Since the day i arrived I began noticing many differences between the USA and France that i could fill a whole book with them but in this short article i will only mention a few which i think are the most noticeable ones. From markets to pharmacies, from greetings to foods the differences are in plain sight for all to view. After a week or two in France you’ll realize that France is exactly how people describe it in movies or books. Do they eat a lot cheese,bread and drink wine all day? Yes they do. Are some grumpy and cold at times? You bet! Do they work or go to school as much as Americans do? Never! Do they smoke and drink more than Americans do? Of course they do, they are French! Welcome to France baby.
Wait, doesn’t the USA have cheese, bread and wine? Don’t we have the same pizza and burger fast food restaurants as they do in France? What then could be so different that would make someone write about it? Well, even though both countries have the same fast food restaurants there are still many things here and there that set us apart. For example, will you ever see a French macaroon in the McDonald’s menu? Or a croissant? Not likely, no, you will never see that in the USA. But i don’t only want to talk about McDonald’s of course; i want to talk to you about the stinky French cheese, the wine and the bread. All the French people i have met so far eat some kind of cheese with baguette after lunch and dinner. For breakfast they eat simple things like croissants with butter or jam and a very small but extremely strong coffee. In my husband’s family they eat freshly made bread (with jam) which they buy each morning from the boulangerie in the corner. And yes! There are boulangeries in every corner of the neighborhoods. Bread is the most important food for the French. Now a days French children eat cereals like Americans do or hot chocolate with cookies and bread but never EVER eat pb&J sanwich. My husband had never seen or heard of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before we met. For cheeses well there is a lot of variety to choose from. Their favorite cheese i would have to say is chevre which is goat cheese. All the French i know keep their chevre cheese outside the fridge to make it older, stronger and smellier. (I have a chevre cheese on top of my fridge right now as a matter of fact)Of course they eat cow and sheep cheese too and a lot of it but chevre is number one. The wine is never served for breakfast but you can be sure that after 12 every adult who stays home will take out their glasses and begin a never-ending day of zipping and pouring from either bottles of wine or huge gallons or boxes they buy at cheaper prices from wineries. Wine is served everyday, all the time at any time and it doesn’t matter if it’s cold or warm. Restaurants serve wine all day long and nonstop, it’s what they sell the most. I always wondered how French people drive, think, work and live! I mean it seems to me like they would always be in some kind of buzz state from all the wine they drink but no, i’ve only met one alcoholic French since i’ve arrived here.Go figure! What about chocolate? Mmmm la chocolaterie is one of my favorites because some of their chocolates remind me of the ones they have in Oaxaca Mexico. To me Oaxaca still has the best chocolate in the world but the French eat it so often and so much that there has to be a chocolaterie in every town or neighborhood. The chocolate is very expensive compared to the ones you could buy at a grocery store and for that reason a lot of French prefer to buy it from the super market instead like me. Snails? No i will never eat snails, not if i don’t have to. They are so disgusting but the old French seem to love them. I saw two old ladies ordering snails with garlic the other day in a restaurant and i almost vomited watching them eat them. I am sorry if it insults anyone but i can’t stand it. I’ve never seen a young French eat snails but i am almost sure than anyone over the age of 40 has tasted them.
The French also CAN their snails, bottle milk in plastic containers which are kept at room temperature and buy most of their vegetables and fruits from La Marchet. La marchet comes to each neighborhood or centre ville once or twice a week. In this French farmer’s market you can buy anything from cheese, shoes,meat, fish,bread, clothes,veggies, fruits and one euro items.It is not at all like the farmer’s markets in USA where all you can buy is fruits and veggies. Another difference about the French is that they take their time to eat and talk at the table. You know how in the USA everyone eats at whatever time they want or whenever they are hungry? In the USA some of us eat standing by the bar and others in front of the tv while watching a movie right? Well that will never happen here unless you rent your own apartment, live by yourself or live with Americans only. All the French i know eat at the proper time each time and could sit and talk for hours and hours at which i become bored and irritated to do. There are rules to follow here and the knife is always needed even for children. Yes in the USA we use knives too but not for every meal. I think i only set the table a few times a year in the USA for holidays or special occasions but other than that we ate with a fork and at times without it. At times in USA we eat standing devouring a pizza hot pocket or microwaved burrito but not here! No, never in a real French home and it is because of us Americans that some of their young have begun eating and behaving the way we do and some HATE that and blame us for it. Yeah they blame us for their youngsters eating habits like we are forcing them to LOVE our foods, fashions, music or ways! Puuuh!
Super Markets And Pharmacy
In the USA the big green cross in front of a pharmacy it means dispensary of marijuana but not here in France. Whenever you see a big green cross it simply means pharmacy. I was so confused when i first arrived because i thought the French smoked weed as much as they drank wine but i was wrong. Nothing weird about it is just different. The labels you get on your medications in the USA which let you know what medications are for, the side effects and the indications well; you will not get those here in France.
The pharmacist explains or writes (if you are lucky) the instructions on the box for you to remember when to take them. For the markets it’s a whole other story but similar. I would say that bout 90 percent of the markets don’t stock make up, vitamins or medicine in any of their isles. Why? i don’t know and i don’t care but I’m just telling you what I’ve notice. You know how in the USA most markets and pharmacies are open 24 hours and 7 days a week? Well not here my friend you will be lucky to find one open when you need them the most. Most or all markets(and post offices) close during lunch hours, open late, close early, most holidays and Sundays. It was so annoying when i first got here but now i’ve gotten used to it and memorized their schedules.The French are big complainers inside markets, more than Americans. Yes it is possible! I’ve seen it many times when they huff and puff whenever they have to wait at the check out line. You will not find a lot of variety of fruit and veggies like you find in California and NOT all year long. The best veggies and fruits will be ORGANIC which are grown in France or Spain and i recommend to buy those because the other ones have no taste at all. The cheese, bread and chocolate sections will be well stocked all the time though.
