Six Things About France That Will Surprise You
written on November 8th, 2017 by Rusty Jorbina
You have probably been preparing for your trip to France for quite some time. Tickets booked, bags packed with carefully chosen outfits for the perfect OOTD to match the many famous landmarks for the gram. Still, you can’t help but wonder what to expect when you finally arrive in the City of Lights.
Here are things about France that will surprise you:
1. Hello and goodbye comes with kisses on the cheeks. This applies to both old friends or newly introduced acquaintances. Usually right side first before the left. While it is normal to just press cheek to cheek, some will actually kiss you and it should not be a cause of alarm, especially from strangers. Bisous, bisous!
2. The French love their bread the same way Filipinos can’t live without rice. Bread is served in every meal and is part of the appetizer, main dish, and dessert (see #3 as to why). Don’t be surprised if your French companions wipe sauce off their plates with bread after a meal. Go ahead and do it too (especially if that sauce tastes good!). And don’t worry too much about where to place your food- the French will handle bread by hand and put their cut pieces on the table and not on the plate. The bread is still okay to eat.
3. Cheese is a dessert. You might feel it is unusual that cheese is offered as a dessert rather than an appetizer, but it is perfectly normal. This is why bread is also a part of dessert. Sometimes, the cheese is the course served between the main dish and the sweet dessert. Bon appetit!
4. Meals, particularly lunch and dinner, are opportunities for people to unwind and catch up. That means meals can take what feels like forever. Include the fact that there are at least three to four courses in a meal. Expect lunch or dinner to go on for two to three hours; a six hour dinner is not unheard of. More wine, anyone?
5. Rest is important for the French. The mandatory work week is 35 hours. That also means that most stores are closed on Sundays or one other day in the week. Boutiques and shops may go on two hour lunch breaks and will close midday. It’s not unusual for restaurants to open during lunch and dinner hours and closed in between (usually from 2 to 7 PM). To check if your chosen café or bistro is open, look for the sign ‘Service Continue’.
6. Being polite is appreciated. It is normal for shop owners and restaurant servers to greet you, “Hello”, “Good bye”, and “Have a good night” when you enter and leave their establishments. Do the same as you enter and leave them. If you don’t know French yet, here are some few words to get you started:
Hello is bonjour (bon-jur)
Thank you is merci (mer-see)
Good bye is au revoir (o rev-wah)
Good day/night is bonne journee/ soiree (bon jor-nay/ swa-ray).