Written by Roseanne Bradley,
7th February 2023

If you’re considering buying property in France, chances are you’ll be spending more time in the country than you currently are. Here are a few fun facts about la République (as it’s lovingly referred to by residents) that may surprise you or at least bring a smile to your face.

A selection of ‘le pain’ in a French bakery I Image: JudeAnd via Shutterstock

The Baguette has UNESCO protection

The Baguette has been added to UNESCO’s “intangible cultural heritage” list.  The humble baguette is the most popular kind of bread baked and enjoyed by the French every year. Unlike other loaves, the baguette is made with only four ingredients (flour, salt, water and yeast). The making of a baguette requires specific know-how, it can’t be baked to French standard by just anyone!

Fun fact: It’s rumoured that Napoleon Bonaparte, leader of the French military, used to order thin sticks of bread for the soldiers as they could be carried easily from place to place.

France nominated the baguette as a candidate for UNESCO recognition due to a steady decline in the number of bakeries across France. The French Culture Ministry stated, “In 1970, there were 55,000 artisanal bakeries compared with 35,000 today.”

Fun fact: around 10 billion baguettes are consumed each year in France by a population of 67 million according to Planetoscope.

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The French Military wearing camouflage

The French Army invented camouflage

If you too struggle spelling camouflage, (that pesky ‘u’ always catches me out!) you can blame the French! The word and invention dates back to the First World War when the French Army commissioned artists to paint their vehicles and guns so they could blend in with their surroundings.

It took only a year for other countries to adopt the popular design and by then all major countries had their own version of camouflage.

A colourful map of France

France is four times larger than England

It’s true, France has a total area of 549,000km2, larger than neighbouring Spain and approximately four times bigger than England! Despite being larger, the population density is 119 per km2, whereas in England it’s considerably more at 434 km2 according to Statista.

The housing demand is greater in the UK due to there being less space for homes to built upon. This means cities throughout England are denser than they are in France.

But are homes bigger in France?

Well, according to a study from shrinkthatfootprintcom, yes! The average new home size in France (from a 2009 new build) is 1,206 ft2 vs. 818 ft2 in the UK.

Working at the weekend is not permitted in France

Weekend work is illegal in France

In traditional workplaces that work Monday to Friday in an office-type setting, work on the weekends is strictly forbidden. It’s an extreme faux pas. This is to ensure workers are not burning the candle at both ends and maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Lunchtime is also sacred in France. French working hours are usually 8 or 9am to 4 or 5pm, with a 1 hour paid lunchbreak. The weekly working hours are 35 (7 hour days, 5 days a week). Learn more about How to find work in France here. 

Do you speak French?

France is a language worth learning

French is the official language in 39 countries and partly spoken in 7 other countries.

Of the 8 billion people on earth, 270 million speak French (Wikipedia, 2022). It’s the fifth most spoken language in the world, behind English, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi and Spanish.

An inside shot of Le Louvre

France is home to the world’s largest art museum

Le Louvre in Paris is the world’s largest art museum. Spread across nearly 73,000 m2 of exhibiton space, The Louvre holds some of the world’s most notable artworks including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (or La Joconde in French) and the sculptural Venus de Milo.

Le Louvre covers 360,000 m2 on the right bank of the River Seine in Paris. The 2019 Louvre report documents the museum’s collective works at 615,797. Of this number, nearly 35,000 are on permanent display to the public.

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Buying a House in France Guide.

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