France, which is officially known as the French Republic, is a country in Western Europe. France is a secular and democratic country.
Here are 86 interesting facts about France, covering its history, geography, notable people, food, culture, economics, famous monuments and much more.
1. France is the largest country in the European Union. It comprises almost 1/5th of the total EU area.
2. It would be interesting for kids to note that France resembles the shape of a hexagon. Hence, it is also known as ‘the hexagon.’
3. There are more than five million people of Arab and African descent living in France. In the past, France was a colony where people from various regions from across the world came and settled.
4. France is the most-visited country in the world. France welcomed 84 million foreign tourists in 2013. And the French are expecting to increase the annual figure to 100 million by the end of 2030.
5. After Germany, France has the second-largest population of EU nations. And 85% of its population lives in urban areas.
6. However, other languages and dialects are also popular in France; French is the official and first language of 88% of its population.
7. Italy is to the west of France. There are a million Italian-speaking people in France, most of whom live close to the Italian border.
8. Did you know that the longest confirmed human lifespan on record belongs to a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who lived for 122 years and 164 days. Calment was born on February 21st, 1875, and died on August 4th, 1997. Interestingly, she outlived both her daughter and grandson by several decades.
9. Electric cars are quite popular in France. France leads all other European countries in total sales of electric cars. A total of 8,779 passenger electric cars were registered in France in 2013.
10. The parachute, the hot air balloon, the motion picture camera, the bicycle and inflatable tires for cars are all French inventions. The French are obviously very intelligent people!
Facts about famous people, customs, wine and time zones in France
12. Another interesting fact about France is that it is the most depressed country in the world. Almost 20% of its population suffers from depression.
13. In France, it is customary to greet others and say ‘Hello’ and ‘good morning or afternoon,’ depending on the time of the day. It is all about being polite.
14. The French love polite people. This is the reason why a coffee shop in France sells cheap coffee to those of its customers who greet and say ‘bonjour’ before ordering their favorite coffee.
15. The license plates that we see today on automobiles were first introduced in France.
16. In France, it is illegal to name a pig “Napoleon.”
17. France is one of the largest producers of wine in the world. They produce between 7-8 billion bottles every year. Many of these wines are sold internationally at hefty prices, while the rest are consumed locally in the country.
18. Condom vending machines can be found in almost 90% of the high schools in France.
19. There are 12 time zones in use in France. This is the highest number among any nation in the world.
20. Between 1814 and 1830, the French flag was plain white (no color, just white).
21. French people appreciate if you greet them in French.
22. Until 2012, wearing trousers for women in France was illegal.
23. More people in Africa speak French than people in France.
24. In France, it is mandatory to secure permission from the government as well as other retailers to open a store that is more than 300 square meters in area.
25. The French sleep the most among people in the developed world. On average, they sleep 8.83 hours per day.
26. There are more than 1,500 bike stations in Paris. You can rent a bike from any of these stations at a cost of one Euro for one day, and return the bike at any other station. If you are in Paris now, check this link and grab a bike here.
27. The French begin their new year in September (physiologically speaking). It is called “la rentrée.” At this time, many things happen in France: kids start school, businesses receive their tax bills, etc. The French are always in a mood for celebrations and vacations.
28. Fourteen percent of the population of Paris consists of non nationals.
29. If you were in France long term, it is highly likely that you would get absorbed in their culture and would want to abandon your nationality and culture for theirs.
30. Currently, traditional French cooking is on the decline in France. The majority of the restaurants in France serve prepared meals instead of fresh cuisine.
Facts about the Mona Lisa, Eiffel Tower, food, french women, Tour de France
31. Paris is home to many of the world’s most famous art pieces including: the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. These works of art can be seen in the Louvre Museum, which is among the world’s largest museums.
Related: Interesting facts about Leonardo Da Vinci, who created the Mona Lisa.
32. Champagne, a sparkling wine, is only produced in a specific “Champagne region” of France. Wine produced in any other region would not be called Champagne.
33. The Eiffel Tower is named after its engineer, ‘Gustave Eiffel.’ It is one of the most-recognized structures in the world, even though its construction was criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals.
34. It is painted every seven years, taking five tons of paint to complete the job each time.
35. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. It was erected in 1889.
36. It is as high as an 81-story building. The tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost 41 years until the erection of the Chrysler Building in New York City in 1930.
37. Ten thousand African slaves were freed after the French Revolution.
38. The world’s first true department store was opened in Paris in 1838.
39. French people are quite passionate about their food. Before eating a meal, it is considered polite to say ‘Bon Appetit.’ This literally means “good appetite” to everyone who is eating along with you.
40. Cheese Lovers, say cheese: it is said that France produces more than 365 types of cheese. Thus, you could enjoy more than one type of cheese for many days during the year.
41. France is the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products.
42. Eating horse and rabbit is quite common in France. You can easily find these items on a restaurant’s menu.
43. The French consider wine an intellectual part of every meal.
44. The French consume approximately 500 million snails every year.
45. Eating at McDonald’s in France would cost you double the amount if you were eating at McDonald’s in the U.S. The reason being the local sourcing of almost 90% of the ingredients in the U.S.
46. Mealtimes are valuable to the French. Most of the shop owners in France take a two-hour lunch break. They shut their shops mostly at 12 noon and reopen somewhere around 2 pm, or even 3 pm.
