French curves are plastic (or wooden) templates having an edge composed of several different curves. French curves are used in drafting (or were before computer-aided design) to draw smooth curves of almost any desired curvature in mechanical drawings. Several typical French curves are illustrated above.

While an undergraduate at MIT, Feynman (1997, p. 23) used a French curve to illustrate the fallacy of learning without understanding. When he pointed out to
his colleagues in a mechanical drawing class the "amazing" fact that the
tangent at the lowest (or highest) point on the curve
was horizontal, none of his classmates realized that this was trivially true, since
the derivative (tangent) at an extremum (lowest or
highest point) of any curve is zero (horizontal), as they had already learned
in calculus class.