Douce France, Sweet France


An article to describe France and to decipher her identity: this is the challenge that we, the French must accept. Describing a far-off unknown land is a difficult task but to describe your home and to easily talk about you and yours can be exhausting, making it said challenge. 3,14 has focussed on a small survey recently sent to international students currently on their exchange year in France. This sample delivers a subjective view on our country and a vague outline of this beloved land, home to a people as intriguing as they are controversial.

Images (below) ; 1° the French countryside and monuments  2° Cheeses, wines and pastries 3° They made history 4° A French language dictionary 5° Some well-known French faces  6° A Dunce cap 7° Sheet music for Charles Trenet’s “Douce France”



This little story circulating South America, says a lot about our country and the way foreigners perceive us:
One day, when God was bored, he confided to a friend his intention to create a new planet Earth: “First of all, I’m going to make a great country with all the riches in the ground, but to balance things out, I will only put authoritarian and bloodthirsty leaders at its head… I will call it Russia; further to the west, I will make the most powerful country in the world, but it will be devastated by tornadoes on a regular basis… I will call it United States; another long and wide, very elegant and cultivated country but continuously threatened by earthquakes, Japan; another that will have the largest and most fertile forest in the world, but its people victims of great inequality, Brazil. God created all the countries in this way, then concluded: “And finally I will make a very small country, charming, with magnificent and varied landscapes, a mild climate, abundant in riches and sheltered from the miseries of nature, it will be good to live there… This country I will call France.” His friend was astonished: “That’s not fair, this country has nothing but assets and advantages”. God replied: “No, because I’m going to put the French there!”.

This story is for entertainment purposes only, but it is also significant. If it affects us, because of its explicit and mocking nature, both in form and content, it says a lot about our country. In other words, this story hits the nail on the head! Let’s take a look:



…with its seas, its valleys, its wooded farmlands, its forests, its pathways, its mountains; with its steep coasts, its flat, long beaches, its wide and narrow lanes; with its rivers, its fountains, its lakes, its canals, its waterfalls and streams; with its little churches, its cathedrals, its walls, its towers, its markets, its stations, its bridges, its lighthouses, its ports, its homes, its gardens; with its Dame de Fer and its Dame Gothique, Mont-Saint-Michel and its Mont-Blanc, its châteaux de la Loire, its Île de Beauté, its Dune du Pilat and its Pointe du Raz, its Mont-Blanc and its Puy-de-Dôme , its Pont du Gard and its Cirque de Navacelle, its Vieux Port and its promenade for old Englishmen, its exotic and faraway lands, its Place des Vosges and its Paris…

Could there be a more varied and contrasting country? In a relatively narrow and confined space, a land of human dimensions, France touches and tastes everything: the gently icy breezes of the North, the heat of the South, the sea and Alpine breezes, the sweatiness of the cities; in the West, France has its feet in the water, in the East it climbs; in the North, it shelters from the wind and rain, in the South, from the sun and wind too. France is blue with its seas, green with its fields, red when it blooms, yellow when the wheat ripens. It is more ‘rainbow’ than multicoloured, because the spectrum of colour that make up this country all touch, but never to the point of altering the vividness of the colours and identities.

France is subject to various infl­­uences, but not excessively so. Compared to the rest of the world, Europe is gentle, but at the heart of this Europe, France is by its very nature gentler still. It is as much Atlantic as it is Mediterranean, as flat as it is mountainous, as urban as it is rural and as Parisian as it is provincial, it is definitely mild. More than any other country, it benefits from the richness of four seasons: firm winters and clear summers, long springs and tender autumns making it understated.

Young foreigners  who have gotten to know our country are not mistaken. When asked about the main qualities of our country, many of them (even though they have not visited France as travellers or tourists) mention the beauty of our landscapes… and the beauty of our monuments too. Monuments that blend into the earth as if they rose from it; which appear to belong to both the natural and the cultural through the work and wear of time.

