Culture shock: Tell me about it! :)

I thought the OP was asking about experiences of culture shock when you set foot in France, so why are some people just commenting on things in the UK, or are they part of the "nothing in France can ever be bad and everything in the UK is bad" brigade!!!

French drivers, one half of whom seem to drive to the letter of the law regarding lane discipline and speed limits, the other half who overtake regardless, sound there horn and speed everywhere. Massive amounts of advertising signs alongside the main roads in towns. Cooked meals at 12 o'clock. Supermarche closing at 11 or 12 on a Sunday, all the other shops are closed all day and Monday closing. Tolls on motorways. Lack of lane markings and no "cats eyes" even on motorways ... not fun to drive on a rainy night. Privacy issues, houses have 2m high front boundary walls, hedges or fences; yet the majority of people appear to live in apartments and noise between neighbours seems common. Rules and regulations for everything. Graffiti. Intensive farming, no boundaries to fields, huge open spaces, Chasse wherever there are wooded areas. Ugly developments in small towns and Zi. Filthy toilets in aires. Pissoir in towns. No potholes !!! Coming from rural Scotland I already enjoy politeness, calm quiet areas and lack of traffic so am not culturally shocked in France. Yes traffic is continuous in towns and on every road at times .. just like in England and in towns or cities in Scotland. Voila.

Shops not open on Sundays and Mondays!!

Shops closing at Midday and opening at 1430.

Being able to get an MRI Scan in 1 week

The Politeness of the French (Hello, goodbye etc)

Everything still running normally and the roads cleared after 2' of snow falling overnight.

Most French do not have a clue where Scotland, Wales or Ireland are and the fact that they believe that everyone who speaks English is English!!!

The greeting on many French English speaking telephone lines being in French.

The sheer amount of paperwork required to actually get anything done and the fact that most Government Departments never communicate in any way with any of the other departments, so information needs to be provided numerous times.

The massive size of the French Government Workforce....

The belief that if it is made in France it is the best and that the French way of doing things is the best way (and that look of "is there any other way?").

There will now follow 30 pages from the British contradicting my posts below and many more lengthy stories from their own experiences! The French will just shrug their shoulders!

Things that in the main are very different:

1 Lack of commercial approach. Examples- had to ask nine firms for a quote for an easy but profitable roofing job before I got a single quote. Rudeness to customers even in the service industry such as a restaurant (an elderly english guy complained about this to me this very morning on connection with our sole village restaurant- result he never goes there any more and he's not the only one) Closing most shops evry lunchtime for usually two hours, driving home for lunch and then back again. Not opening the shop door until excatly 2pm even when you can see all the staff chatting inside and there is a large crowd of potential customers outside. Closing many DIY shops on Saturday or Saturday afternoon. Opening a restaurant only at lunchtimes and two or three evenings a week. Closing bars all day Monday and most evenings by 8.30

2 Some very curious driving. Tailgating. Middle of the road. Cutting the roundabout outside my front door. Convoys of tractors with overladen trailers and combines harvesters speeding through the narrow village streets at 1030pm to the cheers of the drunks outside the village bar

3 Bureaucracy in general

4 Reducing the rubbish tip hours at the weekends when most people want it even opening only at 9.05 and closing at 11.55 to allow the guy time to actually shut the gates and leave at 12 exactly- all about his convenience

5 In a village of only 800 people having a boulangerie (good) but also selling bread in the (only) bar all the large family and their cousins (many) buying it there and allowing smoking in the same room with the open knowledge of all

6 Calling a woman a whore because she telephoned to get an ambulance when an old man fell over and hit his head on the pavement when drunk on the grounds that "we sort out our own affairs here"

7 Still having Communist members running a council and employing all their mates and family

8 Maybe my imagination but suicide seems to be a popular activity, especially in the winter

8 Either a reverence for authority or complete revolution, nothing between. The farmers are in constant protest, burning down the tax offices, sending cows into supermarkets, blocking the roads, dumping supermarket caddies etc and with complete impunity.

