Discovering France: 10 Surprising Curiosities

France is a country rich in history, culture and traditions. From the iconic Eiffel Tower to its exquisite culinary delights, France has captivated travellers from all over the world. But beyond its famous tourist attractions, this European country has a number of fascinating curiosities that are not so well known. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through 10 surprising facts about France that will make you appreciate its unique charm even more.

1. The Land of Bread and Pastries

In France, bread is an integral part of the culture. In fact, there are approximately 30,000 bakeries throughout the country. But an even more surprising curiosity is that French bakers are legally allowed to take one day off a week, which means there will always be at least one bakery open nearby.

2. Ketchup banned in schools

To preserve the authenticity of their famous cuisine, French schools banned the use of ketchup in school canteens in 2011. This measure was taken to encourage healthier eating habits and promote the richness of local flavours.

3. Kissing on the Cheek

Greetings in France generally involve kisses on the cheeks, but the number varies by region. In some parts of the country, two kisses are given, while in others, such as the Corsica region, up to four kisses are given.

4. Eiffel Tower: The Ephemeral Work

The iconic Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 as a temporary structure for the World’s Fair, and was scheduled to be dismantled after 20 years. However, the tower became such a popular tourist attraction that it was decided to keep it permanently.

5. The name “France

The name “France” comes from the Germanic Franks, an ethnic group that inhabited the region in medieval times. The name actually means “land of the Franks”.

6. The country with the most Nobel Prizes in Literature

France holds the record for having the most Nobel Prizes in Literature. To date, it has produced 15 Nobel laureates, including writers such as Albert Camus and Marcel Proust.

7. The Inventor of Champagne

Champagne is synonymous with celebration and luxury, and its invention is attributed to a Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon. However, the legend that he invented this famous sparkling drink is actually an exaggeration. Dom Pérignon made important contributions to the champagne-making process, but its creation was the result of a collective effort of many winegrowers in the Champagne region.

8. The Most Visited Place in the World

The city of Paris, and in particular Notre-Dame Cathedral, was the most visited place in the world before the devastating fire that occurred in April 2019. However, it remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

9. The World’s Greatest Castle

The Palace of Versailles, located just outside Paris, is the largest castle in the world. With over 2,300 rooms, the palace is a stunning example of architecture and opulence.

10. The Country with the Most Wine Cellars

France is home to an incredible amount of wine cellars. It is estimated that there are over 200,000 vineyards throughout the country, producing a wide variety of famous wines such as Bordeaux, Champagne and Bourgogne.


France is a country full of surprises and wonders. These 10 curiosities barely scratch the surface of the cultural, historical and gastronomic richness this country has to offer. From its unique traditions to its impressive monuments, France continues to delight those lucky enough to visit. So the next time you pass through the charming streets of Paris or indulge in a freshly baked baguette, remember these tidbits that make France an unforgettable destination – immerse yourself in its essence and be amazed by the magic that this wonderful country has to offer!