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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Interesting facts about FRANCE

Interesting facts about FRANCE

Interesting france picture, humourous

Before we go to the interesing facts about FRANCE, lets have a brief introduction to FRANCE to add a little spice. France, major industrialized nation in western Europe. France is the third largest country in Europe, after Russia and Ukraine, and the fourth most populous. Officially the French Republic (République Française), the nation includes ten overseas possessions, most of them remnants of France’s former colonial empire. Paris is the nation’s capital and largest city.

Roughly hexagonal in shape, France shares boundaries with Belgium and Luxembourg to the northeast; Germany, Switzerland, and Italy to the east; and Spain and Andorra to the southwest. In the northwest, France is bounded by the English Channel. At the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the channel, France and England are separated by just 34 km (21 mi). France faces three major seas: the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the North Sea to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast.

Eiffel Tower - France
The Eiffel Tower is probably one of the most famous symbols of France. It was built in 1889 for an exhibition. The tower was thought to be only a temporary structure, although it still stands today. The tower stands 984 feet tall. This is about the height of a 70-story building. Stairs and elevators can be taken to reach three platforms. The Eiffel Tower is a very popular tourist attraction.

Famous Landmarks of Paris
Symbols such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, Montmartre, and the Georges Pompidou Center make Paris one of the most visited places in the world.

Tour de France
Every summer more than 100 professional cyclists race in the Tour de France. The race is approximately 2,000 miles long. The race lasts up to three weeks. It is held in July. The route changes from year to year

The Louvre is one of the largest art museums in the world. Some of the paintings exhibited there are from the French artists Monet, Cezanne, and Renoir.

Bastille Day
On July 14 Bastille Day is celebrated in France. It was set aside in 1880 as a French national holiday. The holiday is celebrated with speeches, firecrackers, and parades.

Cathedral of Notre Dame
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is a beautiful church built in the early Gothic style. It is on a small island on the Seine River. The cathedral was started in the 12th century and completed in the 13th century.

French Cuisine
France is known for its fine food. French cooking is thought to be the best in the world. Chefs prepare dishes such as quiche, soufflés, mousse, pâté, croissants, crêpes, and French bread. Many people in France like to drink their hot chocolate from bowls and dip their bread into it.

more interesting facts about France...

The name France means 'Land of the Franks.' The Franks were a Germanic tribe who lived in Northern Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.

The official name of France is The French Republic and its motto is 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.'

Apart from France, French is the official language of the following countries -
Benin; Burkina Faso; Central African Republic; Congo; French Caledonia; French Guiana; French Polynesia; Gabon; Guadaloupe; Guinea; Ivory Coast; Luxembourg; Mali; Martinique; Monaco; Niger; Senegal; Togo; the Canadian province of Quebec; the Swiss districts of Vaud, Neuchatel, Geneva, and Jura.

French is widely spoken in the following countries - Algeria, Andorra, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Dominica, Egypt, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United States (Louisiana, New England) and Vietnam.

French is one of the official languages in the following countries -
Belgium, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey), Comoros, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles and Vanuatu.

People who speak fluent French are called 'Francophones.'

The flag of France is blue, white, red. It is known as Le Drapeau Tricolore (or the three-coloured flag) because of its three colours. It has existed since 1794. It is said that - Blue is the colour of Saint Martin. White is the colour of the Virgin Mary, Joan of Arc and of royalty. Red is the colour of Saint Denis and of the war-banner of France. The original French war-banner was called the red Oriflamme of Saint Denis.

An important emblem of France is the cockerel (le coq). It is used on the sportswear of French national teams. It is a courageous animal, willing to fight.

The lily (la fleur-de-lis) and the iris are two flowers also used as emblems for France.

One of the most important dates in France is the 14 July. This is known as Bastille Day and it is a national holiday. In France it is called La Fête Nationale. It is a celebration of the storming of the prison in Paris called Bastille Saint-Antoine on 14 July 1789. On this date, angry peasants invaded the prison, released the prisoners (there were only a few prisoners there at the time) and seized the weapons stored there. This was the beginning of the French Revolution. The poor people hated the Bastille because so many had been imprisoned there without having a fair trial.
Nowadays, on 14 July, there is a big parade in Paris, the French flag flies from L'Arc de Triomphe and there are celebrations and fireworks all over France.

The guillotine was the method of execution developed during the French Revolution. It was invented with the help of surgeon, Dr. Guillotin. In Paris, it was used regularly in La Place de la Concorde.

