1. Wine Country: The French Love Their Beers, Too
France has a long and storied history with wine, with production dating back to the Roman Empire. Today, the French consume more wine than any other nation on earth, with an average of 60 liters (around 16 gallons) of wine per capita and year. This is a testament to the country's commitment to the production and consumption of wine, and is a tradition that has been passed down through the generations.
2. French Cuisine: A Tradition of Excellence
France is renowned for its exquisite cuisine, with an average of two new cookbooks being published every day. This culinary tradition dates back to the 17th century, when the renowned chef La Varenne published the first true French cookbook, Le Cuisinier françois. Since then, French cuisine has become one of the most celebrated in the world, with countless chefs and home cooks alike striving to recreate its unique flavors and textures.
3. Castles of A Guide to the Most Impressive Monuments
France is renowned for its abundance of majestic castles, palaces, and manors, with an estimated 40,000 of them scattered across the country. Among the most iconic and popular of these are the awe-inspiring Versailles, the romantic Chenonceau, and the grandiose Chambord. Each of these castles has its own unique history and architecture, making them must-see attractions for anyone visiting France.
4. The 400 Different Types of French Cheese
France is renowned for its vast array of cheese varieties, with over 400 listed varieties. Winston Churchill famously declared that "Any country with 300 cheeses cannot die", a testament to the importance of cheese in French culture. From the creamy Brie de Meaux to the nutty Comté, the variety of French cheeses is truly remarkable.
5. The Eiffel Tower Shrinks in Cold Weather
The iconic Eiffel Tower is one of the most beloved symbols of France, and a major tourist attraction. Standing at an impressive 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall, including its antennas, the tower is an impressive sight. During cold weather, the tower actually shrinks by about 15 centimeters (6 inches), a phenomenon that is caused by the metal contracting in the cold temperatures.
6. The Origins of the French State
In August 843, the French state was established as a result of the division of the Carolingian Empire. This empire, which had been founded by Louis the Pious, was divided among his three sons, resulting in the creation of three kingdoms, including parts of modern-day Italy, Germany, and France. This division marked the beginning of the French state, which has since become one of the most influential countries in the world.
7. Explore 7 Majestic Mountains & 5 Vital Rivers
France, the largest nation in Western Europe, is home to seven majestic mountains and five major rivers. The highest peak, Mont Blanc, or "La Dame Blanche" in French, stands at an impressive 4,810 meters and is known as the "White Lady" due to its snow-capped peak. The five major rivers that flow through France are the Loire, Seine, Rhone, Garonne, and Meuse, all of which are vital to the country's economy and culture.
8. The History and Meaning of la Marseillaise
The French national anthem, la Marseillaise, is steeped in history. It was first sung by soldiers from Marseille in 1792, as they marched to Paris to defend the city from invading forces. This stirring song of patriotism and courage has since become a symbol of French national pride, and is still sung today at official ceremonies and events.
9. The Statue of Liberty: A Symbol of Freedom and Friendship
In 1886, France gifted the United States with the iconic Statue of Liberty to commemorate the strong bond between the two countries during the American Revolution. The colossal sculpture, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was constructed in France before being shipped to the United States in 350 individual pieces and assembled in New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and friendship between the two nations, and continues to be a source of pride for both countries.
10. France's Presidential Dynasties
Since 1977, France has had only five presidents: Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who served from 1974 to 1981; François Mitterrand, who held office from 1981 to 1995; Jacques Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007; Nicolas Sarkozy, who was in power from 2007 to 2012; and François Hollande, who has been president since 2012. This means that in the last 41 years, France has had the same five presidents, each of whom has left a lasting legacy on the country.
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