The culture of France and of the French people has been shaped by geography, by profound historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture since the 17th century, first in Europe, and from the 19th century on, world wide. From the late 19th century, France has also played an important role in cinema, fashion and cuisine. The importance of French culture has waxed and waned over the centuries, depending on its economic, political and military importance. French culture today is marked both by great regional and socioeconomic differences and by strong unifying tendencies.
Wherever one comes from, "culture" consists of beliefs and values learned through the socialization process as well as material artifacts. "Culture is the learned set of beliefs, values, norms and material goods shared by group members. Culture consists of everything we learn in groups during the life course-from infancy to old age."