9 The chasse takes the place over in the winter and work stops on chasse days. It only starts at 9am when vans driven by camoflaged men,(but wearing fluo jackets and caps) all start racing around but it stops only three hours later and the rest of the day is spent in the restaurant

Yet I still like it here and have had a house here 45 years! Would the Uk be any better? I have my doubts.

In Britain house buying and selling is an expensive and stressful experience, with again variable standards especially among the greedy solicitors. (The buyer and seller have separate solicitors) When we bought our plot of land in the Dordogne we picked up the seller from her house and went to the notaire together! The notaires work for the state in house transactions in France and just concentrate on ensuring that the transaction is watertight.

Serving staff in British restaurants are very low paid and the standard of service is variable. Chef's are not particularly loyal to their current boss/restaurant, resulting in unreliable food quality also. In France working in the restaurant industry is more a vocation than just a job, resulting in more reliable standards.

Having to supply an EDF bill before I could buy a car...waiting in queues in the boulanger, post office, bank for ages whilst everyone chats ..not understanding the "how many kisses"and the ""tu et vous" protocol

In British supermarkets when I ask a member of staff for a product's location, I am taken there whilst often being engaged in conversation, very helpful, very friendly. In our local Le Clerc I am pointed in the general direction of where the product might be.

Choosing how much electricity you want supplied to your house, not being able to buy paracetamol in a supermarket, the influx of tourists in August and just how many expats live in 87!

Thinking in reverse or the opposite - not just acronyms LPG = GPL or MRI = IRM, not just the classic of driving on the wrong side of the road... but smaller things like milk with a red top in the UK is often Skimmed milk (ie no or near zero fat) verses here red top can be full fat. August holidays and restaurants that are shut or even better whole villages that shut and the rally that occurs around the French countryside in the summer looking for bread. Mondays when half of France is shut. Cheese before dessert (I've actually fully converted to this but it confuses). Bathrooms often without toilets and toilets often without hand basins. Priority to the right, is this an attempt to save on paint at road junctions. Why traffic lights don't use the amber light why other countries don't use the little/lower traffic lights for the car at the front of the queue? Why are fixed speed cameras supplied with warnings? Why don't all French drivers have a telepeage... hope this helps

I think Anthony Murphy might just have misunderstood the many facets of a vide grenier/ brocante.

There are the professionals there to sell/buy ' collectors items'.Often not ' collectors items' here in central France somewhat bemuse me.

There are people who have just too much stuff.This will include the ubiquitous box of fluffy toys, various bits of startlingly coloured ceramic / glass, a huge range and quality of pictures and maybe, just maybe ... the occasional gem...

And then there is the family group.Sometimes they are there just to empty their attic/garage etc but often I have seen people who are there because they HAVE to make some money.Every time something is sold everyone gets into a huddle looks at the money and adds it to a list.Can be quite moving.

And then of course, there is the lunch. Usually a well organised picnic lunch (with tables and chairs ,of course)the food and wine been supplemented by chips and cold beers from the organiser's beer tent... which later on in the afternoon will become bedecked with boozy faces since the event is inevitably held on a Sunday and this is the only source of booze.

I find these a fascinating insight into the local community, often a fun day .

You never know who going is to be your neighbour-for-the- day ,and at the end of that day hoping the hard up folks have found it worth while.

  1. Waiting in a supermarket queue when the cashier change but not before the change of kisses. 2. The friendliness of French people 3. Easy and usually free car parking.

Leaving the car engine running when it ought to be turned off. Did no one ever mention fossil fuels around here?

Standing in the queue at the Préfecture and watching the staff photocopy ever single piece of paper in sight ...

Going to a Brocante and looking at someone's wares and thinking, 'that belongs in a skip, but you expect someone to pay you money for it!? And you are going to spend the whole day here, pack all that crap up again, and lay it out another time in the naïve and desperate hope that your trash has somekind of economic value?'

Going into a shop at 11.55am and (more or less) being told to **** OFF.