Discovering an Unknown France

If you are someone who enjoys the “did you know” trivia that one sees often in articles, then this article is right up your street! We have compiled a lot of interesting trivia on France some of which may also leave you surprised. So read on, and impress your friends with your “did you know” knowledge on France!

For starters, did you know that the City of Lights, Paris was a Roman city originally known as “Lutetia”?

Associated with good food and wine, France has contributed richly to world gastronomy, but there is a “did-you-know” story associated to its famous croissant which was never invented in France but in Austria. The kipferl, the origin of the croissant can be dated back to the 13th century in Austria. Later, in 1839 an Austrian baker came to Paris to open a bakery and served the best Viennese delicacies including the kipferl. The French loved it and created their own version of kipferl and christened it the Croissant.

Croissant © Daniela Kloth geb. Ziebell

On the technology and invention front, the cellphone camera owes it origin to French inventor Philippe Kahn in 1997. Imagine, no camera, no cell-phone! True dommage this!

The next time, you take a hot-air balloon flight with a glass of champagne (also a Made in France product), raise a toast to the genius of the Montgolfier brothers who invented the hot-air balloon and also lent their name to this much coveted invention.

hot air balloon- wikipedia
Hot air baloon © Wikipedia

The svelte bikini was the brainchild of two French designers Jacques Heim and Louis Reard in 1946 and the very first bikini was sold on the beach of Cannes!

The very famous game of Charades is also believed to have a French origin dating back to the 18th century. Originally a riddle game, the goal of the game was to come up with a word or phrase by trying to figure out the riddle. The word version of the Charade game later evolved into an acted game, the version we are most familiar with today.

The distress code, Mayday also has a French connection. It was devised from the French, "m’aidez", meaning “Help me!” in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford, a senior radio officer at Croydon airport, near London, Mockford was asked to think of a distress call in a life-threatening situation, that would be understood by all pilots and ground staff. As much of the traffic at that time was between Croydon and Le Bourget airport, he hit on the idea of using the word “Mayday”.

France is synonymous with shopping and you won’t be surprised to learn that one of the first modern department store was founded by Aristide Boucicaut in Paris, in 1838. The store, Le Bon Marché (External link) , became a centre for innovation and development of modern shopping concepts. This institution still finds place of pride in Paris and is definitely worth a visit the next time you find yourself in the fashion capital!

Did you know that the Eiffel Tower has a Bollywood connect? Our very own Kalki Koechlin born to French parents in Puducherry is a descendant of Maurice Koechlin who was one of the main structural engineers of the famed Iron Lady.
190311 Kalki Koechlin resources1 16a30b32ae2 large
Kalki Koechlin ©IANS

And for our grand finale, we leave you with some trivia on fairy tales. Some of Disney’s legendary fairy tales are actually adaptations of the “contes de fées” (fairy tales) of French origin. Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots) and La Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty) were originally written during the 10th century, by Charles Perrault a French author who laid the foundations for our staple growing up reading material – the fairy tale.
La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) was originally written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740.