Did you realise that there are quite a few things that the French invented that helps us a lot and makes our everyday lives easier, better and more convenient? Check my list and discover the 31 Top French Inventions Useful in Our Everyday Lives!
When you think about France you usually associate it with the beautiful yet very difficult french language, Eiffel Tower, Paris, baguettes, croissants, fashion, cheese, wine etc. However, there are more things that define France…And even if we all love France, dream about visiting it, we are all interested in France. We want to see, know it better… But, not many of us, remember or know that France has one more area worth discovering and exploring = the french innovations. Yes, the French have contributed to our current lives with many useful inventions and they should be known and appreciated for those inventions, many of which are still relevant, useful in our everyday lives. When I investigated the subject I knew about a couple of french inventions but many of them have nicely surprised me. And you, can you think of any French inventions yourself? Check the list I have put together about the French Inventions useful for our everyday lives.
Some not all but pretty a lot: 31 Top French Inventions We Use Everyday
- Refrigerator. The irreplaceable necessity in our kitchen without which I can’t imagine my life. And I can assure you about it as my last fridge broke last summer and it was a real disaster to survive without it one week waiting for delivery of the new one. This invention has its origin in France because really in the true Frenchman style, there is the real need to keep wine cool and this was likely the reason for inventing the device in 1894 by the priest Marcel Audiffren. Obviously, the first refrigerator was very basic, but that changed when an American company bought the patents. General Electric produced the first refrigeration machines for residential use which were introduced to the market in 1911.
- Sewing Machine. Although the first patent for the sewing machine was in 1755 in Britain, the first practical sewing machine was invented by Barthélemy Thimonnier in 1829. He patented his design in 1830. Thimonnier opened a factory soon after and began creating uniforms for the French army using his new machines. This was burned down soon after, reportedly by fearful workers who felt their livelihoods were under threat. On top of that, he was not businessmen and didn’t make good money out of this. The Americans took it over, market it well and did a huge business out of the washing machines. Still, the washing machine rests the french invention!
- Mayonnaise. And this is not only because of the name but, yes, mayonnaise is one of the greatest French inventions of all time. Because can you imagine your life without it😉? It is believed that it was first created in 1756 after the taking of Port Mahon, Minorca by the French army. The army’s chef lacked enough cream to make a sauce for the victory dinner and so resorted to mixing oil and eggs to create something new. However, it should be noted that this is still debated by historians and mayonnaise lovers alike.
- Pasteurization. For sure, this is one of the greatest French inventions of all time. Named after its creator Louis Pasteur this process has made preserving milk possible all over the world. The French chemist and inventor discovered that germs were primarily responsible for food spoilage. So, the idea behind the pasteurization process was to kill bacteria in food and drink, like milk, and in this way to prevent them from spoiling too early. The process is now a critical part of food production industries all over the world.
- Canned Foods. You wont believe it. For this invention we need to be grateful for Napoleon Bonaparte. The emperor who wanted to keep his army well fed and strong for the fight, in 1800, he put up 12,000 francs as prize money to anyone who’d help him solve this pressing problem and preserve food for an extended period. It took almost a decade, but confectioner and brewer, in 1809, Nicolas Francios Appert was able to do it. The confectioner’s approach entailed filling a thick glass bottle with food, wrapping it in canvas, before cooking it in hot boiling water, then sealing it with wax. The process worked well, and he received the prize money. A fellow Frenchman, Pierre Durand, introduced the use of tin cans instead of glass jars, giving the process its signature name, canning.
- Camera Phone. In 1997, Philippe Kahn invented file-sharing skills. On June 11, 1997, he shared pictures of his newly born daughters to more than 2,000 friends, family, and colleagues spread across the world. Sophie’s picture was the first-ever image shared from a cell phone. Pierre’s software and the production of a cell phone with a camera ushered set the stage for smartphones and devices.
