Long lunches, daily bread and complaining: The habits you pick up in France

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Long lunches, daily bread and complaining: The habits you pick up in France
Which of these French habits have you picked up since moving here? Photo: AFP

Moving countries is undoubtedly a major experience and one that can lead to long-lasting changes to your habits and personality. We asked our readers what new habits they have picked up since arriving in France.


Food and drink

Perhaps unsurprisingly in a country that prides itself on its cuisine and fine wines, many of the new habits that people reported centred around food. Whether is is discovering new favourites, gaining a better appreciation for fresh and seasonal produce or just making time for lunch, many people reported that their eating and drinking habits had changed radically since moving to France.

Alison Johnson, who has lived in Burgundy for almost three years; said: "We have started having regular lunches, discussing the taste of everything we eat, greeting everyone when we meet and buying bread every day."


Mike Owens, who has lived in France for 12 years, cited "drinking hot chocolate from a bowl" as the major change in his lifestyle, along with ditching American-style breakfasts.

David Ricardo Hernandez, who has recently moved to Metz after living in Rouen for two years, said: "Now I drink more wine, I buy bread only in the bakery and not in the supermarket, l cook much more often here, I check the food, in USA I never did that.

"France gave me the habit of being conscious of me, acknowledging the importance of health and care for myself."

READ ALSO The French eating habits the world should learn from

Whatever you do, don't rush lunch. Photo: AFP

Charles Stuart Kier, who has lived in Burgundy for 16 years, said: "I now prefer French (smaller) portions of food at mealtimes and don't snack between meals.

"It's definitely healthier eating and a more measured alcohol consumption - no more cups of tea, coffee and biscuits every five minutes. I also drink beer in smaller quantities (ie quaffing in small glasses as opposed to drowning in pints!)"

Fiona Stephenson, who lives in the Lot, said: "Our new habit is Velouté de Potimarron. We tried a recipe after discovering this delicious squash at our local market. The velvety rich nuttiness is irresistible and it's now a staple at dejeuner."

And of course many people pointed to their now-daily bread-buying habit, since a day-old baguette more resembles an offensive weapon than food.

One inhabitant of Seine et Marne said: "Throwing bread away because tomorrow: New bread."

While others are increasing their coffee consumption and swapping lattes for black coffee.


Pace of life

Quality of life is always among the most-cited factors by people deciding to move to France. Obviously lifestyles variy considerably depending on whether you are working or retired and where you live - few people would describe Paris as the world capital of laid-back - but many reported a reordering of their priorities to make time for some of the things the French consider most important.

Paul Conyers, who has lived in France for three years, said: "I have a more relaxed lifestyle, getting up later in the morning, dining later and enjoying the wonderful varieties of wine and beer (in moderation of course!). Plus not rushing or stressing over anything - just enjoying the quieter lifestyle."

He also added that he had ditched his old habit of drinking "terrible cheap wine".

David Ricardo Hernandez added: "When I was living in San Francisco I was all the time running and try to be on time, I had the habit of running all the time, in an eternal rush, but now I am more relaxed with the time."

Several people also commented that the frequently confusing French bureaucracy no longer exasperated them and they had developed the ability to simply shrug at the latest paperwork challenge.

Life's too short for bad wine. Photo: AFP


Many Anglophones find the French more formal than they are used to, particularly in the matter of greetings.

A formal greeting of bonjour (or bonsoir if it's evening) is expected in virtually every situation - it's possible that if you're being rescued from a burning building you will get away without saying bonjour to the pompiers but we wouldn't recommend it.

READ ALSO Why even the French can't explain when bonjour becomes bonsoir

Starting any bit of business without a bonjour will mark you down as rude, and Alison Johnson in Burgundy says she is now used to "greeting every person I meet".

LM from Seine et Marne said: "My new habit is saying bonjour, all the time, everyplace, to everyone."

Yvonne Hazleton Shao, who has lived in Paris for three years, adds that she now "dresses up to go grocery shopping, because it's a social event."

Many people also mentioned the "kissing, endless kissing." If you find the French tradition of la bise confusing, here is a guide to who to kiss, when and how often.

Bad habits

And of course no nation is perfect, the French have bad habits too and several people reporting picking up some of the slightly less admirable characteristics of their new compatriots.

Stephen, who lives in Charente, says: "I haven't bothered using indicators for years now and I'm perfectly happy to cut people up on the roads."

READ ALSO 'Aggressive, thoughtless, arrogant' - is this how bad French drivers really are?

The Paris Metro does require a certain robustness of character to navigate. Photo: AFP

Luke Penrose added: "I religiously make sure to try and storm on to any and all public transport before sensible and logically allowing people off."

Richard Hince, who lives in Finistère, said: "I now say 'uuup!' and 'hein' all the time."

While one survey respondent simply said: "Complaining."

READ ALSO The nine noises that will make you sound like a true French speaker

Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill in the survey, some great answers!


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