Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France


One of the things I enjoy about living in another country is meeting other newcomers. They are usually very interesting and open to new friendships. Fellow expats always have at least one thing to talk about: things that are different about your adopted country.

Over dinner last weekend with a group of Canadian, British, and Belgium expats, we of course talked about how France is different. Some things you learn to expect – like seeing baguettes peeking out from any possible place to put one and having a choice of over 50 types of ham. But even though all of us have spent over a year living in France, new things keep popping up. Here’s a few:

Things in France that still surprise us

  • The local banks may refuse to accept cash deposits in the afternoon, or maybe in the morning, depending on when they’ve decided to be open for “non-appointment” interactions.
  • The French government pays for a mother’s tummy tuck after the birth of her third child (you do have to have at least 3 babies to qualify).
  • Even after a year, none of us are totally confident that we’ll know how to use the restroom in a new place, although we’ve all gotten very good at figuring it out.
  • The French love to create and share animated PowerPoint slide shows.
  • When you go to a restaurant there is often no bread plate. Bread is put directly on the tablecloth even at very fancy places.
  • 99% of the t-shirts with writing are in English.
  • There are bare boobs depicted everywhere. I don’t mean just the “real” art. We’ve seen naked female torsos as part of the decoration on merry-go-rounds, the “apple boat” at the apple festival, a statue of the famous mathematician Fermat (Fermat was clothed, but the young lady sitting at his feet was not), and on the label of a cheese we bought recently to name just a few.


Statue of French mathematician, Fermat

One Response to “Surprises”

  1. Diane H. says:

    JM wants me to add that I am the prude. He is not surprised at all by the breast thing.