French Fun Facts

The name "France" comes from the Franks, a Germanic who invaded the Western Roman Empire in the 6th century.

The Gallic rooster, Chanteclair, has long been the national symbol of France.

The largest country in Western Europe is France. If you include all of Europe, only Russia and the Ukraine are larger.

France is the number one tourist destination in the world (with Spain number two). In fact, the number of visitors who come to France is greater than it's entire population. This is great for the tourism industry, but if you live in, by or near to one of the main sites, you might not be so happy with that statistic.

The railway system in France is the most extensive in Western Europe. It's easy to travel by train and they are fast (at over 200 mph!) But a word to the budget traveler, buy your tickets well in advance. They are cheaper if you buy them early.

People in France greet their friends with cheek kisses. However, the number of kisses varies in different parts of the country.

The word "cuisine" is French and they certainly have great food. However, French Fries were invented in Belgium. Fois gras (a really nice French term for goose liver paste) was invented in Ancient Egypt and came to France by way of Ancient Greece and Rome. And sad to say, even the croissant was originally made in Austria.

If you think that cheese should only come in individually wrapped slices or should be squirted out of a canister onto your crackers, it may surprise you to know that the French make 300 to 400 kinds of cheeses. None are wrapped in individual slices, squirt out of a can, or begin with the letters "velvee".

The tradition of decorating Christmas trees began in the 16th century in eastern France. The region claiming this tradition changed hands between France and Germany several times. When the tree trimming first started, it was part of Germany.

The little town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape created a law in 1954 that prohibited UFO's from landing within their municipalitiy. Aliens, please take note of this when you invade the planet.

The French invented photography and the cinema. Yep, I was told this first hand while in Provence. They also invented the parachute, the submarine, the adding machine, and the hot air balloon.

The Tour de France is the most popular bike race in the world.

Paris is a world center for the luxury industry with high fashion and perfume. However, the idea of wearing jeans for clothes came from Nimes. Levi Strauss imported the idea to California to make durable clothing for gold miners.

And finally, it is believed that April Fool's Day originated in France.

Copyright 2011 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.