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Cultural Facts of France

The French are very proud of their independence and culture. For successful business liaisons, it is important to be aware of their cultural distinctions. The French flag has three vertical bands of blue (hoist side), white, and red. This became the flag during the French Revolution and was made popular by Marquis de Lafayette. It is commonly known in France as the ‘drapeau tricolore’ (Tri-colour Flag).

Marianne is a symbol of the French Republic. She is an allegorical figure of liberty and the Republic and first appeared at the time of the French Revolution. Under the Third Republic, statues, and especially busts, of Marianne began to proliferate, particularly in town halls. She was represented in several different modes, depending on whether the aim was to emphasize her revolutionary nature or her “wisdom” and she appears on everyday articles such as postage stamps and coins.

Famous French actors, including Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, have been given the title of Marianne. Recent ones include Sophie Marceau, and Laetitia Casta.


Gender does not play a major role in French organisations and businesswomen including foreign women on business in France are as well respected as their male counterparts. . However, it should be noted that women are more readily accepted in management positions in the major cities than in the provinces, where some gender inequality can still be found. Females should be aware that flirting is generally considered normal and acceptable behaviour in France, and is seen as harmless entertainment to lighten the day at work and socially. Harmless flirting however, should not be confused with sexual harassment, which is completely unacceptable; for example, paying appreciative comments on a colleague’s dress or perfume choice could be considered sexual harassment in some countries, but in France it is considered a genuine compliment and as such is appreciated. However, as with many other cultural norms, trying to emulate your French co-workers in flirting should only be done if you can do it elegantly, since crossing the line into vulgarity and roughness can get you into trouble.


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