Twenty Things…that I love about France
1. The streets. Growing up here in the states, you never really see anything old. I loved walking through the village where I lived and watching the cobblestones as I walked. They are beautiful.
2. Pastries. Oh my goodness, I never passed up an opportunity to discover a new mouth watering pastry when I lived there. I am gluten free now, but I imagine that the patissiers are managing to whip up some amazing confections without gluten as well.
3. Meals with friends. When families get together to eat, the courses stretch out over three hours, easily, sometimes even longer. Everyone sits, and eats slowly, and catches up. It is wonderful.
4. The beaches. It shocked me when I first visited at fifteen. Beaches are topless in the country. I used to walk the cliffs above the beach in the morning, and while their parents clammed in the water, the little children would chase each other around in their suit bottoms. It was absolutely adorable, and so picturesque.
5. Sundays. Aside from in the larger cities, the only thing that is open on a Sunday is the bakery in the early morning (because everyone needs fresh bread every day, of course). Sundays are exceedingly quiet, and a lovey time to spend exploring the quiet towns.
6. Silverware. Americans just don’t eat correctly. The knife goes in the left hand and the fork in the right. All of the picking up and putting down that we do in the US is noisy and annoying. Eating like the French do allows people to slow down, create the perfect bite, and enjoy the food more. Additionally, if a desert has been prepared, you will find a spoon resting at the top of the dinner setting when you arrive at the table. There is nothing better than looking at that little spoon, anticipating what will come for dessert.
7. Sieste. Like almost everywhere in Europe the French take at least a two-hour lunch break. Shops close and people actually go home from their jobs to have lunch with their families.
8. The young people. At a very young age children are held to a much higher level of responsibility than children here in the US are. As a result they are more focused, harder working, and polite.
9. Flowers. Flowers are very important to the French. If guests are coming over, it is unthinkable not to have an arrangement of fresh flowers in the house.
10. Bisous. Yes, the greeting really is the way that you see it on television. I love it. The best part is that everyone gives a different number of kisses and it is hilarious to try and figure out how many times you need to bob your head back and forth.
11. The elderly. The elderly Frenchman is fierce. Not only do they expect respect from young people at their elevated age; they demand it, and they are never quiet about not being respected. My French grandmother was not a sweet little old lady. I loved her like crazy.
12. The style. People in France know how to dress, and they make it a priority. People do not go out in public looking sloppy. I love to sit outside and people watch, the outfits are outstanding.
13. The cheese. There are hundred of delicious cheeses available any place that you go in the country. I love cheese. I love trying new cheeses. I love that unpasteurized cheese is legal!
14. The responsibility. Socially, responsibility for one-self is highly valued. This is the reason that if you do something stupid, like trying to ski down a mountain where there are no marked runs, no one will come to rescue you. You are on your own with your stupidity. Also, it is considered ridiculous to sue someone else for an accident that you had. You fall in a slippery spot; it is your fault, period.
15. The museums…well just, duh. The Louver is my least favorite, actually. I think that it is over-hyped. I am also on the nay side of the pyramid dispute…nay, nay, nay.
16. The downtime. The average Frenchman gets three to four weeks of vacation time in the summer.
17. Higher education. In most cases students study through high school to pass a test to find out whether or not they are eligible for college. If they pass the test, the government will pay for their education.
18. Transportation. A driver’s license is extremely expensive to finance in France. Anyone caught driving under the influence loses the privilege to drive immediately and forever. As a result there are very few drunk-driving incidents. There are not many places in the country that you cannot get to by bus or train.
19. The wine. Of course. The French are serious about it. My history teacher taught us a section on the country’s wines and the first thing she warned us about was not to bring up white zin…because it isn’t wine.
20. My family is still there; the family that took me in at fifteen as an exchange student. They are wonderful giving people. I miss them very much, and can’t wait to take my children to meet them someday.