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French Tips (& I'm not Talking Manicures!)

Last week, I talked about some common French dinning rules. While I spend a lot of time enjoying the cuisine here, I also had to learn about some other French cultural differences. And now that I'm in my last month of being abroad, I think I've learned my fair share. Here's a quick list of some differences I've experienced.

Sundays (and even Mondays) are Made for Relaxing

In the United States, it is common to run to the store for groceries on Sundays, but in France, all stores are closed or have limited hours. I immediately noticed this arriving in France on a Saturday afternoon. I thankfully picked up some groceries to survive my first night, but I had to wait until Monday morning to do some real grocery shopping. Also, many stores for clothes are closed on Mondays. This is a little annoying for me since this is my day off of class so most chores have to be finished during the week.

 Carrying groceries home is a little different in France...

Small Scale Grocery Shopping

While we are talking about grocery shopping, the French in town seem to do many small trips to the grocery store in one week. I quickly learned how much my reusable bag could carry back to the apartment and made my grocery lists accordingly. This relates to the next two points....

Local is always better!

Aix really treats the locals to a delicious mix of fresh food from the area. The market fruits and vegetables are always leaps and bounds above those I can find at Monoprix.

 The delicious market vegetables in Aix en Provence


Food is Healthier Here

When it comes to shopping, there's another reason I can't buy much food. The French are strict about what goes into their packaged food. Preservatives are limited and the sugars are real! This means that the food expires relatively soon. I just buy what I need and then run to the store if I'm short on anything.

AMERICANS ARE LOUD

Yeah... It's true. Americans really are loud and rude compared to the quiet and controlled French. I'm a fairly quiet person and it is still a job to remember to keep the volume down. This applies to walking down the road, eating in a cafe, or when shopping. Being loud is rude, but when you're speaking English, it seems even louder to the French.

Manners, Please and Thank You!

Manner matter to the French. It's normal to walk into a store and say "bonjour" to the cashiers along with "au revoir" when you leave. It's just normal here. Do this at a clothing store, a boulangerie, or a cafe and you are ahead of most foreigners in terms of being polite.

 This meal left me stuffed! The French know a
thing or two about portion control.

Portion Size.

Also, it's a well known fact that in the States we enjoy filling our plates with more food than we should ever eat in a meal. It was very apparent when I arrived in France that this is the case. At first, paying 12 Euro for a plate of food that was half full but presented beautifully made me worry about the cost to survive here. After this meal I knew the French are correct. I have never left a meal feeling full and disgusted with myself like I do at home. There's a happy medium where I fill up on delicious food, talk and digest, then my next plate comes. I LOVE the portion sizes here. It's more food than I can even eat now.

Anything else you've found different in France? Let me know!

Sophia Hendrix is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is currently a sophomore at Ohio University.


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