90+ reasons we love France
31.For excellence in sports for example Les Bleus are long standing World Handball champions
32. For being the first to require vehicle registration (1891 in Lyon), although already in 1783 a metal plate with the owner’s name and address was required on all hippomobiles. For many years license plates in France were called “plaques minéralogiques”, not because they were made of minerals, but because it was the Services des mines that was in charge of them.
33. For French high schools all over the world
34. For knowing how to take lots of time off and rest, understand the concept of farnieté even though they didn’t coin the term and they wish each other a “réposez-vous bien” each time they say good-bye for a vacation. The French have mastered the concept of living from vacation to vacation; they work to go on vacation.
35. For regional products: snails, oysters, frog legs (8000 tons per year!) and sea urchins that many people would never think to eat
36. For coastlines: plenty, protected, variety! Cliffs, pebble beaches, rocks, sand, forested, marsh, dunes, small coves, great bays, cold water, warmer water, fishing, pleasure and commercial ports, historic lighthouses. France is surrounded by two seas and an ocean. The bay of Mont Saint Michel has the second greatest tides in the world. 1450 kilometers of coastline are protected, 13% of the total length.
37. For creating new French words made with “ing” – note they all take a masculine gender: Le brushing (blow-dry), shampooing (shampoo), fooding (eating well), planning, camping, parking (car park), dressing (built-in wardrobe), footing (jogging), living (living room), pressing (dry cleaner), smoking (tuxedo), lifting (face-lift), timing, training (track suit), standing (high class), forcing (pressure)…
38. For sailors. France hosts great sailing races such as the Vendée Globe and the Route du Rhum which are followed by the public and inspire many to learn to sail at the sailing schools that seem to be on every body of water including the Seine on the edge of Paris.
39. For love of bicycling. There are bike clubs in every town, families ride together, even older people ride bikes. Remember Robert Marchand who at 105 years old set a speed record (in his age group) on a track at the National Velodrome. One of the most famous French songs is La Bicyclette. There is the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix, the Paris-Nice, the Paris-Brest, l’Ardechoise and many other races all summer long.
40. For Breton or Norman salted butter
41. For Impressionnist art and a love of all art
42. For haute couture, haute joaillerie, haute luxury
43. For the water. No less than 39 fresh water springs and 80 mineral water springs throughout the country. Inviting many to take the waters for their health benefits in the myriad of thalasotherapy spas. In Paris alone there are several public artesian wells and 6 fountains that offer a cool sparkling water. Read more
44. For continued innovation and invention. France is the creator of the chip card, Minitel, the Zodiac (inflatable boats and airplane seats) and cable cars and passenger pods such as the British Airways i360 in Brighton. Recently Wattway solar panels have been used to pave roadways in many cities including Boulogne-Billancourt. The energy produced heats the municipal swimming pool. Morphosis in Le Havre recycles the precious metals from 8000 metric tons of old portable phones and computers each year. According to this report on TF1 they are the only company in France and in the world to recycle every bit of a smart phone so the metals can be used again.
45. For history changing inventions such as the Braille system, ear plugs (Boules Quies), food canning and pasteurization, the aqualung, the hot air balloon, the metric system, the sewing machine, the refrigerator, photography, cinema, neon lighting, the hypodermic needle, aspirin, antibiotics, inflatable tires for cars, the Concorde SST, the telegraph, the waste container (named after Monsieur Poubelle), ball bearings and many others!
46. For La Parisienne – she may be loved or hated but she is the paragon of elegance throughout the world
47. For forests, nearly 30% of France is well managed forests. 16 million hectares and increasing wooded lands make France 4th in Europe after Sweden, Finland and Spain. The French forests are full of history and mystery too. The forest of Rambouillet has many venerable oak trees of 400+ years old – just imagine who passed there before you did. You can also find megaliths, highway markers from the times of the kings, stone tables and other traces of days past. The forest have plenty of fauna too from roe deer to red deer, wild boars, salamanders and birds. Listen for the cuckoo!
48. For national pride without patriotism. The French dictionary has several words for pride: orgueil, fierté, amour-propre… 14th of July military parade. Cocorico!
49. For their own love of their country. “Of the 60 per cent of French people who go away on holiday, some 80 per cent stay within their own country,” points out Anthony Peregrine, author of Telegraph Travel’s Le Rosbif Writes column
50. For artisans. Since the middle ages French skilled tradesmen up hold perfection and tradition. The historic techniques are transmitted and applied. Artisans strive to uphold and win the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. For example 10 French metalworkers went to New York to renovate the Statue of Liberty. Artisan boat builders from Brittany used their savoir-faire to construct the onion domes of the new Orthodox Cathedral in Paris.
