I am a self-confessed French nerd. ‘Francophile’ as my French nerd friends and I like to call each other (a mix of the French word for ‘French native speaker’ and ‘pedophile’ :)) but there are some things I can’t say I miss about living there. There are plenty of things I do miss – mainly the amazing friendships I made but I if I went back to live there I know I would dread…
- French Administration
They have a reputation for it, and they deserve it. The French bureaucracy is a nightmare, I did manage to find some coping strategies to deal with the shitload of paper that came my way. Then there were the constant mistakes by the people working for social security and health benefits. Sending a letter telling you they needed something from you, then it was just ‘a mistake’, forgetting to mention an important piece of paper to begin with etc etc
When I got back to Australia I had to order a new license, I went onto VicRoad’s website and quickly found the correct link. I filled in a quick online form, paid the $20 fee online and voila! Done. My license should arrive within 10 working days (which it did). I remember smiling at that moment thinking ‘can’t say I miss French administration!’
2. Closing for Lunch
I’m a believer in a decent lunch break for all workers, we all need breaks and deserve them – but do you really need a break for two hours? If you do have a break, why does everyone need their two hour lunch break at the same time meaning the store has to close? Why can’t one employee say ‘I’ll take my ridiculously-long-break from 11 until 12:30, you take it from 12:30 onwards and that way the store can stay open’? Why is that so unheard of in France? And why can’t there be a universal lunch break time for every business? Like 12pm-2pm? But no – in France some place would shut for lunch at 11:30, others would reopen at 1pm, whilst some shut for lunch at 1pm and didn’t open until 3pm. A never-ending source of frustration for me coming from a culture where people can force 30 minute lunch breaks on staff and even get shitty about that (something I don’t like about anglo culture) but can’t they make it a little bit easier for the consumer in France? Why do I have to keep guessing when people are going to have lunch?
3. Cigarette Smoke
It’s such a cliché… But the French really do smoke a lot and they don’t get how much I want to punch smokers. I don’t think it’s cool, hip, trendy or sexy (something that seems to be ingrained in the French culture). Australia is an anti-tobacco country (something I’m proud of) and being in France I could see they were about 30 years behind tobacco legislation in Australia. Cigarettes are still relatively affordable, I’ve never seen anti-smoking campaigns in the French media, they can be advertised and people have been banned from smoking in cafes and other public places for only the last five years. I felt I was almost getting a second-hand addiction to nicotine just by being around the stuff so much, I hate that people don’t care how much tobacco smoke irritates non-smokers and that the majority of young French teens still think it’s ‘cool’ to smoke. C’est la France I suppose…
Looking at the about things that I don’t miss about France, I will say there are plenty of things I do miss and love about France and its people. I will definitely be going back one day and I might need to write a ‘things I miss about France’ post soon.