1 – They eat cheese with almost every meal. Not a slice, a giant hunk of cheese. And the smellier the better. Even children; I watched as Arnaud’s 3 year old niece happily munched on a lump the size of her head.
2 – They drink wine with almost every meal.
3 – They accomplish 1. and 2. without getting fat. How they manage this should be the subject of boundless scientific study so that we may apply their methods in the States. I gained three pounds in six days.
4 – They make a dish called Raclette. First you have special cheese, and you melt copious slices of the stuff which you then pour all over your “charcuterie” – a vast array of cold meats and hams that represent at least one entire animal per person at the table – and a giant bowl of mashed potatoes. It’s like eating joy. And for me, it’s like pouring fat into my thighs. Because I’m not French (see number 3.)
5- Meals are long drawn out affairs where the whole group/family gets together, eats, laughs, shares stories. It is started by the nearly religious Apéros – Cocktails with nibbles to warm up the stomach. Dinner can easily take two hours to complete, and that’s at home, not in a restaurant.
6 – They don’t believe in queuing. You could easily lose an eye as some old lady rams her elbow in your face as she barges past you to get on the metro first. In an emergency, the French die from trampling each other in a mass exodus where everyone is for themselves.
7 – The abysmal service in restaurants is actually quite entertaining if you pay attention. Not caring, and being able to master an indifferent shrug on demand if your patron’s meal arrives cold or very late is part of the waiter’s job requirement.
8 – Kissing. Not French Kissing per se, though I am grateful they gave the name to that loveliest of pastimes, but the required two to four kisses you give to everyone in the room each time you enter and leave it. The sweet panic you feel each time you forget how many times you’re supposed to do it. And how a conversation between two people never commences prior to kissing.
9 – Strikes. The French are very adamant about their right to work only required hours, their right to reimbursed health care, their right to retirement at 62 provided by the state, their right to go on vacation for six weeks every year, and of course, their right to strike if any of these expectations are not met or promised. I love that. In the US, we just expect to, well, get nothing.
10 – They’re not afraid to show they don’t like you. Forget the polite veneer of tolerance, you’ll not be left wondering if someone is genuinely interested in you, or is just pretending.
Hey, What about the “Apéro” !! This is a religion in France…
OF COURSE!! Will add this later of course!
This is one of my favourite of your blog posts, brilliantly written and so entertaining! Love it. So there are more posts to come about France? Cool, can’t wait! 🙂
Robin | My Melange said:
Great, fun list. I agree with most of them, especially numbers 1-3 🙂
Thanks! I know, right?
Love it as always 🙂 This list in particular makes me miss Paris all over again!
Me too! I love the place. Thanks for checking out the article.
I agree with all the points.
Apero also is missing and above all of that, criticizing USA!!!!!
I include Aperos in point #5 after the abysmal exclusion on my first post! And yes, I agree, the French do enjoy criticizing the United States too…!
Kissing is done the first and last times you see someone in the day, not every time you enter or leave the room !
Neil: I agree that I may have been exaggerating (only because it FELT like I was kissing people every time I came in and out of a room, but with so many relatives, my boyfriend’s living room was full of family coming and going on a recent trip which led to this observation.)
However, in checking this point with my Parisian boyfriend, he said that on a typical day, you kiss people in the home 4 times: when you first see them in the morning, when you leave the house, when you return home in the evening, and when you go to bed.
SPOT ON!!! this article really makes me miss france… i am french leaving in ireland and those 10 points are the exact 10 reason i miss france… well done!
Thanks so much…I’m glad I didn’t call it “Ten things that the French love and miss about France when they live abroad” though…!
I’m from Germany and I live directly at the Swiss and French border. We often spent time there and enjoy the different values of each culture.
Raclette by the was is originally from Switzerland… but I think it got popular all over western Europe. 🙂
Yes…I should be fair and point out that it was the Swiss who first created Raclette…but the French enjoy it to, and I believe there is the difference of potatoes…from what I’ve heard – you don’t eat raclette with potatoes in Switzerland.
During one of my first meals in France, my host said to me, “We French have a saying: ‘Un repas sans fromage est comme un visage sans nez,’ which means, ‘A meal without cheese is like a face without a nose.'”
Plus you wouldn’t be able to smell anything! (Especially the cheese, which can be particularly odorous!)
Very nice post!
And really interesting: I am French, living outside of France. I have a good US friend, who is also amazed at my love for cheese and the way I always go for cheese-filled stuff (cheese sandwich, etc.).
I have to say that while I am not in France I am not following these points very much (except 1), but when I’m in France then I follow these points! It is true we eats loads of cheese, and drink wine at every meal, except breakfast.
Raclette is also a French point, but it is a meal typically from Savoie and even Switzerland.
We have loads of othre typical French meals with cheese, such as veal roll sliced with melted cheese between each slice.
Thanks for this post!
Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Mmmmm veal roll with melted cheese between each slice? Sounds “tres delicieux!”
Zablon Mukuba said:
i love the french they are very interesting
Agreed. That’s why I’m in a relationship with a French man 🙂
Runaway Brit said:
Chocolate for breakfast, that’s why I LOVE the French! Pain au Chocolat, Hot Chocolate, any which way it comes, and for breakfast!!
The meat and cheese thing sounds good too, I hadn’t heard of that before. Maybe I should book myself a trip to France…
I especially enjoy how much they dunk those said breakfast items into their hot chocolate for breakfast. Yummy.
Don Faust said:
Great post. We eat a lot of cheese and have a glass of wine almost every night, but the skinny gene is not working for us. We probably also eat too many carbs.
I LOVE all kinds of cheese. My favorite soft cheeses are also about the stinkiest. Brie de Meaux – this is not the type of pasteurized milk brie you find in most US markets – only the real cheese monger places will have it. Frankly, most Americans might be turned off by it’s almost ammonia smell, so keep your nose away and just eat it… it’s super creamy. Epoisses – this cheese makes my worn socks smell like perfume. We made a mistake and tried it in a panini, and it destroyed the kitchen for a couple of days. I was told by the cheese shop it’s best to let sit and serve at room temperature. It comes in one of those round balsa wood containers.
Never tried Raclette – sounds great!
Honestly, I hate the non-queuing thing. The British and Germans have the best queuing behaviors in my opinion.
Abysmal service: Americans don’t get this one – it’s like they just want to get in and get out. The service isn’t necessarily bad if the expectation in the restaurant is that you are going to be staying for 2 hours. Relaxxxx. I spent the last 20 years in Philadelphia, and the South Philly Italian restaurants have been the same for years – the waiters will ignore you for awhile and when you only needed an extra drink, they bring more free Italian bread to sop up your red sauce (gravy in Philly).
Don! Wow – what a comment, practically a post! Thanks so much… The ammonia smelling cheeses are just too much for me, sorry!
I say stick with the wine every night and just walk more 😉
As for queuing, you know who has the British and Germans beat, imho?? The Japanese. They would line up to flee a burning theatre.
Michael Hodson said:
I love that 6 of your 10 reasons are basically about food 😉