Do you think that you know everything about France? I tried to gather some fun facts about France that are going (I hope) to surprise you!
Those original facts are about geography, consumption, culture, and other random subjects.
Fun Facts about France
Let’s start this list of fun facts about France!
- 2nd-biggest maritime territory in the world
Wait? What? You did not expect such a “small” country to be second. I recommend you to read my article about the nicknames of France, there is one section about the overseas territories.
France comes second with 11 035 000 km2 after the USA and its 11 351 000 km2. The country has that much territory because of its history of colonialism. Some territories and especially islands are still the territory of France.
- 1st market for McDonald’s after the USA market
You did not see that fun fact about France coming? France is THE country of gastronomy most of the best chefs are from France like Paul Bocuse but it is actually the second market after the USA for McDonald’s.
When McDonald’s came to France in 1972 they decided to give carte blanche to the people in charge of the business development. The main decisions were to make American fast food less visible in the French street by using less flashy colors switching from red to dark green. Another decision was to give a higher standard in terms of furniture inside the fast-food to give a better image in terms of quality.
The most profitable McDonald’s restaurant in the world is at the Champs Élysées. Yes, this is surprising, there is a McDonald’s at the Champs Élysées known as the most expensive avenue in France. Or, as the French love to say the most beautiful avenue in the world.
- The biggest land border is with Brazil
The biggest land border is 730 km and it is not with a European neighbor but with Brazil. The French department of Guiana is next to Brazil. The second-longest land border is with Spain with 623 km. Come third, close to the land border shared with Belgium of 620 km.
You did not know about French Guiana? Have a look at the map where it is:
- More French speakers in Africa than in Europe
They are more French speakers in the African continent than in Europe. This fact is simply explained by the fact that the French colonized a lot of African territories.
Today there are twenty-one African countries speaking the French language and Africa gathers a total of 48% of the total number of French speakers versus 45% in Europe. You can learn more about the French language in the world by reading my article.
- More than half of the roundabouts in the world are in France
The inventor of the roundabout is the urban architect Eugène Henard (1849-1923). The first best-known roundabout was Place de l’Etoile in 1906 (Arc de Triomphe).
This is one of my favorite fun facts about France. Since then, France went crazy for this traffic intersection. There are more than 30.000 roundabouts in France so more than half of the rest of the world. The reason for the success of roundabouts in France? Roundabouts help to reduce the speed of the conductors and improve the traffic flow.
Are you curious about driving in France? Check out my article about it: Driving in France: Tips for success.
- 1st consumer of manga books after Japan
France loves Japanese culture and the country is the second-biggest consumer of anime in the world ahead of the USA, Germany, and South Korea.
In 2017, they were 16,6 million manga books sold in France, representing 38% of the comic book market in France. Meaning 1 out of 3 cartoons sold in France is a manga.
- Cognac consumption is made abroad
98% of the cognac production is exported, meaning the French are not consuming their beverage, this is one of the coll fun facts about France. The Cognac became popular in the USA thanks to rap musicians in the 90s.
Lots of American rappers mentioned alcohol in their songs like Puff Daddy or 50 Cent. This song by Busta Rythmes “Pass the Courvoicier” Courvoisier is one of the biggest brands as Hennessy, Martell, and Rémy Martin.
The biggest buyers of this delicious alcoholic beverage are the USA and the Asian continent. French definitely prefer liquors like the pastis.
- Cinema was invented in France
Cinema was not invented in Hollywood, sorry the USA. The first time people had to pay to enter a dark room to watch a movie happened in the third-biggest French city you named it, Lyon.
The two brothers Lumière (Auguste and Louis) invented the cinema. They shot some films in 1894 and projected them on the 13th of February 1895, after the first projection Louis said something smart!
Cinema is an invention with no future
For your information, this is the first movie of the history shot in Ciotat next to Marseille.
- French army still uses carrier Pigeons
The French army started using pigeons in 1870. On the fortress of Mont Valérien, which overlooks Paris, an old tradition continues military pigeon breeding. It is the only European country to maintain pigeon breeding.
Even though the French army has not used carrier pigeons since the 1960s, it continues to maintain a military dovecote, the last in Europe. The 200 birds are always ready to transmit army messages, particularly in the event of the destruction of telecommunications infrastructure.
- The Biggest Pizza consumer in the World
France is the biggest pizza consumer in the world tied with (drum roll) the USA in 2015. France consumed 818 million pizzas (from the study of Gira Conseil). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the numbers for the last few years.
You will be surprised by the number of pizza restaurants you could see on the street of France. Some reasons might explain the love for pizza in France. First, Italy is our neighbor and second many Italians immigrated to in the last decades to France.
- The Highest number of players born in its territory at the Football World Cup
At the FIFA World Cup in 2018, they were 50 players that were born in France. The second country was Brazil with only 28 players and then Sweden with 25 players. From the French team, only two players were not born in France.
Nine players born in France played for Tunisia, and eight for both Morocco and Senegal. Portugal had three players born in France. In 2014, they were a little fewer, than 47 players born in France.
I hope that the selection of fun facts about France surprises you! Do you know other original facts about France? Let me know in the comment section.
Are you curious about the Tour de France and fun facts? Read my article about it. Or, you can read my article about the most common French last names.