[Infographic] American vs. French Culture: 8 Things Every Traveler Should Know

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Are you planning a trip to the U.S. or France? Though only a plane ride away, these countries are extremely different. From dining to fashion to going to the bathroom, it’s important that you learn the cultural differences before you go abroad.

After all, you don’t want to offend anyone on your trip by making a silly mistake, such as not greeting someone properly or forgetting your manners.

Check out the infographic below highlighting the difference between French culture and American culture.

American culture vs. French Culture

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American Culture vs. French Culture: Things You Need to Know

1. Driving

America: The majority of Americans travel by automobile, even in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In fact, three out of four Americans drive to work, while a mere 5.2 percent take mass transit.

France: You won’t see roads full of SUVs in France, as the country is known for having an excellent public transportation system. Most people use the underground subway systems and tramways to get around.

2. Dining

France: In France, there’s no such thing as a meal on-the-go.  Rather, people take their time eating and typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m.

America: It’s not surprising to see someone eating a slice of pizza while rushing to get to their next destination. Typically, Americans eat much earlier and faster than the French.

3. Fashion

France: The French wouldn’t be caught dead wearing sweatpants and sandals in public. People take pride in their appearance and dress more moderately compared to Americans.

America: While every city has its style—for example, New York is more high-fashion, while California is laid back–Americans are all about comfort and being casual. Swim trunks and a t-shirt on a hot day are A-OK in their book.

4. Drinking

America: Americans are more apt to reach for a refreshingly cold beer. Over the past years, however, wine has become increasingly more popular. While not celebrated, public intoxication isn’t rare.

France: The French have a reputation for drinking in moderation and their drink of choice is typically wine. After all, you can find a wine bar at just about every corner. In French culture, public intoxication is heavily frowned upon.

5. Dating

America: Americans are all about playing the field. It’s not uncommon for a stranger to ask someone out on a date—which typically includes some sort of meal or outing—if he or she is interested.

France: The French don’t date. In fact, there is no real word for “date” or “dating” in the French language. People get to know each other through social circles—and exclusivity is always implied.

6. Communication

America: Americans are super friendly and outgoing. They are likely to greet friends and acquaintances with a big hug. You could say that communication is very informal, whereas the French are more formal.

France: Hugging is sometimes considered more intimate than kissing in France. The French don’t use the first name of a person unless they are invited to do so. What’s more, speaking too loud is considered a sign of anger and impoliteness.

7. Body language

France: When it comes to body language, the French are quite reserved. Placing your hands in your pockets or slouching are big no-nos.   

America: Oddly enough,  both American and French culture are very similar in this category. Americans value their personal space and don’t respond well to unnecessary fidgeting.  

8. Small Talk

America: People in the U.S. are very open and polite. It’s not uncommon for someone to ask his or her mailman or pharmacist how his or her family is doing or what his or her plans are for the weekend.

France: Stick with small talk. It’s okay, for example, to talk about the weather, but anything beyond that isn’t normal in the French culture.

Happy Travels!

Now that you’re up to speed on the French culture, you’re ready for your trip. Don’t shy away from meeting locals, as immersing yourself in the French culture will ensure that you make the most of your trip!

Do you live in France? If so, share your advice for traveling in the comment section below.

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