35 fascinating facts about France
29th January, 2023
There are so many fascinating facts about France! France is a land of rich heritage, culture, and ethnic diversity. If you are striving to know about France, this article contains 35 intriguing facts about France that you must know.
Imagine strolling down the charming streets of Paris, soaking up the beautiful architecture, and enjoying a delicious French pastry. Or maybe you’re more interested in exploring the stunning countryside, hiking through picturesque villages. And of course, who could forget about the Eiffel Tower? France is a country with so much to offer, and it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most visited tourist destinations.
Are you looking to know about France before your trip? If so, don’t worry, as we have got you covered. In this article, we will uncover 35 fascinating facts about France. You don’t want to miss out on these facts, so without further ado, let’s get started.
Some Amazing Facts About France
1. Largest Country In European Union
France is the largest country in the European Union, covering a total area of 543,940 km². It is twice the size of the United Kingdom and eight times that of Ireland. After Ukraine and Russia, France is the third biggest country in Europe.
2. One of the World’s Most Visited Tourist Spot
One of my favourite facts about France is how popular it is! You might be surprised to know that France is among the 10 most visited countries worldwide. Its amazing architecture, rich cultural heritage, and sensational food are a few main reasons for tourist attraction for the last 30 years.
In 2019, approximately 90 million international tourists visited this place, making it the world’s most popular tourist destination. Moreover, Paris, the capital of France, is the world’s third most visited city after Bangkok and London.
3. Hexagon – The Nickname Of France
French people sometimes call Mainland France by its nickname “Hexagon.” It is due to its distinct shape on the geographical map. It has six sides that make it quite similar to a hexagon. This is one of the lesser know facts about France.
4. France Shares Border With 11 Countries
France has a large number of neighbours due to its hexagonal shape. The country shares its boundaries with 11 countries, including Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Andorra, Netherlands, Suriname, and Brazil.
5. France Had The Shortest Reign – For 20 Minutes
One of the most interesting facts about France is that one of their kings experienced the shortest reign. King Louis XIX held the throne for just 20 minutes after his father Charles X’s abdication in July 1830. Later, Louis XIX also abdicated the throne in favour of his nephew.
Louis XIX shares this record with Prince Luís Filipe, who became the King of Portugal after the murder of his father in an attack. However, Luís Filipe was also wounded in the same attack and died after 20 minutes of becoming a King.
6. French People Consumes Over 30,000 Tons Of Snails Yearly
Believe it or not, the French eat up to 30,000 tons of snails annually. On average, a single resident consumes over 500 snails yearly. In France, snails are usually called “escargot.”
They are considered a delicacy in France, so people usually enjoy them on holidays and vacations. Most commonly, they are eaten as appetizers – cooked in garlic and butter.
7. Europe’s Second Highest Mountain Is In France – Mountain Blanc
France is home to the highest peak of Europe – Mountain Blanc. It is located in the French Alps and has an astonishing height of 4,808 meters above sea level.
Reaching the summit isn’t easy as climbing takes almost 10-12 laborious hours. But don’t worry if you can’t do that; you can still enjoy the view with the help of Europe’s highest scenic cable car at Aiguille du Midi.
8. French Army Was Pioneer To Introduce Camouflage
Another one of the amazing facts about France is that the French Army was the first to introduce camouflage in 1915. The word “camouflage” derives from a French proverb “to make up for the stage.”
During World War I, artists called camo fleurs were hired to paint all the equipment and vehicles according to their respective surroundings.
9. France Is Famous For Cheese Production
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the French people are so obsessed with cheese that they can’t even imagine their life without that. Not only is France famous for cheese consumption but also for its production. It produces up to 1600 different types of delicious cheese. Some of the most famous cheeses are camembert, Brie de Meaux, Roquefort and Reblochon.
So, if you are visiting France, don’t forget to try these different kinds of cheeses. According to statistics, the volume of cheese produced yearly from cow’s milk in France is between 1.7-1.8 million tons.
10. Supermarkets In France Are Not Allowed To Waste Food
In February 2016, France introduced a law to reduce hunger and stop food wastage. According to this law, all supermarkets must donate their unsold and surplus food to charities and food banks instead of throwing them away- I love this sustainability initiative!
11. The World’s First Artificial Heart & Face Transplant Carried Out In France
One of the most astonishing facts about France is next on the list. Do you know that the world’s first artificial heart transplant occurred at Georges Pompidou Hospital, Paris, in December 2013?
The artificial organ was 3 times heavier than the original and powered by a lithium-ion battery. In addition, a French Surgeon also did the world’s first face transplant.
12. Louvre Museum – World’s Largest Art Museum In France
In 2019, a whopping 9.6 million visitors arrived at the Louvre Museum – making it the world’s most visited museum. It is home to 66% of the artwork of French artists. Some of the most admired artefacts present here are:
- Mona Lisa
- The Venus de Milo
- The Horse Tamers
- The Louvre Pyramid
- The Wedding at Cana
13. French Gastronomy Is Recognized As UNESCO World’s Heritage
This wouldn’t be a post covering the facts about France if I didn’t mention food! France has been known for its exquisite cuisine and lifestyle for ages. In 2010, UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage added French gastronomy to the list. The French gastronomic meal emphasises celebrating important moments with friends and family.
14. France Manufacture The Most Expensive Wine In The World
Apart from its cuisine, France is known for producing the world’s most expensive bottle of wine. The highest bid at an auction for a Burgundy 750 ml bottle was $558,000. Some renowned French region wines are Burgundy, Rhode Valley, Bordeaux, and Champagne.
In addition to manufacturing the classiest wine, the French also consume tons of wine, i.e., approximately 25 million liters yearly. France is at number second for consuming the largest amount of wine worldwide.
