6 Things Foreigners Don’t Understand About France

image - Flickr / Gary Cycles
image – Flickr / Gary Cycles

1. All shops close at around 7 p.m.

In Besançon and most other provincial cities, you won’t be able to buy anything after 7 p.m. No food, no clothes, no medicine. Nothing.

A 24/7 store or at least 7/11? Nope. No one has ever heard of that here.

What’s more: many shops have lunch breaks from 12 -14 daily. Some places have hours that are even stranger. Who would have thought that Pizza Hut and Dominos are open from 11:30 – 14:00 and then 18:00 – 22:30? Definitely not me. I’ve gotten there only to be staring at closed doors one too many times.

Luckily there are just a few exceptions:

  • Most boulangeries work from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m. in the evenings (even on Sundays!)
  • Some smaller, random corner shops are often open late.

2. Everythings closed on Sunday.

In regional cities all the shops, malls and services are closed on Sunday. In my humble estimate, in Paris, it’s probably around 70%.

3. Tea is unpopular.

For a desperate tea-lover like me, it’s been such a struggle to find normal tea here. By “normal” I mean yummy, brewed tea, not that awful substitute ditched in tea bags.

When ordering tea in a café, you’ll probably get a teapot of hot water and a cup with one tea bag to torture over and over again till the liquid you drink gets pale brown, all of which costs about 4 Euro. Seriously — what’s this all about? Does it have something to do with the Brits? :)

4. Winter is a light season.

Winter here is definitely not that cold as in Kyiv, but after the sun goes down, the temperature can go well below zero. Still, I see plenty of people dressed in flats without socks or short jeans with bare ankles. Looking at these lightly dressed people makes me zip my winter coat up higher and hide my nose in a scarf.

5. People start wearing less clothing as soon as it’s warm again.

As soon as the weatherman says it’s sunny and +16 C, French people immediately get bare legged. Men are in shorts, women are in dresses without pantyhose. Yeah, I’m happy for warm days too, but it was freezing a week ago…

6. Blowing your nose out loud in public isn’t seen as uncouth.

It’s okay to blow your nose in public. The louder the better. It’s spring here and seems like everyone around already caught one massive cold. (The reason’s most probably the previous fact.) TC mark

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