The Alternative Guide to… France
France at a Glance
Capital city: Paris
Population: 67 million
Local currency: euro (£1 = 1.14€)
Famous face: Édith Piaf, also known as "The Little Sparrow" for her small stature, was a French singer, internationally renowned for her songs about love and loss. "La Vie en Rose" and "Non, Je ne Regrette Rien" are among her most famous songs, and many films and documentaries have been made about her life.
5 things you never knew about France
Louis XIX was named king in July 1830, only to abdicate 20 minutes later, making him the shortest-reigning monarch of all time.
Jeanne Louise Calment is the oldest verified person to ever live. She died in Arles, southern France, at the age of 122 years, 164 days on 4 August, 1997.
In January 2016, France became the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying any unsold food. Shops now have to donate any waste to charities or local food banks.
The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world, and one of the most visited. It has around 35 000 works of art on display, the most famous being Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
By law, live snails must have a ticket to ride on a high-speed train in France. In fact, all domesticated animals under 5kg must pay to travel.
Pot-au-feu (which translates to "pot in the fire"). This comforting winter stew contains beef, onions, carrots, and turnips.
If you see one thing in France, make sure it's…
... Les Gorges du Verdon, a river canyon in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in southeast France. Known as the "Grand Canyon of Europe", this gorge is 700 metres deep — twice the height of the Eiffel Tower.