Hans van der Kruijf, Monday, 18 September 2017
Life in France
As if time has stood still, that's the way francophiles prefer to see life in France.
A baker who prepares fresh croissants early in the morning. A 2CV driving over a country road lined with sycamore trees. Grape pickers in the
vineyards. A village hotel on a small square with a fountain and a Logis de France. And in the evening for a few francs an abundant farmer's meal
with wine as much as you like. But that France is becoming increasingly difficult to find, it's retreating in inhospitable corners, on the Auvergne
plateaus or in mountain valleys that are difficult to reach and where tourists do not come. The France of TGV, ADSL, SMS, Le Web, Les Hypers,
Formula-1, and MacDo is advancing. But don't look at what was, look at what is.
In the shop
Those who go shopping in France will drive out to the Centre Commercial in the meadow.
Under one roof is a huge supermarket, surrounded by all kinds of shops, eateries, hairdressers and beauty salons. Around the Auchans and Carrefours
are the building markets (Castorama, Le Roy Merlin), the furniture stores (But), the sports shop (Decathlon) and the garden centers.
These mega shops are open from 9 a. m. to 10 p. m. They don't close in the afternoon, but there are so few cash registers open that shopping can
still take a long time.
In the villages, the mini form of the mega shops is introduced. Outside the village, there is a large hall with a Champion or Super-U. Around the
hall come other halls with a small copy of the large construction markets.
And in the village center, the baker and the tabac annex presse are the last shops to be bravely maintained. However, it is expected of these simple
small traders that they are open seven days a week, at least in the morning.
Tu and Vous
In France, in principle, you always say Vous and everyone is addressed with Mr. and Mrs. It is only after a long time that there can be talk of
mentioning each other by name, but even then the use of Tu is still not self-evident. The initiative to go and say Tu must always come from the
One step further than Tu goes the baiser, the fleeting kiss on the cheek (1, at most 2, but no 3 - except in Paris: 4! ). Baiser as a verb means
fucking, so be careful with it.
Although you often see it happen, it is not the intention that you give a kiss to the owner of the restaurant where you come regularly. Preserving
some distance is very much appreciated. French people find an excessively brutal behavior reprehensible. So always leave the initiative to the French
The world according to....
French people are somewhat conservative, although this should not be confused with the extreme feelings of nationalism. They do not know exactly what
is happening in the rest of the world (or where it is,...) and many people - especially in the countryside - barely read newspapers such as the
leftist Le Monde or the right-wing Figaro. The most frequently read newspapers are the regional magazines such as the Nice matin in the southeast,
Midi-Libre in the Midi, Voix du Nord in the northwest. These papers mainly offer local news and 1 page about the rest of the world.
Do as the French: Buy a regional newspaper and a gossip magazine from the presse. Although the Paris Match is not a real gossip magazine (the actual
ones are Voici, France Dimanche and Gala) it gives a lot of information about what happened to the French stars that week.