18 mars – questions for france

Why don’t pencils have erasers attached? Is the obsession with writing only in pen the secret work of the White-out lobby? Why do grown adults use scooters as a legitimate form of transportation? Why do children ride on tiny bikes with no pedals? What is with the general lack of technology skills? Why is there a national obsession with slippers? Why are the titles on book spines printed in the opposite direction? What do kids do if they are thirsty at school since there’s no such thing as water fountains? What is going on with the seatless courtyard school toilets? Is there any rhyme or reason to the annual resetting of the train schedules? What are marshmallows and cough drops doing in the candy aisle? Has no one ever suggested standardizing the sizes of your mattresses? And what is with all the square pillows? What is the point of having a door handle in the center of the door? Why are keys so enormous? Do regular rounded paperclips exist in France?  Why is nail polish so outrageously expensive? Why why why does take-away coffee not exist? Is the teacher’s only means of communication with parents really a little red notebook? Why is everything sold in tiny glass jars? Why would a Carrefour Market coupon be invalid at a Carrefour City? How many people will I have given my RIB to by the end of the year? Where are all the ovens?! And why are the refrigerators so tiny?! Is pink toilet paper a fashion choice? Where are all the ziplock bags? How does a country that barely pasteurizes half of its cheese become so obsessed with ultra pasteurized milk? ❂



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.

32 thoughts on “18 mars – questions for france

  1. What a wonderful concept for a slice! You’ve got me thinking about how I can apply this “questions for” format to other topics, places, situations. I always love discovering a new mentor text. I lived in Belgium for two years when I was in college and think some of these questions would have applied nicely to Belgium too!

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  2. Way to wonder!

    Why don’t pencils have erasers attached?
    Hmmm maybe they are striving to encourage a positive mindset, so they will not need erasers?
    Maybe they are ok with leaving the mistakes scratched out in full view?
    I wonder what your french students would say?

    I have always wondered about those french notebooks – maybe it is just a Spanish thing.
    They don’t have lines – they all have grids
    Strangely I find them comforting
    and stock up on a few
    when I travel over there

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  3. It blew my mind when I realized that some of those center doorknobs actually turn and open the door. I thought they were just kind of a point of leverage, or maybe decorative. Nail polish IS outrageously expensive!!!! (But it has also gotten more expensive here — when I moved to France, a bottle of Essie was $7 in the U.S. but now it is $9!! And Jamba Juice is more expensive too! I was only gone four years!!)

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      1. Mine is for decoration too, though it’s helpful leverage for closing the door. I would love to find an actual functioning one! I think that would blow my mind also 🙂


  4. I asked my husband about the bike with no pedals thing one time, and it’s too teach the little kids to balance and be comfortable on bikes even though they’re too young to pedal.

    And in France, Halls and Ricola aren’t cough drops, they’re candy! Found that out when I had a killer cold and bought Halls at the supermarket. Not what I was looking for at all.


    1. I’ve started seeing those balance bikes in the US recently too, so I guess the concept is spreading. But they still really surprised me when I first saw them all over France!


  5. Oh my gosh, yes, the paperclips in France are so different from that in the United States! Another thing that came across my mind the other day is why you order just a water bottle (or soft drink) at a restaurant and a waiter gives you a glass to fill it up in. Perhaps it’s just “going the extra mile,” but there’s nothing wrong with just drinking from the bottle (and saving water to wash the glass!).

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    1. I guess it’s a cafe culture thing… Like, if I was taking the drink to go, I’d have no problem drinking from the bottle, but if I’m seated at the cafe or restaurant, it’s nice to have a glass 🙂

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  6. I’m impressed at your list! I think I could attempt an explanation for some of these…

    Slippers because they’re cosy and they’re worried about stubbing their toes (and they are right, it is awful isn’t it).
    Tiny bicycles because traditionally they learn to ride bikes ridiculously early (like, at 2 years old) and I think it’s a precursor to the real thing.
    And as for the seatless toilets, it’s not just school toilets, they’re everywhere, even fancy autoroute stops, and I’ve started to wonder if it just makes them faster to clean.

    One I have is why are they so bad at reusable and reclosable packaging (eg, snacks) when they’re supposedly more into reasonable eating?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true about reusable packaging!! I brought a box of ziplock bags with me from home this year because they’re so practical for organizing things or storing food… and they’re not easy to find here!


  7. This gave me a giggle – so many of your questions overlap with my own thoughts on how weird France can be! Scooters are everywhere in Lyon; it never fails to make my day seeing a businessman in a suit whizzing across town on a scooter. In the UK, they’re definitely reserved for children under the age of 10!

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  8. Oh my goodness yes!!! Literally all of this. Honestly I thought I was alone in questions like “why no water fountains in school/waterbottles in class,” “SQUARE PILLOWS,” and “pink toilet paper!” I love France but some things just don’t make sense! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve also seen yellow and purple toilet paper, and even scented toilet paper which I have to admit, was kind of awesome if not completely absurd! It’s pretty funny watching kids crane their necks to drink out of the sink faucet at school… if we did that back home, it would be considered SO strange and even rude!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this stream of consciousness thinking and wondering! Just realized today that Sally is your mother – she directed me here after I posed some questions in my post. No take away coffee in France? Oh my!

    Liked by 1 person

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