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

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26Bakery Law

In France, by law, a bakery has to make all the bread it sells from scratch in order to have the right to be called a bakery


27. In France, nearly 96% of high schools have condom vending machines


28. A man named Victor Lustig in France impersonated a government official, and managed to sell the Eiffel Tower not once, but twice.


29. France is the only country in Europe to be completely self-sufficient in basic food production.


30. The first Tour de France winner (Maurice Garin) was disqualified because he cheated by taking the train


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31The Whipping Father

In France and Belgium, there is a folk character called "The Whipping Father" who accompanies St. Nicholas. He beats naughty children with sticks and carries them away in a bag.


32. When Napoleon emancipated the Jews he stated that "I will never accept any proposals that will obligate the Jewish people to leave France, because to me the Jews are the same as any other citizen in our country"


33. There is a grocery store named "Thanksgiving" in Paris that sells U.S. "cuisine" like Pop-Tarts, Heinz ketchup, and Skippy peanut butter to homesick ex-pats.


34. When Louis Rèard introduced the bikini in France in 1946, no models were willing to wear such revealing swimwear, so Rèard had to hire a stripper to model it.


35. While playing a game of Chess in France, Benjamin Franklin took his opponent's King after she inadvertently put it in check. When she said, "Ah, we don't take kings so" Franklin replied, "We do in America."


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36Miguel Indurain

5-time Tour de France winner, Miguel Indurain, had a resting heart rate of just 28 BPM. The average person rests at about 60 BPM.


37. France has done more nuclear weapons testing than the UK, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea combined


38. In France, it is illegal to deny that the holocaust happened.


39. The President of France is also the Co-Prince of Andorra. Therefore, Andorra is the only country in the world that has a democratically elected monarch.


40. Since 1997, a castle (Guédelon) is being built in France with the same materials, tools, and methods used by people in the 13th century. Scheduled to be completed in the 2020's.


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41Suez Canal crisis

In 1956 Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt to get back the Suez Canal. Despite being a military success and having minor losses, it had so much political fallout that most historians consider it the end of Britain as a superpower.


42. When a French artist is killed during the war, the government has a "died for France" designation which extends their post-mortem copyrights by 30 years


43. In the mid-1800s France gave out a crucial patent in photography for free as a gift to the world except for Britain. They had to pay.


44. It was illegal for women of Paris to wear pants, till Feb/2013, when France lifted the 200-year-old ban


45. Mercury use in hat-making, which causes "Mad Hatters Disease", was banned in France in 1898, However, the practice continued in the US until 1941, despite 80% of hatmakers being diagnosed with "mercurial tremors", until it was abandoned due to the wartime need for mercury.


46Minitel service

In 1978, France rolled out a pre-World Wide Web online service (Minitel) that gave its users access to online shopping, search engines, cybersex, message boards etc. France Telecom only retired the service in 2012 after 30 years and 800,000 units still in use.


47. Areas of France so polluted with vast amounts of human and animal remains and millions of items of unexploded ordnance from WWI that no human activity is allowed there.


48. The purpose of the Declaration of Independence was to gain the support of the monarchies of France and Spain, who would not support a rebellion against a legitimate monarchy (England), but they would support America as an independent nation.


49. The face on almost every CPR doll in existence is modeled after an unidentified woman who's dead body was found in the Seine river in France during the late 1880s.


50. In the 1924 Tour de France, riders used cocaine and chloroform as performance enhancing drugs.

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