Culture shock. All travellers have experienced the same. When you first arrive in a country, it can be tricky adjusting to the new culture. The way of life can be so different to the one back home!
Although the UK and France are not worlds apart, some aspects of the culture can still be a shock at first and take time to adapt to, so take note of these few cultural differences and it could help you with making the most of your time travelling! It is also worth checking out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website to find advice about France and other countries before your travels.
- ‘Faire la bise’
La bise is a greeting which consists of two or more kisses on the cheek depending on the region. Most British people are used to a classic handshake or a hug with friends and family. But to a French person, la bise is completely normal between family, friends and other people within an informal setting. The French see la bise as interestingly (you may say) less intimate than hugging and it might be considered rude if you did not greet in this way. Seems complicated but don’t worry, just follow their lead and do as the French do! Being in the know about social customs is a must to save embarrassemnet, but it’s even more important to know the local laws, make sure you do your research on any differences before you head over.
- They don’t eat to live, they live to eat!
The French love their food and so much so that they have up to 2 hours for lunch every day! Offices will often close for lunch and this is so they can have a proper cooked, sit-down meal and maybe even with some wine, because well, its France after all. In France you will never be too far away from a bakery, butcher or café. The choice and variety in a boulangerie and patisserie are just amazing and as well as the traditional fresh baguette, there are plenty of delicious pastries you can cure your sweet tooth with!
- For the love of dogs
The French love their dogs. They bring them pretty much everywhere in France as they are accepted in public places such as cafés, bars, restaurants and shopping centres. Although a lovely freedom to have, their wider acceptance unfortunately does result in the excess of dog droppings left everywhere! So, when you’re busy being a tourist looking up at all the views just remember to look down once in a while, and you might just manage to dodge the droppings.
- The French addiction
Coming to live in France and noticing the amount of people that smoke seemed to be quite a shock to me. It’s fair to say that cigarettes are cheaper in France but despite taxes, smoking bans and health warnings, smoking seems to continue, a lot. As with when moving to any new place, you’ll need to register with a local healthcare provider; make sure you know how to do this once granted your French residency.
- Shutters for shut eye
Shutters! A genius invention (in my opinion) and there is no home without them here in France. They are practical, more hygienic and keep 100% of light out, perfect for someone who is sensitive to light when sleeping! You can also still see old-fashioned shutters around in various colours which are very charming and give an old-French town style. When travelling to France look forward to your newly found sleep as part of your new French lifestyle.
If you’re planning a trip to France, make sure to check the The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website to find out all about France’s laws and customs and advice on travelling to and around the country. Also, be sure to check out the Travel Aware website to help you avoid any trouble during your holiday.