What I Learned Living in France for Two Months

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” 
― Charles de Gaulle


France

Back in 2013, I was just finishing up my 2-year backpacking stint through Australasia and I was preparing to head back to Canada with my girlfriend at the time. It didn’t end up being a great relationship, or even a good one. I’ve written about it here, it became extremely toxic and emotionally abusive after coming back to Canada, however, at this point in our relationship things were seemingly going alright. I was living with her family outside of Nantes until we could get her travel permit arranged to bring her back to Canada.

Now regardless of how you feel about the French, they have an interesting and beautiful culture. In fact, most French would not be afraid to tell you that it is the most interesting and beautiful culture. Nothing makes me want to disagree more than straight-up arrogance, however, there is much to appreciate about the country and its society with its fantastic food, strong-willed people and rich history.

So, please join me in re-visiting what I’d experienced, liked and occasionally hated about France. 😀

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Paris

I remember arriving in Paris with my ex, tired and hungry after a long flight. We checked into a decent hotel somewhere in the heart of the city. Paris was beautiful of course, that’s what Paris is known for after all and it was true. The baguettes were plentiful, cheeses were numerous and cafes practically lined the streets.

One thing that I appreciated about Paris was the fact that I never really saw a single area of the city that looked slummy. Not like in any other big city that I’ve ever been in. That had really impressed me, but it didn’t mean there was a lack of crazy homeless screaming at you from the sidewalks. Big traditional looking stone buildings created the city and looked so similar to each other at times, that I felt like I could get lost in that city very easily. Fortunately, I did no driving there and managed on the subway.

My first meal in France was a complete disaster since my ex at the time allowed me to order beouf tartar, even though I hadn’t eaten a real meal in the 2 days beforehand and my money was tight. It sounded like a steak with some sort of sauce, I mean we eat tartar sauce on our fish, right? Right?!?! She was a true French citizen so she knew what I was getting myself into and she thought it was hilarious. A blob of raw beef and fries made it out to me on my plate, I almost cried. I quietly mixed my fries and raw beef together for a while before sending the other half of it to the bin. Yummerz!

Beouf

Aside from that, I’d visited the Eiffel tower, of course. Did some skating on an artificially frozen pad in the heart of the city. Ate chestnuts and drank wine. It wasn’t a bad visit, but I detest big cities, and I was happy to get away from the busy feeling of it all.


Living with the “In-Laws”

As I said in the beginning, part of the reason I was in France for so long was to help my girlfriend at the time get her temporary working holiday visa for Canada. We’d been dating for a year and a bit, and she wanted to come to Canada with me. At the time, I didn’t realize this was all phase one in using me for immigration, but I was determined not to leave her side. 🙂

Sucker
Because I was a sucker?

Anyways, the next 2 months involved some interesting and sometimes wonderful experiences. The family was quite good to me, and I did a host of new activities which I’ve never done before.

  • I had hunted for crabs straight out of the ocean during low tide.
  • I had eaten a few dozen frog legs (they taste like chicken soaked in pond water).
  • I took care of sheep on their family farm
  • I helped the father craft wine and moonshine (drank too much also).
  • I spoke more French than I ever thought I would in my earlier years.
  • I ate all sorts of new foods, most delicious, some atrocious.
  • I had a French Christmas dinner, involving 6 courses with drinks in between each round (boy was I drunk by the end).
  • I’d visited the beaches of Normandy where D-Day happened in WW2, that was quite emotional for me since I was always a fan of World War 2 films, particularly the Band of Brothers mini-series.
  • I also took a ride on a giant mechanical elephant outside of Nantes.
  • And finally, I was kissed on the cheeks by a lot of men and women.

One night there was a massive birthday party for my ex-girlfriend’s younger brother. It was quite the celebratory bash, and since I already had social anxiety which was doubled by my mediocre French, I drank in abundance. For some reason, my French became really impressive when I was drunk. Go figure. I can understand the French language much better too when I’m inebriated, but the second I sobered up, it was like Charlie Brown’s teacher was trying to speak to me. Mooocck, mock, moccck.

Anyways, I was sick as all hell that next morning and spent almost the entire day in bed next to a bucket. Shots of homemade moonshine at the end of the night prior had almost done me in. Not to mention the French were antagonizing me to show them how a Canadian could drink, and I had to pound a beer out of a glass boot faster than them all to prove a point.

Well, I won. I guess?

Irony

“Je ne comprends pas” was something that I said a lot over there. I was the “I don’t understand” boy from Canada. I was learning French on a computer program daily, and I felt that I had a pretty good grasp of the language, but naturally speaking French citizens used a lot of slang and spoke way too quickly for me!

