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,