Ancient history, incredible food, a vibrant culture, and beautiful landscapes. What else could you want! 2 impressive facts about France is that it is the largest country in Europe, and also the most popular travel destination in the world.
It is hardly surprising if this is a country in your travel itinerary. Here are 21 fun facts about France and the French that will not only inspire you for your next vacation but help you along the way.
Favorite Fact About France
The French have many reputations: from baguettes and wine to art and history. While there are so many wonderful facts about France, we want to start with an interesting fact about the French that can discourage some people but absolutely shouldn’t.
Yes, we’re talking about the fact that the French have a reputation for being rude to those who don’t speak French. Don’t let this impact your excitement about traveling to France!
The best fact about France is that there are a few secret phrases that will make every French person love you. The key is to show the French that you respect their language and culture, and that you are putting in an effort. Use the following words and phrases the next time you’re in France and you’ll have a wonderful time
First, always greet someone with Bonjour. This directly translates to “good day” but really just means “hello.” Make sure you always greet someone this way before you make a request or ask for something.
Then, follow up with s’il vous plait which simply means “please.” Stick with this phrase and don’t try to use the informal version.
Make sure you finish by saying merci for “thank you,” and when you leave say au revoir which means “goodbye.”
You should understand that the French appreciate manners and rituals. Stick with these four phrases/words and the French will see that you are trying, and will like you so much more!
More Fun Facts About France
Now that the biggest negative fact about France is out of the picture, let’s talk about all the amazing and interesting facts about France!
France has over 2,000 miles of coastline
When thinking of France, most picture beautiful cities, the quaint countryside, and endless vineyards. Most are surprised to know that France is lined with miles of beaches and coastline.
A fun fact about France is that are three different stretches of coastline. From high-end resorts to private coves, the French beaches have everything you need for your next relaxing vacation.
France is the most popular tourist destination in the world
It’s no secret that France is on everyone’s bucket list. Whether you love wine, food, romance or history, this country has it all. Roughly 89 million tourists visit France each year! And Paris is unsurprisingly the top travel destination in France.
France is one of the greenest countries in the world!
France doesn’t just save food, it is actually one of the greenest countries in Europe. They are always creating and promoting green technology and have excellent recycling programs.
They currently have an eco-friendly score of 83.95 and is one of the top 10 greenest countries in the world.
French toast isn’t French
It’s deceiving, we know. The great part is French toast is actually very popular in France, it just wasn’t created there.
The first records of French toast actually date back to Ancient Rome in the 4th century – though there are many stories that contradict the breakfast dishes’ true origins.
Here’s a fact about France for the foodies for when you’re craving French toast while exploring the country. Keep an eye out for le pain perdu on the menu and try the French version of French toast! This is one of the typical breakfasts in France.
In France, you can marry a dead person
Fun Fact about French law, it is 100% legal to marry someone who has already passed away. You do have to have written or documented permission from the individual who has died, proving that they had the intention of marrying you while they were alive.
While that doesn’t seem too complicated, you do also need the permission of the French president, which could be a bit tricky.
This may sound like an ancient law, the most recent case of someone marrying a dead person was actually in 2017!
France is also called L’Hexagone
One of the most interesting facts about France is that the country has the nickname “L’Hexagone”. This is due to the geometrical shape of the country.
Take a look at the map while you’re planning your next trip and see if you can spot it.
It is illegal to throw out food in France
France passed a law in 2016 making it illegal to throw away all good food. This goes for grocery stores, supermarkets, and restaurants.
It’s not surprising given how much love the French have for food. This is also an interesting fact about France for environmentalists, as it helps the country in their many goals of sustainability!
France’s national motto is over 200 years old
Fun fact about France for all you history buffs: France has maintained its national motto Liberte, Egalite, Franernite (Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity) since 1790 after the French Revolution.
This revolution also inspired many revolutions around the world. You can still see the phrase in coins, postage stamps, and government logos.
White wedding dresses originated in France
Brides have worn white to their wedding for hundreds of years. Even though it wasn’t common until the 20th century, we know that French brides began wearing white to their wedding in France back in the 16th century.
Another interesting fact about France is the most popular wedding dress designs still originate in France.
Be careful on April 1st!
Back in the 16th century, King Charles XIV of France changed the calendar so that the New Year was celebrated in January instead of April.
Those who continued to celebrate the New Year at the beginning of April were teased by having a paper fish pinned to their back. Rumour has it that this is the origin of April Fool’s Day!
