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Xenophobia: Being a Foreigner in France

France is a diverse country, this is due to its large geographic area and regional differences as well as being a consequence of immigration resulting from France’s colonial past. Despite this, attitudes to foreigners vary but in general, the French are not very tolerant of foreigners.

For example, wearing of a full head covering veil in public is banned by law whether you are French or not – the principle of French laïcité states that nobody can show their religion publicly. The (official) reason for the banishment of the full head covering is security.

France has played an important role for centuries as a cultural centre and is noted for its cosmopolitan, civilised approach to life, combined with a great concern for style, fashion and appearance. France’s distinguished individuality is an important cultural characteristic that is encapsulated by the French passion for uniqueness and freedom of opinion, both in society and in business.

One aspect of French culture that has a major influence on business in France is the country’s attention to rules and regulations. The French have a low tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity, which, for those wishing to conduct business there , is significant in that they are reluctant to take risks.

France has always played a crucial part in both European and World events. After experiencing two World Wars, the loss of an Empire and numerous political and social upheavals, France has emerged as a vital component in the European Community with a strong sense of pride and heritage. Today, the French business market boasts a variety of international investors and is an important world supplier of agricultural and industrial products. The country also demonstrates one of the highest rates of economic growth in Europe. However, for those wishing to enter the French business environment, an understanding of the country’s culture is vital.

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