As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, most of us know France is famous for monuments like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame. We also know the French like eating croissants and that they make excellent wine, but there’s so much more this country is known for!
From the lavender fields of Provence and Disneyland Paris to macarons and French cheese, this post features 26 things that truly put France on the map.
You may also like: 57 Quotes About France That Will Inspire Your Next Trip
What is France Famous for? 26 Interesting Things
Paris, the French capital, had to be first on this list. This city is home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks and it’s on every European travel bucket list.
Because of famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Champs-Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Moulin Rouge, Paris is known all over the world. It’s an incredibly popular tourist destination, and one of the prettiest cities in Europe. Check out this link if you want to learn more interesting facts about Paris.
2. Wine & champagne
France is one of the biggest producers of wine in the world. The history of French wine can be traced back to as far as the 6th century BC. Later, when the Romans came, they started planting vines in the major wine regions and this is when the French wine industry started flourishing.
Today, there are many wine regions in France, and each of these is famous for its unique variety of grapes and wine. Some of the most famous regions are Bordeaux, Champagne, Rhône, the Loire Valley, and Languedoc. So, if you’re up for some wine-tasting, France is the right country for you!
Another thing France is famous for is fashion. Paris is one of the four fashion capitals of the world and this city is home to many big couturiers. With renowned designers like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Lacoste, and many more, fashion is a big part of the French economy.
4. The Mont Blanc
Rising 4808 metres above sea level, the majestic Mont Blanc (meaning white mountain) is the highest mountain peak in Western Europe. It’s located in the Alps, close to the Italian border, and it’s a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Although the Mont Blanc mountain range is famous for its hiking trails and climbing routes, many sights are also accessible by train or cable car.
5. Cannes Film Festival
The annual Cannes Film Festival was first held in 1946, and it quickly became one of the most renowned film festivals in the world. It’s here that one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry can be won: the Palm d’Or. Although the festival is held in Cannes, it previews films and documentaries from all around the globe.
6. French cheese
From Camembert to Emmental and Brie, chances are you’re familiar with these famous French cheeses. France has got many types of cheese, and they’re grouped into eight categories.
The so-called huit familles de fromages, or eight families of cheese, include: fresh cheeses, soft cheeses with natural rind, soft cheeses with a washed rind, pressed cheeses, pressed and cooked cheeses, goat cheese, blue cheeses, and processed cheeses. All in all, France has got a type of cheese for nearly every taste!
7. Disneyland Paris
There are five Disneyland Resort theme parks in the world and only one of these is in Europe; more specifically in France. Disneyland Paris, previously known as Euro Disney, is located 32 kilometres from the French capital.
This is the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in Disney magic and experience a nice variety of attractions, shows, and parades.
8. Perfume and cosmetics
Although perfume wasn’t first manufactured in France, the country has got some of the best and most famous perfumes in the world. Think about Chanel n°5, Miss Dior, Shalimar by Guerlain, and Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, just to name a few. France began making perfumes in the 17th century and it quickly became the perfume and cosmetics capital of Europe.
Fun fact: Perfume was first made to mask the stench of unwashed body odour.
With famous writers like Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Molière, Charles Baudelaire, Honoré de Balzac, and Marcel Proust, one of the things France is known for is its literature. France ranks first in the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country, and French literature has had a great influence on European writers.
Some of the most famous French novels were also turned into movies. Some examples are The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Madame Bovary.
If you haven’t tried macarons already, I would definitely recommend doing so! These meringue-based sweets are some of the best French pastries. They come in a variety of tastes, ranging from vanilla and chocolate to raspberry, green tea, pina colada, and many, many more.
Although the French are credited for inventing macarons, according to the story, Catherine de’ Medici brought them back from Italy to France in the 16th century. The macaron that we know today, however, was first made in Paris in the 1830s. It’s also the Parisians who introduced these sweets to the rest of the world.
Football is the most popular sport in France, and the country made headlines when the French football team won the FIFA World Cup for the second time in 2018. It’s no surprise that the so-called Les Bleus (The Blues) are one of the best football national teams in the world!
12. French painters
France is home to some of the most famous and influential painters in Western history. It was here that the Impressionist art movement was born in the 19th century. This movement rebelled against traditional painting approaches and aimed to portray landscapes and scenes of everyday life. They often painted in the open air instead of in studios, and their paintings were characterised by visible brushstrokes, unblended colour, and playing with light.
Some of the most famous impressionist artists are: Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Bouguereau, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
13. The French Riviera
The French Riviera (or Côte d’Azur in French) stretches along the Mediterranean coast, and it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the country. With cities like Cannes, Nice, Eze, and Saint Tropez, this part of France is immensely popular among tourists. It’s famous for its beaches with azure-blue water, breathtaking landscapes and charming villages, but also its luxurious properties and yachts.
