French Language Blog

French Culture – What do the French think Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Culture

As I was recently following up on news about les Gilets jaunes I stumbled across a great resource for anyone interested in understanding what les français pensent (the French think) on any number of different topics.

Qu’en pensez vous? / What do you think?

There’s no better way to know what someone is thinking then to ask them. That’s just what IFOP (Institut d’Études Opinion et Marketing en France et à l’InternationalInstitute for the Study of Opinion and Marketing in France and Internationally) has done for over 80 years.

The verb penser means to think. It is a regular -er verb that is conjugated in the present tense as je pense, tu penses, il/elle/on pense, nous pensons, vous pensez, ils/elles pensent. Click here to see all the different forms of penser.

IFOP mène des enquêtes auprès des populations représentatives (conducts surveys of representative groups) to understand what le français moyen (the average French person) thinks about topics ranging from les actualités, la politique, la société, et le climat social (current events, politics, society, and social attitudes).

Recent findings include the fact that for another year in a row the singer Jean-Jacques Goldman est la personnalité préférée* des Français (is the favorite celebrity of the French), that (as of mid-February after 14 weekends of protests) 50% of French people still support les Gilets jaunes, 74% des Français pensent que les consommateurs peuvent avoir confiance dans les agriculteurs (74% of French people think that consumers can have confidence in farmers/growers), and that while 84% of French prefer un pain au chocolat regionally others still prefer their chocolatine.

Pain au chocolat and chocolatine are not the only regional differences you’ll find in France as Elizabeth told us back in 2016 … or as you can see from this recent video from franceinfo. Other terms you’ll hear include crayon à papier, crayon gris, or even une mine all of which are pencils; and torchon, chiffon, serpillière, pièce, or even wassingue for a rag.

* Notice that the word personnalité is feminine even when it is referring (as it does here) to a male celebrity.

Photo by from Pexels [CC0].

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Since my first trip to France at 16, I have been a passionate francophile. I love the language, food, music, art, people, and more that make France and la Francophonie in general such an amazing part of our global community. Having lived in France and studied the language and culture for over 35 years, it is my great pleasure to be able to share a little bit of my deep love with you through this blog.


  1. Jonah:

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    most up-to-date news.