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

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51Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle said of France, "How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?"


52. It is illegal to name a pig Napoleon in France.


53. Pharmacists in France have been trained in mycology, so foragers take the mushrooms they have gathered to their pharmacist where, free of charge, the mushrooms are checked for toxicity.


54. Actor Christopher Lee (The Hobbit) witnessed the last public guillotine execution in France, 1939.


55. An apartment in Paris was left unoccupied, under lock and key for 70 years - the rent faithfully paid on time. Inside a painting worth 2 million Euros was discovered when the renter died.


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56Dirk Bogarde

British Matinee Idol Dirk Bogarde was painting in France when he realized the field in which he had set up was littered with children's skulls. They turned out to have died in a WW2 bombing raid he himself had ordered years earlier.


57. The US helped France improve its nuclear weapons. Since US law prevents sharing atomic-bomb information, France and the US used a method called "negative guidance" or "Twenty Questions"; French scientists described to Americans their research, and were told whether they were correct.


58. From 1998-2006 the highest finish by a rider in the Tour de France not implicated in doping is 4th.


59. France Once Tried Simplifying Time By Using A Decimal Clock, In Which There Are Only 10 Hours In A Day


60. France used to be in the same time zone as Britain but during the German occupation the time zone was changed to Central European Time and remains unchanged.


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61Marquis de Lafayette

During the Nazi occupation of France, the Nazis didn't remove the American flag flying over the Marquis de Lafayette's grave


62. In 1518, there was a 'Dancing Epidemic' in France. One woman started dancing in the street and within a month, some 400 people join her, many who later died of heart attacks, strokes, or exhaustion. Nobody knows why it started or why was it popular.


63. The French held out at Fort Vaux against crushing German attacks for 3 days with no water. The commander sent requests for aid, the last one saying "This is my last pigeon". The pigeon was awarded France's highest military honor.


64. During the German occupation of France, Edith Piaf was allowed to perform for Nazis. As a reward, they allowed her to pose for photos with French prisoners. She forged the photos into identity papers for their escape plan


65. France was still executing people by guillotine when Pac-Man was introduced


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66Japanese tourist 24-hour hotline

The Japanese Embassy in Paris (France) has a 24-hour hotline for Japanese Tourists who develop debilitating psychological problems because the city is not as nice as they imagined it to be.


67. France banned mentions of Twitter and Facebook on TV and radio, as in "Follow us on Twitter" or "Like us on Facebook" because they were deemed as promotion and unfair to other sites


68. France lost so many workers during its failed attempt to dig the Panama Canal, that for a time their project's main source of income was selling the corpses (pickled in brine water) to medical schools all over the world as cadavers.


69. When Guinea declared its independence from France, the French retaliated by burning office files, cutting telephone lines, and even ripped electrical sockets out of walls before leaving the country, effectively cutting off all aid


70. Alexandre Dumas was black and suffered at the hands of racism for most of his life, yet still was celebrated as France's most widely read writer having written 'The Three Musketeers' and 'The Count of Monte Cristo'.


71Louvre

The Louvre was originally built as a fortress in 1190 to protect Paris from the Vikings


72. Women in Ancient Egypt and 18th century France used to keep a scented pouch in their vagina for a while before presenting it to a prospective lover.


73. There is a hotel (Hotel Arbez) that sits right on the border of Switzerland and France. A set of stairs started in France and ended in Switzerland upstairs. The upper rooms were thus ideal as a hideout for French Resistance members during WWII as the Nazis weren't allowed to cross into the Swiss side.


74. A chemist in France unboiled an egg.


75. After winning the Tour deĀ FranceĀ in 2006 Oscar Pereiro announced his real dream was to play professional soccer. He would quit cycling, join a Spanish team, and score twice in his first season.

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