What is France famous for? 15 things fully explained!

For France’s chapter on the famous things across the globe series, we have teamed up with our fellow French travel blogger Eloise of “My Favourite Escapes” to show you what is France famous for?

International travelers have made France the world’s most visited country for over 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? 

Planning a trip to France? Have a look at the 50 things you need to know before traveling to France.

15 Things France is Famous 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. Seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower every year, 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.

The Eiffel Tower is the most prominent landmark in France, but the list of famous French landmarks is astonishing. Sometimes it feels like it won’t ever end.

What is France famous for
Eiffel Tower in Paris, France | photo by masterlu via Depositphotos

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.

What is France Famous for? The Cheese
What is France famous for? French Cheese, for sure! | photo by My Favourite Escapes

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 the French doesn’t eat croissants for breakfast every day, it’s always available for sale at the bakery and is a treat to many fancies 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 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 French people use to eat garlic butter. 

Few people also know that the French eat sea snails too, but these ones with mayonnaise rather than garlic butter.

What is France Known for - eating snails
What is France known for – French eat snails | photo by My Favourite Escapes

France has great food

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 their savory crepes. The most famous dish in the south 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 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 macarons. The famous food guide Michelin was created in France. 

Everything about France
Famous French macarons

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 must 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, allowing other countries to produce good wines.

Champagne is one of the things France is famous for
What is France known for? Champagne | photo by My Favourite Escapes

France is famous for its historical monuments

France has a famous history, and it’s all around you when you live there. 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 returning 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 from the medieval period or when royalty flourished, they have fascinating stories. If Versailles is the most famous French castle, history lovers will also be impressed by the Loire Valley – the region hosts more than 3,000 castles and is only a day trip from Paris away.

Have a look at the most famous landmarks in France!

What is France famous for? all its historic monuments
What is Franca famous for? Landmarks, lots of landmarks | photo by My Favourite Escapes

French love protests

Bastille Day is the French national day, and it’s linked to the French Revolution. The people went into 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, and 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 with the government. 

Protests often come with strikes. Teachers, doctors, truck drivers, nurses, trains… They all take turns 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 told the Australian Prime Minister that his wife was “delicious”! Some think it’s sexy. But the 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.

The walls of Saint-Malo
Beautiful walls of Saint-Malo

French are rude 

If visitors don’t tell you that French people are rude, they say they are surprised they 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 cultures, 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. Sometimes, You can 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. 

Cool things about France
The picturesque town of Colmar in France

French are provocative 

The French kiss, the French Cancan, topless on the beach… I won’t list all the provocative behaviors with 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 French court’s intimate life, for example. 

France is romantic 

What is France famous for? Romance! 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 is reputed to be one of the most romantic countries and languages in the world. Many towns look romantic thanks to their historic 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. Few skyscrapers are 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.

Best things about France
Port of Marseille 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 is 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 it much nowadays. After the wars in the 1900s, the “bal musette,” a dance party with an 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 and all the lovely picturesque villages spread around the country. You’ll find gems with cultural and historical charms almost anywhere in France. The nonprofit organization “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (which means the most beautiful villages in France) does a fantastic job promoting rural tourism.

Things France is known for
Locronan Village in France – What is France known for? | photo by My Favourite Escapes

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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What is France known for?

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