When you hear French, what comes to mind?
French fries that originated in Belgium, language, culture, food, romance, perfumes, music, fashion, Champagne, architecture…? This article explores a few of the many French contributions to our lifestyle, business, and culture. For example, did you know?
1. Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Frenchman who fought in the War of Independence, became a city planner for George Washington and designed Washington, D.C. from scratch. The design included wide boulevards, public squares, and easy views of inspiring buildings from great distances. The Thomas Jefferson building in Washington, D.C. has a striking resemblance to Palais Garnier, also known as the Paris Opera House.
2. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, or General Lafayette, was a key figure in the War of Independence. Many US counties, cities, streets, and squares are named after him.
3. Louisiana was named after King Louis of France and the French-based white flag sprinkled with gold fleurs-de-lis is one of the six flags over Texas, which was lifted by French nobleman René-Robert Cavalier, who attempted to establish a colony on the Texas coast around 1685 – 1690. See http://austin.blog.statesman.com/2015/06/23/a-brief-history-of-the-six-flags-over-texas-including-the-confederate-flag/ for more information.
4. The Statue of Liberty was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with the help of Gustave Eiffel. Millions of people visit the Statue of Liberty annually. And, France in turn is a popular vacation destination for Americans.
6. Economics: French economist Thomas Piketty’s wrote “Capital in the 21st Century,” that reached the New York Times bestseller list and gave him world fame – especially in the US for his views on how the rich get richer and the poor were getting poorer.
7. Technology: Founded by Conrad and Marcel Schlumberger, Schlumberger became the world’s leading provider of technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry. For more information, see www.slb.com/about.aspx. Schlumberger has numerous technology centers in the Houston area.
8. English words from French: A few examples are entrepreneur, faux pas, raison d’être, sabotage, debris, à la carte, café, bon appétit, restaurant, omelette, menu, chic, couture, silhouette, fiancé, déjà vu, en route, boutique, cliché, bouquet, souvenir, R.S.V.P and joie de vivre.
9. Foods with French influence: Cajun and French cuisine, croissants, baguette, French Roast coffee, many rich sauces, coq au vin, beef bourguignon, chocolate souffle, nicoise salad, ratatouille, tarte tatin, soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup), quiche, and the many delicate pastries found in French pastry shops. Are you getting hungry?
10. Music: French and Cajun music can be soothing, romantic, sexy, jazzy, classical, and more. For samples, visit https://frenchcrazy.com/2014/04/popular-100-french-songs.html/ where you can find a wide variety. “La Vie en rose,” a famous romantic song made popular French singer Édith Piaf, can be heard on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTqf_FXZygM.
11. Perfumes: The French are known for their enchanting, charming, memorable fragrances for many occasions. Some popular perfumes include Chanel No 5, Christian Dior J’Adore, Guerlain Shalimar, Givenchy Very Irrésistible, Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne, Cacharel Amor Amor, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, and Lancôme Trésor. As you can see, these names are definitely French.
12. Fashion: Through the leadership of Louis XIV, France gave birth to haute couture, a term that according to Wikipedia is protected by law in France and is defined by the Paris Chamber of commerce. During his reign, France became the dominant political and economic power in Europe. Now, France has emerged as the fashion capital of the world and we see the French influence of in both men’s and women’s fashions in the American culture.
13. Business Etiquette: Although the American business culture typically calls for business casual attire and focus on a fast-paced busy tempo, it is important to be aware of French/American cultural differences in business – especially when doing business with French companies in the US. The French protocol is based on dressing up, an unhurried flexible “lunch hour,“ using terms of endearment in conversation, and taking time to get to know associates to build trust. The general etiquette is more formal than much of the American business culture.
14. Famous contributions from the French: Although many, below are a few of the well-recognized French and their contributions to our lifestyle and culture today:
a.Marie Curie and Pierre Curie made major contributions to our understanding of radioactivity that has many applications such as for radiation therapy.
b.Louis Braille contributed the “Braille” system to help blind people read.
c.René Cassin won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As you can see, the French have made major contributions to international culture, language, cuisine, lifestyle, and business throughout the United States and world.
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