I recently stumbled upon a New York Magazine article called "Smoking Around Bébé: Things Parisians Do That Stun New Yorkers. And Vice Versa." Of course, it piqued my interest. For all you fellow Frenchies out there (I'm looking at you, Nancy!), or even those of you who are just curious about the world, I highly recommend reading it.
Among other things, the article notes that Parisians don't eat and drink as they walk (i.e., you'll be hard pressed to find a French person strolling down the sidewalk with a cup of coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other) and that Americans are way more likely to venture out in public in sweats. Read the article for yourself, but these differences are all extremely true!
Inspired by the article, I thought I'd talk about a few more cultural differences between France and the United States. On y va!
Except for some restaurants and museums, most French businesses are closed on Sunday. If you don't buy your groceries on Saturday, c'est dommage, because you won't be able to buy anything on Sunday. Even France's biggest chains are closed on Sundays, except for maybe a three-hour period in the morning. Emphasis on maybe.
There are fewer chain restaurants in France. This is a huge plus in my book! Sure, it's easy to find a nearby McDonald's or Domino's (side note: I lived a block away from Pizza Hut), but most of the sit-down restaurants you'll encounter will be independent. Not only is each restaurant unique, but the food also tastes better (and is more-carefully prepared)!
French teenagers love PDA. Yes, even more than the U.S.--way more, for that matter. No matter where you are, you'll be bound to see a couple of lovebirds making out and being just a little too huggy. When I was in Paris, for example, there was an elderly woman sitting on the métro. Two teenagers sat in the seat next to her (one on the other's lap) and began fiercely making out. On the Paris métro! Needless to say, she got up and moved. Also, I worked in a building made of one-way glass that was next to a park. You can only guess the things I saw. Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule, but it seems to be a general trend.
France is about six months ahead of the American fashion trends. So, if something is in style in France, snatch it up before it becomes popular/more expensive! For example, when sneaker wedges became popular in the U.S. last summer, they were already on the French sale racks. I'm not too into keeping up with trends (I have a more classic style), but for those of you who are into fashion, keep your eye on France!
And lastly, my favorite. France has an amazing sale culture! During two five-week periods (one beginning in early January, the other at the end of June), French law mandates that all retailers have sales. While that doesn't mean that every item goes on sale (sorry, but the classic black Longchamp tote will still cost you 70 euros!), it does mean that there are fabulous markdowns. Bins marked 70% off, stores that mark down all of their merchandise by 20%...you get it. And it's fabulous.