Five Things Learned in France (so far)

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As a new member of the “One Month in France” travel club, I feel like I’ve been imparted with new knowledge and wisdom as to what’s going on over here across the pond.

Because I’m in a giving mood (and it’s time for that weekly blog post), I’ve decided to share some of my newfound discoveries. Some might be obvious, and some not so.

1. The south of France must be one of the only acceptable places for a male in blue jean capris to rollerblade in public while dragging along a poor Jack Russell Terrier, who is having to sprint like a maniac on his little short doggie legs.

(Now granted, rollerblading is actually quite the hobby here, along with scooters. Sometimes I feel like I’ve stepped into a 90s music video).

2. French boys are nothing, if not persistent.

Unfortunately, the same could be said for stalkers, and sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between the two.

As a young American college student, it’s impossible to walk through town without getting stared at or catcalled or hit on. Most of the time, it’s harmless. Annoying and bothersome, yes, but harmless. Like the guys that hang out at the same coffee shop everyday, hit on the same girls everyday, and seemingly forget the amount of times they’ve been rejected by the same girls.

They’re annoying, but they’re harmless. Most of the time.

3. French people have a bad rap for being unfriendly, and that’s a personality trait I’ve yet to experience in Cannes. Granted, a lot of this stereotype is said to focus around Paris where I will make my first visit in two weeks, but I still have to cast down this “unfriendly” business

Anytime you go into a store in Cannes, there are friendly “bonjours” and “au revoirs.” Vendors at markets are always open to talk to you, and I’ve had random encounters with friendly strangers throughout the city. Today, for example, a group of friends and I were outside a pastry store, and we were looking longingly at a giant macaroon. A shopper exiting the store saw our faces and immediately offered us all pieces of the pastry she just bought.

The reason why Americans might perceive French people as unfriendly is just a difference in cultural norms. In Alabama, I’m used to smiling and waving at people in the street. In France, that makes you seem crazy – and might even attract unwanted attention (see number two again). Waiters at restaurants are also a little more distant, but if they take forever with your food and check, it’s only because they think dinner should be a relaxed and social affair – not rushed like in the States.

But lastly, Americans often make the mistake of coming to France and speaking no French. Just make an effort, say your “bonjours” and “mercis,” and French people genuinely appreciate it.

Though I make no promise for Paris.

4. As far as stereotypes that are true, baguettes are the real deal. They are delicious, they are everywhere, and nothing is more disappointing than making a trip to the local grocery store and finding that all those thin loaves of wonder are gone.

Trying to eat a meal without them just isn’t right.

And I won’t even get started on the cheese. Stinky, wonderful, cheap French cheese, how I’ve grown to love you so.

5. Things you won’t find in France: peanut butter, roll-on deodorant, fast food restaurants, overweight people, t-shirts, Ranch dressing, ice cubes at restaurants, college related hoodies or sweatshirts, trucks, tennis shoes as everyday wear, hot sauce.

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2 thoughts on “Five Things Learned in France (so far)

  1. Don’t forget for number five: root beer! And kool-aid. And people not wearing scarves. The south of France sounds a little friendlier than Tours and dramatically friendlier than Paris. The guys in Tours seem a little shy, actually. (Especially as compared to Italy.) Love this post!

    • I can’t even imagine kool-aid here; it seems so bizarre! And yes, scarves are an absolute necessity. I’m looking forward to finally visiting Paris next week and seeing the different attitudes.

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