Country Profile: 85 Facts & Figures About France

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51Louis Daguerre

Louis Daguerre

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.

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

53. 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.

54. 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.

55. 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.

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56Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation

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.

57. 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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

63. 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.

64. 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.

65. 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.

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66Tour De France

Tour De France

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

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

68. 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.

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

70. 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.

71Fort Vaux

Fort Vaux

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.

72. 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

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

74. 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.

75. 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


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