France From The Inside

France From The Inside: A Vacation to France - Tips on Fitting in With the Locals

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Vacationing in France can be once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for those who love beauty and romance. Here are a few tips to ensure a successful trip.

For lovers of scenery, romance, and lights, France is a destination that will not disappoint. From the intricate architectural designs and astounding art of Paris to the charming villages and scenic wonders of southern France, tourists from all over the world have enjoyed visiting this breathtaking country for decades.

With every country having a distinct set of traditions and customs, it is best to have some knowledge of the do’s and dont’s in France in order to guarantee the best possible experience there. The following are a few aspects of France that may come as a shock to tourists stepping into the country for the first time.

A Basic Understanding of the Language is a Must

The French take great pride in their customs, their traditions, and most importantly, their language. Language is an essential component of everyday life in France; locals love to converse with each other in rapid French while expressing themselves through hand gestures and body language. Foreigners can be met with disrespect or contempt if they try to speak in only English. The store vendors appreciate an attempt at speaking French, even if it is not perfect.

A good idea is to study a little basic French before visiting the country — enough for an elementary conversational level. Relative to other languages such as Chinese or Japanese, French is not a difficult language for native English-speakers to pick up. Basic phrases such as “Where is the restroom?” and “How much does this cost?” are easy to learn and will go a long way in helping tourists find their way around. In addition to having a means of communication, French is a beautiful language to learn and connotes an elevated level of sophistication and knowledge.

Learning the Ways of the French

Every country and race has a unique culture and native customs. A simple greeting around the world can vary from a handshake to a hug to a deep bow. In France, the most basic greeting is a “bisou, bisou”, or a kiss on both cheeks. This is the common way for people to greet each other, regardless of gender.

Another area to pay attention to in France is fashion, or “la mode”. Although entrance to restaurants and pubs will not be denied for wearing jeans and a t-shirt, dressing up helps in blending in with the locals. Especially in large cities such as Paris, a fashion icon for the world, much more attention is paid to dressing stylishly and chic. In more relaxed areas such as the small towns in southern France, tourists can get by wearing a tank-top and sandals.

Finally, it may come as a shock to tourists when the main entrée arrives at a restaurant looking more like a mini-appetizer. The portions in French are much smaller than those in the U.S. In France, mealtime is more about conversation and company than about food. Thus, it is best to keep a snack or two on hand during the day.

In general, France is a magnificent vacation destination with delicious food and a rich culture. It is a country that offers something for everyone, and thus constantly ranks among the top tourist destinations worldwide. With a basic grasp of the language and an understanding of local customs, France is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience for any traveler.
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Travel and Culture