We are on our way to France and will stay in Europe until July 31 st. I haven’t spent a summer in France since 2003 — at the time, I was coming back from Australia and New-Zealand and I spent the summer studying for my university exams. It was the hottest summer ever in Europe and I spent half of my time camping at the beach with a bunch of friends. Seven years later, I don’t have that many friends left in France but Feng and I should have fun nonetheless — I remember summer in France as a nice season.
In France, the saying goes that “le client est roi”. But in fact, the customer is anything but a king: at best he is an idiot, a minor annoyance in your day. As this funny article on “How to play the French service game … and win” explains: “The customer is king. But we all know what they did to their royal family. The guillotined head of Louis XVI bounced across the Place de la Concorde as a few thousand Parisians laughed at it”.
I was absolutely unaware of our reputation abroad until I started traveling. Then, I realized that the French were said to have this little je ne sais quoi. In plain language: French were libertine, were doing it all the time, routinely had several mistresses and lovers and had a god-given talent for romance.
The theme for this month is “what a weird day!“. We all experienced a day when nothing goes as planned, when the world just looks strange, when we witness something unusual. At least I hope so… wouldn’t like being the only one!
There are French things I miss, like the coffee culture and historic cities. But then, I think about the downsides: stupid shop hours, dodging dog poo, the bureaucracy…
There are “pâtisseries” and “boulangeries” everywhere, the first ones specializing in cakes and elaborate pastries, the second ones offering many kinds of bread and basic bakery products.
Nantes was pretty lucky during World War II: unlike a lot of French cities, it wasn’t totally destroyed by bombings.
If you follow the Loire river from downtown, you will find a bridge that crosses to the “isle of Nantes”, a former shipyard turned into a leisure and cultural site.
We flew to France yesterday, and after our travels in Latin America, where airport security is straightforwards and quite basic, it was a shock.
Like any other expat/ immigrants, Sasha occasionally misses home. Her “5 American things you can not recreate in Europe” made me laugh… and I figured I could easily list 5 French things I can not recreate in Canada.
France is probably most famous for its “viennoiseries” — sweet pastries. The croissant, of course, and also the pain au chocolat (sweet bread with a thin chocolate bar wrapped in the middle). Oh, and the pain aux raisins — sweet bread with raisins. There’s also the flan (custard pie with prunes), the lemon pie, the banana pie with chocolate, the chausson aux pommes (apple pie)…
Of course, we were both a bit tired after spending almost two days in Montreal airport. That probably explained why my bank card was swallowed at the first ATM I used and why we didn’t notice we were using the wrong plug for my computer.
Plenty of time to think — I’ve been stuck in Montreal airport for 24 hours in a row now. And I’ve just decided to stop being cheap and bought a Wifi access (can you believe we have to pay for Wifi in this bloody airport???).
Occasionally, a bunch of dark coats men wait at the next station: tickets collectors. Upon seeing them, weird things would happen: people of all age would run towards the nearest doors, some would pull washed out tickets out their bags and pockets and punch them quickly, some would distribute extra-tickets around them and the consensus would be “putain!*”.
I finally came to my sense before embarrassing myself by asking the stupid question. Of course I wouldn’t find wine in a supermarket. I was in Ontario !
See, I grew up in France in what North Americans call an heritage building. I mean, you would probably take a picture of it. Six storey, white façade, balconies, big wooden door leading to an inside courtyard, wooden stairs.
I left many places, many people, many times. I packed my bag following the same…
I’m a white female, 5’7, 20-30 years old. Sounds fairly common, doesn’t it ? I mean, really, I don’t have anything special. So why don’t I fit in these bloody boxes ?