Being that I am half way through my exchange year, I though I’d share a few of the things I have picked up from the French culture. Enjoy!
1. La Bise 💋
This is like a handshake in the U.S. except in France you do it to all of your friends and family, no matter how old you are. It looks simple, just a kiss on the cheek, but as an American it took me a while to get accustomed to this type of greeting. The number of bises varies from region to region in France. Where I am, it is only 2 bises, but it can get anywhere from 1 to 5!
2. Le concept du goûter 🍵
Everyday around 4:30 pm, the French enjoy a small snack called le goûter. Its a tiny snack eaten between lunch and dinner because dinner is served late, around 8pm. Le goûter can consist of tea or coffee (served in a bowl most of the time, instead of a mug) with a little bit of chocolate, a baked good, or even a crêpe!
3. Acheter le pain tous les jours 🥖
Everyday the french go to their local boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette for the day! There are also other baked goods such as the flute (a skinny baguette), muffins, croissants, etc!
4. Le fromage 🧀
SAY CHEESE! One of my favorite French things, the cheese! Its always one of the last things to eat after a meal and considered a dessert. Actually, the french eat both cheese and yogurt for dessert! It’s so delicious and locally made. The region of Savoie is known for their ‘Tomme‘ cheese, aged from 1-3 months!
5. ‘Vous’ ou ‘Tu’? 🤷♀️
I never know which one to use! For the French it comes automatically, but for me its very difficult to tell if I should use ‘tu‘ (for someone younger than me or someone who I know personally) or ‘vous‘ (an elder or someone I have never met). The tricky part is that the French language always has exceptions… 😏
6. Les magasins sont fermés les dimanches 🛍
All the stores, except in really big cities like Paris, are closed on Sundays! So that means that Sundays are spent outside exploring all that nature has to offer in France, when its nice out of course.
7. Pain au chocolate ou Chocolatine?
Both of these words mean chocolate croissant but there is a big ‘joke’ between the north and the south of France. The south calls it ‘chocolatine‘ and the north calls it ‘pain au chocolate‘. In Chambéry, we call it pain au chocolate and its one of my favorite foods from France!
8. Les magasins spécialisés 🥐 🧀 🥖 🍗
In Chambéry, there are local farmers markets every Tuesday and Saturdaymorning located in the center of the city. You can buy all your veggies, fruits, meats, cheese, and flowers there. Its the most adorable thing I have experienced since we don’t have markets like that in Canton, Ohio. When the market is closed, you can still buy your food from specialized shops like the boulangerie (bread store), patisserie (pastry shop), fromagerie (cheese shop), boucherie (meat shop), poissionerie (fish shop), etc!
9. Bon Apetit! 😋
Everyone says this simple 2 word phrase just before they are about to dig into their meal!
10. Les Transports 🚲 🛵 🚍 🚈
Means of transportation in a city like Chambéry where there are +60,000 people is completely different from where I come from in the States! In France, walking is the most common and convenient method of transportation. However, I take the bus to school, to the center of the city, to the mall, etc. The only downside to the bus is that they are not always on time, much often late, and many times the bus drivers are protesting so there are no busses running. Other methods of transportation are electrical bikes, electric because it’s difficult to ride up the hills here and roads have special lanes for bike riders. And lastly, the train which is a very convenient way to get from city to city in France!