Saturday, October 24, 2009

France: 5 Lessons in Culture

So I've been on exchange here in Lille, France for almost three months now & while I've learnt a lot about myself, learnt more vocabulary, learnt how to throw my scarf around my neck in that effortlessly French way (...okay I'm still working on this) - I've also learnt some relatively "unknown" cultural things...

...I want to share a few with you. So next time you're in France, whether you speak French or not, you can have a little "behind-the-scenes" knowledge on that je ne sais quoi.

  1. The French do not say bonjour to someone they have already said hello to that day. I know; seemingly a little bizarre but it makes sense. Let me set up a scenario for you... If you walk past "Pierre" on the street and it's the first time you've seen him that day you may say,"Bonjour!" or the like. However if you see him later on during the day it's a form of politesse to remember that you've already said hello to him that day. So you do not say any form of hello again, but perhaps a simple smile - or just launch into conversation. Note: Because you're a tourist, people will be accepting that you don't know this cultural rule (but now you do). But for the French, if one of them said, "Bonjour" to someone they'd already seen it's almost a little bitchy. As if they're not acknowledging they'd already seen them.
  2. The French never wear short shorts (above the knee) in public. Although they're generally one of the countries as a whole who would look great in short shorts - it's just not au fait, not very fashionable, no matter how hot it is. They prefer those cute pants that stop mid-calf etc...
  3. The French generally don't eat while walking around. Again, another thing that's just not as done as it is in Australia, U.S. and England. It's probably good for your figure, and definitely more dignified not shovelling a kebab into your mouth on the street.
  4. On the food subject; The French eat lunch between 12:30pm - 2pm. After this time it's really hard to find a good lunch anywhere. I hadn't really noticed this on trips to Paris - namely because it's full of we tourists who eat at all hours of the day, but in small Lille it's very evident.
  5. Wine is fine in the middle of the day - it's encouraged. Yes the French love a drink; beer, wine - it's all good. And even on a work day a lovely glass of red with lunch is not frowned upon, it's celebrated. So perhaps you can implement this rule in your home town?
So there are a few cultural rules, definitely more to be discovered.

Let me know if you know any little culture tips like this for any country... Will post them up on here and make the world a more understandable place!


Vodka Mom said...

AnnaBelle! I love this little peek into the french culture.

When I was 3, 4 and 5 we lived in Nice- in a villa infested with chameleons.

It was the most FABULOUS experience.I wish I remembered more.

Annabelle said...

Wow VM! How awesome that would've been living in a villa in France as a child! Positive or negative memories of the chameleons?

janis said...

this is by far one of my favourite posts i've ever read. simply excellent! i can't believe you're living in france. how long are you there for?

it's interesting because i lived au québec for a year & you can say "salut" as many times as you prof even told me you could say REbonjour if you're saying hi to someone again.

i was in africa for six months, and in terms of little culture tips, this is all i got:

1. it is rude to interrupt people in canada, but it often ends up happening with friends etc...but in africa, it is always horribly rude, no matter with whom you are talking.

2. in a similar vein, it is really rude to cut through two people who are talking {again, it's not very nice in canadian culture either, but it happens sometimes in a crowded area, but in southern africa, it's a BIG no-no}

3. we joked a lot about "african time" - but really. expect to always be the first one to an appointment & always waiting. sometimes hours.

encore une fois, j'ai ADORÉ ce poste {?}. très bien écrit & tellement interèssant à lire. merci beaucoup ma belle & bon week-end!


Char said...

very interesting but I think it's cool...because I usually don't say hello again either. usually I say something like 'we meet again' or something equally as silly.

Leigh said...

I had learned the hard way for sure while out there in 2006, my best friend and I were the only ones wearing those short shorts ohhh booy.. LOL

Thank you for the best tips for when I am heading back I will keep all of these thought, especially saying hello only once, that will take some practice but it actually makes sense.

Have a wonderful weekend :)

Sara said...

You have such a lovely blog!! Thank you for your sweet comment on mine :D

Anonymous said...

I think in Australia sarcasim is a national sport, you can't take anything to heart, nothing is off limits when it comes to humour down under!

Bradford said...

Very interesting..I actually will keep this in mind if I ever go back...

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