1. France is the largest country in the EU, and known as ‘the hexagon’ – with an area of 551,000 sq km it’s almost a fifth of the EU’s total area, and due to its six-sided shape France is sometimes referred to as l’hexagone. About a quarter is covered by forest; only Sweden and Finland have more.
2. France was the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food – since February 2016, shops must donate wastage to food banks or charities.
3. About one million French people living near the border with Italy speak Italian – although French is the official language and the first language of 88% of the population, there are various indigenous regional dialects and languages, such as Alsacian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Occitan and Flemish. On a larger scale, French is the second most spoken mother tongue in Europe, after German and before English, and is predicted to become number one by 2025 due to the country’s high birth rate.
4. French wines can reach astronomical prices – in 2014, Sotheby’s sold a 114-bottle lot of DCR Romanee-Conti wines in Hong Kong for more than EUR 1.45m to an anonymous Asia-based buyer, a world record for a single wine lot. That works out to about EUR 1,619 per standard glass.