5 things to watch out for travelling in France

IMG_1723Are you travelling to France this year?  You might like to know about some french peculiarities before you leave.  I’ve spent a lot of time in France and find myself bemused by the character traits of some  french people!  You know all of those old cliches?  Well, they are, for the most part, true!

Road Rage

Yup, we all have an angry frenchman driving a silly little car, red with rage, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and beeping his horn at us on a daily basis. Woe betide you if you are driving a foreign car, the rage will increase tenfold.  Hesitate a millisecond too long at traffic lights and you will be subjected to gesticulating, beeping horn and angry shouts!

Please don’t let you put this off driving, just use my technique of completely ignoring them or giving  a smile and a jolly wave. The resultant apoplexy is so funny!  We have speculated on many a car journey as to the reason behind this general madness behind the wheel.  I live on one of the Corniches near Monaco, and a suicidal frenchman can be guaranteed to  overtake on the hairpin bends, driving as if he is trying to win the Grand Prix.

I have concluded it is the result of too much sugar.  They are all on a huge sugar high.  I’m not sure what the national consumption of sugar is, but it must be the highest in the world.  Everything is sugar laden, from the morning coffee with 10 spoonfuls, to bread, huge consumption of every sugary delight and more that you will never have considered.  Every meal is sugar laden, I’m not sure how they manage to stay so slim.

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Hunting Season

It is the right of every frenchman, women too but I have never seen one join in this particular sport, to shoot whatever and wherever he pleases during the shooting season.  This is most of the winter months.  Beware, therefore if you take a hike during these months.  You may well come across a hunting party pursuing anything that moves from rabbits to wild boar.  They will be dressed as if they are on military manoeuvre with a very large shotgun, combats, large cartridge belt, and a gundog.

Also, be aware that if you buy a country house in France with a few acres, the local population will arrive at anytime during the season and it is their right to shoot on your land.  As you can imagine there are quite a few tragic accidents resulting from this hobby.  It is a very important part of country life and stems from the time of the French Revolution.  Before the revolution the aristocracy owned all the land and harsh punishment was given to anyone who ‘poached’ on the land.  Freedom to hunt is still a very important symbol of the french republic and the rights of the french citizen.

L’amour (love)

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Now, when other nationalities are going about our daily business, we are thinking of fairly mundane topics.  The english may be wondering about having a nice cup of tea, the aussies planning a barbecue, americans looking forward to a juicy beef burger.  The french, however, will be thinking about sex.  He or she will be looking forward to a secret assignation cinq a sept.  He will be admiring or being critical about every female and judging her suitability for a ‘liaison’.

I can say, without too much exaggeration that every frenchman you meet will assume you want to have sex with him.  I have no idea WHY they think this way, I can’t imagine they have ever been successful in this pursuit of Northern European or american women but they believe it nevertheless.  I blame a few films and TV programs which, over the years have portrayed us as sex mad.

They have some very odd habits in this regard.  I remember one elderly english lady, well over 70, warning me to never flash my car lights when driving.  She warned me that this was a signal to other drivers that you are available!  She flashed her car lights in a car lay-by by accident and the car was surrounded by eager men within seconds!  Actually, this is quite a nice trait, they are not in the least worried about age.  You have to be careful when stopping on a quiet picnic area on the french motorways.  Again, these are hangouts for strangers to meet for some ‘recreation’.

You may be thinking a seaside coastal path is the place for a nice walk.  Beware, there will undoubtedly be french people popping in and out of the bushes (metaphorical and literal).  Be careful about smiling in a friendly manner whatever you do!  Even in the Supermarket, when you are concentrating on choosing a lettuce, he will be assessing the size of your bottom!

Unfortunately, french women  perhaps unsurprisingly, are hostile and jealous.  They are well aware that there menfolk are unfaithful at every given opportunity and are very, very unfriendly!

To be continued, there are too many peculiarities for one post!  Let me know if you have any you would like to add …..

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