Ever since I first heard that sweet sound of romantic french music, came across photos of little cobblestone streets, and watched Amelie, I was in love with french culture. I took french for a year in High School, and sad to say, like much of what I learned in those 4 years, not a whole lot stuck.
Now that I’ve grown into my own tastes, styles, and way of life, I am a big fan the French culture, and here are some of the neatest things i’ve learned that I would like to share with you. Now, I won’t touch on politics or religion, although important to the French and what shaped France as a country, I’d like to stay light hearted and share the fun stuff like design, food, and daily habits. I found this in a fun French website: “The French way of life is focussed on appreciating what the country has to offer within its own frontiers; beaches, mountains, fine art, wine, culture, cooking and traditions that date back centuries. Anyone who lives in France – particularly if they are in a rural area - will quickly find that local customs and systems vary. At times the French can seem very set in their ways and reluctant to change. But this is part of the charm and attractiveness of living in what is also a very modern state and one of the world’s major economies.”
Cuisine: Traditional French culture places a high priority on the enjoyment of food. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. There are many significant regional dishes that have become both national and regional. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated in different variations across the country in the present day. Cheeses, wines and breads are a big part of their cuisine. Another French product of special note is the Charolais Cattle, a beef that is common to France.
The French typically eat only a simple breakfast of, for example, coffee or tea, served traditionally in a large handleless bowl and bread or breakfast pastries , or yogurt. Lunch and dinner are the main meals of the day. Formal four course meals consist of a starter course, a main course, followed by a salad course, and finally a cheese and/or a dessert course. While French cuisine is often associated desserts, in most homes dessert consists of only a fruit or yogurt. But chocolate is enjoyed at any time through out the day. You can gather by this that they see eating lunch and dinner as a social event, enjoying their meals and the company in which it is shared. Lunchtime is also an important part of the day, It has fine wine and gourmet restaurants but also good basic local bistros where a glass of the house wine and a home cooked steak can seem like heaven.
Food shopping in France was formerly done almost daily in small local shops and markets, but the arrival of the supermarket in France have put a kink in this tradition. I still think of small markets and over flowing shopping bags when I think of the French preparing for dinner. Rates of obesity and heart disease in France have traditionally been lower than in other north-western European countries. With walking everywhere, and a diet full of fresh foods and red wines, who can argue? The French are trying to hold fast to their eating routines and keep their youth informed of such habits, and away from the fast food chains that populate main parts of France. And is it sad that one of my favorite movies about french food is Ratatouille?
Breakfast! According to Molly Mulshine, Author of the article, Anatomy of the French Breakfast, “Their morning meal is called le petit dejeuner, or a little lunch. From what I’ve gathered, the average French person has just a piece of fruit or a pastry and espresso for breakfast.”
A cute mini loaf of bread.
I would LOVE to eat here on a warm summer night…
Haha. I had to post this. The top triangle should say “chocolate”.
Leisure: Professional sailing in France is centred on singlehanded/shorthanded ocean racing with the pinnacle of this branch of the sport being the Vendee Globe singlehanded around the world race which starts every 4 years from the French Atlantic coast. “The leisure-loving French spend too much time on holidays and having long lunches and not enough time at work”, the country’s firebrand finance minister has once claimed. I don’t see a problem with that, as long as work gets done. Paris and other French cities offer a wide range of entertainment from opera, theatre, concerts, galleries and museums to festivals, book fairs and markets.
Travel: All cities have good bus services for getting about and Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Rennes have underground Metros. The French drive smaller cars, and less SUV’s then the US, and the Metro travel is better on the environment then everyone driving separately. When you live in a bigger city, you tend to walk and bike more places as well, which is not only better for you, it’s better for the planet.
Fashion: France is sometimes called “The Fashion Capital of the World”, right along side with Milan, New York, and London. I mean, who hasn’t heard of couture or haute couture in terms of high fashion? The French also have a very casual “less is more” motto when dressing for every day life, while looking totally chic.
Here’s a good example of casual fashion with layers, matching, and still looking chic.
Design: I’ve been in love with French design before I even knew what it was. The black and cream color palette, the flea marked inspired look, toile and thick stripes. A lot of home decor is new and custom made, but a lot is also second hand, flea market or purchased at a thrift store, and therefore better for the environment. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
The neutral back drop to leave room for pops of color, the flowers, and gold touches just screams “French Design”
The draping curtains, the flea market style wood furnishings, and just enough space to fit all that is necessary is also reminiscent of French Design.
Gorgeous. Gold. Ornate. Very French.
This ity-bitty kitchen is very familiar in French apartment living. There seems to be just enough space for 1 person, maybe 2 and only the appliances that are just big enough to fit what is needed, and nothing more.
Photo from Paris Luxe. This is where Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel stayed in Paris.
Another Paris Luxe apartment.
If only this were the view out of my kitchen…
Overall, with the leisurely attitude, the better food, chic style of dressing and abundant resources of the french as far as clothing and decor I would move there in a second. I would have to learn the language, of course, but I don’t have a problem with that. I could easily adapt to live in a country where wine is recommended to be had at lunchtime, the city’s history is older than 200 years, and the architecture is jaw dropping at every corner. Also, with other countries just a bus or boat ride away, culture is literally waiting out your front door. So why not?