08/18/2014 10:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

6 Things The World Can Learn From France

French people don’t work hard enough. They’re haughty. They smell. But aside from these small flaws, the French have a few good things going for them. Here are six good ideas the rest of the world might consider stealing from “the Frenchies.”

Don’t dismiss children’s books -– they just might change your life

little prince book

“Eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.” This quote is taken from the 1943 children’s book “The Little Prince.” Written by the French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry while in exile in the United States, it has captivated children -- and adults -- generation after generation.

The wisdom of “The Little Prince” has been embraced far beyond France. The book has sold 150 million copies and has been translated into 258 languages. And in July, a Little Prince-themed amusement park opened its doors in Alsace.

A meal is a work of art

french meal

A simple meal always becomes a real party when French people celebrate births, weddings, birthdays -- or just the pleasure of being with the people they love.

It’s an opportunity to eat and drink well, but above all to be together. Everything, from the recipes to the quality of the produce and the selection of the wine, is meticulously chosen. In 2010, the French gastronomic meal was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which honors cultural traditions.

Three words: national dance party

music band street

Disclosure: the French did not invent music. But in 1982, France’s Culture ministry had the crazy, brilliant idea to tell everyone in the country to go out, play music and dance for one night. Happening every first night of summer, the “Fête de la Musique” is now one of the greatest nights of the year.

Other countries followed suit. “Fêtes de la Musique” now take place in Latin America, Belgium, Switzerland and New York.

Make the most out of your free Sunday

french shop closed

In France, Sunday is sacred -- a day to enjoy your free time, your family and your friends. And many French businesses close on Sundays, with the exception of some of the areas that attract tourists, like the Champs-Elysées, in Paris. While legislation is in the works that would allow more businesses to open on Sundays, the French know that sometimes the best way to spend a day off is avoiding lines and savoring the pleasures that can’t be bought.

There’s nothing like a conversation with the world’s greatest minds


During their final year in high school, French students start learning about a subject people in many countries don’t encounter until college or university, if ever -- philosophy. At 17, they learn to use their judgment, ask the big questions and study the history of ideas. Descartes, Plato, Sartre and Kant are all part of the curriculum. The philosophy exam is the most feared among students at the Bac -- the French exam students take before going to college -- an indication of just how dedicated France is to encouraging its citizens to think big.

“Be realistic, demand the impossible”

may 1968 france

The French have their own distinctive slogans that express their attitude toward life and their sense of possibility. There’s “Under the cobblestones, the beach”; “It is forbidden to forbid”; “Power to the imagination!”; “Be realistic, demand the impossible” and “take your desires for reality.” In France, these are as famous as “Keep calm and carry on” is in the U.K. French youth used them in May of 1968, during a series of large protests initiated by students.

This post is part of a Third Metric collaboration among The Huffington Post’s international editions, showcasing wisdom from around the world. It has been translated from French.



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