France Facts: Fun Essentials About Country & Culture

, Staff Writer
Updated June 18, 2021
Eiffel tower and Seine Paris France
    Eiffel tower and Seine Paris France
    Matteo Colombo / DigitalVision / Getty
    Used under Getty Images license

With its unique geography, fascinating culture and natural beauty, France is truly one of the most interesting places to study or visit. Boost your knowledge about this awesome country by exploring a selection of essential France facts that are educational and entertaining.

Fun Facts About the Country of France

There's more to France than being a country in Europe! France's rule extends far beyond its presence on the European mainland. Overseas, France includes a number of islands and territories around the world.

  • Because of its six-sided geography, mainland France has a super-fun nickname. It's called l'Hexagone, which is French for "the Hexagon."
  • France is anything but landlocked. Instead, it's bordered by both land and sea! Three of France's six sides are bordered by land, and three are bordered by water.
  • France's water borders touch the Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel, the North Sea, and the Bay of Biscay (which is part of the North Atlantic).
  • France's land borders touch several other countries (Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, and Switzerland).
  • If you love the idea of island living, France may be for you. The Mediterranean island of Corsica is part of France, but it's not the country's only island paradise.
  • French islands In the Atlantic Ocean include Guadeloupe, Martinique, Miquelon, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, and Saint Pierre.
  • French territories in the Indian Ocean include Reunion island, Mayotte and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.
  • French territories in the Pacific ocean include French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna.
  • In 2020, the population of France was estimated to be more than 65.2 million people, making it the world's 22nd most populous country.
  • Paris, often called "the city of love," is France's capital. More than 2.1 million people live in Paris, which many consider the world's most romantic city.
  • Paris is the only city in France with more than a million residents. The country's second-largest city, Marseille, has just under 800,000 residents.

Fun Facts About the French Culture

Discover some entertaining facts about French culture's many interesting customs and practices.

  • Work-life balance is serious business in France! There is a law prohibiting most employers from requiring employees to check business emails after-hours.
  • France is a good place to keep burnout at bay, as the maximum workweek is 35 hours. Employers cannot require employees to work overtime, even if it is paid.
  • French law also requires employers to provide employees with at least five weeks of paid vacation each year.
  • When greeting someone in France, you just might get la bise or two. This phrase refers to the custom of gently kissing people on both cheeks when saying hello.
  • France is often referred to as the world's fashion capital, largely because19th-century designers seeking the highest quality materials could find them only in France.
  • Love wearing fragrances? Take a trip to the French city of Grasse, which is known as the perfume capital of the world.
  • Music is integral to France's culture, from opera and classical music to French folk music. Many famous French musicians are revered worldwide.
  • Cultural preservation is taken very seriously in France. That's why the country is home to more than 1,200 museums.
  • France's Musée du Louvre (usually referred to as the Louvre), is the most visited museum in all of Europe. In 2019, the Louvre had 9.6 million visitors.
  • The Tour de France bicycle race is one of the most widely-known French sporting events. Participants bike 2,156 miles over the course of 23 days.
  • On April Fool's Day, French pranksters try to get away with poisson d’avril. This means they try to stick a funny picture of a fish on their friends' backs.
  • July 14 is Fête nationale in France. This celebration is commonly referred to as Bastille Day outside of France. It celebrates the storming of Bastille, which is considered to be the French Revolution's turning point.

Awesome French Food and Wine Facts

France is a paradise for those who love great food and wine. From the history of French cuisine to traditional French foods, there is much to learn.

  • In 2010, UNESCO gave new meaning to the phrase "world-renowned" when used in the context of French cuisine. The organization expanded its "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" to include the "gastronomic meal of the French."
  • Food is an ultra-important to French culture. Distinctly French dishes include foie gras (goose or duck liver pate), escargots (snails) and crêpes (delicate pancakes).
  • In France, approximately 30,000 tons of snails are consumed by humans each year.
  • Cheese is central to a French diet. There are more than 1,000 kinds of cheese in France. Almost all (96%) of French people regularly consume cheese.
  • French pastries are an art unto themselves. French bakeries are called boulangeries; they craft delightfully decadent éclairs, macarons, crème brûlée, and croissants.
  • France is a wine-lovers paradise. The many French wine regions are home to some of the best wines and most beautiful vineyards in the world.
  • France has the market cornered on champagne! The only true champagne comes from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.
  • Even though food and wine are such an important aspect of French culture, France has a lower obesity rate than people in most other developed countries.

Outdoors and Entertainment Facts About France

From miles of coastland to a mountainous paradise, France is a beautiful and biodiverse place. The French government and people are committed to conservation.

  • Including mainland France and its overseas territories, more species live within France than all of the continents of Europe.
  • France encompasses the second-largest maritime region on the planet.
  • Ten percent of the world's coral reefs and lagoons lie within French waters.
  • France has passed and implemented several laws and initiatives focused on protecting its natural resources, including wildlife and biodiversity.
  • France is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world. Snow skiing the French Alps is a bucket list adventure for many powder enthusiasts.
  • Go to the top of the world — Europe, anyway — with a visit to Mont Blanc. This peak in the French Alps is the highest point on the continent of Europe.
  • You don't have to go to the Antarctic or Alaska to see glaciers! There are several in France. The largest is la Mer de Glace, which translates to "sea of ice."
  • Mickey doesn't just live in Florida and California! France's residents and visitors can explore the wonders of Disney with a day (or more) at Disneyland Paris.

Exploring French Influence at Home

France is a truly fascinating country. Whether you're a Francophile who's passionate about all things French or if you're just interested in learning more about this European nation, it can be a lot of fun to discover essential facts and cultural practices. Now consider how French customs or specialties impact other parts of the world, even where you live. Start by exploring French words or phrases used in everyday English.