25 Interesting Facts about France

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Last updated: September 25, 2018

Are you looking for France Facts? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here is a collection of 25 interesting facts about France as well as some general info.

To make this even more fun and interesting. Test your skills and see how many of these France facts you already know! Most of these will probably be new ones unless you already know a lot of interesting facts about France!

1. France is one of the most popular tourist destinations

In 2016, the country had 82,6 million international visitors, which was 7 million more than both USA and Spain. The main attractions are of course Paris and Disneyland, but also the French Riviera, Alsace, and the lovely wine regions.

2. Most time zones in the world

Did you know that France uses 12 different time zones? At first, that might sound shocking, but if you think about it’s not that strange since the French have colonized a big part of the world. Within the French territory in Europe, only 1 time zone is being used, but accounting all areas outside Europe it stretches over 12 different time zones.

These areas include Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Polynesia, French Guyana, Reunion och New Caledonia.

3. Several famous inventions are French

Among the many inventions, some notable ones are the hot air balloon, pasteurizer, stethoscope, and the parachute. Each of these has changed the world.

READ MORE:  7 Reasons to love France

In recent years there is one particular famous French invention, namely the cell phone camera, which was first developed by Philippe Kahn, back in 1997.

hot air balloon - french invention

4. More than half of the world’s roundabouts are in France

A pretty funny fact about France, at least for us in Sweden, as we also have many roundabouts. Here, however, the roundabouts have been taken a few steps further with more than 30,000 rounds in total, which represents a little more than half of the world’s roundabouts.

5. France is the first country who forbade supermarkets to throw away or burn unsold food

Back in 2016, a historical decision was made where France became the first country in the world to ban supermarkets and food stores from throwing away or burn unsold food. From now on, all redundant food must be donated.

Personally, I think this is one of the best facts about France!

6. The Guillotine was the official execution method until the death penalty was abolished

The guillotine was introduced as the official way to execute people back in 1792. It was a simple way that also let the people watch offenders get their punishment. Luckily, the death penalty was abolished in 1981.

The last execution with a guillotine in France happened in 1977 after a man from Tunisia named Hamida Djandoubi was sentenced to torture and later death.

7. Louis XIX was king for 20 minutes

The shortest period a king or queen has ever reigned over a country was when Louis XIX, technically could claim himself as the king of France. It took about 20 minutes before he abdicated from the throne, and he never really ruled the country.

France Facts - king Louis XIX

8. The biggest country in EU

If you measure the land area, France is the biggest country in EU, and the second biggest country in Europe if you don’t count Russia. Ukraine is bigger but is yet to become a member of the European Union. And the majority of Russia is located in Asia.

9. In France, it’s possible to marry a dead person

In the 50’s it was decided that it should be allowed to marry a dead person, under special circumstances. One needs to prove that there were already plans on getting married, and also send a formal request to the President.

The one who marries a dead person will not inherit and the family of the deceased must approve the marriage as well.

READ MORE:  7 Reasons to love France

10. Male impotence was considered a crime in the 17th century

Back in the 1600’s in France, it was considered a crime if a man wasn’t able to get an erection, and this was enough to let a woman file for divorce. If a married woman accused her husband of male impotence, he had to prove the contrary in front of an expert panel.

If he failed, which was understandably quite common, the man could also demand to get a second chance by having intercourse with his wife in front of a judge. Quite an obscene fact about France. The law was banished in 1677.

11. The first public transport

Already back in the 1660’s public transport was invented in forms of horse-carried wagons. These had special routes in certain areas with fixed departure times during the day.

The person who started this was Blaise Pascal.

12. It used to be illegal for women in Paris to wear pants

Another strange French law who clearly depicts how unequally the society used to be. For example, women needed a permit to carry pants in Paris, as long as you didn’t ride a bike or horse.

The law came to be in the 19th century and is luckily today not being enforced.

13. The name “France” comes from the Franks

A Germanic tribe gave rise to the country’s name. It’s derived from the word “Frank”, which means free in Frankish.

14. The world’s oldest person was French

Jeanne Calment is still the oldest person ever to have walked the earth, at least where there is proof. She died the 4th of August 1997 and became 122 years and 164 days old, which still today is enough for the world record as the oldest person.

There are two candidates who are alive today that might be able to beat the French record. Nabi Tajima and Chiyo Miyako are both from Japan and are 117 and 116 years old.

15. One of the biggest wine producers in the world

The vineyards in France produce a colossal amount of wine each year. More than 50 billion hectoliters, which is, of course, good news for all wine lovers. Another interesting fact is that there is kind of a yearly competition between France in Italy to see who produced the most wine, and it’s an even struggle. 2015 was a record year with 47 billion hectoliters of wine.

READ MORE:  7 Reasons to love France

French wines

10 x Quick France Facts

Hungry for more fun facts about France? Here are 10 quick ones!

  1. France has in total 28 Unesco World Heritage Sites
  2. French men have the lowest % of obesity in Europe
  3. If you try French food, you might be served snails, frog legs or horse meat
  4. The word “Salut” means both hello and goodbye
  5. The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum with more than 9 million yearly visitors
  6. More than 75 million people have French as their mother tongue
  7. France has won the most Nobel prizes in literature
  8. The bicycle competition Tour de France has existed for more than 100 years
  9. More than 1200 different kinds of cheese can be found here
  10. The metric system was invented in France
escargot

Photo: Shutterstock

General Facts about France

Here below you have some general facts such as how many people are living in France, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and several other general France Facts that might be interesting to know.

  • Population: 66 990 826
  • Highest mountain: Mount Blanc – 4810 m ö.h
  • Land area:  643 801 km2
  • Biggest lake: Lake Geneva – 582 km
  • National day: 14 July
  • Government: Semi-presidential republic
  • President: Emanuel Macron
  • Currency: Euro
  • Religion: Christianity (Roman-catholic)
  • Official language: French
  • Official website: http://sca.france.fr
  • Member of EU: Yes
  • Member of Nato: Yes
  • National song: La Marseillaise
  • Time zone: CET +1, CEST +2
  • Country Prefix: +33
  • Country code: FR
  • Capital: Paris

where to stay in paris

The biggest cities in France

If your looking for facts about France, it might also be interesting to know which the biggest cities are. Below you can see the 10 biggest cities in France according to inhabitants.

  1. Paris 
  2. Lyon
  3. Marseille + Aix-en-Provence
  4. Toulouse
  5. Lille 
  6. Bordeaux 
  7. Nice 
  8. Nantes
  9. Strasbourg
  10. Rennes

French flag

The French flag consists of 3 colors, blue, white and red. The current flag of France was first used in connection with the French Revolution back in 1794 and was accepted as the official flag the same year. The French Flag is also known as the Tricolor.

French Flag

Book a hotel in France


How many France Facts did you know before? Do you know any other interesting facts about France? Share your result and tips in the comment section below!

March 1st, 2018|

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Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

My vision with this blog is to inspire people to travel more and better by sharing useful travel guides and tips from my adventures around the world.

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