51. For the Eiffel Tower when her 20,000 strobes make her sparkle.
52. For huge biodiversity. France has 87,325 animals, plants and marine creatures in the mainland and 70,458 in the overseas territories. 13,325 of these are endemic.
53. For Nobel prizes. France has received 10% of all the Nobel prizes that have been awarded. 11 of the 57 total were in literature which is the most for any country.
54. For inspiring nicknames for many other cities in the world: Abidjan is called the little Paris; Beirut: The Paris of the Orient, Bucarest: The little Paris of the Balkans; Buenos Aires : The Paris of South America; Deauville: the 21st arrondissement of Paris; Manaus, Brazil: The Paris of the tropics; Nouméa, New Caldedonia: little Paris of the Pacific; Oran, Algeria: the little Paris of Algeria; Tromso, Norway: the Paris of the North and others…
55. For the OPINEL Knife designed in Savoie. The knife was selected in 1985 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as part of an exhibit celebrating the “100 most beautiful products in the world”, featuring the Opinel alongside the Porsche 911 sports car and the Rolex watch. Opinel is still a family run business.
56. For the creation of the bikini. Louis Réard, who helped in his mother’s lingerie boutique noticed that women would often roll down their bathing suit to better tan, so he created the bikini out of one square meter of cloth for the top and two triangles for the bottom. Mr Réard unveiled his invention at the Molitor swimming pool in 1946. It was worn by Micheline Bernardini, a well-known dancer from the Casino de Paris who was used to dancing nude, thus was the only model uninhibited enough to wear the suit. It was the first time that a bellybutton was exposed. It was named Bikini after the atoll in the Marshall Islands where 5 days early another explosion occurred (this time nuclear). In 1956, Brigitte Bardot, made the bikini popular in the film Et Dieu… créa la femme. Then a very popular song was written by Brian Hyland Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. The French version was sung by Dalida as Itsy bitsy, petit Bikini.
57. For overseas territories and departments include dream destinations like Tahiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, New Caledonia and La Réunion just to name a few.
58. For liberal Advertising! The French are renowned for their approach to nudity in advertising. There are more naked people on billboards in France than in any other country. French brands such as Guerlain, Etam, Miss Dior‘s Chérie, Chanel, and department store Galeries Lafayette are famous for their somewhat ‘scandalous’ adverts. While some may be offended by this, others believe that it normalizes nudity. Whatever your opinion is, you can be sure to see plenty of racy advertisements all over Paris.
59. For the invention of lingerie and especially the bra. Herminie Cadolle, an early feminist and corset maker, presented the corselet-gorge or a two-piece corset during the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889. Her creation caught on and then morphed into the soutien-gorge or the modern bra. The Maison Cadolle is still in business, run by Poupie Cadolle, a direct descendent of Herminie. For those who want to have something in common with Mata Hari, The duchesse of Windsor and Coco Chanel the Maison makes custom lingerie as well.
60. For love of new books, old books, bookstores and libraries. The Rentrée Littéraire and the Prix Goncourt are two of the big events of each Fall. Not to mention the Salon du Livre in the spring! And there’s no keeping mum about libraries in Paris. In 1537, a copyright law was passed that required every published French work to be in the National Library. This law still holds true and even FUSAC has books at the Bibliothèque. Founded in the Middle Ages, The Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library) has many annexes and houses collections by French writers, old manuscripts, engravings and photographs, maps, music, and printed books. And beyond the Bibliothèque there are dozens of other public and private libraries in France. For example at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, discover the collections of manuscripts pertaining to Paris and other works of art by French writers and philosophers. For the Pléiade, Originally a group of seven renaissance poets who in their works refreshed the French language and distinguished it from Latin. Their goal was to unify France through the French language. Today the Pléiade Library, published by Gallimard, is a distinctive gold and leather bound luxury edition of great French (and now worldwide) literature. The bible-paper is chosen for its quality of thinness, because each volume contains a writer’s complete body of work, and also longevity. It is a prestigious honor and consecration for a writer’s work to be published in this collection. Rarely does a writer enter this collection during his or her lifetime. And it is a big event in France when a new Pléiade book is published. The best selling Pléiade author is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
J’adore ce pays où tout le monde lit… La vie des idées est prépondérante en France. On peut discuter philosophie avec tout le monde. – Douglas Kennedy