During the French Revolution, the King of France was Louis XVI and his wife was Marie-Antoinette (she was Austrian). She was only fourteen years of age when she married. In the portrait below, she is only twelve years old.

The guillotine remained the official method of execution in France until 1981 when the death penalty was abolished. The last time it was used was as recently as 1977.

The shrine of Saint-Denis is in the Basilica of Saint-Denis, Paris. In addition, almost all of the French kings and queens have their tombs there.

Some of the most famous and valuable works of art are exhibited in Le Musée du Louvre. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is kept there. It is owned by the French government and is the most valuable painting in the world. It was bought by French King Francis I in 1519. In France, the Mona Lisa is called La Joconde.

In France, you celebrate your 'name-day.' Every day of the year, a saint is remembered. If you have the same name as a saint (or a name that has something to do with a saint) then you will receive presents on that saint's day, just like on your birthday. The word for 'name-day' in French is Le jour de fête. On occasions like this, people say 'Meilleurs voeux' - meaning 'Best wishes.'

The French people call the English people les rosbifs, meaning - the roast beefs!

Before eating a meal, it is polite to say Bon appétit. This means 'I hope you have a good appetite so that you enjoy your meal.'

In France, they eat snails (les escargots), frogs' legs (les cuisses de grenouille) and horsemeat (le cheval).

The most popular French bread is la baguette (little stick). It is a loaf 5 or 6 cm. wide and up to a metre in length. If it is a thinner version, it is called une ficelle (a string) and if it is wider it is called une flûte. Bread rolls are called petits pains (little breads). La baguette magique is 'the magic wand'! The shape of la baguette makes it very easy to carry under your arm!

The French King Francis I was the grandfather of Mary Queen of Scots' husband. He was nicknamed 'Le Roi Grand Nez' (King Big Nose) because he had such a large nose! He bought the famous painting Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and hung it and other works of art in his bathroom at Fontainebleau Palace. When taking a bath in the palace, Mary Queen of Scots was known to particularly admire the painting!

In French history, the heir to the French throne was always called Le Dauphin - which also means 'dolphin.'

The Statue of Liberty (La Statue de la Liberté) was a gift from France to America in 1886. The internal part of the statue was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel - the designer of the Eiffel Tower! Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was the sculptor.