- Aspirin which is the most widely used medicine. Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) was first prepared by the French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt in 1853. Today, according to the International Aspirin Foundation around 35,000 metric tonnes are produced and consumed each year. Also, this medicine is recognized by the WHO as an essential medicine.
- Champagne. Obviously the very French invention. The first sparkling champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the wine bottle led it to be called “the devil’s wine” (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded and the cork popped. At the time, bubbles were considered a fault. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850.[In 2007, champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles. It seems like a very profitable french invention.
- Hairdryer. Alexandre Godefroy, a French hairstylist, gave the world its first hairdryer in 1888. The first dryer was a huge, helmet-shaped headset attached to the chimney pipe of his salon’s stove. It used an electromechanical device to blow hot air on wet hair, speeding up the water evaporation process. Gabriel Kazanjian, an Armenian-American inventor, patented the handheld blower 21 years later, in 1911.
- Calculator. French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) invented the first adding machine in 1642. He designed a machine that could subtract and add two numbers and perform division and multiplication through repeated subtraction and addition. King Louis XIV gave Pascal the exclusive patent design to manufacture such machines in all of France. Later inventors built on pascal’s design to build calculators that were faster and had more functionalities.The first commercially successful adding machine was developed in 1886 by William Seward Burroughs.
- Pencils and Pencil Sharpener. The modern pencil was invented in 1795 by Nicholas-Jacques Conte, a scientist serving in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. He refined the production process of the pencils by mixing clay with kiln-fired powdered graphite. That lead to the production of pencils of different hardness. The development of pencil sharpeners began also in France. In a French book from 1822, it was reported in detail about an invention of Mr. C. A. Boucher (Paris) for construction of a pencil sharpener. But Mr. Boucher has not applied for a patent for his pencil sharpener. It is another French mathematician, Bernard Lassimone who filed for the pencil sharpener patent in 1828. Another Frenchman, Thierry des Estivaux improved the device in 1847, to give it the modern look and function.
- Roulette wheel. It was invented by a French physicist, inventor, and mathematician Blaise Pascal. Initially, Pascal wasn’t trying to invent a casino game. In 1655, Pascal tried to invent a perpetual motion machine. The zero didn’t exist on the Roulette wheel until the mid-19th century. It is only in 1842, when Francois and Lois Blanc designed a Roulette wheel with a single zero on it, specifically for King Charles III of Monaco. This was a massive deal because adding a zero gave the house a bigger house edge. With his kingdom facing some financial trouble, Charles built a casino and brought the Roulette wheel to the masses. The wheel generated a lot of income for Monaco, and it quickly became an important symbol for Monte Carlo’s culture of upscale gambling.
- Cabaret. With no doubt it comes from France. The history of cabaret culture began in 1881 with the opening of Le Chat Noir in the Montmartre district of Paris by Rodolphe Salis. It was an informal saloon where poets, artists and composers could share ideas and compositions. Performers got to test new material, audiences enjoyed a stimulating evening for the price of a few drinks, and owners could count on a steady flow of regular customers – a win-win-win proposition.
- Cinema. It has a long history in France. The cinema was developed from chronophotography. First motion picture camera and first projector was invented by Louis Le Prince, Frenchman who worked in the United Kingdom and the United States. The Cinematograph was invented by Léon Bouly in 1892. And the first commercial, public screening of cinematographic films has been performed by Auguste and Louis Lumière in 1895. About the first real movie. It also comes from France. Georges Méliès, is the first filmmaker, who used the stop trick, or substitution, multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his films. His most famous film was A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la Lune) created in 1902.
- The First Bicycle with Pedal Power. Although the first modes of transport we might identify as a bicycle was created by German Baron Karl von Drais in 1817, it was the French who added pedal power. In 1864, two Frenchmen, Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement, added a mechanical crank drive with pedals to an enlarged front wheel to produce the newfangled, pedal powered, Velocipede.
