Explore and discover French culture

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If you plan to go out and explore French cities, you may want to speak French. Please find below some very basic words and phrases to discuss. Please note that the pronunciation has been simplified and “anglicized” but does not correspond to the proper phonetics. So it remains approximate, but it should be easier to read!

French Pronunciation French Pronunciation
Oui/NonWee/noñ Shopping  
S’il vous plaitSeel voo play C’est combien s’il vous plaît ?Say kom-byañ seel voo play
MerciMer-see Je voudrais…Zhuh voo-dray
Excusez-moiExkoo-zay mwah Est-ce que vous avez?Es-kuh voo zavay
BonjourBoñzhoor A quelle heure êtes-vous ouvert?Ah kel urr ett voo oo-ver
Au revoir Oh ruh-vwar Cher Shehr
Au Quel, quelle?Kel, kel Pas cher OR bon marchéPah shehr, boñ mar-shay
Quand?Koñ L’alimentation OR les coursesAlee-moñta-syoñ Koorss
Où?Oo Le supermarchéSoo pehr-marshay
Au secours! Oh sekoor SortieSor-tee
Arrêtez!Aret-ay EntréeOn-tray
Appelez unApuh-lay uñ Droit Dwah
Ambulance! Oñboo-loñsGaucheGoach
Appelez la policeApuh-lay lah poh-lees  
Appelez les pompiersApuh-lay leh poñ-peeyay     


If you’d like to learn French as a foreign language outside the classroom, you’ll find countless online resources for practice (websites, YouTube channels, apps…). French as a foreign language courses are called “FLE”. LePoint du FLE” is a good place to start if you’re looking for resources grouped by level, skill, theme and objective. The following links are often used in French courses and are a good starting point:

If you’re in Paris, check out Lost in Frenchlation.

If you love movies and want to discover French cinema in its original version, Lost in Frenchlation organizes screenings of French films with English subtitles in independent cinemas. The screenings are usually followed by a cocktail party to meet other internationals.

We have chosen a selection of books that will help you understand French culture:

  • Sixty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
  • Paris VS New-York by Vahram Muratyan
  • Almost French, a new life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull
  • F is for France: A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders by Piu Eatwell

10 Things to do


From fairytale castles to white sandy beaches, alpine ski resorts and lush vineyards, there are many beautiful places to visit.

Christmas Market

The Christmas Market in Strasbourg

More than 300 wooden chalets spread over various squares in the city invite you to make enchanting discoveries in a magical atmosphere!

Period: December

Christmas market Strasbourg

La dune du Pilat


The highest sand dune in Europe. The Dune du Pilat gives more the impression to be in the Sahara desert than in France. One hundred meters high, the dune stretches for nearly 3 km from north to south. Once at the top, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Arcachon basin and the Atlantic Ocean.

Period: From May to June

dune du pilat

Surfing in Biarritz


Enjoy the waves of the French Basque Country, its people and its gastronomy.

Period: March to June and September to November

Domaines viticoles de Bordeaux


The must-do activity in the region is to visit the Bordeaux vineyards and meet the local winemakers. They open their vineyards for tastings, oenology courses and many cultural and gastronomic discoveries.

Bordeaux wine estates

Château de Versailles   


One of the most famous world heritage monuments, Versailles is located 20 km west of Paris. This former royal residence is surrounded by 787 hectares of gardens and welcomes nearly 15 million visitors each year to admire the sumptuous rooms, the art collection and the splendid gardens.

Period: although you can visit all year round, the best time is spring.

Castle of Versailles


The gorges of the Verdon

The Verdon Regional Natural Park with its Grand Canyon is a unique site in France. The canyon can be explored by canoe or pedal boat to enjoy the wilderness, the beautiful landscape and the breathtaking views.

Period: June to September

gorges du Verdon

Skiing in the French Alps

the French Alps

The French Alps are one of the best ski destinations in the world. This beautiful part of France is popular for its picturesque mountain villages, rustic alpine charm and superb skiing conditions. Chamonix, Val d’Isère, Meribel are favorite places.

Period: December to end of March

Le Parc national des Calanques in Marseille


The Calanques cliffs are a natural wonder nestled between Marseille and Cassis. This unique and breathtaking landscape is a must-see in Marseille! With its pebbled beaches and fine sand, its miniature fjords and turquoise waters, the Calanques are like a postcard!
Period: May to October

The Calanques National Park of Marseille

A walk on the cliffs of Étretat


A splendid place! If the cliffs are among the most impressive natural sites in Europe, the artistic and historical heritage of this small maritime city will surprise you. The cliffs and the Aiguille Creuse have made the town of Étretat world famous. Wonders of nature, these giants are nearly 90 meters high and are ancient witnesses of the evolution of the Normandy coast.

Period: March to November

La randonnée du GR20 in Corse


The GR20 is a mythical hiking trail that crosses the island of Corsica diagonally, from Calenzana in the North to Conca in the South. It is dazzlingly beautiful and varied. It takes about 16 days, good luck!

Period: May to October

French Riviera

French Riviera

For glitz and glamour, the French Riviera is the place to be. This beautiful part of the Mediterranean coastline is known as the Côte d’Azur (“Blue Coast”) because of its turquoise waters. Do not miss to visit: Cassis, Nice and Cannes.

Period: year-round

Cote d'azur


Download the calendar of French popular holidays.

Discover other regional celebrations here.


