Why do French people love Thailand

What is typically French? All clichés in the check!

You have probably heard of “living like God in France”. But what does that matter? What is typical of the French? What pitfalls do you expect when cultures clash? Our author Wolfgang has known France since he was a child and lived in Paris himself for four years. Read his - not always serious - report on typically French things that keep coming to his attention.


Table of Contents:

  1. Clichés about France
  2. What is typically French?
  3. Typical French specialties
  4. Typical sights in France

Due to family ties, I went to France for the first time when I was four. So I got to know and love the country and its inhabitants very intensively.

1. What is the truth of the clichés about France?

The French have their quirks. Many things that are typically French seem a bit strange to us. I think you should take things like that with a sense of humor. After all, we Germans are not entirely free from things that seem strange to foreigners.

1st cliché: the French don't want to speak foreign languages

Our image of the typical French is shaped by the prejudice that they refuse to speak foreign languages. That is not entirely correct. But if I had to learn German by reading Schiller and Goethe (as has long been the case in France), I would probably quickly lose interest.

The French, as a rule, like to be comfortable and seek the path of least resistance. So most of the people in school choose Spanish as a foreign language because it is very easy for them to learn.

For a long time in France no real attention was paid to speaking foreign languages. But that has changed in the meantime. When I started my job in Paris, I was amazed that I got a salary increase because I speak a “seldom spoken language”.

2. Cliché: “La Grande Nation”? For the French, France is the greatest

A typical French person is proud of his country. After all, France has been a major power in Europe and the world in the past. Older French people in particular still see it that way today. The younger generation now thinks differently and lives the European idea. At least a large part.

On the other hand, the “typical French” is not that common. So you should try to avoid calling a Breton a French. The Bretons are like the inhabitants of this small Gallic village and have nothing to do with the "Romans" in the rest of the country. They are proud of their Celtic roots and strive to revive this ancient culture.

Corsica is also particularly proud of being different. It is easy to overlook the fact that it is thanks to France that the once poor island became a wealthy holiday paradise.

In Alsace, on the other hand, people are now thinking back to the German past. For a long time you were almost ashamed of it. Today, Alsatian is spoken more and more again. Most of you will have difficulties understanding this Alemannic dialect.

2. What is now typically French?

Very typical and perhaps a bit strange for many of us is the way we interact with Cheek kisses to greet. There is even a rule for that. A kiss is given to the people you are just getting to know or those you can't stand. Most of them receive two kisses (one on the left and one on the right). Family and good friends will then receive three kisses. That shows great love.

The pronounced one is also very typical Sense of justice. Especially when it comes to his own needs. And every injustice is a state affair that has to be settled by the respective government. This creates the typical passion of constantly complaining about them and if nothing happens, you just go out on the street or go on strike.

Curiosity: In France, the law applies the 35-hour week. But what do you do if you work in a company that is open to the public and have to work longer due to the opening times? I worked 40 hours a week in my job. To compensate, my boss had to give me a so-called RTT once a month. This day of the “Réduction du temps de travail” always had to be taken in the current month. So I had an extra 12 days of vacation.

Unless you live in Paris, the French have the typical characteristic that you the capitals don't like (which, however, seems to be a European phenomenon when you think of Vienna, Berlin or Madrid). The Parisians are therefore terribly hectic and speak extremely quickly. And besides, they would have no idea how to enjoy life.

3. La Bonne Bouffe: Typical French specialties

There is probably nothing that all French have in common like a love of good food and good French wine. Is there any wine that doesn't come from France?

A typical day in France starts with a good breakfast. It consists of croissants, baguettes, butter and jam. And a large bowl of white coffee in which you can dip the buttered croissant. You don't eat hearty foods like cheese, ham or eggs for breakfast.

French bread

The croissants and the baguette (which translates as “the stick”) are shrines and every year the best bakers are chosen in these categories. Incidentally, the French's favorite bread comes in different shapes. The thin, particularly crispy sticks are called flûte ("flute"), the production of which is subject to very strict rules - similar to the German beer purity law.

Note: The baguette, which we know today as typical French bread, has only been ubiquitous in France since the beginning of the 20th century. Before that, bread was baked in the shape of a boule (ball). Hence the name “boulangerie” for bakeries. Incidentally, until 1986 there was a state-decreed maximum price for baguettes.

