18 Interesting Facts about France 16/05/2018

France is a very popular tourist destination known for its fine food and culture. Ever wanted to know some interesting facts about this beautiful country? From marrying dead people to potatoes being illegal, here are 18 interesting facts about France.


Giving that it is a country of love, France is one of the largest producers of wine in the world producing 7-8 billion bottles every year. Their high quality and supply as well as taste allow France to put a high price on their wine.

France is known for their beautiful catacombs despite only few being open to the public. In 2004, an entire theatre with seating concealed in a vast 4,300-square-foot cave was discovered by police in one of the catacombs. It also featured stock of 50s noir films, a bar, pressure cooker, and cave paintings on the walls as well as a note that said, “Do not try to find us.”

In France, it is possible in exceptional cases and with the permission of the president, to marry a dead person. This was brought in around the 1950s, when the fiancée of a man killed after a dam burst successfully applied to then president, Charles de Gaulle, to still have the wedding. Although you can’t marry any corpse as you need proof that the deceased had the intention of marrying you while they were alive. The most recent approved case was in 2017 involving a gunned down policeman and their partner.

Women in Paris can’t wear trousers unless riding a bicycle or a horse. This law was in the 1800s to avoid women cross dressing. The law was repealed only five years ago in 2013.

Aristide Boucicault in Paris founded the world’s first department store, in 1838 known as Le Bon Marché. This was the first store had popular department troupes such as advertisements, browsing, and fixed prices. Today department stores can be found all over the world including the one above in Nantes.

Potatoes were once known as “hog feed,” and were banned by the French parliament in 1748 as they were believed to have caused leprosy. In 1772, Antoine- Augustin Parmentier declared them edible and as a result the potato came back on the plate.

French toast was originally called pain perdu (lost bread) but it was the English that came up with the term French toast. The first written mention of the dish came from the court of Henry V of England.

France celebrates July 14th as its Fête Nationale (Independence Day). It is also referred to as Bastille Day. The reason that it is celebrated on that day is because it was the founding of its current Constitutional Monarchy as well as the storming of the Bastille Prison on July 14, 1789.

France is home of the Father of modern Olympics Games Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He helped to create the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the first games in Athens in 1896. In terms of hosting, France hosted the summer Olympics in 1900 and 1924 as well as the Winter Games in 1924, 1968 and 1988.

France is the largest country in the EU known as l’hexagone (the hexagon) because of its shape. Its exact measurements are 551,000 sq. km with 25% of it being forest.

King Louis XIX had the distinction of the shortest reign in France of 20 minutes. In July 1830, Louis took over from his father Charles X who abdicated but not wanting the throne, Louis abdicated in favour of his nephew, the Duke of Bordeaux Henry V.

France have produced a number of world-renown inventions. Nicolas Appert came up with the idea to use sealed glass jars in 1809, with Pierre Durand inventing tin cans. Blind man Louis Braille helped develop braille to allow fellow blind people to read. René Laennec helped medicine by inventing the stethoscope in 1816. The Montgolfier brothers helped transport by creating the hot air balloon in 1783.

In terms of clothing, the French Army created camouflage in 1915 from the French verb ‘to make up for the stage’. France also invented the bikini in 1946 Cannes fashion designer Jacques Heim and French automotive engineer Louis Réard.

France has the honour of having the world’s oldest ever human who lived to 122 years and 164 days. Jeanne Louise Calment was born on 21 February 1875 and died on 4 August 1997. outliving both her daughter and grandson by several decades.

The world’s first artificial heart transplant and face transplant both took place in France. The face transplant took place in 2005 while the heart transplant occurred in December 2013 at the Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris. The device replacing this vital organ is powered by external lithium-ion battery weighting three times the weight of an actual heart.

At 29,000km, the French rail network is the second largest in Europe (after Germany) and the ninth in the world Introducing the TGV high-speed rail in 1981, France was on the first countries to introduce high speed technology. They also were the first country to public transport system since the 1660s thanks to Blaise Pascal. Currently, France has the Tours-Bordeaux adding a further 302km to the existing 1,550km.

The Tour de France has been taken place since 1903 and has been an event with the exception of the times of World War I and World War II every July. Cyclists race 2,000 miles primarily around France for 23 days. with the fastest cyclist at each stage wearing a yellow jersey to highlight their glory. The 1998 Tour de France was known as the “tour of shame,” after cyclists were disqualified from competing for using performance enhancement drugs.

To date, there are a total of 68 Nobel Prize winners from France. The first French national to win the prestigious award was Sully Prudhomme, who won the 1901 prize in Literature. The most recent French person to receive the reward was Jean-Pierre Sauvage for Chemistry in 2016. They have the highest number of Nobel Prize winners in Literature at 15. (followed by the United States with 11, and the UK with 10). This is no surprise from Descartes, Molière, and Pascal in the 17th century to Voltaire in the 18th century and Alexandre Dumas in the 19th century.


Written by: Diarmuid Crowley from StayPlanet


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