French restaurants are famous in all the word for being elegant and expensive, but that is only a stereotype. In reality, in France, you can eat very well without spending a fortune: just only the bread (baguettes have been invented there, hello!) is fantastic and super tasty even thought it is made only with flower, clear water and a bit of salt. France is the birthplace of crepes, as well: almost at every street corner you will be able to find small crepes kiosk serving salty (with cheese and ham) or sweet (with chocolate cream, marmalade or just a bit of sugar) creeps. The smell in the air around those shops is so good that not many people can pass by without stopping and get a bite.
Moreover, France is the country of cheese and wine: every little village produce its own, and they are all excellent. It will probably take a lifetime just to try all of them, but some people could say that that is a life worth to live. Among the most famous French recipes we can remember the ratatui (ratatouille), a mix of garden vegetable such as zucchini, pepper, eggplants (made famous by the latest Disney cartoon) and the French onion soup, a very tasty soup made of cooked onion, bread and melted cheese.
In France there is no national dress, but many traditional dresses that were inspired by the dress that people from the countryside were wearing during holidays and religious celebration. France has many regions (22), each with their own traditional dress.
Those costumes can be very different from one region to another, especially in the women’s hats, which go from small straw hats to a huge starched lace veil very similar to that one wear today by some brides. However, the main pieces of all French women costumes are: a long and simple white dress, a wide overdress in a bright colour often heavily decorated a lacy apron, a shall that can be wear over the shoulder or cross on the chest, and a very complicated hair up do. Men´s costume is much more simple, and it is made by trouser, shirt, jacket and an hat similar to that one used by the local farmers during market day. The shirt is always white (made of silk or cotton depending on the person status) and the main colour of the whole costume is a dark one such as blue, brown or black.
As the 20th century brought on a lot of change, very quickly the traditional dress fell out of use, only to be worn for special occasions such as performances, historical recreations or traditional music and dance shows..
Nowadays, everybody dress much more casual. French fashion and style (together with the Italians) are famous all around the world and the names and address of the most important shopping center in Paris (such as the Primtemps or Galerie Lafayette) are listed in all the city guides.
Still today, French fashion is a synonym of elegance and high lifestyle and French brand (maison de mode) and designer (coutourier) such as Chanel, Yves St. Lauren and Lavin still dress royal families all around Europe.
Among these designers, one of the most famous is Coco Chanel, who, born in a small village in the country side in 1883 created the brand Chanel, which, still today, is a synonym of elegance and style. With her creation, she made women feeling beautiful and comfortable, and she invented one of the world most famous perfume: Chanel n 5.
But fashion is not just a hobby for wealthy people and many goods piece of clothing can be bought also in the second hand markets (called Marché de pusses or Brick brack or Brocantes) organised weekly or monthly in every city.
Festivals, holidays, celebrations in France
Beside Christmas and New Years Eve, one of the most important French holydays, especially for the citizen of Paris (Parisians) is the 14 of July. In this day, the French remember the event that became the beginning of the French revolution: the taking of the Bastille (14th July 1789). The Bastille was a very big prison in the downtown of Paris where political prisoner (mostly people that were opposing the king and his power) where kept. Following months of political crisis the citizens of Paris entered in the Bastille and free the prisoners. As mentioned, this is considered the beginning of the French revolution: few months after this event the King XVI and the Queen Maria Antoinette were arrested and the Republic was proclaimed. During this time the French national Song La Marseillaise (the song from Marseille) was composed and the motto ` Liberté, Fraternité and Egalité´ (Freedom, Brotherhood, Equality) become famous all around the world.
Still today, the people party in the street remembering the event and a big parade is organised every years in Paris.
On the other hand, a much more Hollywood – style event take place every year in the South of France: the Cannes Film Festival. For about a week, all the most important directors, actors and producers meet on la Croisette (area of the city where the festival take place) and present the new movies of the season. The winners get as a prize a small golden palm branch and becomes the person that every TV and magazine want to interview.
