The UK and France may be geographically close, but their cultures differ in many ways. Check out our top 5 biggest cultural differences between the two countries.
1) Eating habits in France and the UK
One of the biggest cultural differences between France and England is in people’s eating habits.
France's food is internationally renowned, with gastronomic dishes and pastries making French restaurants famous around the world (croissants; baguette; viennoiseries; boeuf bourguignon; bouillabaisse; tartiflette; tarte Tatin...)
The French spend an average of 2 hours 15 minutes at the table every day. Mealtimes are very important to them and they take the time to eat well, whether at the weekend or during the working week. In France, it is easy to find quality food, even at low prices.
The United Kingdom is less well known for its gastronomy, even if there are some flagship dishes in the English culinary repertoire (fish and chips; scones; Shepherd's pies; curries, roast dinners…)
English cuisine is not as famous as French cuisine, but the British are well known for the quality of their tea. Sometimes people like to have scones and sandwiches with their afternoon tea on special occasions.
Breakfasts also differ between France and Great Britain. In England particularly (but not necessarily in other parts of the UK), people enjoy eating a light breakfast such as toast and cereal during the week and the famous full English breakfast at weekends. In contrast, the French breakfast, also known as the "continental breakfast" abroad, consists exclusively of sweet foods (croissants, pains au chocolat, buttered baguette toast, etc.) accompanied by a strong coffee.
2) Traffic in France VS the UK
The rules of the road differ greatly between France and Britain. The main difference is that in the UK, drivers drive on the left-hand side of the road (i.e. the steering wheel is on the right), whereas in France, people drive on the right-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the left.
3) Cultural differences in companies in France VS the UK
In the British workplace, relationships between employees are much less hierarchical than in France. For example, employees generally call their boss by their first name, whereas in France, this is mostly reserved for start-ups and small companies. Generally speaking, the world of work is less formal in the UK.
4) The different clothing trends between the French and the English
In France, and particularly in Paris, people's clothing styles are similar, as Parisians are inspired by the fashion trends of the moment.
The British in general are known for their freedom and creativity in clothing. This freedom of dress is accepted everywhere, even at work. This flexibility is much less tolerated in France. In British schools however, uniforms are compulsory for everyone.
5) The different ways of greeting each other in France and in the UK
The British are a little less formal than the French in the way they greet each other. In the UK, people often greet each other with a single kiss to one cheek, sometimes it is replaced by a "hug" (a friendly embrace) or a simple verbal greeting.
French people coming to the UK may be surprised by the use of affectionate terms exchanged between complete strangers, such as "lovely", "my love", "sweetie"...
In France, the manner in which people greet each other may seem confusing and complicated (even for the French!), but it has great cultural importance. French people often kiss each other hello, whether they are friends, colleagues or family. The number of kisses varies a lot according to the region, but also according to the context and the age of the people who are meeting.
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