Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:19 | By Maureen O'Hare

Ten things you never knew about France



French fan (© Reuters)

1) France is the world's number one tourist destination, with 76.8 million visitors in 2010.

2) The French invented the hot air balloon, the airship, the parachute, the submarine, denim, photography and cinema - but the croissant is an Austrian creation.

3) Despite jibes to the contrary, the French have actually fought more military campaigns than any other European nation and won twice as many battles as they have lost.

4) It is said that in 1386, a pig was hung in Falaise, Normandy, for the murder of a child.

5) The world's first department store was Le Bon Marché, established in Paris in 1838 by Aristide Boucicaut.

6) There were only seven inmates in Bastille prison during the infamous storming of 14 July 1789.

7) The guillotine is famed for its use during the French Revolution, but the last person to be executed by guillotine in France was Hamida Djandoubi - on 10 September 1977.

8) As far back as 1984, the French were using an early precursor of the internet called Minitel, which allowed users to make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and chat.

9) Shepherds in the Pyrenean village of Aas used their own unique whistling language until well into the twentieth century.

10) During peak hours, French radio stations are required to play at least 40% of their songs in French.

IE11