Tuesday, January 8, 2013

11 - 12 - 13

You knew there couldn't be just 10 things, right?

11. white tile
The French love themselves some white tile! Kitchen and bathroom, sure, I get it, but once you start taking it into the living room, dining room and the bedrooms, I start to get cold. I heard from my old ESL students that they thought it made for less dust and dirt, which is true if you sweep and mop your floor everyday, but who does that? What's wrong with a hardwood floor? At least it's warmer under foot! Or a good quality carpet? Sure the dirt may stick around a bit longer, but studies have shown that there are fewer dust particles floating around because they get "stuck" in the carpet. Plus it's cosy for the feet, so that seems like a win-win situation to me! Our old apartment in Savennières had off-white tile absolutely everywhere and we constantly had cold feet, even with multiple pairs of socks and slippers. In Vézelay, our house has vintage coloured concrete tiles (in a plaid pattern) on the main floor, but then we are lucky enough to have oak floors on the other levels.

12. speaking at the same time
French talk shows are funny. They prefer round-table discussions to one-on-one interviews (à la Letterman, Leno, Fallon etc.) so quite often they will have 5 to 10 invited guests at one time and then they like to talk at the same time. This way nobody can hear what anybody is saying and it gets very exciting. Oh yeah, and the audience is on camera all the time in the background behind the guests. There's this one late-night Saturday show (not SNL, unfortunately!) where there are around 7 - 10 invited guests and they all take turns sitting in the hot seat, where they may be ridiculed or told how stupid their book (CD, film, play, political career) was by the resident peanut gallery (two critics), while all the other guests watch in horror and/or participate in the lambasting of the guest. This is done in all seriousness. And - you guessed it - the show lasts 3 hours! This talking over one another is also noticeable in day-to-day life. Ok, I know that I have interrupted people in my time, but it comes nowhere close to the kind of interrupting I witness. I guess that's where I'm a little more anglo-saxon and they're a little more latin (at least this is what they claim!). The thing is, it really gets my heart pumping and I have to hang on tight to remain calm and not get caught up in the tornado. Even when I witness it on TV. How Canadian of me!

13. la gourmandise
At the end of a meal, when one has had quite enough, thank you, but then is offered a dessert or a little something extra, saying yes means giving into gourmandise. "Oui, mais ce serait par gourmandise" means "Yes, but it's because I'm up for some pleasure." There are no negative vibes to it, really, not like with caving or giving in (or gluttony, which is its cousin and its English literal translation). It's more of a gentle pleasure kind of vibe. The word can also be used to describe a treat such as candy, cake, pastries or other delicacies.

It's funny how we don't really have an English equivalent (except maybe 'treat') and how we're quick to denounce our indulgences. "Oh I really shouldn't! Well, maybe I'll give in to just a bite. You've twisted my arm." The French just go for it and assume it!


  1. you should see the Greek talk shows! It's total insanity. So it's not just Latin, but maybe Mediterranean? I don't know what the talk shows are like in Syria or Tunisia, but let's just assume they're the same. (Ok maybe Syria is a bad example. How about Turkey?)

  2. Dear Marianne, I hear you!! Your post could be named" "things French people like which I dislike more and more" (well, except for the last one?)!! All those things get so bothersome after some time living in France. The tile thing was always very mysterious for me- so cold for the feet, and any time something falls on the floor it always breaks. Must be a nightmare with children. The closing doors and windows thing is also very prevalent in Germanic countries (our 19th century apartment has windows above all the inner doors of the apartment to let light into the hallway when the doors are closed), but the paperwork here in Germany is bliss. As are the more comfy things like coffee with milk, wooden floors and people never interrupting one another. Come for a visit! We are in Munich :) love, Bridge xx

  3. Caitlin - isn't it painful to witness such noisy and unfriendly talk shows? How can anyone stand it?

    Bridget - I think that I would love Germany! I've never been before but it seems to me that I would have a lot more in common with Germans. I'd love to come for a visit some time! xo