Learning to Live in France

A guest post today from my partner Mark.

One thing I found in Southern France was the almost complete lack of drive-in coffee, burger, and doughnut shops.  Anywhere in Canada it is possible to find a Tim Hortons, Starbucks, or other clone within sight no matter where you are.  I had a size large (about a half liter) cup holder in my car and was seldom without Life’s Sustaining Liquid.

It seems in France you have to find a Café, then stop, park, get in to the place, sit down and order a cup.  It comes fresh brewed in a teensy little cup.  Tastes great.  Takes about 3 to give me a fix.

Not every town has a café.  They are not always open.

Villages all roll their sidewalks up at around eight PM and go to bed.

Restaurants open around 11:30 AM and stop serving around 1:30, close by 2:30 and do not reopen until seven.  Lunch is normally 12 to 2.  The whole damned place stops for lunch.  This includes Government offices, all other offices, most stores, most hardware and industrial supply places, convenience stores, and even service stations have no human help, (except on the big highways and in big cities.)

McDonalds is an exception.  They serve all the time they are open.  Say from 10:30 AM to 10 ish at night.  Not the 4:00 AM to 2: AM you find in bigger places.  No breakfast menu except le weekend, and no Hash Browns ever.

So it took me almost a year to learn that I can’t eat or have a coffee at just any time, I can’t re-supply tools and building materials at lunch time or after the normal working day.  So I now eat, work and shop in the French pattern. Mostly.  Often, on the menu, wine is cheaper than bottled water.

Hmmm.  Not so bad.  2 hour lunch with nothing to do but enjoy the food, relax, read a book.  End the working day at a reasonable hour.  Of course the whole place is up at the crack of dawn.  The most productive hours are the five before 12 noon.

At this end of the supply chain so far from Paris, industrial suppliers specialize in having everything you need for a project except the one crucial bit. (available on special order, 2 weeks delay, deposit necessary on order.)

Hardware stores are annoyingly often out of normal stuff.  One store had a large range of screw fasteners of various types, but when I looked for plasterboard screws there were none.  I asked when they would have some.  Was told they did not carry them.  “Pourquoi?”, asks I.  “We don’t sell plasterboard.”, Says he with a shrug.

Central planning, stocked by bean counters. – C’est la vie.

All my translations are freely interpreted, and only roughly represent what was said.

About Sam

Sam started Aude France as a companion site to her real estate site Aude France Property so that she could have a place to write about life in the Aude. Now that she's in Canada she writes about things that can affect owners and buyers in the Aude - or anything that strikes her fancy. On Pinterest you can find her by searching for Sam Mooney or clicking this link
This entry was posted in Living and working in France. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Learning to Live in France

  1. Jason Stone says:

    At first I was really annoyed by how "slow" the service appeared to be at meals in France. Then, I realized that people actually enjoyed eating and sitting with each other during those times. Suddenly, I found myself doing the same. I always chuckle to myself when we have visitors come from New York City to visit and I can tell how antsy they are getting at the lunch/dinner table, because the meal is lasting so long.

  2. Auntie M says:

    I still have a hard time with the fact that shops close around me from 2pm until 3:30pm. It's so frustrating if that is when you have time available to go shopping and nothing is open!

Comments are closed.