Wednesday, May 16, 2012

French Girl Observations: Part 2

This is a completely RANDOM complied list of some of my observations over the past few months. 
  • The milk here is not refrigerated. I still don't understand how they do this?  
  • Lots of people here have gardens. I think its because the weather is so nice and it rains so much- gardening is actually a very feasible hobby.  
  • There are no ... I repeat NO slice & bake cookies, ready made cake/ muffin/ brownie mix in the stores, or heaven forbid, Macaroni & Cheese or microwave popcorn! I am still getting used to this and rationing the boxes my friends have sent me over the past few months :) You better believe I'll be stocking up this summer when I am home! This has forced me to learn how to cook from scratch which I suppose is a good skill to have. 
  • Brick doesn't really exist here.  ALMOST all homes are made of old stone and they are gorgeous.  We hope to own a stone home wherever we end up someday! You can find wood homes, but honestly The Colorado is set apart in that way because log/ wood homes are not common at all. 
  • Lack of commercials on French TV. The other night we were able to watch an entire movie without a single commercial break! During most TV shows, there is usually only 1 commercial break for the entire duration of the show. (Granted they are longer than usual, but its still pretty nice!) 
  • TV series.  For example, Tuesday nights right now are "House." It starts at 9pm and there are 3 episodes right in a row.  Usually only the first 2 episodes are new and the last one is a repeat. (We are typically 1 season behind the states.) You get through new seasons really quickly, so the weekly TV schedule gets changed up every few months.  We have an option on our TV to change the language into English.  MOST of the new shows allow you to watch it in the original format instead of dubbed in French, but some of the old shows don't give you that option. And wait until you hear Meredith Grey's voice in French... so weird! 
  • The French have more HOLIDAYS than I have ever heard addition to their 35 hour work weeks.  Given the country is basically dead when it comes to religion, they sure do love an excuse for a religious holiday! You start off most jobs here with an automatic 5 weeks of vacation and tack on a few more to that when you count all the holidays they celebrate here! (Unfortunately, The Colorado doesn't get to take these holidays or participate in the 35 hour work weeks, seeing as we are in the hospitality industry... ha!) 
  • School.  At least the one my nieces go to is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Every week they have Wednesday off! Granted, the school days are from 8:30-5, but still a pretty sweet deal.  Also- they are allowed to come home for lunch and they get from 11:30- 1:30 for their lunch break.  So Kristin and Nolan get to eat lunch with their kids every day and when the weather is nice, they ride bikes and play outside for the rest of their break. Seeing as we live on site, this is a great scenario for them to have lots of good, quality family time. 
  • Cars are NOT automatic.  They are standard.  And I am STILL not comfortable taking the car into town by myself.  Just last weekend, I stalled after a stop sign in the middle of an intersection with 2 cars behind me and cars coming toward us on either side.  I started panicking and crying, Logan and I played Chinese fire drill, and he then pulled over to the side of the road pretending that we had "car trouble" and saving my dignity (and his).  Like I said... still learning this skill. 
  • American music. You hear it everywhere- in stores, on commercials, in restaurants.  It is because of this that I KNOW Frenchies have to know at least some English. I mean they know ALL the words to "Poker Face" and "Paradise." I wish the US played more foreign music, but Logan says they have to play so much American music because French music is so bad.  
  • You bring your own shopping bags everywhere.  By that I mean they charge for bags at the grocery store, so France is very "green" in that way.  I appreciate that... until I forget to bring them and we have to load everything one-by-one into the trunk haha! 
  • People sincerely love to be outside.  People on porches, walks, bikes, picnics, patios.  I think the fact that its so gorgeous out here probably contributes to that as well.  
Read Part 1 Observations here. 


  1. ahh! learning to drive a stick shift. probably one of the most traumatic things I've ever had to do. i too have stalled at stop signs/went through stop signs and had crying fits (and this was in high school in front of the boy i had a crush on). don't worry, it gets easier and one day it will just click and you'll wonder why you ever thought it was so hard. then you can be one of the proud Americans that knows how to drive a stick shift! keep it up!

  2. I can help you out with a few of these! Milk doesn't have to be refrigerated before opening because it is UHT milk. UHT stands for ultra-high-temperature processing, and basically means that they sterilize the milk for 1-2 seconds at a really elevated temperature in order to kill the bacteria and make it shelf-stable for several months.

    Slice & bake cookies do exist here - except they are pre-cut squares instead of a roll like in the US. Try looking in the upper shelves of the refrigerated aisle near the pie crusts. Sometimes they even have ready-made mixes for cakes & brownies there too! I've even started seeing popcorn in the "foreigner" aisle, but that depends on the supermarket and the area.

    And if you miss bricks, just head to the north of France - anything north of Amiens and there are brick homes & buildings as far as the eye can see. I travel a lot for my job, and one of the things I love about France is how the architecture changes completely from region to region.

    The lack of commercials is actually on purpose, and is part of the reason we all pay a redevance audiovisuelle each year with the taxe d'habitation. It kind of sucks to have to pay 123€ more in taxes but it does equal no commercials on certain TV and radio stations.

    For the driving, I feel your pain - luckily I have been lucky enough to have two automatic cars here, so I have not yet had to break down and learn to drive a stick shift. Bon courage to you though, it's definitely a challenge!

    Lastly, funnily enough, there is a law here saying that radio stations are not allowed to play more than 50% foreign music on the radio. Apparently stations were playing too many American songs and the Frenchies weren't getting enough air time so they enacted a law. It makes me laugh, but on the other hand, I think it's great that they go to such lengths to protect their music & film industries.

    1. Thanks for ALL the explanations. I have not researched many of these things, they are merely my observations. And sadly, we are in tee-tiny town France and I have searched high and low for ALL of the food items mentioned above and there are NONE in our area! You are lucky they have some of the items in your area :)

    2. No problem, it took me YEARS to figure much of that out, so I am happy to share. :) And bummer about the cookie dough - it started showing up in my small village in Bretagne about five years ago, so I figured there was a pretty good chance it would be in your area too. Maybe at one of the bigger supermarkets someday?

  3. chinese fire drill?!?! i am still laughing! abby, i cannot imagine the absolute panic! oh to be a fly on the wall (peaking through my fingers shielding my eyes :) sweet, logan, saving face for you both. i think i would have just gotten out of the car and let another car just roll right over me...driving a standard is no where on any bucket lists of mine. i am so proud of you tackling the french world!

  4. The milk totally freaked me out when I moved here! I just didn't understand and my husband is useless at explaining things like that to me. I finally gave in and googled it.
    And yeah, you are so right about the holidays. Hardly anybody here goes to church but they sure do love their 'religious' holidays!



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