30 facts about France

30 facts about FranceHere are some interesting facts that provide general information on France and its population. And if you are already here, test how well you know the French! 

  1. France’s official name is the French Republic (République Française). It became a republic in 1792, after centuries of royal rule, as a result of the French Revolution. The Revolution started with the storming of the Bastille fortress on 14th July 1789, an event that is celebrated every year all over France on Bastille Day
  2. Liberté, égalitié, fraternité meaning ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ (or brotherhood) is the national motto of France. First appearing around the time of the Revolution, it was written into the constitution in 1958 and today you’ll see it on coins, postage stamps and government logos often alongside ‘Marianne’ who symbolises the ‘triumph of the Republic’
  3. France is the largest country in the EU. With an area of 551,000 square km, it’s almost a fifth of the EU’s total area. About a quarter is covered by forest; only Sweden and Finland have more.
  4. France is sometimes called ‘the hexagon’. Because of its six-sided shape, France is sometimes referred to as l’hexagone.
  5. France still retains 15 territories overseas. This includes Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion and Mayotte. Back on the mainland, Metropolitan France (including Corsica) is divided into 22 regions and sub-divided into 96 départements. The country’s colonial past is one reason why there are more than five million people of Arab and African descent living in France.
  6. Some 85 percent of the French population live in urban areas. The vast majority of France’s 65.5 million inhabitants live in urban areas, and Paris, the capital, has 2.2 million inhabitants alone, with metropolitan Paris home to a total of 11.9 million people in 2013, according to the Institut d’Amenagement et d’Urbanisme. France has the second largest population in Europe after Germany, making up 13 percent of the EU.
  7. French is the official language and the first language of 88 percent of the population. However, there are various indigenous regional dialects and languages, such as Alsacian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Occitan and Flemish. About 1 million French people living near the border with Italy speak Italian.
  8. The 500-year-old Académie Française aims to preserve the French language. It seeks to preserve the French language by attempting to ban – somewhat unsuccessfully – foreign words such as blog, hashtag, parking, email, and weekend.
  9. More than 80 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. Some 5-10 percent are Muslim, 2 percent are Protestant, 1 percent are Jewish – and 4 percent are not affiliated to any religion. Perhaps surprisingly for a predominantly Catholic country, three-quarters of women of childbearing age use contraception.
  10. A French woman is the world’s oldest human. She lived to an incredible 122 years, 164 days, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Jeanne Louise Calment was born on February 21, 1875 (the year before Alexander Graham Bell got his patent for the very first telephone and Custer’s Last Stand) and died on August 4, 1997. Her compatriots generally live long longer than most other nationalities: France is rated sixth in the world for life expectancy at birth: 81.5 years (86 years for women and 79 for men).
  11. France has the second largest economy in the Eurozone. With a GDP of EUR 1.9 trillion (USD 2.613 trillion) according to figures from the World Bank, France’s economy is only second to Germany’s. France is one of the largest exporters of luxury goods in the world, with the top four companies Cartier, Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton alone worth around EUR 30.8 billion. Its main exports are far less glamorous: aircraft, food, chemicals, industrial machinery, iron and steel, electronics, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals.
  12. In 2013 France sold more electric cars than any other European country. With 8,779 registered vehicles, France sold more than twice as many as Germany and Norway.
  13. The world’s first artificial heart transplant and face transplant both took place in France. The heart transplant occured in December 2013 at the Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris. The bioprosthetic device, which mimics a real heart’s contractions, is powered by external lithium-ion battery, and is about three times the weight of a real organ. French surgeons were also the first to perform a face transplant in 2005.
  14. France has one of the highest average ages for women having their first child. Good childcare facilities allow 85 per cent of French women to work. However, this high level of employment has had an impact on the average age at which women have their first child. This has increased to 30.1 years, one of the highest amongst the OECD countries.
  15. Yet France has Europe’s second highest birth rate. Giving birth older hasn’t affected fertility rates though: France has Europe’s second highest birth rate (after Ireland) and accounts for more than half of the EU’s natural population increase.
  16. French workers retire younger than in other OECD countries. In 2012, the average age was 59.7 years for men and 60 for women, compared to the OECD averages of 64.2 and 63.3. People can claim a state pension at 62, which is one of the lowest retirement ages in the world.
  17. France legalised same-sex marriage in 2013. When President Françoise Holland signed the bill into law on May 18, 2013, France became the ninth country in Europe and 14th in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Although polls at the time showed that between 55 and 50 percent of French people supported gay marriage, not everyone is happy about it: thousands of people defending the so-called ‘family values’ continue to take to the streets in protest.
  18. Europe’s highest mountain is in the French Alps. Mont Blanc, at 4,810m, takes an arduous 10 to 12 hours to climb to the summit. Alternatively, you can take a leisurely 20-minute trip up on Europe’s highest cable car on the nearby Pic du Midi to get a brilliant view of Mont Blanc.
  19. The Louvre Museum in Paris was the most visited museum in the world in 2012. With an amazing 9.5 million visitors, it received almost the same amount of people as the population of Sweden!
  20. The French have a strong sense of community. In the OECD Better life Survey 2013, 93 per cent of respondents said they knew someone they could rely on in times of need.
  21. At 29,000 km, the French rail network is the second largest in Europe (after Germany) and the ninth biggest in the world. France was one of the first countries in the world to utilise high-speed technology, introducing the TGV high-speed rail in 1981, and today has more than 1,550 km high-speed track. The Tours-Bordeaux high-speed project, due for completion in 2017, will add a further 302km. The first direct high-speed rail link connecting Paris with Barcelona in Spain opened at the end of 2013, with a journey time of under six-and-a-half hours.
  22. French wines can reach soaring prices. In 2013, a limited edition Balthazar – a massive 12-litre bottle – of Chateaux Margaux 2009 produced in the Médoc to the north of Bordeaux, went on sale in Dubai for an eye-watering GBP 122,380.
  23. The French invented the metric system, the decimalised way of counting and weighing, in 1793. The original prototype kilo – Le Grand K – a cylinder made in the 1880s out of platinum and iridium and about the size of a plum, was the only object known to scientists to have a mass of exactly 1kg. Everything else measured in kilograms is defined by Le Grand K. It’s kept locked away under three vacuum-sealed bell jars in a vault in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Sevres, France. Duplicate cylinders were sent around the world and every so often they’re compared to the original; but the Le Grand K mysteriously seem to be losing weight. The last time it was weighed, in 1988, it was found to be 0.05 milligrams (less than a grain of sugar) lighter than the copies. Did Le Grand K lose mass – or have the copies gained it? No one knows.
  24. The legal system in France is still largely influenced by Napoleon. French law is still based on the principles set down in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Code Civil back in the 1800s.
  25. The world’s greatest cycle race, the Tour de France, has been around for over 100 years. Every July, cyclists race some 2,000 miles (3,200 km) primarily around France in a series of stages over 23 days, with the fastest cyclist at each stage wearing the famous yellow jersey. In 2014, the Grand Départ will take place in Yorkshire in the UK.
  26. Throughout its history, France has produced some of the world’s most influential writers and thinkers: Descartes and Pascal in the 17th century, Voltaire in the 18th, Baudelaire and Flaubert in the 19th and Sartre and Camus in the 20th. To date, France has won more Noble Prizes for Literature (15) than any other country.
  27. There are over 1000 different types of cheese made in France. The blue/green-veined Roquefort is the oldest variety. Its ripening process, which takes place in natural caves, dates back to the 17th century.
  28. France is the world’s most popular tourist destination.Some 83 million visitors arrived in France in 2012, according to the World Tourism Organisation.
  29. Traditional and modern sports are popular in France. The most popular sports in France are football, rugby, tennis and cycling while older people still enjoy the traditional game ofpétanque or boules (a game played with heavy metal balls) in the town square. Le trotter Français is a type of horseracing where the rider sits in a two-wheeled buggy.
  30. April Fool’s Day in France apparently stems back to the 16th century. If you’re in France on April Fool’s Day, don’t be surprised if children try to stick paper fish onto your back and call you a ‘Poisson d’Avril‘ (April Fish). This April 1st tradition is supposed to have started in the 16th century when King Charles XIV of France changed the calendar and those who continued to celebrate the end of the New Year at the end of March were ridiculed as fools.

