For many reasons, France is the most visited country in the world. From the Le Tour de France, the Eiffel Tower, to the oldest recorded living person; in this installment, we’re going to look at 10 interesting facts about the country of France!
Most Visited Country
France has been crowned the most visited country in the world. In 2013 alone it received 84.7 million international tourists, a 2% increase from 2012. The United States is the runner up, but is far behind with 69.8 million visitors and Spain follows in suit with 60.7 million. There are multiple logical explanations for why France is the most visited country in the world. As mentioned previously, fans and students of art are attracted to it for educational purposes including studying abroad and honeymooners find Paris and the Eiffel Tower to be one of the most romantic locations in the world. Also, France is easily accessible by nearly all forms of transportation which includes aircraft, train, automobile, and unlike many others, boats and cruise liners.
Le Tour de France
Le Tour de France is an annual multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, but occasionally passes through nearby countries. As bikeraceinfo.com indicates, it was put together in 1903 in an attempt to increase sales for a sports paper on the brink of going out of publication, L’Auto. The editor, Henri Desgrange, a cyclist himself, will be remembered as the father of one of the most watched sports competitions in the world. The 2,000 mile or 3,218 kilometer race has been held annually ever since, with the exception of a short time period when the two world wars were taking place. Miguel Indurain is the only man to win five consecutive Tours, and is tied with three others for the most races won with 5. Just watching a small portion of the race is enough to show you what a beautiful country France is and how much it has to offer.
The French have contributed to the world in many unique ways. French inventions include an ancestor to the everyday hair dryer. This contraption was patented in 1888 and funneled hot air from a heat source through a pipe surrounding a women’s head. It was neither portable nor handheld, but quite a luxury for the times. Another invention credited to the French is canned food. In 1795, Napoleon Bonaparte offered a prize of 12,000 Francs to anyone who could invent a relatively inexpensive way to transport large amounts of perishable food without it spoiling; this was done because feeding such a large army while on the move proved to be very challenging. Nicolas Appert, a French brewer and confectioner, was awarded the prize for his primitive method of canning which used glass jars sealed with wax. The list of French inventions goes on and on and also includes the hot air balloon, the stethoscope and the metric system.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a giant lattice structure that is located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. This piece of art, as some call it, was named after Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. It was erected to serve as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair which celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the storming of Batsille, an event considered to be the beginning of the French Revolution. Initially, some of the most famous artists and intellectuals criticized the Eiffel Towers’ design. As you should well know, it has become a cultural icon of France, and undoubtedly one of the most recognizable man-made landmarks in the world. The towers height is 1,063 feet or 324 meters, and has restaurants for visitors located on the first and second floor. From ground level to the second floor, there are 600 steps in total, but the third floor, also known as the observatory, is often only accessible by means of a lift.
French cuisine consists of cooking traditions and practices that are a product of the country’s long and rich history. The nation has become famous to a degree for its agricultural independency due to the former peasant population. It has long been looked at as a place like no other where fine dining and delicious recipes are combined in the most perfect of fashions. Guillaume Tirel was a chef to the Court of France who helped write one of the earliest French cook books, Le Viandier; at this time during the 14th century, French cuisine was heavily influenced by that of Italy. A very enjoyable French meal is ham and cheese soufflés. As saveur.com points out, these two go hand in hand when combined with mustard. The soufflés should come out of the oven ready to eat, because of the fact that they have a quick deflation rate. One of the more daring foods is Casu marzu, a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese that commonly contains live insect larvae. It can typically be found on the island of Sardinia in Italy, and in the nearby town of Corsica, France where it has become known as casigu merzu.
Oldest Recorded Person
Jeanne Louise Calment was a French supercentenarian, meaning that she lived past the ripe age of 110. In fact, she lived for another twelve years and holds the record of becoming the official oldest person ever to live. At the time of her death on August 4th, 1997, Calment was 122 years, 164 days old. If you haven’t already done the math, she was born on February 21, 1875 in the town of Arles, France where she remained for the entirety of her life. Jeanne Calment outlived both her daughter and grandson by several decades. There have always been disputes over the title of oldest living person because of lost documentation, but The Guinness Book of World Records has seen enough, you are currently viewing a copy of Calment’s verified birth certificate.
The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums, and as Wikipedia sums up quite nicely, a historic monument. It sits on the Right Bank of the Seine River, and is the central landmark of Paris, France in competition with the Eiffel Tower. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistoric time periods up to the 21st century can be found on exhibit over an area of some 650,000 square feet or 60,300 square meters. There are a number of unique things about the Louvre, but what sets it apart from all others is the fact that it’s the most visited museum in the world. In 2013, it received over 9.3 million visitors who came to view priceless paintings and other works of art such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and Hammurabi’s Code of Law.
Naval officer, conservationist, filmmaker, innovator, explorer, scientist, researcher, author, and rumored expert crepe maker (a rumor we are starting today), Jacques Cousteau was a general jack of all trades and perhaps the most famous person to hail from France. Jacques is a man of the hour when it comes to diving, having produced the stand alone underwater breathing apparatus that lead to the creation of scuba gear as we know it today. Cousteau lived a life of discovery until 1997, when he died at the age of 87 of a heart attack. Coco Chanel, born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, was a beloved fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand, best known for the renowned perfume, Chanel NO.5. She was born on August 19th, 1883 in Saumur, France, and became the only fashion designer to be listed on Time’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century. Along with fellow fashion designer Paul Poiret, Chanel is credited with liberating women from the restraints placed upon them by the corset and popularizing the standard of more feminine and sportive attire. Other famous people born in France are author Nostradamus, impressionist painter Claude Monet, war hero Joan of Arc, musician Yo-Yo Ma, political leader Napoléon Bonaparte, WWF Hall of Fame Wrestler Andre the Giant, and actress Emma Watson.
Employment of French Women and Fertility Demographics
France has one of the highest average ages for women giving birth to their first child. Exceptionally good childcare facilities are also a contributing factor to why around 85% of women are employed. These high levels of employment have had its effects on the age at which French women conceive their children. One source notes that the average in which French women become pregnant is 30. Researchers from Southampton University in England attributed such an age gap to the amount of young women enrolled in higher education, which greatly effects their social interactions and ability to devote themselves to a child.
Greener Every Year
From January 2010 through September 2014, a total of 38,602 highway-capable all-electric cars were registered and sold in France. Of which, 14,421 were utility vans. Electric car registrations increased from a mere 184 units in 2010 to a significantly larger amount, 2,630, in 2011. The very next year sales spiked by 115% as over 5,000 all-electric automobiles were registered; this allowed for France to rank 4th among top selling electric vehicle countries in 2012. The same year, they dominated 11% of the global market share, undoubtedly this number rose even higher in 2013. International Business Times reported in 2014 that some in the French political system are trying to get a bill passed that would give owners of diesel engines an extra 10,000 euros if they made the switch from diesel-engines to electric. Segolene Royal, Frances Minister of Ecology, hopes this will encourage citizens to make more ‘green’ choices.