France is subject to various infl­­uences, but not excessively so. Compared to the rest of the world, Europe is gentle, but at the heart of this Europe, France is by its very nature gentler still.

Above all, what never fails to impress our travellers, is France’s culture accumulated over centuries, deposited in layers of land conducive to welcoming them. In their eyes, four areas stand out, which will guide us like the four cardinal directions. Paradoxical when it comes to visiting a hexagon.



Gastronomy takes the win. We know that globally French gastronomy is placed at the very top of the global classification. Without disparaging cuisines just as renowned, such as Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Japanese and Peruvian food, (to name a few)… it cannot be denied that France benefits from an extraordinary abundance of culinary diversity. Some countries have a knack for distinguishing themselves in specific areas (fish, pasta, charcuterie, grilled meats, bread, beer, wine, etc.), while France distinguishes itself in many of these areas, it does not exclude any. In the French culinary field, quality goes hand in hand with variety.

In three categories in particular, our country has demonstrated such excellence that fuels its notoriety and overall reputation: wine, cheese and pastries. In these specialities, although France faces competition (notably from Italy), France remains unrivalled in terms of depth and range.

We have all heard of the three hundred cheeses with so many flavours and smells, but we know that if we add up all the French local products there are many more; it is said that there are more than three thousand different wines and nearly four hundred designations, seemingly never-ending and leaves no palate wanting for more. As for pastries, the proof of the variety and abundance is the fact that a Frenchman knows three to four hundred names of cakes, while an Englishman for example, knows no more than twenty.

Apart from quality and quantity, we can not discuss food without mentioning the central role it plays in French culture

Apart from quality and quantity, we can not discuss food without mentioning the central role it plays in French culture. The French almost always place food at the fore: they talk about ‘food’ from morning till night and can not stop talking about it. They collect recipes and culinary books, they’re passionate about TV shows sparking their desire to try dishes they’ll never taste. The French kitchen table is an institution of its own, where sharing a glass or a little something is invaluable. As for meals, they mark a French person’s day, sometimes even structuring or shaping the day’s events. So much so that the great writer Molière himself said that it is good food and not fine words that bring you alive! The French do not skip meals, they fight to defend their regional specialities and keep them alive. They could sell out a cassoulet, an aligot, a Parmentier, a pot-au-feu, a raclette, a blanquette, a fondue, an omelette, a Saint-Honoré, a Tatin, a Camembert, a saucisson, a ham, a croissant, a baguette… We know that the list is just a small example and it in fact, endless!

Through the revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, France has placed itself at the centre of thinking about life and the democratic spirit. It rightly draws pride and notoriety from this position, which has remained over time.



39% of those surveyed believe that France’s history determines its identity the best. One can’t forget that this history has developed over a long period of time (almost two millennia), that it has been shaped by centuries of events and diverse influences, and that it has evidently ended up shaping the country in turn by defining its character. France was born during the continuity of a long period of Roman presence in Gaul, (others would say “invasion” or “colonisation”), that although jostled by barbarian advances (Germanic, Frankish and others), this period left significant and permanent marks on our lives and landscapes. The Romanisation of intellect shaped our language and structures, and laid the foundations for a powerful state.

Modern-day France was born in 498 AD with the baptism of Clovis (King of the Franks), a unifier who converted to Catholicism. It was consolidated in 843 AD under Charlemagne, and then developed in several phases (all periods of centralisation) around key figures. For example, Philip Augustus the first ‘King of France’ who after Bouvines made his kingdom the most powerful in the West; Philip the Fair the first great administrator; Joan of Arc the symbol of revival and resistance; Louis XI the restorer of the monarchy; Henry IV the father of reconciliation and advocate for religious freedom; Louis XIV who synthesised the work of his predecessors both as a military leader and as an absolute monarch; Napoleon who stabilised the achievements of the Revolution, reformed the State from top to bottom and created most of the country’s current institutions, but whom in the name of European unification, plunged Europe into endless wars that turned borders upside down and had lasting political, demographic, military and social repercussions. A strange character, this young defender of the Republic who became Emperor and led France to the Restoration! Finally, Charles de Gaulle, who also symbolised a form of resistance, and whose greatest act of bravery would be the establishment of one of the most solid constitutions of the 20th century. One which would endure, strengthen executive power and stabilise the country’s institutions.