Today, local children run through town on the first of April trying to secretly pin paper fish on the backs of strangers. If it happens to you, consider yourself lucky to be a part of the local tradition!
Fun Facts About The French
You simply can’t say you understand France without learning about the French themselves. Here are ten more facts about the French:
The French are very superstitious
Interesting Fact about the French for all you superstitious travelers: turning a baguette upside down is considered to be extremely unlucky in France. We all know the French are particularly superstitious, but this seems like a whole other level.
Rumor has it that back in medieval France, when an execution was scheduled the executioner wouldn’t have time to eat. As such the local baker would turn a baguette upside down to save it for them. There are many versions of this story, but all involve an upside down bread for the executioner.
Don’t worry; if you accidentally put down your baguette on the wrong side you can carve a cross into the crust and all bad luck will disappear!
The French consume 11.2 billion glasses of wine each year
That’s right. It’s no secret that the French love their wine. The French population collectively drinks 11.2 billion glasses of wine on average every year.
Don’t worry, they won’t run out of wine. Fun Fact about France: there are over 110,000 vineyards throughout the country!
The shortest reign of a French king was only 20 minutes
Louis XIX was crowned king in 1830 for only 20 minutes. Quickly after he was named king, his nephew, the Duke of Bordeaux took his place.
A fun fact on France for your next trivia night is that the record is actually tied with one of Portugal’s monarchs.
There are 75 regional languages in France
Here’s a fun fact about France for the linguists: not only can the French tell what part of France someone is from just by hearing them speak, but many regions also have their own dialect of French.
Travelers who do not speak French most likely won’t be able to tell. Don’t be discouraged if you feel your French is improving only to have the locals scoff at you in the next town over!
La bise: there are many ways to “French kiss”
You may know that the French typically greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. This is true in some parts of France, though it does vary. Some cities and towns will greet you with one kiss, while others will greet each person with five kisses.
Pay attention to this fact about the French or you may have a pretty awkward encounter with a French stranger in the middle of la bise!
There are six steps in a French meal
You heard right. Six! Another fact about the French for the foodie travelers is that while the French love their food, it isn’t just about bread, cheese and wine. The final meal of the day in French culture is a ritual.
Of course, there are times when life gets in the way and occasionally dinner is a quick on-the-go affair. Whenever life allows it, the French make sure each meal contains the following six steps:
- The Apéro: a drink (usually containing alcohol) with salty snacks like olives
- The entrée: a starter containing anything cold or uncooked. This could be a salad or charchuterie.
- The main meal: cooked food that usually contains meat, vegetables, and carbs.
- A cheese platter: various cheeses always served with bread, of course.
- The dessert: a small dessert that contains chocolate, but not always.
- The coffee course: occasionally tea, but usually an espresso to end the night.
It may seem like a lot of food, but portions are fairly small in French cuisine. Even though the ritual can take hours, it’s always with family and friends. Therefore, it is the highlight of the day for the French.
The French are very creative
Not only have the French won the most Noble Prizes for literature – including the first ever in 1903 – they have invented many of the things we use in everyday life.
To name a few, the hairdryer, tin can, and camera phone were all invented in France.
Each French citizen consumes 500 snails each year
On average, each French citizen eats 500 snails every year. Known as escargot, eating snails is a common delicacy throughout France.
A fun fact about the French is that they usually served their snails with plenty of butter and garlic! If you haven’t tried it, you absolutely should! Clearly, the French love it.
The French live for a very long time
Yet another interesting fact about the French is that they hold the record for the oldest person ever! Jeanne Louise Calment was the oldest documented person in the world when she died on August 4th 1997.
Born in 1875, she lived to be 122 years and 164 days old. While Jeanne was an extreme case, the French overall have an impressive life expectancy rate.
The average life expectancy for French citizens is 83 years old! Seems like long meals and extra snails could add some years onto your life.
According to French law, kissing on train platforms is illegal
While France is a romantic getaway for couples around the world, be careful when you try to steal a kiss on train platforms!
The French declared kissing on train platforms illegal back in 1910 with hopes it would help keep trains on schedule. A helpful fact about France today is that now you are allowed kiss your loved one on the platform, just check there aren’t any trains in the station!
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Discover More Facts About France When You Visit
These are only 21 fun facts about France and it’s really just the start! There is so much more to this incredible country than what we have shared.
The best way to learn more is to go yourself! Be prepared to experience it all on your next vacation to France.