I learned a love for something called Choucroute over there (pork and cabbage), Cassoulet (pork and beans) and Raclette (cheese and meat, including pork). 😉

I wonder why I was so fat when I came back to Canada?

Thinking3
Hmm, It’s a mystery…

It also made me realize just how much better employees are treated in Europe in country’s like France because most employees started with a mandatory 6 weeks vacation and great benefits. Grocery stores closed down for the lunch hour, as well as other restaurants. It was just so different from North America, where employees are treated like shit and just learn to expect it. I was a bit envious.

I had also realized that some French people ignore social bathroom etiquette, as I once had two French guys trying to speak to me at the urinals in a bowling alley while I was peeing. How do you politely tell someone who speaks another language to bother off while you have your junk in your hand? Strange, and uncomfortable.

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I did a lot of running and walking to try to outwork all of the cheese and beer, but it’s not easy to outrun a terrible diet. In the end, I eventually made it back to Canada with my ex and rejoiced for homemade Canadian comforts like Tim Horton’s coffee after two years away. I don’t have much bad to say about France really, except for the fact that not all of their foods are to my liking. Also, some French people can be pretty arrogant, but some are wonderfully kind as well. I suppose they could probably say the same about us.

If it wasn’t for the terribleness of that relationship afterward, I would probably look back upon this trip with fond memories, but with all biases aside, I would give France 4 out of 5 baguettes as a country to visit.

Ever been to France? Comments? Leave them down below!

 

 

72 thoughts on “What I Learned Living in France for Two Months

      1. Lol! I lived in Germany for two years and peeing by the roadside in Europe was a common sight. I love Paris, it’s the most romantic city I’ve visited. It is beautiful, you just need to look the other way. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been to Paris and want to go back with my eldest daughter one day. I was only there two days, but it was the best coffee I’ve ever had. Also, I have celiac so I can’t have gluten over here (I’m American), but in Paris I was able to eat all the delicious bread I wanted. Hm. 🤨 Wow have we screwed up our food over here through crossing grains and genetic manipulation for bigger crops. I guess bigger isn’t always better. 😡
    The culture there was awesome and I agree with you about snobbiness, but what can I say as a Texan? We’re overly proud of ourselves and our culture down here too. I also encountered many polite people (and aggressive homeless ones too 😔).
    I love the language and want to learn it one day.
    I’m so sorry about your ex. But glad you ended it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Woot, woot. Thanks for sharing. That’s crazy that you can eat so much bread over there with no problems! It’s true that their bread is freaking good for some reason. My ex used to say that the bread just wasn’t the same over here but I always just took it as her being overly pretentious 😛

      And yes, I’ve heard Texans are quite the proud gun-toting people hahah. I have a few regular Texan readers on my site. Personally, I would be afraid to visit hahah..

      I also encountered one aggressive homeless man in Paris, he was calling my ex an Arab and that she should go back to her country. (She’s born in France and doesn’t look Arab at all). Funny story.

      I love true espresso coffee. Filter coffee does the trick but it’s just not the same.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, yes, the wondrous joys of good coffee. I prefer French Press; the grains aren’t burned through the brewing process, and the result is a rich, creamy texture and taste, like the goodness of a creamy porter or Russian Imperial on tap. Beer, how I miss you! I bet I could have that again overseas as well. Hm… 😀
        You should write about the aggressive homeless man sometime! How timely, while also being humorous. I love stories like that!
        As far as Texans go…haha! I was born and raised here, and have never lived anywhere else to date, and love and adore Texas, but while there’s something lovely and unifying about taking pride in your heritage and culture (Texas was, at one point, its own country, so it’s a little different for us compared to other states, I think.), it can be taken too far and become a superiority complex that actually causes division instead of unity, an “us versus them” mentality. 😦 Like we need more of that in America right now. *sarcastic eye roll with a melancholy sigh* But yeah, don’t be afraid of coming–you’d likely love Austin. It is a city brimming with creativity and global cultural embrace. While I’m not a democrat myself (nor part of any other party–I hate political labels), interestingly enough, all major Texas cities are quite fiercely democratic and progressive. It’s the electoral vote that strong-arms every state vote, which is a whole other political discussion… *pure melancholy sigh this time* Nothing against other political views! I respect and admire the courage it takes to vote according to your personal beliefs. We are a democracy after all.
        Gah! Enough politics!
        Needless to say, if you ever have a chance to visit the Lone Star State, go to Austin! And have a creamy porter on tap for me. 😀

