France is one of the most well-known countries in all of Europe and the world in general. It holds the title as one of the oldest countries in the entire world, and has made its mark on the world stage when it comes to economics, politics, research, science, and of course its culture and history. While there is much you may already know about France, what makes this country so interesting is the fact that its history is long and vast, meaning there are plenty of gems still left to discover.
If France holds a special place in your heart, and you just can’t seem to get enough, then here are eight interesting facts that you may not have been aware of. This will just deepen your interest in all things France-related.
France is the Land of Many Departments - Exactly How Many Departments are In France?
France could easily be described as the land of many departments, as there are 101 French departments. Over the years, these departments have grown in population size, with just a small handful seeing a decline in numbers. Not only do they range in population size, but they also range in area.
The Country’s Population Breakdown – How Many People Live in France?
As of 2020, France has a population of just over 67 million people. The country's population has grown steadily in the past 20 years, but in the past few years it has started to level off somewhat and not grow as quickly. Germany is the only country with a larger population than France in Europe.
In terms of the population breakdown, a large portion of the country is aging like so many others around the world. The good news for seniors living in the country is that in terms of life expectancy, France is rated among the highest in all of Europe.
France’s Geography Dissected – How Many Regions Are in France?
The country of France is made up of different administrative regions. There are 18 in total that range in size and population. Of these 18, five are found overseas, and the other 13 are on the European continent. What's interesting is that up until Jan. 1, 2016 there had been 22 metropolitan regions (on the continent of Europe), but then a new law was passed by the French parliament that dwindled it down to 13.
The 13 metropolitan regions are:
- Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, (Auvergne-Rhône-Alps)
- Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, (Burgundy-Free County)
- Bretagne, (Brittany)
- Centre-Val de Loire, (Centre-Loire Valley)
- Corse, (Corsica)
- Grand Est, (Great East)
- Hauts-de-France, (Upper France)
- Île-de-France, (Island of France)
- Normandie, (Normandy)
- Nouvelle-Aquitaine, (New Aquitaine)
- Occitanie, (Occitania)
- Pays de la Loire, (Loire Countries)
- Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, (Provence-Alps-Azure Coast)
As for the five overseas regions, they are:
- Guyane, (French Guiana)
- La Réunion, (Réunion)
Nature and Wildlife is Abundant – What Are Some of the Animals That Live in France?
While some may travel to France for the history, beaches, cuisine, culture, architecture, and fashion, others are more interested in what nature has to offer - specifically the wildlife. There are huge portions of France's rural areas that are relatively untouched, which means you'll find plenty of wildlife and nature flourishing. This can make for some lovely hiking, biking, walking, and even driving tours, allowing you to take your time and explore the countryside.
Besides the reptiles and insects, there are plenty of mammals that call France home. Some of the more popular ones include:
- Chamois, also known as mountain goats
- Alpine Ibex
- Common Genet
- Beech Marten
- European beaver
- Wild Boar
One popular activity in France is birdwatching, as the country offers some wonderful opportunities to view a number of species. In fact, you can make an entire holiday out of your birdwatching travels. Thanks to the variety of topography and landscape, you get a real variety of birds here, with more than 460 to be exact. Keep in mind that the birds will depend on the time of year you visit, and where in the country you are doing your birdwatching.
Some of the interesting birds you may see include:
- Marsh Tern
- Citril Finch
- Greater Flamingo
- Nesting Stork
- Eagle Owls
- Pink Flamingos
Just like with the animals you will see, the flora is dependent upon the region you visit and the time of year. You'll find everything from thick forests, to fruit trees and vines. It's truly a varied landscape in France.
How Popular is France as a Worldwide Tourist Destination?
France isn't just a popular tourist destination within Europe; it is one of the top travel destinations for tourists worldwide. The tourism industry is a giant, accounting for more than 2.8 billion jobs as of 2016, and adding 198.3 billion euros to the GDP of the country. As for the exact numbers, in 2018, the country saw a rise of 3% in terms of visitors and logged 89.4 million that year.
Some other interesting tourism stats include the fact that Paris ranks number three in terms of the most visited cities in the world, Notre Dame welcomes 13 million visitors each year, Euro Disney brings in massive amounts of tourists, and the tourism numbers only continue to climb.
As for its biggest source of tourism, that market belongs to the UK, as they can't seem to get enough of this destination.
France's Beaches Have Worldwide Respect - Which are the Standouts?
One of the biggest draws for tourists heading to France is the abundance of stunning beaches to explore and enjoy. The French coastline is known around the world and features popular beaches as well as hidden spots that are less commonly talked about.
In terms of the best beaches the country has to offer, well that's all relative as it really depends on what you are looking for as a tourist. With that said, there are some standouts, which include:
Antibes, French Riviera: If you're looking for a sophisticated, elegant, and quite beach getaway then you will want to check out Antibes on the French Riviera. This one can be found in the middle of Nice and Cannes and therefore doesn't always have that same level of buzz as the other destinations. What's great about this beach is the amount of beachfront available which is perfect for a relaxing walk. Accommodation options are lush and elegant, so prepare for a really spectacular experience here.
Deauville Beach, Normandy: This particular beach is perfect for those who like the classic beach holiday, complete with a wide sandy stretch for sunbathing, a lively boardwalk, shops that line the beach, and of course, plenty of restaurants and cafes. Another standout feature with this beach is that it was home to the first Coco Chanel clothing store, which was back in 1913. Fashion buffs will definitely want to check this beach out.
Plage de Corz, Île d'Ouessant: If you like your beaches with a side of adventure and activity, then Plage de Corz could be perfect. This one is very popular with those who love to picnic, walk the beach and explore, hike, and who would enjoy a cycling adventure. The bike path is 28 miles long and follows the coast, making for a really beautiful adventure.
This is obviously a very small look at the many beaches in France, all of which have their own personality.
France - Home to the Shortest Reigning Monarchy in the World
While the longest reigning monarchs are often spoken about and discussed throughout history, holding the title for the shortest reigning monarch in all of history is also a title worth noting. This title belongs to no other than Louis XIX who sat as the King of France for all of 20 minutes. This happened back in July 1830, and believe it or not, it's actually a shared title for the shortest reigning monarch.
The Crown Prince Luis Filipe also reigned for just 20 minutes in Portugal. His father had been murdered, and then just 20 minutes later Crown Prince Luis Filipe also died, as he was also wounded.
What Have the French Invented? Notable Inventions Over the Years
It seems like every country has a list of notable inventions, and France is no exception. Over the years, it has been home to some very noteworthy inventions, many of which people still depend on.
Here is just a small look at some of the standout inventions:
- The metric system of measurement, 1700s
- Mayonnaise, 1756
- Hot air balloon and its first flight, 1783
- The study of anatomy and dinosaurs, 1797-1805
- The stethoscope, 1816
- Braille, 1824
- The pencil sharpener, 1828
- The pasteurisation process of food, 1864
- The hairdryer, 1888
The complete list of inventions that France has been responsible for is vast and impressive, making it clear that the French like to think outside the box and look for solutions.
France – An Incredibly Beautiful Country Filled with Interesting Facts
France is indeed one of the most beautiful countries, not just in Europe, but the entire world, and features an intriguing history filled with incredible facts. And it’s not just its history that is intriguing; it is also the future that it is forging.