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Fun French Facts

The Languedoc-Rousillon city of Nîmes is the birthplace of jeans. The distinctive fabric was imported to California by Levi Strauss in order to make tough work trousers for gold diggers. Denim is short for "de Nîmes".”

The Statue of Liberty was made in France, and given to the United States as a gift. The statue's face is thought to be modelled on that of Isabella Eugenie Boyer, the Parisian wife of sewing machine manufacturer Isaac Singer.

Georges Perec's 1969 novel, La Disparition, does not contain the letter E.

Cinderella didn't have glass slippers until Parisian Charles Perrault made his own version of an old Chinese tale. It's often thought this was a mistranslation in the English version, but Perrault specifically refers to glass, not squirrel fur. The confusion is from the similarities of verre and vair.

Under laws that no-one has ever got round to removing from the statute book, it is illegal to call a pig Napoleon.

If you laid out the cables used in the lifts of the Eiffel Tower end to end, they would stretch for 16 kilometres.

When Dom Perignon and his Benedictine monk colleagues first stumbled upon champagne, they regarded the bubbles as a serious defect, and were trying to work out ways to eliminate them until they actually had a sip.

The bikini was invented in 1946 by two French designers working independently of each other. Jacques Heim was first, calling his two-piece bathing suit l'Atome. However, rival Louis Reard trumped him by hiring a skywriter to advertise his Bikini over the Riviera, and his name stuck.

The stripes of the French flag are equal width, except on the version used by the Navy, where the red stripe is biggest.

As a warm up, English typists use "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs." as it contains every letter of the alphabet. The French use "Allez porter ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume un havane." It means .. "Take this whisky to the blond judge who is smoking a cigar".

On 2nd June 1685, King Louis XIV issued a decree that "The length of handkerchiefs shall equal their width, throughout my entire kingdom". Ever since, handkerchiefs have been square.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is the only woman in history to have been married to both the King of France and the King of England.

In 1607, the longest gallery in the world, the Grande Galerie of the Louvre was built for King Henri IV. On wet days, the King and his court held minature fox hunts inside, riding up and down the centre. Rocks, trees and grass were moved indoors to make it as real as possible. 


Some of these interesting facts about France and the French are taken from "This Is France" published by Transworld Publishers - Carousel Books, 1981 and from Suite101.com.