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7 Random French Moments

More and more bakeries are no longer banned from opening on Sundays, the traditional day of rest. However, I noticed that since these stores operate regular hours on Sundays, they close on Mondays instead. Basically, Monday is the new Sunday. It made me laugh—how French!

On another note, I was lying in bed the other night and I realized how bright and noisy my former French apartment was compared to where we live in Ottawa. I grew up hearing footsteps above and below, smelling other people’s food, hearing the hustle and bustle in the background. It was never completely dark, never completely quiet—silence would be the sign something is wrong.

It’s almost strange for me to see most people eating meals at a set time. While North Americans tend to grab a bite whenever they’re hungry and snack throughout the day, no matter what time it is, French restaurants fill up between noon and 1 p.m. and dinner starts around 8 p.m. French also sit down to eat—it’s rare to see someone eating or drinking while walking, driving, etc.

It’s funny for me to hear “kid speak” in French because I’m used to mix-ups, misnomers and creative grammar in English. For instance, Mark claims anything minty, with herbs or pepper is “spicy,” he says “look it” or mispronounce “magazine” (“maZagine”). French kids butcher conjugation and masculine/feminine.

I love the way French use public space. It’s perfectly fine to chat, play, eat, drink, relax or work sitting on a bench, on the edge of a fountain, in a park, on steps. People have lower expectations of personal space, especially in restaurants and bars where it’s common to share a table or sit 50 cm from your neighbours.

Canada phased out the penny and I’m so used to rounding up or down that I’m always surprised when I’m given 1 cent Euro back in change.

Never ever leave home without a reusable bag. While in Canada, you can still buy a regular plastic bag for ¢5, French supermarkets sell fancier insulated bags, cotton bags or paper bags at prices ranging from ¢10 to €4 and many smaller stores just don’t sell bags, period.

And to illustrate these French moments, here are candid pictures taken around Nantes!

People attending a Catholic mass at the cathedral in Nantes
British tourists enjoying a beer and sunshine at a terrace in Nantes
A curious cyclist peeking inside a construction site on the Île de Nantes
Father and son waiting for the tramway at Médiathèque
Two glasses of wine and two baguettes at a terrace on Quai de la Fosse
Graffiti artists working on a wall rue Marcel Sembat
A lineup at the Honoré bakery in Beaulieu
Barmen at the Lieu Unique
Beggar rue de la Fosse
Violon player rue du Château
Audience lining up to see a street theatre performance place de la petite Hollande
Reader on the Île de Nantes
Police and the driver after a car vs. tramway accident
Police and the driver after a car vs. tramway accident
Baker at Monoprix
Barrister’s robe hung in an office place de la Bourse
Kids practising kick scooter on a modern art sculpture place Royale
Kid chasing after pigeons place Royale
Panhandler/musician rue d’Orléans
At a café allée Flesselles
Full terrace place du Bouffay

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