The French have a long tradition of personal liberty and freedom, including religious freedom. About 50% of the French people describe themselves as Catholic. Life, both in Paris and in the smaller towns and rural villages, is based around the family. Yet that family life in recent years has been changing. Today, nearly one-third of homes are occupied by a single person living alone. The numbers of single parents, childless couples and unmarried couples are all on the rise.
The French greatly value their beautiful language and the contributions the French have made to the world in literature, art and architecture are very significant. There are a number of laws that have been established to preserve the language. For example, French radio stations must play at least 40% of French songs. The French are also rightly proud of their museums, including Paris’s Louvre, one of the largest museums in the world, which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
A large part of the French culture is centred on food and wine. The people take pride in the culinary trends they have been responsible for, such as haute cuisine and nouvelle cuisine. Regional differences in food styles are embraced; a typical dish in Lyon may vary a lot from a similar dish made in Calais. Winemaking is a valued skill in France, and the regional wines, from areas such as Bordeaux, Champagne, and Burgundy are sought after the world over.
Football is the national sport, but rugby, sailing, tennis and cycling also have large followings. French fashion is highly acclaimed and known throughout the world. Many of the best-known designers have studios in Paris where they produce the world’s finest fashions.