Tag Archives: social customs

Getting a (Social) Life in France

Making friends is difficult when moving to a new country. Twenty years ago, our Brummie removal men asked, “Do you know anyone here?” When we said no, they shook their heads in disbelief. If you move to la France profonde, … Continue reading

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French Telephone Etiquette

Even after more than 19 years in France, I lift the receiver with apprehension when the phone rings. This is partly because it’s invariably a cold caller. It’s also because dealing with people on the phone in French is damn … Continue reading

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Halloween Traditions, Ghosts and Witches in France

I don’t need to tell you what today is. Halloween has become more commercialised in recent years in France and traditions such as trick-or-treating have taken root. I hope we live far enough off the beaten track not to encounter … Continue reading

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How to Queue in France

  Forming a neat queue is inscribed in we Brits’ DNA. Not so our French counterparts. Our two countries are separated only by a 30-mile stretch of water, but in some respects it might as well be 30 light years. … Continue reading

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17 Years in France: What’s Changed Since 1997?

Well, I’m 17 years older. And I don’t want to think about how old I will be in 17 years’ time. So let’s look back instead and think about what’s changed here since 1997. Yesterday was the anniversary of the … Continue reading

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Things I Didn’t Know When I Moved to France: Part 1, the Positives

Now, you’re all thinking I’m going to complain about everything I’ve encountered in France since moving here 17 years ago. Not so. What follows in this post is complimentary; Part 2 (to be posted later) is less so. I’ve restricted … Continue reading

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May 1st – la Fête du Travail in France

  May 1st has a special significance in the French calendar, since it’s la Fête du Travail (labour day), when everyone downs tools. Even our local newsagent closes on May 1st, although it is open every other day of the … Continue reading

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Toussaint at Teysseroles

Toussaint (All Saints’ Day) on 1st November is a big religious event in France. French people honour their dead relatives and tidy and deck their tombs. Even if the church at Teysseroles is in poor repair, the cemetery is still … Continue reading

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A Grave Issue

Sorry; I couldn’t resist the pun. Our local commune’s Bulletin Municipal (annual report) contains a lot of practical information. This year’s included an article about regulations relating to cemeteries. Now, none of us wants to dwell on our mortality but … Continue reading

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That End of Term Feeling

I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging recently. Things are hotting up as we prepare for our fête at Teysseroles (more of that below) and the Parisot choir rehearses itself intensively for the concert at the end of … Continue reading

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Burning Desires: Enleveurs de Feu in France

The old year didn’t end terribly well for me since I managed to burn three fingers of my right hand while removing a metal oven tray from a very hot oven, using a holed and damp oven glove. I couldn’t … Continue reading

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All fêted out

So much has been going on in this area during the past few weeks that I scarcely know where to begin. This is typical summer in rural France. For a couple of months there is a plethora of cultural events, … Continue reading

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What Do the French Talk About at Dinner Parties?

Last night, we were invited to dinner with French friends with whom we socialise regularly. The SF and I have christened our group ‘the Gang’. There were nine of us yesterday. Some of them were born in the region and … Continue reading

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Good-bye to a venerable old lady

I’m interrupting my series about finding our house in France to tell you about a funeral we attended today. Mme P., the mother of a friend, died on Sunday aged 98. She would have been 99 in August.

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French Christmas traditions

Like every country in Christendom, France has its Christmas traditions. Some of them are local or regional; others are celebrated countrywide. Here are a few I have found through my researches or experienced personally. 

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A crèche with a difference

Some things in France are well-kept secrets. Countless times, we have heard about something – a concert, fête or market – after it has taken place. These events are rarely well advertised; the organisers rely on le téléphone arabe (bush telegraph) … Continue reading

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Why does “merci” mean no in French?

If you think that “merci” in French just means thank you, then think again. It also means no, thank you. Continue reading

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What do I miss about England?

I have just returned from a visit to the UK. People often ask me what I miss about England, having left 13 years ago. I can happily live without most things, but there are three features of English life I … Continue reading

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Life in Southwest France

Welcome to La Lune, French for the moon. This is the name of the lieu-dit (locality) in southwest France where our 18th-century farmhouse is situated. We have lived here since 1997. The name almost certainly has nothing to do with the moon, but … Continue reading

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A moo-ving experience: la fête de la transhumance

An adapted version of this post was published in Tiens! Magazine, a webzine about southwest France, in March 2011 along with some of my photos and sound clips. The small town of Aubrac in the eastern Aveyron is subject to an … Continue reading

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French women forbidden to wear trousers – it’s official

French women are forbidden to wear trousers under a law passed more than 200 years ago and never repealed. Where does this leave the elegant wife of President Sarkozy, asks A writer’s lot in France? Continue reading

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French social customs 7: tu or vous?

Another knotty problem in my French social customs series [for the others, see Customs in Topics in the right-hand sidebar].

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Sexism is alive and well in France

I’ve felt this post coming on for a long time – about 13 years, in fact.  Much as I love France, there’s one aspect to which I will never be reconciled: the attitude to women, especially the further south you … Continue reading

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French social customs 6: greetings in French

For my other posts about French customs, please see Customs under Topics in the right-hand sidebar.  In theory it’s simple: to say hello it’s bonjour all day and bonsoir in the evening.  To say good-bye it’s au revoir at any time of … Continue reading

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French social customs 5: Monsieur, Madame or first names?

For my other posts about French customs, please see Customs under Topics in the right-hand sidebar.  The French are more formal than the Americans or the English and are sticklers for politeness.  Many an unsuspecting foreigner has got stuck in the swamp … Continue reading

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French social customs 4: table manners part 2

People in France eat out a lot (although somewhat less during the present crise).  On Sundays, you will often see whole families from grandparents down to babies tucking into a five-course meal.  This is the reason why French children are … Continue reading

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French social customs 3: table manners part 1

For my other posts about French customs, please look in ‘Customs’ under Topics in the right-hand sidebar. For part 2 of this post, which is about eating in a French restaurant, please click here. Here are some tips for when … Continue reading

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French social customs 2: apéritifs

Apertifs are among the most enjoyable French social occasions. Here are some tips for how to conduct yourself when you’re invited. Continue reading

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French social customs 1: kissing

For my other posts about French social customs, please look in Customs under Topics in the right-hand sidebar. The issues of whom to kiss, when to kiss and how to kiss are a potential social minefield.  Here are some tips.

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