International travelers have made France the world’s most visited country for more than 20 years. And the reasons why France is famous go beyond being a popular travel destination. The Eiffel Tower, the cheese… I’m sure you can list a few. But can you make it up to 15?
So, What is France Known for?
France has the Eiffel Tower
It’s incredible how a tower that was supposed to be dismantled after the 1889 World’s Fair has become the symbol of the nation and one of the most famous structures in the world. Every year, seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower, making it the world’s most-visited paid monument. When constructed, it was the highest tower in the world. It is still the highest one in Paris, and the highest observation deck in the European Union. Major events like the fireworks for the French national day take advantage of the Eiffel Tower.
French love cheese
France has the highest consumption of cheese per capita in the world. Each region has its own cheese specialty, so there are more than 1,600 types of cheese in France. The variety of cheese available in France is overwhelming. So are the tastes and smells when you’re not used to it. Many French dishes are based on cheese.
The most famous ones are the raclette, fondue or tartiflette. But on a daily basis, cheese is served at lunch and dinner, just before dessert. It’s not surprising to have a selection of at least three cheeses for any regular meal. And don’t think about eating it with crackers. French eat their cheese with bread.
France is famous for its excellent bread and croissants
It’s very cliché to imagine a French person with a baguette under the arm. But it’s true. French people buy and eat a lot of bread. There isn’t a meal where the bread wouldn’t have a spot on the table.
Almost every village has a bakery where you can buy fresh bread daily. And croissants. Although French don’t eat croissants for breakfast every day, it’s always available for sale at the bakery and a treat that many fancy on Sunday mornings.
French eat snails
French are famous for eating snails and frog legs. If frog legs are actually not that popular outside restaurants, snails are on the menu for many families for the Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinners. Even all the way down to the French territory New Caledonia, 15000 kilometers away from Europe in the South Pacific, you’ll be served snails. If you like garlic butter, you’ll probably like snails. The snails have very little taste, it’s more like a chewy piece of meat that is used by French people to eat garlic butter.
Few people also know that French eat sea snails too, but these ones with mayonnaise rather than garlic butter.
France has great food
The French gastronomy is reputed worldwide. There isn’t one French specialty as the food changes as you go from one region to another. In the west, they’re reputed for the savory crepes. In the south, the most famous dish is the cassoulet, beans in a sauce often served with duck and sausages. In the center, it’s the boeuf bourguignon, a casserole of beef cooked in a wine sauce with veggies. In the Alps, it’s more about melted cheese with the raclette and the fondue. In the east, the traditional meal is the choucroutte – cooked in wine and served with sausages. In the north, they love mussels and French fries. And that’s just to name a few. Sweet teeth can also be satisfied with French food, with many patisseries and famous desserts such as the crème Brulee and the macarons. The famous food guide Michelin was created in France.
France has Champagne and wines
France has an incredible variety of wines. For foreigners, French wines can be very confusing. They have the name of the region – sometimes a tiny area – rather than the name of the grape. There are strict rules to be able to use a region’s name.
To choose a wine, you have to know what kind of wine they produce in the area and if it was a good year. Some of the most famous French wine regions are Bordeaux, Cotes du Rhone, and Champagne.
Many French grapes have been exported and allowed other countries to produce good wines.
France is famous for its historical monuments
France has a famous history, and it’s all around you when you live in the country. There are myriads of cathedrals and castles to be found around France from centuries ago. That’s what makes Paris so fascinating, but not only. Walking in some town centers like Provins or Rouen feels like going back in time. Many villages haven’t changed in years. Big cities have stunning cathedrals and basilicas. Small villages have cute old churches.
The French castles are also impressive. Whether they’re from the medieval period or when the royalty was flourishing, they have fascinating stories. If Versailles is the most famous French castle, history lovers will also be impressed in the Loire Valley – the region hosts more than 3,000 castles.
French love protests
Bastille Day is the French national day, and it’s linked to the French revolution. The people went in the street and protested against the royalty. It ended up with many heads cut off, including the famous Queen Marie Antoinette. The French kings are long gone, the guillotine is ancient history (though, only since the 1970s!), but the protests have never stopped. French are regularly down in the streets, blocking roads or trains, to defend their rights and show their dissatisfaction to the government.
Protests often come with strikes. Teachers, doctors, truck drivers, nurses, trains… They all take turns at being on strike. Even the National Soccer Team once went on strike during the World Cup to strengthen the French reputation.
French can’t speak English
It only takes one word, “hello,” to notice the French accent. Even President Macron, whose English is excellent, cannot get rid of his strong French accent and clumsy choice of words. He said to the Australian Prime Minister that his wife was “delicious”! Some think it’s sexy. But French aren’t particularly proud of their language skills. Good news for travelers: more French people can speak English than a decade ago. But no matter what, the accent sticks.
French are rude
If visitors don’t tell you that French people are rude, they say that they are surprised French people aren’t rude. Indeed, French people aren’t always the most optimistic and welcoming. It’s not rare that French people don’t like small talk or are direct. For some culture, this is perceived as rude. Being formal can be close to being arrogant. But if you remember the basic French politeness (saying Bonjour and Merci, and not assuming they have fluent English), you should be part of the group that doesn’t find French people rude.
France is smelly
And we’re not talking about the cheese here.
People are often shocked by the smell of free public toilets. You can also sometimes smell urine in a few public places, especially train stations. But that’s as bad as it gets. French people (unless they ate garlic or cheese maybe) are not smellier than other nationalities. And for anyone worried about this part, France is also famous for its perfumes.
French are provocative
The French kiss, the French Cancan, topless on the beach… I won’t list all the provocative behaviors that have a French reference or the only grammatically-correct French sentence that most English speakers know (hint: it starts with “Voulez-vous…”). But France is famous for some chocking debauchery stories in its Arts and History. It’s often relayed by movies and TV series that present the intimate life of the French court, for example.
France is romantic
Despite being rude, smelly, and provocative, France also has a reputation for being romantic. Paris is known as the City of Love, and France and French are reputed to be one of the most romantic countries and languages in the world. Many towns look romantic thanks to their historical buildings.
On top of their architectural beauty, the historical buildings also make it easy to find a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset in France. There aren’t many skyscrapers blocking the warm lights at the end of the day. It’s often easy to leisurely walk around and find a spot to sit next to each other, at a café or in a park. It’s not everywhere like in the movies, but it’s easy to be romantic in France.
French play the accordion
French music is a lot more than the accordion. I bet many foreigners may not know that the famous Daft Punk are French but can recognize French music if it has an accordion. It’s often the main instrument used in the background music of any movie presenting Paris. Funny fact, the accordion was invented in Austria and French musicians aren’t using that much nowadays. After the wars in the 1900s, the “bal musette”, a dance party with accordion, became increasingly popular in France. The dances with the accordion music were easy and fun. It started to lose popularity in the 60s though.
France has picturesque villages
France is famous for Paris, but also for all the lovely picturesque villages spread around the country. Almost anywhere in France, you’ll find gems with cultural and historical charms. The nonprofit organization “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (which means the most beautiful villages in France) does a fantastic job for promoting rural tourism.
Eloise lived near Paris before moving to Brisbane (Australia), but you won’t find her often in the city. When she is not disconnected underwater or in a national park, she loves sharing travel tips on her blog MyFavouriteEscapes and inspiring people to take care of our beautiful planet.
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