43 Interesting Facts About France

By Abi King | Western Europe

May 24
Interesting and fun facts about France

Interesting and fun facts about France

From gastronomy to geese to good old-fashioned guillotines, I love delving into my archive of interesting facts about France.

There’s just so much to say! From the country that made inverted pyramids stylish and brought supermodels into politics, here are 43 interesting facts about France.

All to inspire travel. And liberty, equality and brotherhood, of course!

Allez-y!

43 Interesting Facts About France

Did you know that…

1 – It’s not the Easter Bunny that delivers chocolate, it’s the cloche volante or flying bell.

2 – There’s an emergency boulangerie rota, like the one pharmacies use, to ensure an uninterrupted supply of fresh baguettes throughout high days and holidays.

3 – Marie Antoinette never actually said the words “let them eat cake.

4 – And she wasn’t even French.

5 – Nor was Marie Curie, though she did flee from Poland to find refuge and support (of sorts) in Paris.

Read French Souvenirs: what to bring home from France here

6 -The French tend to call the Atlantic “the ocean.”

7 – And the Mediterranean “the sea.”

8 – People do say Ooh, la la.

9 – Though most will deny that they do

10 – But to be fair, you’ll more likely hear the shorter “ooh, la!” or else the full gusto “oooh la la la la la la la la la la laaaa!” favoured by sports pundits during a tense moment of soccer interaction.

11 – France is the most visited country in the world.

12 – And ranks 4th when it comes to UNESCO world heritage sites.

Interesting Facts About France and Its Food

13 – But is back to first place when it comes to Michelin stars.

14 – The whole Michelin star scoring system began by covering France.

15 – Although there is a restaurant in Toulouse that serves tandoori foie gras.

16 – That tastes about as good as it sounds.

17 – Each year, France fills its streets with music through the national Fête de la Musique.

18 – And much of the country still shuts down in August.

19 – While bullfighting still takes place in the South.

Interesting Facts About France and Her Languages

20 – Beyond French, you’ll find Breton, Catalan, Basque and Occitan spoken and that’s just for starters when it comes to other languages.

21 – France has more than 246 types of cheese

How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese? Charles de Gaulle

22 – The Eiffel Tower was derided by critics at the time

23 – As was the glass pyramid at the Louvre

24 – And the inside-out Centre Georges Pompidou. That’s not how the world sees them now.

25 – There’s a small village in the Pyrenees that specialises in red peppers called Espelette (the village, not the peppers.)

Interesting Facts About France and Her Inventions

26 – The French invented Braille (well, Monsieur Braille did.)

27 – Also, the guillotine (Dr Guillotin)

28 – And the hot air balloon (Montgolfier – sorry!)

29 – And even the word entrepreneur…

30 – The Dukes of Normandy were the last foreign power to conquer England (back in 1066) – and the centuries of sparring across “La Manche” have left what I believe is called “a rich cultural legacy…”

31 – To leave a party without saying goodbye is to “filer a l’anglaise.”

32 – And a condom is also known as a capote anglaise

Interesting Facts About France and England

33 – Even Bordeaux, one of the of the world’s finest and oldest centres for wine, developed as it did due to a spat with (and tax law from) England.

34 – Cassoulet, a traditional dish found in the southwest, came from the desire for sustenance to fight the English.

35 – And today, both countries share an aircraft carrier and an integrated defence plan (along with the rest of the United Kingdom.)

36 – Corsica bred Napoleon, who (among other things) uttered the following immortal words:

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

Interesting Facts About French Regional Products

37 – The following are all places in France: Champagne, Armagnac, Cognac, and Roquefort.

38 – You can buy frogs’ legs.

39 – And snails…

40 – And serve them both with garlic.

41 – And horse meat’s common enough too.

42 – But not board shorts, nor bermudas. It’s speedos only for men in public pools.

43 – But whatever the swimwear, France remains a fascinating country to visit.

Read more about the best places to visit in France here.

À bientôt!

Abi (2)43 Things You Didn’t Know About France*

*Unless, of course you, did. But where’s the fun in that?

Disclosure – My travels through, around and in France have been paid for in a number of different ways. Some by me, some by others and I even lived there for a while. Some of these linked-to posts are the oldest you can find on this blog. Mon dieu! However, as ever, as always, all words remain my own. 

Things You Didn't Know About France from @insidetravellab

France facts to make you laugh and cry - and learn something about this incredible country. Find more than 43 interesting facts about France here, with easy ways to find out more about travel to France as well. #France #Facts #Paris #French
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About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • I have a 31a for you…

    That clever response/remark that *should* have made but comes to you only as you are leaving the party (walking downstairs from the drawing room) is “L’esprit d’escalier” (staircase wit).

  • Federico says:

    Have you read the book ” A year in the Merde?” Hilarious book, guaranteed you’ll laugh more than once.

    And I miss France, when I lived in Spain I would jump over to the area around Biarritz (to surf) 5- 10 time per year. It was great…

    • Abi King says:

      No…I haven’t. Heard of it but not read it. I love these small cultural differences – and France. Only spent a short time in Biarritz – those waves were vicious so I’m very impressed that you surfed there regularly!

  • Laura says:

    Fun list :) I just spent two weeks in Provence and visited some of those UNESCO sites…and ate most of those 246 kinds of cheese.

    • Abi says:

      Hehe – it would be more fun to take on a cheese challenge. How could he be sure there’s only 246?! ;-)

  • Leah says:

    I’m sure the number of cheeses and number of visits are no mere coincidence… ;)

  • Sophie says:

    They do say oh la la, don’t they – when things have gone a bit awry. Funny how Americans seem to think it’s said in connection with a sort of risqué, sexy surprise.

    • Abi King says:

      Exactly! Heard someone say it in Heathrow the other day as I dived through the train doors…Absolutely nothing risqué there!

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