10 facts about France you need to know

Here's a list of 10 interesting facts about France and the French people. Is it possible to water down your wine? Which way are you allowed to stop on an escalator? Everything you need to know about France and the French people so you don't make any mistakes.

Here’s a list of 10 interesting facts to know about France and the French people. Is it possible to water down to your wine? Which way are you allowed to stop on an escalator?  Everything you need to know about France and the French people so you don’t make any mistakes.

1. La Marseillaise

Did you know that part of the score of La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France, was composed by Mozart? Mozart composed the concerto for piano and orchestra No. 25 in 1786, and its melodic line is undoubtedly reminiscent of the song attributed to Rouget de Lisle eight years later. 

Because, another curiosity, few French people know the words by heart and even if everyone knows the tune, no one is able to recite the first verse. For the majority, singing our anthem is more like pretending you are singing in English at a karaoke party than a real patriotic effort.

In 2018 when the footballer Karim Benzema explained why he has always refused to sing it. He said that “if you properly listen to La Marseillaise, it calls for war, and I don’t like that”.

2. Bread and wine

You can be vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian or even gluten-free… But “no cheese please?” it is simply unthinkable. 

By the way, did you know that the word “copain” (friend, fellow) comes from the old French word meaning “to eat bread together, to share bread”. A recent survey revealed that in reality, French people do not consume bread or wine on a daily basis. 

After all, the baguette is a special symbol of France. More than half a million baguettes are sold every day in Paris alone. However, if on the same day it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the next day it will have become a stale stick as hard as stone. No wonder the word “baguette” comes from the word “stick”.

Add water to your wine ?… Do you want a new revolution in France? No way. With rare exceptions, like adding an ice cube to your rosé, it is just criminal to put water in your glass of wine. 

The saying mettre de l’eau dans son vin (litterally add water to one’s wine) means being more moderate. It is an expression that originated in the middle of the 15th century. This is undoubtedly one of the most important facts about France.

wine + bread

3. Escalators

Weird fact, but it is a crime against humanity to stand still on a French escalator and…  on the left side… 

Nothing is easier to understand. In France, cars drive on the right side of the road… In the escalators, you stay on the right so that people who don’t want to stay static, or those who are in a hurry, can overtake on the left.

We never lose an opportunity to talk about politics in France, and this famous scene from the film La Haine will show you once again… In this very scene, the escalators symbolize the political party of the extreme right wing. 

4. Dear Mr. President

Here is a political fact about France. Recently, it was Emmanuel Macron who was judged, just a few hours after his election, to be “the most hated man in France”, according to a rival.

In 2010, the newspaper L’Express headlined” Why Sarkozy arouses hatred”. So, whether he is short, tall, young or old, French people never like their President. The French love to hate their political leaders.  

Google the phrase “Why the French don’t like…” and you’ll see the result.

5. Smiling…

… is not French. If you want to look like an idiot, try to smile in the street, to people… to express and show your happiness. Some say that French people are the dullest people on Earth… because yes, French people are constantly dissatisfied: strikes, demonstrations, grumbling… They are convinced that life is difficult, that no one is to be trusted, that the future is terrible… This is what they say about  French people. 

But in an article, researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, from the University of California, explains: “We can influence 40% of our ability to be happy.” If this is true – and it is – it is a hopeful sign for all of us, even the French people. There are billions of people on Earth, and some of them are clearly happy. So in the end, we remain optimistic. 

But that’s not all. A very serious study has also shown that while smiling is a real weapon of seduction, others see their teeth more as a complex. Smiles convey emotions such as joy, enthusiasm or surprise, and can be an indicator of the mood of the moment. This is why oral hygiene and the teeth care are so important in our daily lives. 

faire la tête

6. Snacking

Among the many food-related facts about France, that one is quite serious. Yes, let’s face it, there’s breakfast, lunch and dinner, but in the middle of the afternoon there’s also the sacrosanct snack for children… and older ones. Whether it’s a snack, a snack or a snack, these breaks are part of French habits and their benefits are both physical and psychological.

Eating during the day does not make you fat and people will unconsciously reduce the size of their lunch in preparation for the snack. It is also an opportunity to eat fruits. And this little meal in the middle of the day brings pleasure and comfort when finishing work or before starting homework. 

7. “Du coup”

An expression that can be heard about 100 times a minute and which expresses everything and nothing at the same time. Originally, it expressed a consequence, like “therefore”, but lately, it starts every sentence, without any reason or meaning. As a result, it is no longer understood.  

And so, what time does the meeting start? “And so,I don’t know, the boss didn’t say anything. In this particular case, the “And so” allows you to take a breath, to look for your words and to take a break. Practical, catchy, but superfluous in a sentence. 

8. You or you? ( Tu or Vous ?)

This is undoubtedly the biggest difficulty of French. So, to know when, how and with whom to use “tu” without making a mistake, a little drawing is better than a long speech. And don’t worry, because for the French people it’s also a delicate topic…  

9. Roundabouts

There are lots of funny facts about France and this one clearly falls into that category. France is the world champion when it comes to the number of roundabouts! Indeed, although the very first roundabout was installed in the United States, France has the most roundabouts with nearly 30,000 roundabouts. Enough to make tourists who come to visit the country by car stress!

The roundabout is a French tradition. Indeed, the first roundabout to appear in France is also the most famous: the one at Place de l’Étoile. Invented by the urban architect Eugène Hénard, the Place de l’Étoile roundabout was built in 1906.  

funny face

 10. Not a real fact but…er, well, eh…

When someone lacks inspiration or information, it is common to use this kind of interjection. Every foreigner who is confronted with the French language of a native speaker notices these strange interjections that often slip very cleverly between words and sentences.  

Somewhere between lyrical art and profound stupidity, French interjections and onomatopoeia constitute a real language, like emojis or stickers. Oh dear, you’ll have understood, it’s not always easy to get, but phew, it’s over. Not bad, eh?

So now that you know some interesting facts about France, why don’t you check the most common clichés about French people and tell us what you think?

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