Although you don’t need to be rich to visit the French Riviera, this region is often nicknamed the playground of the rich and famous.
14. The Tour de France
This annual bicycle race was first organised in 1903, and it’s the most renowned bike riding competition in the world. Every year, cyclists from all over the world gather to compete for the Tour de France Trophy.
The tour is raced over 23 days and divided into 21 stages (meaning competitors only have two days off). It’s watched by millions of live spectators and over 1 billion television viewers from all over the world.
15. French cuisine
Wine and cheese may be a big part of French cuisine, but there’s much more to it! With dishes like cassoulet, bouillabaisse, salade Niçoise, coq au vin, ratatouille, and tarte tatin (which is one of my favourite pastries), French food is famous all accross the world! With its simple flavours, elegant presentation, and attention to detail, French cooking is argued to be the most prestigious cuisine in the world.
16. Lavender fields
Another thing France is known for is the beautiful lavender fields of Provence, in the south of the country. Every year from mid-June to mid-August, these flowers colour the landscapes violet, filling the air with lavender aroma.
Although I haven’t visited the lavender fields yet, I’ve heard that the most beautiful ones are scattered around the commune of Valensole. I can’t wait to go find out for myself, though!
17. Croissants & baguettes
Chances are that French croissants and baguettes are the first things that pop into your mind when thinking about France, and you wouldn’t be the only one! Paris is the self-proclaimed home of the croissant, and baguettes too, are part of daily life in this city. Both of these delicacies are part of French culture and you simply cannot visit the country without trying them!
Fun fact: Croissants aren’t actually French. Kipfel, which is the original croissant, dates back to the 13th century and comes from Austria.
18. Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon, the military general who crowned himself the first emperor of France, conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century. He was tremendously successful on the battlefield and is considered one of the greatest military leaders of all time. In 1815, however, the seemingly invincible Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, in now Belgium.
19. Palaces and castles
Another thing France is famous for is its incredible amount of castles and palaces. Perhaps the most famous one of them all is the Palace of Versailles, where French kings and queens used to live.
But Versailles isn’t the only château worth visiting. Château de Fontainebleau, Château de Chambord, and Château de Carcassonne, are just a few of the other most beautiful castles of France. Even if visiting castles would be the only thing you’d do during your holiday, it’d still be impossible to see them all in a single trip.
20. The stethoscope, Braille Alphabet & other famous inventions
Apart from excellent wine and sophisticated cuisine, France has given the world some pretty cool inventions too. From the stethoscope, Braille alphabet and blood transfusion to the pencil sharpener, the parachute, and the hot air balloon, these were all invented by the French! But that’s not all, the sewing machine, the bikini, and cinema were also invented in France. And as if that’s not enough, the first photograph was also taken in France.
Quite impressive, if you’re asking me! Although the list goes on, I guess you get the picture; we owe a lot of brilliant inventions to the French.
France is argued to be one of the most romantic countries in the world, if not THE most romantic one. While Paris is often referred to as the city of love, the French language is often called the language of love.
France is one of the most important European countries when it comes to opera. Though it is true that this art form originated in Italy, it was soon introduced in France. At first, opera failed to find a large audience in this country, as it was competing with spoken drama and ballet. However, opera started gaining popularity when composer Jean-Baptiste Lully introduced it at the court of Louis XIV.
Some of the most popular French opera composers are Georges Bizet, Hector Berlioz, and Claude Debussy.
23. Eating escargots
Escargots are eatable snails, and they’re a delicacy in France. It might take a while to get used to, but ask the French, and they’ll tell you they’re delicious! When cooked, escargots are prepared with garlic and parsley butter. Then, the sauce is added and the snails are served in their shells.
As escargots are considered a delicacy, they’re quite expensive and often served for special occasions or as a starter for Christmas.
24. French celebrities
Some world-famous singers, actors, and other celebrities were born in France. Some of the famous ones are Edith Piaf, Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Vanessa Paradis, and Brigitte Bardot.
25. Père Lachaise, the most visited cemetery in the world
Located in Paris, Père Lachaise is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. It’s an enormous place where an estimated 300.000 to 1 million people were buried. Among them are Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Frédéric Chopin, and Oscar Wilde. But many other famous writers, philosophers, musicians, and war heroes were buried here as well.
Although Père Lachaise is still an operating cemetery, the rules to be buried here are pretty strict.
26. The French language
Last but not least, the French language is one of the most famous languages in the world. It’s one of the most worldwide spoken languages and many English words come from French.
Read more about France:
– 10 Best Things to Do in Riquewihr, France
– Visiting the Paris Catacombs: A Guide to the Parisian Underworld
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