100+ Fun Facts Everyone Should Know About France

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: November 28, 2023
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Vive La France! France is a culture-rich country that has been a dominating force throughout history. From the French Revolution to Napoleon Bonaparte, baguettes to French wine, France is just amazing. No wonder it is one of the most visited countries in the world, and not only that, but its capital, Paris, is one of the most visited cities in the world. But France is more than just cozy cafés and beautiful architecture.

There are so many interesting facts about France worth knowing and some that are even shocking or make you go, “Wow!” Let’s take a look at 100+ fun facts everyone should know about France.


View of entrance gate of the Elysee Palace from the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. Elysee Palace - official residence of President of French Republic since 1848.

Emmanuel Macron is the current President of France, who has served since 2017. (Pictured here is Élysée Palace, the president’s formal residence)


1. The first humans to inhabit France did so over 1.8 million years ago.

2. Celtic Gaul tribes inhabited the land of France in the 4th century B.C.

3. It was Clovis I, in 481, who declared himself the leader of all the Franks, thus unifying France into a kingdom. This makes France one of the oldest countries in the world.

4. Charlemagne was King of the Franks but also managed to unify Western Europe as Holy Roman Emperor, thus he is nicknamed, “The Father of Europe.”

5. Battling it for the French throne, the Hundred Years’ War between France and England actually lasted 116 years, from 1337 to 1453.

6. Joan of Arc was a hero to France, as she led the fight against the English. Unfortunately, she was captured, imprisoned, and later burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431.

7. French became the official language of France in 1539 because of King Francis I.

8. King Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, was the monarch of France for a whopping 72 years since he was only five years old in 1643.

Aerial panoramic view of Marseille Old Port with yachts and boats and the city, mountains in the background. Marseille, Provence, France. Holidays in France

Marseille is the oldest city in France, which was founded by the Romans in 600 B.C.


History Part II

9. Cardinal de Richelieu is credited with ensuring the French Academy (the organization that standardizes the French language) became official.

10. People were tired of the rich having it all and the poor being ignored, so they revolted in what is now known as the French Revolution.

11. The French Revolution lasted 10 years. It began with the Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789.

12. Written in 1789, The Declaration of the Human Rights of Man and of the Citizen outlined 17 articles to ensure people were free and had rights in France.

13. The French Revolution had huge consequences throughout the world, sparking various revolutions all over the globe.

14. Napoleon Bonaparte was emperor of France from 1804 to 1814, and after a series of battles, he was exiled, which is where he died.

15. “La Belle Epoque” is a period in French and European history that started in the 1870s and ended in 1914 when a lot of cultural innovations happened, as well as economic prosperity.

16. France was divided during World War II, with Nazis claiming northern France and southern France as Vichy France under puppet leader Phillipe Pétain.

17. France is currently in its fifth republic.


France Map

France has a population of 64 million.

©Alexander Lukatskiy/Shutterstock.com

18. France is called L’Hexagone because the country is kind of shaped like a hexagon.

19. Mainland France consists of 12 regions: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Bretagne, Centre-Val de Loire, Grand Est, Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France, Normandie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

20. There are 96 departments in France, and from those departments, they are organized into 332 arrondissements and 35,000 communes.

21. France has several overseas regions, collectives, and territories.

22. France has 8 bordering countries: Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, and Switzerland.

23. Five main rivers pass through France: the Loire River, the Seine River, the Garonne River, the Rhine River, and the Rhône River.

24. France also has two mountain ranges: the Alps, which share a border with Switzerland and Italy, as well as the Pyrenees, which share a border with Spain.

25. France is also home to the second-highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc.

26. France has several different types of climates because of how big the country is.

27. The largest lake located in France is called Lac du Bourget, which is in Savoie, France.

28. The Massif Central is a highland region located in southern France and covers 15% of the mainland.

29. Paris is the largest city in France with a population of 2.1 million.

30. France has a total area of 248,573 square miles, making it the 42nd largest country in the world.

31. Because of its overseas regions, France has the most time zones in the world, with a total of 12.


Gallic Rooster

The two symbols of France that the French hold dear to their hearts are the Gallic


and the fleur-de-lis.


