In France, great importance is placed on family. The basic domestic unit includes all persons living in the same household, who may or may not be related. Single-person households are also quite common. Although there is an increase in geographic mobility, most people continue to live in or visit the region in which they grew up. In major cities, most people live in apartments.
The nuclear family is still the most important unit in society. Many children will remain at home until they finish their education. It is becoming more common for young adults to prefer to live independently when they have financial stability while maintaining connections with their family. For example, weekend visits to one’s parents and grandparents are common. The family plays a large role in passing on cultural values. Moreover, the extended family provides financial and emotional support to the individual.
Nearly all French women engage in paid labour and the dual-career family is becoming the norm. Men are often still seen as the primary income earners. Many women are still expected to fulfil more traditional gender-stereotypical roles such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing. These expectations persist alongside other commitments such as pursuing higher education or partaking in paid labour. There is a stricter division of labour in more rural areas, although this is changing as more women enter the workforce.
Women face expectations to uphold a stereotypical view of ‘feminine’ in terms of dress, physique and demeanour. For example, women are expected not to demonstrate vulgar behaviour. The stereotype of the “French woman” can present challenges when they travel to a new country. These expectations also add pressure on women in French society.
Dating and Marriage
Many French people begin dating around the age of 15. In general, women expect men to initiate the relationship. In France, it is common for a female to go to dinner with a male friend, regardless of whether they are dating or not. A kiss on the lips indicates that the couple has become exclusive to each other unless they agree otherwise. If someone does not wish to be in a relationship anymore, they will often directly tell their partner. Many tend to keep their dating relationships private, without introducing each other to their families and friends, until a significant amount of time has passed.
Many couples choose to live together before getting married or as an alternative to marriage. For those who do marry, many people choose partners from the same region as them. Also, people tend to marry those of the same religious affiliation. In France, there is generally an open attitude towards premarital sex, in part due to the secular nature of the country. It is common to find children born to unmarried couples.