• Vatican City!

    Vatican City: Vatican Museums. Go Now!

    Vatican City
    The smallest country in the world offers the heart of Catholicism and among the world's finest art collections, including the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms (ceiling pictured). Go to Vatican City!

  • Albania!

    Albania: Village of Theth! Go Now!

    Albania
    Albania is unique in Europe, starting with its Muslim heritage, but expanding to include food, culture, and even its natural beauty. Explore Albania!

  • Netherlands!

    Netherlands: Wooden shoes. Go Now!

    Netherlands
    This low country might be small, but it maintains a unique place in history and culture. Explore the Netherlands!

  • Ukraine!

    Ukraine: Traditional Village. Go Now!

    Ukraine
    Ukrainian culture is based on village life, particularly that found in the Carpathian Mountains (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Latvia!

    Latvia: Art Nouveau in Riga. Go Now!

    Latvia
    Latvia is small, but has a diverse history, foods, and architecture (shown), which includes aspects from both Eastern and Western Europe. Begin Your Journey!

  • Germany!

    Germany: Town Hall. Go Now!

    Germany
    Food, beer, natural beauty, and more create a country that's known for its distinct culture and history. Go Now!

Social Life in France

Behavior

The French are very well aware of the world around them as well as the differences in opinions and behaviors. Because of this they are somewhat understanding of various cultures and foreigners so odd behaviors are generally accepted, although they may be looked down upon.

Your behavior should begin with modesty as being loud, rude, showing off wealth, or dressing provocatively will get you stares. Likewise, placing yourself above others or boasting is viewed negatively.

As a visitor to France, just try to follow the lead of the locals by dressing in like manner (see below for details), dining in the local etiquette (see our France Dining & Food Page), and avoid sensitive conversation topics, such as politics, finances, and business unless initiated by your local counterpart.

Dress

The traditional dress of France is heavily regional and was always changing. France is and has been a leader in the fashion industry for some time so clothing trends in the country have been in constant motion. None-the-less, there are some historical clothing items that are widely recognized and often times considered to be "traditional clothing" although most of them were never widely worn across the entire country as it is today.

In generally, the women of France historically wore long dresses, while the men wore pants and shirts. Many stereotypes of this dress comes from the region of Alsace, where women generally wore a loose-fitting blouse with a wide skirt or dress and a large bow or hat in their hair; the shirts were generally white, but the dress could be in any color as black, red, and purple seemed to be popular. For men black pants of knickers with a white shirt, red vest, and black hat was the traditional outfit of Alsace. The Breton shirt, which is a simple white shirt with thin blue horizontal stripes, was also common in areas as was the beret.

Today the Breton shirt and beret can still be seen, but the dress is much more varied than this. Fashion is king in Paris and the clothing styles are always changing, which leads to a significant amount of diversity. As a visitor to France try to dress fashionably, but not in a way that you stand out. Also dress for the occasion as churches require long pants and more conservative dress, while on the other extreme little clothing seems to be the norm on the southern beaches (although you should still put some clothes on when you leave these beaches). Although, sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is only permitted in certain places so always be sure to know where this is allowed before doing so. Lastly, France has banned the covering of one's face in public so any facial covering is illegal, including the Islamic niqab.

This page was last updated: November, 2013