What is France?
Before we delve into France facts, let us know what France is. France is a country situated in Western Europe. It has several territories overseas like French Guinea, several small islands in the Indian and the Atlantic oceans.
France is known for its renaissance, beauty, and as a tourist destination. But it has more to offer. We bet you don’t Know a lot of France facts that we have listed down for you. Are you ready to get your mind blown?
France Facts 1-10
1. France is officially called the French Republic or République française. Its motto is Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity or Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
2. It has a population of 68 million people. The capital city of France is Paris. The population of Paris is 11 million.
3. The major language spoken in France is French. 65% of the population are christians, 8% are muslims and 27% of the population belongs to other religions.
4. It has a democratic government. From 2002, the currency of France is Euro and earlier it was Franc.
5. The flag of France consists of three colors – red, blue, and white. French refer to their flag as ‘tricolore’ as it has three colors. The national anthem of France is La Marseillaise.
6. The national drink of France is Pastis. The national desert is Clafoutis and the national dish is pot-au-feu.
7. National bird and national animal of France is the Gallic Rooster. Iris flower or the Lily of the Valley is the national flower of France.
8. Taxus baccata is France’s national tree. Mont Blanc is the national mountain of France. Its height is 4,808 meters or 15,780 feet above sea level. The Seine River is France’s national river. The river is 777 kilometers long.
9. Football is the most popular sport and the national game of the French people. Stade De France is the national stadium.
10. Charles Baudelaire and Victor Hugo are the national poets of the country. Red, blue, and white are the national colors of this vibrant country.
France Facts 11-20
12. France shares the shortest border with Monaco and the longest border with Spain. The continental France (not taking islands and other territories) is a little smaller than USA’s Texas.
13. The longest river of France is the River Loire which is 625 miles or 1,006 kilometers long. It passes through Orleans and Nantes.
14. The longest mountain range in France is the Pyrenées mountain range. The range is 270 miles or 430 kilometers long.
15. Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in France. It is at the border between Italy and France. It is the second highest mountain in the entire Europe. The first highest mountain in Europe is Mount Elbrus.
16. France is dominated by the coastal plains. The north and west are decked with rolling hills and there are high mountains in the south and eastern parts.
17. Mainland France or Metropolitan France is divided into 27 areas which are further divided into 101 sub areas or departments. Of these 101 departments, 5 of them are in the overseas (régions d’outre mer or ROM meaning regions which are overseas). They are as follows:
- La Réunion – It is an island situated in Indian ocean in Africa.
- Martinique – It is an island in the Caribbean.
- French Guiana – It is located in South America.
- Mayotte – It is another island located in Africa in the Indian ocean.
- Guadeloupe – It is yet another island in the Caribbean.
18. There are several tourist attractions in France. Some of the most famous ones are the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Louvre Museum (all in Paris), Versailles Palace, Mont Saint Michel (in Normandy), and Pont tu Guard (in Occitanie).
19. The Eiffel Tower is called the Iron Lady in France. It is 1063 feet or 324 meters high. It was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel in just two years. He built it for the Universal Exhibition or Paris that was held in 1889. Needless to say, it is the symbol of Paris and even France.
20. Some of the other tourist destinations are Lascaux Caves (has 17,000 year old paintings), French Alps, Corsica (birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte), Provence, and Côte d’Azur.
France Facts 21-30
21. Some of the famous personalities of France are Napoleon Bonaparte, Gustave Eiffel, Louis Pasteur, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Alexandre Dumas, Georges Bizet, etc.
22. The current president of France is Emmanuel Macron. In 2017, he became the youngest president (at the age of 39 years) in France’s history.
23. French dishes are delicious and they contain vegetables, fruits, various types of cheese, and meat.
24. The typical French meal has three courses. The three-course meal starts with hors d’oeuvre which is a starter dish. It may be a salad, soup, or any bread. Then the main meal is served and the last of the three-course dishes is either cheese or dessert.
25. Some of the popular foods of France are described briefly below:
- Crêpes – Thin pancakes with either savory or sweet fillings.
- Baguette – White bread sticks.
- Foie Gras – Goose liver’s pate.
- Ratatouille – Stew made from vegetables.
- Escargots – Snails cooked in garlic butter.
- Pain au chocolat – Chocolate filled croissant.