32. The Gallic rooster is France’s national animal.

33. The iris (or fleur-de-lis) is France’s national flower.

34. There are flamingoes in several different areas of France, mainly the coasts.

35. Common animals that are typical of France include the wild boar, the red deer, and the roe deer.

36. In the Alps region, it is common to find the ibex and the chamois.

37. About a third of France is covered in forests and the animals that generally inhabit those areas include wildcats, foxes, rabbits, and several species of rodents.

38. France is also home to various endangered species like the tortoise, the beaver, the marmot, the lynx, and the otter.

39. One animal that used to be extinct in France and is now making a comeback is the wolf. People have spotted them in the Alps region of the country.

40. When it comes to birds besides flamingoes, you can spot the Egyptian vulture flying around, as well as the black-winged stilt.

41. There is an abundance of lizards, in particular the small brown lizard, in the country.

42. There are a total of 11 national parks in the country, eight of them are in mainland France and three in overseas regions.

43. One of the most common species of butterflies in rural France is the Osiris blue.


Black stethoscope on France flag background, Business and finance concept.

The French invented many things over the centuries.

©sasirin pamai/Shutterstock.com

44. In 1816, French physician and musician René Laennec, native to Quimper, invented the stethoscope.

45. French toymaker André Cassagnes invented the popular toy Etch-a-Sketch in the mid-1950s.

46. French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the early roulette wheel, an indispensable casino game.

47. Believe it or not, the pencil sharpener was invented by a French mathematician named Bernard Lassimmone in 1828.

48. French inventor Nicéphore Niépce produced the first photographic image ever in 1822.

49. Louis Le Prince invented the first motion picture camera.

50. Renowned scientist couple Paul and Marie Curie discovered polonium and radium.

51. George Claude developed neon signs in 1902.

52. Émile Jeanbrau performed the first modern transfusion in 1914, although the first documented blood transfusion was done by Jean-Baptiste Denys (another Frenchman).

53. Pierre Fauchard is known as the “Father of Modern Dentistry” for having created the world of dentistry and many of its instruments.

54. If it weren’t for Charles Frédéric Gerhardt, we would have a lot more pain without aspirin (which he created in 1853).

55. Louis Pasteur (along with other scientists) also came up with the rabies and tuberculosis vaccines. He also came up with the process of pasteurization.

56. French people invented several modes of transportation we use today like the taxi, steamboat, hot air balloon, helicopter, and bicycle (with a mechanical crank).

57. The infamous little black dress was invented by none other than Coco Chanel in the 1920s.

Arts and Culture

Detail of classic French architectural facades in Toulouse, showcasing ornate designs and typical features from the region's historical urban construction.

French art and architecture are known all over the world and replicated, as well.

©Peredelskaia Anna/Shutterstock.com

58. Many books and stories we love today were written by French authors like Victor Hugo, who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables.

59. A total of 15 French authors have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the most of any country.

60. France is a country with a lot of museums. In Paris alone, there are 206 museums and 1,016 art galleries.

61. How about France? There are a whopping 1,240 museums in the entire country of France.

62. Speaking of museums, the Louvre Museum is the most visited in the world.

63. As a way to showcase French art, President Georges Pompidou established the Centre Pompidou.

64. France is home to many internationally renowned artists like Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, and Paul Gaugin.

65. One of the most famous paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa by Leonard da Vinci, is in the Louvre Museum.

66. Several actors and actresses have become world-famous including Marion Cotillard, Gerard Depardieu, Eva Green, Vincent Cassel, and Juliette Binoche.

67. Edith Piaf with her famous songs like La vie en rose and Non, je ne regrette rien made her internationally famous. Interestingly enough, Marion Cotillard played her in a biopic of the singer’s life in 2007.

Romantic ginger woman in french beret looking back. Outdoor photo of adorable brunette girl enjoying autumn day.

In the French culture for greetings, it is usually customary to kiss on the cheek. The number of kisses depends on the region but ranges from one to four.

