80 Incroyable Facts About the French and France You’ll Be Surprised to Know

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1Guillaume Le Gentil

Astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil who in 1760 went from France to India to measure the transit of Venus. He missed out on both chances to do so, contracted dysentery and nearly went insane. When he made it home he learned he had been declared dead, his wife remarried and his estate plundered


2. Germany’s World War II invasion of France was aided by crystal meth. New research says tablets of the stimulant enabled German troops to stay awake for three days and three nights and push through the Ardennes mountains.


3. The guillotine remained the official method of execution in France until the death penalty was abolished in 1981. The final three guillotinings in France were all child-murderers.


4. Due to heavy inbreeding, Louis XIV of France (17th century) is descended from Louis IX of France (13th century) in 368 different ways


5. Scientology isn't legally considered a religion in all countries. Switzerland identifies it as a commercial enterprise, France and Chile as a cult, and Norway as a non-profit


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6Charles de Gaulle

In 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle demanded that all American military personnel leave France. American President Lyndon Johnson asked if that order applied to American soldiers in French cemeteries.


7. The 1913 Tour de France rules forbade outside assistance when riders’ bicycles broke. At one point, the race leader’s front fork broke and he trekked 10km to a forge where he repaired it himself, as he happened to also be a skilled mechanic. He was penalized 10 min because a child worked the bellows


8. During a nuclear scare in 1960, the President of France secretly went to the President of the United States (Dwight Eisenhower) and told him "I do not know what Khrushchev is going to do, nor what is going to happen, but whatever he does.... I want you to know that I am with you to the end."


9. The winner of Tour de France has been positive for doping 40 times in the past 53 years.


10. Paris is exclusively a twin city of Rome and vice versa. They have the motto "Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris."


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11France flag

National ensign of France is not divided into equal parts, but instead into a ratio of 30:33:37, to compensate for the flapping of the flag making the furthest segment appear smaller


12. France had its own calendar for only 12 years starting in 1792. Each week had 10 days, each day 10 hours, each hour 100 minutes, and each minute 100 seconds.


13. A Texas A&M study invited people to taste wines labeled "France," "California," and "Texas," and while nearly all ranked the French as best, in fact, all three were the same Texan wine.


14. In Japan, if someone is photographed or filmed while handcuffed, their hands have to be pixelated if it is used on TV or in the newspapers. In France, a law prohibits media from airing images of people in handcuffs, or otherwise restrained, before they have been convicted by a court.


15. During the 2015 Paris attacks the German National Soccer Team couldn't go back to their hotel and as a result had to sleep on mattresses and as a sign of solidarity the French National Team slept with them in the stadium.


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16Green rooftops or solar panels

France wants to ensure all new rooftops must be topped with either solar panels or plants


17. A Paris shooting survivor (Lilian Lepere) sued a TV station for giving away his location during the shooting


18. Adrenaline addicts in France can buy a basic kidnap package where they've bundled away, bound and gagged, and kept incarcerated for four hours. Clients have no idea when the kidnappers will strike in order to maximize the surprise.


19. Despite World War 1, being over 100 years ago, France still recovers 900 tons of unexploded munitions (mostly from that war) every year.


20. When Catherine di Medici was the queen of France, she kept a 'Flying Squad' of 80 women tasked with sleeping with powerful men to extract their secrets.


21French Castles

There are castles for sale in France cheaper than old two bedroom apartments in Australia.


22. Paris holds an annual contest to find the city’s best baguette. Around 200 bakers each submit two baguettes (must be eligible) to be graded on quality, look, smell, taste, and crunch. The winner wins €4000 and a contract to supply the French president fresh baguettes every day for 1 year.


23. During the Nazi occupation of France, Hitler did not destroy the Canadian Vimy Memorial and told the Allies that it remained intact, as he admired the peaceful nature of the sculpture


24. Child beauty pageants are illegal in France, and punishable with up to 2 years in prison.


25. Despite the Seven Years' War between Britain and France, France instructed its ships not to interfere with the Endeavour's expedition to Tahiti to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus as it was ‘out on enterprises of service to all mankind'.

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