French cheese

Not only the wine is subject to a strict classification in France. Each region has its typical specialties, which are often strictly protected. The rules for cheese are particularly rigid. In France there are around 400 types of cheese made from cow, sheep or goat milk.

Each cheese can be assigned to one of the four categories:

Fermier: With this cheese, the milk is processed into cheese directly on the farm where it was produced. So everything is in one hand here.
Artisanal: This cheese is made by a meier / cheese maker. In addition to your own milk, you can also use bought-in milk here.
Cooperative: These are cooperatives that process the members' milk.
Industriel: Industrially produced cheese that you only eat when you absolutely have to.

45 types of cheese, three types of butter and two types of cream enjoy territorial protection and are allowed to use the symbol AOP ("Appellation d’Origine Protégée") wear. This specifies exactly where the milk comes from and where this cheese can be made. The best-known example is the Camembert, which is only allowed to come from the city of the same name in Normandy. The great French statesman Charles de Gaulle seemed to have known exactly when he once said: "How am I supposed to rule a country where there are more cheeses than days in the year?"

French regions and their typical specialties:

In general, every region in France has its typical specialties that are appreciated throughout the country. Everyone knows the Choucroute from Alsace. You should definitely try the variant with fish. Delicious. The best lentils come from La Puy an Vélay in central France.

Alsace: Choucroute (sauerkraut), tarte flambée, Gugelhupf
Lorraine: Mirabelle plums, Quiche Lorraine
Normandy: Calvados, apple tarts, cider, camembert, butter
Brittany: Crêpes, seafood, Kig ha farz (stew with pork, beef, scallops and vegetables), Kouing Amann (butter cake), Far Breton (cake with pudding and prunes), lobster
Pays de la Loire: Nantes ducks, Vendée ham, oysters, sardines
Aquitaine: Foie gras, pré-salé lamb from Pauillac, canelé (small cakes with vanilla and rum, addicting)
Midi-Pyrénées: Roquefort cheese, cassoulet (bean stew with duck and sausages), Violets de Toulouse (candies made from violets)
Auvergne: Aligot (mashed potatoes with cheese and garlic), truffles from the Perigord
Provence: Bouillabaisse from Marseille, ratatouille, petits farcis (small vegetables filled with minced meat), crème brûlée with lavender flowers

Visiting the French: You should know that

When a French person invites you to his home, there are two typical occasions. Either you will be invited to an aperitif, then there will only be drinks and a few snacks. It is expected that you will not stay too long.

However, it is an honor to be invited to dinner. It starts with an aperitif, followed by a menu. Usually this menu consists of a starter, main course and dessert. Most of the time, cheese is offered between the main course and dessert. In a typical meal, the salad is served as an extra course. If you put the main course on the table, you will get astonished looks.

Dinner like this takes a long time. After all, for the French, it's not just about food, the trappings are at least as important. You have lively conversations and take your time between courses.

In this context there is another very typical French quirk. “Punctuality is an ornament, but you can get further without it”, any Frenchman would immediately agree. For invitations, you are welcome to come up to 30 minutes later than stated. When I invited guests to Paris, I always gave the time 30 minutes before the time I expected the guests. Then they were nice and punctual in German fashion. If you are invited and come on time, it can happen that the hosts are just getting dressed.

Curiosity: If you are invited to a friend's house in Paris in an old building without a lift, it is quite common to take the rubbish downstairs with you at the end of the evening when you walk. You can imagine how I looked when I was given the bin bag for the first time to say goodbye.

Bistro, brasserie, restaurant - what's the difference?

When deciding where to eat, there are three typical French restaurant types that you can choose from.

What is a bistro?

A bistro usually offers cheap food and is often only sparsely furnished. A typical bistro meal is, for example, a steak fries, i.e. a decent piece of meat with french fries. The French tend to season their steak with mustard rather than ketchup.

Many bistros specialize in typical dishes from the Auvergne, simple but very tasty home-style cooking. On the menu you can also find innards. You won't find a great wine list here either. Often the patron knows a winemaker from whom he gets his house wine directly. The house wine is the business card of the restaurant and can therefore not be bad.

What is a brasserie?

The brasserie is originally something typically Alsatian. Translated, “brasserie” means “brewery”. It was then also the Alsatians who brought the concept of the “brewery restaurant” to Paris and from there to the rest of the country.

