We’ve officially lived in France for 1 year now! It’s been such an adventure for us and I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. Thinking back on our last year, I wanted to share 5 differences between living in France versus the United States:
- Manners – The French have excellent manners. Everyone says “Bonjour” and “Au revoir” at the beginning and end of an interaction and they always make sure to say “s’il vous plait” and “merci” when necessary. Good manners are taught at a very young age and it’s seen as an important part of socializing. We enjoy it and are actively teaching our little ones to do the same (Adeline has gotten pretty good at waving and saying “Au revoir” whenever we say goodbye).
- Appliances – The household appliances can be very different from the United States. For example, at our last home we were lucky enough to have a dryer (at our current place, we have a clothesline) but instead of the water evaporating through a steam vent, it was condensed into water and collected in a container that had to be dumped out every few loads or so. Not a big deal at all, but it took a few usages before I figured out that the water had to be dumped out. Also, we have yet to see a garbage disposal in a home.
- August- Many people go on long vacations in the month of August. It’s normal for people to take 3 or 4 weeks off of work and to head to the south of France (or wherever) for a holiday. This is great for those who work here, but it does mean that many local companies close down for the month of August which can make life a bit difficult to accomplish things.
- School System – Public school begins here at age 3 at the Maternelle (compared to age 5 in the United States). The Maternelle is optional to attend, but it’s basically like preschool in the US, except that it’s free (and without a horrible waiting list). The teachers are very well-trained and school usually lasts the whole day with a nap after lunch. Our oldest will be starting school next week and will only be going for half a day for now, but if she enjoys it, there’s the option for her to stay longer if she wanted to.
- Boulangeries – The bakeries here are amazing! Our village has an especially fantastic one and we walk there multiple times a week to pick up a baguette, pain au chocolat, croissants, and/or sometimes a treat (London loves the macaroons).
Obviously there are more differences than that, and maybe I’ll make another list another time, but these are the 5 that stood out to me the most at the moment.
While we love living here in France, we do miss several things in the United States, the biggest being so far away from family and friends! We’ve been lucky to see a few family members, but it is tough being so far away. I’ve also missed some of the conveniences of places like Costco and Target where we could just quickly run out and grab things we needed.
It’s been both wonderful and challenging at times living here, but I’m so glad we’ve had this opportunity!