15. Sticking A Paper Fish On Adult’s Back – April Fool’s Day Tradition
Now comes one of the funniest facts about France. A tradition in France involves children sticking a paper fish onto the adult’s back and then running away, saying “‘Poisson d’Avril,” which means April Fish. So, you better be careful if you are visiting France on 1st April.
16. French Toast & Fries Were Not Invented In France
What if I tell you French toast and fries are not French inventions? Just because these items have a French name doesn’t mean they were discovered there.
French toast was invented by a man named Joseph French in New York. On the other hand, Fries were introduced in the part of Belgium where people speak French. Now aren’t they fascinating facts about France?
17. Croissant Is Not a French Invention
The most famous French pastry croissant is Austrian. It is believed that Austrian princess Marie Antoinette carried croissants to France during her marriage with French King Louis XVI.
18. Turning Baguette Upside Down Can Cause A Bad Luck
Every country holds its own superstitious beliefs, and so does France. According to the French, turning a baguette or any other bread upside down on a table is unlucky and can bring misfortune to the people around.
19. Living Snails Must Have Their Train Tickets
Now let me tell you one of the most fascinating facts about France. It is against the law in France to carry live snails on a train without having their tickets. In fact, as per law, any animal weighing less than 5kg must have its ticket.
20. Couples Are Forbidden To Kiss On Train Platforms
Yes, it is illegal to kiss on train platforms in France. This law was introduced in 1910 at the request of the railway chief. The only purpose of this law was to prevent delays in trains’ departure. This is one of the most unusual facts about France.
21. Paris Gare du Nord – Europe’s Busiest Train Station
While talking about railway stations, how can I forget about Europe’s busiest railway station – Gare du Nord.
It is located in the heart of Paris and can manage up to 700,000 passengers daily. Moreover, approximately 220 million passengers pass through this station each year.
22. France Regulates The Second Biggest European Rail Network
With a track length of 29,000km, the French rail network is the second biggest in Europe and the ninth largest in the world. France was the first to use high-speed technology. The country introduced the high-speed TGV back in 1981.
23. France Organise The World’s Best Cycle Race – Tour de France
Tour de France is the world’s biggest bicycle race held by France every year in July. This race has been running since 1903 and is over 100 years old. The race lasts for 23 days and covers more than 3200 km.
24. The Oldest Human Of The World Was a French Woman
Jeanne Louise Calment (1875-1997), a resident of Arles, was the only oldest person whose age was independently verified. She lived for 120 years and 164 days. Her longevity, health, and lifestyle attracted the media’s attention.
25. It is Illegal To Contact Employees After Their Working Hours
In France, no boss or business can contact their employees on weekdays or after working hours. Also, French workers do not respond to emails once their time is over. I know we all secretly wish for this law in all countries, which is why this is one of my favourite facts about France!
26. The World’s Longest Novel Is In the French Language
The longest novel in the world, “In Search of Lost Time” (Remembrance of Things Past), was written by the France famous writer Marcel Proust. The novel comprises 7 volumes and 3000 pages. Also, it is an epic read.
27. The First Camera Phone Was Invented In France
Philippe Kahn, a Parisian, introduced the phone camera, and the first photo he took was of his newborn daughter on June 11, 1997. I think we all should be thankful to France for this brilliant invention.
28. France Is The Country With The Most Time Zones
Another one of the most fascinating facts about France is that this country holds the world’s record for having the most time zones. With its 12 time zones, France has beaten Russia and the United States, which have eleven time zones each.
29. Hot Air Balloons, Tinned Cans & The Hairdryer Were All Created In France
France has introduced many interesting things, from tinned cans to hairdryers. One of the most amazing creations of France was the hot air balloons. They were invented in 1783 by the Montgolfier brothers and are an important part of the history of aviation.
30. The First Public Screening Of A Movie Was Held In Paris, France
The Lumiere brothers were famous in France for their cinematography and short films they formed between 1895 and 1905. The popular duo organized the world’s first ever public movie screening in Paris on December 28, 1895.
31. France Holds The World’s Record In Roundabout Density
France has almost 30,000 roundabouts now, more than any other country worldwide. The reason behind such a large number of roundabouts is road safety. France has utilized these roundabouts to reduce the overall casualties.
32. Parisians Hated The Eiffel Tower At First
The Eiffel Tower was named after its creator Gustave Eiffel. Although it is currently considered the most remarkable engineering marvel, the Parisians initially hated it. At first, they felt that the Eiffel Tower is hideous and doesn’t fit with the France architecture.
Also, they thought it would destroy the beauty of Paris. Look how it turned out now.
33. France Has Won The Highest Number Of Nobel Prizes In Literature
No doubt, France is full of amazing French authors. Since 1901, 15 people have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The list includes Patrick Modiano, Flaubert, Descartes, Voltaire, and many more.
34. “Medal of the French Family” Award
In France, the “Medal of the French Family” is given by the government to the parents or guardians raising four or more children responsibly with dignity.
35. Ghost Towns In France With No Inhabitants
Some villages in France have a mayor but no inhabitants. After World War 2, these villages were destroyed, and now they are known as “ghost towns.” They are only preserved to keep the memory of those who departed. One such example is Oradour Sur Glane.
Facts about France- further reading
France is the most popular tourist spot for a reason. If you want to discover what else France holds for you, book your ticket to Europe’s largest country right now.
If you know some more exciting facts about France feel free to share them in the comment section below. And if you enjoyed these fascinating facts about France, why not take a look at these posts too?
- What to do when in Paris- the best 16 things to do in Paris
- A guide to visiting Oradour-sur-Glane
- Travel in Portugal guide
- Zakynthos in Greece best things to see and do
- The 6 best islands in Italy + essential travel tips