The beauty of France
Apart from the large and beautiful variety of the natural environment, France has produced a noticeable quality of life. Some call it the Art of Living.
Marked by a certain absence of anxiety, even in the midst of hectic chaos, French character is forged by a natural encounter of opposing forces.
Basic brute forces, adapted in their co-existence, and in spite of appearance, have found a balance. People likewise, have learned to live and are mostly happy and peaceful.
Life appears to be self-sufficient. Whether poor or rich, active or passive, left or right (political choice), in general, people are balanced, even if appearance doesn’t show. I am not talking about a large and growing immigrated, ‘non-French’ part of society, but about the native French people : those who have inherited genetically the character this land has produced.
In history, many have desired to conquer France, collectively and individually. Still today, people from all over the world flow into the country, trying to make it their homeland, longing to be integrated. For this, cultural understanding is crucial. Being social and hospitable, France wants to help a lot of people. Most immigrants though, will hardly ever truly come to understand the life and culture of the local people.
Common life in France paints another picture than the overall competitive Anglo-American, North European or Asian societies, where generally a severe survival battle claims its price. Performance pressure, goals, obligations, it makes most people’s path a never-ending, stressful race to beat the competition. This way of living claims its toll, called stress and anxiety. The bottom line of it is this: ‘We don’t have it, and we stress to get it.” Whatever ‘it’ means to live peacefully.
What is different in France?
The excellence of France I suggest doesn’t need that kind of pressure. Aiming to become the number one doesn’t work here. Winning is not that important. Beating the competition doesn’t lastingly satisfy. Authenticity and acceptance do.
In France one can find the balance needed to be fulfilled. Generally, life is prosperous, the mainstream society has disciplined habits, a daily rhythm, a good measure of satisfaction and happiness, reasonable social and financial freedom and opportunities. People are usually qualified and faithful in their work. Fast runners mostly get frustrated. Top performance doesn’t come from beating the competition but is cultivated by diligently and patiently labouring on quality work. With peace of mind.
France is rather ‘artistic’ and ‘peace’, the absence of anxiety, is a crucial ingredient for the success of any artist. If he wants to let nature complete its perfect work. I’ve travelled a bit and lived in different countries. Peace of mind, in general is what I’ve found lacking in most places I’ve seen.
Born French, Anglo-American educated, grown up in the Netherlands, my view of France is formed by over 25 years of living and working here. I have material to compare cultures. For long I’ve been fathoming French cultural difficulties and mysteries, in an urge to come to understand my birth country.
Globally, French people are quite characteristic and out of the box. They may seem to be from another planet sometimes. You may wonder what point of view they are coming from. Logic is not their strong. Intuïtion is. This can be very frustrating for foreigners. It is not easy to understand how they tick. But enriching and fascinating to discover, when we’re open for surprises.
When I started to let go of my “Dutch Germanic” concepts, after many years, I became more “French”. I discovered a new and fascinating way of living my life. With peace. It made me happy and better balanced. I have no clue if French people know what I am talking about.
The Art of Living
To breath with freedom and to live in the absence of performance pressure is indeed stress-relieving. At best, this is what France has to offer. If we succeed to get out of the common rat-race.
For that, one needs discipline. French art of living is based on hard work and living a simple life.
A ‘baguette’, some smelly cheese, a bottle of fine wine, a belvedere, an encounter in a cosy street, a smile from a stranger, a couple of reflections and serious considerations, a little patience, a little humour, all together rapted up in a bath of sunshine, and regularly a good laugh on the terrace of the village bar. That will be enough to live satisfied, for the present moment. Demanding more would fail the point of life and disturb the harmony in this beautiful country.
Small things matter and make a difference. Small things do not really exist in our big universe, or at least, they are relative. Compared to our Universe, everything is small. Art and quality come from valuing and cultivating small things. Starting humble. This seems to be a national philosophy, even if internationally they appear to be always striving to be the first and biggest. In the daily authentic French character we find a humble attitude of discipline. Resisting to that, will cause suffering in France. Trying to be great will not be accepted. Starting small will be accepted. I guess this is also universal.
Great if you get the point. The king in France does…
What does it mean to live as a King in France?
Where Does That Expression Come From?
The expression to ‘Live like a King or a God in France’ has long dated meaning. It is not about wealth or power, which mainly generate anxiety. The root is in culture: although France is rich with beautiful natural environments and resources, the human riches are in the cultural heritage and in the art of living. Don’t get me wrong: a lot of people in France do not live like kings … rather as hard workers.
What is Culture?
Let’s say that culture is the expression of the thoughts and labours of man. So France is rich in culture. Lots of creative thinking. Lots of expressions. Many generations have reflected and laboured to express who they are and want to be. Artistic creativity and a peaceful mindset have been ingredients to this.
And culture culminates. Thoughts and labour of man influence thoughts and labour of man. So culture produces an heritage. The passing on of thoughts and labour.
