TOP-50 interesting facts about France and French
France is a typical Western European country, which has a lot in common with its neighbours. But it is also a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. In this article, we have gathered 50 fascinating facts about this country and its people, which will help to form a first impression and interesting to plan your holiday in France.
50 most interesting facts about French and France
Here’s a journey through the history, traditions and sights of this fascinating country.
1. Before Christ the era, the country was called Gaul, after a tribe that lived there. Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and made it a Roman province.
2. In 486, Gaul was conquered by Clovis, king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe originally from the lower Rhine. Clodwig founded Francia, or the land of the free men.
3 – There are five dynasties on the French throne, from the 5th century to the 19th, namely the Merovingians, the Carolingians, the Capetians, the Valois and the Bourbons. Napoleon Bonaparte also declared himself emperor.
4. France was frequently at war, and the longest war in human history took place here. The so-called Hundred Years’ War between France and England lasted from 1337 to 1453.
5. French kings have always been linked by kinship ties with Russia. Back in the eleventh century the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, Anne became the wife of King Henry I Capeting. After Henry’s death, Anne ruled France for several years as regent to her son Philip.
6. France is the largest country in the European Union in terms of area, but is slightly behind Germany in terms of population. It is home to 68 million people, and about the same number of tourists visit France every year.
7. Western Europe’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc, lies on the border between France and Italy. Its height is 4,807 metres. According to an agreement between the countries, the higher peak of Mont Blanc belongs to France and the lower one to Italy.
8. One of the most important events in French history, Bastille Day, marks the beginning of the Great French Revolution in 1789. The date is now celebrated as a bank holiday.
9. Many state symbols have remained from the time of the French Revolution. The national anthem is the Marseillaise and the motto «Liberty, Equality, Fraternity».
10. Modern France is called the Fifth Republic, because before that there had been four periods in the history of France when power belonged to the elected authorities. The republics gave way to periods of reaction, but all the same democracy triumphed.
11. The capital of France, Paris was founded by the Celtic tribe of the Parisees and at first was called Lutetia, that is, the muddy place. After the Roman conquest, it became known as Parisia.
12. The Eiffel Tower is considered the symbol of Paris, but it has been gracing the capital since relatively recently. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 and at the time was the tallest structure in the world. In the early years, the tower caused a flurry of criticism and many prominent French people demanded that the monstrous structure be demolished.
13. The world’s most visited museum, the Louvre, was not always a museum. For a long time it was the capital residence of the French kings and only in 1793, it opened its doors to the public.
14. Paris is famous for its restaurants and bistros. The city has more than 35,000 eating establishments. The name «bistro» originated in 1814, when Cossacks entered Paris and demanded that waiters serve themselves more quickly.
15. The Statue of Liberty, installed in New York, was made in Paris. And now five scaled-down copies can be seen in the French capital.
16. The Notre Dame de Paris is considered to be the centre of Paris, its zero point. Many French monarchs were married here, and French nobles were buried. In 2019, the cathedral suffered a major fire, and the restoration uncovered several previously unknown sarcophagi and other relics.
17. As St Petersburg is called the Venice of the North, so Paris is called the City of Lights. This is where street lighting was first used en masse at the end of the 17th century.
18. The largest sundial in the world is located on the Place de la Concorde. Numbers, indicating hours, are located directly on the stones of the square, while the hands are the shadow of the Egyptian obelisk of Luxor, which is 23 metres high.
19. Paris is considered a Mecca for bohemians and creative types. At various times great artists, writers, musicians and directors have lived and worked here. Picasso, Hemingway, Dali, Monet, and many others have lived here.
20. The Paris catacombs are some of the longest in the world. Their total length is approaching 400 kilometres. Many of the catacombs were the burial place for the remains of people who died during catastrophic epidemics and wars of the Middle Ages.
21. Apart from Paris, France has many other attractions that are a must-see. For example, the royal palace of Versailles, which was modelled on Peterhof. Versailles is decorated with hundreds of statues and fountains, beautiful gardens and grottos.
22. The Loire Valley, France’s longest river, which divides the country into two almost equal halves, is another landmark. Along the riverbed and its many tributaries are hundreds of medieval chateaux. Some of them are ruined, others are in perfect condition and used for their intended purpose. The Loire valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
23. The well-preserved ancient Pont du Gard aqueduct is in the south of France, close to Nîmes. It is considered the highest aqueduct in the world and was built by the Romans in the 1st century AD.
24. There are several caves in the Weser valley, known for their drawings of primitive people. The most famous of these is the Lascaux Cave, discovered in 1940. Hundreds of coloured pictures of ancient animals and scenes of animal hunting have been discovered.
