The lifestyle and culture of France is completely unique and was formed by time, geographic location, politics, wars, major historical events and more. Both domestic and international groups have merged and created a culture based upon traditions that are a combination of new and ancient, foreign, exotic, quaint and homespun. French people have an attitude of live and let live, have fun and stay relaxed but learn and do as much as possible.
Younger generations of French people are rather unconcerned with judging the lifestyles of others, whereas older French people are involved in preserving the traditional Catholic life of yesteryear. Older generations prefer to always speak French and fully expect visitors to speak enough French to survive while on vacation, which you can learn in this course. Younger generations enjoy showing off their knowledge of the English language and are almost always willing to playfully flirt with foreigners on vacation.
One of the funnest aspects of taking a vacation in France is flirting with the locals. They do not care if their flirting is romantic or not, but it is a way for them to communicate in a fun and friendly way. It does not matter if the person they flirt with is nine or 99, if they are breathing, they are fair game.The French are very light-hearted and love to make people laugh. Take their communications with kindness and enjoy the extra attention.
French Foods and Markets
The French are known for having amazing cuisine, some of which are specialties and others are staples of the common French diet. Baguettes, cheese and wine are extremely popular staple foods that are now an integral part of the quintessential French experience. Bringing these three simple food items into a home kitchen is a great way to experience French cuisine without traveling (learn more with this gourmet course). French specialty foods include seafood and fish soups, duck dishes, cassoulet, foie gras, pate, escargots, sardines, truffles, capers, couscous, champagne, olives, etc.
Breakfast in France is simple and consists of bread, butter and jam with a bowl of café au lait or cappuccino. Special holiday breakfasts might include croissants and bits of chocolate. Rarely, meat, eggs or sugary donuts are eaten for breakfast.
Lunch, which was once the main meal of the day, is evolving in modern times to something a little faster and easier. Hamburgers, ham and cheese pockets or sandwiches made with baguettes are staples now.
Supper is elaborate when time permits, and many courses may be served for special occasions. Dinner is eaten late in the evening and is usually consumed with wine. Those who still take their midday meals in traditional fashion eat lighter evening meals, which may consist of simple salads, quiche or sandwiches. Hot, open-faced sandwiches are also common.
Grocery shopping is different in France than in many other countries. Canned produce and other dry goods are normally purchased from a grocer while fresh produce is bought at farmers markets, which are often open air markets held at least once per week. It is not uncommon for the French to shop for fresh foods, such as breads and vegetables, at farmers markets on a daily basis. Produce bought at these markets is seasonal and locally grown. Sometimes it is even possible to speak with the growers themselves about their produce.
Women often do shopping at the farmers markets. Unlike in America, it is absolutely unacceptable to go to markets without makeup, decent clothing and hair finished. If this routine is not completed, expect gossip. The locals know the best stalls and best farmers, but they will often dicker over prices despite knowing the produce is fantastic. Farmers markets usually operate between the hours of 8AM and 1PM. Those who miss out on the market are welcome to visit the farms of producers to purchase fresh vegetables.
French fashion designs are popular throughout the world, whether it is an A line skirt, a silk scarf or a sleek suit. France is home to some of the worlds most impressive and powerful couture designers, including Chanel.
France’s love affair with high fashion, or la mode, dates back to the reign of King Louis XIV. At that time luxury goods industries came under the control of the throne. Though free enterprise was greatly damaged, fashion thrived. During this era, the French court became the arbiter of taste and style throughout Europe.
Fashion design waned with economic depression, but never completely left the public consciousness. Between 1860 and 1960 France renewed its dominance of the couture or haute couture industry by establishing the great couturier houses and the press. Newspapers worked hard to popularize fashion designs created by these houses while under the control of the throne. Vogue Magazine was founded in 1892 and quickly took society by storm. Since that time, French fashions have been a constant presence at fashion shows and in stores worldwide.
