French Lessons


Alas, I am home once more in my non-French house, sitting in my non-French bed, sipping some non-French tea, and typing on my non-French computer. But naturally, as you might have guessed, I am continuing to write about my French adventures. I could easily go on and on for pages about our trip, but thankfully for you (and for me– I don’t think I could explain things as excitingly as they happened) I brought my handy dandy camera with me and recorded random tidbits of our voyage. I am working on putting together all the pieces to make a collage video, which I will post within the next few days. For now, I’d like to share with you a couple of things I discovered about la vie francaise– things I could only learn from great (and some unfortunate) experiences.

1) never address the cab driver as “tu” (the single and “informal” pronoun for you), even if by accident. He will get upset, and he will spend the entire drive home explaining how it is rude. Just don’t go there.

2) Do trust the guido-looking guys in the metro station trying to sell you tickets for 20 cents cheaper. They aren’t ripping you off. However pitiful a business, they are just trying to make a little extra change, and the tickets really do work. Plus you save like 3 minutes you’d otherwise spend waiting in line at the machine. Score!

3) the French aren’t just naturally perfectly slender. They RUN!! I found this to be an amazing discovery. They go on morning and afternoon jogs in les jardins. But rather than speed past people as if they have something to prove, they enjoy their runs at a wonderful pace where they not only get to take in the scenery, but they look good doing it, too. No puffy red faces and sweat dripping off their earlobes. Ew. My sis and I even partook in one of these jolly jogs one morning.

4) RIEN. NADA. NOTHING is open on Sundays. Plan things to do accordingly.

5) Look around where you are staying. If you are in a place with awesome boutiques, there are less likely to be awesome cafes. The opposite holds true as well. We found this out the hard way and ended up walking for over an hour to get a simple croissant amande.

6) Once you do find a good cafe, don’t expect to be able to get an American coffee along with your croissant to-go. They just don’t do that there. However, there are some Starbucks lurking around. I love immersing myself in the French culture, but sometimes going back to my roots is necessary. Mmmm…. iced coffee with splenda…

7) Crepe stands close around 3 am. Who does this? Don’t they know I like my crepes at 3:30 am…

8) Never give in to the assumption that all French people are snobs. Some are, yes, but you never know when one will pay for your apple when you are short on change. Merci, entranger. Vous êtes gentils… :)

9) You are not obligated to tip the waiter. But go ahead and bring this American courtesy with you! Make someone’s day– it will only enhance your trip.

10) While I don’t know how we would’ve survived without our phone GPS, sometimes technology is the devil. Even if all you know how to say is où est la toilette?, have some confidence, grow a pair, and ask a real person for help. They might just save you 10 euros on your train ticket. Or just think you are cute for trying to learn their language. Both results are good.

Hopefully these words of wisdom will be of use to some of you. If not, simply enjoy them and imagine the situations we must have been in to learn them firsthand. Oh, and keep checking back for my summary video!

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