I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France and at different stages of my life. I’ve visited with my family, on my own, and even gotten the chance to live there for my freshman year of high school. This lifelong connection with the country has opened my eyes to the beauties of the culture as well as the drawbacks. French culture is storied and rich with fantastic traditions and is very unique in more ways than one. Here are some of the aspects of French culture I think all travelers to La France should be aware of:
1. Food Is Everything…!
The food in France is out of this world. They know how to create it, prepare it, and serve it. And I’m not talking simply about restaurants. Every French household reveres eating and what they eat. That reverence is present in the way they organize their days around food. School lunches are 1h30mins. Why? So kids have time to eat. Most jobs and laborers drop everything for their 1hr lunch, even if that means leaving construction machines in the middle of the road (believe me I’ve seen it). Every family meal, people spend time at the table to enjoy the food and even more importantly, connect with the people they are eating with. The French understand the importance of eating well and hopefully, the US can start catching on…
2. They Love to Say “Non!”
The French are notorious naysayers. Don’t let that fool you. Perseverance is key and they will ultimately come around despite their attempts to throw you off. Continue to flex your French muscles and they will come around. 😊
3. Le Foot
As with most European countries, the French take their soccer very, very seriously. There is nothing more goosebump-inducing than listening to the fans roar a local chant that reverberates through the stadium. The passion is shared and passed down from the old to the young, creating a web that connects members of the community on a deeper level. Grab a scarf, show your support, and you will fit right in!
4. La Galette des Rois
“L’épiphanie,” or the epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated on January 6th for the baptism of Jesus Christ and visit of the Three Kings. This holiday is celebrated in France by baking what is known as the “Galette des Rois,” which is a reference to the three kings. The galette itself is a delicious puff pastry cake filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. Within the cake is hidden a small figurine or token known as “the fève.” The idea is that whoever gets the piece with the fève is the king or queen for the day and the youngest picks who gets what piece!
5. Take Your Time
Contrary to the US, no one is in a hurry in France. Ok, maybe that’s a little of an exaggeration. A more accurate statement would be that the French are exceptionally good at taking the time necessary (and maybe a little more) to enjoy anything that they are doing. Coming from a culture like the one present in the US where there never seems to be any time for anything, this change in pace can be eye-opening and quite refreshing. It can be the most wonderful and most frustrating aspect of French culture, especially to an American, but it might just be my favorite part, once you’ve embraced it.