While it comes as no surprise that our young foreign students remember Louis XIV and Napoleon as French figures, it is interesting to notice that it is the Revolution of 1789 and the rights of man that they feel best symbolise our country. It is necessary to say that, beyond its paradoxical, largely bloodthirsty and authoritarian excesses, the French Revolution disseminated the republican and democratic principles of liberty, equality (and fraternity to a lesser extent); and through the Declaration of 1789, inspired nationalist movements, and more broadly, the recognition of human rights throughout the world.

Despite the controversies surrounding the French Revolution and the fact that it is now being called into question (particularly because of the impotence of universalism), France has been placed  at the centre of reflection on life and the democratic spirit, due to this event. It rightly takes pride and notoriety from this position, which has persisted over time.



It may come as a surprise that in the eyes of our exchange students, the French language is an important symbol of France. It must be said that despite our small size but due to our colonial past, our language with over 300 million French speakers is simultaneously :

  • the fifth most spoken language in the world; making it a major mechanism of our culture, as much so in philosophy as in music or literature, and in this respect, has played a considerable role in the dissemination of ideas;
  • a diplomatic tool both politically and culturally thus reinforcing the influence of our country across a variety of international institutions such as the UN, the Francophonie, the IOC, etc.;
  • an important language from an international affairs and business perspective, particularly when looking at the tourism sector, fashion, food and technology; areas in which France excels

It’s true that the French language is difficult to master, but beautiful nonetheless ! Just like the country perhaps ?

France has been shaped by the French language which in turn has created unity. Over the centuries, through a historic process of political centralisation, cultural growth, education and the assertion of national identity, the French language would be established and enforced all over the country. Let us not forget that the second amendment of the French constitution states “La langue de la République est le français” (The language of the Republic is French), and that the European constitution acknowledges that French is the only official language of France (France and Greece are the only countries this applies to!). Our language also holds a place of privilege within certain bodies of the European Union. This complete valorisation of the French language came to be more than five centuries ago, as a way to build unity;  but it came at a price, the almost complete disappearance – dare we say elimination – of the other languages of the Hexagon. France threw out the regional babies with the national bath water, so to speak. Little by little, Breton, Alsatian, Basque, Occitan and to a lesser extent Corsican, disappeared from daily life.

French was also enforced on a world-wide scale through colonialism, and as part of the teachings of the ‘elite’ locals through business, migration and the creation of the French diasporas.

A romance language with roots in Latin, French is complex both phonetically and grammatically. With its genders, its agreements, its conjugations, its rich lexicon,  its overuse of double negatives and strange spellings, it’s a language that does its best to set itself apart from the rest. When we ask foreigners what is the most difficult to master in our language, most will answer ‘all of it’. This is all the more true because in French, the exceptions make the rules. We’ll see that citizens like to imitate the language!

The French language is difficult to master but beautiful nonetheless! Just like the country perhaps? As beautiful as it is rich. And how to prove this ? With these following quotes chosen helplessly and subjectively, as one would when choosing six grains of sand to describe the beauty of the entire desert:

  • Le jour n’est pas plus pur que le fond de mon cœur” (The day is not purer than the depth of my heart) – Jean Racine
  • Les grelots des troupeaux palpitaient vaguement, une immense bonté tombait du firmament” (The bells of the flock chimed in the air, as a great kindness came from up there ) – Victor Hugo
  • Sois sage, Ô ma douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille” (Behave, my pain, and be more still)- Charles Baudelaire
  • Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie” (The eternal silence of these endless spaces terrify me) – Blaise Pascal
  • Le souvenir d’une certaine image n’est que le regret d’un certain instant; et les maisons, les routes, les avenues, sont fugitives, hélas! Comme les années” (The memory of a certain image is but the regret of a certain moment; alas the houses, the roads, the avenues are but fleeting! Like the years.) – Marcel Proust
  • Passons, passons, puisque tout passe…” (We pass, we pass as all must pass) – Guillaume Apollinaire

