- France isn’t just in Europe
- When in France, drink wine
- Always carry your passport with you
France is a beautiful country that is known for its culture, food and rich history. While the idea of migrating to and living in France may seem quite romantic, everyday life in this country has its own quirks. Here are a few fun facts about living in France.
Living In France -Facts That Can Make Your Life Easier
1. Not Everyone Speaks French
French is the country’s official language but it isn’t necessary for everyone to speak French. Most people living along the France-Italy border speak Italian. Similarly, Catalan is the language commonly spoken in the area around the Pyrenees mountain range in south France.
Breton and Flemish are other dialects commonly spoken. Contrary to popular belief, many people also speak English quite fluently.
2. Paperwork Cannot Be Ignored
The French bureaucracy is notorious for its need for paperwork especially when it comes to expats. It is very important to carry plenty of photocopies of all relevant documents and to keep bills, tickets, pay slips, etc. as proof of income and expenses in the country.
The French law also states that some form of identification must always be carried on you. A driver’s license will not suffice for this. Instead, you must carry your passport or national identity card at all times.
3. Courtesy Is Key
The French have a reputation for rudeness but this is true only when tourists do not follow social etiquette. In France, it is very important to start every conversation with ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Bonsoir’.
If you start a conversation without this greeting, you may be met with a gruff reply. The French may be considered a little restrained in their expression of emotions and this is part of the reason why they are rumored to be rude and indifferent.
4. Dressing Up is a Way of Life
Like most of Europe, the French take their style quite seriously. Every man and woman will make an effort to dress up and look good before stepping out for the day.
Most women wear makeup on a daily basis as well. Wearing designer knockoffs are looked down upon. If you don’t want to stand out in the crowd, some of the basic rules to follow are:
- Don’t go barefoot anywhere
- Sandals and flip flops are reserved for the beach
- Gym wear is only for the gym
5. Time Your Meals Correctly
Along with their menus, the French pay a lot of importance to set meal times. If you don’t adhere to these timings you may find yourself go hungry. Breakfast is usually quite early in the day. Cereals are available but most locals prefer croissants and jams for their first meal of the day.
Lunch is usually available between noon and 2 pm and dinner is usually served around 7.30-8pm. It’s difficult to find a restaurant that serves dinner post-8-8.30pm. Most French meals are a 4-course affair. It begins with a salad, followed by a main, then cheese and finally dessert.
6. Sundays Are Family Time
The French maintain a good work-life balance. Most cities come to a standstill on Sundays when most shop keepers down their shutters to spend time at home. In some parts of the country, you may find stores open for a few hours in the morning.
Some shops may also remain open in tourist spots during the holiday season. It is also important to note that shops, banks, supermarkets, and even post offices stay closed between 12 pm and 2 pm. This is the official lunch hour and you cannot expect to get anything down during this time.
7. France Has The Most Time Zones In The World
Not all of France is in Europe. The country colonized a large part of the world and has several overseas territories even today. This includes French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique and Reunion och New Caledonia.
As a result, while the French I Europe follow one time zone, the other areas under French control follow different time zones. Overall, France has 12 time zones. This is two more than the USA and three more than Russia.
8. France Makes The Most Wine
Whether you’re a tourist or an expat in France, expect to see plenty of wine. The country makes a huge amount of wine each year. In 2015, France produced over 47 billion hectoliters of wine.
What’s also interesting to note is that good wine need not be expensive in France. In fact, wine is much cheaper than most other alcoholic beverages. In some places, it may even be cheaper than water!
9. La Bise
The French typically greet each other with a cheek-on-cheek kiss of bise. The number of kisses varies from region to region. In Pairs, two kisses are appropriate but in Lyon, a typical greeting has 3 kisses. In some places, it can go up to 5.
It’s also interesting to note that in Paris, you start with the right cheek but in Lyon, you start with the left cheek. Men usually only kiss other men who are close friends or relatives. The general rule is that if someone expects a kiss, they will offer a cheek.
10. Drive Carefully
Anyone with an international driving permit can drive through France. You may not see police patrolling the roads but there are a number of cameras and radars posted along the highways. If you break a rule, you may get a ticket in the mail.
France has more than half the total number of roundabouts in the world. Another important thing to know is that according to French rules, all drivers must always have a safety kit and breath analyzer in the car. France tolerates a blood alcohol level of up to 0.5 mg. per ml. Hence, don’t drink and drive.