There are many cultural differences between France and the Czech Republic, and it’s important to be aware of them. Not only for intellectual curiosity if you’re travelling in the country, but also to help you integrate more easily during your work placement in the Czech Republic. In fact, when you choose to do an internship abroad, it’s important, if not essential, that you adapt to the local culture. Adapting means showing respect and interest in your host country.

Mode of greeting: Different traditions and gestures.

In France, greetings are generally more formal than in the Czech Republic. French people tend to greet each other using more formal formulas, such as “Bonjour”, “Bonsoir” or “Bon après-midi”, accompanied by a handshake. In more informal contexts, they may exchange kisses on the cheeks, depending on the region and the degree of familiarity between people. The number of kisses can vary between two and four, depending on the region. However, in professional relationships, the handshake remains the norm, although kisses may be adopted in close social circles.

In the Czech Republic, greetings are often more informal and relaxed, even in professional environments. The most common greeting is a simple “Dobrý den” (Hello) or “Ahoj” (Hello) for more familiar situations. Czechs also have a specific greeting tradition for holidays and birthdays, where they wish each other “Všechno nejlepší! Another feature of the Czech greeting is that they generally use first names when speaking to each other, even in business situations, which may reflect their relaxed approach to social interaction.

One notable difference between the two cultures also lies in the gestures used to greet people. In France, it is common to shake hands with a firm handshake, whereas in the Czech Republic, the handshake is generally softer and less formal. Furthermore, in France, cheek kisses are reserved for friends and close family, whereas in the Czech Republic it is more common to exchange cheek kisses with casual acquaintances and even colleagues.

Architecture: Distinct architectural styles and a varied built heritage

Architecture in France and the Czech Republic has distinct styles and a varied built heritage that reflect the history, culture and influence of different eras. Here is a more detailed explanation of these differences:

France’s architecture is remarkably diverse, thanks to its rich history and the many cultural influences it has been subjected to over the centuries. There are examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, to name but a few. Gothic cathedrals such as Notre-Dame de Paris and Mont Saint-Michel are gems of French heritage, as are Renaissance châteaux such as Chambord and Versailles. The Haussmann style, characteristic of Paris, shaped the city in the 19th century with its grand boulevards, ashlar buildings and wrought-iron balconies. In France, architecture is often associated with elegance, grandeur and symmetry.

The Czech Republic’s architecture also reflects a rich history, although more focused on the influence of Central and Eastern European architecture. There are examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau architecture, among others. Czech castles, such as Karlštejn Castle, Český Krumlov Castle or Prague Castle, are remarkable testimonies to medieval architecture. Prague, in particular, is famous for its varied architecture, with Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings rubbing shoulders in a magnificent mix. Czech architecture is often characterised by richly decorated facades and pitched roofs.

In both countries, traditional architecture is often preserved in historic city centres, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of different eras. However, both countries have also embraced contemporary architectural styles, and bold modern buildings can be found in major cities.

The distinct architectural styles and varied built heritage of each country reflect their history and culture. They contribute to the visual identity and unique atmosphere of each nation, offering visitors an aesthetically and culturally enriching experience as they explore urban landscapes and historic sites.

Attitude to time: Differences in punctuality and time management.

There are marked cultural differences between France and the Czech Republic when it comes to punctuality and time management. Here is a more detailed explanation of these aspects:

In France, punctuality is considered an important value, particularly in professional and formal contexts. The French generally attach great importance to keeping to schedules and appointments. Being late is often seen as a lack of respect for others and can be frowned upon, especially when it comes to business meetings or social events. The French value effective planning and time management, and make every effort to keep to set schedules.

In the Czech Republic, the attitude to time can be more flexible, and punctuality may be perceived differently than in France. It is more common to tolerate a few minutes’ delay in social gatherings or informal meetings. Czechs may take a more relaxed approach to time and consider it more important to spend time with others and enjoy social interaction rather than strictly adhere to schedules.

These differences in time management can also be reflected in the way the two cultures organise their days and activities. In France, it is common to follow a well-structured timetable, with set times for meals, work and leisure. Lunch breaks can be quite short and the emphasis is often on efficiency at work.

In the Czech Republic, days can be more flexible, and lunch breaks can be longer, allowing people to take time to enjoy their meal and relax. The pace of work can be more relaxed, and social interaction can become more important, even during working hours.

Cultural values: differences in family and societal values.

There are significant differences between cultural values in France and the Czech Republic, particularly when it comes to family and societal values. Here is a more detailed explanation of these differences:

In France, the family is generally regarded as an important institution, but family values can vary according to region and individual. Traditionally, the nuclear family (parents and children) is emphasised, but modern French society also includes single-parent families, blended families and unmarried couples. Individualism and autonomy are important values in France, and individuals are often encouraged to pursue their own aspirations and seek independence. This can result in different lifestyle choices and greater tolerance of non-traditional lifestyles.

In terms of societal values, liberty, equality and fraternity are essential principles that guide French society. Freedom of expression, secularism and human rights are also fundamental values in France. Education and access to healthcare are considered universal rights, and French society often places great emphasis on social protection and the well-being of its citizens.

In the Czech Republic, family values are also important, and the extended family can play a significant role in people’s lives. Family ties can be close, and family traditions are often celebrated on holidays and special occasions. Czechs often place great importance on family stability and security.

In terms of societal values, the Czech Republic has a long history of communist rule, which has influenced attitudes towards the community and the state. Independence, self-sufficiency and individual freedom are values that were reinforced after the fall of communism in 1989. Czechs value their independence and are proud of their culture and national heritage.

An approach to interpersonal relations: Differences in social interactions

The approach to interpersonal relations shows marked cultural differences between France and the Czech Republic, influenced by their histories and values. Here is a more detailed explanation of these differences:

In France, social interactions may initially be perceived as formal, particularly in professional contexts or with less familiar people. French people can be reserved when they first meet someone, favouring a social distance and a certain reserve until they feel comfortable with the person. This may give the impression that the French are more reserved or aloof, but once trust is established, they can be warm, friendly and open. Humour often plays an important role in social interactions in France, but it can be more subtle and ironic.

In the Czech Republic, social interaction can seem more informal from the outset. Czechs are often seen as warm and welcoming, even to strangers. They can be more open from the outset, which can create an atmosphere of friendliness and closeness. Czechs often enjoy sincere and direct conversation, and can be less formal in their manners than the French. Czech humour can also be appreciated, although it may be more towards the absurd or ironic.

Another notable difference is the way the French and Czechs perceive personal space. In France, personal space is generally larger, and the French can feel self-conscious if someone gets too close to them during social interactions. In the Czech Republic, personal space can be smaller, and people can stand closer together without feeling uncomfortable.

It is also important to note that the attitude towards being on familiar terms differs between the two cultures. In France, you are often addressed as “vous” in professional and formal interactions, while “tutoie” is reserved for closer relationships. In the Czech Republic, first name is generally more common, even in professional relationships, and formal address can be perceived as too formal or distant.

These differences in approach to interpersonal relationships can play an important role in communication and mutual understanding between individuals from different cultures. Awareness of these cultural differences can help to facilitate more harmonious interactions and build strong relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds.

In conclusion, the cultural differences between France and the Czech Republic are deeply rooted in their unique histories, values and traditions. These disparities are expressed in various aspects of everyday life, such as greetings, architecture, attitude to time, family values and approach to interpersonal relationships. Ready to discover this sublime country through a work placement in the Czech Republic? Then all you have to do is register on the website and International Horizons will send you on an internship in Central Europe!

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