Private tailor-made journeys of a lifetime 1 888 263 2574
USA
  • AUS
  • DEU
USA
  • AUS
  • DEU
Christmas tree and xmas market at Kleber Square in medieval city of Strasbourg

culture of France

Culture of France

What is the culture of France like? Our destination experts share an overview.

Whether you’re sampling flavorful cuisine and rich wines on a culinary journey through lush countryside or soaking up elegant monuments and fascinating museums on a history tour, France is a country that delights all the senses. Before you jet off to its romantic capital or set your sights on one of its glamorous coastal cities though, it’s well-worth spending a few minutes clueing yourself up on the culture in France, which will allow you to truly appreciate the country during your trip. Learn about local traditions, discover more about the country’s most fashionable streets and uncover the best spots to admire exquisite French art.

Excellent / 4.9 out of 5
Culture of France - people

People and culture in France

The first thing you should know about the French is that they’re immensely proud of their heritage. Their identity is steeped in centuries of history, from their days as a sophisticated royal nation through to the French Revolution, which birthed the country’s inspiring motto: “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” (Freedom, Equality and Fraternity). Go on a tour of key monuments around Paris that bore witness to these historic developments, from the ornate Palace of Versailles to the Place de la Bastille.

When it comes to everyday life in France, family plays an important role. Most families are typically very close knit and will make an effort to eat and socialize together. Food is generally a large part of this, with French cuisine and wine considered among the best on the planet. For a French cultural vacation with a focus on gastronomy, you’ll want to put historic wine regions like Champagne and Bordeaux on your itinerary.

Religion in France

Christianity is the main religion in France and makes up over 80% of the practicing population. France is also known for being a very multicultural and inclusive nation, which means  you will see people of diverse ethnicities and religions, particularly in cities and larger towns. 

While religion may not be as an important part of the culture in France as it used to be, the country’s ecclesiastical monuments are some of its most visited and visually stunning landmarks. Tour iconic structures like Notre-Dame in Paris or Strasbourg Cathedral in Alsace, both of which are prime examples of French Gothic architecture.

Public holidays in France

Most of France’s national holidays stem from religious celebrations like Christmas or Easter. Nevertheless, there are a few others you should be aware of when planning your vacation, including:

  • May Day – May 1 is France’s annual Labor Day, which celebrates workers rights across the country. 
  • Victory in Europe Day – This French national holiday, which marks the end of WWII in Europe, falls on May 8. 
  • Bastille Day – Marked on July 14, this commemorates the day the famous Bastille prison in Paris was stormed in 1789, an event that led to the French Revolution. It’s typically celebrated across the country with firework displays and street parades.
Paris, Young woman shopping place vendome

French fashion

As the birthplace of Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Jean-Paul Gaultier, it’s safe to say that fashion is a key part of the culture in France. In fact, the nation has been at the forefront of the global style scene since medieval times and is now well-known for its many high-end fashion houses as well as the prestigious Paris Fashion Week.  

Parisians have long been known as some of the trendiest people on the planet and you’ll find streets like Champs-Élysées and Rue Saint-Honoré lined with department stores and sleek designer shops. You will additionally spot plenty of well-dressed people and beautiful boutiques in other regions of France, namely Nice and St Tropez in the glamorous French Riviera.

French art - things to do in France

French art and cinema

France has birthed some of the world’s greatest artists over the years and its many magnificent museums are currently home to numerous creative masterpieces. The Louvre in Paris is bursting with paintings, sketches and sculptures from major French creatives, while the Pompidou Centre is a must-see to admire exhibitions of more contemporary works. Beyond the capital, the stunning region of Provence has served as inspiration for many well-known French artists, including Paul Cezanne. Giverny in Normandy is where you will find the former home of Impressionist painter Claude Monet, which has been transformed into a museum of both his life and beautiful landscape paintings.

Whether you’re a fan of art house cinema or prefer watching all the latest blockbusters, France is undeniably one of the most influential nations when it comes to moviemaking. Discover all about the Lumière brothers’ groundbreaking invention of the cinematograph at the Institut Lumière in Lyon. Starting or ending your vacation in Paris? Catch a screening of a classic French film at the Cinémathèque Francaise located on the edge of Parc de Bercy. You could also plan your trip to coincide with the Cannes Film Festival in May where you might catch a glimpse of top film stars walking the red carpet.

