^^The tiny king and I shopping at Les Halles in Avignon^^
There are things I miss deeply about America. Important things and totally insignificant things (but the latter tend to be the things that send me straight to a chocolate bar and a repeat viewing of Pride and Prejudice on rough days). Now that I’ve been here nearly two months, I think I can confidently share some of the things I find to be fantastic about La France.
- “CouCou! CouCou!” – This is a favorite expression of older people when they see a cute child, like my tiny king, J. They’ll stop in the middle of their tracks to shout “CouCou!” across the produce aisle or down the parking lot. It’s quite sweet–and it makes me feel like a local for a moment.
- Le Pain! — Oh boy, the bread here is tres bon! And you know what? You don’t see paleo/gluten free anywhere, except for maybe the health food store. It’s wonderful. People have their preferred local bakeries, and the bakeries are plentiful. It’s common to visit the bakery at least every other day, if not more frequently.
- Walking— The towns are very pedestrian-oriented. Yes, it takes longer to run errands by foot, but the pace of life is a bit slower here than in the US anyway. Walking also refreshing, healthy, and an enjoyable way to see other members of your community.
- Les Marches- The French have fantastic farmers’ markets and they’re full of delicious foods. Some of my favorite market finds so far are olive tapenades, tomato caviar (not real caviar, just a tomato tapenade of sorts), dried fruits, and of course, wonderful cheeses. It seems that most people shop at farmers’ markets, and the quality of the food you’ll find at them is reflective of the value the French place on their food.
- The Pace– This aspect of France is something I simultaneously love and dislike. I do appreciate how much the French take time to enjoy conversation, food, and their breaks from work. I’ve heard it said “they work to live, they don’t live to work”. In general, life does not feel rushed here. Even the start of our day is slightly later than back home, allowing me more time to drink my coffee, do some household chores, and so on before school. Little breaks are embedded in the day, and lunch breaks are quite generous in length. As long as this is balanced with a good work ethic, I think it’s a wonderful part of the culture.