Things I do in France that I would never do in England

I have been living in France for almost two months now and apart from my accent and general level of French, I have become Frenchified in many ways.  HOW, you ask?  Have I become a Chanel model?  Perhaps I am wearing all black?  Maybe I’ve lost loads of weight and smoke all the time?

The only photo you will ever see of me “smoking”

Erm, well no.  But I DO do these things now:

1)  I drink fizzy water

FIZZY WATER.  The Europeans love them, and it’s always bemused me.  And yet, NOW, I hear myself advocating all the benefits of it.  “Ohhhh, it’s so good for the skin you know?”,  “Oh, it’s just all the minerals you know?”,  “It really is better for you.”  It is JUST WATER.  

2)  I am perfectly content with waiting an hour for a meal

French service and French waiters are so slow.  Even if I go to McDonalds I will have to wait a lot longer than in England.  But you just have to get used to it.  My tip is now to go when you’re not hungry, so the food will arrive when you are actually hungry.

Crepes and wine, can you be more French?!

3) I push ahead in queues

In England we QUEUE.  This is what we are good at, this is what we are orderly at, this is what we have mastered to perfection.  In England if someone skips ahead in front of the queue we won’t SAY anything (oh god no, we wouldn’t want a CONFRONTATION, in PUBLIC) but we WILL tut.   You just don’t do it.  But here – if you go by the methodical British queuing system, you will end up having to wait for the next bus, end up being regulated to the back of a classroom and having the worst seat on the train.   Instead, I now PUSH.  I know where to stand, I know how to make one of THOSE disrespectful faces when people aren’t doing the same as me, and I end up always having a good place to sit.  No one even says anything about it because in France that’s what you DO.


4) I drink Cola Light

IT IS NOT THE SAME AS DIET COKE.  But I have had to give in.  Drinking Orangina was fine, but wasting calories on drinks is the most depressing thing ever.

5) I use unisex changing rooms

In Britain we really aren’t very good at nudity.  Women walk around NAKED in swimming pool changing rooms here.  NAKED.  In front of MEN.  A couple were getting very frisky next to me in the swimming room showers the other day, and I just had to put up with it without making a face.  In England I would have pointed at the “no petting” sign.

6) I eat bread without butter

Baguettes WITH butter?  Who are you?  What are you? I don’t even remember what butter tastes like.  Or margarine. 

7) I drink alcohol with every meal

Wine with lunch? Why not!  Beer in a grungy student cafe at 2pm? Why not!  In France though, you don’t get drunk.   I’m slowly developing the ability of not letting alcohol affect me whatsoever.  This is a very dangerous and reckless ability.

Normal with any meal of the day!

8)  I use toilets without lids

What is it with the French and TOILETS?  Do they not know what LIDS are?  I am so used to the most disgusting and dingy toilets now whenever I see lids I consider it a ‘luxury’.  In England they don’t exist.  They wouldn’t exist.  The place would be closed down within a week.

9) I don’t dress up to go to clubs

Here, when the French go out, they don’t really dress up in England.  In England I am used to being surrounded by mini-skirt clad girls, girls in disco pants and crop tops, or a small bodycon dress.  In France it’s surprisingly liberating – most girls wear jeans, and so far when I have got ready I feel TOO dressed up.

I do still wade in fountains at 4am though, England taught me well about being drunk and disorderly

10) I arrive late to everything

Okay, okay, I may not be the most punctual person in the earth in any case, but in France NO ONE is.  If someone wants to meet me at 3pm, I’ll arrive at 3.15pm.  If I have a class at 1pm, I’ll arrive at 1.05 and still be ‘on time’.  The few occasions where a French lecturer or person has arrived to meet me on time were the biggest shocks to the system.

4 thoughts on “Things I do in France that I would never do in England

  1. haha I guess the french part of me is why I’ve always drank fizzy water, and never eat buttered bread.

    queuing is ingrained in me though. I guess I’ve lived in the UK too long 😉


  2. I learnt number 9 when I was erasmus in Spain and it is one of the best things I’ve brought home with me. Even now I always make sure I take my coat on a night out, then smugly glare at the girls outside in the rain in just their mini-skirt and floaty top. 🙂


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