Here are some typical character traits of French:
- Fashion trendsetters
- Passionate about food
- Parisians lead a fast-paced life to the extent that they seem rushed, stressed and impatient
- May initially appear unfriendly and slow at forming friendships, but once they do, they are lasting
French love their country, but are not strong patriots, and displaying their flag outside of government entities is not part of their culture. French patriotism is at its peak at international soccer tournaments like the World Cup.
It may seem obvious, however the single most important means to communicate effectively with the French is to speak their language, even with those who speak English. Not only does it demonstrate an interest in their culture, it also facilitates deeper friendships that will uncover yet more layers of the French culture.
When people meet, they typically greet each other with two kisses. This is the common practice in various instances, such as when:
- Greeting an adult
- Greeting a friend outside of school
- Greeting family members
- Two kisses, les bises, are common between female and female, female and male, NOT male and male, unless they are close friends or family
The use of mobile technology is extremely prevalent among the majority of French citizens. Contrary to practices in the U.S., WhatsApp is by far the most popular way of communicating with other people. Similarity, however, Instagram remains the number one social media app.
Outlook to other cultures
France is open to other cultures. English language skills are greatly encouraged and many colleges and graduate schools require a strong competency in English for admission. Consequently, study abroad programs to the U.K. and the U.S. are popular. France’s historical presence in Africa has resulted in a large population of immigrants from several countries in Africa.
Historically, France was a predominantly Catholic country, but there has been a steady rise of atheists and agonistics that represent approximately 40% of the population, while only half of French consider themselves Catholic. With growing Muslim communities, Islam is also on the rise in France.
A noteworthy aspect of French surnames is the use of the prefix de, like the name de Vigny. This additional two-letter word denotes the family name is of noble original. Considering the significance of the French revolution and tumultuous aftermath, some families who are ashamed of their noble ancestry, change their names by removing de. However, there are other families who pride themselves on their aristocratic background, which was the case in one of my host families. Growing up in a country free of monarchal rule, my appreciate of such lineage was diminished.