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.
- 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.
- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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!