Even after living in France for a combined total of nearly 15 months, there are still little quirks that I discover about this country along the way.

A fantastic picture book by Vahram Muratyan depicting differences between two of the world’s best known cities. Examples: Amélie vs Carrie, baguette vs bagel, cancan vs Gaga.

Exhibit A: This weekend we went to visit a friend of ours who had just had a baby – an adorable, healthy baby might I add – when I saw a rather interesting sight. As we were walking towards the hospital, I noticed a congregation of smokers just outside the hospital entrance. Not 50 feet away, not even 10 feet away, but literally an arm length away from the door. Several of the hospitals in Texas have recently become non-smoking campuses, meaning that patients or employees who smoke have to actually leave the hospital grounds in order to light up (i.e., patients would have to be discharged in order to smoke). In France, you can still smoke almost wherever you want as long as you’re outdoors.

Exhibit B: The boy and I like to cook, so this weekend we went grocery shopping in search of something delicious to make. We wandered towards the butchery, and I was quickly reminded of another big difference between France and the USA. I scanned the selection of meats and found rabbit, horse, veal tongue, and other exotic items. I jokingly said to the boy, “Ooh, we should make veal tongue! It looks delicious!” He told me yes, it is good, but difficult to prepare (and he wasn’t joking). Ah! Thankfully we went with a pork roast, which really was delicious.

Exhibit C: We were driving down the highway when the boy pointed out one of the new, stealthy speed radars. Apparently they were a big issue, since these new machines could scan multiple cars’ speeds at once, they were somewhat camouflaged to add to the stealth factor, and, basically they just weren’t fair. At least in Texas, I can see that state trooper from just far enough away in order to check my speed and make sure I don’t get in trouble (can I add that I’ve never had a ticket of any kind before?). Although in the States we have red light cameras, and speed radars probably exist, it is a rare thing for me to see an actual police car on speed patrol around the highway or residential streets in France.

This list could continue on and on, but that’s for another post. What are the major differences that stand out to you between France and your country?

4 thoughts on “quirks

  1. Amber October 15, 2012 / 8:41 AM

    Did you notice how a lot of those people at the hospital smoking outside were pregnant women either in labor or waiting for delivery? That’s something that I will never get used to. The more you drive, the more cops you see on the side of the road here too. They are tricky. I’ve been flashed twice on Gambetta in Tourcoing because they like to park outside of this seedy hotel in unmarked cars. You don’t know they are there until you get the ticket in the mail! I haven’t seen any of the new radars yet though.. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them!

    • haleyinfrance October 18, 2012 / 6:33 AM

      It’s crazy, right!

      Maybe since I’m never the one driving I don’t notice it as often. I do see police cars driving in the city sometimes but never stopped on the side of the road, speed-scanning drivers like I see all over my hometown. The cameras/radars seem so much unfair!

  2. Hannah October 22, 2012 / 4:33 PM

    I’ve seen those speed radars in the US before. So weird! I was driving down in Maryland and apparently I was going a bit over the speed limit, but I had no idea until I got the ticket in the mail a few weeks later. And as far as the smoking thing goes, it always weirds me out when I’m walking by a high school and there are clumps of teenagers standing next to the door smoking. I live at a high school here and I always have to weave through packs of smoking teens to get to my door!

    • haleyinfrance October 23, 2012 / 1:09 AM

      Yep, SO many smoking high schoolers here. Even if the campus is non-smoking, you know you’ll find them all crowded just near the entrance gate between classes!

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