French history has impacted present-day America in a lot of meaningful ways. The most prominent one is the concept behind freedom and independence.
In France, this was famously demonstrated during the French Revolution, where ordinary citizens united against a government that no longer served them. France went on to become a huge contributor to America's bid for independence against the British by providing aid and secretly supporting the revolution. They even gifted the Statue of Liberty later on, whose torchlights are known to represent freedom.
These events have spurred America’s current inclination toward freedom and its value to the nation. Maryville University reports how civil unrest is common in America, echoing how its people are not afraid to speak out about their thoughts regarding societal issues. This is demonstrated in recent protests such as the Black Lives Matter movement and gun control rallies. Americans have made it a point not to take their autonomy for granted, instead using it to bring about change.
Of course, the French have also influenced our culture in numerous other ways, from the food that we serve to some of the traditions we have in certain states. Therefore, if you want to improve your understanding of America, or even if you're simply interested in different cultures, French history is a great place to start. Here are a few different and fun ways to learn all about it:
1- Pick up a history book
A classic way to learn about French history is by reading a book. Books dive deeper into certain historical subjects, allowing you to understand the more complex issues at hand. You can also opt to listen to an audiobook or if you simply prefer to learn while doing other tasks like driving. A great starting point is A History of France by John Julius Norwich and The French Revolution: A Short History by R.M. Johnston. Both titles are available in hard book and audiobook format, so feel free to choose whichever is more feasible.
2- Pay a visit to your local museum
Museums are a great source of historical information. There are several French Regional & American Museums Exchange (FRAME) Museums all over North America, such as the Albright–Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo that promotes cultural exchange through museum collaborations. When they don’t have exhibitions in collaboration with FRAME Museums, visitors can instead turn their attention to their permanent collection of modern French paintings by Gauguin, Renoir, Van Gogh, Rousseau, and Delaunay. Learning history is made unique and immersive when done through art and museum visits.
3- Watch informational videos online
Many (free) informational videos are available on YouTube, making it easy to learn about new things including French history. One channel you can start with is “L'Histoire nous le dira” run by Laurent Turcot, a history professor at the University of Quebec. You’ll feel like you’re attending his classes while watching the videos. He has several videos on important aspects of French history such as the Renaissance and The French Revolution.
Additionally, he has videos on French sports history, the history of their daily life, and even epidemics that occurred in France’s history. Through these videos, you not only learn about the more significant events in the country’s history, but you will also get to learn about some of the lesser-known subjects like how the French lived in certain time periods.
4 - Attend events by a French institute
Events celebrating French history and culture allow attendees to learn while engaging in activities or watching performances. The French Institute-Alliance Française holds events like the TILT Festival in Manhattan. It’s filled with different activities like a live-reading of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a mime show in homage to French great Marcel Marceau, and a floral workshop with French florist Agnès de Villarson. While the institute also holds regular classes on the French language and culture, events like these may suit those who prefer to learn via visual content rather than sit-down classes. Not to mention, all their events and classes are suitable for all ages, too!
5 - Improve your French
6 - Read in easy French
A must-have in every French learners library: the two trilogies in easy-French written by France Dubin.
Each book has 2 sections:
𝘚𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 1 has the story written completely in French and includes grammar exercises.
𝘚𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 2 contains the complete translation in English and answers to all the exercises so that readers can check their comprehension.
Through these key pointers, hopefully, you will be able to expand your knowledge of French history. For more information on France, feel free to go through our French Summer Trip Series and let us know what you found most valuable.