Foreigners, like our exchange students, who have taken the time to learn our language and our country recognise  the power of the French language and the extraordinary works that have been produced. From Ronsard to Proust with Molière, La Fontaine, Racine, Hugo, Stendhal, Flaubert, Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Char, Aragon… and so many others in between.. This is true of literature and poetry, it’s true even more so of philosophy because we cannot forget the free-thinkers from de Montaigne to Camus as well as Descartes, Pascal, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Bergson, Sartre, etc. It is beyond a doubt that our language has produced quality by the quantity.

What our language has done for the written and spoken word, our country has done through other means for painting, music, architecture and dances.

On the world stage, France can clearly play the game, but does it revolve around us ? Absolutely not. That’s what rubs the salt in the wound.



In addition to its language and given its size, France has seen the emergence of numerous talents that are just as important as they are influential. Some of whom have changed the world order. Proust and to a slightly lesser degree, Céline, infiltrated and influenced the world of literature. Poussin, Chardin, Ingres, Géricault, Delacroix, Cézanne, Monet, Braque, Léger… shaped how we see. Pascal, Pasteur and Curie made leaps in science; Papin, Ader the Montgolfier and Lumière brothers made leaps with technology; the notoriety gained by Joan of Arc, Louis XIV or even Napoleon surpassed the small borders of France. Olympe de Gouges (champion of the end of slavery and for gender equality), Colmar (creator of the calculator), Moreno (the creator of the SIM card), Appert (inventor of airtight food preservation), Bourseul (telephone pioneer), Michaux (inventor of the bicycle), Cugnot (built the first automobile), Delabost (inventor of the shower) or even Laënnec (inventor of the stethoscope), Guérin (inventor of the plaster), Braille (creator of Braille) or Cadolle (inventor of the modern bra)…all of them, though lesser known than those originally cited, still left their mark on history by revolutionising our lives.



On the world stage, France can clearly play the game, but does it revolve around us ? Absolutely not. That’s what rubs the salt in the wound. Because the French, as a whole, are convinced that it is quite the opposite. They are happy to cultivate this idea of ‘cultural exception’ to such an extent that they coined this as a purely French idea, without a single thought for the other countries who could themselves claim it. All of these countries, starting with our European neighbours, have their fair share of geniuses. If we were to only use literature as an example, we have Dante in Italy, Shakespeare in England, Joyce in Ireland, Nietzsche in Germany, Cervantes in Spain, Kafka in Czechia, etc. Therefore there is clearly a cultural exception in Italy, Germany, England… and in the same way, also in the USA, China, Japan, South Africa…It’s impossible to list them all. Yet, the French are self-assuredly convinced that they are on a different level, unique in their own way and have established a rare exception. This gives them a sense of superiority which they happily cultivate, making them appear to the world as a slightly ‘pretentious’ people who like to put themselves at the centre of creation.

And here we are, back where we began. Do the French ruin their beautiful nature by believing themselves to be so beautiful ? In a way, yes, as all misplaced pretentiousness conceives ideas of grandeur and gives birth to excessive pettiness.

We sometimes ask ourselves whether the French reputation of being less than accommodating to foreigners in the street, at train stations or at the airport, of providing bad service in cafés, of offering food in restaurants that doesn’t live up to its reputation, is not just simply a result of this pretentiousness. Those who think highly of themselves find it hard to give it all to those they consider less important.

