Nargiz Mammadzade Nargiz Mammadzade 06 August 2020
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15 interesting and strange facts about France

15 interesting and strange facts about France

The primary and most crucial goal of travel lovers is to travel as many countries as possible, get acquainted with new people and cultures, discover historical and cultural places, taste the famous dishes, and enjoy its nature. Each new country we travel is a collection of memories filled with new adventures and exciting moments. Each one means getting unique and unforgettable experiences. And why not add such exciting moments to our life if there are many countries to travel, places to explore, and other things to experience?

I am sure that everyone has a list of "must-see" places. Some people admire the Eastern culture and history and prefer these countries first. Some have the USA's dreams since childhood, and others want to conquer the European continent! Others, with a more specific attitude, want to travel a country just because of one city, or an architectural monument and a kitchen.

If one of the countries on your list is France, famous for its capital city known as the City of Love Paris, then this article is for you. However, this time we will approach from a different aspect. We’ll tell you fifteen strange and interesting facts about France that are interesting, strange, entertaining, and that you will need when travel to France. After all, every country and its inhabitants may have strange beliefs and traditions, and knowing them can create opportunities for more intimate and close communication with residents during the stay.

What is the most interesting fact about France?

1. I’m sure that one of the products that many people love and use in most of their daily meals is potatoes. Did you know that potatoes were once banned in France? Surprisingly, isn’t it? However, potatoes have been illegal in France for 24 years. In 1748, the French Parliament banned the cultivation of potatoes, which was thought to cause leprosy (a chronic infectious disease). This law remained in force until 1772. Finally, Antoine-Augustin Parmentier was able to repeal the law by offering potatoes to feed dysentery patients. 

little potatoes

2. The second interesting fact about Paris Franceis very strange.Did you know that it was strictly forbidden for women to wear pants in Paris for 213 years? Yes, yes, exactly 213 years! And you will be even more surprised when you know when this rule has been canceled. Not so far in history, just seven years ago - in 2013! Such prohibition in one of the European countries, in France, is unexpected and irrational. For the first time, this rule was adopted in November 1800, and women could wear trousers only with the permission of the police. In 1892 and 1909, there were some exceptions to the rule. Women were only allowed to wear pants if they were riding bicycles and riding. The rest of the law, however, continued to remain in force. Any woman wearing pants or jeans could be taken under police control.

French woman

The Ministry of Women’s Rights has finally declared that the law applied not in all French cities, but only in Paris, is unconstitutional. Finally, French revolutionary women began to take the concept of freedom very seriously, and a new law was applied as they claimed to work in the professions men work, and use the clothes that are considered men’s clothing. The bill was last involved in 1930 when the Olympic Committee deprived French athlete Violette Morris from her medals for insisting on wearing pants.

For decades, the law has been ignored by Parisian women, and they have worn trousers even though it was illegal. However, this rule remained in the statute. Seven years ago - in early 2013, it was abolished entirely, and women were allowed to wear pants legally. Paris, one of the fashion capitals after Milan, London and New York, could not have had such a law, and the fact that it took so long to repeal is unbelievable. 

3. The 3rd strange and interesting facts, rather than surprising excited me. In France, every adult person is automatically considered as an organ donor. In many countries, you have to choose to become an organ donor and apply for specific places. It is not the same in France. Based on a decision dated January 1, 2017, every French citizen is considered a potential organ donor to donate his/her organs after his/her death. Of course, people have the right to choose, and it remains until they voluntarily renounce it. The same rule applies to Spain, Belgium, and Portugal. The United Kingdom is expected to join this list later this year. I think this is one of the rules that should be applied in all countries of the world. After all, what could be better than saving others' lives and giving their health back to them?

The French flag

4. Paris, the capital of France, was the first western capital in 1879 to have a mayor of African descent. Severiano de Heredia, born on November 8, 1836, in Cuba and died in France on February 9, 1901, was the mayor of Paris between August 1879 and February 12, 1880. In doing so, he became the first American citizen and African-born mayor in the western capitals by being elected to such a position. He married Henriette Hanaire in 1868 and became a French citizen in 1870.

