This week we'll be talking about culture in my French conversation group.
Culture is an integral part of learning a language. The first thing we think of when we talk about French culture is literature, gastronomy, art, museums, etc.
But, there are other cultural aspects related to France that are less official. These are the cultural aspects that are more related to the French, to their cultural customs.
We will see today the 6 most surprising cultural facts in France. Be careful, when I say surprising, it doesn't mean bad or weird, it just means that it is something very French that can surprise you when you arrive in France.
1. Say "bonjour" all the time.
In France, politeness is very important. And a French person can take it very badly if you don't say hello. Really, I assure you.
I think we say hello much more than in other countries. There are places where it is a custom to say hello. It's pretty amazing!
For example, as soon as you go into a store and there is a receptionist and a few customers, you say hello.
If you go to the doctor, the dentist and you enter the waiting room: you say hello.
If we are in a building and we take the elevator, if we enter the elevator and there is someone, even if we don't know him: we say hello.
Another particularity, generally we do not say hello to every person we meet in the street. On the other hand, when we are on a hiking trail or a greenway (special path for bikes or pedestrians), we will say hello every time we meet someone.
💡 So, a piece of advice: say hello when you are in France, even if you don't get an answer, it can happen. Strangely enough, we are very demanding in terms of politeness, but sometimes we are not good examples at all. But, to better acclimatize to France, it is important to integrate the "bonjour" in your everyday life.
2. La bise
The famous French kiss!
I must admit that for the last year and a half, we don't kiss in France anymore. Personally, I'm happy about it, I don't like kissing too much.
But the kiss is a very important French custom. The kiss is a way to say hello by giving one or more kisses on the cheek.
We don't say hello by kissing everyone. It is reserved for family and people close to us.
Then, another particularity, we do not make the same number of kisses according to the regions. It's already complicated to know who we should kiss, but we make it even more complicated, because we don't have the same number of kisses.
There is even a map that lists the number of kisses we get according to the regions.
3. To complain
It's not the cultural fact that I prefer, because I do not like people who complain all the time.
But, I must admit, the French complain all the time, they grumble a lot. I don't know why, but that's how it is.
It's summer, the weather is nice and hot: "Oh yes, but it's too hot, it's unbearable. It would be nice if it rained!
We are in autonomous, it rains: "Ah what a bad weather! We want the sun!
💡 So, you have to get used to it, when you are going to arrive in France, you are going to hear a lot of French people complaining about the weather, everyday life, the government, France, etc. But, be careful, the French like to criticize France, but they don't like it at all when other people criticize France. The French are very complex and paradoxical.
4. The food
Food in France is almost a religion!
We like to eat, we like to talk about food. We like to talk about food while eating.
We eat a lot of things that sometimes you may find strange: frog legs, snails, calf's head, tripe, cheese with a nauseating smell.
For the French, eating is a convivial moment that brings people together. We like to spend time at the table with our family and friends during long hours where we talk, we also complain.
💡 If you arrive in France and you are invited to a French person's house, they will appreciate the fact that you have a good appetite. That's why one of the things they say is "Bon appétit" before you eat. Also expect to spend a long time at the table and eat well of course!
5. Closed stores
You are on lunch break and you want to go to a store between 12 and 2 pm. It's going to be complicated!
In France, stores and boutiques are often closed between 12pm and 2pm. Stores also close around 6pm / 7pm. And the stores are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Well, now with the globalization and the arrival of international brand stores, we notice less this phenomenon, at least in the big cities.
On the other hand, in the smaller cities and villages, we notice more that the stores are closed.
💡 So you have to get organized and get used to the stores closing.
6. Go on strike
It's linked to the fact that we complain a lot. It is well known that the French strike a lot.
As we said, the French are rarely satisfied and happy, so they will want to go on strike to change things.
Afterwards, it can be good, it can lead to improvements, but there has to be a middle ground and also satisfaction with the situation.
💡 When you arrive in France, you will witness several strikes: a transport strike, public services strike, workers strike, etc. Don't be too surprised and take it easy.
I'll see you soon for new adventures, in French of course! 🇫🇷