 Credit/Source:  Expatica

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13 thoughts on “30 facts about France

  1. Mary-James says:

    Great post……

  2. joellebecker@gmail.com says:

    Interesting!

    Here is the list of French territories, some very small like Tromelin island near Mauritius ( and part of was is called “ les îles éparses de l’Océan indien” with Bassas da India, îles Glorieuses and Juan de Nove.)

    Bassas da India, Clipperton (or île de la Passion) , Archipel des Crozet, Europa, îles Glorieuses, Guadeloupe, Guyane, Juan de Nove, îles Kerguelen, Martinique, Mayotte, Métropole, Nouvelle-Amsterdam, Nouvelle -Calédonie, Polynésie française, Réunion, Saint Barthélémy, Saint Paul, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Terre Adélie, Tromelin, Wallis et Futuna.

    Joëlle

    De : 24/7 in FRANCE
    Envoyé : ‎jeudi‎ ‎7‎ ‎août‎ ‎2014 ‎07‎:‎55
    À : Joelle Becker

    24/7 in France posted: “Here are some interesting facts that provide general information on France and its population. And if you are already here, test how well you know the French! France’s official name is the French Republic (République Française). It became a republi”

  3. Great and informative post. 🙂

  4. pedmar10 says:

    yes Belfort is a territoire not a département, and Guadaloupe is the 97 so 96 dept and one territory is France proper.then you have them into the 98’s counting several islands such as wallis et fortuna for a grand total of 101 . Indeed France is amazing ::)

  5. leamuse says:

    Just a few of my favourite things… 😉

  6. Bassem says:

    great facts!

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