France Local Custom Tips by Lady_Mystique Top 5 Page for this destination
France Local Customs: 413 reviews and 349 photos
Light and pure after a French bath
While the busy pace of the modern world has taken over many aspects of French life, the bath is not one of them.
Like "take-out coffee", the idea of a quick shower has never caught on (or maybe it has since I visited??...but I doubt it).
Most French homes do not have 'showers' as we know them in North America.
Instead of a shower-head attached to the wall, the French configuration includes a 'pommeau', or hand-held spray shower (the kind one uses to give their dog a bath).
And, although my hostess oferred me the use of her "shower" --- stuck in the corner of her spare bathroom/laundry room --- I much preferred lounging in her claw-footed tub at the end of the day, melting away the dust and hurry of that days' travel.
I loved to lay back with the warm water up to my neck, breathing in the aromas of the essential oil I had chosen for that particular evening.
My baths were much savoured and even now I rarely shower except when pressed for time.
To understand the French perception of the 'Art of the Bath' one must bear in mind that the objective is not so much to get clean as to get happy.
Enjoying a café
A giant cup of hot, rich coffee with steamed milk in the morning and a final cup (with no milk) at the end of dinner ~ now, these are the 'Good Morning' and 'Amen' to a day filled with gastronomic pleasures!!
The quintessential French woman observes the simple rituals of coffee with care.
She uses the best coffee ~ usually ground fresh in a shop that features an authentic five-foot brass coffee roaster ~ and made in the classic French-press coffee pot.
Whole milk gently steamed on top of the stove.
Real sugar or none at all.
Good oversized ceramic cups or bowls without handles for breakfast, antique china demitasse for dinner.
~ "Take-out" coffee in paper cups is considered undesireable, if not completely uncivilized.
The point is ... to not think of coffee as a fix, like it's the jumper cables attached to your day. Instead, it's about taking the time for the pleasure of a fine, thoughtfully prepared cup, alone or with family and friends.
~ When ordering coffee in France, cafe/coffee is “black coffee” unless you ask for something different, such as cafe au lait, where milk is added. Here are some of the basic types of coffee served at cafes and bars in France:
Cafe: ~~ Espresso, which is just plain coffee, but strong.
Cafe American: ~~ Filtered coffee, similar to American coffee.
Cafe au lait: ~~ This coffee is mixed with an equal amount of steamed milk.
Cafe Creme: ~~ A large cup of coffee with hot cream.
Cafe Decafeine: ~~ Decaffeinated coffee.
Cafe Noisette: ~~ Small espresso with a dash of milk or cream, which makes it hazelnut colored.
The Clock at the Musee d'Orsay, Paris
You will find in the larger cities of the south some businesses and shops are open continuously, that is, they do not close for lunch. The large super- and hyper-march?es on the outskirts of towns are also open without a lunch break.
In smaller towns and villages, however, you can count on most everything closing for lunch at about noon or 12:30, and not reopening until 2:00, 3:00, or even 4:00 in the summer months.
Additionally, many businesses that are closed Sunday mornings are also closed entirely on Monday, although the gigantic march?s usually open Monday afternoon.
Museums and monuments nearly all close for lunch, too, as well as either all day Monday or Tuesday.
Houses of worship are often open all day (but be prepared for lunchtime closings), but when they are not, sometimes you will find a posted sign directing you to someone who has the key.
Great French Cheese!!!
As in other European countries, the price for food and drink is different depending on where you sit in cafés and bars. In Provence you will notice the locals often stand at the bar, especially in the morning when they stop at their regular café. If you stand at the bar the price is cheaper; whereas at the table you can pay up to twice as much (although you also have the luxury of remaining there as long as you like).
At larger cafés and restaurants, tables are available in the salle(dining room) or à la terrasse (usually outside on the sidewalk...the prime people-watching spot), and don't let the words plat du jour, menu dégustation, formule, or prix fixe turn you away from a potentially great meal. Each of these menu choices is almost always a good value, and often includes a carafe or half bottle of wine.
If prices are not listed, it is not because they are a bargain!
If you can summon up a big appetite at noon to eat your main meal of the day, you will spend a lot less money. Many restaurants offer special lunch menus which are almost identical to the later evening meals but much cheaper.
Bread, cheese, sausage, paté, pâtisseries, and prepared foods are generally of such high quality in France that you can create some of your own excellent meals. Pick up your provisions at an alimentation, charcuterie, traiteur, and boulangerie.
Except for bread, order your food items by weight (in kilos), tranche (slice), or morceau (piece).
Petanque in the park
Petanque (pronounced Pay-tonk) is the latest branch on the enormous tree of jeu de boules.
Probably created in 1907 or 1910 in La Ciotat by Jules le Noir.
Petanque is by far the most practised game of bowls on earth, undoubtedly because of the simplicity of its rules.
The name 'petanque' is a derivation of the provençal word 'ped tanco' and it means the feet together on the ground. Also, petanque is the only game of bowls that is practised in a squatting position!
