French culture

Table of Contents

French culture is the best of Europe! Everyone recognises it, no matter how reluctantly!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  France is the model for Europe in a great many of fields. Everything we do is scrutinised and immediately copied by everyone. All ambassadors or other foreigners based in France constantly send news back home so that their correspondents can be aware of the latest trends.  

Fashion trends



The first domain that comes to mind when speaking about France's superiority is fashion. France dictates how the rest of Europe should aspire to dress. Only look at the example of the mode revolution: a new style of female dress based on a revisit of Roman and Greek culture that appeared at the begining of the century.   It did not take long for the rest of Europe to catch up, no matter how scandalous they judged those kind of dresses which left very little to the imagination: almost transparent cloth, uncovered arms and head, dress brushing against the body without the protection of a voluminous underskirts... Meanwhile, men dress was similarly simplified: trousers instead of breeches obviously characterising the sans-culottes, tight fitting cuts, and the use of dull, unadorned cloth.   After King Napoléon's death, and those damned English interfered to get the Bourbons elected back onto the throne, some delusional individuals attempted to wind back clocks and pretend that the revolution had not happened. All trends went back in time to the early years of Louis XVI's reign. In particular, the delicate embroideries brimming with magic, symbol of the skills of noble and idle individuals, made their return after their fall from grace because of the revolution and its promotion of equalitarian ideals.   Thankfully, since King Lucien's rise to the throne, he has been promoting a tasteful updating of those trends so that the clothes are fully suited for modern life. Forget breeches and metres-wide panniers, trousers and modest crinolettes are back! However, more than style, their most striking characteristic is all the new beautiful colours allowed thanks to modern alchemical processes. The combination of those new colours, the height of embroidery techniques and the French traditional textile weaving have contributed to make the current French fashion trend admired, not only through Europe, but through the whole world.  
We have finally reached perfection by combining the expression of all traditional French crafts and state-of-the-art technologies! Notwithstanding those imbeciles of legitimists, we can only go forwards, with forever more runic, weaving and alchemical inventions!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
Robe empire
Dress style empire by Wikimedia Commons


Mode roman
The current feminine trend by Wikimedia Commons



Art and luxury trades



France has always been a leader of arts and crafts and it is renowned for its luxury trade. Whatever the fields, French people simply do it best.   Worthy of special mentions are:  
  • the silk industry in Lyon that makes the whole city live. Its renown through Europe guarantees a constant flow of orders. This has unfortunately left the canuts entirely dependent on the fluctuations of the market, and the rich traders and the state have not shown themselves to be very accommodating to their needs.
  • perfumery and cosmetics, with in particular the House Guerlain founded in 1828.
  • the exquisite runic embroideries whose quality and power stays unrivalled.
  • jewelleries and watchmaking. Their numerous famous masters and Houses include the Chaumet House, founded by Marie-Etienne Nitot who served King Napoléon himself, making his coronation crown and sword. Other French creations are the invention of the wrist-watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet of House Breguet in 1812 and the stem-winding watch by Antoine Philippe in 1842.
  • glassware, notably in the glass manufacture of Baccarat in the Vosges department, the most renowned in Europe.
  • porcelain from the manufacture of Sèvres, which is used to decorate all the royal tables of Europe.
  • leather craft, including shoes, gloves and bags.
  • marquetry, the art of woodwork and woodart incorporated in furniture.
  • sculpting and painting.
  • literature.
 
There is no other way to put it than to say that we're the best. Even in the middle of all the wars, the rest of Europe—English included—are still scrambling to buy our crafts and arts, and no blockade is going to be able to change that!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png



Food



France has invented the concept and terms of restaurants in the 1780s. The name comes from restaurer, "put back on one's feet". Those places are said to be the first to have combined "an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar, and superior cooking". The service is brought by waiters to individual tables, and the menu has fixed prices that are shown outside of the establishment. In addition, the revolution of 1789 caused the mass emigrations of nobles out of France, and many of their cooks chose to open their own restaurants in Paris, thus creating a new social phenomenon. Such establishmentw were so popular that they quickly spread through the world.  
Since the revolution has ended all the professional guilds and their monopolies, we've never seen so much gastronomic innovations! Such a shame that the colonel still refuses to allow us to employ the service of a competent chef... Why should we be stuck with that cantinère just because her sister is married to a colonel that is not even in garrison with us? I tell you, if she serves us another of her wet chicken, an unfortunate accident is going to occur...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  While restaurants are an interesting novelty, Paris is also filled with many other different types of eating or drinking establishments. Places to see and to be seen, there is one for all social classes. Among those are:  
  • Cafés: serves food and light drinks, but are mostly a place of socialisation for discussing and debating ideas and exchanging information.
 
The counter of a café is the people's parliament.

