Besides the stereotypical differences between Europe and The U.S. that you expect to see when you go to France, such as different architecture styles and smaller cars, there is one major difference that sets the French apart from Americans, and it is their lack of materialism. In general, it seems that French people would prefer to repair/refurbish the things they already have than replace them. The house I stayed at while abroad was very close to a furniture restoration workshop. My host family explained that the restoration of art, furniture, and other things is a big business in the area. The longer I lived there, the more I came to learn about the various artifacts in the house, and it seemed that most, if not all, had been in the family since before the couple I lived with was born.
This preference to preservation carries over to other aspects of life in France. Almost every single major architectural tourist destination, to include the Eiffel Tower, has scaffolding on some part of it because at any given time, they are working to keep these old monuments in the same condition they existed when they were built. None of the mid-restoration structures had any noticeable flaws. The French are just obsessed with keeping them presentable. Any village or city you visit is going to have at least a handful of centuries old buildings, and everyone French person I was near when I visited them with knew seemingly their whole histories. But buildings and furniture certainly are not the only aspects of culture worth preserving.
Paris is famous for its immense quantity of museums. For around 140 euros, you can buy a week-long pass that grants you access to over a thousand of them. Everything from art to Napoleonic military artifacts are preserved in pristine condition. Everything that there is to be learned about French history is still represented in some physical form somewhere in a museum. The building the museums are in are often monuments themselves. In addition to their permanent collections, most museums have temporary exhibitions in them displaying even more of the French history and culture.
My final point, though certainly not the extent to which they deliberately act to preserve, is that there is an appointed Minister of Culture. In 1981, Minister Jack Lang hosted the first annual Fête de la Musique. Music Day is a day that takes place every June 21st across the nation. Bands and musicians fill the streets and restaurants all playing music, and audiences pour in behind them to watch. This is just one example of the work of the Minister of Culture.