With its romantic and unique culture, beautiful European architecture, ancient history, modern and appealing society and natural beauty, France has always been a popular destination. Most people, if they have visited Europe, have been to France. Paris in particular is a top destination on many bucket lists. You probably know the main facts, but how many fun facts about France are you familiar with? Read ahead to find out our favourites.
France is the most popular country in the world
France is the biggest tourist destination in the world. It can receive up to 83 million visitors a year. It’s a pretty popular country. And this is understandable, with such an enticing country and abundance of natural beauty, its hardly surprising people flock to France in their millions. Its loved by Europeans and Americans alike. Indeed, people from all over the world love the romantic image of France and the country itself.
Champagne is only Champagne when its from Champagne
Perhaps you knew this one already. We all have that one friend or family member, on special occasions they will say “ACTUALLY, this isn’t from France so its not champagne”. Annoying, but technically they’re right. It even has to be from the specific Champagne region, otherwise it is sparking wine. Yeah ok, champagne has become a general term for the fancy, bubbly drink we have on special occasions. But look on the bottle to be sure – this is your basic wine connoisseur knowledge.
France loves sleep
On average, people in France sleep for 8.83 hours a day. That’s actually 0.83 more than your recommended amount. It fits in nicely to the whole laid back French culture. In fact they are the most relaxed country in the developed world, with the longest sleep time in western society.
France is BIG
It might no seem that huge, but France is actually the largest country in the EU. It has an area of 643,801 square kilometres, which makes up nearby a fifth of the total EU area. This also includes the French occupied islands surrounding it: Martinique, French Guiana, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, and Reunion Island.
Due to its unique six sided shape, France is sometimes referred to as the hexagon. The country also contains a surprising amount of forest. Almost a quarter of France, in fact, is covered with trees. That’s more forested space than most European counties, except the typical forested examples of Finland and Sweden.
France is home to the shortest reigning monarch
It was nearly 200 years ago, but still, France was ONCE home to the shortest reigning monarch. Louis XIX was king for only 20 minutes in July 1880. He abdicated the crown to his nephew the Duke of Bordeaux. However, you shared the record with an old King of Portugal. Crown Prince Luis Filipe became the King after the death of his father, but he himself died from a wound only 20 minutes later.
In France, you can marry dead person
If you want. Its strange one, but technically possible. You need special circumstances. You even need permission from the French president! But yes, if you were intending to marry anyway and can prove that your dead beloved had to the intention to marry you while they were alive, you can do it. A bit creepy? A bit romantic? You decide. But it is possible.
France was home to the oldest person in the world
A staggering 122 years old and a Guinness World Record holder, Jeanne Louis Calment was the oldest woman in the world. She was born in 1875 and died in 1997. This means she lived through some pretty significant historic events, including two world wars, the invention of modern transport and technology and the opening of the Eifel Tower. France actually has one of the highest life expectancies in the world anyway at 85 years for women. But nearly 40 years beyond the average, Jeanne well beat the limit.
It is also home to the highest mountain in Europe
Located in the heart of the French Alps, Mount Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe. It has an impressive height of 4,810 metres, which tough hikers can reach with in 10-12 hours. For everyone else, there is an epic cable car that travels to the nearest summit: Aiguille du Midi. This gives visitors an exceptional view of Mount Blanc, its white slopes and impressive perspective of the surrounding alps. As well as a great view, you get to go on the highest cable car in Europe and reach the top in a brief 20 minutes.
Another European record: The busiest station on the continent
Another European record is held in France: the Gare du Nord, the central train station of Paris is the largest in Europe. Every year 190 million people use the station, travelling or commuting to the popular capital city. Opening in 1846, it is also one of the oldest train stations in the world. Indeed, France is full of historic landmarks and record braking elements.
France loves food!
This is not so much a fun fact about France as a wonderful reality. Some of the best cuisine in the world is from France. In fact, a UNESCO World Heritage Status was given to its gastronomy. That’s right – not a landmark or historic monument, the entire gastronomy of France. Due to its cultural significance, it was given special heritage importance. That shows maybe a little bit just how much France loves their food. More than just eating, food is a social event. It brings together groups of people to dine together and strengthen social relationships.
One of the most iconic French foods is snails. A disgusting food for some, it is a national delicacy of France. Together as a country, France eats about 30,000 tons of snails every year. Another fun fact? Those snails you eat in France are more likely from the roads and fields of Eastern Europe. Snail farms do exist in France, but there are only about 100 in total. That’s not nearly enough official farms to feed this French delicacy.
Another classic food is baguettes. In total, about 10 billion baguettes are baked in one year in France. There is even a law demanding the correct recipe for a classic French baguette. If you ever want to make one, and want it to be proper, it must only contain yeast, salt and flour.
Do you know any more fun facts about France? Have any opinions on visiting this wonderful country or trying its famous food? Let us know!