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20 Interesting Facts About France You Need To Know

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Facts about France
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Are you interested in learning some interesting facts about France? If your answer is yes, then you are in the right space.

France, primarily nestled in Western Europe, is one of the most visited countries with alpine villages, medieval cities, and Mediterranean beaches. The country is most famous for the city of love, also known as Paris, the capital city of France.

Every country has something or the other that makes them interesting. And when it comes to France, hold your horses because there’s a lot that makes France so interesting. So, in this article, we will tell you 20 interesting facts about France that you must know if you ever have plans to visit.

So prepare yourselves to learn, as we share with you the top 20 interesting facts about France that might leave you flabbergasted.

20 Interesting Facts About France

1. France is the largest country in the Europen Union

Photograph by: Fistenstein/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

With a total surface area of about 551,394 sq km, France, the country in Western Europe, is the largest in the European Union. And also the 3rd largest country in terms of land area in Europe right after Russia and Ukraine.

2. Potatoes were once illegal in France

Photograph by: Rhonda/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

Potatoes are the most favorite item in any household, isn’t it? But did you know that this wasn’t the case in France at some point in time? This was because potatoes were once banned in France.

Potatoes were banned in France from 1748-1772 by the French Parliament. They considered potatoes to be poisonous and claimed them to cause leprosy. This was one of those cases where society made decisions out of fear instead of following science and logic.

The law for banning potatoes was effective until 1772, after which French scientist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier showed that potatoes are equally edible and not harmful at all.

3. France is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations

Do you know France is one of the most visited countries in the world? According to the recent figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), France is the number one destination for international tourists.

Photograph by: Katya Smolina/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

Around 90 million people visited France in the year 2018. And in general, the country receives about 89 million visitors every year.

But do you know what it is that attracts such a big crowd every year to France? Well, the very first reason is, of course, Paris. It is one of the fascinating cities in the world. And it is home to the great Eiffel tower, so need we say more?

4. French was the official language of England

One of the most interesting facts about France is that the language French was the official language of England for about 300 years. From 1066 to 1362, French was the official language of England.

However, in 1362 the parliament made English the official language of the government by passing the Pleading in English Act.

5. France has the most time zones in the world

A time zone is an area or a region that observes the standard time for commercial, social, and legal purposes. There are over 24 time zones in the world. And France has the most number of time zones.

In total, France has 12 different time zones, which are due to the various territories around the world. Here are the following time zones France has if you might be interested:

  • UTC-10:00-Most of French Polynesia
  • UTC-09:30-Marquesas Islands
  • UTC-09:00-Gambier Islands
  • UTC-08:00-Clipperton Island
  • UTC−04:00-Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin
  • UTC−03:00-French Guiana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • UTC+01:00-Metropolitan France
  • UTC+03:00 — Mayotte
  • UTC+04:00 — Réunion
  • UTC+05:00 — Kerguelen Islands, Crozet Islands
  • UTC+11:00 — New Caledonia
  • UTC+12:00 — Wallis and Futuna

6. Louis XIX was the king of France for 20 minutes

The shortest reign of a monarch over a country ever was for 20 minutes when Louis XIX claimed himself to be the kind of France.

Photograph by: Vincentello/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

Louis XIX became the king right after his father stepped down from the throne during the French Revolution of 1930. However, Louis-Antoine himself abdicated the thrown after 20 minutes. He did this in favor of his nephew.

7. The popular cycle race Tour De France has been running for over 100 years

This is one of the most exciting facts about France for riders.

One of the world’s most popular, difficult, and prestigious cycle races, the Tour De France hosted by France, was first held in 1903. The cycle race is still hosted each year in July.

Photograph by: Robin Ellis/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

Ever since 1903, the race has been held every year except for during the two world wars. And the race attracts the best of the best riders.

8. The French people consume about 11.2 billion glasses of wine per year on an average

You might know that France is one of the world’s biggest producers of wine. They have created some of the best varieties of wine currently available.

Photograph by: Aaron.Su/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

But do you know that the country accounts for almost 60% of the total alcohol consumption just by wine? So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the French are just in love with wine.

9. The highest mountain in France is also the second-highest mountain in Europe

Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in France that is 15,780 ft high, standing at the border between Italy and France, is also the 2nd highest mountain in Europe. The highest mountain in Europe is Mount Elbrus.

10. France is the birthplace of Napolean

You must have heard of the great French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte. Do you know France is his birthplace?

Photograph by: Ceyhun Ataman/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on a beautiful French island nestled in the Mediterranean sea by Corsica.

Corsica is one of those regions in France where the beauty lies parallel to nature. The aquamarine blue waters are just flawless and peaceful.

11. France’s famous landmark “Note Dame” is not the same anymore

The country’s most popular landmark, the Notre Dame cathedral, caught fire and burst into flames in April 2019. This is one of the saddest facts about France that people had to witness.