- Cancoillotte – Liquid, creamy cheese famous in France.
26. The oldest cafe or coffee shop in the world is situated in France. The shop’s name is Le Procope and it was established in 1694.
27. The most famous cycle race in the world, Tour de France, was held for the first time in 1903.
28. The mostly populated cities of France are Paris (11 million inhabitants), Lyon (1.7 million), Marseilles (1.6 million inhabitants), Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse (each have 1 million inhabitants).
29. 15% of the population of France live below the poverty line and 10% of the population are unemployed.
30. French is the second major language in Europe and is the official language of the country.
France Facts 31-40
31. The largest country in the European Union and third largest in Europe is France. It has an area of 551,695 square kilometers. 31% of the area of France is covered with forests. Thanks to its six sided shape, it is called l’hexagone or the hexagon.
32. It may not be surprising to note that France is the most popular tourist destination in the world. In 2018 alone, 89.3 million people visited France. Paris is the third most visited city in the world after Bangkok and London.
33. Did you know that French was the official language of England from 1066 to 1362 (for 300 years)? When William the Conqueror was throned as the king, he brought the change of language from English to French. The kings, royalty, aristocrats etc. spoke in Norman French. Some of them couldn’t speak a word in English!
Things changed in 1362 when the Pleading in English Act was passed. According to this act, the court should use English language because common people had no idea of what was said in the court.
34. Louis XIX was the king of France for just 20 minutes! It is the shortest reign in the world. In July 1830, Louis XIX’s father (Charles X) abdicated making him the king. But soon after he also abdicated leaving the throne to his nephew, the Duke of Bordeaux.
He shares this record with Prince Luis Filipe who became the king of Portugal after his father was assassinated. He died of wound injuries twenty minutes after he became the king.
35. According to French law, you can marry a corpse! You just have to prove that the deceased had the intention to marry you when he/she was alive and then you need to take the permission of the French president.
36. Some of the inventions of French people are tin cans, hot air balloons, hair dryers, braille, stethoscopes, etc.
37. France banned supermarkets from throwing away leftover food. It was the first country to do so. If the supermarkets are caught throwing away food, they are either fined up to €75,0000 or are jailed for two years.
38. In France, a minimum of 35% of French music is played by every private radio station. This rule was started in 1994 and the quota was 40% then. It was to tackle Anglo-Saxon cultural invasion. After protests, it was reduced to 35% in 2016.
39. It is a tradition for a woman to wear white dress on her wedding day. The tradition started in France with the marriage of France’s Louis XII and Anne of Brittany in 1499. She wore a white wedding gown. But the white wedding dress became popular only when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert wearing a white gown in 1840.
40. Another weird French law is that couples can’t kiss on train platforms. The law was introduced in 1910.
France Facts 41-50
41. According to folklore in France, turning baguette upside down is unlucky. Just in case you put the baguette upside down, just mark the baguette with the cross and then you can eat it.
42. Did you know that 1.6 million tons of cow milk’s cheese is produced in France every year? France produces 1,600 varieties of cheese. A little less than half of the production (679,000 tons) is exported.
43. According to French law, any pet animal weighing less than 5 kilograms must be a paying passenger in a high-speed train. In 2008, a French man was slapped a fine for not buying tickets for his critters! Thankfully the rail company, SNCF waived off the fine.
44. The first heart transplant and face transplant in the world took place in France. French surgeons performed a face transplant in 2005. The heart transplant took place at Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris in 2013.
45. France has the highest number of Nobel Prize winners for literature than any other country.
46. You may not know this France fact but the camera phone was invented by Philippe Kahn, a Parisian in 1997. The first photo he took was of his daughter. He then sent the photo to his family and friends.
47. Snails are a delicacy in France. An average French person eats around 500 snails a day. Did you know that every day in France, two cookbooks are published?
48. Wine makes up 60% of the total alcohol consumption of France. French consume nearly 11.2 billion glasses of wine each year.
49. The most visited museum in the world is the Louvre museum. In 2019, 9.6 million people visited the museum. It is also one of the busiest places to visit in Paris. It is home to nearly 38,000 artworks which include Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Louvre Pyramid, etc.
50. A person who can speak French fluently is called Francophone. Nimes is the origin city for denim clothing.