Some important observations on France

  1. Driving through French villages, I hope to not meet oncoming traffic on the narrow streets constrained by centuries-old stone buildings and plastic bollards. But one road hazard we seldom encounter in villages is children. Rural France seems to have lost its young generations and is populated by middle-aged tourists who potter around in expensive cars, and by elderly locals. Where are the children and young people? It may be that families cluster in the suburbs of cities where we are unlikely to have any reason to venture. But it may also be that France is experiencing a demographic ageing crisis.
  2. Nearly all French men have facial hair. I have arrived with a clean-shaven face but I may have to let my beard grow a bit if I want to be taken seriously here.

4 thoughts on “Some important observations on France

  1. Raphaëlle

    PLEASE, please, please, for the sake of your readers, and for the sake of Ollie and Tomos, stop saying “In France, na na na…” “French people do na na na….” “According to French customs, na na na…” because most of the time, it is just wrong. I didn’t react so far, because this is “just a blog” and I sometimes thought it funny, for example, that New Zealanders might think France is such an advanced ecological country that is has forbidden plastic bags in all supermarkets — well, I would love this to be true, but it’s just not the case. I would also love it if all supermarkets and commercial centres were closed on Sundays, the way it used to be, but this is also not the case: deregulation has seeped into France like any other European country. And its government which is supposed to be “socialist” is in fact liberal: they recently passed a law to broaden the areas where shops can open on a Sunday. There may be places like Quillan covered in dog shit but there are cities where you are severely punished if you don’t clean up after your dog. You had a bad pizza, bad luck! You just ended up in a “boui-boui” (= a bad restaurant). I had a delicious pizza last Friday — Ok, the owners are Italians, but their cooks are Pakis 😉 Last but not least: France has the BEST natality rates in Europe (after Ireland — except we don’t ban abortion), the result of years of pro-natality and pro-family politics. France is one of the places where it is the least difficult in the world for women to pursue a carrier and have babies — the total opposite of Germany for example. Sadly, by the way, the austeritarian politics being enforced on France despite its thriving natality will probably put an end to it and seriously jeopardise our economy. Anyway… please… before writing what you state as an “important observation on France”, could you do a little research and make sure you’re not putting false ideas in people’s heads?

    1. Jennifer Andrewes

      Thanks Raphaelle. Please keep reading and commenting as your insights add a great deal of interest and depth. 🙂 I agree with pretty much everything you say, but don’t mistake this blog for a piece of balanced, well researched journalism! It’s an aggregation of the opinions and observations of four dfferent individuals, based very specifically on our particular experiences on this trip. It is not meant as a general reflection of wider France or French life. If, on occasion, we write in such a way that our views could be misinterpreted as such, it is either accidental or tongue-in-cheek (as this post from Stephen is intended to be). One of my next posts is likely to be on how friendly people have been to us here. I could balance that with a codicil that I have met some very rude French people in my time, but I probably won’t feel the need to. Equally, the word ‘Quillan’ could be simply replaced with the words Mt Victoria in my article on dog pooh – but this is not a blog about living i Wellington. We’re going for pizza on Friday night in Quillan as a promise to Tomos for surviving his first week in French school. There are at least three pizzerias in town, so I fully expect we will be able to find a great pizza. Watch this space!

    2. Stephen Christie Post author

      Thanks for your feedback Raphaelle. I promise not to write ‘na na na’ but I will use ‘In France…’ and similar phrases every-so-often.

      ‘Just a blog’? This is so much more than just a blog. One day, when I have millions of followers, we will laugh together at it once being described as just a blog.

      I think I would like the France that you live in. It probably has crisp apples, clean pavements, and unbearded men. But the place I’m in doesn’t. I still love it, though.


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