Wednesday, May 17, 2006

English Attitude

The other day a good (English) friend of mine from choir said she had read my blog and found it interesting how her outlook on life and my own were different. She has been living in Paris for 15 years and has a more French outlook on life, whilst my own remains decidedly British, having only been here for just over 4 years. I totally agree with her, I believe my take on the world is English with only shades of French and for a variety of reasons.

Let's take food. I can happily discuss a recipe, a way of cooking in a particular style for 10 or even 15 minutes. Only in France can a conversation channel itself into cooking and remain there, rooted to the spot for over 3 hours. This is no bad thing, just something of which I'm not yet capable.

Moving on to the more current topic of smoking. I can't stand it, I am 0% tolerant of the pollutant fumes eminated from people's noses, mouths, fingernails and hair - let alone my own after 5 minutes by the coffee machine at work. There seems to be a (misguided - in my opinion) belief that people who smoke should have the right to smoke wherever they like (not counting in the presence of pregnant women and children - there are some limits at least). I'm not sure why smokers have the freedom to smoke and non-smokers have, err, no freedom whatsoever to breathe clean air. This attitude of freedom for smokers does seem to be quite French. Please correct me if you disagree!

Finally, on a positive note, I have to say I love the way the French take holidays. Not only is the working week 35 hours (more in practice), but there are 5 weeks of holiday every year, plus RTT days (réduction du temps de travail- reduction in working hours) which don't even exist in England. For the entire month of August, Paris takes a break, sits down and rests. You can always sit down in the métro, breeze through the light traffic on the roads and walk around without being shoved.

I'm very interested to hear comments about English / French attitudes and what other people in a similar situation have experienced.


Anne said...

hey paris lite - i loved this entry - especially the open ended question at the end and then the "0 comments" - well I am here to rectify that. I MISS PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been moaning about all the parisian inconveniences for about 7 years (started about 5 years into my stint there). Now I live in sunny Dubai - with Modesh (checkout my blog) for eye candy and I can truly say that I miss Paris. Not to mention my friends there. Here's a short list:
1/ Sidewalk Cafés (of course)
2/ Grungy fashion - if you're grungy here it just doesn't look right. Funky grunge looks GREAT on the paris streets
3/ Movies
4/ PASTRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5/ and believe it or not, Walking around.
just to name a few non-human parts of Paris that I miss the most.

femme au foyer said...

Good subject! I've been here for 14 years and feel half-half. Still don't get the French protectionism - striking for everything and anything and certain attitudes + laid back lack of organisation. I miss British comedy but like some French stuff (now my French is up to scratch!). Sometimes, when I go back to GB, I find British attitudes very self-righteous esp. on political subjects/Europe etc

ionca said...

i've never been to paris.
i live in brooklyn (ny).
we have stereotypes of paris and you listed them.


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