Living in another country can be something of a culture shock. Things you take for granted back home could turn out to be completely different in your adopted land. So as a Brit living in Paris I’ve compiled some of the biggest differences between the UK and France.
UK and France differences
This may come as a serious shock: French people don’t put butter or jam in their croissant. The very thought of doing such a thing would leave them completely bewildered.
We Brits are very careful to mind our manners (most of the time). On the other hand, all you need to do is visit Paris to realise not everyone has the same mentality. Please feel free to jump the queue… because obviously your time is more important than everyone else’s.
People say the French are more sexually open than other cultures, it’s not true though, there’s just less embarrassment about talking about it in casual conversation.
4/ Crossing the street
In France, pedestrian crossings are only a guide. Cross whenever and wherever you like, after all, pedestrians do have the right-of-way and cars will stop.
5/ Meeting the parents
Meeting the parents of your boy/girlfriend is stressful enough in normal circumstances but in France it gets even worse. Make sure you know the difference between “tu” and “vous”. Both mean “you” but depending on the in-laws, using one instead of the other could be taken badly. My wife took two years to tell me that it’s generally a little disrespectful to say “tu” when first meeting your mother-in-law, during which time I’d used it many hundreds, if not thousands of times.
6/ Eating dinner
In Britain we tend to just pile everything onto a plate and get stuck in. This isn’t the case in France. Remember that most meals have multiple courses. Like an idiot my first few times eating with the in-laws I was filling up on bread and paté before realising that there was still the main, cheese, and dessert to come afterwards.
7/ Glass half-full or glass half-empty?
In France, you must complain about everything. No matter how good something is you must take every opportunity you can to moan about the slightest downside to it.
8/ Washing the dishes
Unlike us Brits, who often wash our dishes then leave them to dry, in France, everyone rinses the soap off after cleaning them.
9/ Drinking coffee
If you’re on your coffee break in France and you have anything other than an espresso, you have too much time on your hands. Coffee should be used simply as fuel and you definitely should not enjoy it.
10/ Meeting people
When greeting someone us Brits either go for a solid handshake or a hug if we know them well. In France on the other hand you have “la bise“. This is the famous kiss on each cheek. Bare in mind however, that you don’t actually literally kiss each other. There is almost always little to no lip-to-cheek contact and instead it’s cheek-to-cheek… another thing my wife chose not to explain for the first couple of years.
What do you think? Let me know your favourite differences between the UK and France in the comments section below!
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