47. Another fun fact for kids about France is that French fries and French toast are not French inventions.
48. Paris alone has a whopping 5,000 restaurants.
49. Only 15% of women in France are obese, compared to 64% in the U.S. alone.
50. French is an official language in many countries including: Canada, Switzerland, Congo and Luxembourg. It is also the second-most commonly taught language after English, and is the mother tongue of more than 75-million people worldwide.
51. There are 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France.
52. For more than 300 years, French was also the official language of England.
53. It is illegal to kiss while aboard a train in France.
54. All the trees in the French capital, Paris, are measured and referenced. There are 470,000 of them.
55. There is only one stop light in the entire city of Paris and 1784 bakeries.
56. France also hosts one of the four Grand Slam tennis championships. The French Open is held every year in Paris.
57. Louis Pasteur was a French scientist who invented the process of pasteurization, to prevent microbial growth and preserve food items like milk.
58. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire and Provence are the names of wine-producing regions in France.
59. While wine is mostly free with every meal in France, beer is considered a luxury.
60. The Channel Tunnel, which connects Kent in the U.K. with Coquelles in northern France, has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world. It is 50.5 kilometers long. This tunnel carries passenger and freight trains, and has a speed limit of 160 kilometers per hour.
61. The concept for “jean” clothing was born in France. It was imported by Levi Strauss from the United States of America, with the initial need to build tough clothes for gold diggers.
62. In 1984, France had an internet network for people to shop and pay utility bills online. This was before the world started adopting the internet so much that it became a necessity for billions of people around the globe.
63. A man in Paris, Jim Haynes, has been inviting total strangers for dinner every week for the past 30 years. You can visit his website to book yourself a seat at an upcoming dinner party.
64. Kids, did you know that there are 1665 stairs in the Eiffel Tower in Paris? And until 1909, the tower was lit by gas light?
65. In Paris, an apartment was left uninhabited by its renter for 70 years. When the renter died and the apartment was unlocked, a painting worth 2.1 million Euros was recovered.
66. France also collects the highest wealth tax in Europe.
67. A fun fact: April Fool’s Day (1st of April) is believed to have originated in France.
68. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the United States of America. It was built by Gustave Eiffel, the man who also constructed the Eiffel Tower.
70. Research concluded that at least thirty four percent of the French population can speak English fluently.
71. The word “entrepreneur” was also invented by the French.
72. France legally allows you to marry a dead person.
73. France won the Soccer World Cup in 1998. They also hosted the championships that year.
74. The French president Charles de Gaulle has survived 32 assassination attempts, the most in the world by anyone.
75. Henri Desgranges, a French journalist and cyclist, is the man behind the Tour de France – an annual, multiple-stage bicycle race. He started the race to promote his newspaper in 1903. Shame was brought to the well-known event when several teams were disqualified for doping in 1998, the same year France won the FIFA World Cup.
76. Before the introduction of the Euro, the French Franc was the official currency of France. The Franc was introduced by King John II in 1360.
77. To date, there are a total of 67 Nobel Prize winners from France. The first French national to win the prestigious award was Sully Prudhomme, who won the 1901 prize in Literature. They have the highest number of Nobel Prize winners in this category (literature).
78. The French kiss each other on the cheek as a form of greeting. However, it is illegal to kiss on railways in the country.
79. Frenchmen are considered to be image conscious, which is why they do not like splitting the bill when they visit a restaurant with their friends. However, they like giving a fair share of theirs.
80. In France, it is illegal to take images of police officers or their vehicles, even in the background.
81. Between 8 AM and 8 PM, 70% of the music played on the radio in France has to be by French artists.
82. The shape of electrical outlets and the voltage in France both differ from that of those in the U.S. If you are visiting France, it might help not to over accommodate your luggage with much electrical or electronic stuff. However, there are a few notable exceptions in this category, and you also have an option to use a voltage converter.
83. A traditional French baguette is made up of only flour, yeast and salt. 10 billion baguettes are baked each year in the country.
84. The French capital, Paris, is known as the “City of Light.” There are 296 illuminated sites in the city, consisting of bridges, churches, fountains, hotels and national buildings.
85. Every day at least two cook books are published in France.
86. And finally, France is Europe’s most innovative country.
Quick facts about France
|Total area||643,801 sq km|
|Population||66,318,000 (2015 estimate)|
|Borders||Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco (a principality), Spain, Switzerland.|
|Life expectancy||81.75 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
|Climate||generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral (metropolitan France)|
|Terrain||mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east (metropolitan France)|
|Natural resources||coal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, arable land, fish (metropolitan France)|
|Birth rate||12.38 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
|Death rate||9.16 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
|Sex ratio||0.96 male(s)/female (2015 est.)|
|National symbol||Gallic rooster, fleur-de-lis, Marianne (female personification); national colors: blue, white, red
|National anthem||"La Marseillaise" (The Song of Marseille)|
|Industries||machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aircraft, electronics; textiles, food processing; tourism
|Exports||$509.1 billion (2015 est.)
machinery and transportation equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
|Imports||$539 billion (2015 est.)
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$41,200 (2015 est.)
|Time Zone||CET (UTC+1)
- Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|Internet country code||.fr|
|Internet users||56.367 million
percent of population: 84.7% (July 2015 est.)
|Government type||semi-presidential republic
|Drives on the||Right|
References: 86 Interesting facts about France
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