La Rosière, Montvalezan, France

Sports in France

France may be the current FIFA World Champions (as of 2019), but they also excel in other sporting areas. Keen cyclists should book their vacation in July to cheer on the Tour de France riders as they speed over the finish line at the Champs-Élysées in Paris. If golf is more your thing, you’ll be happy to hear that France hosts some of the most beautiful and well-groomed golf courses in Europe. Winter sports are also a key part of the local culture in France, with locals and visitors alike flocking to ski resorts in the Alps or Pyrenees to test out their skills on the pistes.

Everyday culture of France

Everyday etiquette in France

French people, especially the older generations, are known for being quite formal and reserved. While this attitude can come across as cold to some, it’s actually a reflection of their unique etiquette. To avoid making a social faux pas during your trip, it’s important to be aware of:

Greetings – How you greet someone in France will depend on a few factors, from their gender to how well you know them. It’s customary to always greet someone by saying “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir”, although a more informal greeting between friends tends to be one, two or even three kisses on the cheek.

Gift giving – If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a French home during your stay, it’s usually appropriate to bring a gift for the host. It’s best to avoid gifting wine (they are the experts, after all!).

Noise in public places – It’s frowned upon to shout or be excessively noisy in a public place in France. Keep conversations at a normal noise level and avoid playing loud music late at night in residential areas.

Got more questions about the culture in France or ready to book your vacation? Get in touch with our team of experts for your tailor-made France vacation.

from the blog
Art and architecture in Italy - Venice
By: Jemima Forbes
6 min

Ode to the Centuries: Art and Architecture in Italy

Whether you’re a fan of classical columns and ornate frescoes or more contemporary allures, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Italy. Learn more about Italian art and architecture to plan your cultural vacation.

READ POST

Enchanting Travels UK & Ireland Tours Christmas in London - festivals and events in the UK and Ireland
By: Jemima Forbes
3 min

Must-see Festivals and Events in the UK and Ireland

Discover the must-see festivals and events in the UK and Ireland, from the Glastonbury Festival to Bloomsday, St. Patrick's Day celebrations and more!

READ POST

Enchanting Travels UK & Ireland Tours Famous Conwy Castle in Wales, United Kingdom, series of Walesh castles
By: Jemima Forbes
3 min

Discover the UK & Ireland through its Architecture

From charming cobbled lanes to impressive Victorian viaducts, there’s plenty of attractive architecture to be found in the UK and Ireland.

READ POST

popular trips to FRANCE
THE ENCHANTING DIFFERENCE

Authentic Experiences

Our award-winning, licensed expert guides providing local insights and insider tips. Their passion is enchanting our guests.

Freedom & Flexibility

Fully customized private trips based on your interests and preferences made possible through deep destination expertise.

Safety & Security

We work exclusively with licensed chauffeurs tested for skill and the highest standards of safety. All vehicles are safety-tested.

100% Financial Protection

We are bonded members and license holders of all leading travel organizations. Your booking is completely secure.

Quality & Comfort

Personally tested accommodation and restaurant recommendations. We select comfortable, high-quality vehicles.

Never Feel Stranded

Your dedicated, destination-based trip coordinator is reachable 24/7 and we offer mobile phone access during travel.

WHAT OUR GUESTs SAY

One of the very best travel experiences I have ever had. We even got updates once at 3 am! He also made one change in one day’s itinerary to accommodate our wishes which was very wonderful. For business, I have traveled to Europe, Russia, all over Asia and South Africa but was blown away by all the beautiful sites in Argentina and Chile.

Rating 5/5
Enchanting Travels- Chile Tours Fishing boat and old Dock, Puerto Natales, Antartica Mexico holiday

Joseph MatheyUSA

All the little touches made by our Enchanting Travel consultant, Amelia Edwards, were noticed and recognized by my wife and I. Thank you for making our milestone trip (25th wedding anniversary) such a memorable one! We look forward to engaging Enchanting Travels again for our next South American adventure!!

Rating 5/5
Buenos Aires Sehenswürdigkeiten: Kongressgebäude Mexico holiday

Raymond SuireUSA

This was my first adventure as a solo traveler. But while I may have traveled on my own, I was never alone. I was well taken care of by a superb team of planners, trip coordinators, guides and drivers.

Rating 5/5
Bolivia - Uyuni - People & Car standing in Salt flats

Lori McCarneyUSA

Do you have a vacation in mind? Personalize your itinerary with our Trip Builder.