Bridge in France

5. The French also have some strange beliefs. According to the belief, the “baguette" (generally any type of bread), also known as French bread, should not be placed on the table upside down. It is believed to be a sign of failure. There is a story behind this belief. The foundation of this belief goes back to the Middle Ages. The executioner was one of the most respected and feared one at that time. For some reason, no one wanted to cause him displeasure or frustration. Therefore, the baker used to put his bread upside down to make sure no one would take it. No one could make such a big mistake to upset a hungry executioner. Over the years, this has become a symbol of failure.

Bread

6. France is the first country to ban supermarkets’ emissions and waste. With a 2006 decision, France became the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing or destroying unsold foods, instead of forcing them to donate to charities and food banks. Great law!

Market in France

7. Emmanuel Macron, born December 21, 1977, as we all know, was elected president of France since May 14, 2017. Emmanuel Macron, who was elected president at the age of 39, became the youngest president in France and the youngest president since Napoleon III. He is also the first French president to be born after the Fifth Republic's establishment in 1958.

Monumet

8. Here is one of the strange and interesting facts about FranceDid you know that you can marry a dead person in France? It is only possible to marry a dead one, with the permission of the president. It first started in the 1950s. A lover of a man who was killed after a dam burst in Frejus turned to Charles de Gaulle, then president, who allowed them to carry out their marriage plans. Post-mortem marriage was also widespread as it was necessary for women who wanted to ensure the legality of children whose fathers died on the front lines during and after World War I. Since then, there have been requests for post-mortem marriage under this law, and some “couples” have succeeded in doing so.

Carnival in France

One such marriage took place three years ago in 2017. On April 20, 2017, Champs-Elysees police officer Xavier Jugele was killed when a terrorist opened fire. On May 30 of the same year, he married Etienne Cardiles, a longtime fiance, with the participation of former president François Hollande and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Bonus: When you travel to France, you can also marry the Eiffel Tower. We cannot say whether it is more or less shocking than marrying a dead man, but at least in the case of the marriage with a deceased, women had children who were the good reasons to marry. It is hard to say whether there is a logical explanation in marrying a Tower.

Erika “Aya” Eiffel (real name is Erika LaBrie) is an American female competitive archer. She served in the United States Air Force and later entered the U.S. Air Force Academy. However, she is the first woman famous for her marriage to the Eiffel Tower in a commitment ceremony in 2007. You can already tell her, Mrs. Eiffel!

9. The shortest royal period ever seen in the history of the world was in France. King Louis XIX was only 20 minutes the King of France, the shortest time in the world. His father, Charles X, had given up the throne because of the July Revolution and gave the throne to his son Louis-Antoine, the king of Louis XIX. However, when he was faced with pressure from his father and the protestors against his reign, he followed his father and refused the power in favor of his brother’s son. In the meantime, 20 minutes passed when new decisions were made, and it was recorded as the shortest reign in history. After this short reign, King Louis XIX went into exile in Scotland and never returned to France.

King Louis XIX

10. Another magnificent first in France, which could be considered the country of the inventions, was made in the field of medicine. The first artificial face transplant in the world took place in France. Facial transplantation is a medical procedure to replace all or part of a person's face using donor tissue. People with trauma, burns, illnesses, or congenital disabilities can benefit from this procedure. The first partial transplant was performed on November 27, 2005, in Amiens, France, by oral and maxillofacial surgeon Bernard Devauchelle, Belgian plastic surgeon Benoit Lengele and Jean-Michel Dubernard. 38-year-old Isabelle Dinoire underwent surgery to replace the original face that was severely damaged by her dog. Triangle of facial tissue from the nose and mouth of a woman whose brain death occurred was taken for Isabelle. On December 13, 2007, the first detailed report on the results of the 18 months following this transplant was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It was noted that the patient was fully satisfied with the results and, at the same time, the reaction of her immune system, and the achieved result was complicated.

