France: 10 Facts

Today marks France’s independence and the 226th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution. A country rich in history, famed places such as Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris, The Eiffel Tower and the Musee du Louvre quickly come to mind, but this only skims the surface of what France has to offer. To honor this grand country, here are ten facts you probably didn’t know about France:

  1. France is the most popular country in the world for tourism (World Tourism Organisation, 2014)
  2. Ten billion baguettes are baked and sold every year in France and the production of these baguettes is strictly governed by law. A baguette (/bæˈɡɛt/) must only contain three ingredients—flour, yeast and salt (absolutely no preservatives)—and must weight precisely 250 grams (David Lebovitz)
  3. The Eiffel Tower was erected in Paris, France in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. The French government wanted to tear down the tower, but it quickly became both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world (Mental Floss)
  4. French toast, french fries and French manicures aren’t French inventions (C’est Christine)
  5. The 400-year old Académie française (French Academy), is the pre-eminent French council for matters pertaining to the French language. It’s charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language and its rulings are only advisory, not binding to the public and the government (Oxford Dictionaries)
  6. France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage on 18 May 2013 when President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law (Telegraph)
  7. There are more than 1,000 different types of cheese in France if you consider the 350-400 cheese types and the varieties of each (Eat the Globe)
  8. The French are the world’s biggest consumers of psychotropic drugs. About one fourth of the population admits having taken anti-depressants or tranquillisers over the past year (NPR)
  9. In exceptional cases, it’s possible to marry a deceased person with the authorisation of the President of the Republic (The Local)
  10. France is the world’s biggest wine producer in 2014 (followed by Italy and Spain) with 17 distinct wine-producing regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Loire and Provence (Forbes)

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