International Francophonie Day

International Francophonie Day is a holiday observed within the member states of the International Organization of La Francophonie on March 20th every year. This holiday is dedicated to celebrating Francophone culture and the French language. Observing this holiday means realizing the innate potential of culture and language to unite people and reflecting on a common future together. That’s why it’s important for all lovers of French culture and language—in all the myriad forms it exists around the world—to celebrate this significant holiday.

The History of International Francophonie Day

March 20th was chosen as the date for this holiday by the UN because it is the anniversary of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation, which was created in Niamey, Niger, on March 20, 1970. International Francophonie Day was also established on that date in 1988. Since then, this holiday has served not only to honor the commitment to the French language and Francophone culture around the world but also to recognize the French values of peace, democracy, and respect for human rights.

Interesting Facts About the French Language

Now that we’re all having a glass of wine, enjoying some French baguettes, and having a good time, let’s go over some interesting facts about the French language that we believe will complement any celebration of International Francophonie Day.

  • French has official language status in 32 countries.
  • French and English are the only two languages that are taught in every country in the world.
  • There are over 100 million students learning French, and 20% of them are outside Francophone countries.
  • Since the end of WWII, the number of French speakers has tripled worldwide.
  • Approximately 15% of Israelis speak French.
  • After Paris, Kinshasa is the world’s largest French-speaking city.
  • France is the most visited country in the world and receives over 75 million tourists each year.
  • Approximately 500 French films are produced every year.
  • In the United States, French is the second most taught language after Spanish.
  • In the U.S., French is the fourth most common native language.
  • In the United States, approximately 30% of foreign books read are in French, as well as half of all foreign films watched.
  • French is the mother tongue of approximately 1.6 million Americans.
  • Approximately 11 million Americans speak French.
  • Over half a million Americans work for French companies.
  • Until the 19th century, French was more commonly spoken in Holland than in some parts of France.
  • About 20,000 new French words are created every year.

Observing International Francophonie Day

International Francophonie Day can be observed simply by watching a French-language movie or curling up with a French-language book. If you’d rather connect with Francophone culture through food, you can do that too by enjoying French baguettes, fromage, coq au vin, salade niçoise, and a good bottle of French wine. While you’re observing this holiday, be sure to use the hashtag #InternationalFrancophonieDay on your social media accounts to spread the word about this holiday and Francophone culture.

Where is it celebrated?
Congo Democratic Republic (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
March 20 Wednesday
Next year (2025)
March 20 Thursday
Last year (2023)
March 20 Monday
Culture & History