the marketing benefits of AOC appellations.
  • The Bordeaux region alone has over 9,000 chateaux producing wine.
  • 72% of the French adult population admits having difficulties understanding French wine labels.
  • In 2004, France produced 56.6 million hectoliters of wine.
  • Alsace wines are generally made from a single variety of grapes (Pinot Noir, for example), while wines from more southern regions are usually blends of grape varieties (eg Carbernet Sauvignon + Merlot). This is why they do not clearly mention the variety on the label, unlike wines from Alsace and the New World.
  • France produces some of the world’s most famous liqueurs, such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Triple Sec, Mandarin Napoléon, Cognac, Armagnac, Crème de Cassis, Pastis, Chartreuse, etc.
  • The international market of Rungis , in the southern suburbs of Paris, covers 232 ha. With 1.7 million tonnes donated each year, it has the largest turnover of any wholesale market in the world.

Economy & Industry

  • France is the world leader in luxury goods, including haute couture, fashion accessories, perfumes and cosmetics.
  • France is the world’s leading producer of wine and liqueurs.
  • France is the largest producer of nuclear electricity in Europe and the world’s second largest producer after the United States. France produces as much nuclear power as Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Russia combined!
  • France has the third highest GDP (PPP) per capita per hour in the world, after Norway and Luxembourg, with an average of US $ 38.16 per hour.
  • The Millau viaduct, completed in 2005 in the south of France, is the highest bridge in the world.
  • The Queen Mary 2, the largest and most advanced passenger cruise ship, was built in France in 2004.
  • The Arianespace , based in France, is the world’s leading commercial satellite launches into space, with over 50% of the global market.
  • The European Space Agency is based in Paris, while the headquarters of the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is in Toulouse.
  • The French TGV is the fastest train in the world, with an average speed of 263.3 km / h from the station to the station. It reached the record rail speed of 574.8 km / h on a test in April 2007 (still undefeated). He also holds the world endurance record, connecting Calais to Marseille (1067.2 km) in 3h29min, in 2001.
  • The Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is the largest airport in Europe in terms of freight traffic (freight transport), and the 6th in the world.
  • The Bic Company was the first to manufacture ballpoint pens in bulk globally. She sold her 100 billionth ballpoint pen in 2005.

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