On my 45 minute stroll to the Marche Provencal in Antibes today, I started jotting noticeable differences down between life in the US and in France. Although there is plenty more to say, these are the fifteen features, good or bad, that I wanted to share with my readers.
1. You see American flag-themed bars, beaches, clothing and swimsuits everywhere. The French really like wearing American flag-patterned bathing suits and T-shirts. It seems to be a fashion statement! You may also catch them wearing hats and shirts labeled with American sports teams.
2. You must look both ways at least three times when crossing the street. French drivers will stop for you if they feel like it. When driving, beware of the mopeds and motorcycles. They will sneak up next to your car and swerve in and out of traffic at high speeds. As a passenger on one of those mopeds, it may be dangerous, but it sure is fun. :)
3. You go to the outdoor market and fruits and vegetables are labeled by country from which they came. Fortunately, most produce is local, so it’s very easy to eat healthy.
4. Except unless you pass by one of the many bakeries and pastry shops, and like me, you are compelled to purchase a baguette, fruit tart, or macaron. Yes, this is a daily occurence.
5. You (meaning woman) are walking down the street or shopping at the market. French men, young and old, are not discreet. Be prepared to see them stop and look, or see their heads turn. When shopping, you may hear something like, “The necatarines are one euro (instead of two euros), because you have beautiful eyes.” Or, perhaps you’re running outdoors, and a guy actually stops you mid-workout to compliment you. The best is when you pass by the street cleaner, and he asks you to come work with him. Although flattering, I’ll pass.
6. You walk into a little boutique to look at clothing, and when you try something on, the saleswoman is standing there giving you her opinion about the style. How about yesterday, when I tried on a dress, the saleswoman put the belt on me, and was adjusting my dress, telling me how it should look. And, then she stood there and watched me as I was trying to figure out if I wanted to buy it. Kind of awkward.
7. You avoid taking water with you when you go shopping, because you’ll have to go to the bathroom, and there aren’t any. . . Or, when you’re lucky enough to find a bathroom, you usually have to pay to use it.
8. Dogs are virtually allowed anywhere and everywhere: restaurants, cafes, clothing shops, beaches, etc. I love it!
9. You can buy a huge bottle of water in the supermarket for 20 euro cents, but a small, cold bottle of water is two euros. I bought a large bottle of water and a large Perrier in the supermarket, for one euro. Don’t get excited though. That’s the best deal you’ll get here.
10. There is a speciality shop on every block: caviste (wine shop), butcher, bakery, pastry shop, cheese shop, etc. Any kind of speciality shop you can imagine, it’s there. It makes shopping fun.
11. A cheeseburger with French fries is easily $18, a coffee $5, and a draft beer $8.
12. In the summer, in some parts of France, it is still DAYLIGHT at 10:30 pm! The sun is just beginning to set.
13. You ask for directions, and the woman in the shop directs you to go the “prettier” route.
14. The extent to taking leftovers at a restaurant (I know, I bring my American tendencies with me) is a piece of foil the chef found to wrap around whatever you didn’t eat.
15. In some towns and cities, many shops close between noon and 2pm or even 3:30 pm. Even the car rental place in Marseille closed for two hours during lunch. So what to do when you arrive with all your bags for your car at 12:05 pm. Um, that’s another story for later.