©Look Studio/Shutterstock.com

Arts and Culture Part II

68. Paris is arguably known as the fashion capital of the world.

69. The first fashion magazine published was Le Mercure Galant in 1678.

70. The big French fashion houses are located in Paris, such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.

71. When it comes to perfume, France is the number one producer, accounting for nearly 30% of the world’s production.

72. Fashion designer Jacque Heim invented the bikini in 1946.

73. There are many French philosophers whose ideas have spread throughout the world, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Voltaire.

74. Christmas tree decorations started in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France around 1858.

75. The French national football (soccer) team is called “Les Bleus” and they have participated in many World Cups. They have won twice: in 1998 and 2018.

76. The Tour de France, a world-famous bicycle race, started in 1903.

Food and Drink

French food assortment on dark background. Traditional cuisine concept. Top view, flat lay, panorama

Some of the most famous French dishes are boeuf bourguignon, quiche Lorraine, soupe à l’oignon (onion soup), ratatouille, and coq au vin.

©Tatjana Baibakova/Shutterstock.com

77. The Massif Central is where several breeds of cattle make their home, as well as the Lacaune sheep, which produces the famous French Roquefort cheese.

78. Speaking of cheeses, there are a whopping 1,200 cheese varieties made in France.

79. France makes about 10 million baguettes every year.

80. In 2010, UNESCO recognized French cuisine as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The only other cuisine to have that honor is Mexican cuisine.

81. Speaking of UNESCO, there are currently 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.

82. Champagne, which is sparkling wine, comes from the Champagne region of France.

83. The French eat about 25,000 tons of snails (called escargots) every year. That’s roughly about 700 million snails!

84. The French consume 10 gallons of wine per year.

85. Although the French drink a lot of wine, they are the second-largest producer of wine. First place goes to Italy (and third place to Spain).

86. The Michelin Guide was first published in 1900 by the Michelin Tire Company. Originally it was to offer suggestions to motorists, but then introduced restaurant reviews and the rest is history.

87. Today, France has over 600 Michelin-starred restaurants, the most of any country in the world.

88. In 2016, France passed a monumental law to tackle hunger. It made it illegal for supermarkets to throw away any unsold food. The law stated they needed to donate it, instead.


Paris, Eiffel Tower.

France is one of the most visited countries in the world, with 79.4 million tourists in 2022.

©SCStock/iStock via Getty Images

89. Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin created the Modern Olympics in the early 1890s.

90. Speaking of the Olympics, France has hosted the games five times and will host for the sixth time in 2024.

91. France was a founding member of the Council of Europe in 1949.

92. France uses the Euro, but before 2002, it used the Franc.

93. Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composed the French national anthem, called “La Marseillaise” in 1792.

94. The oldest human voice recording was produced on April 9, 1860, in France. Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville used a phonautograph to record his voice and a song named Au Clair de la Lune.

95. The longest book in the world with more than 3,000 pages was written by Marcel Proust. It’s called A la recherche du temps perdu, or Remembrance of Things in the Past in English.

96. The guillotine was the official method of the country’s executions until it was abolished in 1981. The death penalty was outlawed in 2007.

Panoramic view of bay Cote d'Azur and resort town Villefranche sur Mer. French riviera, France

About 320 million people speak French all over the world.

©Valery Bareta/Shutterstock.com

Randoms Part II

97. The oldest person who ever lived was born in France. Her name was Jeanne Calment and she was born on February 21, 1875, in Arles, France. She died on August 4, 1997, living for 122 years and 164 days.

98. In one of the weirdest laws ever, France forbids kissing on train station platforms.

99. France unveiled the first license plates in 1893.

100. Some of Paris’s famous landmarks include the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre Museum, and the Pont du Gard.

101. Paris, the capital of France, is known as the “City of Light.”

102. France was the 14th country in the world to legalize marriage equality in 2013.

103. The French celebrate Bastille Day, the country’s national holiday, on July 14 every year. It is the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille in 1789.

104. France’s motto is “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” which means Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

105. France is a member of the European Union.


And there you have it, these are 100+ fun facts everyone should know about France. When you visit the country, you’ll have a wealth of information you can share with your friends. You’ll be known as the “fun fact” person and your friends will rely on you to share amazing info about this great nation.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tomas Marek/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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