5 French Cultural Tips to Know Before Visiting France

5 French Cultural Tips to Know Before Visiting France

Salut! When you come visit France, hidden cultural
differences will lead you to make social mistakes, without meaning to or even knowing you’re
making them. Even if you don’t see any consequences right
away, it may make you quickly feel like an outsider. Or by approaching an experience with the wrong
perspective, you might simply miss out on what could bring it from a good to a great
one! Now I know: “Culture” is a big word, but
it influences people only to a certain degree. It’s a very loose sets of rules, customs,
and values, and individual personalities can vary so much that you’ll always be able
to find an exception somewhere. That being said… Here are some cultural tips from me, so you
can better enjoy your time in France or with French people. I’m Géraldine, bienvenue sur Comme une
Française TV, Sound French, even to the French! Let’s dive in! Une conversation Une conversation, a conversation,
is both your best practice for French learning, and a major reward for all your lessons as
well! Most people won’t try to have a conversation
with un inconnu, a stranger, on the street or on public transportation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try–they
might be surprised or cautious at first, but I bet most of the time, you’ll find out
that it pleases people more than they thought! For a conversation among friends, there are
a few pitfalls I want to address. First, you might want to prevent your conversation
from switching back to English. I did an episode about this situation before,
so I’ll leave you a link to the video description on the blog. Second, we’re much less enthusiastic about
things than other cultures may be. Especially Americans, of course. It’s a cliché, but while Americans will
find everything “Amazing!,” a French person would simply react to the greatest thing ever
with a disaffected “…pas mal,” not bad. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like we’re
not enjoying a moment, we’re just less vocal about it. It also means that when French people do tell
you something is amazing, they tend to really mean it! L’amitié L’amitié, friendship, is a
really strong word here. You can have un pote or des copains, and both
words here would mean “a friend” or “friends.” But these are colloquially used to avoid saying
un ami: a true friend, someone you can trust without question. The important thing to take away here is that
friendships in France tend to be strong, so they’re harder to make. It takes time, it takes energy, and we try
to take them seriously. So we tend not to throw around things like
“We’ll get in touch soon,” unless we truly mean to at some point. Actually, I made a previous episode about
the different kind of friends you can make in France, and their subtle differences. As usual, you can click on the link to the
blog below this video. L’argent L’argent , money, is a touchy
topic in France. Basically: don’t talk about it. It can be the money you have made, the cost
of things you have bought, the cost of gifts you have received, and the price of things
your friend has bought… It’s easily seen as rude. For many reasons, one of them being that there
will always be someone in the room who has less than others. And they’re not expecting to be millionaire
one day in the future. Once again, it changes depending on who you’re
talking to, but a stereotype of French people is that we never really trust a rich person. Through all of this comes a defiance against
les signes extérieures de richesse, visible symbols of wealth, such as expensive watches
or big cars. This doesn’t mean we don’t have status
symbols, of course, but high-class people will prefer to subtly brag about their culture
or the amazing experiences they had, instead. La nourriture La nourriture, food, is sacred. It can be simple or highly sophisticated. You can cook it yourself, or you can buy it
prepared from the supermarket, or eat it at a restaurant… But in any case, you should always respect
the food itself. The point isn’t to fill yourself up, but
to enjoy the experience. And to spend some time with the people you’re
eating with. For instance, that’s why we tend to have
smaller portions: we don’t want to waste anything, by having to leave it on the plate
in the end. It’s a show of respect to the cook, and
to the whole process that brought the dish from the farm up to the table. And since the point of a meal is the moment
itself, and the people you share it with, we don’t believe in doggybags either. Though if you insist they might give you one
in some hotels and restaurants. Les stéréotypes Les stéréotypes are stereotypes. Not just the ones we have for foreigners…
but also for ourselves. For instance, they can be shortcuts to describe
the local cultural differences in various parts of France. Of course, it still varies a lot more on a
person-per-person basis; but these stereotypes will also have an influence on what we discussed
in the video, some of it being less true in some areas. People in Southern France, for example, are
seen as open people with a strong local accent. While they stereotypically speak louder and
tend to be more extraverted; they’ll also tend to be friendlier at first sight. And they’re famous for fanfaronner, bragging
a bit more. Always ready to somewhat… exaggerate their
stories. People in the North are supposed to be nicer
in their own way, maybe more down-to-earth. Especially since the movie Bienvenue chez
les Ch’tis came out, a big popular success that helped rekindle the nicer stereotype. Also, it rains a lot over there. Parisians are seen as hipsters, while also
being sad stressed-out people. They’re snobbish and think that only their
city matters. Basically, they carry the exact stereotype
that other countries use for France as a whole. On one hand, a stereotypical Parisian thinks
that la province, the part of the country that isn’t the Parisian area, is still existing
in the Middle Ages, and is only useful to go on holidays. …But on the other hand, a great deal of
people who live in Paris will still claim their roots are from other parts of France
anyway. People in the West, like Normandy or Brittany,
are seen as all fishermen or farmers. People that will always be ready to share
a drink with you. By the way, I’ve made an episode about La
Bretagne, Brittany, before. I’ll leave a link to it below this video. If you want to watch it. In the East, they’re basically German, yet
they’re very proud to still be French. No one really knows what’s going on in the
center of France, but their cows are tasty. And the one common thread between all of these
areas is that everyone is really proud of their own specialties in foods and especially,
drinks! Wine, ciders, beers, calva, patxaran [“patcharane”]…
even mineral waters can be a good local drink to bond with French people over, and find
out how much you and they differ from your stereotypes. 🙂 Et toi ? Have you ever experienced cultural
dissonance in a subtle way? Tell me in the comments section, I’d love
to hear from you! If you’re on Youtube, you’ll find a link
below this video to the blog CommeUneFrançaise.com. On the site I read all the comments and answer
all your questions too! Want more? Like an exclusive lesson on the pronunciation
of one of the most difficult French subtleties”? Subscribe now to join my “Everyday French
Crash Course.” It’s a free 10-day mini-course to sound
French, even to the French. It’s super easy to join. Leave me your first name and email and you’ll
receive Lesson 01 immediately. Best of all, it’s free. Merci for watching Comme une Française TV,
sound French, even to the French. Allez, salut !

