French-American Heritage Month is in July, and we are getting ready to put on our berets, throw on our black and white striped shirts, and take to the streets to find the perfect baguette at our local bakery. Just kidding! We’re going to dive deep into the history of French-American culture, the years of influence and impact it has had and continues to have on society, and celebrate some iconic moments in history that were driven by the French and honored by the Americans. So, stop reading this in your fake French accent, sit up and get ready to take some notes, ‘s’il vous plaît.’
History of French-American Heritage Month
Ever wonder what Chloë Sevigny, Patricia Arquette, Timothée Chalamet, Julie Delpy, and Angelina Jolie have in common? They’re all French-American in some way. Some are born of French-American parents, some have French-Canadian ancestry and were raised in the United States, and some are first-generation French-Americans. But it goes deeper than just those family connections when we celebrate French-American Heritage Month.
In the United States, July is designated as National French-American Heritage Month and was established to honor the significant contributions made to the country by people of French descent. Currently, approximately 11.8 million Americans of French or French Canadian descent live and work in the United States, with about 2 million of those speaking French at home. As of the 2011 census, an additional 750,000 French-American citizens were added to those numbers due to the large creole community, whose language is based on French.
A significant goal of groups like the Alliance Française, who spearheaded events like French-American Heritage Month, is to dedicate the entire month of July to celebrating and honoring the immense influence that the French have had on the United States in terms of laws, art, culture, language, and social etiquette. There are many ways in which the public can participate in the celebrations that start at the homes of French-American families, the offices of French organizations based in the U.S., and on social media platforms dedicated to French-American culture and communities.
French-American Heritage Month timeline
Benjamin Franklin and the French representative to the U.S. sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in Paris, recognizing America's right to independence.
The Statue of Liberty is presented to U.S. ambassador Levi Parsons Morton in Paris as a gift from the French people commemorating France's and the United States' alliance during the American Revolution.
American troops arrive in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force, marking the first time America had sent troops to defend foreign soil.
The French-American Cultural Foundation is founded in Washington, D.C., by American citizen Leonard Silverstein to strengthen the bonds that unite France and America.
Alliance Française de Las Vegas officially celebrated French-American Heritage Month in Sin City.
French-American Heritage Month FAQs
Where is the most prominent French population in the U.S.?
California has the most significant French population, followed by Louisiana, with Maine having the highest percentage (25%) of French inhabitants. Many French citizens are drawn to the U.S. for the climate.
How much of the U.S. speaks French?
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 1,203,941 people in the United States speak French at home. This includes people who speak French Patois and Cajun.
What American city is most like Paris?
Washington, D.C. The French architect and urban planner Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed America’s capital city, which is full of Parisian elements. D.C., like Paris, is rich in history, horticulture, and haute cuisine.
French-American Heritage Month Activities
Visit your nearest Alliance Française
Alliance Française, or A.F., is a global organization that promotes the French language and francophone culture. They have offices in most cities worldwide and have an open-door policy for anyone wanting to learn more about French culture or even provide you with tools to learn the language. If you’re an American citizen, you may find it very inspiring to visit your nearest Alliance Française to learn more about the robust and historical bond between French-American nations.
Book a trip to France
A trip to Europe, especially France, is at the top of their bucket lists for many people. So, here is your chance to make your dream a reality. You’ve heard about and celebrated French-American Heritage Month, and now it’s time to immerse yourself fully. Take the leap and visit France. You will experience a different culture, eat delectable food, and discover great art and architecture.
Watch iconic French films
French cinema has inspired many American filmmakers we know and love today, but it’s important to celebrate the auteurs that started it on foreign soil. Between Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Mubi, you will find great examples of early French cinema. Look out for films by Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Agnes Varda to name a few.
5 Major Differences Between France And The United States
You don’t have to tip in France
To some locals, it can be insulting if you choose to tip your waiter as it is seen as looking down on someone.
The French love to smoke
Most smokers in France are what we consider social smokers and choose to only light a cigarette when they are at a restaurant or a bar with friends.
Americans get drunk, the French savor alcohol
The drinking culture in the two countries is vastly different as most young Americans drink to get drunk, while in France, people can sit and drink wine for hours while socializing.
The French celebrate food
In France, most people are foodies and love to experience new culinary delights and unique food options, while in the U.S., there is a predominant fast-food culture.
You can study for free in France
University in France is free, with only some basic registration fees, whereas in the United States, you have to pay thousands of dollars per year.
Why We Love French-American Heritage Month
French-American history is celebrated
Let us remind ourselves that French-American Heritage Month was established so that we can honor the significant contributions made to the country by people of French descent and celebrate historical events that cemented the age-long relationship between France and the United States. We love how this month allows us to reminisce about the history between the two nations and how it brings awareness to cultural, societal, and traditional shifts in how we live our lives and relate and communicate to those around us.
Two cultures are adored and honored
French and American cultures are arguable two of the most emulated and respected cultures in the world. Many people fashion their lives on how the French live, work and play, while others embrace the culture of bigger is better that is so well known in the U.S. The fact that so many people around the world look to these two nations shows us that they have had a significant impact on the lives of others.
People are inspired to learn more about one another
When we get the opportunity to learn about people who have come from different backgrounds as us, we are given a beautiful lesson about their culture and way of life. French-American Heritage Month is most celebrated by French-American households who look to their foreign families and forefathers to learn more about their own histories and their cultures.
French-American Heritage Month dates