Photograph by: Christian Press/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

The Notre Dame is a medieval catholic cathedral in Paris, which is popular worldwide for its immense church bells. The cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris.

12. France has an official name too

Do you know that République Française is actually the official name of France? In simple terms, the name means the French Republic. So, the official name of France is actually the French Republic.

13. Of all music played on the private radio stations, 40% must be of French origin

This is one of the unique facts about France. According to the French Government, of all the music played in the country on the private radio stations, 40% of them must be of French origin.

Another thing is that half of that 40% quota, the music played must be less than 6 months old.

PS: The French government wants their music game to be strong. 

14. France is home to the world’s most visited museum

The Louvre Museum in Paris, France, is one of the world’s most visited museums. Over 9 million visitors go to the museum every year.

Photograph by: Leandro Carvalho/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

The Louvre Museum is a historical monument located in Paris and is one of the world’s largest art museums. The museum is most popularly known as the home of the Mona Lisa.

The museum was established long back in 1793 and is housed in the Louvre Palace, built in the 13th century. The museum exhibits paintings, drawings, sculptures, archaeological finds, and art objects.

The museum receives about 15,000 visitors on average in a day.

15. Various world-changing inventions are French

Other interesting facts about France are that among many inventions that have changed the technology and the world we today live in, some notable and popular ones are French inventions.

The French have introduced many inventions in every important sector that has positively impacted today’s world, from food to technology. Some of which are as follows:

  • The Parachute: The modern parachute that is in use today was invented by Louis-Sébastien Lenormand in the late 18th century.
Photograph by: Oleg Klementiev/Flickr @Some Rights Reserved
  • Aspirin: French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt was the first to prepare aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).
  • The Camera Phone: It was Philippe Kahn, who had created the first camera phone in 1997.
  • Pasteurization: The most widely used process in the dairy and food industry, pasteurization, was invented by French scientist Louis Pasteur.
Photograph by: David Valenzuela/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

16. In France, you can even marry a dead person

Posthumous marriage is a marriage concept in which one of the participating members is no longer alive. And to your utter surprise, one of the most fascinating facts about France is that it is one of the few countries that allows posthumous marriage by their laws.

A law was passed in the 1950s that legally allows people in France to be married to a dead person under special circumstances. A person who wishes to enter a posthumous marriage first has to seek permission from the country’s president.

The marriage is legal; however, the family of the deceased must be in approval of the marriage as well.

These were all amazing and interesting facts about France. Let us now check a few fun facts about France.

Fun Facts About France

17. Popular delicacies French toast French fries are not from France

Growing up, you all must have loved munching on French toast and French fries, right? These two delicacies are the most popular among people of all ages worldwide.

But do you know, both the dishes are not actually French? (Oh, the disappointment). They just got the name French but are not technically French food.

Photograph by: Neukomment/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

The original recipe for French toast actually goes back to 4th century Rome, which is why the French earlier used to call it  Roman Bread. And as far as the French fries are concerned, these tasty fries were first invented in Belgium in the 1600s.

18. French superstition: Turning a baguette upside down is UNLUCKY

One of the most fun facts about France is their weird superstitions, and one such is linked up to baguette.

Now, this superstition dates back to medieval times, whenever an execution was scheduled in town. It was believed that the executioner himself did not have the time to go to the bakery right before work. So, the baker would reserve a specific loaf by turning it upside down for him.

Therefore, the overturned loaf of bread became associated with death and misfortune. People started avoiding these loaves, and superstition still lives on.

19. A French citizen eats about 500 snails in a year

Another fun fact about France is that the average French citizen eats 500 snails in a year. Escargots, as the French say it is a very popular delicacy cooked of edible land snails.

Photograph by: Fortunato Calabro/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

In reality, the French people eat a bit of everything. Some delicacies might seem weird to others, but then that is what counts as one of the interesting or weird facts about France.

20. In France, you will find over 400 kinds of cheese

It’s time to get over the snails because another one of interesting food facts about France is coming right up. Do you know France has got over 400 different kinds of cheese?

Photograph by: Rodney/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

The French people are the largest consumers of cheese on earth. They almost hover on that stuff heavily on a daily basis. One can say that the French are just obsessed with cheese.

They are so into cheese that they have literally started an international (bi-annual) cheese competition.

So with this, we have come to the end of our article on 20 interesting and fun facts about France. There are so many things to know that one cannot possibly compile them all in one article when it comes to France.

However, we have tried our best to pick up the most interesting facts about France. In addition to the interesting facts about France, there are some popular monuments in France that one should learn about before visiting the country.

Such as the Arc De Triomphe, Rocamadour, Pont du Gard. Click here to check an article on some popular monuments of France.

Do let us know if we have missed out on anything. Happy reading!!

About the author

This is Kritika. A 23-year-old biotechnology student by the day, and a writer/poet 24/7.

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