Do you know these French facts and tidbits…
- the western most point in France is the Point du Raz at the tip of Brittany. The department is called the Finistère… do you hear it? Fini-terre? The end of the earth.
- these town names in France that will make an English speaker giggle: Plaisir, Bitche, Les Cars, Brainville, Contest, Le Sap, Stains, Dangers, Brest, Hompes, Bard, Nevers, Saint Hilaire-ious!
- this jingle by British Victorian poet Erskine, c.1850:
The French have taste in all they do,
Which we are quite without;
For Nature, that to them gave goût
To us gave only gout.
- the Buttes-Chaumont were built on a mound of clay where nothing grew. It was in fact called “Mont-Chauve” or bald. Chauve gradually morphed into “Chaumont”.
- the difference between the Stade de France and the Stade français? The Stade de France is the huge stadium just north of Paris in Saint Denis. The Stade français is the Paris rugby team that plays at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris 16th.
- the expression “Paris vaut bien une messe” which means “a small price to pay for a huge gain” is attributed to Protestant King Henri III from Navarre. He converted to Catholicism in order to become king Henry IV of France. He felt his converting (a mass) was a small price to pay. His name graces a national dish. The Poule au pot makes reference to his desire that each of his subjects would be rich enough to have a chicken in the pot every Sunday.
- the Lion of Belfort symbolizes the heroic French resistance led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau during the Siege of Belfort, a 103-day Prussian assault (from December 1870 to February 1871). A smaller bronze copy occupies the center of Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris.
- the song “My Way” was originally a French song called “Comme d’habitude”, written by Claude François, Jacques Revaud and Gilles Thibault in 1967
- the puns:
You must be French because Eiffel for you!
What is the favorite vacation destination for a French canard? Answer: Cannes
What you call a French cat who falls into a vat of paint in December? Answer: Un chat peint de Noel
- why many older French people all seem to have the same names… Xavier, Xavière, Gabriel, Gabrielle, Jean, Jeanne, Louis, Louise… there was a law dating from the French Revolution (Loi du 11 germinal, an X) that said that the given names of French children must be chosen from a list of acceptable names. Only in 1993 were parents given full liberty in the choice of a name or names for their child, as long as the name is not harmful to the child. Names must still be spelled with only characters from the French alphabet, for example ñ is not allowed. Bixente Lizarazu, the football player born in 1969, is of Basque heritage. His mother named him Bixente, but the administration recorded the French Vincent as his official name. Only in 1996 was he able to officialise Bixente as his name. The current most chosen given names in France are Emma and Gabriel, followed by Louis and Louise – we’ve come full circle!