February 05, 2016
One of the things I wondered the most before I moved to France was just how different the culture would be and if all the things i'd heard about France and the popular stereotypes were true. Here's an insider's guide to life as a Frenchy!

The stereotypes are true. The classic French stereotypes that you see on television or you read in books or whatever, they're true. Seriously. Let me give a few examples. 

1) BaguettesThe main French stereotype is baguettes. But how can a country love a type of bread so much? Believe me, they do. Everyone - infants, teenagers, adults, OAPs, dogs, cats, babies, pigeons.. everyone in France carries round several baguettes at a time. If you ask for a sandwich at lunch, you'll be given a baguette. If you ask for a baguette in a bakery, they'll ask you which type. It's bizarre but amazing all at the same time. 

2) Cheese. As well as baguettes, the French are known for their love of cheese and once again, this stereotype is true. When you walk into a supermarket in France, find the biggest aisle in the whole store and guaranteed it will be the cheese aisle, with more varieties of cheese than you thought was ever possible. Beyond the bags of grated emmental, big slabs of Brie and every flavour of Boursin you can find, you're unlikely to recognise any other type of cheese. Aside from the supermarket, you will also find a "Fromagerie" on your local high street but be careful not to linger around the front door too long because it smells like a student halls fridge after the Christmas break. Disgusting.

3) Style. The French are known for being stylish and they do not disappoint. Back in the UK if I was going to the supermarket, i'd just stay in the clothes I had been lounging in and throw on a pair of shoes and an anorak and voilà, I am ready. In France, the supermarket is the local fashion runway and any fashion faux-pas is not welcome. Among the wine and cheese aisles you'll find 70-year old fashionistas with fur coats and knee-high boots, 20-year old hipsters with leather slipperettes and fancy blazers or the haute couture mum who juggles looking after her children, shopping and being the next Burberry model all at the same time. I'm gradually working on becoming a haute couture mum.. watch this space.

4) Wine. The classic French stereotype: wine. And yes, yet again, this one is true too. If you think Morrisons' alcohol aisles are big, come to France and you'll find an aisle for each wine region. A WHOLE AISLE FOR EACH REGION. It's beyond ridiculous and it's always right before the checkouts so just as you think you're done shopping, you have to navigate all the families out choosing the perfect wine for their dinner. Just grab the first bottle you see Arnaud, i'm sure the family won't die if they have a 2011 Bordeaux wine instead of a 2013 Beaujolais. 

However there are other aspects of French life I have observed that.. let's just say are a bit of out of the ordinary and unexpected. Here are some examples:

1) Scooters. No, not the one with a motor that resembles a small motorbike, I mean the 2-wheeled child transport/toy thing. EVERYONE here uses them as a legitimate means of transport. I'm not even joking. People of all ages, of all backgrounds, of all careers uses them at all times of the day. The rush hour in France doesn't just happen on the roads and on public transport, it also happens on the pavements with everyone whizzing past on their scooters: grannies going to the market, businessmen in full suits going to work, children going to school. Watch out Scotland, i'm bring this idea back. Soon we'll all be whizzing about Buchanan Street going mental on our brand-new scooters. 

2) Drinks. Clubbing in France will set you back at least half of your savings, no joke. On my first night out in France I took a reasonable €40 with me for drinks, but alas that was not enough. My €40 was spent by the time we made it to the club, where I found out that a vodka mixer was an eye-watering €10. TEN EUROS?! Go to Aberdeen and you can get a 65p vodka mixer. France, u crazy!!!!!!!1!111

3) Bonjour. One of the very first things you learn in French classes as a child is that "Bonjour" is the French word for Hello. It's all a lie, folks. Bonjour is more similar to "Good morning" and saying it to anyone past midday will result in you getting a weird look and every French citizen hissing at you.. okay not quite, but you do get weird looks and it shows you to be such a outsider. It seems that in France they are strict on the correct use of their time-dependant greetings so take note: "Bonjour" for the morning. "Bon après-midi" for the afternoon. "Bonsoir" for the evening. I know, your whole world has crashed down around you, don't worry I feel the same way.

In conclusion, France consists of everyone holding a baguette, drunk off wine, smelling of cheese, well-dressed, whizzing about on scooters while giving you weird looks for using the wrong greeting and then going out and spending hundreds of euros on drinks in clubs. That's exactly what it is like. Hahahahaha. 

Vive la France, folks. Vive la France!

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