Famous French stories & epics
Among the most famous French legends we would like to remember those ones linked to a beautiful place situated in the Northern part of the country: Mont San Michel. This cliff over the Atlantic sea host a beautiful church dedicated to San Michel Angel. The difference between low and high tide in this region is, so strong that every 6 hours the church gets completely isolated from the coast. So the place can be reached from the mainland only when the tide is low. A very unusual place were to build a church, but the legend say that, during the middle age, a pregnant woman was taking advantage of the low tide for picking mussel from the beach. Suddenly she entered in labour. Incapable to move, she begins to pray St. Michel Angel for help.
The water was rising up but the Angel answered her pray and she and the baby were saved. To remember this event a little altar was build in the place where the miracle took place and many year later the bishop of Avranches financed the construction of the church that we can still visit today. However this decision was not a spontaneous one since the Angel appeared twice to the bishop in his dreams asking him to make a new church. However, only when the Angel give him some tangible and terrible sign of his power the bishop agreed on collecting the money necessary for the works.
Another famous epic story known by all French is about 19 year-old Jeanne d’Arc (a.k.a. Jon D’arc) during the 100 Year wars. Because of her leadership and courage the French army won many wars but she eventually was captured by Burgundians and sadly burned live in Roune, Normandy.
French Children’s games
A pretty common French outdoor game for children is `La semaine´(the week) that can be played by 2 or more children (but a kids can play it alone as well, especially if he/she want to get better at it) with the only aid of a charcoal and a stone.
With the charcoal the kids have to draw 7 squares (one following the other) on the ground naming them with the name of the day of the week.
Once that is done the first one have to throw the stone in the Monday box and if he miss it, he must let the next kid play. If the thrown has been correct he must jump on one of his feet until the stone, picked up still standing on one feet, and jumping back to the starting point.
The players have to do that at list 7 time (one for each square) and they have to repeat the task every time they made a mistake (for example they loose balance and they put the other feet down). The winner is the kid that covers all square and made back to the starting point.
Verbal and nonverbal communication in France
In France greetings is a very important part of every social interaction. French people all shake hands with everybody they meet and they always do it twice, when they arrive and when they live. Not doing so will be considered very impolite. On the other hand kissing in the checks is a standard greeting practice among family and friends. This can be done in private and in public meeting (called randez – vous) and the double kissing (one kissing per check) often start on the right side.
French people are extremely proud of being French and they like to express some of their thought with very typical. Among them the most common and characteristics are the following:
- ´very good´ (il est delicieux) : touch your fingers and thumb all together, kiss your fingertips, and then open your hand, as if tossing something in the air.
- ´Í have finished´ (c´est fini) : cross your arms in front of your body, with your palms out, then move them out, while saying, “C’est fini.”
- ´I promise it´(je le jure): place your hand on top of your head
For the same reason, French people are extremely protective over their language.
They don´t like to mix French with foreign worlds when they speak and they often translate them in a pretty funny way. For example the computer mouse, which is called mouse everywhere else in Europe, in France it become ´le souris´ which mean mouse (the animal) in French. For the same reason, French radio can not broadcast too much foreign music and a fix ratio between French music/foreign one has to be kept.
But music is not the only example. The love for their country makes French people always choosing French product over foreign one even when kids entertainment is concern. In fact, still today, many families chose the Asterix and Obelix Village entertainment park (Asterix and Obelix are famous comics book character invented by a French author) over Eurodisney, even thought the two places are situated outside Paris and they pretty close to each other.
French people open their heart to foreigner only when they speak (or make an attempt to speak) their language. The French are very proud of being French and they cherish every side of their culture. Some people could say that the French always feel superior to everyone else since they think they have the best wine, the best cheese and the most beautiful women…
However it is true that they appreciate their own comic books, their own heroes and their own music above everything else and, even thought, many difference exist between the history and the culture of each region, everyone considers him selves as French as everyone else.