As Pascal would say “We see ourselves as great and we know we are miserable”. This follows a superiority complex that can quickly turn into a form of inferiority complex. This may very well explain the French tendency towards constant disparagement and pessimism. This tendency to always prepare for the worst (without necessarily anticipating it), to complain as soon as something doesn’t work (which happens often), to minimise the greatness of others, to be depressed and anxious (we are the leading country for the consumption of anxiolytics!), trying unsuccessfully to make ourselves feel better, saying ‘no’ when we mean yes or vice versa… looking all the more beautiful, the more ridiculous we are. Coluche quite rightly said of the national emblem, the cockerel, that it’s the only animal “to sing when its feet are stuck in shit”.  The great comedian and brilliant court jester that he was, gave an accurate characterisation of us in this way. It’s also how the outside world generally characterises us.

Our respondents all categorically replied something linked to these points : almost all mentioned French pretentiousness, the complaining, the disgruntled and sometimes ‘mean’ persona (this is the first shortcoming they find in the French), the splitting of hairs over the small details, adding ‘but’ when you have a good point, the constant contradiction, the bending of the rules and the lying.

Paradoxically, and interestingly, the French have a certain ability to make fun of their pettiness, to self-criticise and self mock at the same time. In true Cartesian fashion, everything will be questioned but not out loud. Instead the French prefer to hide behind a sense of humour, something there is no shortage of, and use it to their detriment. This paradoxical attitude makes us difficult and complex for foreigners to decipher. They will mistake our weakness for aggressive strength, and our absurd defensiveness for pride and contempt.



Ours is a strange country, one that cultivates immense contradictions. Throughout its history, it has been capable of both the best and the worst. As we have seen, innovative in many areas : Enlightenment, Human Rights, abolition of privileges and the slave trade, champion of secularism, of th separation of church from state, champion of etiquette; but behind or even backwards in others like : votes for women, gender equality, political education, inflexible with administration, only discussing the events of the 20th Century…

One idea in particular highlights this French dichotomy. In 1791, France was the first nation to formally recognise the Jewish people’s right to citizenship and by official decree, gave them the same civic rights as any other citizen. A truly global revolutionary idea that coined the phrase “Heureux comme un Juif en France(“As happy as a Jew in France”) and allowed Jewish citizens to access the ranks and honours available in the French administration, amongst other things. Then came the case of Captain Dreyfus a century later, who himself became the victim of a genuine plot to divide the country into two enemy camps, the symbol of a typical internal French conflict. The battle for justice was won by the Dreyfusards (supporters of Captain Dreyfus) but the battle against antisemitism was lost as this debate would be far from over. Only a few decades later, the French state would engage in an immoral collaboration in which the Jews were the first victims. This paradox remains today, insofar as the fact that although France ranks second in the world in terms of the Jewish diaspora (second the the USA) – which demonstrates an open-mindedness- whilst often denounced, antisemitism is rife and resurfaces at the drop of a hat.

Ten years ago, our managers, our leaders, even our ministers would not have hesitated to say that French schools were like “the best school in the world”, ignoring the surveys, the research, the evaluations, the rankings… 

Despite the discourse and efforts to promote social justice, and due to France often refusing to face reality and refusing to budge on purely ideological ideas, France continues to accumulate major inequalities regarding income, healthcare access, education and economic opportunities available to certain members of the population (notably immigrants most often from Africa, or more specifically North Africa). Historically, France has been active in opposition to change and revolutions, whether they be big or small. We like to live in the past for both the ease and nostalgia of it, until the system becomes too saturated and breaks down. We then enter periods of inevitable deconstruction that can be as beneficial as they are devastating.

Schooling is maybe the best example we have to demonstrate this typical ‘hexagonal’ thinking. For a long time, until very recently in fact, school was considered an overall point of great pride for the French. Ten years ago, our managers, our leaders, even our ministers would not have hesitated to say that French schools were like “the best school in the world”, ignoring the surveys, the research, the evaluations, the rankings. France, preferring instead to ignore the root cause of the problem, refused to budge on their grand principles. They got caught up in a pointless debate on positives of an egalitarian school and those of a school of the past, they continue to have this debate to this day. Those that advocate resisting change limit themselves to only the principle of equality, all whilst denying the fact that the system they are defending not only costs more money, but also produces more and more inequalities, leaving more and more children on the wayside. As for those calling for a return to the schools of the past, they may be doing this in the name of republican principles but they are by no means democratic. If excellence did take place, it would have only touched a negligible part of the population. One mustn’t forget that Jules Ferry’s schools were built upon the military school foundations put in place by Napoleon in the 19th century. Foundations that proved to be obsolete not only because peoples’ lifestyles changed but also because today we want and need to educate more than just the elites, rather as many people as possible. Let’s not forget that only 3% of students passed the school leaving certificate and only 2% obtained their baccalauréeat (A-Levels) in 1930… and how many of these students were women ?