Typical French cuisine is served in a brasserie. Often you will find a huge booth in front of them, on which the seafood piles up, chilled on fresh ice. Choucroute from Alsace is at the top of the menu. Sometimes classic “German” with cured meat or with fresh fish and seafood. Otherwise goose liver, leg of lamb and other classics.

These brasseries are often lavishly furnished, especially in Paris. One of the nicest I know is the “Le Train Bleue” in the Gare de Lyon in Paris. The former first class waiting room of this legendary train is very colorfully decorated in a mixture of kitsch, baroque and art nouveau.

Restaurants in France

All other restaurants are called restaurants. In these there is the international cuisine but also innovative French cuisine. The crowning glory are gourmet restaurants in the upper price range, often decorated with Michelin stars.

4. Typical French sights: Don't miss this

France is a wonderful travel destination that offers you almost unlimited possibilities to make your vacation very varied. In fantastically beautiful, often untouched landscapes, there are true cultural treasures that go back to the origins of human history.

Here is a list of the five most typical sights in France, which are almost symbolic of the country:

1. Versailles Palace

The palace of the Sun King Louis XIV is really unique. No other castle is so sumptuously furnished and has been copied so often. It is best to take a whole day to visit the palace and park. You can also easily reach the castle by public transport from Paris.

My advice: It becomes typically French when you get baguettes, wine and other nibbles for a picnic in the park on the way to the castle.

2. The Eiffel Tower

The "iron lady" was built as the entrance gate to the world exhibition in 1889. The Parisians found the Eiffel Tower so ugly during construction that they protested against it. When the construction finally opened, the whole thing was already commented with a modest "Europe can pack".

Today it is of course impossible to imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower. Around six million people visit it every year.

My advice:I recommend booking the ticket in advance to avoid long waiting times at the cash desk. In my time in Paris, I loved going up to sunset. Then the whole city is bathed in a magical light and there are surprisingly few people on the tower.
Paris, je Ttaime!

Paris as a city is the second most visited place in the world. For me, the “City of Love” is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Each of the 20 arrondissements has its own charm and you can stroll through the streets for days and discover something new again and again. You should take five to six days to see attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Sacré Coeur and Notre Dame.


A typical visit to Paris also includes an evening in a cabaret. If you treat yourself to the luxury and book the spectacle with dinner, you will also get the best seats. In the “Lido” you will see a show with a mixture of extravagant costumes, magic, typical French chansons and a bit of frivolity. The shows in the “Moulin Rouge” or “Paradis Latin” are more traditional.

3. Mont Saint Michel

Exactly on the border between Normandy and Brittany, this monastery mountain rises above the sea. You can see the Gothic cathedral on the hill from afar. For a long time the island was only accessible by boat before a dam was built. However, this dam ensured that the land between the island and the mainland silted up and so a bridge was built. You have to see this impressive building once.

4. French Riviera

In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful corners of France. Blue water in front of dream beaches and the mountains in the hinterland. Add to that the typical Provencal smells of lavender, rosemary and thyme. Here one understands what is meant by “living like God in France”. One of our sonnenklar.TV vacationers also had this experience. Read the travelogue about her road trip through southern France here!

Incidentally, the Côte d’Azur is not as exclusive and expensive as you always think. In Nice, for example, there are cheap apartment hotels, which are often only a 10-minute walk from the beach.

5. Castles of the Loire

An entire river valley that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? This is also typical for France. 400 castles, mostly from the Renaissance period, with the typical carefully tended gardens await you on the Loire and its tributaries. Between Blois and Angers there is one piece of jewelery after the other.

Your sightseeing tour will be typically French if you cycle comfortably from castle to castle, spend the night in a gîte (guest room in private houses or small guesthouse) and enjoy the delicious wine from Saumur. This is the real France.

This list could go on forever. For example, I find the Gothic cathedrals of Reims, Amiens, Chartres and Strasbourg very impressive.The 3,000 menhirs of Carnac in Brittany are mystical, where one would not be surprised if the magician Merlin came around the corner. Incidentally, he is supposedly buried right here around the corner.

You see: France is a fascinating travel destination that has something to offer for everyone. But what does “live like God in France” mean? For me it is visiting one of the romantic villages with typical half-timbered houses and enjoying a delicious meal in the village restaurant. In these moments, the world seems to be standing still for me and the stress of everyday life is miles away. This luxury is far too seldom indulged in nowadays. What is typically French for you? A bientôt, see you soon in the land of 1,000 wonders!

What is typically Spanish? All clichés in the check!