They all share the same history and the same little ritual and, on Sunday morning, they all walk with a newspaper and an humongous baguette under they arm.
When you see that, you are definitively sure, you are in France
France Fun facts
As we were saying French cuisine is very famous all over the world, but not many people know that some of the ingredient of the most traditional food are a bit unusual. In fact, in France, you can eat not only raw oyster, but also snails (not raw, but cooked) and rabbit. Moreover, one of the most famous French ingredients is the pate de fois gras, a creamy pâté made from the liver of an overfeed duck. The pate de fois gras can be made and eaten in many different ways, and it is one of the traditional food that people eat during the Christmas Eve dinner.
In many houses, still today, once the Christmas Eve dinner is finished and everybody goes to bed, the table is kept undone so, if during the night, the Holy family will need to stop in the house for a short break they will get food and drinks for the trip.
For the same reason, back on the day, in many houses the fire was kept on during all Christmas night and this tradition inspired a very famous French Christmas cake the bùche de Noêl, which is nothing more than a very sweet version of a log waiting for being burn in the fire.
Famous places in France
Like Italy, France as well is full of history, so it is very difficult to choose which places to mention first. However, we can not forget Paris, which is not only the capital and a very beautiful and extremely romantic city, but also the city of the Louvre, one of the most important Museums of the world.
In the Louvre, people can admire beautiful examples of Roman and Greek art and many Renascence masterpieces such as Leonardo’s Monna Lisa.
One hour away from Paris, people can visit the castle of Versailles where the king palace was build by Luigi XI, who, in 1475, decide to build a palace where to go with his family every time he got tired of Paris and all is royal duties.
However, the king who made Versailles what it is today was Luigi XIV. He decide to renovate the building and renew the gardens and he officially opened up the new residence with a huge and 7 days (and nights) long party with a very intriguing theme: the pleasures of the enchanted island (Les Plaisirs de l’Isle Enchantée ).
Moving South from Paris, we can find other very beautiful and important castles: the castles on the Loire Valley (Chateaux de la Loire) a complex of more than 300 castles that were build in the valley of the river Loire and that, still today, transformed the area in a fairy tale landscape that host thousand of visitors every year. Among those castles the most famous and the most visited are the castel d´Amboise, Chaumont and Angers.
Important Note: This article was written by a person who is familiar with French culture based on his or her personal anecdotal observations. Additionally, there are quite a few generalizations to make the article easier to understand for the children. Dino Lingo does not accept any responsibility for errors, omissions or subjectivity in the content of this post.
We are wondering what you know about French culture…Why don’t you tell us what you know by leaving a comment below?
French Culture for Children By DinoLingo Writer: Federica Galli
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More quick facts About France
geography and nature
While France might look little compared to a country like Canada or the United States of America, it is the biggest country in the whole European Union. Also, France has a whole bunch of land in other parts of the world, like in North America, South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Ocean. It might not be so bad to be a mayor of a town in the Caribbean, huh!
France has the 20th largest population in the world, with about 65 million people. Almost 12 million of these people live in Paris alone, and the rest are spread out over the rest of the country.
capital city & important cities
Paris is the capital city of France, and it is also one of the most popular vacation spots in the world! Even though Paris is known for being a very expensive city to visit, it attracts about 45 million visitors each year! Some of the other major cities (and popular tourist spots!) in Europe are Lyon, Marseille, and Nice (which sounds like this: “Nees”).
The flag of France has a white stripe down the middle, with a blue stripe on one side and a red stripe on the other. People who speak English usually call the French flag the “French tricolor” or even just “the tricolor.”
French cuisine (which is the fancy way of saying “French food”) is considered to be some of the best food in the world! Food is a very important part of French life, and people come from all over the world to eat the food they prepare. Some of France’s most famous foods are their wines and their cheeses, and their food has had a big influence on a lot of the food that Americans eat every day.
France is known for their culture (which is another way of saying that they are known for being fancy), and their long history of classical music is one of things that has come from this! France is one of the most important countries for classical music, and this has been a big part of their lifestyle for a long, long time.
