French is the third most studied language in world, following Spanish and English. With 136 million who speak French natively and over 300 million who speak it as a second language!
French is considered an official language in 30 countries but the majority of native French speakers come from France and Canada (particularly Quebec). French is also a rapidly growing language in Africa and a few other places as well.
French is a Romance language meaning it derives from the language of ancient Rome called Vulgar Latin. In the 3rd century, invading Germanic tribes settled in areas near present-day France where one of these tribes called the "Franks" lived and not too long after that the area became the came known as "Francia" in Latin. It's from that word the language and the country of France evolved from.
During the 17th to 19th century France was the most powerful nation in Europe and French became the language of international diplomacy and affairs as well as the preferred language of the educated classes. Eventually English became more and more dominant on the world stage, but French still remains and a major language around the world.