(The cheek of it) I only know her as Vagabonde but you can find her blog here -
she has given me permission to print it as many of you may not see it in comments, It gives a good insight into the French culture and gives details of a good book to read, it can only help to know how their minds work
Also a big thank you to Paulita from An Accidental blog for pointing her in my direction.
I have just ordered the book too and will let you all know how I find it
I came here after writing a comment on An Accidental Blog. Your post gave me a good laugh. You see, that is the French culture. I just finished a book, sent to me by a friend, about an American woman who married a French man and talks about all these cultural differences – you should read it, it is funny – it is by Harriet Welty Rochefort and called “French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates the Maddening Mysteries of the French” – I saw that you can get it secondhand on Amazon France. You see the French will take advantages like this, because for them it is normal. It is the same in banks, at the post office or going on an airplane – everyone does it. I am French, raised in Paris (now living near Atlanta, GA.) I was so surprised while studying in London to see people “queuing” at the bus stop! In Paris we had to get tickets with numbers – don’t know if they still do it. What you should have said, in French, and very polite “excusez-moi madame, je ne savais pas que vous aviez tants de choses – nous sommes pressés, alors nous reprenons notre place” (excuse me, madam, I didn’t know you had so many items, we are in a hurry, so we are taking our place back.” Voila! And that would have been OK, no problem. With us French, you need to put your foot down!
You will get many cultural shocks like this. I did also in the US. I’ll give you an example: I remember the first time I went to a Thanksgiving dinner at American people’s home and they said “grace” before dinner – I was surprised as in all my years growing up in Paris I had never heard it (although you living in the Mayenne I think, they may be more religious.) But wait - then each guest had a Bible on top of their plates – we were supposed to read a verse from it. Well, being from very “laic” (secular) Paris I was shocked beyond belief and thought they were fanatics – I said I did not feel well and escaped. Then later I found out that most Americans are super religious and it’s OK for them to pray in public or with foreign guests at dinner, without knowing if the guests are religious or even what religion or no religion (certainly not done in France!) So every country has its particular culture. Bonne chance!
Have a very happy Easter x