Updated: Aug 29, 2019
It is so interesting to go to a new place that has a different culture. Here are some of the things we noticed as we traveled around France.
Paris is kinda dirty.
I think the reason for this is that there are actual people who are hired to clean the streets in Paris! But as you walk around Paris, you'll smell urine, see dog poop and litter, etc. But in the morning, it's all clean!
Seriously. Like everyone either is smoking a cigarette or a vape pen.
You must get your baguettes fresh! You don't buy day old and you gotta get to the bakery before they sell out for the day. Everyone walks around with a baguette in their bag, either for lunch or dinner that night. Even as we climbed up towards the summit of Mont Blanc, people had their baguettes packed right in their packs next to their ice axes!
Dress trendy, yet comfortable.
Americans stand out like a sore thumb because of clothing. Parisians don't wear sweats or work out clothes unless they are actually working out. You won't catch a single French person in logoed sports teams shirts or sweatshirts. You know a person is an American when you see the football or basketball t-shirt. French people wear trendy clothes, yet not like high fashion. You'll see people in heels and nice Italian leather shoes sure, but the majority wear blouses and comfortable slacks. This is one of the things I want to bring back to the states with me: dressing in a cute but comfortable way when you go out in public. You wouldn't catch a French person dead in their pajama pants running out for a quick errand!
French people do smell bad!
Body odor is like totally normal to smell as you're on the bus or when people walk by. They look nice, but don't seem to use deodorant.
Everything is smaller. And you don't get water at the restaurants.
Order a "coffee", you'll get it in what Americans call would call a miniature sized cup. Order water at the restaurant to go along with your glass of wine? It will literally come in a tiny glass, like the same size as a shot glass, like at most 3 oz of water! Do people not drink water here!? Gelato is served in a tiny dish with a tiny spoon. The only thing that's not small are their pizzas! French people will sit down to a lunch of a pizza, 1 pizza per person! No cutting into slices and sharing a pizza. People will literally eat a whole medium/large pizza themselves. With a fork and knife, mind you. Yet gain no weight? How do they do it?!
There's no coffee. Just espresso.
On the menu will be all forms of espresso- flat white, cappuccino, macchiato, americano, etc. Good luck finding a regular ole drip coffee. Don't even think about free refills. No diner-style low quality yet large quantity coffee in the country.
No grocery stores (at least how we think about them).
There are small markets that can be a one stop shop for your grocery needs, but you're not going to find a ton of variety in one store. Instead, there is a Fromagerie, where you buy your cheeses. There's a meat store where you buy your meats and sausages. There's a bakery where you buy your baguettes. You pop in a couple different stores to find all your food needs. Maybe this is why it is so common for people to eat out for lunch and dinner.
Overall, if felt like Quality over Quantity in France, which can contrast with the American existence experience at times.
We loved being around the independent, low-stress people of Paris and Chamonix. They seemed to walk around with a sense of confidence and self-assuredness. People were friendly and helpful, yet surely annoyed by our tourist-tendencies at times. We can't wait to go back!
What a privilege to be able to step outside your normal fishbowl perspective and be able to see the world through a different lense.