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French Culture

Take this opportunity to become a bit more immersed in the French culture. Learn about the French culture with information about the French alphabet, holidays, music, art, sports, food, and more.

French Alphabet

Letter   Sound in French
a   father
ai   ay sound in pain
au   o sound in taupe
b   boy
c   both k and s sounds like in English cow or ceiling
ç   s facade
ch   sh sound in champagne
d   dog
e, eu   oo sound in good
é   ay sound in fiancé
é   eh sound in bet
eau   o sound in row
f   frog
g   go, but can also sound like zh in mirage
h   silent
i   ee sound in street
j   zh sound in mirage
k   kit -rarely used
l   long
m   monkey
n   nose
o   open
oi   sounds like wah
ou   oo sound in soup
p   pan
ph   f sound in phone
q   k sound in kit, always followed by silent u
r   softer sound almost an h
s, ti   sing, and for example: attention would be pronounced ah-TEN-si-on
t, th   time
u   ou sound in you or too
ue   weh sound in suede
ui   wee sound in cuisine
v   violin
w   v sound, rarely used
x   exit
y   e as in me
z   zebra

Note: Do not pronouce d, s, t, or x when it is the last letter of the word. For example, the word français (French) would sound like frahnSAY. Stress generally falls on the last syllable of a word.

Weather in France

The northwest corner of France has a temperate climate. In the southeast corner it has a Mediterranean climate. Inland, it is hot, with stormy summers and cold winters. The mountainous areas (Alps) will have snowcover for up to half of the year.

French Holidays / Festivities in France

Merry Christmas —Joyeux Noël

Happy New Year — Bonne Année

Happy Thanksgiving — Bonne Action de grâce (only in Canada)

Happy Easter — Joyeuses Pâques

Happy Halloween — Bonne fête d'Halloween

Happy Valentine's Day — Joyeuse Saint-Valentin

Happy Birthday — Bon Anniversaire

Happy Saint's Day — Bonne Fête

French Sports / French Music / French Art

Soccer is the 'national' sport, though several other sports are enjoyed: basketball, biking (Tour de France), sailing, rugby, and tennis. It has been said that Pétanque is the most popular sport.

There have been several famous painters and artists from the 18th century and on, including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso (though originally from Spain), and Cézanne.

Paris is home to one of the most famous and largest art museums in the world: the Louvre. Between the beaches, the Eiffel Tower, and great skiing, France is the 1st most chosen destination for foreign visitors.

French Politics

Officially, France is the Republique française (French Republic), and has been since 1870. But before that, since the 1st century, Kings or Emperors (Napoleon Bonaparte) have ruled over France.

Now, education is provided by the state, including at the university level. The legal drinking age is 18. Cars are driven on the right side of the road. And the Euro has become the national currency.

Religion in France

Freedom of religion has been around since 1789. Roman Catholicism was the state religion before then and France still maintains a fairly conservative Catholic attitude.

French Dress / French Food

If you're worried about looking fashionable while in France you might wear out those high-heels. You should plan to wear comfortable clothes when visiting France because walking is required if you're to see "all the sights". The French are conscientious of their appearance, moreso than most of us in the U.S. The businessmen do not loosen ties in the office and businesswomen are generally conservative (no flashy colors or jewelry).

Plan on a range of dishes, both in restaurants and homes, far beyond what anyone in the U.S.A. typically experiences. Wine that suits the food is a standard drink with everyday meals.

As far as visiting Canada is concerned, you might check the online weather forecasts before packing. (It's never a bad idea to check the weather for any foreign destination, so you can take appropriate attire.)

Food in Canada is very different than food in France. In Canada, the cuisine is not quite as high-end (generally speaking- there's no doubt, you will find exceptions).

French Localization

In speech and writing it's almost like comparing English spoken by the British versus English spoken by N. Americans. There are many idioms that differ, watch for them, and excuse yourself for your ignorance and then ask them what the phrase they used means. If you're polite, they won't mind the interruption.

Learning About French Culture

Hopefully you have been able to learn a little bit about the French culture. If you are simply looking to learn French, you will soon learn how important culture is when you learn a language. There are plenty of free resources available here to help you to learn French. If you want to talk about love or you are looking for French greetings, you must visit the French phrases page. There are also many French words in many different categories from which you can learn. In addition, you can learn over 350 French verbs and how to conjugate them with free audio flash cards and step-by-step instructions.

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