When we think of France, we think of iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the fine wines, fashion, food, the French language, and so on. But there is also more to the country than meets the eye.
Here are 10 interesting facts about France that you definitely should know!
1) Louvre, the star attraction
(Image credits: britannica.com)
Did you know the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world? That’s true. According to Statista, 2019 saw a whopping 9.6 million visitors.
Sure the number drastically dropped in 2020 to a mere 2.7 million because of COVID-19 (coronavirus pandemic), but that doesn’t distract from the star power of the cultural site.
Housing famous works of art like Leonardo da Vinci’s the Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix, I.M. Pei’s Pyramid on the museum grounds, etc., the museum holds a rich tapestry of French and world history.
2) The Hexagon (L'hexagone)
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Even though the official name is the French Republic, the Hexagon (L'hexagone) is a nickname given to France by the French. This is due to the shape of the country itself.
Looking closely at the map, you’ll find out that there are roughly six distinct points of France.
3) Cheese, cheese, lots of cheese!
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The French love their cheese. In fact, they love their cheese so much, that the lockdown in 2020, did not stop them from eating it.
If we go by the reports on thelocal.fr, a whopping 34,000 tonnes of melted cheese was consumed in 2020. One of the favourites was the Italian cheese mozzarella, with a 21.2% increase.
Cheese is ingrained in the French culture with about 96% of the population enjoying it in their diet.
Next time you order cheese in France, you too might become a fan and not just “say cheese!”
4) The origins of the French flag
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The colours of the French flag have quite the “history,” pun intended. Its colour scheme traces back to the French Revolution.
When the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789, was stormed, the militia wore cockades of red, white, and blue colour. The cockades then inspired the French flag to adopt the design.
Blue (bleu) is associated with Saint Martin, while red (rouge) with Saint Denis. As for the white (blanc), it represents the King.
Speaking of colours, the French flag is called le tricolore (3 colours) in France.
5) Un croissant au beurre, s’il vous plait! (A buttered croissant, please!)
(Image credit: tasteatlas.com)
The famous French croissant is popular for a reason. Its crispy texture, puff pastry and butter inside has captivated those who have had it. Can’t blame them for that. That’s how good it is.
But if we go by history, its roots are set in Austria during the 13th century. Called the Austrian kipferl, it was crescent-shaped, filled with butter, almonds, sugar or lard.
The inclusion of puffed pastry eventually (invention of France), helped transition it to the French croissant we all know and love.
6) Respect is earned
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Learning a second language other than your mother tongue is always a plus and French is no exception. It can be taken up as a hobby, for education, or immigration purposes.
It also can help you to get around, if you are planning a trip to France and gain respect in the process. Yes, that’s true!
The locals in France appreciate it if you attempt to speak French other than English.
Want to navigate through France on your next trip and not just stick to a few French phrases? We are here to help you do more than just that and master French. Get started today.
7) French love their wine
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It would be an understatement if we said the French adore their wine. It is part of the French culture and is a social activity in itself.
For the French, it’s more about the enjoyment of having wine than anything else. Don’t be surprised if you see the locals having wine during their meals. That’s just how much it is embedded in the French culture.
There is a process to having wine as well, right from how you open the bottle, to how the wine is taken, which is not more than a glass half full.
À votre santé (to your health) as they say!
8) Catacombs of Paris
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The catacombs of Paris can be considered as a morbid affair on this list, but it cannot be overlooked.
Above the streets of Paris you’ll find the colourful scenic beauty, but underneath your feet lies the catacombs of the dead, approximately six million of them.
The catacombs came into being because back in the 18th century, cemeteries got overcrowded. Then there was the threat of disease the people had to deal with at the time. So it was decided to bury them underneath the city.
The underground tunnels are an endless maze and one can easily get lost if you decide to go off the suggested path.
A history 101 fact about the catacombs is that it was used during World War II by the French Resistance against the Germans.
9) Less is more
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When we think about France, we also think about the latest French fashion trends. You must be contemplating as to what to wear on your trip to France. Going by the French culture, believe in quality over quantity.
When it comes to the French, the wardrobe should be minimalistic and well organized. Wearing the same outfits, again and again, is part of the French way of life.
The less clutter, the better!
10) Courtesy matters
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If you meet someone on the streets or visit a shop in France, it is important to say “Bonjour” (Hello). It is considered impolite if you come straight to the point with a conversation on your mind.
Additionally, saying “Au revoir” (Goodbye) after you end a conversation or exit a public place is also recommended.
Rohan Khanna is a writer/content creator, who also happens to be a Potterhead. He has a penchant for art, history, and culture and is also a part time artist. Figuring out life one step at a time, he manages to adhere to health and fitness, while going through the trials and tribulations.
Bonjour France….the write up brings out little snippets of French culture so vividly. Nicely brought up article.