What to Know: French Traditions and Customs Before Your Trip 

France is a unique country with fascinating customs, traditions and culture. Before you make your trip there, it’s important to become familiar with the local language, customs, and even superstitions. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best French traditions and customs you should know before you visit France, so you can have a truly enjoyable experience.

Language 

The official language of France is, of course, French. However, it’s also spoken throughout the Metropolitan French regions, including Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. While the majority of local French people are fluent in English, mastering some common French phrases will go a long way.

Greetings 

One important element of French culture is its emphasis on polite, formal greetings. If you meet someone for the first time, you should greet them with “Bonjour” and a handshake. When leaving, use “Au revoir.”

Dining 

Dining out is a very popular pastime in France, and there are many cultural customs in terms of how to behave. For instance, it’s expected that guests will order something to drink with the meal and will generally not leave without finishing their meal. If you’re invited to dine with a French family, the host may pour wine for everyone, regardless of age, out of respect for traditional customs.

Food 

No matter where you are in France, you can find an array of delicious regional specialties. The following are some of the most popular and must-try dishes in France:

• Crepes: Crepes are amazingly thin pancakes that can be filled with almost anything. This traditional French food item can be sweet or savory, and is always delicious.

• Cheese: France is known for having one of the widest varieties of cheeses in the world. From your beloved brie to the classic Camembert, you will find no shortage of delicious cheeses in France.

• Croissants: Croissants are buttery, flaky pastries enjoyed in France for centuries. While you can find them at most cafes, a trip to the city of Paris is the best place to savor real French croissants.

• Coq au Vin: This classic French dish consists of chicken cooked in a rich red wine sauce. It takes time and effort to prepare, but is definitely worth the wait.

Art and Culture 

France is known as the land of culture, and its many museums are a testimony to that. From the world-renowned Louvre museum to the Orsay museum featuring French Impressionism, there’s something here that’s sure to please even the pickiest art lover.

Music 

Music, from classical to pop, is an integral part of French culture. Music, especially jazz, has been a popular form of artistic expression in the country since the 19th century. Some of France’s popular homegrown musicians include Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, and Jacques Brel.

Fashion 

France has a long tradition of high-quality fashion design. For example, Paris is known for being the fashion capital of the world, with its centuries-old tradition of haute couture fashion. Some of the most famous French fashion designers include Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Fêtes and Festivals 

France is home to many vibrant festivals and fêtes, or street parties. From traditional music and dance festivals like the Fête de la Musique in Paris, to quirky local events like the Auld Lang Syne Day Parade in Cannes, you’re sure to find something interesting to check out.

Religion 

The majority of French people identify as Catholic, but around 7 million people practice other faiths, including Protestantism, Judaism, and Islam. There are also a large number of non-religious people. The French government guarantees religious freedom, so be sure to respect everyone’s beliefs and traditions.

Superstitions 

The French people have quite a few interesting superstitions that you should take note of. For example, it’s said that opening an umbrella in your home will bring bad luck. And if you accidentally put your handbag on the floor, put it back on a table or chair to avoid bad fortune.

Public Transportation 

Public transportation is a great way to get around in France, whether you’re traveling between major cities or just making a quick local trip. Most French cities have bus, tram, and metro systems, and most trains are incredibly reliable. Biking is also a popular way to get around in certain cities, like Paris.

France is a beautiful country full of interesting customs, traditions, and culture. Before you go, make sure you familiarize yourself with some of the basics, like pleasant greetings, the language, food and art, and even superstitions. With this knowledge, you’re sure to have a wonderful time exploring all France has to offer.