As one of the most influential nations in the world, it is always important for developing children to learn about the country of France. From its mountainous Alps to the sun of the Southern Riviera to the romance of Paris, this beautiful country has a lot to offer and learn about. And this is not to mention the groundbreaking inventions and societal advances French people have given to the world.
Here, we’ll run through some of the most interesting France facts for kids and guide you to some excellent teaching resources that will help you approach topical lessons in the country.
Top 26 fun facts about France for kids
Here are 26 fun and interesting facts about France that you may choose to relay to your students:
- Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: The national motto of France is Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, which translates to ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.’ The origin of this motto dates back to the French Revolution in the 18th century, but it didn’t gain popularity until the end of the 19th century.
- Tour de France: One of the most famous sporting events in the world is the Tour de France, which has been running for over 100 years. The Tour, which was first held in 1903, is the most prestigious cycling race in the world and runs every two years. The only time the Tour de France has not run on the schedule was during the two world wars. Even in 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic, the Tour de France was not canceled but postponed later.
- The Camera Phone: While it’s hard to imagine the world without them, there was once a time when camera phones did not exist. The first-ever camera phone was invented in France in 1997 by an entrepreneur and inventor named Philippe Kahn. The first photo that Khan took with his camera phone was of his newly born daughter, Sophie, which he then sent off to his family and friends. What a heartwarming fact about France!
- The Louvre: The Louvre art museum in Paris is the most visited worldwide. In 2019 alone, a staggering 10.2 million people visited the Louvre. One of the main reasons why tourists flock to this museum is that it is home to the world-famous ‘Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Tourists can gather around to stare at the magnificent image from a distance of a few meters.
- Nobel Prize Winners: The Nobel Prize for literature is arguably the most prestigious, highly-regarded prize a writer can get. As a country, France has won the most Nobel Prizes for literature in history. The French writer Sully Prudhomme won the first Nobel Prize for literature in 1903. Following this, 14 other French writers were awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.
- Are tourists Galore: While it is well known that people love to holiday in France, did you know that it is officially the most popular tourist destination in the world? Every year, around 89 million tourists make their way to France to experience its vibrant cities, rich culture, and breathtaking countryside.
- L’Hexagone: Amongst its residents, France is fondly known as L’Hexagone, which translates to ‘the hexagon.’ This is due to the country’s geometric, hexagonal shape that can be seen clearly on a map. Corsica and France’s overseas territories are not included in its hexagon. However, it is just the mainland that makes this shape.
- French was the official language in England: Nowadays, there are far more French people who speak English than English people who speak French. However, for around 300 years, between 1066 and 1362, French was the official language of England. This coincided with William the Conqueror’s invasion and occupation of England in 1066, where he introduced the Anglo-Norman French language to the country. Anglo-Norman French was spoken mainly by royalty, aristocrats, and high-powered officials. In 1362, parliament passed the Pleading in English Act, which made English the official language of the government. This was because pleadings, simple statements of cases or motions for new laws, were being made in French, which many of the country’s residents did not understand.
- France has the record for the shortest reign of a King: In 1830, King Louis XIX was the king of France for just 20 minutes, the shortest reign of any monarch in history. King Louis XIX ascended to the throne after his father, Charles X, abdicated (stepped down as King). Louis soon followed in his father’s footsteps, abdicating the throne after just 20 minutes as King. Louis XIX shares the title of the shortest reigning monarch with Crown Prince Luís Filipe, who became king of Portugal after his father was assassinated. After just 20 minutes on the throne, Luís Filipe was assassinated and died.
- France is the largest country in the EU: France has a surface area of around 547,000 square kilometers, which makes it the largest country in the European Union.,
- It is bad luck to turn a baguette upside down: Baguettes are a trademark food of France, seen in every boulangerie (bakery) and supermarket around the country. There is a superstition that it is bad luck if you turn a baguette upside down. This superstition is believed to date back to medieval times. Historically, when execution was to be had in town, the executioner would be too busy to go to the bakery before work, so the baker would reserve a loaf for him by turning the baguette upside down. This led to an upturned baguette being associated with death and, thus, bad luck.
- Croissants weren’t created in France: While, much like baguettes, croissants are viewed as quintessential French cuisine, they were invented in Austria, not France. The Kipfer, the earliest ancestor of the croissant, was first created in the coffee shops of Vienna in the 13th century. The Kipfer was different from the croissants we have now, as it was made with a denser, less-flaky pastry.
