by Fiona McMurrey

1. Emperor Charlemagne sat on the throne for over 400 years

After Emperor Charlemagne died, his disciples sat his mummified body on a throne in Aix-la-Chapelle where it sat for 400 years!

2. A French King once believed he was made of glass…

King Charles the VI of France thought he was made of glass and if touched would shatter. This delusion was symptomatic of a psychiatric disorder called “Glass Delusion,” which appeared in Europe during the Medieval period and the Renaissance - King Charles the VI might have been the first to be afflicted by this strange condition.

“La Morte de Socrate,” (1787) Jacques Louis-David.

3. The city of Marseille is older than Socrates…

Marseille, the oldest city in France, was originally a Greek colony founded around 600 BCE which predates the Greek classical period by over 250 years! Remnants of Greek and Roman ruins are available to explore all over the city!

The French cavalry take the battle fleet caught in the ice in the waters of Texel, 1797 by Charles Louis Mozin

4. The French cavalry captured 14 Dutch ships…

Yes, you read that correctly, the French cavalry, the infantry on horseback, once captured 14 Dutch ships when they were frozen at anchor in Nieuwediep in a feat known as the Capture of the Dutch Fleet at Den Helder during the war of the first coalition.

5. France is one of the oldest nations in the world!

French sovereignty was declared in 486 CE, during the reign of the first king of France Clovis I, who founded the Merovignian dynasty which was deposed by emperor Charlemagne, yes the one who sat on the throne for 400 years…

Courtesy of Travel Awaits.

6. France has a megalithic site that’s older than Stonehenge!

Move over Stonehenge! The Carnac stones, otherwise known as Carnac Alignments located in Brittany on the west coast of France, were erected 1000 years before Stonehenge, and are composed of 3000 perfectly aligned carved stones that stretch for 4 kilometers! To this day, there is still no explanation for the creation of these alignments…

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

7. Leonardo Da Vinci lived and died … in France?

After François I, king of France, recaptured Milan in 1515 where Da Vinci was living at the time, Leonardo Da Vinci came under his patronage and took up residence at Clos Lucé which was adjacent to the King’s palace of residence at Château d’Amboise. Da Vinci and the King became close friends and remained such until Da Vinci’s death at Clos Lucé in 1519.

8. Speaking of the arts, France has the largest number of Nobel Prizes in Literature in the world!

Since the introduction of the Nobel Prize in 1901, France has garnered the most awards for the Nobel Prize in literature, amassing a total of 16 over the contest’s 120 year history. Distinguished French authors such as Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, André Gide, Patrick Modiano and recently Annie Ernaux, have all earned this prestigious award!

Assassinat d'Henri IV et arrestation de Ravaillac le 14 mai 1610, huile sur toile de Charles-Gustave Housez (1860).

9. A French king was assassinated by a failed monk!

After surviving 12 previous assassination attempts, King Henry the IV was finally struck down by a fanatical Catholic zealot François Ravaillac whose violent views were the cause of his expulsion from a number of Catholic institutions. On May 14th 1610, Ravaillac ambushed the King’s coach and stabbed Henry the IV to death on Rue de la Ferronniere.

10. And finally, you can’t kiss your significant other goodbye if they’re taking the train…

Even though Paris may be known as the city of love, there is a 1910 law that forbids kissing on any railway platforms if a train is present! I’ve broken this one a few times and it doesn’t seem to be regularly policed unless you’re delaying the train, which is why the law was originally implemented.