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Readers’ tips: What should you pack when coming to France from the US?

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Readers’ tips: What should you pack when coming to France from the US?
Photo: AFP
16:19 CET+01:00
Each week The Local asks its readers to share their tips about various aspects of living in France. This week we asked our American readers what they bring with them to France from the US. Here's what they had to say.
When you come to France from the US there's no shortage of things to look forward to, not least of all the easy access to the country's wonderful cheeses, cafe culture and fine wines. 
 
But there will also be some things you will want to bring with you whether it's for money-saving purposes or simply because you want the comfort of home, while you're away on your travels especially if you're staying a while, or even moving here.  
 
We asked our American readers what makes the grade when it comes to their filling up precious luggage space when they make the trip to France.
 
Medication was one of the top suggestions of things to bring, with Susan Gish providing a list of small essentials that might make a stay in France more comfortable: “Benadryl ointment for bites, Neosporin, big bottles of aspirin, cotton real q-tips, favourite sunscreen, favourite bug spray.”
 
Meanwhile Lexie Savic suggested stashing some American tampons in your suitcase, and F Joseph Leonard-Peray wrote that when he first came to France toilet paper was top of his list of essentials to bring from home because he “could not find a decent roll anywhere. It was a horrid pink, flimsy tissue paper.” 
 
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Where in France do all the American expats live?
 
Although he went on to say that “thankfully, things have changed in that department and one can purchase quality toilet roll now.”
 
Other readers suggested products such as toothpaste, razor blades, deodorant and dental floss. However feel like it's important to mention that all these products are all widely available in France although they may cost a little more, depending on where you shop.
 
Another reader, André Blanbecque also pointed out that bringing favourite over-the-counter medicines to France might make for a smoother transition to a new country, rather than “expecting to be able to order it on Amazon. You may or may not be able to do that, and it may or may not cost twice as much.”
 
However André also pointed out that if you're moving here, while you might feel you need some intimate creature comforts with you at the beginning, it's likely this feeling will eventually fade. 
 
"Every country does things differently so until you get a handle on just how, bring your intimate creature comforts with you, and seasonally appropriate clothing but nothing else. You will eventually find alternatives or even lose interest."
 
Whether or not to bring American clothes and food to France was a topic for debate among readers.
 
Some pointed out that it was worth bringing American brands like Levis to France as they are “way cheaper in the USA” and Twitter user What if Brigade even claimed that American clothes are preferential because “natural fabrics can be difficult to find in France.”
 
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Meanwhile, others suggested that finding inexpensive and good quality clothes in France is just a case of “knowing where to shop”.  
 
When it came to food, many readers said they bring over home comforts such as peanut butter, chocolate chips and Bisquick pancake mix, essential for making classic American dishes like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and American-style biscuits.
 
But again, others pointed out that some of these items can also be bought in French supermarkets although “they are expensive due to shipping costs.”
 
The difficulty in finding spicy food in French restaurants and supermarkets lead readers such as Lexie Savic to advise packing some spices from the US as a suitcase essential.
 
Although readers’ suggestions for items to bring to France were much discussed, they were united in their suggestions for items to leave behind, which included electrical goods, such as hairdryers and electric razors and books, all of which would clearly weigh your suitcase down. 
 
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Photo: AFP

Christopher Tyle summarised:  “Leave books behind unless they are rare or hard to come by. You can get almost everything on Amazon or other online places. Furniture, cars, electrics - all of those things you can get here - and have a good time (in most cases) shopping!”
 
Finally, many readers had more philosophical response to the question, with the psychological aspect of enjoying a new culture taking precedence over physical comforts.
 
Merijke Gerritsen advised a minimal approach to packing might help new expats discover French culture, writing: “Bring only what can't be missed or replaced. Leave everything else behind. Don't make the mistake of becoming a permanent tourist and missing out on the essence of another culture.”
 
Francine Gloaguen Curtner suggested (a tad harshly) that Americans do not bring an “attitude of superiority and your loudness to France.”
 
And Phil Lambert recommended that those who move here should “bring an open mind and patience, especially with the bureaucracy. It's a much slower and wonderful lifestyle here.”
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