- Taxi. The first taxi company opened in France in 1640, rue Saint-Martin in Paris. The idea came from Frenchman Nicolas Sauvage. On the house of Sauvage, he put a sign represented Saint Fiacre; this is how he introduced the process to call the first cab-cars. In 1703, the police regulated their circulation and assigned each cab-car to a number, legible, sort of registration before the letter. In 1904, Louis Renault launched in Paris small cars which has the taximeters, speed recorders and distance. They were the first of motor taxi. In 1914, 1200 Renault taxis have been requisitioned by Marshal Gallieni to transport part of the troops. They have been called “Taxis of the Marne”.
- First working Motorcycle. The first internal combustion, petroleum fueled motorcycle was the Daimler Reitwagen. It was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885. This vehicle was unlike the safety bicycles and thus did not use the principles of bicycle and motorcycle dynamics developed nearly 70 years earlier. The first real motorcycle – a two-wheeled vehicle with steam propulsion was finally considered a motorcycle, and it was built by the French Michaux-Perreaux who filled the application patent in December 1868. It was constructed around the same time as the American Roper steam velocipede, built by Sylvester H. Roper Roxbury, Massachusetts who demonstrated his machine at fairs and circuses in the eastern U.S. in 1867. But we are in Europe and we are thankful for this invention to the French.
- Hot Air Balloon. The French brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier developed a hot air balloon in Annonay, Ardeche, France and demonstrated it publicly on September 19, 1783, making an unmanned flight lasting 10 minutes. After experimenting with unmanned balloons and flights with animals, the first balloon flight with humans aboard, a tethered flight, performed on or around October 15, 1783, by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier. The first free flight with human passengers was made a few weeks later, on November 21, 1783. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that condemned criminals would be the first pilots, but de Rozier, along with Marquis François d’Arlandes, petitioned successfully for the honor.
- Folding umbrella. It was Jean Marius who invented the folding umbrella in 1705. It folded into three parts and held in a pocket. You will note that three centuries later, no one has found more ingenious to protect themselves from the rain. Bravo the French!
- Parachute.The modern parachute was invented in the late 18th century by Louis-Sébastien Lenormand in France. He was the one who made the first recorded public jump in 1783. Lenormand also sketched his device beforehand. Two years later, in 1785, Lenormand named it “parachute” by hybridizing an Italian prefix para, an imperative form of parare = to avert, defend, resist, guard, shield or shroud, from paro = to parry, and chute, the French word for fall, to describe the aeronautical device’s real function. Subsequent development of the parachute focused on it becoming more compact. While the early parachutes were made of linen stretched over a wooden frame, in the late 1790s, Blanchard began making parachutes from folded silk, taking advantage of silk’s strength and lightweight. In 1797, André Garnerin made the first descent of a “frameless” parachute covered in silk. In 1804 Jérôme Lalande introduced a vent in the canopy to eliminate violent oscillations.
- Airplane. It surprised me nicely that the pretty big history behind the development of the airplane happened in France. First glider to fly higher than its point of departure was developed by Jean-Marie Le Bris in 1856. First manned, powered, heavier-than-air flight of a significant distance was performed on October 9, 1890 by Clément Ader. First aileron which is a hinged flight control surface usually forming part of the trailing edge of each wing of a fixed-wing aircraft was built by Robert Esnault-Pelterie in 1904. Next, the modern design of ailerons were developed by Henri Farman, who was an Anglo-French aviator and aircraft designer. Finally, we are getting there, the first aircraft design with the modern monoplane tractor configuration of aircraft was created by Louis Bleriot in 1908. In 1909, Louis Bleriot completed the first flight across a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft, when he crossed the English Channel. He also is credited as the first person to make a working monoplane. Well done France!
- Helicopter. This invention comes in a double force from France. It has been shared in between two French. In 1907, the two first flying helicopters were experimented independently by Louis Breguet and Paul Cornu. In 1906, Louis Breguet, began experimenting with airfoils for helicopters. In 1907, those experiments resulted in the Gyroplane No.1, possibly as the earliest known example of a quadcopter. The flights of the Gyroplane No. 1 are considered to be the first manned flight of a helicopter, but not a free or untethered flight.That same year, fellow French inventor Paul Cornu designed and built the Cornu helicopter. Even though this flight did not surpass the flight of the Gyroplane No. 1, it was reported to be the first truly free flight with a pilot. Unfortunately, it proved to be unstable and was abandoned.
