Paris may be the heart of French fashion, food, art, and architecture, but the rest of France is vastly diverse and differs greatly from area to region. France has been called a “hub of great culture” since the 17th century. Thus, French culture has been instrumental in influencing fields as diverse as art, culture, and science throughout the globe. French culture, in general, and its fashion, gastronomy, art, and movies, in particular, are well-known all over the world.
Celtic, Roman, and German influences may be seen in traditional French art and literature. France is now a diverse collection of groups and cultures due to the accumulation of these many influences. What holds true in one group of people might not in another. France has made an attempt to protect the traditions of its smaller villages in spite of the increasing influence of global culture on modern society.
The customs and culture of France have always been incredibly interesting to those from other countries. There are many aspects of French culture that have gained international renown, including the high regard with which the country’s cuisine and wine are held. Still, other aspects are less common knowledge; you may learn them only after making a social gaffe.
A trip to France, whether for four days or even a few years, is improved by learning about the local culture and customs. The following article is a short tutorial to help you get started on learning about different aspects of French culture.
The official language of France is French, which is spoken by nearly all of the country’s native-born residents. Many English speakers living abroad worry about communicating with French people because of the country’s long-held and, to some extent, unjust reputation for disliking English.
Truth be told, many French individuals, especially in major places like Paris, are fluent in English and even enthusiastic about doing so. However, the majority of French citizens do not appreciate it when outsiders address them in English without first inquiring as to whether or not they can understand the language.
In order to avoid this situation, you should learn how to ask, “Parlez-vous anglais?”— Do you speak English? — before starting a discussion with a native French speaker. This little bit of yours will go a long way in showing your appreciation.
It is recommended that you acquire the basics of the French language before traveling to France or staying there for an extended period of time. As an added bonus, it will also make your life easier and provide you with access to previously unavailable opportunities.
The BBC reports that 3% of the population speaks German dialects and that there is a tiny Flemish-speaking community in the northeast. Among minority languages, Arabic is the third most spoken.
As a second language, Italian is spoken by some people who live close to the Italian border, and Basque is spoken by certain people who live close to the French and Spanish borders. But you shouldn’t count on it that much as there’s a low chance of running into someone who knows one of these languages!
It’s general knowledge that French food and wine are highly regarded internationally, and it is one of the French culture’s main aspects. Each area in France has its own specialties and styles, typically based on local ingredients, even if the phrase “French cuisine” is often used to encompass all dishes from France.
Boeuf Bourguignon (cubed beef cooked in red wine) is a well-known classic from Burgundy because of its proximity to cattle country, while in Normandy, the region’s farmlands and Atlantic coast generate meals containing seafood, apples, and dairy products like butter, cream, and cheese.
Alsace, which is close to the German border, is known for its hearty meat dishes, choucroute (sauerkraut), and other German-influenced fares. Provence, in the south of France, uses olive oil rather than butter, and traditional dishes often include fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs like basil, rosemary, and oregano.
French wines are often considered to be the most prestigious category of wine due to their rich history and cultural significance. Dating back to the Middle Ages, France’s 12 major wine-growing areas produce some of the world’s finest vino.
Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne are among the most renowned. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah are all famous grapes that originated in France. In fact, France is the birthplace of the vast majority of the world’s most revered grape varieties.
In spite of France’s extensive history with wine, the majority of locals still choose beer and other beverages. Drinking wine is more common during the meal than before or after. Champagne, beer, cocktails, or sweet beverages like fruit juice or port wines are frequent apéritifs, whereas brandies or liqueurs like Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, or fruit-based Eau de Vie are common digestifs or after drinks.
French style and fashion
Fashion and style are important aspects of French culture. Many luxurious fashion houses, like Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel, are based and born in Paris. The typical French person wears an understatedly chic, businesslike, and trendy outfit. Nice dresses, suits, long coats, scarves, and berets are typical outerwear items in a French outfit. The current French aesthetic may be summed up as chic and modern.
Haute couture is a French fashion phrase that refers to more elaborate, hand-made or custom-ordered clothes. Many people consider Paris to be the global center of the fashion industry. Beginning with Louis XIV’s reign in the 1600s, France emerged as a significant fashion powerhouse. In that time period, France established a reputation as a producer of high-end goods across Europe.
Religion in France
There is a strong sense of Christian identity among French people (primarily Catholic). Catholicism was the official state religion of France from its inception until 1789, at which time Protestantism took over. The French monarchy was traditionally crowned in the church of Notre Dame de Reims until the year 1825.
The majority of the world’s population now calls itself atheist or agnostic. On the other hand, modern France is also home to sizable communities of Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists.
French traditions and holidays
A great part of French culture is its amusing holidays and celebrations that come from its rich heritage. Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated Christian festivals in France. May Day, commonly known as Labor Day, is celebrated annually on May 1st.
On May 8th, the French celebrate the conclusion of WWII fighting in Europe, which is known as Victory in Europe Day. July 14th is Bastille Day. That was the day the French Revolution officially began when rebels seized the Bastille prison in Paris.
Social conventions in France
In France, public expressions of affection are not the norm but are acceptable. Restaurants are an exception to this rule, but in general, you should speak softly there. People from other countries often assume that Americans speak loudly in public, regardless of whether or not this is actually the case. Modulate your tone if you wish to be taken as an example of French respect.
Saying “bonjour” or “bonsoir” (good morning/good evening) to a stranger is considered polite in France. When entering a medical facility, for instance, a patient or visitor should offer a quick “bonjour” to those waiting in the lobby. Do the same thing whenever you enter a cozy café, store, or boutique.
Anyone even remotely familiar with French culture is aware of the double (and occasionally triple) kisses the French place on each other’s cheeks in greeting. A French kiss is known as la bise.
When welcoming friends or meeting new individuals, women typically offer a la bise to both male and female friends. Every female friend and the closest male friends in France receive la bise from their male friends as well. But it is common to just shake hands if two rather strange or less close males meet.
Final words about French culture
Paris is often the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about French culture because of its status as a cultural epicenter in a variety of fields, such as the arts, food, and architecture. That, however, is a rookie mistake as life outside of Paris is diverse and distinct from city to village. To help you better understand the French and their culture, we’ve broken down French culture into its different aspects.