Hi All ! I'm interested in hearing peoples' opinions on why the French so often don't show much entrepreneurial flair..... I'm not really asking whether they do or not (I think we'd most agree that often they don't) or whether this is a good or bad thing (most of us enjoy France precisely because it offers a 'slower' lifestyle). My question is WHY are they like this... I have some theories, but I'd be interested in other peoples' views.
Examples are numerous: in the High Street in the town nearest my (holiday) home, Aubusson, there are about five perfectly good restaurants / bistros. On any given day of the week at lunchtime only 3 out of 5 will be open and if one dares to walk in at 1.45 and ask for an omelette one will be met with a brusque 'Non !'. Why doesn't one cunning restauranteur think to stay open all afternoon, offering perhaps a pared down menu ? It seems to be anathema to the French psyche to think outside the box and mop up some trade.
Why do shops all shut from 12 to 2pm, why not get in some staff to cover the lunch period ? Why are simple electrical goods three times the price they are in the UK - even though they could be obtained over the internet at a scratch of the cost ? Why do (some) supermarkets shut on Monday just because they were open on Saturday ? Has anyone ever tried to buy tobacco on a bank holiday in rural France ? Why don't French petrol stations utilise their space and double as an epicerie ? Why don't general stores sell fresh bread ? Why do shops and other small businesses simply shut up shop for 2 weeks in August - why not get temporary cover in whilst the patron is away ?
Fundamentally I suppose what I am asking is "Why do they put up with this and why doesn't somebody spot the potential for business and move in to fill the gap in supply ?"
My theory is that France is rather like the UK in the 70's and 80's - we used to shut on Wednesday afternoons, banks shut at 3 and restaurants shut at 9. Somewhere along the way we adopted American expectations and demanded more. Perhaps also immigrants saw gaps in the market and were prepared to work unsociable hours and plugged the gaps in the market - now we all do. I suspect that over time France will become more like the UK and America but for now it is simply culturally ingrained into the French that there is a certain timetable and a certain way of doing things - the customers do not expect or demand any different, so nobody supplies it....what is your theory ? Is there some tax / economic reason ?