CH 2 Culture Notes

By: Ben Knoebber

Being a Customary Guest

It is customary for guests to bring a gift when invited to a meal in a French home. Candy or flowers (other than chrysanthemums, which are associated with death) are always acceptable. When engaging in dinner conversation, there are several topics to avoid. These include asking about someone's age, profession, salary or political affiliation.

The Decor of French Homes

You might be surprised at what you'll see-or won't see-in a typical French teenager's room. Some French homes don't have closets in the bedrooms, so clothes are hung in an armorie. Most families have just one television set , and it's in a room where everyone can watch it. In most french homes, the bathroom consists of a sink and a shower or bath. You will find the toilet in a room separate from the bathroom. On many French beds, you will find a long pillow called a traversin that covers the width of the bed. Having a phone is expensive in France; there is a charge for each call made. For this reason, few young people have a phone in their room.


When you compliment a French person's home or possessions, the response will be the same as if you complimented the person's clothing or appearance. Tu trouves? C'est Vrai? Vraiment? or C'est gentil! are standard responses to compliments. Remember that merci is not the only appropriate response

French Homes

Homes in France are built of stone or cement blocks. In Quebec, houses are similar to American ones-often made of wood and painted in bright colors. Homes in Martinique and Guadeloupe can be large plantation-style houses or small cement block houses. The porch is the central gathering place, and kitchens are sometimes separate to keep the rest of the house cool. In Cote d'lvoire, villages are known for specific kinds of houses: some of clay, some of bamboo, and some built on stilts over lagoons. In cities, you'll see modern houses and apartments