- It is illegal to throw food away in France: No one likes to waste food, but in France, it is unlawful to throw away your leftovers. In 2016, a law declared it a crime to throw away unsold, edible food. Instead, the food must be donated to those that need it most. This is a fantastic fact about France that should inspire all of us to be more conscious about food waste!
- The average French citizen consumes 500 snails each year: Another staple of French cuisine is escargot, which is snails. Snails are typically served as an hors-d’oeuvre with garlic, which may not seem appetizing to you, but is very popular in France. It is so popular that it is estimated that the average French person consumes 500 snails every year.
- Over 400 kinds of cheese are made in France: A love of cheese is synonymous with France for a good reason. French people are the biggest consumers of cheese in the world, with almost half of the country’s population eating cheese every day. Furthermore, many of the French people consume are made in their home country, as France produces over 400 different types of cheese.
- Kilts originated in France, not Scotland: When you think of kilts, you automatically think of traditional Scottish dress. However, skirts were invented in France, not Scotland. While the kilts in early France were not a replica of the Scottish kilts we know today, they were still long skirts worn below the knee, with some even going down to the ground. The first tartan kilts that resemble the ones we know today did originate in Gaelic lands at the start of the 18th century.
- The French Army was the first to use camouflage: Camouflage is a great tool for soldiers in war, allowing them to blend into their surroundings. ‘camouflage’ originates from the French verb, ‘camouflage’ meaning ‘to veil or disguise.’ This is because the French Army was the first to create a dedicated camouflage unit in the First World War in 1915. In this unit, guns and vehicles were painted camouflage by painters called ‘camofleurs.’ However, it was not until a year after this that the British Army adopted the same technique and created their camouflage section known as the Special Works Park Royal Engineers.
- French people can marry the dead: This fact about France is a bit of a weird one. In France, it is legal to marry someone who has already passed away. This is only acceptable in exceptional cases, which require that you prove the deceased had the intention of marrying you while they were alive. For the marriage to take place, you must also receive permission directly from the president of France at the time.
- The first public screening of a film was in France in 1895: Film is another thing associated heavily with France, as the country has a rich history in cinema. In the 19th century, some of the biggest talents in French cinema were the Lumière brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean. August and Louis were famous for their Cinématographe motion picture system and the short films they produced between 1895 and 1905. On the 28th of December 1895, at the Grand Café in Paris, the brothers held the first-ever public viewing or screening of a film. They showed their directorial debut, La sortie des ouvriers de l’usine Lumière (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory), a black-and-white film showing workers leaving the Lumière factory that was just 5 seconds long.
- French is not the only official language of France: French has been the official administrative language of France since 1539, but it is not the only official one. There are over 25 different languages that are spoken in wider France, which are divided into different subgroups. In modern times, largely due to increased immigration, France has more languages than ever, with up to 2% of people speaking Arabic.
- The Tricolour: The French flag, as illustrated above, is called the ‘Tricolour,’ or, in French, ‘Le Tricolore.’ It was first adopted after the Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution of 1789, with the blue-white-red stripes inspired by the Paris coat of arms. It has been the primary flag virtually continuously since 1830.
- France has four distinct climate regions: The climate of France is as varied as any country in Europe. This is because it has four different climatic regions, with the mountainous areas experiencing low temperatures and lots of rainfall at high altitudes, the coastal regions getting average rain, and the Mediterranean region having long, hot summers. ThAs a result, the weather in France is ge
- Paris is France’s largest capital city: France’s capital is its capital, Paris. Although it has over 10 million inhabitants within its urban area, its symmetrical architecture and famous landmarks have helped make it one of the world’s top tourism hotspots. Its fame increased even further after the construction of the Eiffel Tower, which, although it was not immediately popular, became a symbol not just of Paris but of France as a whole.
- Football is the most popular sport in France: Many sports are popular in France, with rugby, cycling, and handball all enjoying a lot of attention in wider society. However, the most popular sport in France is football, with the national team, nicknamed ‘Les Blues,’ winning two world cups in 1998 and 2018.
- War and Peace: France’s history is a fascinating tale of wars, revolutions, and subsequent peace. Perhaps the most significant event in the history of modern France was the French Revolution, which took place from 1789 to 1799. Inspired by the American Revolution, which took place just six years before, it led to the dissolution of the French Monarchy. Other major events in French history include World War 1 and World War 2, which partially took place in France.
- Famous Residents: Many notable people have called France home over its long history. Some of the most prominent figures include Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc, Zinedine Zidane, and Nostradamus.