An outsider’s perspective of France
I came to France. A dream which I had treasured in my heart deep down since I was small. When I grew up it kind of got buried by other places I wanted to wander off. But fate they say is a mysterious thing. Everything “fell into place” in this trip and I finally got the meaning when people say “things will fall into place”. It was a ridiculous ride, the highs and low I had to go through in a short duration of time. I am super thankful for my family and my supportive workplace (Entgra). This article is solely based on my experience and it would contain good and bad both but mostly good as my experience has been nice.
What I first noticed in France — The people. I have heard people say that various things about French people how they are romantic, annnnd almost in a contradictory way, how unfriendly/mean they are. As soon as I got down the flight I met both helpful and mean people. But the helpful and friendly people were much more than the few mean unhelpful people. It would be common to have both anywhere. So I wouldn’t really consider all as mean, however even the French accept that they have this thing called the ‘French attitude’.(Lol) When I started living here, I realized my neighbourhood has friendly and pleasant people though I barely spoke the language. One time when I had just arrived to my stay I was looking for a restaurant to have lunch. But most of the shops and restaurants were closed as many have gone for vacation during August. I was roaming around and looking at menus displayed outside of a closed restaurant. An old lady shouted from the other side of the road ‘Madam’ in a thick French accent, I was confused and I apologized and said I don’t speak the language yet she kept speaking from the other side of the road pointing the opposite way which I was planning to go. I wasn’t sure what she said but I still thanked her and she started walking the same way she pointed before and I nervously followed her after awhile. She was out of sight but I saw this one restaurant which was open! And inside the restaurant there was this lady sipping some wine! She made my day and I felt super thankful. Because of people like her, my experience here is positive.
Buildings and the trees — I thought it was just going to be filled with old and new buildings and I did not think I would like it much. Yet they have made sure they preserve some trees on the roadsides as well. The architecture is filled with the old glamour and yes, they are as beautiful as they say.
The language — I thought I would catch it up, yet after several months here I am still struggling. They typically speak fast. You would only improve if you actually have a good French speaking friend so you would try speaking with them. Also, Duolingo helps.
Expenses— France is unfortunately comparatively costlier than some of its neighbors.
Vehicles — I noticed instead of like in Sri Lanka — a developing country yet have so many large luxury vehicles on the roads (as much as the buses filled with people), French people actually prefer smaller cars despite the fact that they could afford more than that. It is a lesson which we could gain from them. I think most Asians use vehicles as a status symbol or something to be proud of. I felt they are more practical in that case. Smaller the vehicles are it is easier to park and lesser the costs. (Update: A french guy explains why in this video.)
Cigarettes — Smoking is such a common sight in France. It may be to cope up with the cold but almost everyone here smokes.
Joggers — You could catch at least one person running or jogging at any time of the day.
Nightlife — You have pubs, clubs, bars — you name it. So this something you should not worry about in France.
Holidays and breaks — People here take their holidays and their lunch breaks very seriously. Don’t expect shops to be open in any holidays. But you could catch one or two shops which would be open for a short time — if you are lucky. So make sure to check for holidays if you are planning on a visit.
Cities —Yes, Paris is romantic and beautiful etc. Yet, I wonder if Paris seems to be over emphasized everywhere because trust me there are even more prettier cities all over the country. Here are a few from my bucket-list.
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Hope I gave at least a bit of knowledge or some guidance if you were planning on a trip to France. You could surely reach out to me if you have any queries or comments!