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, of course, having moved to France 15 years’ ago, I love (almost) everything about the place, its food, culture and citizens. I feel you need to give us a second chance to earn that 5th baguette.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 4 out of 5 baguettes 😂 I love it! Reading this made me smile. I love cheese and beer so France seems like the place to be for this girl 😉
    That’s awesome you have traveled so much. Sounds like a fun experience (aside from the toxic relationship).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience. I always like reading about travel. I have only visited France for a few days. While I was there, I was able to see Normandy and Paris. One of my favorite memories was siting on a lawn by the Sacre Couer (a big cathedral in Paris) and watching the police chase after some guys who had stolen someones picnic lunch. My dad and I laugh about that moment even to this day. It was one of those things that was so random but quite comical. I would like to visit one day again and see the southern coast and the cave paintings/stone monoliths. Hope you are able to visit again too!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh wow. Normandy was a very emotional visit for me. Did you visit the museum there aswell?

      That picnic lunch thing sounds like something out of a sitcom. Too funny. I was fortunate enough to see some of those stone monoliths, quite impressive.

      Hopefully I will be able to one day. I’d love to do a Euro Trip. I’ve seen very little of Europe so far. So many beautiful countries. Thanks for reading and commenting 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was able to visit a lot of Normandy and so I saw the museum there as well. It was very intense being there as my great grandfather had been on those shores. A friend of mine timed himself running from the beach to the mainland and it was such a surreal moment. It took my friend about 3 min to run the beach. It was crazy to think about the soilders who ran with gear and guns shooting down at them. Its moments like these that make me realize it is worth visiting places of historical significance. You cannot describe or experience those moments from a text book.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve never lived in France but all that cheese-eating sounds nice. I spent a year in Québec which is quite different from France, even though the language is a similar one. 😉 I enjoyed every second of it. And I understand why you missed Tim Horton’s. I miss it, too!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, I went to Paris on a school trip when I was sixteen. There was a riot outside our hotel (with teargas!). I was mistaken for a prostitute when we arrived at our hotel and I went in search of my brother (knocked on the wrong door). An old man mistook our group for Canadians, and when we informed him we were Americans, he spat at us. That’s about it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A little bit, I never set foot out of my country until I was 22 except to the USA. At 22 I had my big adventure, went backpacking to NZ and then Aus after I couldnt find a job. That was only supposed to be one year than turned to two. Was lucky enough to visit a few other countries as well while I was there.

        But after I came home and started working again, it became 1 or 2 adventures per year again. A week here and a week there, sort of thing. Travel is good for the soul though. Have you traveled much?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That sounds awesome, especially going to new Zealand. I have always wanted to visit there!

        I agree travel is great for the soul, and it really is a cure for ignorance. Yeah mate I have traveled quite a bit, I’ve been to USA twice and Europe twice.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It’s not really an “award” so much as a way of networking and showing some gratitude to bloggers who you think deserve a little more attention. It also helps us all to get to know each other a little better. You don’t HAVE to participate if you don’t want to. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Boeuf Tartate is awesome!!! You haven’t lived unless you’ve tried it. But I can understand it must have come as a surprise if you weren’t expecting raw beef. I had a similar experience with a friend recently in Lyon – he ordered without asking me what the dish was. I could have told him. Man, did I enjoy that boeuf tartare.. I ate most of it. Reminded me of my own native country, Belgium, where we have a similar dish with raw beef.. It is delicious!!!

    Lieve

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You always tell a amazing story, Mat! 👏👏👏

    Visited Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Paris with my hubby years back. France is postcard perfect! Such gorgeous sights!

    Meanwhile, I loved how you rated your trip with baguettes 🥖 🥖🥖 🥖 …. quite cute and clever!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, your time in France sounds amazing. My daughter is in Paris as we speak. This is her second time visiting Paris and she was excited to revisit the patisseries for pistache (is that how you say it?) and to get more experience speaking French with the locals. We went with family in 2017. Monmartre was my favorite. We stopped at a restaurant on top of a hill and sampled mussels, frog legs and escargot. Surprisingly, the escargot was delicious. I also loved the creperies and Jardin du Luxembourg. The palace portion of Versailles was epic, but I loved the gardens the best. We toured the garden via golf cart. At first I thought it might be cheating, but if you have kids or teens, touring by golf cart is a great way to visit the massive gardens. Plus, it started to rain so we were able to get back much more quickly than on foot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woah, that sounds like a wonderful experience. I’ve never made it to Versailles, but I suppose I will have to go back one day! I kind of liked the frog legs to be honest, but I never tried the escargot. Grosses me out for some reason hahah. Were they rubbery?

      Sounds like a great trip! Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment. Pleased to meet you. 🙂

      Like

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