25. In the Provence region, on the banks of the Rhone, lies the ancient city of Avignon. It is famous for the Papal Palace and other historic buildings. In the XIVth century this was the seat of the Papacy, which was transferred there from Rome.
26. The famous Fort Boyard, an ancient fortress on a small island which became famous worldwide as the site of a popular TV game, is located on the Atlantic coast of France, near the town of La Rochelle.
27. France’s largest island, Corsica, is located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is the birthplace of Napoleon, a land of proud people who have long practiced blood feuds, and yet an amazingly beautiful island with mountains, forests, and beautiful beaches.
28. The oldest cities in France are considered to be Marseille and Beziers. These cities were built in the 6th century BC by the Greeks, who actively sailed across the Mediterranean at that time.
29. The Tour de France, the world’s most popular and longest cycling race, has been held regularly in the country for over a century. The length of its stages varies from year to year, the longest being the 1926 Tour de France, at 5,745 kilometres.
Character and customs of French
30. The French are seen as a refined, polite and courteous nation. The French language, very musical and melodious, contributes a lot to this opinion. But in reality, the French are easy to communicate, especially if you speak French with them.
31. Lunch is a sacred time for the French. In most towns, public utilities and shops close for lunch between 12pm and 2pm.
32. All the French consider themselves great patriots, which does not prevent them from being constantly dissatisfied with their authorities. Every year, France has the biggest number of protests in Europe. It is even said that striking is a favourite pastime of the French.
33. It is not only Germans who are famous for their love of bureaucracy. Even in our digital age, the French have to receive bills and receipts in paper form and keep them for many years.
34. The French kiss, even if they do not know each other. The further south the region is, the more kisses are exchanged. The usual number of kisses ranges from 1 to 4.
35. The French love and know how to dress in style. The charm of French men lies in the apparent carelessness of their wardrobe, while French women tend to favour practicality in their outfits.
36. France, and Paris in particular, is regarded as the world’s centre of fashion and new trends and style experimentation. The first haute couture house opened here in 1858, and there are now hundreds of fashion houses and boutiques in Paris alone.
37. But the world centre for perfumery is Grasse on the French Riviera. It’s home to the Perfumery Museum and greenhouses where flowers for perfumes are grown.
38. Many of the country’s public buildings have special umbrella baskets at their entrances. The French are superstitious, and it is considered bad luck to bring a wet umbrella indoors.
39. At the beginning of May, you’ll find a lot of lilies of the valley vendors in the streets of France. These delicate spring flowers are considered a symbol of love, happiness, wealth, and good health.
40. The French are a nation of gourmets, but we find many of their dishes a little strange. For example, the French love snails, consuming about 500 million shellfish a year.
41. Frogs are another unusual dish in French cuisine. Legend has it that the French started eating frogs during the Hundred Years’ War, and back then it was a poor man’s meal. But over time, frogs have been regarded as a symbol of luxury and aristocracy. Nowadays, frogs are mostly eaten by tourists in France.
42. Baguette has also become a symbol of French cuisine, and there are strict rules regarding its preparation. A baguette must contain only three ingredients: flour, yeast and salt, and weigh exactly 250 grams. Every year, the French eat several billion baguettes.
43. French wine is popular all over the world, and the French consider themselves to be Europe’s biggest drinker. Wine is drunk here every day and is cheap – from €3 for a bottle, even cheaper than a glass of tea in a small restaurant. Almost every historical region of the country has its own speciality wine: Champagne, Anjou, Bordeaux etc.
44. Another French gastronomic wonder is cheese. More than 300 different kinds of cheese are produced here, many of which are considered delicacies and are fabulously expensive. The French themselves consume on average 25 kilograms of cheese a year per person.
45. Hot drinks such as tea or coffee are drunk in the country from handle-less cups by dipping bread into them.
Animals of France
46. Many breeds of domestic cats, dogs, chickens, sheep and other animals have been bred in France. But almost all of them have their origins in animal species from other countries.
47. For example, the famous Chartreuse breed was bred in France in the last century, but is descended from Iranian cats. Already in the fourteenth century, cats of this breed appeared in the Carthusian monasteries of France, for which she got her name.
48. One of the country’s symbols is the French bulldog, a very popular dog breed. But this typically French breed came into being only at the end of the nineteenth century by mixing Spanish and English bulldogs.
49. Only sheepdogs can be considered a true French breed. These dogs have been used by shepherds to protect flocks of livestock since ancient times. There are now 14 authentic French shepherd dog breeds, including the Briard and the Beauceron.
50. The Île-de-France metropolitan area is the only place in the world, apart from Australia, where the wallaby, a kangaroo-like marsupial rodent, can be seen in the wild. As early as 1970, a group of wallabies escaped from the local zoo and have become well established in the surrounding forests.
Friends, if you know more interesting facts about the French and France, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn more. We would be very grateful!