— Honoré de Balzac


  • patisserie: a café serving pastries
  • marchands de vin: sell wine
  • cabarets: serve wine only (à pot et à pinte) or wine and a few dishes (à pot et à assiette).
  • guinguettes: cabarets that also propose a small and cheap ball in the evening. Mostly located just outside of the barrières, the borders of Paris, to escape the wine tax. In Paris, if you know where to look there is a ball for all social classes and types of persons, from the most distinguished to the more popular and violent.
  • bistrots: establishments owned by immigrants from the French provinces and opened near manufactures to welcome a more popular clientele. They sell wood, small ironwork, coal (delivered directly to the customers' houses), and drinks (wine, spirits, lemonade).
  • gargotes: very cheap places badly serving bad cuisine, as the name coming from gargoter indicates.
 
I know just the right place to go to celebrate your graduation and proper entrance into the army! Just forget to mention it to the colonel...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
  France is also highly associated with different types of food or drinks that we have invented, such as champagne, or the typical French bread made in the form of a wand, a baguette. Chefs are constantly innovation new dishes and new pastries to awe their patrons and customers. A recent and very popular example is the pain à la Duchesse, also called bâton royal. It was invented by the chef working for the Orléan family who are cousin to the legitimist Bourbon House and whose head is a strong pretender to the throne, thus giving to the name of the pastries a political dimension.   The Grande Cuisine à la française was also revolutionised by Marie-Antoine Carême, an extremely famous chef, who worked for Talleyrand who was himself minister of Kings Napoléon, Louis XVIII, Charles X and Lucien. Carême perfected the mille-feuilles pastries. More than that however, he invented a new style of cooking based on sauces, with the Béchamel, the Espagnole and the Velouté becoming mother sauces serving of bases for the conception of many other sauces.   Carême and Talleyrand together also greatly contributed to the reputation of the diplomacy gastronomic à la française. Carême was also responsible for changes in small details such as the design of cooking tools and moulds or the shape of cooks' hats. His death in 1833 has been greatly regretted, but he is still remembered as "the king of chefs and chef of kings". His successor is considered to be Adolphe Dulgéré, the current royal chef.  
You better not have wasted all of your pay in some inferior wine while we're stationed in Lyon, one of the capitals of French gastronomy! Next time the colonel brings us to a restaurant, you'll have to watch us eat while you'll be left starving, and you better not have any illusion about her generosity...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png



Philosophy



France has always been a fertile ground for the thriving of literature and philosophy. The 18th century was characterised by the Lumières movement, filled with amazingly talented philosophers who revolutionised our conception of the state and the relationship between a people and their monarch. Among the many amazingly talented authors of the time, some remarkable names are Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot.

Of course, all of those debates were the direct precursors of our most glorious revolution to date, and it is with great delight that we have done our best to spread those ideas and ideals both before and afterwards. Foreign monarchs had previously delighted in welcoming them and pretending to be enlightened and concerned about the care of the people over which they were ruling. They had done many token gestures to prove this, their favourite being paying those philosophers to come to their court. Of course, our revolution rather cooled their lukewarm enthusiasm.


It does not matter how reluctant they are, and how much they all want to force us back to how we were before the revolution. They fail to understand what the mere act of being French means. We are all gifted with an indomitable spirit and we will never let any monarch, French or foreign, dictate the fate of our country! France belongs to its people and only to its people. Our poor cousins in the rest of Europe might have had their spirit broken, but never us. In fact, it is more than our duty to go spread our enlightenment to them, for no man or woman shall live as a slave where we can interfere!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png


Since the rest of Europe went to war against France to stifle its revolution, France went to war against Europe to free their people against tyrannical monarchs and to gift their people with a constitution guaranteeing their freedom, a code civil to put all of those ideals into laws, and the delight of discovering the superiority of a complex and fully modern administration system so as to put those laws into facts.


For who could fail to admire our administration system?
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png


Among all of our extraordinary export, a special note should be given to the metric system! Could you image that before we imposed it on the rest of Europe, almost all villages had their own unit of measurements? Even more, we have also completely transformed the calendar: 12 months with 3 ten-day week, and 5 to 6 complementary days at the end of the year for feasting. Each day is now divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Those are undoubtedly some of our greatest inventions that are sure to leave their mark in history!


And in our great generosity, we gifted those new systems to all the European regions under our domination. By all accounts, the sheer chaos brought by those changes was greatly enjoyable!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png


Another great, global philosophical movement we have created is the Saint-Simonianism, named after the great Claude-Henri de Rouvroy de Saint-Simon, one of the fathers of the revolution. The goal of this socio-economic and political doctrine is to end the feudal era of war and revolution—after all we have already proven that we have the perfect political system in place and that there is nothing other countries can do about it whether they like it or not!—and to fully enter the industrial age. Technological and social progress are all going to lead us towards a golden era!

Aristocracy should be determined by talents, not birth, and the whole society should be led by its most competent members no matter the fields: scientists, engineers, artists, industrials, scholars... It is indeed obvious that those of us who have the right natural intellectual dispositions and have been fully educated into taking full advantage of them are the only ones apt to administer the country and to allow it to prosper. We would all be able to ensure the fraternity of all of our citizens with each other and that everyone is fully able to enjoy the fruit of modernisation and of the new technologies.


