4 mars – Things that I do in France that I don’t do at home

Eat yogurt

When you first come to France, you expect the grocery store aisles of cheese and wine, but you don’t expect an equally long aisle dedicated to yogurt. It’s like a way of life in France. I don’t think I have a single colleague who doesn’t finish their lunch with a container of yogurt and/or a fruit. For some, it’s a simple fromage blanc, others prefer a classic fruit on the bottom, and still others go for a dessert flavored yogurt. Despite almost never craving yogurt in the U.S. I took up this custom, and now enjoy yogurt daily at the end of my lunch, and occasionally as a snack or with some granola.

Drink tea

The French are obsessed with coffee. And not even particularly good coffee: in fact, a high percentage of French people I know frequently drink instant coffee. A French teachers’ lounge would be incomplete without a coffee maker, and there is usually a line during every recess and lunch break. Luckily, for those who don’t drink coffee (myself included) there is an equal obsession with tea. I am constantly being offered tea by kind colleagues who’ve just turned on the electric kettle. I’ve learned that you should drink tea during the morning recess and an infusion during the afternoon recess. I didn’t even know there was a difference…in English, we say everything is a tea, even if it doesn’t actually contain tea! It’s a habit that has followed me home, and I’m pretty sure I’m to a point now where I drink more tea than plain old water….

Frequently use words like “activity” “concentrate” and “bizarre”

Remember when you first learned Spanish or French in middle school? The teacher insisted on using as much of the foreign language as possible, and even with a lot of miming, you only understood about three words she said. Now, I’m that teacher frantically miming every word I say… But I try to making it easier on my French students by choosing words that they have a better chance of understanding. Instead of “Today, we will do two things.” I use “Today, we will do two activities.” Sounds like activités, a word easy for them to understand. Likewise, “Please focus” becomes “Please concentrate” and “Use a full sentence” changes to “Use a complete phrase” and “Wow, that’s so weird” is now “Wow, that’s bizarre!”

Always say hello, but never twice

French custom dictates that you always give a greeting when entering a place, or when a new person arrives. Whether it’s the bus, the teacher’s lounge, a boutique, or your friend’s house, walking past someone without a friendly “Bonjour” is the height of rudeness. But, if you’ve already greeted that person, and you do it again…well that’s just awkward. For example, yesterday, I walked into the grocery store and one of the clerks was arranging produce in the front. I gave the requisite bonjour and went in search of the groceries I needed. Later, he rang me up. “Bonjour” I told him as a dropped my groceries on the conveyor belt. “Bonjour….or….Re-bonjour I guess” he answered. I laughed, paid for my food, and then gave the standard, and equally required, goodbye : Merci, bonne soirée, au revoir. 



Slice of Life is a daily writing challenge during the month of March hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Visit their blog for more information about the challenge and for advice and ideas about how to participate.


13 thoughts on “4 mars – Things that I do in France that I don’t do at home

  1. Aside from the yogurt thing, I do everything else you listed! Normally, I don’t drink much tea at home, but now I can’t go without two cups a day! Also use a lot of cognates with my students, too. As for “rebonjour,” I don’t actually hear it spoken, although my colleagues say that it exists; I think I must be the only who actually uses it! Otherwise, we just smile at each other when we see each other multiple times. Once, I heard a “rebonsoir,” which was so strange! Ah, the intricacies of French culture, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m quite a fan of yogurt anyway, but even so the dedication to yogurt and yogurt-based products in French supermarkets is mind-blowing. There’s just so much choice it borders on ridiculous! I’m not really a tea drinker, but have ended up hooked on infusions this year (especially the apple and cinnamon one). I’ve even had some colleagues insistently use “rebonjour” in emails, which just ends up creating virtual awkwardness!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fun post! It is amazing how many things we do without questioning them until we run up against a different way of doing things. And I would imagine that the French people you know aren’t even aware that these are “French” things–it’s just the way things are done, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally got into coffee because of the machine in the teachers lounge. It was such a nice way to take a little break. But we now drink Italian coffee at home—French coffee is, as you say, not good. Just ask a Spaniard or an Italian.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love hearing about cultural differences. And especially these subtle ones, that you might easily forget later. You are well in tune to the intricacies! I hope to learn more about French culture through your slices 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are Sally’s daughter, aren’t you? If so, I love your mom and I am excited that you are slicing.
    Having lived in Europe (mostly Germany) for years it was interesting to see what is the same and what is different to other European countries- lots the same. You have given me a great idea for a slice!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s