97 Interesting Facts About France

Last updated on February 22nd, 2017 at 05:16 am

France, which is officially known as the French Republic, is a country in Western Europe. France is a secular and democratic country.

Here are 97 interesting facts about France, covering its history, geography, notable people, food, culture, economics, famous monuments and much more.

1. Now for certain you did not know this. All over the world, cities are riddled with dozens of road signs and among them is the stop sign. But did you know that the city of Paris has only one stop sign? Now you know.

2. For many people, the thought of even staying in the same room with a dead body is pure torture. But in France, you are legally allowed to marry a dead person. Truly whoever said love never dies was not wrong.

3. When you give birth to a child, it is your natural and legal responsibility to take care of it. You do not need to be rewarded for that. But in France, parents who successfully raise several children with dignity are awarded the Medal of the French Family (La Médaille de La Famille Française) by the government.

4. We all know that France’s capital, Paris is the globally renowned city of love. Well, what you did not know but you probably guessed is that a study conducted by the Durex in 2003 found out that French people have the most sex in a year.

5. This might sound a little bit graphic to some people, but did you know that there is a small town in the Savoie region of France named Pussy. Anyway, maybe it was called so because of a high population of cats in the area. You will never know.

6. It is a well-known fact that so many people have perished because of love. With so much love in the air, the same must be true in France. Studies have revealed that this country has the highest number of depressed people; therefore, becoming the world’s most depressed country.

7. When a king receives the reign of power, it is expected that he will serve for a very long time. But did you know that one of the shortest reigns for a king was in France? If you did not know then King Louis XIX’s reign as the leader of France lasted for only 20 minutes.

8. Sports and games for most people are just means of entertainment. Too many rules kill the fun in many things. For this reason, nobody would want a game that has too many rules. But in France, there is a traditional ball game called boules that has a 70-page long rule book.

9. The luckiest person in history could easily be one of France’s former presidents. President Charles de Gaulle has gone down in history to be the person who has survived the most assassination attempts in the world. President Gaulle survived 32 attempts on his life earning himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

10. Do you know that a town in France could have been the Holy See and the headquarters of the Pope and the Catholic Church? In 1309, the headquarters of the Catholic Church was moved by Pope Clement V from Rome to Avignon in France. It was later returned to Rome in 1377.

11. All roads in France have a point where they all start. This point is named Point Zero, and it is marked by a bronze star that is set on the pavement near the Notre Dame Cathedral’s main entrance in Paris.

12. If you ask anyone, they will tell you that the UK has the highest consumption of pure alcohol per year when compared to the U.S. and France. But the truth of the matter is that France has the highest consumption of 10.9 liters, followed by the UK at 8.2 liters, and finally the U.S at 6.3 liters per year per person.

13. France is the largest country in the European Union. It comprises almost 1/5th of the total EU area.

14. It would be interesting for kids to note that France resembles the shape of a hexagon. Hence, it is also known as ‘the hexagon.’

Interesting facts about France: France Map
Interesting facts about France: France on the World Map

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. After Germany, France has the second-largest population of EU nations. And 85% of its population lives in urban areas.

18. However, other languages and dialects are also popular in France; French is the official and first language of 88% of its population.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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 French people, French customs, their wine and time zones

23. Marie Curie, Blaise Pascal, Pierre Curie and Joseph Fourier are some of the famous scientists from France. (Read some interesting facts about Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Isaac Newton)

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. The license plates that we see today on automobiles were first introduced in France.

27. In France, it is illegal to name a pig “Napoleon.”

28. 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.

29. Condom vending machines can be found in almost 90% of the high schools in France.

Interesting facts about France: A condom vending machine installed somewhere in the country. Image credit

30. There are 12 time zones in use in France. This is the highest number among any nation in the world.

31. Between 1814 and 1830, the French flag was plain white (no color, just white).

32. French people appreciate if you greet them in French.

33. Until 2012, wearing trousers for women in France was illegal.

34. More people in Africa speak French than people in France.

35. 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.

36. The French sleep the most among people in the developed world. On average, they sleep 8.83 hours per day.

37. 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.