Greetings, Conversation and Politics
So what exactly is French kissing? The French kiss a lot; even in writing. I am not kidding, you can sign your letters, emails and text with” kiss kiss”and no one will think anything of it. The kissing begins after the second or third meeting. It’s like the hug in the USA, sort of but more often and generously. For someone you just met you give two kisses,one on each cheek (or no kiss)and for someone you know for a while you give three beginning from the left side. It also depends on the region you are in for example in Paris is two in Montpellier three. France is just weird like that. It is crucial and polite for you to kiss other wise you will end up seeming rude and un-polite. My kid had some problems with it and still does because she never wants to kiss all members of the family, or all members of the church, or all members of the friend’s family and it goes on and on. You have to kiss when you arrive and when you leave and if you are in a party it will take you half an hour(or longer) to kiss everyone in the party. The french love talking, they talk a lot! It doesn’t matter what about or whether it is through text, email, phone or in person, you name it. There has to be a certain formality followed in conversation that at times it makes me so desperate and upset. I push my husband to hurry when closing deals online on eBay or whenever he talks to his family for two hours before ever sitting down to eat lunch. If they say come for lunch at 12 it means “we will eat at 3 pm because of all the talking,drinking and smoking that has to take place before the actual meal is served”. The written conversations can seem like a never ending calm waltz and the verbal ones like a fast unresolvable argument. The French complain a lot, every day, every hour if possible. Even the most positive ones can’t seem to shake off the dark cloud over their heads. For example:my husband is a great guy, he is nice to everyone and a human rights fighter but since he is French at times he can be a little pessimistic. HE wont stop complaining about the government, the president and the weather. That leads me to another important thing. The French are TOO into politics, women, men, teenagers ALL of them! And they all hate, judge, criticize their leaders. You never hear them say anything good or positive about anyone in government and it can be frustrating to hear. You know how in USA we cheer for our favorite leaders and support them all the way no matter what? (Clinton- Trump) Well not here. The French enjoy discussing unresolvable things in public talk shows that can go on and on if not stopped. You never ever talk to a stranger about politics, money or religion. Not like in USA where pretty much our big mouths get us either into trouble or praised.
Schools And Work
When my husband told me that my kid didn’t have to be at school all day like in USA i jumped with joy. Really! In France kids get to go home (if chosen to) from 12pm to 2pm for lunch! It might be the greatest thing France has to offer. They take two hour lunches because as i have already mentioned they talk and eat a lot at the table. School begins at 8:15 or 8:30, ( depending on the region) they go home for tow hours then go back to school and finally get out at 3:30 or 3:45 except for Wednesdays when they go to school for only 3 hours. My kid is loving it because in USA she would take 30 minute lunches, go in at 8am and get out at 2:30 pm. So schools are cool and relaxed but what about jobs? All the French people I’ve met hate working and hate their jobs. I am not kidding! In the USA i have encountered a lot of people who hate working but also a lot who LOVE their jobs and love going to work everyday. My Frenchie husband doesn’t believe me when i tell him that but it is true! I used to love working in the pharmacy until i got sick but that is a whole other story. The majority of people in the south of France do not work! They live of the government. Here it is different from the USA where social workers check your case every three months to see if you still qualify for money and food. Here i’ve met people who have been on unemployment and receiving money from government for years. The reason is simple and true; there isn’t a lot of work in rural areas and for that reason most of French(i think)want to move to Paris, Montpellier or any other big town that offers a lot of jobs. No one is worried or in a hurry to work or to do a good job. Seriously! You can see that everywhere you go, from markets, restaurants, insurance offices to (la mairie) government offices. I remember in Paris a lot of cashiers looked at me like i was a weirdo whenever i smiled at them and some never once looked up at me or made eye contact. When you take your kids to a festival, carnival or anywhere where they have to make a line to get on rides the French children don’t follow the rules; they push, skip and cut the line and people working there don’t say anything. There is always a lack of order in everything! The government offices are a disgrace. They have no idea on how to organize well an office at least not a PROFESSIONAL one.I have never once seen that in Paris. They may look organized, proud or polite but underneath all the garments and white powdery wigs (picturing Marie Antoinette times) hides the stench and odor of the true French administration system. It is all talk and NO WALK here. So many times i have told my husband that France reminds me of Mexico.Why Mexico? because besides the USA i have also lived in Mexico and i remember it being a lot like France. The way they drive on the streets in all directions, the way people don’t respect the red light(pedestrians) and cross wherever they want, their never-ending and not so useful politics, the mentality of people and the way of life in rural areas. Pretty much all there is to admire about France is the beautiful Eiffel tower, their castles, the school hours (not the educational system) some food and some fashion.
So there it is guys; these are the main differences I’ve noticed since arriving and even though they are not all great they are the ones that make La France what it is. Just saying, still loving it not hating it but yeah it’s not the USA here. Every country’s got that something that makes it tick and these are the things that make France tick. Thank you for reading don’t forget to subscribe and like. Love ya!