Random ways of experiencing the French culture

I have been living in France for almost a year now and I can describe the entire experience as overall positive… Although it definitely required some adjusting time, the fact that I relocated with my husband (who is French) and my son, made the adaptation process much easier.

La Grande Plage de Biarrtiz

Although I consider myself a city girl, I found it quite resting to live in a less crowded, less agitated environment. Biarritz is merely a vacation resort, much preferred by families, youngsters and groups, pretty much everybody can find something interesting to do here. But when the vacationers leave, it’s rather nostalgic and lonely, the streets are less populated, the crowds are gone.

As I am still discovering the French lifestyle, I become more and more intrigued by the way the French view family relationships, the values they hold, their interractions, friendships, society, politics, parenting, etc…

Here are some “every day discoveries” I find rather interesting:

Apero

Apero is sort of like the American pre-game. It consists of drinks (mostly alcoholic) accompagned by salty snacks. It took me quite a while to get used to drinking on an empty stomach and stuffing on pretzels and nuts before dinner. But this is how they do it and after a while, I learnt to ponder myself. Sometimes, we do the “apero” in the kitchen as we prepare dinner. I admit, it’s rather nice to sip on a glass of wine while preparing a salad.

No traffic

One of the things I absolutely love about living here is the absence of traffic. On an average it takes about 10 minutes to get places: school, grocery store, work, parks, etc (except during the summer, when the population in the area triples due to tourists). Sometimes living in the country has its perks, doesn’t it?

Timely meals

The majority of French people eat lunch between 12-2PM and dinner after 7PM. During those intervals, restaurants are full. But if you find yourself running late and you want to grab a bite in a local restaurant at 2:30PM, you’re out of luck. I’ve been used to eating whenever I could, without really timing it to the minute. But here, I became more disciplined and definitely reduced my snacking habits.

Tiny stores for everything

French people seem to be very sensitive when it comes to services. My mother-in-law often tells me that she prefers to buy her clothes at the local boutique rather then the mall, because she is always welcomed by the charming store owner and gets one-on-one attention. I love that! Also, I love how there is a store for everything: the butcher, the baker, the fisherman, the fruit and vegetable store,  the newspaper store. Most of our acquaintances go to supermarkets for cleaning supplies and other things they can’t find in smaller specialized stores. I admit that I’m still used to going to one place for everything. But I’m awe when I see French ladies walking around with their wicker baskets full of fresh foods bought from the local stores.

Opinionated

The #1 sport in this region is rugby. Most people here are ardent supporters of their local team and they can get extremely territorial and opinionated. I assisted to some games and despite the fact that I didn’t really understand what was going on (I’m not a big rugby fan), I absolutely adored the atmosphere and the team spirit. The after-game period is rather eclectic: the fans talk endlessly about each move of the players, what they did well, where they were at fault… As a spectator, I am often amused at how seriously they take that seems to me just a simple game.

Stay tuned as I will complete this list as I am “discovering” new things. 🙂

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