101 things to know about France

So you think you know France as well as the French ?

Here are a hundred and one things that you should know !

Read through the list, send us your comments, your remarks, your questions and your answers.


  1. The country of France is in Europe.
  2. The official language is French
  3. The capital city  is called Paris
  4. The colour of French royalty is white.
  5. The Euro (€) is used as currency and is the legal tender (having replaced the French Franc).
  6. France is divided into 21 mainland regions plus the island of Corsica and four overseas regions.
  7. The regions are divided into a total of 100 departments (the island of Mayotte became the 101st  in 2001).
  8. France is the largest surface area in Europe, with more than 550,000 km2 (210,000 m2).
  9. The population is over 65 million ( 2012 figure ).
  10. The country has international borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. It shares coastal waters with England.
  11. The French flag is coloured blue, white and red.
  12. The motto of the country is liberté, égalité, fraternité.
  13. The French use the metric system for measurements.
  14. The President is elected democratically and has a mandate of 5 years.
  15. The official palace of the president is the Elysees in Paris.
  16. The French senators hold office in the Palais Bourbons in Paris and are elected by the mayors and councilors.
  17. The French government is elected every 5 years and sits in the Palais Bourbon, Paris.
  18. France has a written constitution.
  19. There are more than 36,860 villages and towns in France.
  20. The national emblem of France is the figure of Marianne.
  21. The Gaulois Cockerel is also used to symbolize France, but is not an offical emblem.
  22. The national anthem is called “La Marseillaise”.
  23. France offers the freedom of religion and uses the Laïque principles, where the state is separated from the religions.
  24. The highest point is the mountain Mont Blanc with an altitude of 4,807m above sea-level
  25. In France you drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  26. The country is self-sufficient in food products
  27. Mainland France has coastal lines with the English Chanel, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea.
  28. The day after your 18th birthday you are considered an adult.
  29. You can pass your driving test at 18 years of age.
  30. You can vote in elections at 18 years of age.
  31. You must be 18 years of age to purchase alcohol, cigarettes and make a bet.
  32. The death penalty was abolished in 1981.
  33. Holiday pay began in 1936.
  34. The underground train system is called “Le Metro”.
  35. Women were allowed to vote for the first time in 1945.
  36. France won the football World Cup in 1998.
  37. The Eiffel tower was constructed from 1887 to 1889.
  38. The main rivers are the Seine, Rhone and the Loire which is the longest.
  39. The French revolution started with the taking of the Bastille in Paris on the 14th of July 1789.
  40. The singer Jacques Brel was born in Belgium and is not French
  41. Marie Antoinette was married to the French king Louis XVI and executed the 16th October 1793.
  42. The song ‘My Way’ was originally written by the French singer Claude Francois
  43. There are more different types of cheeses in France than days in a year.
  44. Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region.
  45. Renault, Citroën and Peugeot are the main brand names of French cars.
  46. Paris is the most visited city in the world.
  47. Education is compulsory for everybody from the age of 6.
  48. There has never been a woman president and only one woman prime minister.
  49. The speed limit on the autoroutes is 130km/h when the weather is dry.
  50. The supersonic aircraft Concorde was an Anglo-French construction.
  51. The French Foreign Legion still exists and operates. If you have a strong enough character you can attempt to join.
  52. Emergency telephone numbers in France are as follows 15 : SAMU(ambulance service).
  53. For the Police dial 17.
  54. Pompiers (fire brigade) you dial 18.
  55. If you dial 911 when you are in France, it works. You’ll be put through an English speaking operator for the European Emergency Service ( 112 ).
  56. There is no road tax, but many Autoroutes have tolls.
  57. The French do eat snails and frogs’ legs, but also many other nice dishes.
  58. The 21st of June is the national music festival,when you can play music all day and all night !
  59. There are only two genders in the French language, masculine and feminine.
  60. Pêcher=To Fish, Pêcher=Peach tree, Pêcher=To sin, French is easy to learn.
  61. French companies are propabaly the most taxed in the world.
  62. The term Appellation d’origine contrôlée is a term which guarentees that the product in question orginates from the place in question. You will often see this on bottles of wine, cheese and even honey.
  63. Le Tour de France(®) is the biggest spectator sport. The cycle race. changes its circuit each year and lasts 3 weeks. The race generally finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
  64. The Le Mans car endurance race is one of the oldest races starting in 1923. There is also a 24 hour motorbike race.
  65. Paris is also called “La Ville Lumière” (the city of light).
  66. The most well known Rock’n’Roll star is Johnny Halliday. He is more than 60 years old but still going strong and can fill a football stadium at a concert with very loyal fans.
  67. The French kings used the “fleur de lys” as a heraldic emblem.
  68. 1st May is one of the three bank holidays during the month of May. It is called “La Fête du Travail” (festival of work).
  69. Napoleon was born in the town of Ajaccio in Corsica and died on the Atlantic island of Saint Helena.
  70. The official French word for an Email is Courriel (even if we all still write “email”).
  71. Most French workers have 5 weeks’ holiday each year.
  72. Automobiles have the steering wheel on the left and are driven on the right hand side of the highway.
  73. The Mistral, Tramontane, Autan and Bise are some of the prevailing winds.
  74. There is no military service, but both men and woman must present themselves for a day to learn about defense and citizenship.
  75. There is still a law in France which prohibits you from naming a pig as Napoleon.
  76. The music for the famous dance, Le French Cancan was composed by Jacques Offenbach.
  77. André-Jacques Garnerin was the first man to jump with a parachute in 1797.
  78. The high speed train called the TGV has reached speeds of over 570 km/h (355 mph).
  79. France was the first country to adopt the metric system during the revolution.
  80. Joan of Arc was born in the village Domrémy, region of Lorraine. She was burnt at the stake in the town of Rouen, upper Normandy region.
  81. The Beast of the Gévaudan is one of the most mysterious events.
  82. Hundreds of Canadian Huskies received the Cross War Medal after serving in the French army during WWI.
  83. With 44 World Championships of Pétanque, France won 25 Gold Medals.
  84. There are about fifteen types of French bagpipes.
  85. Llívia is a Spanish town completely surrounded by French territory
  86. Vigipirate is the name of the security plan concerning threat levels against France.
  87. The sign language for French hearing impaired is called the LSF ( Language des Signes Français ).
  88. In France, it is possible to marry a dead person if the marriage procedure has already begun. It has to be approved by the President of the Republic.
  89. According to article 73 of criminal law, you can arrest a person committing a crime and conduct him without delay to a police officer.
  90. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States of America and was designed by Gustave Eiffel.
  91. School is not compulsory in France but education is until the age of 16.
  92. The famous French writer, Georges Sand, was a woman.
  93. The first self propelled vehicle was created by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot around 1770. It was was called “le fardier”.
  94. The first vaccination against rabies given to a human was conducted by Louis Pasteur in 1885.
  95. Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce developed the first  photograph in 1826.
  96. The first mass made French car was Panhard & Levassor  in 1889.
  97. Jacques Cartier started to explore Canada in 1534.
  98. France is a Unitary Semi-Presidential Constitutional Republic.
  99. Baptiste Reilles aka. Mac-Kac made the first French Rock’n’Roll song in 1956.
  100. The first French President was Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte ( Napoléon 1st’s nephew ) he then became Emperor himself.
  101. ” Pardon my French ” means an excuse for using bad language.

… Plus  Roland Garros ( who died in an air fight in 1918 ) was the first man to cross the Mediterranean Sea by plane.

… And France shares a 730 kilometers long border with Brazil !

By Alister

Studying at the University of Besançon, Burgundy Franche-Comté, France