Spread over an area of about 211,209 square miles, the French Republic is home to over 65 million people. It is the fifth largest economy in the world, and the second largest trading nation in Europe. Besides its strong economy, the country has maintained its distinct cultural heritage. Its pristine beaches, architectural marvels like the Eiffel Tower, Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Louvre are major tourist attractions for their architectural excellence. From being ruled by Julius Caesar, to developing as the hub of the aerospace industry, It has a rich historical legacy that makes way for some interesting facts about this country.
Interesting Fun Facts about France
- Although only the size of Texas, France has seven mountain ranges and five major river systems.
- It is the largest nation in Western Europe, with countries like Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Andorra and Monaco sharing its boundary.
- France is home to 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Mont St. Michel Abbey, Versailles Palace, and the Chartres Cathedral.
- It has nearly 3000 miles of seashore, with three major water bodies: the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and the English Channel.
- It is also referred to as L'Hexagone, which means the hexagon, due to the geometrical shape of the country.
- While all the stripes of the official French flag are of equal width, the one used by the navy has bands that increase in width from blue to red.
- The marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine with the future king of England, Henry II led to British rule in France for about 300 years.
- There are approximately 6 million visitors annually, who come to set their sights on the Eiffel Tower
- French people love cheese. Though traditionally there are around 300 to 400 varieties of French cheese, there are in fact over 1000 different types available in the French market.
- French wine is immensely popular all over the world. The country is one of the largest wine-producing nations in the world. There are 17 distinct wine-producing regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire and Provence that continue with the tradition of wine making in France.
- An amusing fact about France is that while beer is considered a luxury drink saved for special occasions, wine is free with most meals.
- The Palace of Versailles, which was occupied by the kings of France, have been said to be haunted by Marie Antoinette, the beheaded Queen of France.
- France is also home to the only Disneyland in Europe, located near Paris.
- An underground rail tunnel, known as the Channel Tunnel, joins England and France. It runs beneath the English Channel, connecting Folkestone, Kent in England and Coquelles, near Calais in France.
- The Tour de France, the most famous bicycle race in the world is an annual bicycle race of the country in which cyclists cover over 2100 miles in 23 days.
- The first flight of the Concorde took place in 1969, from the French city of Toulouse, one of the centers of the aerospace industry in Europe.
- Charles Perrault, who was reputed as one of the best authors of children's books, is known for works like Puss in Boots and Sleeping Beauty.
- The concept of jean clothing was born in the Languedoc-Roussillon city of Nimes, France, from where it was imported by Levi Strauss to California to make tough clothes for gold diggers.
- The Statue of Liberty, one of the most widely recognized structures of US, was made in France. It was then gifted to the US in 1886 to celebrate its centennial. In fact, the face of the statue is believed to have been modeled on Eugene Boyer, the wife of Isaac Singer, the famous sewing machine manufacturer.
- In 1984, the French were quite forward in their approach to making life convenient, electronically that is. The Minitel service, was started as far back as 1984, where people could pay their bills, and even shop from their very homes.
- April Fool's Day is believed to have originated in France, in 1564, when the country started following the Gregorian Calendar. Those that did not know about the switch in the calendars, were mocked on this day as they continued to believe that 1st April was the first day of the French new year.
- France is the home of the TGV - Train à Grande Vitesse, French for high-speed train. A TGV test train set the record of being the fastest train when it reached a speed of 357 mph on April 3, 2007.
- Another interesting French fact is that a number of words in the English Language have originated from French individuals. For example, the word 'chauvinism' is believed to have originated from Nicola Chauvin, a soldier in Napolean's army whose loyalty to the emperor was legendary. The word 'sadism' originated from the name of Marquis de Sade, a French nobleman who led the life of a libertine and wrote sadistic novels.
- France is also home to the Louvre, one of the largest art museums in the world.
- France is where the gothic art and the Baroque style of architecture were born. This is the reason why there are numerous cathedrals and buildings that are fine examples of gothic art.
- It is a known fact that French food, is the best cuisine the world over.
- From the French Alps to the marvelous beaches lining the azure waters in the French Riviera, France is one of the most visited countries in the world. In 2007, it attracted as many as 81.9 million tourists. This number was greater than its population!
France is an amazing nation. The old world charm that it still preserves in its architectural splendors, along with the dizzying modernity, allures people from all over the world to this country that is a beautiful amalgamation of cultural heritage and economic progress.