For a long, long time the country of France used the Franc for their money, but now they use the euro, which is the currency that almost all of Europe uses. The euro is the strongest currency in the whole world!
French is the only official language of France, and it is the language that almost everyone speaks, but there are some other languages that people speak as well. These are called “regional languages,” and they are languages that have been around in certain areas for a long, long time!
Common French Names, and their Meanings….Is it Yours?
- Stephanie: The name Stephanie is a girl name. The name Stephanie comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Stephanie is: The female version of the Greek name Stephan.
-Abella: The name Abella is a girl name. The name Abella comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Abella is: Breath.
-Julia: The name Julia is a baby name. The name Julia comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Julia is: Youthful.
-Nicole: The name Nicole is a girl name. The name Nicole comes from the French origin. In English the meaning of the name Nicole is: the feminine form of the boy name Nicholas.
-Madeline: The name Madeline is a girl name. The name Madeline comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Madeline is: Diminutive of Madeleine: Woman of Magdala Tower.
-Sydney: The name Sydney is a boy name. The name Sydney comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Sydney is: Variant of Sidney: From Saint-Denis (place name). This name has recently become popular for girls as well as boys.
-Avery: The name Avery is a boy name. The name Avery comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Avery is: Rules with self-wisdom.
-Tristan: The name Tristan is a baby boy name. The name Tristan comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Tristan is: Tumult; outcry. From the Celtic name Tristan. In Arthurian legend Tristan was a Knight of the Round Table and tragic hero of the medieval tale Tristan and Isolde.
-Aubrey: The name Aubrey is a boy name. The name Aubrey comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Aubrey is: Blond ruler, elf ruler. From the Old French Auberi, a form of the Old German Alberich meaning elf ruler. Although once common as a boy’s name, today it is almost exclusively given to girls.
-Mason: The name Mason is a baby boy name. The name Mason comes from the French origin. In French the meaning of the name Mason is: Stone worker.
Historical Figures of France: Kings, Queens and more
William the Conqueror actual French name is Guillaume le Conquérant, and he was Duke of Normandy, a large area of northern France. He is a historical figure of France because in 1066 he took his army across the Channel, and killed the English King, Harold, and most of the English nobles in the Battle of Hastings. He conquered England and put his Norman followers as leaders. His knights built strong castles like Dover, and his bishops built fine cathedrals like Canterbury. For 300 years, the King of England and all the important people in the country spoke only French. Today, English still has thousands of words which come from French.
Claude Monet is an artist, the leading member of the Impressionist painters. His most famous painting is the “Water-lillies” which he painted in the elaborate garden he had made for himself.
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer whose work is often linked with the Impressionist painters. He is famous for piano pieces such as “Children’s Corner” and his orchestral work “The Afternoon of a Faun” (“L’apès-midi d’une faune”).
Alexandre Dumas wrote the two historically known adventure classics “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”.
Victor Hugo credited forDisney film and video “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. The original novel was written by Victor Hugo and is known in France as “Notre Dame de Paris”.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is theauthor of “Le Petit Prince” a well- known French children’s book.
Napoléon Bonaparte was a famous French general who became Emperor of France in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Napoleon was responsible for introducing measures which form the basis of many of France’s institutions that still exist today, including an educational law to set up state grammar schools (lycés) which aimed to provide well-trained army officers and civil servants. During Napoleon’s reign France was constantly at war. Napoleon built a huge empire, so that by 1812 he controlled the greater part of Western Europe. Eventually he was defeated when France was invaded by Russian, Prussian, Austrian and British armies. Finally, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. He managed to escape and ruled France again for just a hundred days before being defeated by Wellington at Waterloo. He was sent as a prisoner to St. Helena, where he died in 1821.
Louis Blériot is credited as a French airman who became the first person to fly the English Channel. On 25 July 1909 he flew from Calais to Dover in 37 minutes.
