I tried to gather some fun facts about my country France that are going (I hope) surprise you!
Those original facts are about geographic, consumption, culture and other random subjects. Let’s start this list of fun facts about France:

Fun fact #1 – 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: 10 Names for France that you probably did not know.

France comes second after the USA with 11 million km2. The country has that much territory because of his history of colonialism. Some territory and specially islands are still the territory of France.

Fun fact #2 – 1st market for McDonald’s after the USA market

You did not see that 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 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 the American fast food less visible in the French street by using less flashy colors switching from the red to a dark green. Another decision was to give 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 knows as the most expensive avenue of France. Or, as the French love to say the most beautiful avenue of the world.

Fun fact #3 – 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 territory.

Today there are twenty-one African countries speaking the French language and Africa gather a total of 59% of the total number of French speakers versus 45% in Europe.

Fun fact #4 – 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 the land border shared with Belgium of 620 km.

You did not know about French Guiana? Have a look on the map where it is 🙂

Fun fact #5 – 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).

Since then, France went crazy for this traffic intersection. There are more than 30.000 roundabouts in France so more than the half than 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: Everything  about driving in France that you should know

Fun fact #6 – 1st consumer of manga books after Japan

France loves the 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 cartoon market in France. Meaning 1 out of 3 cartoons sold in France is a manga.

Fun fact #7 – Cognac consumption is made abroad

98% of the cognac production is exported, meaning the French are not consuming their beverage. The Cognac became popular in the USA thanks to the rap musicians in the 90s.

Lots of American rappers mentioned the alcohol in their songs like Puff Daddy or 50 Cent. This song of Busta Rythmes “Pass the Courvoicier” Courvoisier is one of the biggest brands as Hennessy, Martell and Rémy Martin. The biggest buyers of the delicious alcoholic beverage are the USA and the Asian continent.

Fun fact #8 – Cinema was invented in France

Not in Hollywood take that 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. The shot some films in 1894 and projected it the 13th of February 1895, after the first projection Louis said something smart 🤣

Cinema is an invention with no future

For your information, this the first movie of the history shot in Ciotat next by Marseille

Fun fact #9 – French army still use carrier Pigeons

The French army started using the pigeons from 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 pigeons 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 destruction of telecommunications infrastructure.

Fun fact #10 – 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 the among of 818 million pizzas (from the study of Gira Conseil). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the numbers of the last years.

You will be surprised by the numbers of pizza restaurants you could see in the street in France. Some reasons might explain the love for the pizza from the French. First, Italy is our neighbor and second many Italians immigrated from the last decades to France.

Fun fact #Bonus – The Highest number of players born in its territory at the Football World Cup

At the last 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, eight for both Morocco and Senegal. Portugal had three players born in France. In 2014, they were a little less, 47 players born in France. 

I hope that the selection of fun facts about France surprise 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 7 Fun facts about the Tour de France