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10 interesting facts about France you might not know

Chatting about France (book here your ferry) and its characteristics come to mind certain stereotypes. An example of a famous stereotyped image popping up when thinking about France? We all “know” that the average French puts under the arm a very long baguette after buying it from the bakery! But here in this article we will go through fun facts, very peculiar but all true!

– You think that the CROISSANT you eat in France and the croissant breakfast at the bar in Italy are the same thing. Yet nothing could be more wrong because the Italian croissant is made of puff pastry – very rich in butter- and French croissant is made of yeast dough (brioche). When asked what kind is the best please do not reply and try them, as they are both great!
– In France, and more precisely in Arcachon, not far from Bordeaux, there is the highest coastal dune in Europe, the DUNE OF PYLA (or Pylat) recognized as National Site. It is 105 meters of sand to climb and enjoy a fantastic view.
– You always hear about the French Riviera, but in France there is also what is called the SILVER COAST. It is located in the South-West of France, on the Atlantic; it is the whole area between the estuary of the Gironde and Anglet, on the outskirts of the Basque coast. These are perfect beaches for those who love surfing.
– Nearly a third of humanity lives in earthen houses; maybe you think this happens only in Africa, instead there is an old French tradition that makes use precisely of this natural, economic and environmentally friendly element in the construction of houses. It was a technique  used in the past mainly in Britain but also in some French regions. For some years the cob (i.e. simply humidified clay) was rediscovered and reused by French architects in the construction of many homes, because it is a perfect insulator, at very low cost.

– The favorite beverage used by the French, after of course the wine and champagne, is the PASTIS. It is an alcoholic beverage based on anise which is diluted with water. Originally it was drunk especially in the South of France, but later its consumption has spread to the rest of France, and lately it’s not uncommon to find even in Italy, especially in the North.
– The city of Avignon was for many years the residence of the pope. The Palais des Papes is just one of many monuments, churches and palaces to visit in this beautiful city. But what was the cost of the presence of the Pope in Avignon? Here is a small example: THE CORONATION of Pope Clement VI, which took place May 19, 1342, ended with a feast nothing short of gargantuan proportion: 118 oxen , 60 pigs, 914 kids, 1,023 sheep, 101 calves, 10 471 chickens, 1446 geese, were killed! 6240 tons of firewood were burned for over 3000 guests.


Photo CC-BY-SA 3.0 Jean-Marc Rosier

Carnival is an occasion for celebrations, parades and costumes in many nations and countries. Some are very famous as, for example, Rio de Janeiro’s one; but perhaps the least known celebrations in other European cities can be special and interesting. The CARNIVAL OF NICE (Southern town in France, the Mediterranean) lasts 3 weeks, and during the celebration there are at least seven parades of floats and peculiarities of this carnival, and at least 5 “flower battles”. On the famous Promenade des Anglais, roses, carnations, gladioli and mimosa are launched in large quantities to the spectators.
In the last century it was possible to admire the beautifully decorated aristocratic carriages with flowers.
– The OPÉRA of Paris is a real institution that has certainly not less important than the other landmarks of the City of Light. The architect Garnier, when he took over the reconstruction, in 1861, he created a true masterpiece. But not everyone knows that the present one, until the Second World War, was the entrance of the modest people who came on foot. Aristocrats however arrived with the coaches (later with cars), entered from the entrance reserved for them, in the pavilion located to the east. Once inside they could admired themselves in the large mirrors of the round before reaching the grand monumental staircase, all of marble.

Photo CC-BY-SA 2.5 Berthold Werner

– The word CHEF has for many years used in the kitchen to indicate a professional chef. In recent years there is even an increase in the interest in this profession, especially by young people. But why in the world it is said “chef”? Meanwhile, the origin of the word is Latin, that is, caput, meaning head. Part of the kitchen was a real pyramid structure involving the whole team as early as the late nineteenth century. The great Escoffier perfected this structure with the very precise division of roles: the chef sauces, the chef of the soups, the meat, fish, sweets, etc … The French cuisine has always had a great importance throughout the world, and from here the use of the French words for many culinary preparations. And then the chef has become…the chef!

– Although the croissant is part of the typical French breakfast, in most homes the main breaksfast delight is the famous baguette. Typically it is cut lengthwise and spread with plenty of butter and jam. So far nothing strange, it is true. But then comes the peculiarity of French: this well-buttered bread is soaked in a milk mug of coffee-and the result is that the surface of the milk becomes oily and not very inviting, but trust me, at the end of the day it’s all delicious!