One year I decided to keep a list of things in France that make me feel, well, not quite at home. They’re those curious little everyday things that you might not really think of but give you that sense that things are just a little off here. Most of them make me laugh. Some of them make me shake my fist. You can guess which ones are which.
So here is my list of 10 odd things I’ve observed while visiting France.
1. The keyboards. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that their alphabet is a little different. But it still gets me every time I try to type something or find that damn @ symbol.
2. Toilet Paper.
A. While I appreciate the effort in protecting my tp from the bacterial spray of the toilet, these just don’t work as well as the standard roll that actually rolls. The roll sits on top of the slot, so if you don’t rip the tp the right way, you have to open the plastic lid anyway
B. I know the French are supposed to be skinnier, but so is their TP!
3. Shopping carts.
A.With turny wheels. I cannot shake my fist in the air enough at these things. They go sideways. This should be good, right? No. Turning a corner requires an uncomfortable lateral movement for stability using your knees. Gets even harder as the load gets heavier.
B. For a euro as collateral. That doesn’t look like a euro, right? That’s a plastic piece that people buy so they don’t have to use a euro. I hope it costed less than one euro. *UPDATE* These apparently are free pieces that are given away, I guess like pens (every Baltimorean has heard of Big Boyz Bail Bonds)…thus rendering the whole system useless.
4. No shopping bags. I think this has been law for about 10 years. This isn’t a bad idea…Unless you forget your reusable bags.
5. Price transparency! No pesky math to compare prices. Everything has the price per kilo listed.
6. Spoons. Every morning I was faced with this dilemma.
Do I eat my cereal with the tiny one and take baby-sized bites? Or the HUGE spoon, open my mouth wide and take BIG bites?
7. Milk. Milk in France is heated to an ultra high temperature (I think that’s what he UHT stands for) and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. They even drink it at room temperature! They don’t have skim, 1%, 2%, or whole. They have ecreme or demi-ecreme, which is 1.5%, I guess. Even the demi-ecreme is pretty creamy. Creamy milk. At room temperature.
8. Eau de la source. Fresh spring water from the mountains. Is it any good? Looks clear, tastes OK. We’ll just assume it’s safe. Until it starts looking dirty and then we stop drinking it. I’ve asked a few times, “Where does this water come from?” The answer is usually just a shrug and “la source.” Bien sur!
Graffiti can be found anywhere, even in the middle of a field, in the middle of the countryside.
The highway rest stops are mostly clean, with really nice playgrounds for kids, and decent food cafeterias.
Air France. One day I will write a whole post just on their awesomeness.
Bathtubs. I couldn’t get a good picture, but as a short person, I notice this difference. I often find the tubs there to be much higher off the ground than in the US and much harder to climb in and out.
No delivery. What is up with this? Is it really because they are not as convenience minded (read: lazy) as Americans are? How does one live without Chinese delivery?