French life : 5 things that happen when you move to France

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Moving to a new country involves learning the ins and outs of a new culture, maybe a new language and overall a new way of life. If you move to France you be surprised at the habits you pick up. However as with any move, a move to France whether to study, work or travel will have its difficulties. After living here for nearly two years now (with a year back home in between) there are some traits of the french life that I have picked up.

  1. You learn to appreciate fine wine

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My parents always taught me that alcohol should be appreciated, they have a very french way of thinking! Looking back maybe they were always preparing me to live in France, they chose a French name (Yvonne) and taught me the art of drinking wine. When I was younger my dad would get us to try and see what aromas we could get from a particular wine. Was it more woody or could we smell the berries? When we were that bit older we started to taste it. So I was always shown that wine is something to be savoured.

This training has come in handy since moving to France. When I was younger, for sure all wine tasted the same,the colours were different but it took time to identify a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ wine. After two years in France and many bottles and glasses of wine later my knowledge has improved. As a migraine sufferer I can’t go near red wine but have come to appreciate a good white or rosé.

When you move to France you will start to appreciate a good bottle of wine. From sipping glasses at the local bar to visiting vineyards you can really embrace the wine culture. With a bottle of wine starting as low as €2 its easy to try many types. Wine prices in Ireland and France are not comparable, a bottle here for €6 would be quite a good one. I have found some for less than €4 that have been great quality and the low price is due to the locality. The tax on wine is a lot lower here, a bottle of wine in Ireland is so heavily tax that even if you are spending €9 you are not getting the same quality as you would in France.

2. You find a new love for cheese 

The french love their cheese and if you try avoid it you will struggle. They seem to add cheese to everything, every sandwich, every salad…there’s no escaping it. One day I was in the cafeteria of my school I had three options – a four cheese panini, a three cheese salad or a ham and cheese sandwich! The worst part is that even with the variety of great quality cheese they seem to add emmental, a plasticy, bland tasting cheese, to everything!

If you are a cheese lover you will be in heaven in the supermarkets and fromageries. They have ever cheese you can imagine…except haloumi, they really don’t seem to do haloumi! (Not french so I guess thats why).

3. You’ll realise your french isn’t as good as you thought it was

I have learnt french throughout university and got great grades back home. However when I first arrived in France I was totally lost. The accent and the speed at which the French talk takes a lot of getting used to. This is made worse by the fact that they seem to only talk in slang, which is very frustrating when you have only learnt proper, textbook french.

It gets better though, I promise! My comprehension level has improved 100%. I can now sit through a masters level class and understand most of what is being said. I have done 3o minute presentations through french, I have sat exams and wrote 5 page essays. Last week I went to a film, in Portuguese with French subtitles and had no problem understanding it all.

Speaking is another matter. The main difficulty is confidence, if you believe you speak french then you really can (this is especially true after a glass or two of wine). Speaking to friends is no problem, speaking to French natives is harder.

4. You’ll find yourself automatically saying “Bonjour”

I know when I visit home now there are certain french words I automatically say like bonjour, bonne journée, merci and pardon. The french are very particular about always saying bonjour when you enter a shop, classroom, office etc. You will make the mistake once of not saying hello or thank you…and you’ll never make it again.

These are also the words I get to say most, I think its important to try and use whatever french you have when living in the country and most people should have these basic few words.

5. You wont want to leave 

If you move here you will have days where you get so frustrated by the place that you will want to leave. You’ll go to an office that will be closed for lunch, Wednesdays and weekends and it will feel like the breaking straw. Then the next day the sun will shine and you’ll wonder how you could ever have disliked this beautiful country.

Most people who have spent time abroad whether for work, study or travel will tell you that when you leave you will always have a desire to return. One reason is because you will have a romanticised image of your time away but its more than that, when you live away once the idea of settling in one place becomes more difficult.

After I moved back to Galway after my Erasmus I knew I wanted to live away again. Now that I’m away in France I know that I will need to go home for a while. How long I will stay I have no idea and that excites me.

Have you lived in France, if so is there anything you would add to this list? As always let me know below in the comments 🙂

My Instagram is full of more shots of Toulouse, the french city I’m based in, and France in general if you love France and all things french go check it out! @indieandlily

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