When it comes to the French, everyone’s got an opinion. Rude, sexy, arrogant, romantic, everyone seems to think they know what French people are like. One stereotype that continually persists, is whether the French like speaking English or not.
Many say they hate having to speak in English and I have mixed feelings as to whether I think this is true.
When I used to live in France, I remember going out with my French friend Pauline and her Finnish friend Netta. Pauline and Netta had been au pair’s together in England and Netta had decided to come and visit her. We were in Dunkerque, a small town in Northern France, and decided to head out to a local cafe for some drinks. Continue reading
When you ask a French person what music they listen to, they’ll most likely rattle off a list of English-speaking artists. “Beyonce!” “AC/DC!” “Gotye!” they’ll tell you. It’s rare to hear any of them mention a French singer or band. The music that’s in ‘fashion’ for les jeunes (the young people) is English music. And most of them have no idea what the songs are about.
This used to be a really bizarre concept to me, but I’ve begun to realise that just because you don’t understand a song, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Music is much more about the actual music than the lyrics. (NOTE: Click on the titles to hear the song) Continue reading
I recently wrote about the things I don’t miss about France, but it also got me thinking that there are things that I definitely do miss about the place! Such as…
I don’t understand why French people have such a bad reputation for being rude. I’ve always found them just like everyone else in the world, some are friendly and others… well you’ll probably never get along with! I think the French, especially those who don’t live in big cities, are very welcoming to people who make a tiny effort to speak French.
They don’t appear annoyed if you can’t understand them or are struggling with French and will gladly bail you out when they see you’re struggling. Over my time in France I met some very important people who will be friends for life. From my host mum, my French colleagues and French friends who always helped me with my French and got me through the hard times. It’s a shame we’re now very far away from each other!
A few months into my relationship with Matthieu we went out for lunch in his picturesque, coastal town of St. Malo.
We headed to the old part of the city, a typical European old town complete with cobbled streets, medieval-style buildings and souvenir shops on every corner.
We sat down at the restaurant and the waitress brought out a bottle of wine. She poured the red into Matthieu’s glass and asked him, ‘C’est bon, Monsieur ?’ (is it good, sir?), to which he replied ‘oui, c’est bon’ (yes, it’s good) and then the waitress filled my glass.
Where did I get asked if I wanted to try the wine? Did I come into the conversation at all? No! I don’t think I even got glanced at during this ‘wine tasting exchange.’
I held back and just looked incredulously at him as we continued our lunch date like nothing strange had happened… Well, I guess for him, nothing strange had happened. I wasn’t particularly offended or even angry – if anything, I thought it was funny. Overall I just didn’t get it.
My friend Jennie at ielanguages shared a fascinating article about the lack of “vous” on the internet and the increased appearance of “tu”, even when two people who don’t know each other are communicating.
My own experience with being ‘tued’ and ‘voued’ on social media came from one of my students who added me on Facebook. She sent me a few emails from time to time and she always addressed me with ‘vous’, although I knew I would always address her with ‘tu’ since I was her teacher and she was my student.
However the very day that I stopped being her teacher, she sent me an email and addressed me with ‘tu’. Now as an English speaker, I really didn’t give a shit whether she used tu or vous with me, but it was interesting to see once this idea of a social barrier in her head came down she felt free to talk to me like the young adult I am. Even though we had been more friends than student and teacher for a while, it wasn’t until I had that title of ‘teacher’ taken off that she felt she had the right to use ‘tu’.
It’s no secret that I love French food. I know because I gained 2 kilos living there. Oh how I loved those chocolate eclairs, the melt-in-your-mouth croissants, baguettes which are crispy on the outside yet soft and fluffy on the inside…
There’s no doubt, the French can cook, but one thing they cannot do for the love of Christ, is make a good ol’ cup of English tea.
I’m talking about strong black tea with about a 1/4 cup of milk in it, and maybe some honey or sugar. I may not be English – but I love English tea. Yet it’s just not done in France. The caffeine staple in France is coffee. Specifically a shot of black coffee with a teaspoon of sugar – with no milk.
Being from the land down under I’m used to things a little differently, like celebrating Christmas in mid-summer 🙂 I know this sounds a little strange for you Northern Hemisphere readers, but having Christmas lunch outside on a summer’s day was normal to me… but I’d always dreamed of a wintry Christmas!
So I really wasn’t that sad to not be with my family last Christmas when I was in France, because a part of me thought I’d finally be getting a ‘real’ Christmas. After all, Christmas is based on a pre-Christian Pagan celebration of the winter solstice (the shortest and darkest day of the year).
However after spending a whole wintry Christmas in France, I can see there are some pros and cons for either Christmas’.
Summer Christmas – Pros
1. No winter colds
One thing I never thought of when celebrating Christmas on the other side of the globe was that winter time means winter bugs. One of my close French friends was sniffling and flued-up at the Christmas dinner table. Bugs were going around just like it does in Australia – but in mid-June or July. Far from the Christmas season.