- Bra.This comes obviously from the sexy, full of passion love France. It has been invented by Herminie Cadolle in 1889. He presented his innovation at the World Fair in Paris under the name of “Bien-Être”. This first model was a simple corset cut in half under the chest to be more comfortable.
- Little black dress. The famous LBD which seems to be nowadays an essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and obviously l have one! It was designed in the 1920s by Coco Chanel and Jean Patou who intended to create something to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral colour …I think they succeeded.
- Polo shirt. No surprise here, again when it comes to fashion, France is a star here! So a little story behind the polo shirt. The French seven-time Grand Slam tennis champion, felt that the stiff tennis attire was too cumbersome and uncomfortable. He designed a white, short-sleeved, loosely-knit piqué cotton (he called the cotton weave jersey petit piqué) shirt with an unstarched, flat, protruding collar, a buttoned placket, and a shirt-tail longer in back than in front, which he first wore at the 1926 U.S. Open championship.
- Bikini. In July 1946, French clothing designer Louis Réard introduced his new, smaller design of the swimming suit. His brave design was risque, exposing the wearer’s navel and much of women buttocks. No runway model would wear it, so he hired a nude dancer, Micheline Bernardini, from the Casino de Paris to model it at a review of swimsuit fashions.The bikini was accepted very slowly by the public. The swimsuit gained increased exposure and acceptance as film stars like Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, and Ursula Andress wore them and were photographed on public beaches and seen in film. And you can you imagine your holidays without the bikini? Either wearing or admiring it?
- Pencil skirt. The French designer Christian Dior introduced the classic modern pencil skirt in his 1954 Autumn Winter collection. It quickly became very popular, particularly for office wear.
- Margarine. It’s another french innovations which we have to be grateful for to the Emperor Napoleon the 3rd. He wanted to get a cheaper version of butter to feed his army and the poor people. He offered a large cash prize for anyone to find one. Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès found the butter’s alternative and patented oleomargarine, margarine for short, in 1869. And we do use it nowadays all over the world.
- Braille. In 1825, Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman created the first digital form of writing. Louis Braille was blinded in both eyes at a very young age. He was later accepted into the French Royal Institute for Blind Youth where he began working on his now famous system. Braille’s final system was first presented in 1829. A second revision was made later in 1837 which became the first small binary form of writing developed in modern times. Braille has proven to be an invaluable tool for the visually impaired ever since. So useful, helpful nowadays and worldwide.
- Food processor. In France, the concept of a machine to process food began when a catering company salesman, Pierre Verdun, observed the large amount of time his clients spent in the kitchen chopping, shredding and mixing. He produced a simple but effective solution, a bowl with a revolving blade in the base. In 1960, this evolved into Robot-Coupe, a company established to manufacture commercial “food processors” for the catering industry. In the late 1960s, a commercial food processor driven by a powerful commercial induction motor was produced. Robot-Coupe’s Magimix food processor arrived from France in the UK in 1974, to North America in 1973 under the Cuisinart brand, and even to Japan in 1977. It was quite a big french success!
- Stethoscope. Last but definitely not least. This should be the first entry on the list of the greatest French inventions, the doctor’s Indispensable which saved innumerable lives. The stethoscope was invented by the French physician René Laennec in 1816. It would immediately become one of the most important non-invasive medical instruments in the doctors’ kit. It works by using a small disc-shaped resonator to amplify the internal sounds of the patient. France! We are really grateful for this!!!
I hope I have surprised you nicely about the creativity of the French people. Did you know any, all of the french inventions before? Can you think of other french inventions useful in our everyday lives? Please let me know! Thanks!
All the images in this post have been taken from pixabay.com. Thank you!