Friday, December 10, 2010


These are a list of websites and research materials that have been utilized in the process of creating this blog.

Speak The Culture- France (Thorogood, 2008)

Culture Shock! A Guideto Customs and Etiquette- France (Adamson.S, 2002)


The Growth of Tourism and its Effects on the Commodification of Culture and Traditions in France

With the rise of global tourist numbers, there are always positive and negative effects that come with it, as there are always two sides of a coin.

Economically, France was able to prosper through its tourism with over 70 million visitors every year, which helps improve the welfare of residents by constantly revamping and upgrading their infrastructure, which is why France has one of the densest transport network in the world, making accessibility and getting from one place to another much more convenient, a theory adapted from time-space convergence.

There is also the mutual understanding and exchange of values of cultures between tourists and the locals which would help to reduce the prejudice through bringing people into contact with each other. With the influx of tourists and the booming industry, professionals plying their trade, especially in the food and beverage sector, where France is known to be one of the finest places for fine cuisine, they would certainly take more pride in the products and services delivered, which help to preserve their part of their culture and heritage.

Jobs pertaining to the tourism sector are also created which is certainly a vital incentive for locals to embrace tourists and their spending power. The French are very prideful of their own countries heritage, hence with tourists acknowledging the works of the French, it makes them feel good altogether.

Then there is the probability of economic leakage away from the country, as the global corporations may actually be the ones gaining from all the tourist receipts such as the Best Western hotel chain in France, which is actually a United States company operating in many parts of Europe. The channeling of funds decided by the government may not help improve the standard of living of the French population, such as improving its welfare and education system, whereby only a small proportion students actually further their studies after college.

The conflict of use of resources is also surreal in France, where there have been cases of inflation in cafes in small towns, whereby business owners take advantage of the tourists' spending power, which in turn affect the locals indirectly. In tourist laden regions such as Paris, muggings are an often occurrence and a rising crime generation, where organised crime syndicates carry out their modus operandi using guns as well.

Generally, tourism plays a major role in the commodification of cultures and traditions, as it can been seen through the erosion of cultures in the many different countries such as Myanmar. A group of people who are particularly affected are mostly the indigenous people. They tend to succumb to the temptation of the tourist dollar, and as a result there is a loss of authenticity and the adaptation to tourist demands. Festivals and traditional worship dances are no longer performed in the name of their tradition and pride, but rather for the sake of earning extra income

In France however, the indigenous people of the Basque region are relatively unexposed to the tourism sector, as such they do not face such major issues. The Basque people are particularly inclined in music, and as a result there has been a slight commodification of it through the release of certain Basque tunes and concerts. The French are also relatively sensitive to tourists who visit their country and yet do not observe basic etiquette, and that is where certain level of irritation comes into play.
Basque Bay

Basque Village Housing

France is truly a country worth visiting, and with the wide array of leisure activities and rich culture and heritage that the country possess, it is bound to leave one wanting for more!

Done By: Lionel Chin

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Disneyfication in France?

Disneyization of a society encompasses many different characteristics, namely theming, hybrid consumption, merchandising, performative labour as well as the process convergence displayed in many areas.

Besides the obvious Disneyization in Disneyland Paris, there are often slight signs of Disneyization that may not be noticed in various regions of France. In the Basque region of France, the apparant signs of Disneyization are showing in almost every little nook and cranny.

For example, many different forms of souvenirs and merchandise sold in the many shops that carry products made under license, with the likes of water bottles, T-shirts and as well as picture frames bearing the logo of the football club, Athletic Bilbao.
In actual fact, cafes and nightclubs in France are coupled with cabaret groups which in some way, a form of hybrid consumption. Two totally different entities; food and entertainment have intertwined and it is hard to distinguish at times, whether one is heading to the cafe for the sole purpose of having a hearty meal or sitting down to enjoy French cabaret groups. The primary purpose thus cannot be identified clearly. A visit to the cafe can also mean a visit to the cinema, viewing the theatric performances of the cabaret groups.

