This post is intended for foreigners coming to France to stay here for at least few months or so and are not familiar with the culture/people. France is extremely beautiful and welcoming country. We had to move here for couple of months because my husband was delegated some work. Talking to friends and family about this new phase was exciting as everyone had their own views about Europe in general.
The myth is knowing French language is a must to survive in France, but I have been living in Toulouse for 4 months so far and I can assure you that you will be fine even if you know basic French greetings! People are very helpful and they try to help you even though there is a language barrier. Yes there are many places like typical local restaurants, telecom and government offices where you can absolutely get stuck if you don’t know the language. But times are changing now, almost every restaurant, hotel, supermarkets, salons you can find atleast one English speaking person which is great!
I often use offline translating dictionary in my cellphone in order to understand the words written in supermarkets and shopping places. To shop for groceries I go to nearby local vegetable market which is known for fresh fruits and vegetables. Local vendors do not understand English but everyone has digital scale which shows correct weight and corresponding cost in Euros and they pay you back the correct change even as low as a single penny. French people are very laid back, take long vacations, peace-loving and like to have long talks. Dinner with friends in a restaurant is usually around 2-3 hours. They prefer to have a soup/salad, entrée, dessert and coffee in the end.
They definitely live a very healthy lifestyle. Junk food is least consumed and people prefer healthier way of cooking and consumption. The quality of milk and cheese is commendable. There are approx 500 different types of cheese produced here in different regions of France. I have tasted only a few of them, the typical French cheese is so smelly that it is banned on airports but apart from smell it tastes delicious. French wine exported all over the world is very healthy and hence other soft drinks are neglible here. I love to have baguette as with different varieties of local fresh jams for breakfast.
I took my time in adjusting for one thing which was to live here without a Fan. Majority of people here in France don’t have a fan in their house and during summers it they keep shutters down during day time keeping the house cool, which is good old method of shielding oneself from rising temperature. In general you will find negligible obesity here which is the result of wine and healthy food and walking. The government encourages public transportation and hence gas prices are very high in France almost 3 times than United States to discourage people using their personal vehicles. So, they have a great transportation system which includes buses, trains, subway, trams, etc. one of which is usually available within a range of a mile or so. People take extreme care of their flowers and give importance to home grown vegetables.
By involving yourself in any French cooking or sports activity or clubs, you can make new friends and learn more from them. In summer, all over Europe you will find people taking a month vacation and doing activities like cycling, kayaking, hiking, swimming with family/friends.
There are few minor things like smoking in public places, beggars everywhere and lack of cleanliness which I don’t appreciate much but no country is perfect and everyone should appreciate good things ignoring the rest.
Do write your views about this article or French Culture…Thank you for reading!