The French way of life

The art of eating well has been practiced in France for centuries and has naturally been integrated into the “French way of life”, the fame of which has spread well beyond its borders. This know-how was established as early as the Renaissance and has been upheld since, and relates to culture, gastronomy, decorative tableware and quality produce. Perhaps more than anywhere else, gastronomy is firmly rooted in the cultural identity of France. The gastronomic meal of the French plays an active social role. Major life events – births, weddings, birthdays, successes – are celebrated around the table. Mealtimes in France remain a special event to be enjoyed and take place at set times: 54% of French people eat lunch at 12.30 every day. By comparison, only 17% of British people eat lunch, and they eat at 1.10pm!

What’s more, the gastronomic meal of the French has been on the UNESCO “world intangible heritage list” since 2010. Cheese has an important part in this. “The gastronomic meal has a particular sequence that must be followed: it starts with an aperitif and ends with a digestif, and between the two, there are at least four courses – a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese, and a dessert.” UNESCO does not ignore the fact that in addition to being a food, cheese is the product of age-old expertise, traditions passed down through the ages, living practices and rich terroirs which, all together, form an integral part of the French way of life.

You don't lead a cow

On ne mène pas la vache
À la verdure rase et sèche
À la verdure sans caresses.

L’herbe qui la reçoit
Doit être douce comme un fil de soie
Un fil de soie doux comme un fil de lait.

Mère ignorée,
Pour les enfants, ce n’est pas le déjeuner
Mais le lait sur l’herbe.

L’herbe devant la vache,
L’enfant devant le lait.

Paul Éluard, Les hommes et leurs animaux


You don’t lead a cow
To verdure that’s cropped and dry
To verdure without caresses.

The grass that greets her
Must be sweet as a silken thread,
A silken thread sweet as a thread of milk.

Unknown mother,
For children, it is not lunch
But milk on the grass.

The grass in front of the cow,
The child in front of the milk.

Paul Éluard, Animals and their masters

Le repas gastronomique des Français

© Roger-Viollet, 1920