Cheese, glorious cheese.
Greetings dear readers and friends! Well, first of all, thank goodness it’s May. We’ve finally got some of that famous South-of-France weather kicking around which means beach and picnic-days are just around the corner. And it seems like everyone is in a great mood because, let me tell you, we had a long rainy, winter which brought out some major French grumps… myself included. Drowning yourself in wine, cheese, and chocolate can only take you so far… which is pretty dang far…
Anyway, in the spirit of lightheartedness, I had a really good time writing the post You might be living in France if… 18 signs you’re a true-blue Francophile, so I thought I’d share a few more tongue-in-cheek observations of life in la belle France. If you’re here fighting the good fight with the rest of us, please feel free to share your own insights in the comments below. It certainly is one big, belle, adventure!
1. You have a stockpile of wine and you’re not sure where it all came from.
I’ll just throw it out there that I’m no expert at wine… but you would think quite differently if you saw the collection of wine bottles stacked in our kitchen, or more so if you ventured to our storage area – appropriately called a “cave” in French. This is where my husband stores his various purchases from wine “fairs”, different wineries we’ve visited, or simply supermarket “specials” we couldn’t pass up. Since you can find good wine on the cheap in France, sometimes for as little as €6 a bottle, it’s hard not to stock up on the deals that seem to pop-up on a regular basis… and then lose track of where you bought it or by when you need to drink it. Of course this is pretty much a great “problem” to have.
2. You’ve taken defensive-driving to an art form.
One of the not-so-nice problems is that the French, bless ‘em, are pretty aggressive behind the wheel (by American standards) and when you enter a “carrefour”, intersection, you better have all your senses in high gear if you’re gonna get outta there in one piece – ie. using your signal is more of a “suggestion” than a rule and tailgating seems to be its own art form. All a bit funny if you ask me because I’m thinking, this is the South of France, what the heck is the hurry?
Anywho, I’m all set for the Monaco Grand Prix if anyone’s asking…
3. You’re an expert at “making the bridge”.
So basically, May is a bit of a “non-month”, meaning that there are so many public holidays that not a whole lot gets done work-wise because so many people are “making the bridge” (faire le pont). Like this week we have Thursday off for Ascension and then many people will take off Friday to make “a bridge” to the weekend. Many companies, like my husband’s, close completely on those post-holiday Fridays. Again, why all the tailgating funny French? Aren’t we all just headed to the beach anyway?
4. Roasted chicken is your go-to meal.
Ahh, roasted-chicken trucks… where would we be without you? I was at the Toulon market on Saturday morning and I counted no less than 3 chicken trucks / vendors in and around the market. Roasted chicken is not only a Sunday lunch favorite, but becomes the default “go-to” meal if you find yourself stuck with an empty fridge. Usually said trucks sell roasted potatoes and/or sautéed green beans which make the perfect accompaniment. Just make sure to preview béarnaise sauce or mustand for your guests, an absolute roasted chicken “must”.
5. A meal is not a meal without a baguette.
And a baguette! A French meal is not really a meal without a baguette. And, ugh, it’s not always easy to remember this… We had an American friend over for lunch a few weeks back, and horror of horrors, I forgot to buy the bread. In a scramble to put food on the table, I realized in a panic my error and began to apologize profusely. To which my friend appropriately replied, “What are you talking about? I’m not French, I don’t have to have a baguette with my lunch”. Phew, I could wipe the sweat from my brow…. crisis averted.
6. You’ve become a ninja at dodging secondhand smoke.
No way around it, there’s a lot of smoking in France. A lot. I think you just get used to it- as much a part of living here as the cheese, wine, and outdoor markets. Make that the outstanding cheese, excellent wine, and beautiful markets. So I tend to take it all with a grain of salt. People are free to live as they like… except I don’t think the French really have a concept of secondhand smoke; it seems to just all be “smoke” if that makes any sense. Meaning, they’re not puffing in your face on purpose, they just don’t make the distinction between the two. Last year when I was pregnant (surprise, we had a baby!) I had to politely nudge a few said smokers who were puffing all over me and my big belly and admittedly, they all felt quite terrible and moved along. Another fact to add to our, “The French aren’t Rude, Just French” file, bless ‘em.
7. You’d rather go hungry than pay for something with incorrect change.
I know that sounds more than a little crazy, but it’s really pas cool to pay for small items with “large” bills. For example, you should have handy change ready, like €1 or €2 coins to pay for a baguette, with a €5 bill being the unwritten limit on what you can pay with…How do we know this? Seems like the change fairy forgot to shine on France because making change for larger bills is quite frowned upon and you learn this quite early on. Back to my every-ready baguette example, I went to buy one yesterday and realized I only had €10 on me so I added a tarte au citron to the mix to round-up my bill. A tasty solution, and life could surely be a lot more challenging than being “forced” to eat extra pastries…
8. Doliprane cures all that ails you.
Doliprane is a wonder-drug that cures everything from headaches, to muscle pains, to full-blown colds. It’s a painkiller sold over the counter (paracetamol) and seems to be sprinklied throughout medicine cabinets around the country. I had a medical thingy a while back and the doctor prescribed enough Doliprane for a small village. So if you’re ever in France and in a pinch, I’ve got about a 3-year supply!
Happy May, and happy travels, from belle Provence!