The majority of people associate French culture with Paris, which is a center of fashion, cuisine, art and architecture, but life outside of the city is very different and varies by region.
Regional culture in France
The word “culture” actually comes from France. Until the 18th century, ‘French culture’ as a concept didn’t exist, as each region and area had its own distinct local customs and traditions. Even nowadays, there are multiple ethnicities and regional diversities. Social class is still important, as are the regional aspects of cuisine, dialect and language, and tradition. However, the French as a whole are very proud of their national identity.
Manners and hospitality
Politeness and formality are valued in France, as the French, are private people by nature. Etiquette plays a strong part in their lives. When invited to a French home for a meal, guests should always arrive on time and bring a gift of flowers, good but not very expensive wine or chocolates and dress up as style is everything to the French. When invited to a Paris dinner party, flowers should be sent the same morning as they will be displayed during the evening.
The dress code
The dress code tends to be formal and elegant, especially when dining at good restaurants or visiting ancient churches and cathedrals. Many French people dress in a sophisticated, professional and fashionable style, but it is not overly fussy. Typical outfits include nice dresses, suits, long coats, scarves and berets.
Visiting the country in July or August may cause problems as the entire country goes on holiday and many stores and restaurants not crammed with tourists may be closed.
When shopping, ‘bonjour’ (good morning) or ‘bonsoir’ (good evening), Monsieur (or Madame) is polite, as is ‘au revoir’ upon leaving the shop. The French pride of their language and appreciate you not just expecting them to speak English.
Paris is known as the home to many fashion houses, such as Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
Here are some other curious facts about French culture:
- A French meal usually includes bread (long, crusty baguettes are popular), and cheese.
- The most famous cooking school in the world was founded in France and is called The Cordon Bleu.
- Although most people believe that French restaurants are extremely expensive, but in reality it is possible to eat very delicious food in France without spending a fortune.
- Every one of France’s 22 regions has their own traditional dress.
- French believe that flowers should only be given in even numbers.
- It is extremely rude to be more than 10 minutes late for a meal without calling to explain the delay.