What is it that characterises the French way of life? What does that well-known phrase “the art of French living” actually mean? A short answer to these questions is difficult to give, since the renowned French lifestyle encompasses so many different things. There is no doubt, however, that France is often presented as a model when it comes to fine dining, wine, tableware and service, aesthetics, refinement and elegance. French style – or perhaps we might call it the “French touch” – is synonymous with a certain savoir-être (“knowing how to be”, describing an ability to interact respectfully with others and with one’s environment) and savoir-vivre (“knowing how to live”, denoting the ability to live life well, demonstrating poise, manners and sophistication) for which the country is internationally renowned. In other words, it’s a way of viewing the world, a particular approach to life. Below are some of the features that distinguish this approach.
First, France boasts a flourishing luxury sector: Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Cartier and Louboutin. There are so many french iconic names associated with the country’s premium products. This penchant for high quality is evident in the fashion industry: Lanvin, Dior, Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Pierre Cardin, Saint Laurent, and Paco Rabanne are all among the most esteemed French fashion houses. But these brands would be nothing without French women and their reputation as the epitome of freedom and elegance.
Fine dining is an integral part of the French way of life. It’s not so much about what’s on the plate as the significance attached to sharing a convivial meal. In France, meals are treated as deserving of time and attention. Offering guests a warm welcome, decorating a room with flair, finding the perfect food and wine pairings, and setting a tasteful table are all extremely important to the vast majority of people in France. French cooking is distinguished by its refinement and creativity. In some areas, such as pastries and cakes, the French have achieved excellence.
France is the country of writers, Enlightenment philosophers and existentialists; the patrons of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Café de Flore. The French approach to education emphasises reflection and developing a critical mind. Freedom of expression allows each of us to offer our opinion without constraint. Journalists enjoy freedom of the press and can choose to express themselves through means such as caricature and satirical cartoons.