10 Things I’ve Learned About France in No Particular Order

OK – DIY Woman has only been in France for a month but she’s already made a list. Here are 10 things she’s learned so far:

DIY and BYO - the hardware place at Chinon
DIY and BYO – the hardware place at Chinon

1. France and wine go together like drill bits and champagne. In rural France you can buy local wine at the hardware place. A marriage made in heaven for your average DIY Woman.

2. Most shops close between 12 and 2pm (known here as 14 heures and don’t forget it) for the serious business of having a long leisurely lunch

3. The French take their food seriously. See point 2 above. If you are in a queue for service of any sort (but especially at a farmers market) do not expect to be served in a hurry. There are matters of importance to be discussed in any transaction but especially one concerning food and wine. Your questions will be answered with the same consideration, especially if you attempt to ask them in French. Oh and don’t touch the avocados!

4. The French love a public holiday. May alone has 4: May 1 is Labor Day, May 8 is WWII Victory Day, May 14 is Ascension Day and May 24 is Whit Sunday. If you’re planning to stay in France for any length of time make sure you add French public holidays onto your calendar. It will save you a lot of heartburn.

5. Occasionally you will spend 5 minutes trying to put together a sentence in French in order to complete a transaction. Your interlocutor will allow you to keep going until you run out of puff and then suggest (in perfect English) that you speak English. Gotta love the French and their contrary ways!

6. Learn to love the French and their contrary ways.

7. French door handles have to be forced upwards before being locked or unlocked. Sometimes they lock, sometimes they don’t; a lot depends on the weather, the strength and angle of the pressure applied and the power of prayer.

8. French rain is soft and set-in. Try to remember it is the reason for the gorgeous green French countryside when you have been stuck inside for a week.

9. There are badgers, pine martens and cuckoos in the woods of the Loire

10. In the Loire you can hear birdsong at midnight.

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