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10 Things I Had Forgotten About France

Everybody speaks French! In Ottawa, I rarely hear “Parisian French”; if I do, I turn around and glance at whoever spoke. Well, I keep on doing that here: whenever I hear French, I turn around. And I really have to stop doing it. This is France.

Everything is tiny—people, cars, streets, apartments etc.

Women all seem to dress the same—boots, leggings, a skirt or “skinny” jeans, and their beloved scarf. And all they wear is black, light black, dark black and… oh yeah, grey.

French bread is still delicious and they are still a lot of independent bakeries everywhere. Phew.

French are a bit grumpy and always seem to be reluctant to serve you. And when they do, it’s like they are doing you a huge favour. Goddammit, I’m paying for that baguette, can you please hand it to me?!

There is a lot of police everywhere. I rarely see the cops in Ottawa, unless there is a traffic accident.

School-aged kids and teens hang out in the street at noon and in the evening. No yellow school buses to shuttle everyone home here!

Brittany is damp. It’s 15°C but it feels much colder because of the constant humidity and light drizzle.

Stores close early. I wanted to buy the newspaper yesterday, and I rushed to the newsagent at 7:10 p.m. Tough luck, it was closed. Whatever you need to do, get it done before 7:00 p.m.!

Being in France feels like being stuck in a time-wrap. Nothing ever changes. For instance, two years ago, I clearly remember a heated local debate about building a new airport in the city (the mayor approved, but the constituents didn’t). Two years later, the headlines in the newspapers are the exact same!

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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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