French Touch in Business

French Touch in Business

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Added by March 18, 2023

What is this little “je ne sais quoi”?

Why do you think American business owners sometimes choose a French name for their business (Décor, Agent provocateur, La Poubelle…) ? Especially when they work in the fashion, food and beauty industries… 

Maybe it’s just to add a little « je ne sais quoi » (I don’t know what) that makes it all sound a bit more sophisticated, artistic or even sexy ? In general though, it seems that having a French name adds clout to a business. The French touch sells. But why is that ?

What is the “French Touch”?

Taking the time to live

First of all, I have to say you guys have picked the best part of the French culture. Not everything French is good – and not every French man is good. Trust me on that one. But what you call the French touch probably comes from « l’art de vivre à la française », the French art of living, which consists in living life to the fullest, in finding everyday pleasures in little things.

Ultimately, it just comes down to the fact that we take time to live ! We value time more than money. So we take the time. Employees even have a law limiting the number of hours they can work for a company in France: 35 hours a week max. It sounds crazy when you live in America, right ? And in particular when you run your own business. It’s just ridiculous ! Ridicule ! So French !

Food, drinks and joie de vivre

Anyway, one of our top daily pleasures in life is… ? Food of course. We love to eat. Thus, we organize our social life around food and drinks. We cook for ourselves, our families, our friends. And we don’t count the hours spent cooking, perfecting our skills… Our meals can last for hours ! We start with a little aperitif, l’apéro, which is a little drink and nibbles to start winding down, especially after a day’s work, and we chat, we exchange, we relax. And of course…

…we complain. Oh yes ! We deserve our reputation on this one too ! But, usually it stays under control so that it becomes a good thing for everybody. We meet our friends for dinner after a day’s work, start the wine, complain, empty our bags, laugh it all off, and then we can really have fun. It’s super healthy ! I’d say it’s even an essential part of our « joie de vivre », which is « a keen or buoyant enjoyment of life, a delight of being alive ». Good food and good wine always help! 

The French art of living

The French art of living is also associated with taste, aesthetics, a sense of detail and discipline in different kinds of activities (cultural, intellectual, social…). I actually googled « what is the French art of living » and in the results, there were very specific guidelines on how to incorporate the French lifestyle.

  • Embrace meal times
  • Walk more!
  • Practice less is more. Now that’s very true, in particular with anything related to beauty. We love fashion, but we dress pretty simply on a daily basis. We are careful in the way we match our clothes. We’ll add a little scarf, a few carefully chosen accessories… We don’t « dress to impress », we dress to be in harmony with who we are, we try to develop a sense of style, but again, it stays subtle in general, natural but elegant. Now don’t stare at me to check if what I’m saying is true. I’m not the best example there is !
  • Pamper yourself. It goes back to what I was telling you about taking the time. It’s important to feel good and valued. So take care of yourself !
  • Finally, pick up a book or read the paper, and visit the theater or a gallery. Add some culture to your life.

Cultural tradition

L’art de vivre à la française, is anchored in a cultural and historical tradition which has spread around the world for centuries now. Among the most influential French books, you have all heard of Notre Dame de Paris, or rather The Hunchback of Notre Dame – excuse my French. Then, Les Misérables – The Miserables. With such an uplifting title, who would have thought this book would be turned into musicals and films all around the world? Trust the French touch to do the trick… 

French artistic history

In art, the French impressionist painters, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh have had a tremendous influence all over the world. They revolutionized art at the end of the 19th century and created their own style. One of them, Toulouse Lautrec, is featured in the movie Moulin Rouge. Such a romantic film, in the heart of Montmartre, depicting the Parisian bohemian way of life. What they don’t tell you is that the Moulin Rouge is located in the red district of Pigalle, at the foot of the hill of Montmartre. Anyway, Sahteen’s world in the Moulin Rouge also happens to be Amelie’s world in Amelie, the perfect setting for romance to unfold, and for sensitive artists to express themselves… 

A sophisticated, creative and stylish touch

So this whole cultural heritage contributed to the idea of a sophisticated, creative, stylish French touch. Now, whether it’s justified or not, is up to you to figure out! But you may have noticed that I haven’t talked much about business. Because the French are not necessarily known to be the best business people there is. First of all, when you want to create your business in France, you have to go through a lot of administrative hurdles. The logistics of it can be very discouraging.

Also, the French don’t value ambition as much as Americans do. An ambitious woman will be particularly challenged, even today. And in general, the idea of wanting to make money, is not one you advertise. It is not seen as a good thing to want to make a lot of money. Alain Delon would never have shouted « show me the money » the way Tom Cruise does in Jerry Maguire. 

French Touch and Business

English Touch in French business world

And yet, the word « entrepreneur » itself comes from the French word « entreprendre », to undertake. 

You did it again ?! You took another French word! 

Which is interesting when you know that one of our most ambitious French entrepreneurs turn to the United States to be inspired, to come up with innovative business models or find exciting new ideas for their businesses. And guess what ? 

A lot of business entrepreneurs choose English names for their businesses whenever they want to sound more professional, efficient, and trendy. English words in general are often seen as cool, modern, and we use them more and more in everyday life. You guys sometimes say « c’est la vie ». In France, these days we say, « c’est la life ». And if you’re working in an office and want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, you use English words. We talk about marketing, process, business…

Tradition of French and American exchanges

Basically, France and the United States are like an old couple. We bicker at times, wanting to go back to our own language, calling French fries, freedom fries, establishing a law to limit the use of the English language in France, but at the end of the day, we hopefully have a lot to learn from one another. So, thank you for adding a French touch to your business world !

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