* France is apparently the sixth largest economy in the world and is a developed country as well. The capital city is Paris. France is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
* One of the most famous symbols of France, the Eiffel Tower stands at a staggering height of 984 feet, almost the height of a 70 storey building. Today, the tower has 2 restaurants, observing desk, a post office, etc and has elevators that take people up on the first three platforms.
* One of the largest art museums in the world, the Louvre, boasts of having some of the most prized artifacts. This includes Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and also the works of French artists like Monet, Cezanne, and Renoir.
* One of the most beautiful churches in France, the Cathedral of Notre Dame is a classic example of a church built in the ancient Gothic style. It is located on a small island on the Seine River. The construction began in the 12th century and was completed in the 13th century.
* French cuisine and cooking is considered to be the best in the world. Dishes such as quiche, soufflés, mousse, pâté, croissants, crêpes, and French bread are prepared with much perfection and one bite of the yum food will have you asking for more.
* France is said to have been the birthplace of Gothic art as well as Baroque architectural style. Gothic art was previously known as French Art. This is the reason why we have so many famous and stunningly beautiful Cathedrals and Basilicas have the element of Gothic Art in them.
* During the 18th and the 20th century, French literature and poetry reached its peak. Some of the most famous literary works and stories that are popular till date were penned by acclaimed French writers like Charles Pennaut, Gaston Leroux, etc. Examples of famous stories are 'Cinderella', 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Bluebeard', 'The Three Musketeers', 'The Count of Monte Cristo', 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' and 'The Phantom of the Opera'.
* France is the largest European country for land area after Russia and Ukraine.
* Nearly 20% of the territory of France lies outside Europe and known as "DOM-TOM" (overseas departments and territories), where over 2.5 million French citizens live.
* 20% of the French people live in the Parisian region.
* According to a 2004 IFOP survey, 44% of French people are Atheists (up by 24% since 1947).
* French people have the highest female and third highest male life expectancy in the European Union.
* There are between 5 and 6 million of more or less seriously handicaped people in France. This includes physical, sensorial and mental handicaps.
* 4.9 million foreign-born immigrants currently live France (8.1% of the country's population), including 1.2 million of other Latins (Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese), 1.5 million of Maghrebans (Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians), and 570,000 from sub-Saharan Africa.
* Recent immigrants and their offspring make up over 10% of the population of France, including 8.7% of Muslims.
* 40% of all immigrants live in the region of Paris. 60% of sub-Saharan African immigrants live in the region of Paris.
* French used to be the language of the nobility and diplomacy all across Europe and in the Ottoman Empire, then the world's first real international language until English replaced it in the mid-20th century.
* Metropolitan France counts several native regional languages : Alsatian and Lorraine German (both High German dialects), Occitan (incl. Gascon and Provençal), Oïl dialects (such as Picard and Poitevin-Saintongeais), Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican and Franco-Provençal.
* In spite of foreign stereotypes, many French people can speak at least one foreign language (45% are able to participate in a conversation in a foreign language according to Eurobarometer in 2005), and English is the most widely spoken (34%).
* Only 86% of French people are native French speakers if this is defined by the language their parents spoke with them before the age of 5. Oc languages account for 3.65%, Oïl languages for 3.10%, German and German dialects for 3.15%, and Arabic for 2.55%.
* French was the official language of England for 300 years. It is still the official language of 30 countries worldwide.
* The name "France" comes from "Frank", a Germanic tribe that invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 6th century and founded the first independent kingdom covering most of today's France.
* The French state is one of the oldest in Europe; it was founded in 843, splitting from the Carolingian Empire based in Aachen (Belgo-German border).
* The region of Paris was settled since around 4200 BCE. The city itself was founded by the Parisii, a Celtic tribe, around 250 BCE. The Roman renamed it Luteca from 52 BCE, and it only became known as "Paris" after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century.
* Foie gras may be part and parcel of French cuisine, but its origins go back to 4,500 years ago in Ancient Egypt, from where it spread to Greece (500 B.C.E.), then to the Romans, ancestors of the modern French.
* France has won the 4th most Summer Olympic medals (including gold) in history after the USA, USSR and UK.
* France has won the most Nobel Prizes for Literature of any country (13 so far) and the second highest number of Field Medals (mathematics) after the USA.
* The capital of Malta, Valletta, was built by and named after the French nobleman Jean Parisot de la Valette (1494-1568), Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller and ruler of the island.
* On 10 June 2007, a sabre having belonged to Napoleon I was sold at an auction for € 4.8 million - the most expensive weapon ever sold.
* The French 'Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen' of 1789 is the world's first universal declaration of human rights, applying not only to French citizens or "free men" (as opposed to slaves), but to all people in the world.
* France has changed its form of government 9 times since 1789, including 5 republics, 2 empires and 2 constitutional monarchies.
* France has only had 3 presidents in the last 32 years (since 1974) : Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.
* In France, in exceptional cases it is possible to marry a deceased person with the authorisation of the President of the Republic.
* France has the highest wealth tax of any European country.
* France is the only EU country to have all its V.A.T. rates with decimal fractions (19.6%, 5.5% or 2.1%). Only Britain and Ireland also use some rates with decimal fractions.
* In the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Provence, a municipal law of 1954 prohibits flying saucers from landing within the borders of the municipality (!)
* There are some 40,000 châteaux (castles, manors, palaces...) in France.
* Famous French inventions include the adding machine, the hot air balloon, the airship, the parachute, the submarine, the ambulance service, photography, animation and cinema.
* France is the country that has won the most Nobel prizes for literature (13 as of 2005, with the last prize going back to 1985).
* French people are the second biggest consumers of alcohol per capita in the Western world - after Luxembourg...
* A 2007 study revealed that the French were the biggest consumers of medicines in Europe, both in quantity and total money spent per person.
* There are over 300 kinds of cheese made in France.
* The famous Petit Suisse ("little swiss cheese") of Gervais are not from Switzerland, but from Normandy, in France.
* Crêpes, one of the most popular food in Europe, originate from Brittany, in the west of France.
* Wine has been made in France since Roman times.
* There are 450 different wine appellations in France. There are tens of thousands of small wine-producing domain, but only 15% of all French wines enjoy the marketing benefits of AOC designations.
* Bordeaux alone has over 9,000 different châteaux.
* 72% of the adult French population finds it difficult to understand French wine labels.
* In 2004, France produced 56.6 millions hectoliters of wine.
* France is the world's leader in luxury goods, including haute couture, perfumes and cosmetics.
* France is the world's first producer of wine and liquors.
* France is the first producer of nuclear electricity in Europe and second producer in the world after the United States. France produces as much nuclear electricity as Germany, the UK, Spain and Russia combined !France has the third highest GDP (PPP) per capita per hour in the world, after Norway and Luxembourg, with an average of US$ 38.16 per hour.The Millau Viaduct, completed in 2005 in the south of France, is the tallest bridge in the world.


