Idiosyncrasies of the French Featured

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foret a gRAYAN foret a gRAYAN

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

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  • Comment Link Barry A. Whittingham Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:59 posted by Barry A. Whittingham

    I find your above comments about the French rather patronizing. Even though, after 40 years of living in France, I find some of your generalizations have some truth in them, others are totally inaccurate (in my part of France at least). And have you ever stopped to consider what a French person's reactions might be to some English peculiarities? These are certainly not lacking. I look forward to reading some of the good points.

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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, poet and artist living in the Charente Maritime.  She has six books published, though she sells her art work almost uniquely for charities.

Catherine and her husband spend the winter months travelling, usually to either Belize or the UK, though they have toured most of the world. Catherine was born in South Africa to British parents and is a frequent visitor there.  She and her husband have been married 35 years and they have 3 grown up children and two grandchildren.

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