An Introduction to French Art de Vivre
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Apr 14, 2024

An Introduction to French Art de Vivre

An Introduction to French Art de Vivre
Julien Mainguy

French and based in Vancouver since 2014, Julien Mainguy is the co-founder of Best of France. Passionate about the cultural difference between Canada and Europe, he is leading numerous projects to create awareness, help people grow, and bring communities together.

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The French Art de vivre is a combination of elements that take root in the history and culture of France and that denote taste, aesthetics, the sense of detail, the requirement in all its forms.

French people live for the foundation of a healthy and balanced existence in which simple pleasures are magnified. This lifestyle is about taking time to do nothing, giving attention to details and choosing quality over quantity as means to enjoy life. The French Art de Vivre basically encapsulates a way to embrace one’s everyday life by romanticizing every experience

When we talk about table, gastronomy, art, aesthetics, elegance or refinement, France is often cited as an obvious model. Indeed, the French style or «French Touch» is deeply linked with the savoir-être and savoir-vivre that makes France international reputation. In other words, it is a lifestyle built over time that conditions our way of looking at the world and enjoying it, and here are some characteristics of the French Art de Vivre:

The French Taste

The distinguished French taste explains the French way of enjoying life and making each meal a festive gathering and a moment of sharing in which gastronomy is essential

Eating in

It is natural to invite friends and family at home around a large table. When you are invited to a French home, you can expect to enjoy a long and full homemade meal during which you will discuss, debate and laugh. Thus, good memories are often created during meals. In France, the table is a symbol of conviviality and the meal a moment of happiness and friendship. Therefore, dinner parties are carefully thought out and taken highly seriously, it is around a table that French people celebrate most things. If you desire to try French recipes at home, here are some ideas

A French dinner table outside
A French dinner table outside

Eating out

The French do not simply go to the restaurant to eat, they go there to live an experience during which they can relax, taste a cuisine still unknown, enjoy the sun on a terrace, meet friends… Again, it is about creating beautiful memories and simply enjoying what life has to offer. This takes part in the art of slow living and making exceptional the basic pleasures of life. This is why French people like to go to beautiful restaurants, with a unique decor, a special history and that transmit this sense of typical French conviviality. We can say that in France, eating is the tradition of a true sensory experience that has built the demand of the delicate French palate

A typical French restaurant

The French Gastronomy explained

French gastronomy is probably the greatest national pride of the country. It has earned us international recognition as a country with a unique taste and as the capital of cuisine recognized by UNESCO. We could qualify French gastronomy as simple and elegant but flavourful and refined, bearing in mind that it is one of the most various types of gastronomy in the world… 

The Truth is in the Wine

Wine is a hugely important part of French cuisine, it can be savored alone, or cooked in a dish, for example in the Boeuf Bourguignon, the choice of the wine is crucial to attain this unique taste at the same time sweet and intense. Moreover, France is one of the greatest producers of wine worldwide, renowned for its unique alcoholic treasures like Côtes-du-Rhône. Red, white, rosé, any good Frenchman should easily be able to make the difference and to pair a glass of wine with the perfect piece of cheese .Until recently, it was natural even for children to drink wine during a meal. Hence, wine is a great part of the French Art de Vivre, especially when it comes to the art of enjoying life! If you want to become an expert in French wine, read our guide to French wine for beginners

A wine cellar

Say Cheese!

Cheese is vital to France and its gastronomy. Every region has its own cheese signature. Cheese is an unmissable part of the typical French meal, usually, it is served on a cheese board before dessert. It is also the main ingredient of many classic french delicacies like the fondue Savoyarde, the Raclette, the Aligot, or the Tartiflette… Cheese is often accompanied by a glass of wine carefully chosen and a fresh baguette. This combination of flavors constitutes a sacred trinity in France: cheese, baguette and wine. French people also like to eat cheese on a board with charcuterie as an aperitif. 

French cheeses with grapes

Boulangerie, the French exception

The reputation of French boulangeries (bakeries) is not up to debate. French viennoiseries and pastries encapsulate the attention to detail that characterizes the French savoir-faire. Among the most iconic of those, we can cite the croissant, the pain au chocolat, the macaron, the madeleine, the éclair… There are so many of those and each have an exciting history! If we look closer, we can identify the distinctive features of those sweet delicacies: they are very simple and elegant but at the same time they embody the French requirement. Thus, recognized throughout the world, French pastries fascinate by their ability to renew themselves and the emotions they are able to arouse during the tasting as emphasized by the French expression “Madeleine de Proust” (this pastry reminded the author of his youth). Like French cuisine, pastry is part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage and never ceases to make the rest of the world dream about experiencing the “French touch” that turns something simple into an edible masterpiece. Long copied but never surpassed, the French savoir-faire inspires the best cuisines in the world, making pastry chefs models of technical and artistic prowess on the international gastronomic scene and contributing to the lifestyle of French people. Learn more about what makes the boulangerie a French exception!

French viennoiseries: a croissant and a pain au chocolat

The French Aesthetics explained

French aesthetics is about elegance and simplicity reunited in a unique style that distinguishes the French Art de Vivre

French Dressed to the nines

For more than three centuries, French fashion has been renowned around the world and has been the carrier of extraordinary images associated with luxury and a unique savoir-faire. France is considered the land of luxurious brands like Chanel, but is also known for the excellence of its artisans and small designers, their expertise and the quality of their products. French aesthetics is not only present in fashion but also in the French lifestyle. If you want to add a French touch to your home, here are some tips!  