32 thoughts on “5 French Cultural Tips to Know Before Visiting France

  1. Thanks much for your informative videos. What I experienced in France is that strangers do not ask each other what they do for a living.

  2. I love the part when you talk about the food! It's so true that French people enjoy the moment of the meal (and not only the meal itself!) It's a lovely moment to meet people and to catch up! I love it too!

  3. J'aime votre vidéos. Ils sont d'un grand secours pour apprendre français et apprendre quelque chose sûr la France en général. Merci! 🖒

  4. Spent time in Nice in a very beautiful hotel and as I was coming and going through the front door, I kept telling the door guy Bonjour each time I saw him. The guy was super friendly but after the third time he did tell me in English that Americans only need to say Bonjour to a person one time, n'est pas approprié to say it to the same doorman multiple times a day. Also I noticed that every time a customer would walk into a cafe or store they always would say, "Messieurs et dame" like annoucing themselves… Ladies and Gentlemen I am here. So I started to do that and I noted I got a little better service by acknowledging the shoppers and store keep when I entered a business.

  5. Salut, Géraldine! Comment ça va? Pouvez-vous parler un peu plus sur les stéréotypes de chaque partie de France? Je trouve ce sujet intéressant. Je vous souhaite une très bonne semaine.

  6. J'adore les vidéos de Géraldine mais avec ce nouveau style d'intro, je me sens un peu mal à l'aise parce que je m'attends toujours à la formule "Salut, c'est Géraldine…" et maintenant on l'entend que plus tard dans la vidéo ! 😀

  7. conversation with an inconnu? haha i can imagine englishman says bonjour, frenchman replies angliche pouah! These videos are great by the way

  8. At 5:08 when you said "the respect for the food from the farm to the table" – my sentiments were echoed. I always believed in this respect for food, and today geraldine vocalized it.

  9. Culturel tip for visitors in France … ou peut-être des types culturelles pour les français quand ils viennent au Québec il faut pas comparer toute a la France crisse.. ou dire " ben chez nous en France c'est comme ça " .ou ben en France… .. ou dire moi moi moi je je je ….vous êtes tous comme ça… nous autre les québécois on est également français mais c'est juste 200ans pis l'océan Atlantique qui nous sépare…… c'est pas nécessaire de venir icitte pis dire que vous êtes mieux que vos cousin canadien français…. …..(pas pour être méchant..mais …. un moment donné…..t'sais;) ) j'adore la France pis les français de France 😊😊😊😊

  10. Vos vidéos sont géniales. J'espère parler beaucoup mieux le français avec ma famille française vivant en France. Merci!

  11. Thank you for posting so many grea videos about French language and culture and local information! This is very helpful. I'll keep watching : ))

  12. À propos de la nourritures, ça n'a rien à voir avec le respect. C'est simplement par souci de ne pas gaspiller. Probablement des reliques des anciens ayant connu la guerre.

  13. so the center of france is sort of like the so called 'fly over areas' in the US, aka the midwest. nice.

  14. I heard that queuing was a peculiarly Brit thing so when I went to Paris I tested this theory out. And its true! I went into a big supermarket and just barged my way to the front of all the people waiting to pay for their items at the till, and apart from some tutting and icy looks, and someone angrily saying something in French at me, no one did anything! Its great!

  15. Je vis en Texas et beaucoup de gens ont des stéréotypes de Texans! Ils pensent que nous avons des chevaux et grands chapeaux. 🐎

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