Louis Braille is credited towards inventing the system of raised dots which form letters for the visually impaired to read. Louis was blinded in an accident at the age of 4. He was sent to one of the first schools for blind boys in Paris, where they were taught simple skills to help them earn a living without begging. Without being able to read, it was difficult for blind people to have much education. The system is now used everywhere in the world.
Ferdinand de Lesseps is credited towards building the Suez Canal – regarded at the time as the world’s greatest engineering triumph, and tried but failed to build a Panama Canal.
Popular Children’s Books of France, Separated by Age Groups
Ages 1 to 4:
- Adele la sauterelle
- Adrien le Lapin
- Benjamin le lutin
- Camille la Chenille
- Cesar le lizard
Ages 5 to 8:
- Caroline a la ferme (Probst, Pierre)
- Babar a la fete de Celesteville (Author: Brunhoff, Jean De)
- Les amis de Martine a la maison (Author: Marlier, Marcel)
- N 01 Petzi construit son bateau (Author: Hansen, Carla Et Vilh.)
- Tom-Tom et Nana # 1et l’impossible Nana (Author: n/a)
Ages 9 to 11:
- Alice a la reserve des oiseaux (Author: Quine, Caroline)
- Bagarres du petit Nicolas – Histoires inedites vol 8 (Sempe-Goscinny)
- Dernier seigneur (Le) (Author: Milan Poche Histoire)
- Atchoum! (Author: Seuil Jeunesse)
- Petit Prince- cassette (version originale) (Author: Saint-Exupery, Antoine De)
- Hana Yori Dango t. 1 (Author: Kamio)
- Harry Potter a l’ecole des sorciers (Author: Rowling, J.K.)
- Louison et M. Moliere (Author: Andersen, Hans Christian)
- Je suis un garcon (Author: Arnaud, Cathrine)
- Belle et la bete (La) (Author: Folio Cadet)
French Inventions for Kids
- AQUALUNG: a breathing apparatus that supplied oxygen to divers and allowed them to stay underwater for several hours. It was invented in 1943 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
- BAROMETER: a device that measures air (barometric) pressure. It measures the weight of the column of air that extends from the instrument to the top of the atmosphere. There are two types of barometers commonly used today, mercury and aneroid (meaning “fluidless”). Earlier water barometers (also known as “storm glasses”) date from the 17th century. The mercury barometer was invented by the Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli.
- BATTERY: a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Each battery has two electrodes, an anode (the positive end) and a cathode (the negative end). An electrical circuit runs between these two electrodes, going through a chemical called an electrolyte (which can be either liquid or solid). This unit consisting of two electrodes is called a cell (often called a voltaic cell or pile). It was invented by Alessandro Volta.
- BICYCLE: a wooden scooter-like contraption called a celerifere; it was invented about 1790 by Comte Mede de Sivrac of France.
- ELECTRIC IRON: The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry W. Seeley
- MAYONNAISE: invented in France hundreds of years ago, probably in 1756 by the French chef working for the Duke de Richelieu, The first ready-made mayonnaise was sold in the US in 1905 at Richard Hellman’s deli in New York.
- METER (and the METRIC SYSTEM): Was invented in France. In 1790, the French National Assembly directed the Academy of Sciences of Paris to standardize the units of measurement. A committee from the Academy used a decimal system and defined the meter to be one 10-millionths of the distance from the equator to the Earth’s Pole (that is, the Earth’s circumference would be equal to 40 million meters). The committee included the mathematicians Jean Charles de Borda (1733-1799), Joseph-Louis Comte de Lagrange (1736-1813), Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827), Gaspard Monge (1746 -1818), and Marie Jean Antoine Nicholas Caritat, the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794).
- PENCIL: invented in 1564 when a huge graphite (black carbon) mine was discovered in England. The pure graphite was sawn into sheets and then cut into square rods. The graphite rods were inserted into hand-carved wooden holders, forming pencils.
Some French phrases and words