As the largest country in Western Europe France has a lot to offer in its culture. It has its famous gastronomy, its famous Riviera, its famous fashion, its famous capital, its famous tower, but it also has, arguably more than any other country, its famous thinkers.

France: a nation of thinkers

Once, not so long ago, philosophy was a core subject in the French school curriculum. It may not be anymore, but at the very crux of French society, immortalised in its tricolore flag signifying its revolutionary motto, are three philosophical concepts that underpin the French raison d’être: liberté (freedom), égalité (equality) and fraternité (fraternity).

And if you sit down in a café with a French local it won’t be long until the conversation will veer towards issues of a philosophical nature. This is because nearly any subject matter that has ever existed has been discussed by a French thinker, the words of whom can be whipped out to evidence any point of view. On politics they might reach for Rousseau, feminism de Beauvoir, happiness Montaigne, and on taxis Vanessa Paradis. In France philosophy, like its mousse de chocolat, is rich, moreish, and goes well with coffee.

My favourite quote from the French

‘Life is nothing until it is lived, but it is yours to make sense of, and the value of it is nothing else but the sense that you choose.’ 

Jean Paul Sartre

And one more for luck

‘Luck is like the Tour De France, you wait and it flashes past you. You have to catch it while you can.’ 

The Glass Man in Jean Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie