French (cultural) shocks: my top 3 (4)


(Ivan Blogovic) #1

Since i'm pretty new to the Forum I'm not sure this topic has been already discussed.


I'm italian-austrian (bilingual) and deeply francophile. My first time i came to France was back in 2000 in Chambery. I was love with Rousseau ... well the rest is history.


Now im 35 and living here in France since 3 years stable.


My biggest 'shock' or bewilderment is seeing :


1) People making queue on Sunday to get a baguette : this is impossible (and if it would happen then humiliating) view of a person in Italy


2) People making queue to get cigarettes (again on Sunday, why the H%%% don't they have automatic distributors. lol


3) No bidets in the toilet rooms. In Italy we consider french a bit 'dirty'. In Italy after going to the toilet you 'shower' your part and clean go on your business. This is foreign to french people.


Well i still love France.


So what are your top 3 or top more "cultural shocks?".


I'm sure there's more I left out.


For instance banks!


4) A bank conseilleur ! I mean not even when i was 14 we had to get a conseilleur to take care of my business. Quite incredible that for a simple online transaction I often need to call a person there in place to confirm.



(Barbara Deane) #2

Hold on John.

I came here and purchased a beautiful house.....not a cheap one!

So very sorry to say that where I came from....London...possibly one of the greatest places

to find great cuisine. Honest and truly I confirm as a food lover....France has lost her

touch with the her place as number one!

But I am staying here and putting up with all the things which are not so good.


(Tim Sadler) #3

There was an italian wine merchant in Jersey the Channel Islands where I lived.

My wife and her mates used to call him itchy balls because at the beginning of the summer he would shave off his pubic hair then when it grew he could be seen giving the area a vigorous scratch which kept the girl amused.Just thought I would mention it


(Miriam Norrish) #4

With you’re name you may be from the Emerald Isle but aren’t you tarring everyone with the same brush Vincent? I disagree. Surely, gone are the days when we found a life partner in the next village. Most of us have travelled & watch the news
We’re not lemmings!


(David Rosemont) #5

In our nearest very small town there are vending machines for soft drinks (smashed in the first week) and preservatifs. That has been there for years and has never been vandalised. I know not what its sales figures are. It's next to the chemists and the boulangerie so you can pick up most of your needs conveniently.


(Tim Sadler) #6

My biggest eye opener was living in Venezuela.Now there was a cultural learning curve!


(Tim Sadler) #7

Damn! I wish I'd thought of that!lol


(vincent flannery) #8
The reason why ciggies aren't in machines, is because the trade is strictly governed and the tobacco sellers are semi-government people, who have a legal obligation to control the trade. So no machines.
The problem with expats from the island of Britain, is that they have a very narrow view of the world, it’s an island thing. This will be put to the test, when the referendum takes place: gone are the days, when the district commissioners could tell the locals what to do. When in Rome........

(Jane Roper) #9

didn't you know it's Brian's job to put everyone in their place?


(Liz Prosser) #10

Agree on this one Brian! well said. I have not even noticed the lack of bidets, househunting we saw them in nearly every house except those pre-owned by Brits ha ha...


(Miriam Norrish) #11

Thanks Sarah!
I do agree. A kindly debate was you sometimes be a welcome break from the clash of the egos.
My gorgeous grandchildren have a French mum & my daughter-in-law who has lived in the UK for 15 years certainly doesn’t hold back her views on my home country!!


(Sarah Hague) #12

Plus one, Miriam.

There's often way too much smugness on this site, and intolerance of views which don't fit in with those of some people.


(Miriam Norrish) #13

Speak for yourself John.
I have never spoken with disdain & didn’t come here for a cheaper house but have no intention of putting the French on a pedestal. They have their faults too. Sometimes the food is good, sometimes not. Try Provence. It can be diabolical.
It’s great here but bring your English humour & tolerance with you because you certainly need it!


(Tim Sadler) #14

john You are right about the chicken and much else but talking about food of Frances 150000 restaurants it seems the majority are serving food pre prepared in large factories in the Paris area. The practice is so widespread that attempts have been made to label food on the menu as prepared on the premises.

The problem is good French food is labour intensive and many restaurants cannot make a decent living if they have to employ sufficient staff. So they buy in a pre prepared dish put 400 percent mark up on it and voila!


(Peter Bird) #15

Quite correct Jon but I for one have found the general quality of French cuisine has dropped over the past 25 years. More french chefs find it acceptable to dish up frozen food instead of buying in fresh products. Saying that, the standards are still pretty good in my humble opinion.


(Peter Bird) #16

I assume the La Poste lady's lothario used a french letter or two ?


(Barbara Deane) #17

Shock ....the arrogant attitude received when dealing with apres -sales

and how unimportant a client seems to be.

The abundance of fries which come out of freezers in all sorts of

restaurants. In general the poor skills of chefs in my region.


(Jon A. Purcell) #18

Im shocked, dismayed at the plethora of English speakers in particular that come to France and have the laughable gall to criticize what is clearly the most amazing cuisine on the planet. Buying instead for example bleached, hormoned to the gills, fall off the bone, guaranteed to give you cancer or your money back…chicken…and saying its better!

Its a crime that too people obviously seem to be here solely for cheap property…with a disdain for much else.

We have the very best medical on the planet, the best food,very best wine, best bread, best fashion,a list of amazing world class dishes/food that many of us are too unsophisticted to even try let alone deeply appreciate, the worlds most popular city by a mile, and perhaps THE benchmark culture in the history of the human race ever conceived …along with the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Japanese and Chinese.


(Tim Sadler) #19

The mention Brian makes in his post about people getting upset becase their post delivery time has changed after several years reminds me of just such a occurence in Sanary when we are living there.

Our rented house was buried away in the hills behind Sanary to the extent we seldom saw anybody.We looked forward to Madame La poste driving past and occasionally stopping to deliver at around 12 every day.

My wife and I were have to admit slightly put out when she started to arrive at 11am rather than twelve so I set out to find out why.I asked her but she just shrugged and rolled her eyes.So I asked the my mate in the local village bar what was going on

It was hot local gossip. For two years Madame Le Poste had been stopping off for an hours bonking every day.

This daily pleasure was factored into her delivery times but sadly for Madame her lovers wife had found out and Monsieur had been given a clout and an ultimatum. Hence the missing hour.

Only in France!


(Sarah Hague) #20

Good grief, Brian, he was only commenting on culture shock. Don't be so damning.