Hear that? Us engineers and scientists are clearly superior to the rest of the rabble and it is only just and fair that we sacrifice some of our time and energy to enlighten them all on how best to rule and administer the country. And as one of us, His Majesty King Lucien perfectly exemplifies this! What spirit of sacrifice! The rest of us can only take him as an example...
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png



Revolutionary Calendar

Days Months
Primidi (first day) Vendémiaire (from vendenge, grape harvest), starting 22-24 September
Duodi (second day) Brumaire (from brume, mist), starting 22-24 October
Tridi (third day) Frimaire (From frimas, frost), starting 21-23 November
Quartidi (fourth day) Nivôse (from neige, snow), starting 21-23 December
Quintidi (fifth day) Pluviôse (from pluvieux, rainy), starting 20-22 January
Sextidi (sixth day) Ventôse (from venteux, windy), starting 19-21 February
Septidi (seventh day) Germinal (from germination), starting 20 or 21 March
Octidi (eighth day) Floréal (from fleur, flower), starting 20 or 21 April
Nonidi (ninth day) Prairial (from prairie, meadow), starting 20 or 21 May
Décadi (tenth day) Messidor (from moisson, harvest), starting 19 or 20 June
Thermidor (from Greek thermon, summer heat), starting 19 or 20 July
Fructidor (from fruit), starting 18 or 19 August
5-6 feast days
Portrait_de_Claude-Henri_de_Rouvroy_comte_de_Saint-Simon.jpg
Saint-Simon by Wikimedia Commons



Military culture

 



Yet another domain in which France is indubitably superior is the military. King Napoléon and King Lucien Esselin are the two most striking examples, but by no means the only ones. For centuries we have dominated Europe and led the rest of it by our example.   Among our latest and most lasting influence is a complete professionalisation of the army, the opening of all officer posts to members of the lower social classes, a minimum of care for soldiers' comfort and well-being, and the importance of speed, mobility, the Artillery Corps and the Engineering Corps in military strategy. France is also leading in term of sheer splendor of our uniform, and all of our enemies can only look on with envy, unable to replicate it with their subpar technologies.  
Time and time again, they all have had to scramble to keep up and gather in pitiful alliances, all against us, in a pathetic attempt to reach our might. Still, they are so attached to their outdated ideas that they keep coming back. See how long the current peace last before those traitorous English and Austrians find yet another reason to breach it while pretending we are at fault!
— Sergeant
Sergeant small.png
uniform


Cover image: Garden terrace of a restaurant in Paris by Wikimedia Commons

Comments

Author's Notes

Summer Camp prompt 5: An ethnicity whose cultural exports are highly sought after.   Sources:
Stuart Woof (2002). Napoléon et l’Italie In: Napoléon et l'Europe: Colloque de La Roche-sur-Yon. Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes.
Les éclairs et leur histoire.
Petite histoire de la cuisine.
Ève-MarieHalba (2014). En quête d'un restaurant parisien au xixe siècle. À vau‑l'eau, une nouvelle de Joris‑Karl Huysmans. Ethnologie française. 44(1):19-27.   Most of the elements described here are historical, apart from the fashion section and a few details concerning King Lucien who I invented. In addition, while the metric system was there to stay, the revolutionary calendar and using the metric system to measure time were abandoned after a few years.


Please Login in order to comment!
10 Jul, 2021 22:04

Omelette du fromage

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
10 Jul, 2021 23:11

:p French food is best

10 Jul, 2021 22:48

I got to the food part.. and now I'm hungry. Thanks! Another great read!

~ Eliora Yona ~
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
10 Jul, 2021 23:11

I spend the day writing the food part... It was terrible! Thanks for the read and comment :D

11 Jul, 2021 07:10

Yes! Of course! I see the truth now and bow to my new, French overlords and overladies :O   Another great article, combining an amazing amount of detail with a fantastic humorous tone. I especially like the part where they still got beat at Waterloo...   Just kidding, I especially like the food part, because I want to eat it all! :D   And I see the Sarge has a face now! Will he get a name!?   Awesome stuff as always, Amélie! :D

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Jul, 2021 07:22

Waterloo? What is that? Never heard of that place!   I'm mentally plotting the Sergeant's article, but still no name!   And yes, that food section was terrible to write... :(

11 Jul, 2021 11:53

This article has single-handedly convinced me to become French. Now je suis Inarcaél :)

Ynar wishes you a nice day!   Feel free to visit my world, Ikaharin
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Jul, 2021 12:54

Bienvenue parmi nous! :D

Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
11 Jul, 2021 19:31

Okay, scrolled down to leave a like and a comment immediately after reading "French culture is the best of Europe! Everyone recognises it, no matter how reluctantly!" Now back to reading the rest of it!

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Jul, 2021 14:16

XD I really had fun with the quotes in the this one!

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