“Think French”

“Think French”

Recently I came across a brochure published a few years ago by Y&R – WPP (the global advertising company) called “Think French”.

I don’t know the purpose of the brochure: it’s full of praise for French marketing, premium brands, authenticity, female soul, luxury goods, food culture and urban sophistication.
All that is true: France is the biggest lifestyle showroom in the world.

It’s part of the reality.

France is diverse and has a long history, a Constitution, a clear separation between the State and the Church, borders with 6 countries and a real “art de vivre”.

All this is important to understand the French psyche.

I don’t know how much you can “think French” when you are not French and what does it mean really. It may be easier for an outsider. May be somebody like Theodore Zeldin could tell you what it is to “think French”.

What I know is that the link between language and identity is strong. It’s for life.

When you have some interest into the French culture and mindset, language is the first step.
I believe listening is the best way.


Anything: online French radio (any of them), online tutorials (there are many), movies, people in the street and in cafés.

Reading can be more difficult. Magazines are good when you want to have a go at reading.

Are you interested in food, wine, cinema or farm houses? You’ll find a huge range of specialized French magazines at every newsagent or station.
Do you have a passion for 17th century harpsichords, football, growing organic vegetables or plane engines? There are magazines and newsletters on these topics, sometime with a subscription.

Talking goes with listening. Dive in!

Like swimming you won’t improve your speaking skills by reading a book. Visiting France is the most enjoyable way.

France, not Paris. Be curious for smaller towns where hotels, restaurants, cafés and museums are usually very good.

Remember: as a child you spent years listening and talking before being able to read and write.

Will you “think French” eventually? May be.

You will be a step closer to French people. For sure.

What Theodore Zeldin learned from the French (article in French).




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