All exchange students that have come to France to study in a French High School categorically bring up the following point : the school days are too full, there are too many class hours, the time spent just listening is too long. This is then followed by severe fatigue. French students tell us that international students are often under a lot of pressure : daily and weekly schedules, competitions, the lack of sport, lack of artistic activities…

France needs to start thinking of others and take inspiration from how it works elsewhere like in Finland or Korea:  to take into account the findings of cognitive science in education; to integrate a system where grades are neither the only nor the best form of assessment; that too much stress can be detrimental to learning; that extreme pressure is counterproductive ; that discipline and well-being go hand-in-hand as to a balanced lifestyle and achievements; that the relationship between teachers and pupils go together; that copying teaches you to look; that there are positives to learning things by heart; that singing in a choir can create solidarity; that drawing hones your observation skills, etc.

The idea of the mammoth, that those resistant to change were so anti, symbolises a sad reality. It is time to decentralise for the sake of our students, to give back power to the schools, the headteachers and above all the teaching staff ! It is time to let things happen on a local level. It is the only way to put into place all these solutions. The road may seem long but without any true reform, there will certainly be a revolution.



Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! Not everything in our school system is bad, far from it. We know that schools encourage immersive thinking, focus on what has been taught and on knowledge. So that the French act like the French, school teaches us, above all, how to discourse or in other words how to argue and contradict, and commentate too. Our know-how or rather expertise, is drawn from this.

Let’s finish with our little story… and let us not be too hard on ourselves.

France remains the 7th global economic power, a country that is strategically persistent, internationally recognised and even though France is mocked, people listen to her. Our little Hexagon is the most visited country in the world and certainly one of the most popular. It grows a sort of savoir-vivre symbolised, as we have seen, by natural and cultural beauty, by gastronomy, by the past and the ability of the French to resist the stranglehold modernity has on them. All those we surveyed highlighted a very specific albeit crucial point : France knows how to take its time, make the most of life, enjoy the beauty that is all around, cultivate friendships and laugh, adopt a ‘certain attitude’ when confronted by life that is the envy of the world. “Douce France” (Sweet France) as the song goes…

There is also something special about France, something no doubt linked to its reputation. For if there is one quality that stands out, it’s the ability of our country throughout its history to assimilate cultures, to broaden their connections, to grow from external events be they joyful or sad.

Built upon a gaulish, tribal, warlike foundation, composed of small independent tribes quickly overtaken from all sides by structural invasion, little by little France developed a strong and eventually unified people. By virtue of its geographical position and openness everywhere, France has not ceased to be affected by pervasive and external influences. Contrary to other countries, France has never overpowered the ‘invaders’; instead they have been cleverly assimilated and blended together. The so-called invaders have been frenchified, christianised and mixed into the whole. It is amusing to note that even some foreigners unashamedly consider themselves French because they themselves are French speakers and talented. We think above all of Rousseau, and from the last century, Picasso, Soutine, Brel, Stromae, Hergé, Simenon, Godart, Yourcenar, Magritte, Charlebois, Ventura, etc.

The solution of closure, of barriers or of walls is but an illusion because this solution is both impossible to implement, and unnatural. When France moved towards an enlightened tolerance, she was great. 

