6 things which surprised us in France
We’ve been in France for almost a month already. We were going through its northern part, from east to west. And we were observing life here. More and less popular places. Smaller and bigger shops. Little old towns and modern buildings. Ocean, rivers and fields.
There were things which we liked and ones which we didn’t like at all. Some of them seemed to be just natural and some… surprised us. What was the most surprising for us during this northern roadtrip?
1. Low tides and collecting mussels
OK, it shouldn’t surprise us, but it did. High and low tides change the oceanside landscape much more than we expected. During high tides beaches are very small and you don’t have much space to sit. But during low tides water is so far away that you often cannot see it’s line. So you will not swim. But you can collect mussels which were left when water was going back. It’s a very popular activity in many areas. Whole families go to the beach with buckets and boxes to collect some frutti di mare. And then they cook and eat them for a supper. It was our first discovery after we went to France.
2. Little beaches on the coast
France has a very long coast line (about 3200 km). We knew how it looks like on the south and expected something similar on the north. How wrong it was! There are regions where beaches are made from pebbles and many rocks around. And another with the grassy coast. There are also regions with no beaches at all. These ones are being used mainly by fishermen and other people collecting sea creatures. There are also port towns and villages where boats are kept. Even if there is a place which you could somehow call a beach, swimming is often forbidden. So when you think that you can go to any place on a coast and jump to the ocean you will be surprised. Like us 🙂
High prices of food surprised us. Especially that a while earlier we were in Germany and Luxembourg and expected to spend similar amount of money for food also in France. But we are spending much more. It’s probably caused by some taxes as we don’t know what other reason could make it.
For the other side wine is really cheap. But it didn’t surprise us as we used to drink a lot of wine during our previous trip to this country 😉 Fortunately then we didn’t have to buy so much food.
One more thing about surprising prices – hair cutting! It’s so amazingly cheap that visiting a hairdresser can be a daily routine here.
4. Cars and limits
There are not many SUV’s which are popular in other European countries. And other huge ones. Cars are rather small and boring (I’m sorry :)). As an exception, in villages people have more all-terrain cars. In some regions (but not everywhere) we could see classic cars, mainly French brands of course. For instance, we saw many Citroens 2CV or atypical in another parts of continent Peugeots.
We don’t know if people here like cars. But for sure they cannot drive them well! At least these people whom we met on roads. Maybe better drivers choose another places to practise their skills?
For sure driving is not easy here due to speed limits which are crazy. You never know how fast you can go. It changes all the time and I think you need to know some extra rules to find out what’s going on.
5. French people are nice
There is a belief that French people are rude and unfriendly. But all people we met so far were really nice! They didn’t speak English but they tried hard to get along with us. People here smile a lot. And they say ‘bonjour’ when they see you. Of course not on a crowdy street, but in calmer places. They seem to be quite closed and distanced, but you don’t have to worry about any contact with them 🙂
6. Vending machines
Last but not least. French people love machines. Using automatic distributors you can buy fuel or gas on a station, wash your clothes in a public place, or buy something to eat. Vending machines offer you: baguettes, pizza, cheese, mussels, burgers, potatoes, eggs. Everything is fresh and tasty. And you can use them 24/7. In vending machines on streets you can buy also condoms. And probably much more things which we haven’t discovered yet.
It’s not the end of our French trip so we’re waiting impatiently for more suprising things here! 🙂