A blog about French culture

With only a couple of weeks left in France before leaving for my last month of adventures before heading home, I thought it would be a good time to write a blog about some of the cultural differences between France and NZ.At first glance, things aren’t so different. The main differences I noticed were school related (obvious since I was working in one). Kids are in school for longer, high schoolers generally have classes from 8/9am to 5pm with some getting a two hour break for lunch. 
Some kids go home for lunch, which is probably there main meal of the day and the rest eat at the school canteen which they pay a small amount per meal. Lunch consists of several courses, like dinner (usually 5 courses).

People in general are not seen snacking and drinking soft drinks in public, they usually eat in the privacy of their own home. They eat their main meal late in the evening, around 9pm.

When you get invited to a dinner party, you can expect a long night of eating and drinking with many courses. Aperitifs and champagne, main course, cheese, dessert, coffee and if you stay for too long, orange juice (that’s the clue to leave).

As for wine drinking, choosing the right wine for a meal is seen as a big responsibility for the person who has to choose.

With eating much later, clubbing happens later too, don’t expect anywhere to be going off until after 2am. Bars and clubs have different hours and bars must be closed at 1am. 

Normal clubbing attire is jeans and a t-shirt. Not many people wear heels. If you dress at all sexily, expect lots of comments, wolf whistling, and glares.

If you’re in a relationship, your man will get extremely jealous of this behaviour. Even chatting with a person of the opposite sex is enough to make him jealous. 

Some other things:

Getting your drivers licence is much more difficult and expensive. You must take many hours of lessons through accredited driving schools. Once you’ve got your licence, insurance for your car is extremely expensive for young people and most have to put their car on their parents insurance.

What do French houses look like? Pretty much all have shutters and are kept shut up quite a lot of the time. Windows are smaller and there isn’t a desire for indoor/outdoor flow. 

Each set of suburban shops also has at least once pharmacy and a boulangerie (bakery).

Shop hours differ all around France. All shops are closed on Sundays except for boulangeries. Some shops are closed over lunch time, but most (including pharmacies) are open until around 7pm. Supermarkets aren’t open much later, the latest ones around 10pm. On Saturdays some services such as banks, doctors offices and pharmacies are open in the morning. On Mondays some shops are closed, mainly services such as banks.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few other things, but hopefully that gives you an idea about life in France.

More on my travels next time,

Amanda xx

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The strangest meal ever

The day we arrived in Kotor we had the strangest meal ever. 

After checking in at our hotel late in the day and sitting around for an hour or so we found ourselves hungry and with only two restaurants within walking distance. 

The first one was closed and so we head off to find the second one. We are told it’s 400m away but after walking along the side (no footpath) of an unlit semi-rural road for 10mins we still hadn’t arrived. We decide to keep walking and finally come across a hotel with a restaurant! We struggle to find the entrance to the restaurant and then after browsing the menu have to go and find the waiter who is in the kitchen. At this point the only other people in the restaurant are leaving (they are clearly guests, we aren’t guests – the waiter is probably wondering where we came from). The menu was a bit strange but we managed to find things to order for a good price. The awkward waiter then brings out a complimentary starter which is a local dish. It’s basically some kind of weird two bread and cheese combo. I ask what the items are by pointing at them the conversation goes something like this: me “so what’s this dish?” Waiter “it’s a local dish” me “so what’s this?” *pointing at bread roll* Waiter “that’s bread” me “and this?” *pointing at toast-like thing* Waiter “that’s also bread” me “and this?” *pointing at ball of butter like stuff* Waiter “that’s cheese”. Me “oh so what do I do with the cheese?” Waiter “you put it on the bread” Ruth *giggles*. This whole conversation goes on in English but the waiter clearly isn’t fluent which makes the whole interaction even weirder. He also says ‘please’ after everything. “Would you like anything to drink, please?” “Can I get you anything else, please?” The meal comes and it’s not too odd, I get a salad and Ruth gets this strange breaded meat thing. We have numerous other interactions with the waiter for condiments and the arrival of the food and the like. 

We are alone in the restaurant the whole time. We start to wonder if the waiter thinks we are on a date and if we are a little mad.

I’ll be posting more about my Balkan trip soon. Thanks for reading,

Amanda xx

A lack of sleep and other events

Last post I ended by saying I was off to Paris for the weekend. I had a great time and mixed a little sightseeing with meeting friends (new and old).

On Friday night Jess and I went out in Oberkampf it was great and we made some new French friends. Saturday I traipsed around Versailles in wonder at all the chateau like stuff. On Sunday I started the day morbidly with a visit to the Père Lachaise Cemetery to check out the graves of  Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf and some French painters among others. After the rather creepy morning I ate lunch with Laura and witnessed/took part in a restaurant catastrophe! Let’s just say, we don’t like cheese that much. This week I am really getting into the swing of things with teaching which is great considering I had 6 classes on Monday.

Other highlights of the week include a trip to a cave, going out on Tuesday night with friends and pretty much just having my accent made fun of/enjoyed all week at various different occasions (I now feature in a murder mystery dialogue for my school) and now I’m waiting for my tram to go and meet the English teachers at my school for dinner. Which brings me to the final point, today there is a transport strike… C’est la vie en France…

We are now on school holidays for two weeks (oh what a tough life) and I’m off to Istanbul and Greece.

Until next time,

Amanda xx