quelques observations

5 February 2009 at 9:29 am 3 comments

My sad, rainy view

My sad, rainy view

Il pleut encore! (It’s still raining!) So, as I stare longingly out of our large, orange-trimmed windows at the rain falling ruefully upon the sea, I thought I’d share quelques observations (some observations) that I have made over the past few days I’ve been here.

Les repas sont différents. The meals are very different here, particularly the timing. I have been eating mostly at the College International, since I have a meal plan, but the meal timing is the same throughout all of France. The French eat a small, early breakfast, and at lunchtime, (for me, around noon), they eat the largest meal of the day. That meal holds us over until 7 pm, when dinner is served. I think, in general, the French eat even later than that, and meals last much longer than they do in the states. As for the kinds of food — I have been eating a lot of bread, as expected (unlimited bread with every meal! I’m in food-heaven), and drinking wine with many meals. The dishes have varied, some good, some not quite as good, but my favorite so far has been some of the desserts including tiramisu and crème brûlée.

Another thing, when it comes to dining, is that one must ask for the check if you want it. Sure, you have to do this sometimes in the US, but here, they will let you stay as long as you want. Perhaps this is why meals last so long — there is no one rushing them along!

Les feuilles de papier sont différents. Loose-leaf paper is different here. Rather than having horizontal lines and only vertical lines for the margins, like in the states, French loose-leaf paper is like graph paper. I went to the Monoprix (like Target) to buy school supplies, and when I went to buy paper, it was my only option! However, after using it for two days in class so far, I’ve decided that I love it. The lines are a bit smaller (even moreso than college ruled), and I like small handwriting. Also, the lack of margins allows for more freedom when taking notes! And I’ve certainly taken a lot of notes already.

Also, when I was at the Monoprix, I observed something small, yet interesting. I have yet to figure out if it’s a universal French thing, or just the cashier I had that day, but I noticed that the cashier didn’t hand me my change, even when I had my hand out. Instead, she placed it down on the table, and I had to pick it back up. I feel like in the states, I was taught never to put any money down on the table, and always make exchanges hand to hand. I wonder if this is a French thing, or just an inept cashier.

Today in French class, I learned another very interesting difference. In the US, when someone is pregnant, they are given maternity leave. In France, there is the equivalent, called le congé maternale, which is, by law, 8 weeks before and after the birth with a full salary. But, they also have another kind of paid leave, called the congé parental, when both the mother and the father are allowed, by law, up to 3 years of partially paid vacation after the birth of their child. Although many choose not to take the full time, because it isn’t the best economic choice, I think it is fascinating, and great, that it must legally be an option.



Also, the trees here (that aren’t palm trees) look alarmingly like the boabab trees from the book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince.) This is strange, however, since boabab trees actually originate not in France, but in Madagascar, mainland Africa, and Australia. Here, all of the trees branches have been cut off so that they don’t grow too large, and the some of the trees also look like they are growing upside-down – roots in the air. It’s very peculiar, but I like it.

My final observation for the day is that I really enjoy hearing the song of the waves outside my window. Mom and Dad, beware, I might be moving to a coast someday soon.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

il pleut beaucoup monaco & eze

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Roxy  |  5 February 2009 at 12:03 pm

    The putting change down on the table thing is definitely cultural in certain countries. I’ve never been to France, but in Japan it’s considered very rude to put money directly in someone’s hand- either way. Most shops have a little rubber mat or dish that you put your money into, and which the cashier puts your change in.

  • 2. Baird  |  8 February 2009 at 4:24 am

    I think the paid maternity leave is such a cool idea–Denmark has something very similar. They also do the weird thing with cutting the branches off trees, so maybe that’s a general European thing? I really haven’t been able to come up with any sort of idea for why they do it.

    And I am very, very jealous about your creme brulee and unlimited bread.

  • 3. Alyssa  |  9 February 2009 at 10:59 am

    Don’t scare you parents like that haha I did in my blog as well said I was going to stay my mom’s face turned white! haha Very interesting differences Sarah I know at least the money thing and the graph paper are a European thing they had graph paper in Italy too and all the cashiers I had placed most of the money on a small slot thing on the counter not in the hand! Miss you Sarah keep enjoying and speaking French!



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Sarah in Cannes

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