The aim is to toss, or roll a number of steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden aim ball, called "but" or "cochonnet" (meaning "piglet" in French).
Players take turns, and whoever ends up closest to the aim ball when all balls are played, wins.
Unlike horseshoes, where the aim stake is fixed, petanques' aim ball may be hit at any time, which can completely turn around the score at the last second. And whereas the official bocce rules call for a prepared court, with markers and sideboards, petanque can be played on most outdoor surfaces, anytime you feel like.
No special skill is required, adults can play with children, and the equipment is inexpensive. The game of petanque is simple, relaxing, lots of fun and a perfect way to make new friends.
Last but not least, petanque can be (and usually is) played while enjoying a cool drink (the French will go for wine or pastis) and some tasty outdoor snacks!
No wonder this extremely pleasant game is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide.
The Merovingian, Lambert Wilson
According to the character Merovingian, played by Lambert Wilson, in the movie 'Matrix Reloaded'
......."I have studied many languages and have come to the conclusion that French is the best one.
Why? you may ask?? .....Because cursing in French is like wiping your ass with silk".
Parisian couple browsing at a book stall
Pack light. And, unless you have plans to be in any fancy places, pack double-duty items (stuff that can go from daytime to evening) in low-key colors that also mix and match well so you can wear garments more than once.
And, don't bring any favourite items...just in case someone does snatch your suitcase.
Remember that the French tend to dress up a bit more than people in North America ...although the South of France is more casual than Paris.
They also dress more conservatively when it comes to visiting religious houses of worship. Refrain from wearing sleeveless shirts, short skirts, and shorts, no matter how hot it is.
Suits and ties are necessary only at the finest restaurants, so polo shirts and khakis will always serve men well.
Comfortable shoes are of the utmost importance, BUT ... never bring sneakers (those big white ones) ...they just scream "American"...and, of course, are not very 'chic'.
by Mary Cassatt
You may already know that in general the French kiss upon greeting each other, and kiss again when saying goodbye.
The traditional practice is to kiss first the left cheek and then the right.
But in Provence, for example, you may notice that most people kiss 3 times, always beginning with the left cheek.
When the French greet friends by kissing their cheeks it's called "la bise" or for children, often "le bisou".
"Bonjour, ou se fait la bise?"
Good friends ~ Good bread
The slim 2 ft. long baguette and its hefty cousin, pain parisian, are as much a part of the Parisian identity as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
In France, bread is more than just something to spread with butter or jam or to accompany their more than 365 types of cheese!!
French peasants still trace the sign of the cross on the bottom of their country loaf before cutting into it. The most basic of foodstuffs, sacred element of the eucharist, bread does have religious connotations, but also political significance in France. Who could ever forget Marie Antoinette's famous phrase, "let them eat cake". Her insouciant response to the plight of French peasants deprived of their daily bread was one of the sparks that ignited the French Revolution.
Recently, the French government introduced legislation designed to prevent any bakery from calling itself a "boulangerie" if it does not make, knead, and cook entirely from scratch on its premises.
According to one government official's estimate, between 3,000 - 5,000 shops in France will be forced to remove their "boulangerie" signs in the coming years. Bravo for the government!!!
If it's one thing I can't tolerate, it's a bakery pretending to offer "real home-made breads"...here or in any country!! All you end up with is bread that looks, tastes, and feels like cotton...and with a feeling of being ripped off !
Here are some tips of how to determine a GOOD baguette:
Must be hard and with a rich, dark caramel color. A flimsy, straw colored crust and tiny dots on the bottom indicate that the bread was baked in an industrial oven often from frozen dough.
The INSIDE: (or "mie" in French)
A creamy color with large irregular air holes.
It should be moist and slightly chewy with a full, almost nutty flavor.
BOB APPETIT ! ! !
France does not have area codes, you dial a ten digit number directly.
A typical French phone number is listed like this, 01 23 45 67 89.
A few years ago when France went to ten digit numbers the country was cut into five regions. In each region all the phone numbers had two numbers added.
For example in the Ile-de-France all phone numbers had a 01 added on as the first two digits. If a number starts with a 06 it is a cell phone and if it starts with a 08 it is a toll free number.
To make international calls from France you dial 00 then the country code and then the number. To call the United States/Canada you dial 00, then 1, US or Canada area code, followed by the number.
Just about all phone booths in France now use a phone card, called a Télécarte in French, and not change.
French phone cards are easily bought at any local Tabac, a store that sells newspapers, magazines, maps and so on.
When you buy a French phone card it will be full of units, 50 or 120. When you insert the card into the console on the phone, it will display the number of units left in the card. As you are on the phone you will see your units counting down.
All public telephones booths have a "How-To" that will explain how to make a phone call.
If you don't want to buy a phone card and would still like to make a phone call, you can still find public phones that use change.
Try restaurants, bars, cafes and alike, you should find a phone that uses change.
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