France takes up roughly 640,000 square kilometers of western Europe and probably the top spot on all of our bucket lists. It is one of the world’s most visited countries and is deemed the third-largest country in Europe.
Called ‘L’hexagone’ by the Frenchmen inspired by its six-sided shaped border, France is home to around 67 million people, foreigners and natives combined. France is the second most populated place in Europe.
There is a lot to appreciate in France from its majestic nature spots, baroque architectures, and rich history. This country is fortunate to have a pleasant oceanic European climate and not frequently experience natural calamities. They don’t even have major fault lines!
The republic has been very welcoming to everyone as they have about 6 million immigrants from all over the world and nearly 200 million visitors from other countries each year.
The French Culture
France is a powerhouse of diversity with a culture infused with Celtic, Greco-Roman, and Germanic upbringing among its 18 regions. There are non-speaking French regions in France too.
What makes them unified is the French motto, “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.” The French people regard their culture as sophisticated, and valuing family relationships is a priority.
Catholicism is the prevailing religion in France that makes up 80% of the population. It can be traced back to the 1700s, reflecting the French architecture, including many cathedrals.
Easy Transport System
The country’s giant economy mirrors France’s system of public transportation. Traveling is made easy via trains, trams, metro, local buses, and taxis. Tickets can be purchased almost everywhere and can also be used in nearly all modes of transportation.
What’s impressive about this is the free transport for older people (65 and up) and minors (under 18). Almost 30 cities in France now implement this regulation.
The infamous high-speed train called TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) connects France’s borders to Belgium and Luxembourg. Reservation is mandatory since there are only limited seats. Trains are the usual mode of transportation in France for longer distances and trams for shorter destinations.
Trams, local buses, and taxis are also abundant for day-to-day commuters and tourists. Regardless of what mode of transportation you choose, there’s undoubtedly a picturesque view of either the countryside, sparkling river, or France’s busy avenues.
Convergence of History and Contemporary
France’s wonders can bring you to both worlds at the same time. There are about 20 prominent landmarks in Paris alone. Most famous are the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Palace of Versailles, Arc de Triomphe, and Champs-Élysées.
Louvre Museum is the most visited museum in the world, housing 38,000 artworks.
Meanwhile, France’s capital, Paris, is renowned as the fashion capital of the world. Twice a year, Paris hosts the Paris Fashion Week, attended by celebrities, influencers, people in business, and fashion connoisseurs from all over the world.
France also has several shopping malls. Renowned luxury brands like Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Lancôme, and Christian Louboutin came from France. To date, the largest shopping malls are Les Quatre Temps in La Défense and La Part-Dieu in Lyon.
The country is also rich in natural sceneries like the Verdon Gorges in the Var region, where you can also experience water activities while reconnecting with nature. Among other spots are the Etretat Cliffs in Normandy, King Aragon Stair Steps in Corsica, Sea of Ice in Chamonix, and the Dune du Pilat in Arcachon.
Authentic French Cuisine
Cheese and wine are the staples in almost all of the French dishes. It was back in the 7th century when France modified the then foreign-influenced cuisine to a pure, authentic French cooking method.
France’s culture, the same as any other country’s culture, is extended to its delicacies.
You’ve probably heard of the ever-famous Foie Gras, Ratatouille, Soupe à l’oignon, Cassoulet, and many more sophisticated-sounding dishes. Foods are carefully prepared and typically enjoyed with family and friends.
France also has the best spirits. There are varieties of wine and several regions that produce the best wine in the world, from white, red, sparkling, and rose wines. Winemaking is linked to the French culture since the 6th century and is still flourishing up to this day.
Frenchmen and the Language
Though there are non-French-speaking regions in France, the majority of the country speaks French. Roughly 88% of the population speaks French, and 39% can speak English. It pays to learn actual French words when visiting the country since France regards their language as an integral part of their identity.
In support of this, the French government preserves its language by banning foreign words. Private radio stations are also required to play music 70% in the French language and 40% of French origin between 8 AM until 8 PM.
Many French-language schools in the country offer courses to learn the language, whether for businessmen, students, and travelers.
French people are friendly though they could be timid and very formal to strangers. Here are the things you might consider when dealing with the Frenchmen the moment you visited France:
- Though they don’t expect foreigners to speak pure and fluent French, they expect you to ask them even in a butchered French way if they speak English before interacting with them. As mentioned, a few of the population can speak English, and so it can save both of your time to ask.
- Big hugs are a no-no. You had probably encountered a Frenchman wholly dumbfounded when you gave him/her a friendly big hug. It is because their way of greeting is typically a cheek kiss or a handshake.
- Everything starts with Bonjour! Everyone is just very polite in France that it is innate for the Frenchmen to begin their statement with Bonjour when dealing with store owners, bus drivers, neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers. People are also often addressed as Madame or Monsieur followed by their first names to show respect.
- Tone it down. Frenchmen are discreet people and so making loud noises, particularly in public places, is illegal.
There’s a lot to discover in the six-sided country of France. From its well-mannered people, rich culture, and sophisticated sceneries, it’s no wonder how it always tops the list of being a dream destination of spectators worldwide.