Paris

Subsequently, the number of patients interested in this operation began to increase over time. A 29-year-old French man decided to undergo this operation in 2007. He had a tumor called neurofibroma caused by a genetic disorder. The tumor was so large and heavy that it made the person unable to eat and speak properly. In March 2008, a 30-year-old French Pascal Coler with neurofibromatosis entered the operation. At the end of this nearly 20-hour operation, the doctors called it the world's first successful, almost complete face transplant operation. All these innovations and firsts happened in France.

Bonus: The first full face transplant in the world took place in Spain in 2010. Turkey, France, the United States, and Spain (ranked by countries with the highest number of successful operations in this study) are the leading countries in the procedure. 

11. Did you know that there is only one STOP sign on the roads of a big city like Paris? If you travel to Paris for the first time, you may be surprised, as you can’t see a sign indicating where to stop. Despite the city’s traffic jams, there is only STOP sign in one of Europe’s largest capital cities. We can’t say how high your chances are to see that sign.

Forbidden place

12. If you bring up a decent and honorable child in France, you will be awarded a medal. The French view childbirth as a natural process and regard it as the responsibility of the people. Therefore, no rewards are given to citizens who give birth to children. However, a family who brought up a few dignified children in France is highly regarded by the government and is awarded the Medal of the French Family (La Medaille de La Famille Française). These medals were first established on May 26, 1920.

French child

There are three types of medals: bronze, silver, and gold. Bronze medals are given for 4 or 5 children, and silver is awarded to families brining up 6 or 7 children and gold to families having eight or more children. Bronze medals are also given to widows who grew up three children because their spouses were killed in battle. No matter how many children you have at the time of the medal, the eldest should be 16 years old.

13. Did you ever realize that the symbol representing France is a rooster? Gallic rooster or Gallic cock is an unofficial national symbol of the country as a nation, as opposed to Marianne representing France as a state. The rooster is also a symbol of the Wallonia region and the French Community of Belgium. But how did it become a symbol? If we take a look at history, we can explain this as follow. In the Middle Ages, the Gallic rooster was widely used as a religious symbol, a sign of hope and faith. During the Renaissance, the symbol began to be associated with the gradual emergence of the French nation. Later, Napoleon replaced the Republic with the Empire and the Rooster symbol with the eagle. The emperor made the following statement: “The rooster has no power; it cannot be a symbol of an empire like France.” Once, the Gallic rooster was used on stamps and money. Today, it is increasingly used as a national mascot, especially in sports like football and rugby.This is one of the most strange and interesting facts about France.

rooster

14. Paris, which brought France directly to the mind when we first heard the name, was formerly a Roman city and was then called Lutetia. The Roman city of Lutetia (also known as the Lutetia Parisiorum in Latin, Lutèce in French) is the predecessor of modern Paris. There are impressive monumental remains of the ancient city. Lutetia gradually took the name of Paris from the Celtic tribe Parisii.

Paris city

15. Finally, let's look at the last of the strange and interesting facts about France. The Eiffel Tower was built for a short time. The Eiffel Tower, one of the most famous monuments in the world built in 1889, was only a temporary structure. The tower was intended to demonstrate France’s superiority in modernity and technology during the 1889 World Exhibition. The original structure was to be demolished 20 years after it was opened, as it was not quite popular enough to win the love of Parisians. They even hated the structure for violating the beauty of the city. However, later they decided not to destroy the tower. The reason was the antenna installed at the head of the tower to carry wireless signals, and the government decided that it would be of great benefit to them and that they did not need to destroy it. Today, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular, most loved and most visited tourist monuments in the world. It is as if the story of determination and patience!

Eiffel Tower

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Nargiz Mammadzade
Nargiz Mammadzade Madridista

Nargiz loves sharing. Gradually, she learnt to direct this feeling by sharing what she experienced and read with her readers. Nargiz started her career way by writing short stories and articles and aims to publish her book in the future. She believes that by writing we express ourselves and leave memories for future generations. Her favourite gift is a book. She wants everyone to contribute to her future library. She is very interested in art and learning new languages. If she expressed herself in one sentence, that sentence would be: "I am a 12-year-old Madridista who wants to watch a REAL MADRID game at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium while being in Madrid during the world trip I dream of one day."

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