France likes to amalgamate and assimilate. This is an undeniable strength. However, since the world has become dull, where no insurmountable obstacles remain, France is finding it difficult to continue this way. Why is this? Is it because she feels invaded?  Globalisation which is occurring at breakneck speed does pose a huge challenge. The solution of closure, of barriers or of walls is but an illusion because this solution is both impossible to implement, and unnatural. When France moved towards an enlightened tolerance, she was great.



As previously mentioned, the more France has welcomed others through assimilation, the more she has developed and grown. The opposite is also true, everytime she has chosen to close herself off, France has shrunk and become poorer. There are numerous well-known factors that explain the current difficulties of non-assimilation : failed integration and immigration policies, the lack of control over migratory flows, discrimination, an overly strong sense of national identity, the rejection of certain values, the power of communitarianism, international tensions… The solutions to these problems are not immediately obvious.

Our story does tell us something. Something, that as we have seen, does touch upon a type of superiority complex or maybe an inferiority complex… A complex we cultivate, probably unconsciously, that we try to treat with humour, and which eases each time we allow foreigners to question us, to help us to better understand ourselves collectively and inter-individually.

Ultimately, our language, our cheeses, our monuments or our ethnicity do not define our nation. Like any nation, France was built upon the desire to live together and survives in the same way : a mutual desire, a shared desire … one that is always at risk, sometimes from real threats but often from false rhetoric based upon close-minded ideology or fantasies. In this respect, it is worth noting that our country has managed, in a particularly original way, to highlight the concept of fraternity. To such an extent, that it has been incorporated in the national motto, making it one of the pillars of unity. Ernest Renan spoke of the nation as an ‘everyday plebiscite’, a type of tacit agreement in favour of living a common experience, to share projects and customs. This is the everyday experience at PIE through the hosting of international students: a programme that is only possible if host families demonstrate hospitality without idealising or demonising their host student, and if the students express their desire to integrate. Only if each person involved chooses to share the epic moments and the everyday.

Every time we invite exchange students to extensively share our country and our lives, we expand the path to living well and well-being… Living well and good well-being in what we hope is a very beautiful small country, a very beautiful small country we call France. “Sweet France” when she wants to be.

Captions from the images above:

1° – The French countryside and monuments :  the Eiffel Tower, forest undergrowth, the Palace of Versailles, the Pilat dune, Provence landscape, Notre-Dame de Paris, Mont-Blanc, Chenonceau Palace, le Pont de Gard, le Mont-St-Michel (St Michael’s Mount), the Louvre pyramid, a village in Bourgogne, La Promenade des Anglais, a market in Aix-en-Provence, Etretat, Lille
3° – They made history : Vercingétorix, Clovis, Philippe Auguste, Joan of Arc, Henri IV, Louis XIV, Robespierre, Napoléon, Liberty leading the people, Clémenceau, de Gaulle
5° – Some well-known French faces : Montaigne, Rabelais, Catherine de Medicis, Ronsard, De la Tour, Pascal, Richelieu, Molière, Racine, Rameau, Lully, Madame de la Fayette, La Fontaine, Chardin, Olympe de Gouges, Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, Danton, Talleyrand, Ingres, Balzac, Hugo, Bizet, Géricault, Stendhal, Berlioz, Delacroix, Baudelaire, Manet, Flaubert, Rimbaud, Pasteur, Ader, Sand, Monnet, Cézanne, Péguy, Apollinaire, les Frères Lumière, Colette, Curie, Bergson, Debussy, Gaugin, Proust, Weill, Baker, Céline, Simon, Simenon, Arletty, Renoir, Jouvet, Soutine, Moulin, Malraux, Trenet, Saint-Exupéry, Char, Gabin, Camus, Kessel, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Anquetil et Poulidor, Picasso, Cerdan, Piaf, Gary, Mimoun, Jankélévitch, Sedar Senghor, Brassens, Veil, Bresson, Mitterand, Yourcenar, Badinter, Legrand, Barbara, Godard, Truffaut, Signoret, Melville, Deneuve, Platini, Coluche, Pérec, Pialat, Girard, duras, Zidane, Manaudou, Houellebecq, Stromae, Mbappé