In France for many centuries.
The art of living is not in what we do but “how” we do it. Every country makes wine. But not like the French. Every country makes cheese. But not like the French. Love it or hate it, at least it is their way, and experts praise it.
It takes time to learn a way of doing things. It takes passing on of knowledge and experience, it takes examples, generation upon generation, it takes observation.
What is life in France like?
Of course, this depends on who and where you are. Generally I would describe life in France as having all you need. People have an global feeling of happiness, peace of mind and satisfaction. Now that is quite a statement, and maybe not everyone agrees. In the restless Monday morning traffic of Paris, it will be hard to imaging this. But there also, in the midst of horning cars and yelling drivers, a certain peace of mind covers the population. Unless chaos is all one can notice.
Although France is quite rich, this global satisfaction is not related to financial wealth. Rich people are all over the world but do not have necessarily quality of life. Many rather poor, hard-working French people do have quality of life. Many live peacefully, happily and fulfilled. Their ability to appreciate simple, natural things is related to this quality of life, and is passed on in their culture.
Although dispute and complaint seem omnipresent outwardly, in reality, it is only a game. Just another way of doing things. In most cases it does not reflect the inner state of the people.
And of course, this does not concern everybody. It is impossible to tell what percentage of the people in France truly own the cultural heritage, and how many are merely trying to copy a way of life that is not really their own. The original blueprint might become rarer and rarer. Less and fewer people may even be aware of its existence. Pride, arrogance and selfishness make all people blind, also among the French.
Quality of life in France
My fascination for the French quality remains though. What is the mystery behind the balance and well-being? Where does it come from? Is it only an impression for outsiders? Do the French know what I am talking about? Is it something you envy when you don’t have it and don’t notice it when it is all around you? Many French seem to not be aware of their cultural privilege.
Once as child, I told my dad that France is beautiful and varied. He replied, ‘Yes, but we (the French) don’t realize that.’ Hard to believe. He must have said it for a reason.
Coming from an artistic background, arriving in France, I started to experience life differently. Many artists succeed once they come to this land, especially the south. Why?
Life is different. The rhythm, the paste, the habits. But what makes the difference? Even simple food is different. Cheese, bread, wine, sausages, spices, tomatoes, peaches, … it all seems to taste fuller, richer.
As child, returning with my mum from our summer holidays in France, we always brought back some specialities: ‘saucisson and compté’ (spiced sausage and a famous French cheese). But even with fresh French bread and good French wine, the taste was different in Holland. It could only remind us of our happy moments. Not reproduce them. The taste seems to be related to locality!
The expression to live like a king in France thus has a deeper meaning. As said before, it is not about money or wealth, or about power. It’s about culture, a land, a people, their history and their way of doing things. A geographic locality and its history of events have created a specific taste and character in the local population. Surrounded by 7 other countries, England included, touching 4 different sea or ocean coasts, acquiring dozens of colonies over time, the French have discovered and learned from many other cultures. Their specific capacity to appreciate value and virtue in what other people do, has indeed enriched their own nation.
Sadly, France also loses its flavour
I am aware that unfortunately, globalization and mixed cultures cause old forged quality and traditions to disappear. Slowly, we’re all blending into one and the same multi-national society, a dark brown mixture, where all cultures and paths of life blend into one stew. How long before there will be only one land, one language and one culture, Earth?
We find Chinese and Indian restaurants all over Europe
(I love their food!)
and Mc Donalds all over Asia.
Nowadays, people seem to not want to preserve their native culture anymore, in their homeland. The aim is for progress, the luxurious lifestyles, the stature and comfort.
We thus accept to miss out on struggle and pain, price of merit and meaning. These I believe are the roots behind all quality. The struggle produces the lessons to learn, worth more than material riches or an ease of life. Struggles forge quality and character. Just like the French smelly cheeses and wines.
In multi-national society, locals disappear, forced to conform, losing their identity and traditions. A precious part of the former French traditions disappear with it, little by little, replaced by multi-nationalistic modern lifestyle. The dollars signs twinkling in the eyes, make mankind blind to true cultural values.
I hope there will always be people resisting to this, desiring to keep their old forged qualities and knowledge, and hopefully they will always be able to express them enough for the next generations to learn from.
Who Are We?
This is not a merely commercial website trying to get the most lucrative sales. I am not a foreign travel agent, trying to make the best money out of French tourism, as many agencies try to do, French or not.
As a French publisher and citizen, I want to promote French quality of life, tradition and culture.
I don’t mean political, military or economical France, or the haughty, puffed up France. They also exist.
I’m talking about authentic and honest France: a modest, social, creative and helpful civilisation, with lots of precious treasures to share. A people that takes things to heart and cares for others, one that appreciates life, values and history. May that France live forever!
Please leave me your comments, I’d love to hear from you.