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The things that will pleasantly surprise you about France
Photo: AFP

The things that will pleasantly surprise you about France

Oliver Gee · 16 Jan 2016, 11:08

Published: 16 Jan 2016 11:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Jan 2016 11:08 GMT+01:00

We put the call out on our Facebook channel and on Twitter (follow us, by the way) to find out what surprised foreigners the most.
 
Here is a selection of their answers. 
 
The lovely French people
 
This was far and away the most popular response on both Facebook and Twitter. 
 
Some of the adjectives people used to describe the French include "genuinely lovely", "accepting", "kind", "friendly", "polite", and "helpful".
 
Others, including Facebook follower Basil de la Washbucket (if that is his real name) pointed especially to "the friendliness of the country folk".
 
"In three years I have only encountered two people who had any kind of problem with me not being French. Not bad numbers for anywhere I reckon," he said. 
 
The smell of bread
 
Why finding a baguette in Paris could be toughPhoto: AFP
 
With a bakery on every corner, it's no surprise this cropped up. 
 
 
The health service
 
Can France's creaking health service stay no. 1?Photo: AFP
 
Many were impressed with France's famed health care service. These included Facebook follower Jacqueline Hebbourn.
 
"It's different but it's just amazing," she said.
 
"My husband was diagnosed with cancer last year and if it hadn't been for the quick response he received, he would not be here now!"
 
The freedom to practice French
 
Some were surprised that the French didn't jump on them when they struggled with the language.
 
Amanda Verdier on Facebook says that it was only her husband and language teachers who would correct her.
 
"Everyone was just content that I would rather struggle in a foreign tongue rather than fall back to my safety net of English," she wrote. 
 
Children are children  - and they're well behaved
 
Several people pointed out that children knew their place and seemed to like it - and that it had a great effect on society. 
 
The "ever-lasting" summer
 
France boils in second hottest summer everPhoto: AFP
 
Even though there is a huge cold front sweeping through France at the time of writing, some readers said that non-stop summer was their biggest surprise. 
 
Shelley Dootson Greenland, who's from the north west of the UK, said that life in southern France is a whole different kettle of fish. 
 
"The summer lasted until November and apart from the few odd days of rain in January it's felt like summer in my book," she wrote on Facebook.
 
"Christmas day was like a typical summer day in the north of England. Maybe I've been deprived or maybe its my state of mind but believe me, i'm not used to this and its summer to me."
 
The stunning scenery
 
The 12 bridges in France you just have to crossPhoto: Tourisme Midi-Pyrénées/Flickr
 
This is an easy win, with everything on offer in France from amazing beaches to enormous snowy mountains. 
 
Or as Gary Stella put it on Facebook, the "wide variations in seemingly always stunning scenery and awesome architecture".
 
Genuinely interested people
 
Suzie Richards Lanniee said on Facebook that the French were always interested in her home country, the US.
 
"Even though we like to think they disdain us, I was always treated warmly and asked several questions. Life there is more regimented - things aren't open all the time, and convenience isn't always the default like it is in the US. Friendly, if more formal, than the US. I loved it. Can't wait to go back soon."
 
The wine!
 
 
Of course, how could we write a list about the pleasant things in France without mentioning the wine. We heard from many people about the wine.
 
And people liked it for different reasons - some pointing to "how cheap a good bottle is", while others mentioned the taste or the sheer range. Cheers!
 
The roads are empty
 
Story continues below…
France's famed roadside trees could face chopPhoto: AFP
 
Foreign motorists are thrilled with France's quiet and empty roads, especially the motorways.
 
Paul Courtnage said he liked that there are "roads you can drive on instead of queuing", a sentiment shared by several on Facebook. 
 
Of course, this doesn't count for Paris, which is hardly even empty in the middle of the night on a week day.
 
The delicious food
 
Revealed: The world's favourite French foods Photo: Claudio Brisighello/Flickr
 
And lastly, the famed French food made many an appearance in our informal survey. 
 
Facebooker F Joseph Leonard-Peray said it was all about the quality, noting that fruit and vegetable stands have information for customers about the location or the farm where the food was grown. 
 
And what's not to love - France is renowned for its food if it's a humble baguette or the ever-controversial foie gras.
 
But we'll give the last word to Facebook follower Richard Schatz, who had a huge change of heart after leaving the US. 
 
"I never ate fruit, tomatoes and many other thing before I came to France many moons ago. It had no taste in the US.
 
But things changed in France, where he says that "even the lettuce is tasty". "In any case I eat just about everything now."
 
Join the club!
 
 
 
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