10 Interesting Facts From France You Should Know

10 Things Worth Knowing From FranceWhy is France named France?

France was founded by the Franks.  The name France comes from the Latin word “Francia” which means the land of the Franks.

However, before that France was called Gaul and people from that country were called Gaulois. Of course the name Gaul has totally disappeared except when referring to historic facts during the time France was called Gaul. France was called Gaul under the Roman Empire until the early Middle Ages.

The popular Franco-Belgian comic book series and cartoon Asterix is supposed to be happening in the Gaul area. That’s why it’s called Asterix le Gaulois (Asterix the Gaulois).  It’s interesting to know that what constituted Gaul of old included part of the modern French territory as well as Belgium.

Avignon used to be the City of Residence of the Popes

From 1309 to 1348 Avignon was the city of the popes instead of Rome, Italy. As a matter of fact, until now we – at times – still refer to Avignon as “Avignon cité des papes” (Avignon city of the popes).

Avignon is a beautiful Southern French city in the Vaucluse department with a very famous bridge, called “le Pont d’Avignon” (the Bridge of Avignon) which even has a song of the same name referring to it. There is a famous French female singer called Mireille Mathieu who is from Avignon and has sung this children song at times.

Cannes is the City of the International Film Festival

Probably the most popular film festival is the International Film Festival of Cannes which takes place in every year in May.  For the most part, the movies that are selected to be presented as potential winners at the Cannes Festival are so called high level / savant / high class/intellectual, and should I say really boring movies.

To me, a movie that won the Cannes Film Festival prize, was a movie to avoid my any mean.  When I fail to stick to my rule, I found myself watching a movie that bore me to death. But that’s my view of this. Of course, some people might tell you different.

Birth Place of Joan of Arc

France is the country of birth of famous sanctified woman named Jeanne d’Arc, known in the US as Joan of Arc.

Joan of Arc was born in Domrémy in the Lorraine department, North-Eastern France (in the house below).  At the age of 13 she started hearing messages, in her father’s garden, to free France from the invaders.  At age 16 she admitted to a cousin of hers that she had received diving guidance to free France from British invasion.

Joan of Arc was a principal participant in the French victory over England, and the end of the hundred years’ war between France and England. She was accused of heresy and put to death at age 19.

Jeannedarcbirthplace

The Count of Monte Cristo

The popular story “The Count of Monte Cristo” which has been the subject of many movies and TV series, is a story by French author Alexandre Dumas.

The popular story was inspired by real facts linked to a man named Pierre Picaud who was arrested and imprisoned the day of his wedding, because of a jealous friend who was in love with his future wife.

The Alexandre Dumas story, partly fiction and partly based on real facts,  became known the world over, and is still told in modern movies.

The Eiffel Tower Most Recognized Building in the World

The Eiffel tower has become one of the most recognizable buildings of the world and it’s often used to represent France as whole in foreign countries.

To learn more about the Eiffel Tower and its story you can go read this post.

The Infamous Guillotine

France is the country of the infamous Guillotine which was used to put murderers to death until 1977, year that the last person was ever put to death in France.

The Guillotine was also used in Switzerland, Sudden, Belgium and Germany.

Believe it or not, before Joseph Ignace Guillotin adopted the guillotine as a capital punishment tool, there were ways worse methods to put criminals to death back then.

Capital punishment has been abolished in France since 1981.

Louisiana

The US state known today has Louisiana was occupied in part and own by the French until 1803 When Napoleon Bonaparte decided to sell this French territory to the United States.

This is why there is a French quarter in Louisianan to this day.

When you enter the state of Louisiana you can see the sign in both English and French.  Some signs even mention that the state was purchased in 1803.

Quebec

Quebec, largest province of Canada is the only part of Canada where French is the official language.

I work with Canada on a regular basis, and a lot of people there are absolutely not bilingual.  They speak French only.  To find more bilingual people you need to go in Montreal which is a big city and the capital of Quebec with a large concentration of Anglophones, Spanish, North and South Africans, as well as French.

The French settled in this part of Canada called Quebec in 1600 and therefore exported their language and culture there.

The reason why people from Quebec have a very distinct accent from the French folks in France is because that was the local accent of the French of the time.  Canadians kept the accent to this day, while it’s been long gone in France.

Le Tour de France

Le Tour de France is one of the very few professional cycling races, and the most prestigious one.  The Tour de France takes place in the month of July.  The race lasts about a month.

The race exists since 1903 and covers some 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) around France.  The Tour de France takes the cyclists throughout some of the toughest terrains of France such as the Pyrennées and Alpes mountains and always ends at the top of the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Even though the route changes every year the primary areas stay the same.

There you have it. 10 interesting facts from France that you should.

If you enjoyed this post, please, leave your comment below.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia and Shuterstock

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20 Comments

  • Margarita says:

    Sylviane,

    I liked that fact that Canadians kept the accent even though it has been forgotten in France. Fascinating detail.

    I also did not know (sorry for my ignorance in history) that Napoleon sold Louisiana to the US in 1803. Now I know.

    Another fact that I was surprised to learn that Avignon was the city of the popes.

    I loved reading your post. Thank you.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Margarita,

      How nice to see you here.

      Yes, the Canadian accent is something else of an history. A lot of people say that the Canadian accents is not pretty, but I always liked it, because it’s cute to me. When the accent is very heavy, however, it’s hard to understand at times.

