Rookie mistakes & survival tips
Ah, la France! The land of good wine and cheese, the cradle of impressionism, adopted home of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. If you are moving to France, chances are your life will be pretty interesting. Between breathtaking landscapes, world famous museums and great food, you will always have something to do. Before enjoying yourself on the French Riviera though, here is some advice on the things to know when moving to France.
The French and their chocolate
France has a huge chocolate obsession, the height of which is reached in Easter. However it is not simply an obsession, but an appreciation and ‘amour’ for the taste, shape and smell of chocolate. I first discovered this in Easter, when I was introduced to chocolate hens and eggs. They were delicious, and since then I have been feeling very lucky that I now have access to the best chocolatiers in the world here in France.
How much should you give?
pourboire, literally ‘in order to drink’) aren’t as freely offered as in the US or even the UK, and have become less common since the introduction of the euro. In some places you may even come across signs forbidding tipping (
pourboire interdit)! Whether or not you should tip depends largely on whether a service charge has already been included in the price.
Traditions and habits
All countries have peculiar social customs and France is no exception. As a foreigner you will probably be excused if you accidentally insult your hosts, but it’s better to be aware of accepted taboos and courtesies, especially as the French are much more formal than most foreigners (especially Americans and Britons) imagine.
Religion organisations and lifestyles in France
France has officially been a secular state since the Revolution and therefore has a long tradition of religious tolerance; every resident has total freedom of religion without hindrance from the state or community, and the majority of the world’s religious and philosophical movements have religious centres or meeting places in Paris and other major cities.
Structure and organization
There are three main police forces in France: the
police nationale, the
gendarmerie nationale and the
Compagnie Républicaine de la Sécurité (
CRS). French policemen are addressed formally as
monsieur/madame l’agent and colloquially called
flics (cops), although there are many less polite names. The
police nationale are under the control of the Interior Ministry and are called
agents de police.
Laws and courts in France
The French legal system is based entirely on written civil law. The system of administrative law was laid down by Napoleon and is appropriately called the
code Napoléon (Napoleonic code). The code governs all branches of French law and includes the
code civil, the
code fiscal and the
History and statistics
France has a similar crime rate to most other European countries and in common with them crime has increased considerably in recent years; the number of reported crimes has almost doubled in a decade: an estimated 18m offences are reported to the police each year, 5m of which result in an official crime report and 1.3m in legal procedings, 650,000 in court, although more than half of these cases are dropped.
Verdict on the Grapevine
They come by the thousands, hoards of people flocking to the west coast of France. Connoisseurs, traders, pundits and amateur enthusiasts from across the globe have set upon a pilgrimage - a journey which finds its destination at the renowned vineyards of Bordeaux.
Learning to shop the fresh French foods
What better way to fully experience the joys of French life, engulfing all of your senses, than with a trip to the neighborhood market?
Some of our generation's best
It can be argued that France has the most impressive collection of designers in the world, with another skilled artist or creator coming out of the nation on a seemingly annual basis.
I think "culture shock" is a misnomer. When you think of a shock, it's something that strikes in an instant.
Seven day city trip in the 'city of lights'
Enjoy the peaceful Parisian atmosphere during slow walks on the rivière. Admire the architecture or visit some museums in the city that is known for the Age of Enlightenment and was the first one to have public lights.
How charming things can turn into a nightmare
The definition of culture shock? When things that were quaint and charming when you arrived in a country suddenly seem stupid and backwards, that's culture shock.