France attracts more tourists than any other country in the world. Tourists come to see France’s splendid scenery. But mostly they come to see Paris, the capital of France. Paris is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

For centuries, France has been the center of art and culture in Europe. Some of the world’s greatest artists and writers have worked here. French fashions and cooking are widely admired and copied.

Facts About France

Official name French Republic
Capital Paris
Official language French
Population 60,900,000 people
Rank among countries in population 21st
Major cities Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse
Area 210,000 square miles
544,000 square kilometers
Rank among countries in area 47th
Highest point Mont Blanc
15,782 feet/4,810 meters
Currency Euro


France is the biggest country in western Europe. Most of the land in the north is flat and close to sea level. Hills cover central and southern France, and huge mountains rise along the country’s borders. The Pyrenees divide France from Spain, its neighbor to the southwest. The Alps mark its border with Italy and Switzerland to the east.

Most of France has mild weather. However, the French Alps get plenty of snow. Some of the world’s finest ski resorts are found here. In the southeast, France borders the Mediterranean Sea. The coast along the Mediterranean is called the Riviera. Warm, dry weather and beautiful scenery make the Riviera a famous winter resort. It’s long been associated with wealth and glamour.


The French countryside is divided into tidy farms and dotted with pretty towns. Here and there, old castles loom on hills. The castles were built hundreds of years ago, when nobles ruled France.

Big rivers, like the Loire and the Seine, provide water for French farms. Canals connect the major rivers in France. People can travel on this network of waterways. The canals are like an extra set of highways.


Vineyards and dairy farms in the countryside produce products for which France is best known. Vineyards grow grapes that are made into wine. Cheese comes from the dairy farms.

France produces more wine than any other country in the world. Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne are important grape-growing regions in France. All three have given their names to kinds of wine.

France also is known for producing some of the best cheeses in the world. They include Camembert, chèvre (made from goat’s milk), and Roquefort.


Three-fourths of the people of France live in cities and towns. France has ports, such as Marseille, and factory towns, such as Lyon. Paris, however, is by far the most important French city. About 10 million people live in and around this lively and lovely city.

Artists have long been drawn to Paris. A famous art movement called impressionism was born here. The best-known museum in France—the Louvre—is in Paris. The Louvre contains one of the world’s most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci.

Tourists also love Paris for its nightlife, restaurants, and sidewalk cafés. They flock to see beautiful buildings such as Notre Dame, a huge church that is more than 700 years old. They visit the Eiffel Tower, a Paris landmark that’s nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) high.


Paris was founded more than 2,000 years ago. It was just a small town until the ad 800s. At that time, France was the western part of a big empire built by a tribe called the Franks. The greatest king of the Franks was Charlemagne. He ruled from 768 to 814. After his death, his three grandsons divided his empire. The western part eventually became France.

For about four centuries, the kings of France had little power. During a conflict with England, the French came to think of themselves as a nation. The conflict, known as the Hundred Years’ War, lasted from 1337 to 1453. After the war, the power of the French king began to grow.

The king’s power peaked with Louis XIV, who ruled from 1643 to 1715. He was known as the Sun King because he took the Sun—the brightest star in our sky—as his symbol. Louis XIV built the world’s grandest palace at Versailles, just outside Paris. All over Europe, people came to think of Paris as a center for art, culture, and fun.


The fun didn’t last. The king and the members of his court lived splendidly, but the French people were dreadfully poor. In 1789, the poor rebelled. They overthrew the king and the nobles. They demanded liberty and equality for all. These events began the French Revolution, which lasted until 1799.

After the revolution, a military leader named Napoleon seized power in France. He led French armies as they conquered much of Europe. Britain and Russia joined forces to defeat him.


France remains a powerful and lively country. It is one of the most important countries in the United Nations. It is also a leading power in the European Union, an organization of European countries. Tourists never tire of Paris and other places in France. More people visit France each year than live there!

Well that is it for the list of interesting facts about France.