      I thought there would be a few interesting facts here that my readers didn’t know. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 and thank you for coming and commenting.

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Where in the world do you get all this information Sylviane? You always come up with stuff I’ve never known. Okay, I knew a little of this history like the Cannes Film Festival and Joan of Arc but that’s about it.

    Do you do a bunch of research to come up with this? I’m finding Louisiana once belonging to the French a little hard to swallow. Not that I even have a clue about that but there might be a French quarter in New Orleans but that state is pure Cajuns.

    Now you’ve got me curious so I might have to go and investigate.

    Thanks for always keeping it interesting that’s for sure. I learn so much when I stop by your blog each week.

    Have a good weekend now.

    ~Adrienne
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Aha, Adrienne,

      Well, for one thing, as I told before in a post or two, my mother used to be a well of knowledge, that’s why me and my brother used to call her “the encyclopedia.” I know lots of things from her. Some from school and the rest I can just do a Google search for me details.

      Yep, the State of Louisiana used to belong to the French. Now that’s American history, and you need to know that 🙂 I bet lots of people don’t that though. Even Some of their road signs say so 🙂

      I’m glad you’re learning stuff from this blog. That’s very cool.

      Thanks for coming Adrienne and have a fantastic weekend.

  • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

    Hi Sylviane

    I was surprised I knew some of the history and certainly I know the Cannes Film festival. I also thing the Eiffel Tower is amazing.

    I love the Tour De France (how we say it in Oz) . Cycling is big here so many people will stay up all night watching it live. I just love it because of the beautiful countryside. But when our Australian won a couple of years ago the whole country was staying up watching. We love our sports here.

    That picture of the dog with the bread and wine was so me when I was young in France. As a young traveler I lived on wine, bread and cheese.

    Now in Australia people my parents age call the French “frogs”. Where did that come from? You may not know. We also call the English ‘poms” and a whole bunch of other Australian slang.

    Loved the post and as you know I love the country you were born in.

    Sue
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sue,

      French are called frogs because they eat frogs. Well, few of them do. By all mean not all French eat frogs. I know nobody ever did in my family.

      I didn’t know that Australian were big in cycling. French are too.

      Thanks for coming, Sue and have a great weekend in your spring Australia 🙂

      • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

        Hi Sylviane

        I mutually thought about the eating frogs the day after I commented here. So thanks for clarifying.

        I had to come back and tell you something weird. I commented on this on my Saturday and that night I dreamed the Eiffel Tower fell down!!

        Have a good week.

        Sue
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  • Donna MerrillTwitter: donna_tribe says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    What a great lesson! The history shared in this post is awesome. I knew a few bits and pieces, but I’ve gained more knowledge here and I thank you.

    When writing about Quebec, I fully understand they only speak french. Where I moved in Maine there are tons of people from Quebec. Many have Summer homes here and there are tons of visitors.

    So, in our town, there are man signs in English and French. I can always spot a person from Quebec because they dress so elegant. Good thing I’m following this blog. From a few French sayings and those Gestures you wrote about in the past, it comes in handy in my new town.

    -Donna
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Donna,

      How nice is that, that my blog helped you any in your new town. I think that’s really cool. Thanks for letting me know this, and thank you for being such a good follower of this little blog of mine. I always have fun writing for it for sure.

      Have a fantastic week ahead!

  • David says:

    “Gaul” is not used just in reference to history. It lives in names, such as Charles de Gaulle. At least, I assume that is the meaning.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi David,

      OH, no! Charles de Gaulle has NOTHING to do with Gaul. de Gaulle just happens to be his last name. The spelling is different too. It just happens that the pronunciation is similar, but no more than that. Do not confuse the too 🙂

      Thanks for coming by 🙂

  • Marisa says:

    Wow! Great information! I’ve always wanted visit France, but i don’t know much about the culture or the history, (like for example that it was the birthplace of Joan of Arc). Thanks for sharing all these cool facts!

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Marisa,

      Well, that’s great, because the purpose of this blog is definitely to help people discover more about French culture and many things related to it.

      Thanks for coming and nice meeting you here too 🙂

  • LisaTwitter: Lisapatb says:

    Sylviane, I enjoyed learning these facts about France as my dad’s family is originally from there. I did not know them growing up as his parents died young. I just love your image too, it’s a pinning one 🙂 Very interesting about their accents still being used. Thanks for sharing with us. (I should add the Eiffel tower to my bucket list too.)
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    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for coming here and I’m glad you enjoyed this. I really enjoyed puting this blog together as well.

      Have a great week!

  • Jeremy Norton says:

    These are another interesting facts, Sylviane. I really learned a lot about how rich French culture is through this blog.

  • Debasmita says:

    Hey Sylviane,

    France is a place that always attracted me from my childhood. My grandfather had spend a considerable amount of time in France and tales of France used to be my bedtime stories! 🙂

    Knowing such interesting facts about France is really amusing for me! 🙂

    Great post!

  • Vivek Jain says:

    Hello Sylviane,

    France is a very beautiful country. I love this country from my childhood. I have heard about International Film Festival of France a lot.
    Although, I enjoyed many Top Australian Festivals but, want to enjoy France festivals for once in my life! It’s my dream, you can say! 🙂
    .
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful France facts here. It really means a lot for me! 🙂

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