This may be because cafes and restaurants may also be themed to suit the more sleazy type of atmosphere to complement the mood for cabaret groups performing, for instance at the Cafe Parisien as seen in the picture below.
Warm lightings used to create ambient
In the same context, cabaret dancers are also somewhat made to literally 'put on a show' or some might say, a false front in order to entertain the crowd. This might not actually portray and exhibit the true feelings of the performers, which could be detrimental to the whole entertainment scene itself. Forced emotional labour can
be observed in almost anywhere, and is one of the most distinct features of Disneyization.

I stumbled across the website of a luxury hotel in France called Lucien Barriere, and as we are all aware, hotels and resorts alike, are trying to keep guests within their premises to maximize customers' spending opportunities. And as a result, the facilities of the hotel comprises of everything from casinos to restaurants, becoming more seemingly integrated, which also allows consumers to be exposed to different multitudes of experiences while staying at the hotel, which is also a very obvious form of hybrid consumption.
Despite the hotel being newly built from ground up, with no form of rich history or culture whatsoever, its rooms and casinos are themed in such a historic fashion, that it gives guests the wrong impression altogether.

To further exemplify and explain the effects of Disneyization of Society in France, the Zoo de la Palmyre
is another picture perfect example of Disneyfication. In the restaurants and cafes alone, theming of rainforests and greeneries can be observed to give consumers the feeling of being immersed in the setting. Merchandise sold in the souvenir stores are also emblemed with the logo of the zoo.

France, A Country Best Known For?

Mention France to any single person on Earth, and they will tell you the picturesque views the city of Paris has to offer, be it the prominent symbol- the Eiffel Tower, or the Promenade de Anglais in Nice. Each and every region in France is distinct in its own way.
The Eiffel Tower

France, a nation that prides itself on intellect, revolutionized the Renaissance poetry, where in regions such as Paris and Lyon, they become established centres for lyric poetry. Art, in the form of sculpting and painting also played huge role in the moulding of France as a place to be for impressionists. 
French medieval architecture would certainly take one's breath away with the many chateaux or castles that are simply heaven-sent.
Chambord Castle
The St. Paul de Vence features a hilltop village with a serene and calm environment. The simplicity of this quaint village is certainly an ideal getaway area for couples who just want a little alone time to themselves. The many sidewalk cafes and dining areas dotted along the winding streets allows one to just take a step away from the hustle and bustle of the many urbanized cities in the world, without rushing to get things done and just to feel at peace with one's self.
St. Paul
Then there is also the Cap d' Agde's Naturists Quarter for the nudists lovers, and for those seeking a unique experience. This little village has all the basic amenities needed for a couple's getaway, and couples would definitely leave with a deep and lasting impression, knowing that they have actually been to one of the few nudists attractions in the world.

The carnaval in Nice dates back to first being held in the Middle Ages, and this is certainly one of the main highlights in France with the Mardi Gras held on the French Riviera.  The Carnaval in Nice lasts for a total of 10 days and encompasses some of the most famous parades, concerts and street theaters. 
With France bordering two major bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the white sandy beaches and oceans would surely mesmerize each and everyone of us. The Villefranche sur Mer may be one of the last few remaining beaches in France that has not been exposed to the masses of tourism, and one should relish the chance of being able set foot on the warm sand in the summer.
France is a paradise with many beautiful sights and sounds in many aspects, and should be the destination of choice for everyone! 

Types of Leisure Programmes in France

France, being a colourful and happening nation, has all-year round activities to keep one on his feet. The facade of activities and programmes available are endless and it all really boils down to personal choice.

For people who want to mingle with the locals and get to know the local culture better, there is the Francofolies, La Rochelle in Poitou-Charentes. It is known as the flagship festivals of French music and chanson with over 100 concerts in mid July. It showcases both renowned singers as well as upcoming new talents. For the music lovers, this would certainly be a great eye opener especially if you like the loud atmospheres. Jazz music festivals are also aplenty in France, with Jazz a Vienne happening in June, music enthusiasts should not miss this event if they are in France.

Then there is the Fete Champetre de l'Etang de la Rochechevreux, Lignac in Loire, which  is a small town , where tourists and locals are welcome to fish, hike and eat together with the locals and just to spend some quality alone time in this scenic environment.