Fashion students who take courses in fashion drawing are actually learning skills that were first developed by French fashion designers. Clean lines, slim figures and simple clothes are the hallmark of French fashion design. Couture handbags from France are extremely well made and are comprised of the best possible materials. The craftsmanship and sleek appearance of French couture are unmistakable to the trained eye.
Popular Things to do in France
Mushroom hunting is popular throughout Europe, but especially so in France. It is highly advisable to get the permission of landowners before foraging on their lands for mushrooms. However, there are public mushroom hunting grounds belonging to the government where hunters can go without permission. The western and southern regions of the country are best for mushroom picking.
Other hobbies include attending public events, visiting museums and going to cinemas. Going to the movies is an integral part of living in France and is an activity that people of all ages partake in regularly. The Cannes Film Festival is one of the worlds finest celebrations of film and artistry. While this is the largest cinematic festival, there are many others held throughout the country year-round.
Public events, such as carnivals, fairs and festivals celebrate the unique French culture and are very popular nationwide. Some of these include the Tour de France, International Garden Festival, Avignon Festival, Jazz a Juan, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Wine Harvest Festivals, Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair, Christmas Markets, the first and second Christmas Days and so much more. The French love to be entertained and take every opportunity to enjoy publically held celebrations.
Though not enjoyed by all French citizens, football, or soccer to Americans, is a highly popular sport. FIFA soccer games are played at major stadiums in the largest French cities, but there are ample opportunities to see other soccer leagues play in smaller towns. Nearly everyone plays football in France, as it is a required sport in most schools. Street soccer is learned at a very young age, and people of both genders and all ages play in the streets. Never suggest that American football is better than French football while on vacation without expecting a hearty and heated debate.
The Influence of French Culture Abroad
The popularity of French culture abroad is directly reflected by the perceived economic conditions, political climate and military strength of the nation at any current time. During times of strong economic growth, French fashions will influence designers globally. Magazines will run advertisements touting the latest French fashions and cosmetics companies will add French words to their products to make them appear to be more exclusive and luxurious.
The same is true with cuisine. During times when France is in the news often or the economy is doing well, French dishes can be found at many restaurants abroad. Cooking schools will pop up offering to teach students native French cooking skills and foreigners sign up for these courses in droves. Interested in learning more? We offer course in French to get your started learning this language, no matter where you live.
French Family Life
Before World War II traditional French families had extended and nuclear families living under one roof. This lifestyle was traditionally Catholic and very family centered. Elders were highly respected members of the family, and in many ways ruled households. Nursing homes were a rarity, and were only for those who required end of life care. They were a last resort. However, the world wars brought about profound changes in France. Loyalties divided families and nearly every family lost members to the war. No one was left unaffected. Famine, the Holocaust and economic depressions tore families apart in France just as they did everywhere else. These events shook the country to its very core.
Those were dark times and the effects are still felt today. People are less religious and less afraid to stray from tradition. These days, French society pushes for equality in religion, gender, employment and other aspects of life. This freer way of thinking has allowed society to change quickly. Families are more respectful of the political opinions of younger generations and all citizens understand that the future of the country hinges on the success of younger generations. Elders are still very respected, but young people are more appreciated now.
These days it is very rare for couples to have parents live with them, and elders are more often going into nursing homes rather than having the responsibility of elder care laid at the kids feet. Women are better educated and are a vital part of the work place. Working conditions have improved and women have a lot of power inside and outside of the home. However, the focus of the family has changed, and the separation of the family is of major concern to older generations. It has been a national talking point for decades, though no one expects society to go back to what it was before the World Wars.
The French Experience
The French experience afforded by a vacation to the country is completely different than a trip anywhere else in the world. Between the laid-back approach to communications, the superb cuisine, the incredible shopping and all of the publically accessible activities, this is a vacation that is fun, exciting and completely unforgettable.
Before leaving home, it is a very good idea to take a French language course. If planning a trip to Northern France, this is especially true. Not many English speakers can be found and traversing the countryside could be difficult. A quick course in French can help travelers prepare for their trip, ease the travel process and open up doors to an amalgam of new and fun experiences.