Whether for better or for worse, many foreigners find that their habits alter when they move to France. Here, a few veteran expats share their experiences of how French culture has changed their lifestyles.
For Janine Marsh, editor of The Good Life France, it’s her attitude towards meal times that has altered the most since moving to France.
“During my 15-minute lunch ‘hour’ in London, I’d rush to do my shopping, pay cheques into the bank, phone the utility services, etc,” she recalls.
In France, however, time off for lunch is sacred
“For two hours, banks and shops close. Road workers, doctors, butchers, bakers, candlestick-makers simply va va voom at lunchtime to the restaurant of choice.”
Any tips? Visit you local council office before the lunch break, advises Janine, if you want to get anything important done.
There may be increasing fears over the rise in binge-drinking in France, but there’s still a big difference between the British and Gallic drinking culture, according to “A Year in the Merde” author Stephen Clarke.
“I now drink much less than British friends, who are capable of sinking twice as many pints as me during an evening. France just isn’t as much of a binge-drinking culture (though it’s now taking root here),” says Clarke.
Colin Randall, editor of France Salut and the former France correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, has also noticed a change in his drinking habits.
“I think nothing of having something from the trolley on the train into London from airports but never even think of looking for a pre-flight bar in France,” says Randall.
Piu Eatwell, the British expat author of They Eat Horses, Don’t They, agrees.
“A decade of Gallic influence means that I now almost never drink spirits such as whisky or gin, and certainly not as an ‘apéritif’. The only pre-dinner drinks I drink now are Champagne or Kir,” she says.
“I pretty much exclusively drink wine, and only ever accompanied by some sort of food (generally at meal times, or with an apéro).”
Quality over quantity
Paris-based American writer Lindsey Tramuta, who runs the Lost in Cheeseland blog says she’s learned to value quality above all else.
“My base expectations on quality – ingredients, craftsmanship, experiences – have gotten higher since living in France these last nine years.
“Surrounded by artisans in everything from food to home goods who themselves place a premium on quality, has indeed influenced my own consumption habits. Buy less, buy better.”
Author Stephen Clarke says he’s abandoned the weekly supermarket shop since moving to France.
“I go food shopping every day rather than filling up a supermarket trolley and trying to live off the contents for a week.
“Sometimes I go out and buy fresh bread twice a day, straight from the oven. My whole idea of freshness has changed.