Things You Should Know Before Moving to France
If a leisurely lifestyle, fine wine and great food sound like your tasse de thé, then a move to France could be right up your street – just don’t send anyone a Christmas card!
French people definitely have the work/life balance down to a fine art. Two hour lunch breaks, 35 hour working weeks and ‘closed for business Sundays’ are all great reasons to move to France. French people enjoy their leisure time and it’s not unusual for many jobs to operate flexible working hours. Even at meal times, the French love to turn a simple dinner into a more leisurely affair and often stop half way through courses to allow for entertainment.
France is known for being a romantic country – Paris in particular is known as the ‘city of love’. However, what you may not know is that French people don’t date. Instead, romantic etiquette tends to involve dinner parties with friends and a relationship is only considered to be serious when one meets the other’s parents.
French people really appreciate it if you make the effort to speak their language. If you’re ever lost for words in France, there’s a good chance that the word you’re looking for is baguette. Not only is a baguette a long loaf of bread but it’s also a walking stick, a magic wand, a rod, a gem and an architectural moulding to name but a few.
The queuing system in France is very modern, so modern in fact, that there isn’t one. When it comes to buying your stamps or cashing your cheques, it’s every man and woman for themselves. It takes more than a disapproving glance to bring order to a French queue. So elbows at the ready!
The French are known for their healthy diets and love of fresh food, and some of the world’s most renowned chefs come from France. At breakfast time however, you only have two options – bread or pastries. No toast, cereals, fruit or yogurt – that stuff comes after dinner. France is also the world’s largest producer of wine, and boasts some of the largest vineyards in the world. Not surprising then that good quality wine is in abundance in France and can be bought for a reasonable price from any wine warehouse or supermarket.
France has a reputation for being a country awash with art. Responsible for giving birth to the impressionist art movement in the 20th Century, France is known for its famous artists. Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne are all hailed as important artistic figures. Even the art galleries in France are works of art in their own right. The Pompidou Centre in Paris, for example, is said to have turned the architectural world upside down with its unique post-modern, hi-tech structure.
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It’s customary to address people with bon matin in the morning, bonjour in the day and bon soir in the evening. It’s also considered good etiquette to use people’s titles when addressing them: Monsieur, Madame or Mademoiselle. Similarly, depending on how well you know someone, it’s worth giving some thought to whether you will address them as tu or vous – both meaning ‘you’. Vous is more formal and used to address people older than yourself, whereas tu is less formal and normally used to address people younger than you. Wait for your companion to ask you to call them ‘tu.’ Also, in December, don’t make the mistake of sending Christmas cards to your neighbours. Cards aren’t sent during the Christmas festive period, instead, the French send New Year cards between the 1st and 31st of January.
And should you ever leave…
It’s common knowledge that France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. So beautiful in fact, that no-one ever says goodbye. Quite literally, Au revoir translates into English as ‘until we see each other again.’ How romantic!