The French have a special relationship with fashion: they tend to dress up daily. If we had to qualify the French style, we could say it is about being simple and chic at the same time by opting for classic and minimalist outfits. Even though the French requirement is palpable in the fashion sector, its goal is to create effortless looks. Hence, French women are seen as a model of natural and stylish beauty. Nowadays, the inheritance of French fashion is particularly important. Paris displays many private collections of fashion houses and public collections of museums dedicated to fashion, accessories, clothing and savoir-faire. If you are passionate about fashion, we recommend you to visit the exquisite Galerie Dior in Paris!

A typical French outfit

French Architecture

France exhibits a great variety of architecture types, each telling a specific story. In the north of the country, the Colombage style is predominant, while in the south, the Mediterranean Bastide is in the spotlight. In mountainous regions, the Chalets are common, while in the west, the Charentais style is popular. Not to mention the many sumptuous French castles, Manoirs and religious edifices steeped in history…  The architecture plays into attention to detail in a scope from classic styles, including some gothic, roman, medieval, but also baroque and neoclassicism to modern styles, including Art Nouveau, Art Déco, post war styles... 

The history is particularly tangible in the streets of Paris. This city is probably a symbol of the French Art de Vivre because of its historical atmosphere that makes it utterly dreamy and romantic. The architecture style that accounts for it is probably the Haussmannien style which epitomizes the Parisian lifestyle and a coveted luxury. If you want to know more about French architecture and see photos everyday, go on Best of France facebook page

A Hausmannian building in Paris

The French Culture

The influence of culture and history is hugely important in France, especially since it is in it that the French Art de Vivre took root. Countless museums and art galleries display impressive collections and historic pieces reminiscent of French history that denote the taste, the aesthetics, the sense of detail and the requirement that imbue the savoir-faire and the savoir-être of French people. This explains why French education is very attached to its classics and why past works are taken as models. Indeed, art is key to understand the French Art de Vivre.

Faite place au Théâtre!

The theater is responsible for representing the movements of the soul, of the spirit, of the world, of history" according to Le Petit Dictionnaire du théâtre, a dictionary listing the emblematic quotations of French theater. To this effect, theater encapsulates the mirror of the French people and their morals. The rules of plausibility, propriety, time and space which governed the theater already showed the French requirement and stimulated the playwrights’ savoir-faire. Its content was intended to morally educate the people and thus guide their savoir-être by presenting them with moral dilemmas. We can take the example of l’Avare by Molière. The story features a character whose greed is caricatured and weighs on the happiness of his loved ones to the point that he ends up alone. In this emblematic work, a moral lesson can be perceived: there are other richnesses than money to be found in human life. Thus, one part of the French Art de Vivre being to enjoy the immaterial richnesses of life, one might think that this work contributed to make avarice a tragic defect for the French savoir-être.  

The Opera of Paris

Lights, Camera, Action!

French cinema is an indelible part of the French Art de Vivre. It has a place in the cultural landscape that reflects the country's creativity, wit and passion for storytelling. French cinema embodies the essence of French life, exploring themes of love, desire, existentialism and social dynamics with a unique sensibility. From iconic works by Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut during the New Wave movement, to Xavier Dolan and Celine Chau, French cinema covers a wide variety of genres and styles. It captures the intricate moments of everyday life and reveals the beauty, complexity and contradictions of French society. Whether through poignant drama, whimsical comedy or thought-provoking art films, French cinema fuses with the French Art de Vivre to provoke introspection, evoke emotions and spark dialogue about life, culture and humanity. If you want to try out French cinema but do not know where to start, we recommend you to check this article about iconic French movies!    

A French movie theater

Aimez-vous chanter ?

It cannot be denied that French music is an integral part of the French Art de Vivre. It runs through the fabric of French culture, reflecting the country's rich history, vivid traditions and innate appreciation for beauty. From the refined classics of Claude Debussy to the poetic songs of Edith Piaf to the lively rhythms of contemporary artists like Daft Punk, French music embodies the essence of vibrant life . It captures the intensity of emotions like love, celebration and rebellion which echoes the history of the French people. Thus, music creates a strong connection to the French Art de Vivre when listened to with attention.

A Parisian bar dedicated to Edith Piaf

French Museums

Ancient and modern culture are reunited in museums, and there are plenty of those in France! It is a very common activity for French people to cultivate themselves through visiting museums and to take an entire day to enjoy the artworks displayed. There are impressive museums of every type: sculpture, archeology, paintings, crafts…. Taking time to honor an artist's work is part of French culture and Art de Vivre. Among the most iconic French museums, we recommend you to visit the Louvre (Paris), the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Lyon and Lille), the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris) and the Great Galerie de l’Evolution (Paris).  

Visiting museums could be a good way to understand French Art de Vivre as they represent taste, requirement, history, culture and artistic inspiration. Here is a list of museums you should go to when visiting Paris

The Louvre museum in Paris

French Literature

French literature is also renowned all over the world for its unmissable masterpieces. Actually, France is the country that counts the most Nobel Prize winners in literature. French classic writers like Jules Verne and Victor Hugo nurtured the French romantic spirit and philosophers like Descartes or Sartre fostered critical thinking, both part of the French nature that characterizes the French Art de Vivre. Reading a French classic book like Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert could be an efficient way to immerse yourself in the French Art de Vivre. As for French poetry, it embodies the French romanticism that characterizes the French Art de Vivre, especially when it comes to love, as you can learn here.

Iconic French books

We could say that being French is about being a modern hedonist able to make life a party. The French Art the Vivre is a lifestyle born from a cradle of beauty in the form of gastronomy, art, luxury, culture and architecture in its finest elegance. Therefore, when visiting France, remember to enjoy your trip as a sensory experience and to take time to enjoy even the simplest things!

If you wish to learn more about France, you can check our beginners guide to French culture