The French have a reserved, formal culture. French people are often stereotyped as being curt, but they are actually quite friendly and helpful. The key is to understand the culture and learn at least some basic French terms before you go. A very little effort towards education and understanding will go a huge distance to getting friendly treatment from French people.

The French are very proud to be French and a few words of French will receive a more friendly reply. A simple, friendly bonjour (hello) will do, as will asking if the person you're greeting speaks English (parlez-vous anglais?). Be patient, and speak English slowly—but not loudly. Don’t forget that French people will really appreciate any attempts to speak French.

About sixty percent of French people are Catholic, while thirty percent are atheist. Other worldwide religions are also represented in small numbers.

It is considered courteous to speak softly. Handshaking is performed on meeting and parting, or a kiss on both cheeks for those people with whom you are more familiar. You might be surprised to see that you are greeted by other customers when you walk into a restaurant or shop. Return the courtesy and address your hellos/goodbyes to everyone when you enter or leave small shops and cafes.

The French have an ongoing love affair with food and wine. Meals are lovingly prepared and consumed leisurely through a bevy of appetizers and main courses, usually accompanied by a number of wines. Boeuf bourgignon (beef stew with wine, hebs and vegetables), coq au vin (chicken cooked with bacon in a white wine and herb sauce) and bouillabaisse (fish stew) are featured on many menus. Cheese lovers will not be disappointed with hundreds of varieties to choose from. No visit would be complete without a visit to a patisserie; with its delicate pastries you will definitely be tempted.

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