France is a wonderful country with a rich history and an exciting culture. The food is to die for, and the art and monuments draw in millions of tourists every year. Then there’s the lesser known and weirder side that many people just aren’t familiar with. For example, you weren’t allowed take photos of the Eiffel Tower at night, but you’re free to marry a dead person, if that’s what you want. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep reading to learn more weird facts about France.
1. French Law Forbade Taking Photos of the Eiffel Tower at Night
Have you ever noticed that almost every photo of the Eiffel Tower is taken during the daytime? This isn’t an accident, but the work of the European Union copyright, which forbids everyone from taking pictures of the tower at night. This law was set in place to protect the original artwork during the creators’ lifetime and another 70 years after their deaths. People weren’t allowed to take pictures of the tower until 1993. Because lighting was only added in 1985, people weren’t allowed to take night-time photos of the tower for the next 33 years. Thankfully that ended in 2018.
2. You Can Legally Marry a Dead Person
Necrogamy, as it is known, has been around since the 19th century but didn’t become prominent until WWI when women married their late boyfriends who were killed in action. This was done to ensure that the children of late soldiers would be legitimate heirs of their fathers. Those approved for necrogamy cannot inherit the properties of the dead person but do receive their pension or life insurance. Also, the date of the marriage is listed as the day before the deceased spouse’s death.
3. Animals Require Tickets to Travel by Rail
Animals travelling on French trains with their owner must have a ticket and the price varies based on the animal’s weight. For animals weighing just under 6 kilograms or 13.2 pounds, riders must pay €7 and those over 6 kilograms cost half the price of a second-class ticket. The only exception applies to guide dogs who can travel on trains free of charge. Even if your pet is a snail, you must still pay up, like the time a passenger travelling with some snails was informed that he had to buy a €5.10 ticket for them.
4. The Government Banned English Words
Given the prevalence of the English language, the French government has taken the initiative to ensure that their language remains untarnished. In 1966, President Charles de Gaulle enforced an act which banned any new English words from entering the French vocabulary. He also created the Commission d’enrichissement de la langue française to find alternatives for popular English words. So, “hashtag” became “mot-diese” while “courriel” replaced “e-mail.” Some weren’t well received by the public like “ordiphone” for “smartphone,” which was quickly rejected.
5. Drivers Cannot Use Phones, Even When Parked
France doesn’t play around when it comes to drivers who use their phones while driving. They even took it a step further and made it illegal to use your phone by hand when parked on the roadside, even if the engine is turned off. The only time drivers are allowed to use their phone is at a parking lot, any place where parking is permitted or on the roadside if the car has broken down. Failure to do so is three points on their record and a fine of €135 or $167.
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