France Local Custom Tips by Arial_27
France Local Customs: 414 reviews and 349 photos
I was suprised at the way my exchange family went about celebrating birthdays!
When Franck, my exchange partner turned 17, he was simply handed an envelope and given a kiss on the cheek.
"When's the party?" I asked.
"There is no party," he replied. "Why would there be?"
"Isn't it your 17th birthday? When am I going to give you your gift?"
"Oh, you didn't need to go buy me a gift," he chuckled. "I'm too old for that now."
WHAT? Too old for birthday gifts at 17? My grandparents, in their Golden years still recieve birthday gifts. Aparently thats's not the case in France. They may give a few small gifts, but generally they don't make as big of a deal out of birthdays the way we do in North America.
Take a look at this picture. This is Franck and I on his 17th birthday. The cake candles are lit, but notice they didn't even take the cake out of the box? Infact, they didn't bring the cake in singing either, they just lit the candles infront of him.
Depending on where you come from and what you used to, you may be shocked by the amount of nudity that is portrayed in France. Even on billboards as you're driving by you'll see a full frontal picture of a woman's breasts. If you go into a convenience store, all the porn magazines are sitting right out in the opening and you can see a lot more than just breasts on the front page. There is no offence or "suggestions" intended by most of these images; nudity in France is just simply not as big of a deal as in North America. Even outside the Louvre , there are old statues of naked women and there are full frontal naked men statues on the Arc de Triomphe. A woman's body can be seen as an excellent area for artisitc representation, but it also merely a fact of human life. I think this is just as the French see it. If you're travelling with kids and are concerned, just cover their eyes in a variety store ;)
Ah, yes.. there's always the stereotypes (that although sometimes carry some truth) leave us with completly misleading notions about other people.
I got asked "do French women really have hairy armpits" many times at high school after returning from my exchange... and I'm not even going to get into how much it annoyed me because of how ignorant, and sexist some people are.
For your information, French women DO shave.. and wax, just as much as women in any other country. But I found however, that they weren't as uptight about it as women in North America. Its ok for a girl to walk around with stubbles in France, (however in Canada some people will often be grossed out.) I'm not sure why exactly.. I mean no one freaks out when a guy forgets to shave. But thats just how it is. I'm glad France was less-sexist, and not so uptight about the ladies shaving.
The French love to eat. I was sure of that after a full week of staying here during my exchange. (I think a lot of Canadian teens are like me in the sence that they're used to eating dinner alone, because everyone in my family is busy and it's pretty rare that we get the chance to sit down and spend quality time together eating a proper, well-thought out meal.) but the French are always sure to make time for this. Eating is a mean of socializing here, and meals last at least an hour.
I'm used to eating Kraft Dinner right out of the pot, and then downing a few orange juices. This habit changed when I came to France.
The Entré is served first and usually consits of vegetqbles: tomatos, shreaded carrots, or lettuce, but they're never all together in the same bowl. They're always served seperately, and they have vinaigrette and olive oil on them. Then a baguette will be pased around the table and everyone breaks off the portion that they want.
Then the main course. It could be anything, pasta, steak, pizza, fries, etc.
Then out comes the selection of cheeses for you to put on your baguete.
After the bread and cheese is a light desert, and it's usually either fruit or yogurt.
The French usually always drink water with every meal, except for breakfast. On certain occaisions, they drink wine with their meal as well.
If you're staying in someone's household in France, you will be well-fed ;)
The legal drinking age in France is 18. However, none of the bartenders normally follow this law. I spend three months in France (I was 16) and every day my friends and I would go to the bar in town and drink our mailbous, beer, wine, margaritas and pina coladas while playing a game of pool.
It was a great way to socialize but what I found was that people in France don't generally drink to get drunk. There are far more impaired driving incidents in Canada than in France. In Canada, the drinking age is 19 and bartenders ALWAYS ask for ID before serving. People under 19 aren't even allowed to set a foot in a beer store or a bar.
In France however, there was no question about giving alcohol to a 13 year old. They don't drink wine like water, but they do have it a few times a week, socially. Bartenders don't care if you're underaged, they'll serve you whatever you ask for as long as they don't see you drinking too much.
If you get drunk, you may make a of yourself. The reason why so many Canadian teens like to go out and drink themselves to a stooper is because breaking the 'law' is part of the thrill. In France however, drinking is a social thing for all ages. So enjoy.
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