For the wine-lovers, there is the La Jurade, Saint Emilion in Bordeaux, where you can witness the start of the grape harvest with a parade, followed by a banquet and torchlit procession in mid September.

And then of course there is the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, which is in the south of France, that is held in May every year, whereby awards are given out to the best films of the year.

For the sport-lovers, one can catch the various French Ligue 1 soccer matches at the different regions of France, with the most famous teams being Paris-Saint-German, Olympique Lyon and as well as Bordeaux. The Tour de France is a gruelling endurance cycling race, where only the strongest will survive. The Roland Garros stadium also hosts the French Tennis Open in May every year, and is certainly one of the main highlights in the sporting industry.

The Nice Carnival is a street parade and party for locals and tourists and it takes place in the month of February, a great experience for people who just want to let their hair down and have a good time.
For the many motor car enthusiasts, there is also the Trophee Andros Series held in December where one  can witness Ice Racing, certainly a fresh feeling who want to see something new.

The entertainment scene in France is simply of the best in the world and should not be missed if one is in town.

The Languages and Mode of Education of France

French is the official language of France, with 88% of the population using it as their first language. It can be observed from many aspects that the French take pride in their national language, and tourists are normally frowned upon if they speak to the French in English. Therefore, it is vital for tourists to know some form of basic French to communicate with the locals there. Although most of the locals know a bit of English, they do not like communicating in it, as they are rather narcissistic.

France is a rather culturally-diverse country as its population speak many different languages. Besides French, the rest of the minority of the population speak German, Italian, Occitan, Celtic, Arabic and Basque.

France's education system is fairly on average as compared to other European countries. There are a total of 15 million students which is approximately 1/4 of the nation's population. However only 2 million students are currently in higher education. As a resident playing French taxes, the educational system allowed kids of age 2-5 a school known as ecole maternelle for working parents.

School is made compulsory for children aged 6-16. Primary school is divided into two stages, the CM 1 and CM 2 which is to prepare them for secondary school. For children of age 11-15, they have to attend college. Form 3 is known as the last year in college, and students are given a choice to select subjects which they would want to dwell deeper, after which they can apply to go for higher education. Two foreign languages also have to be learn while they are in Form 6 and 4.

15% and 20% of students are in private schools at primary and secondary levels respectively, and the bulk of it Catholic schools, which have contracts with the government of France.

The mode of education in France is rather stabilized and systematic from preschool right up to college level, however there has be more push from the government and incentives provided to entice students to further their studies in order to raise the country's productivity level in time to come.

The Indigenous Group in France

The only known and documented group of indigenous people are the Basque people living in south-western France, and are also known to live on the mountains. The Basque people, unlike other Europeans, speak their own language known as the Basque language or Euskara, and are also known to be genetically different from humans. They take pride in their own language and do not conform to the various influences surrounding them. Though tourism has also been one of their major focuses in recent times, the Basque people have coped reasonably well to prevent the erosion of their own culture and heritage. However, given that their geographical location is caught in the middle of France and Spain, there is a constant struggle to keep their culture, language and religious observances intact.

The people of Basque have longed to been called as a country of their own, but they are unable to do so, as both France and Spain are unwilling to give way. Henceforth, the Basque people are forced to take matters into their own hands, and have resorted to forms of terrorisms to let their voices and requests be known to the world, and so far it has yielded zilch, and the prospect of Basque being given the rights to be an independent nation seem bleak.

The Basque people are also well-known for the music that they make and have a strong singing tradition, often with the use of folk instruments. The Basque people are so musically inclined that they even have a radio station of their own.
Music of the Basques by Enrique Ugarte

There are many other fishing villages, market towns, and historical areas in the area, each with their own story to tell. Many of the Basque people take pride in their jobs, and rough it out as fishermen. The Basque people take pride in their sporting events and their largest identity in the sports arena would have to be the Spanish footballing club Athletic Bilbao.
The official sport of Basque- Stone Lifting

The Basque people way of cooking are heavily influenced by its neighbouring countries, and that is why elements of both Spanish and French can be observed from the dishes that are served. Majority of the Basque people are Roman-Catholics and are known to be rather staunch devotees, which helps to shape their identity as a nation as well.