I. About France
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A. Background info
1. Location – Most people associate French culture with Paris, which is a center of fashion, cuisine, art and architecture, but life outside of the City of Lights is very different and varies by region. Historically, the French culture was influenced by Celtic and Gallo-Roman cultures as well as the Franks, a Germanic tribe. France was initially defined as the western area of Germany known as Rhineland but it later came to refer to a territory that was known as Gaul during the Iron Age and Roman era.
2. Population – Today, it is made up of nearly 66 million people, July 2013, “ The World Factbook (France)”, CIA
3. Religious views – around 85% of which are Roman Catholic, “ The World Factbook (France)”, CIA
A. Political Views
1. The government of the French Republic is a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution. The president, currently Hollande, appoints a prime minister who then is in charge of the government themselves along with their cabinet. The nation declares itself to be an “ indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic”
B. Government policies
1. Taxes – The French have tolerated high taxes as the price of decent public services and a proper universal safety-net. All those fast trains, first-rate hospitals and schools do not come for nothing. While taxes may be high, they help the French receive more in the end.
III. Roles of Government
A. Health care
1. The French health care system is generally recognized as offering the best, or one of the best, services of public health care in the world. Above all, it is a system that works, provides universal cover, and is a system that is strongly defended by virtually everyone in France. The health care system in France is made up of a fully-integrated network of public hospitals, private hospitals, doctors and other medical service providers. It is a universal service providing health care for every citizen, irrespective of wealth, age or social status. According to The French National Health Service, the country generally refunds patients 70% of most health care costs, and 100% in case of costly or long-term ailments.
1. Tends to be a little stricter. Since higher education is funded by the state, the fees are very low; Leo Monzie, a former student in France, states the tuition varies from €150 to €700 ($200 to $1000) depending on the university and the different levels of education.
A. Food and Alcohol
1. Most common dishes – Traditional French culture places a high priority on the enjoyment of food. Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine, as well as the Charolais cattle lives all over the country. While the styles of food change drastically from region to region, the most common foods include: Foie Gras, Crepes, Various Cheeses, Baguettes, and countless desserts.
2. Impact of alcohol in the country – i. Legal drinking age is 18, “ Minimum Age Limits Worldwide”, International Center for Alcohol Policies, January 2010. ii. Although France may be one of the most drinking countries, it is seen more as a social aspect, and France hold one of the lowest rates of binge drinking today.
1. Sports – Football (Soccer), Tennis, and Cycling
2. Hobbies – Other than the sports, there is petanque (nearly like bochy ball), motorcycle riding, wine tasting, cooking, and gardening.
D. Media and Art
1. Cinema/TV – I find that TV commercials are much more interesting and fun to watch in France made to truly entertain its viewers. All commercials end around 8 pm in France.
2. Music – The music of France reflects a diverse array of styles. France is also the 5th largest market by value in the world, and its music industry has produced many internationally renowned artists, especially in the nouvelle chanson and electronic music such as Daft Punk and Justice.
3. Art – Art is a big part of French culture and often goes well along with a glass of wine. French art typically includes prehistoric art, Pre-Romanesque art, Romanesque art, Gothic art, and Celtic art.
1. France is one of the leading countries in fashion industry, alongside USA, Italy, the UK, and many others. Fashion has always been an important part of the country’s cultural life and society, and French are well known for their attention of dressing-up well. V. Overview of Cultural Differences (US v. France)
A. Food – The French take their food very seriously. Food is to be enjoyed and savored and one tends to linger over a meal as opposed to eat as quickly as possible.
B. Cultural Influence of History – When visiting France, you are immediately surrounded by a history that is rich and affects the culture in even the minutest facets. To the American, whose country is only a few hundred years old, French history is massive. Nearly everywhere you go you will see castles and other historical attractions.
C. Art Appreciation – the entire culture appreciates the fine arts and reveres France as the birthplace of many renowned artists. The government spends money on making sure that French artistry is promoted and supported in all its forms.
D. Formality and Etiquette – The French are much more formal in day to day actions than are Americans. This is seen in everything from the way greetings occur, to proper etiquette in a restaurant or store. It is also seen in the language (how you address people).