Idiosyncrasies of the French

Crucial differences the British need to understand before they move to France !  These are some of the shocks.  I hasten to add that I love France and have lots of French friends. Tomorrow some of the good points !


–          Everything is shut, Monday – Saturday inclusive, from 12.00 lunch-time till 2.30, perhaps even 3.30*

–          But some banks have twigged that it is a good idea to be OPEN if you want to trade

–          Except in tourist areas in peak season, everything is closed on a Monday

–          Everything is closed on a Sunday (*with a few peak season tourist area exceptions)

–          At the petrol station you get petrol, diesel, oil, paraffin, nothing else; there is no question of popping in for some milk, flowers or biscuits.

–          There are no off-licences or similar.  So if you want to take a bottle, flowers or chocs to a party you need to sort it in advance

–          In supermarkets the assistant would rather stare at the ceiling than help you load your bags

–          In supermarkets there is no question whatsoever of an assistant helping you take stuff to your car

–          Lunch-time is SACRED, truly SACRED

–          The French take their food incredibly seriously, even if it is rubbish. Some of the most plain, boring, tasteless meals I have ever had have been in France

–          The French must have a NAME for whatever they’re eating. I once made a cold chicken salad with a creamy dressing and kiwi; a French friend asked what it was called, to which I replied: it is called “cold chicken salad with creamy dressing and kiwi” – and she was perfectly satisfied with that

–          They only buy French wine and do not understand things like apple wine

–          They do not have animal rights issues like over foie gras – in fact, if you raise the subject they do not understand what you are on about

–          A picnic involves table, chairs, table cloth – sitting on a blanket is out of the question

–          During Indian summers, when autumn weather can remain hot, the French nonetheless kit up for the winter; only foreigners are seen in shorts

–          They will call “bon appetit!” out to you, even if you are a total stranger, if they see you eating – anywhere

–          They rarely eat in the street or anywhere other than at a table; food is far too serious a subject

–          If you want to get your signature witnessed, you have to go to the Town Hall: your signature will not necessarily be witnessed, but you will get a rubber stamp to say that it has

–          A small dog is a chien d’apartement. Other dogs are hunting dogs or guard dogs

–          The French do not understand coffee mornings or afternoon tea

–          They sincerely believe that Mad Cow disease was a British problem, not a French one

–          In France you have to be “immatriculé, numeroté, fiché” if you want to work, even at the simplest jobs (registered, numbered and on paper)

–          They think that their own film and pop stars are internationally known

–          They will expect to kiss you every time you meet and every time you part

–          They still do that dreadful music deal while they keep you waiting on the phone

–          The bus service is poor, if not non-existant

–          They truly, utterly and completely believe (and you have to love them for it) is that if it is French, whatever it is, it is THE BEST


Tomorrow’s blog: the great things about being in France.

Click here for article about bureaucracy

Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites.  Her sketches are on her web site .  Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist.  Her books are available as e-books on this site:-            “A Call from France”          “French Sand”         ”The Man with Green Fingers”        “Saying Nothing”

They are also available on Amazon & Kindle, or can be ordered as paperbacks from most leading book stores and libraries.


Posted on 08/10/2012 by Catherine
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