38. 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.

39. Fourteen percent of the population of Paris consists of non nationals.

40. 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.

41. 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 

42. 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.

43. 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.

44. 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.

Interesting facts about France: Eiffel Tower at night
Interesting facts about France: Eiffel Tower at night. Image Credit

45. It is painted every seven years, taking five tons of paint to complete the job each time.

46. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. It was erected in 1889.

47. 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.

48. Ten thousand African slaves were freed after the French Revolution.

49. The world’s first true department store was opened in Paris in 1838.

50. 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.

51. 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.

52. France is the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products.

53. Eating horse and rabbit is quite common in France. You can easily find these items on a restaurant’s menu.

54. The French consider wine an intellectual part of every meal.

55. The French consume approximately 500 million snails every year.

56. 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.

57. 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.

58. Another fun fact for kids about France is that French fries and French toast are not French inventions.

59. Paris alone has a whopping 5,000 restaurants.

60. Only 15% of women in France are obese, compared to 64% in the U.S. alone.

61. 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.

62. There are 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France.

63. For more than 300 years, French was also the official language of England.

64. It is illegal to kiss while aboard a train in France.

65. All the trees in the French capital, Paris, are measured and referenced. There are 470,000 of them.

66. There is only one stop light in the entire city of Paris and 1784 bakeries.

67. France also hosts one of the four Grand Slam tennis championships. The French Open is held every year in Paris.

68. Louis Pasteur was a French scientist who invented the process of pasteurization, to prevent microbial growth and preserve food items like milk.

69. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire and Provence are the names of wine-producing regions in France.

70. While wine is mostly free with every meal in France, beer is considered a luxury.

71. 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.

72. 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.

73. 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.

74. 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.

75. 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?

76. 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.

Some random facts

77. France also collects the highest wealth tax in Europe.

78. A fun fact: April Fool’s Day (1st of April) is believed to have originated in France.

79. 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.

80. Jean Nico, was a French diplomat for whom Nicotine is named. (Also, read some interesting facts about Cancer and Cigarettes)

81. Research concluded that at least thirty four percent of the French population can speak English fluently.

82. The word “entrepreneur” was also invented by the French.

83. France legally allows you to marry a dead person.

84. France won the Soccer World Cup in 1998. They also hosted the championships that year.

Soccer world cup 1998
Interesting facts about France: France won soccer’s World Cup in 1998. Image Credit

85. The French president Charles de Gaulle has survived 32 assassination attempts, the most in the world by anyone.

86. 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.

87. 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.

88. 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).

89. The French kiss each other on the cheek as a form of greeting. However, it is illegal to kiss on railways in the country.

90. 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.

91. In France, it is illegal to take images of police officers or their vehicles, even in the background.

92. Between 8 AM and 8 PM, 70% of the music played on the radio in France has to be by French artists.

93. 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.

94. A traditional French baguette is made up of only flour, yeast and salt. 10 billion baguettes are baked each year in the country.

95. 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.

96. Every day at least two cook books are published in France.

97. And finally, France is Europe’s most innovative country.

Quick facts about France

Capital CityParis
48°51.4′N 2°21.05′E
Largest CityParis
48°51.4′N 2°21.05′E
Total area643,801 sq km
Population66,318,000 (2015 estimate)
Official LanguageFrench
BordersAndorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco (a principality), Spain, Switzerland.
ReligionRoman Catholic
Life expectancy81.75 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.
Climategenerally 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)
Terrainmostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east (metropolitan France)
Natural resourcescoal, iron ore, bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, potash, feldspar, fluorspar, gypsum, timber, arable land, fish (metropolitan France)
Agricultural land52.7%
Birth rate12.38 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate9.16 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.96 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
National symbolGallic rooster, fleur-de-lis, Marianne (female personification); national colors: blue, white, red
National anthem"La Marseillaise" (The Song of Marseille)
Industriesmachinery, 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 ZoneCET (UTC+1)
- Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Internet country code.fr
Internet users56.367 million
percent of population: 84.7% (July 2015 est.)
Government typesemi-presidential republic
Drives on theRight
Calling Code+33


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