Friday, April 20, 2012

Through the eyes of life in France is different!

As we come up on being in France for 6 months, I'm amazed what I've gotten used to and now seems normal to me.  It's sometimes hard now, to think about not having certain things and the new patterns we've created.    We had visitors from the States this week, and it reminded me again what's really different here versus back home.  Here are a few observations made by my guests:

You will do buy fresh bread daily
hearing the description of our grocery stores...(Similar to a Walmart, or Target but not quite the same..)
Cars are smaller
What's with the roundabouts?
A whole aisle of yogurts?  (as opposed to aisles of dressings in the States)
What exactly is creme fraise?  (Tastes better than sour cream!)
yellow farm chicken
Really - every french house is gated and/or walled for privacy?   Are there such things a neighborhoods?
Decent inexpensive wine for around $4.00...and you can buy it at the grocery store!
Cheese is very reasonable also
Chocolatines ...(Croissants filled with chocolate bits)
The pastry shops are incredible.

This was just a few...but it reminds me how life is different here.  I have to say I do miss some things...chocolate chips, white hot dogs, less bureaucracy, and professional customer service!

Being American and my husband being French, we get to see both sides of things.  Twice my husband has asked for certain items in a hardware store, only to have the employee tell him they don't carry it.  But then, seconds later, we find the item ourselves.  It's somewhat comically to get apologies, but here it seems to be the norm.  If the employee doesn't want to be bother, they won't.  Now, I have to say, I feel sometimes, being American has it's advantages, I ask for something, apologize for my accent, stating French is my second language and end up in conversation about the States.  Then the employees seem to try their hardest to help me find what I'm looking for.  You have to also understand here, that I'm not always sure of the name of what I want - so trying to figure out what I need is a bit like a game of charades!  But I usually succeed.

We also notice that employees in stores often specialize in their certain area or location in the store and can not help beyond that area.  Again, in a hardware store, seeking information about a lawn mower, we were sent to 3 different employees before the "right" employee could help us.  However, he couldn't help us as he was assigned out in front of the store at that moment and couldn't leave his post until an employee returned from lunch..  He suggested that we return in an hour!  Needless to say, we didn't return there, we moved on to the next store.    I have to say we are lucky as we live in a large city, so we have many choices of stores.  But in you were in a smaller town or village, that particular store may be your only choice.  It's just the French way.  Pace and lifestyle are much slower - no hurry.

So as we head further into vacation, I'm enjoying looking back on where we are at - seeing differences, similarities and the pros and cons of each country.  I'm looking forward to other visitors and seeing their perspectives and also seeing how we change our expectations and accept some of the norms.  Who really knows when that will be.

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