Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Things I have learned about France so far

We have been here almost two weeks now and we are adapting to the French way of doing things.  I thought I would pass on some of the lovely, quirky and sometimes frustrating things we have encountered so far.

Pedestrian crossings at roundabouts and cars always stop and let you cross.  Jasper biked home on his own today and his first comment when I got home was "People are so nice how they always stop and let you cross the road".

Lovely gluten free bread in the supermarkets - yah, but no gluten free goodies at any of the gorgeous bakeries (I am on the look out though!!)  Our local bakery does do gf meringues and I have also seem macaroons.

Siesta from 12.30pm-2.30pm.  We went looking for cars today and we missed going to several as they shut for lunch at 12.30pm - have they not heard of staggered lunch breaks.

Cheeses, salamis, olives - beautiful food and soooo many varieties and choices!!

Everyone is so lovely and friendly and always say bonjour and au revoir when you buy something in the shops.

Hardly any public playgrounds - Hannah is struggling with this thankfully we have a swimming pool to keep her happy!!

Banks closed on Mondays.

Shops closed on Sundays - I actually quite like this.

Still can't find rice crackers.

Great coffee if you like espresso, not so good if you like flat whites like me - I guess my going out for coffee bill will be alot smaller.

Castles, abbeys and just amazing random old buildings in the middle of some tiny village - so wonderful to behold!

Magic moments - going into the abbey at Carcasonne and being amazed by its splendour and then hear the beautiful sound of a four man choir filling the whole building.

Buying things from the supermarket and then getting them home to discover they were not as they seemed - pasta sauce fill of olives (kids not so keen on this), gf crackers with cumin in them - I have eaten the whole box as again kids not keen.

Buying a box of magnum type icecreams on the way home after school when it's 34oC - yummy and very cheap.

Discovering that there is a reason why a bottle of wine (even French wine) is only 1.99 euros (about $3.50)! I think I will have to pay a bit more next time to get something decent!

Well that's enough ramblings for the moment.  I hope everyone is keeping warm at home as I read on stuff that the weather has turned quite wintry.


  1. It hasn't taken you long to learn the tricks of the trade as they say. Fancy Jasper biking home from school by himself. Well done. Mind you, he is a big nine year old now. The sun shine today which was a blessing. Your hot weather seems to be going on and on. At least you are getting a bit of nice summer weather which is good before it turns colder.

  2. Yes, I agree, how interesting - lovely blog. You must be feeling happy now, and still lots to discover.

  3. I can relate to lots of this :) - No comments on bureaucracy yet though... One handy tip. Even if they initially accept your NZ birth certificates with translation, they will eventually ask for one with an "Apostille" This has to be done by the authentication unit in NZ, so the easiest is to just ask for the certificate with the Apostille applied directly from BDM in NZ.

    It's nice that everybody stops at the pedestrian crossings! Apparently in Paris it's not quite the same. They will always stop if they think you are going to step out in front of them, but if you look like you're waiting for them to stop, they won't. Out in Antony, it's a bit of a mix.

    Also, in Antony we have lots of playgrounds! I think it might be because the population is more dense - lots of apartment buildings, so without playgrounds, the kids would have nowhere to play.

    I have been told by my French colleagues, that the only reliable award on a bottle of wine is the one from the "guide d'achat" which is usually a little cardboard collar around the bottle. If you buy something with this, you will get something with a good price/quality ratio.

    The other thing that is almost as sparse as rice crackers is peanut butter, although you can usually find something that resembles it in the international section of the supermarket. - Perhaps that could be a place to look for rice crackers?

  4. Correction: "Guide Hachette des vins" is the thing to look out for when you're looking for wine.

  5. Our battle with bureaucracy is beginning - Hannah has now been refused entry to the International school unless we provide a teacher aide. So we have to see a doctor then apply for funding through the ministry of Health - I can foresee that this will not be an easy process!! Legally I don't think they can refuse her entry as she has to be at school within 8 days of leaving her last school.
    Thanks for the tips especially about the wine!

  6. I can't believe that they could get away with refusing her entry to a school - that is disgusting.