Today is officially a full month that I have been living in the North of France with my French family. It has been amazing to fully experience France for the first time. I have traveled around in France before, but actually living with a French family, speaking the language, and going to school; that is the real experience. In my time here I have observed several things that the French excel at. Things that make life easier and more enjoyable, and so I have decided to share with you some life lessons that I have learned while living in France.
France is known world wide for its cuisine. It is well deserved. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten better in my life. Food is fresh every single day, fresh bowls of fruit, actual vegetables (never frozen), bakery bread, and almost nothing that is processed. Food the way it was meant to be eaten.
Everyone knows that the French excel at making bread. So many different types and forms of bread you could probably live happily on a diet of only the breads and patisseries here. The baguettes are incredible, And when I returned to America after spending two years in Europe I looked high and low for any types of bread that could compare. There wasn’t, unless you were willing to spend a lot more money. The bread here while being amazing, also has really good prices! .90 euro for a baguette? Yes please! You don’t even want to get me started on their chocolate croissants! Puffy, flaky, chocolaty goodness! Even the pain aux chocolate that was given out to everyone in my school after running cross country was great quality! Trust me, I know, I ate three!
With so much amazing and delicious good food after lunch, if you don’t have your daily lunch espresso, you will be asleep by 1pm. And it won’t matter where you are. You could be in school, a meeting, still in the restaurant! If you don’t have your espresso you will be nodding off whether you like it or not. I learned this the hard way after I might have nodded off in my French class… While in France you should make espresso your new best friend.
Cooking with friends
I spent a night with some friends and we were going to make ourselves dinner. Now I was expecting the typical teenage ‘lets make dinner’ warm up a frozen pizza, sandwiches, or just going out for dinner. But no, we ended up making a GIANT salad with olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, carrots, cheese, the works! And then having bread toasted in the oven with goat cheese, honey, and rosemary. Mmmm, you can’t imagine how delicious this is. I suggest you get up right now and make it!
Now I know that chores vary from family to family. But from all I have experienced, heard, and seen there is a lot of help from the whole family for all chores. In my family each child has a couple days of the week where they are in charge of clearing the tables, cleaning the kitchen, and any other chores and help that my parents need around the house. From what I’ve heard from other families it is either the same or everyone just always helps all the time. So houses are always very tidy and clean. Also each child is expected to keep their bed made and room clean. It is amazing the extreme tidiness in all of the houses.
Family time is a big deal in France. And can you guess what family time takes the cake for most important? Well, OBVIOUSLY it’s dinner time! Food brings everyone together. Table manners are impeccable and of course there are no phones at the dinner table. Dinner is the time the family asks about your day and tells you about theirs. you laugh over funny stories, and bond over the love of good food. Now while dinner is the big meal, it is the same at lunch if you are at school or home. You have a nice hour and a half long lunch to chat with friends, eat lots of food and talk about classes and plans for the weekend. I remember school lunch in my old school being about forty minutes of stuffing your face as fast as you could and running to your next class. Even breakfast is often eaten together in my family! Basically, food is the most important thing ever. Also families spend lots of time together besides eating too. Whether its going on a bike ride, heading into a bigger city for the day, or just playing a game!
In SO many ways France is great at staying green. It makes me so happy all of the ways that they are trying to help the environment. At LEAST half of the students in my school ride bikes everyday. Public transportation is amazing so cars are less used. And biking is so easy its easy to head off on a quick ride to the store.
The toilet in my house runs off the rain water! The rain water! What an amazing way to help conserve water! It rains so often here it makes sense and is such a great idea. They have a switch so when it hasn’t rained in a while they can turn it back to normal of course, but I love the fact that even that is so green.
In most of Europe plastic bags are not given out as freely as in the states. You either pay extra for plastic bags, or you bring your own reusable bags to the store. Another fantastic way to help save the planet.
It is common in France to always open your windows in the morning and close them at night. It helps keep the air in the house clean and healthy.
Also in the school we use real plates and silverware so that you don’t throw anything away and only use reusable things that help keep garbage out of the garbage.
So many times in school teachers have said something along the lines of ‘I’m sure you’ve read in the news what happened in _______ during ______ last week.’ And almost everybody knows! They are very up to speed on all world news, not just France but everywhere. In France it is also very common that after dinner the whole family goes into the tv room and watches the world news. One day I was walking to lunch with one of my friends and she proceeded to tell me what had just happened in the USA because she had world news alerts on her phone! being here has really kept me way more up to date on world news.
So there are some things that I have learned while living in France. It has been an amazing experience already and it is only just the start! I feel like France is really helping me become more aware of staying green, how incredibly important family time is, and I of course am absolutely LOVING the food. So there are some lessons from France that I have learned, maybe some of them can help you. 😉