French Tradition

Gastronomy is a very important part of life in France, which makes it a symbol of French culture. French gastronomy has been declared an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. The latter even recognized the French culinary culture as “a social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups”. This gastronomic culture is an integral part of the French lifestyle. The traditional dishes, which can be found in a restaurant or in a family, change according to the regions of France. Taste the regional dishes when you visit the various regions of France and discover the real French cuisine. The French day is punctuated by several meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.

French food customs

It is true that France is known for its food and typical regional dishes, such as pancakes, wine, cheese, … To better understand how a day is structured around meals, here is the complete list:

Breakfast is the first and most important meal of the day. It’s usually sweet, with a croissant, cereal, coffee, toast and jam.

Lunch generally lasts between 45 minutes and an hour (or more) at midday (12 noon) and includes a starter, main course and dessert.

Snacks are children’s favorite meal. It’s usually taken at the end of school, at 4:30 pm. The snack can be a pastry or a cookie. Adults, on the other hand, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.

The aperitif is a moment before dinner when we enjoy a glass of an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage with something to nibble on. For the French, it is synonymous with well-being and leisure. It’s a time for sharing and conviviality.

Dinner is the last meal of the day, usually starting between 7:30 and 8pm. It’s often the meal where families get together to chat.

In France, each meal is considered a moment of conviviality, rest and socialization.

Where to find the most popular dishes

Bread, cheese and wine are sacred elements of French cuisine. They are so important in French culture that it is difficult to count their number precisely. These wine and cheese maps (below) will give you a better idea of where to taste the best cheeses and wines in France.


The French like to go to restaurants on different occasions, whether to celebrate an event or simply for pleasure. In France, there are many restaurants, and many offer French and international specialties.

Restaurant prices vary considerably and are not always affordable for a student budget. They can start at about ten euros for a full meal in a local restaurant and go up to several hundred euros in the great gastronomic restaurants, Michelin starred, of great chefs, such as Hélène Darroze, Paul Bocuse and Alain Ducasse. A tip: always read the menu and check the prices before you sit down.

An important point to note: in France, service is included in the price, you can leave a tip if you are extremely satisfied with the service (it is recommended to leave 5 to 10% of the total amount). French restaurants are generally open during meal times, i.e. from 12:00 to 14:30 and from 19:30 to 23:30.

With the exception of Paris, restaurants in the regions are often closed on Sunday and Monday.

In France, it is common to go to a local butcher, fishmonger, wine merchant and cheesemonger to do your shopping instead of doing all your shopping at the supermarket. Many French people are attached to their neighborhood because they know the local merchants well.

We invite you to download the app and visit the LaFourchette website (TheFork) to book recommended restaurants in your city and get discounts.

Tips :

When the sun is shining, terraces are the best place to sip a drink or enjoy a meal. The“JveuxDuSoleil ici” website will help you find the terrace where the sun shines.


However, if you have a limited budget, you will find below the university restaurants, or “CROUS restaurant”. To access it, you must:

  • Being a student
  • Have a student card
  • Have a CROUS card, which costs 2 €. You must ask for the card at the reception desk of one of the CROUS restaurants. You can recharge it with cash or with your credit card at the entrance of each restaurant. A meal to eat in or take away costs between 3 € and 10 €.

Must-have apps

Make your life easier by downloading these main applications:

Health and administrative


  • Too Good to Go This application aims to limit food waste while protecting the environment and your wallet. In just a few seconds, you can reserve and pick up food from local bakeries, restaurants and supermarkets – for just a few euros! It’s the best way to get affordable, tasty food.
  • Marmiton If you want to learn new recipes and share your own, Marmiton is the application for you.

Delivery and takeaway

Find restaurants and fast food outlets that offer takeout and place your order online at Uber Eats or Delivroo, which are the two leading delivery companies in France.

Grocery shopping

If you live in Paris and don’t have time to go to the supermarket, you will find more than 2,000 everyday products delivered in 10 minutes everywhere in the capital.

Public transport

  • Uber to get a ride in just a few minutes thanks to this safety application.
  • Bolt to book a car journey and benefit from discounts
  • SNCF Connect to book your train ticket and travel across the country.
  • City mapper is the ultimate transportation and GPS application that displays transportation options and information in real time.
  • Geovelo to find the best cycle paths everywhere in France and in every town.
  • Blablacar for BlaBlaCar is a car-sharing application that brings drivers and passengers together. In general, carpooling is inexpensive and there are routes available all over France every day. It’s a great way to get anywhere in no time!


  • Wikiloc the app that lets hiking enthusiasts share their experiences and favorite trails.
  • Visiorando Visiorando: the application offers trails and hikes in all regions of France.

Meet new people

SHEERIZ the dating app for girls only. The app lets you meet girls and make new friends. All girls aged 15 and over are welcome to join.

Furnishing the house

GEEV GEEV: the application brings together all the free object donations around you and throughout France.

Useful to download


  • RATP HELLO to get around Paris by metro, RER and bus.
  • VELIB to find a Vélib station and the best bike route.


  • TBM transport to get around Bordeaux by streetcar, bus and bike.


  • TCL to get around Lyon by metro, streetcar and bus.

Chambéry :

  • SYNCHRO to get around Chambéry by bus.

French Culture


French music is very rich. From music of the 60s to current popular songs, there is something for everyone: classical, rap, r’n’b, rock, indie rock, disco….

We invite you to listen to French playlists on Spotify and Deezer. This is a great way to start getting used to the French environment and an opportunity to immerse yourself in French culture.

Stand-Up comedy

Paul Taylor is an English comedian who humorously describes the cultural differences between the British and the French in his video show #FRANGLAIS

Become a Parisian in an hour is a play that humorously portrays the life of a Parisian.

Updated 29 January 2024