Friday, April 3, 2015

Things you only see in France

Thank you, smartphone, for giving me the ability to snap pictures anywhere anytime.  Otherwise you, dear readers, wouldn't believe me when I told you what I have been seeing around here.  To be honest, some of these things you might see in Belgium as well, or in Europe in general.

1. Priority on the right signs.  Truly the bane of my existence since I learned to drive in France.  When you see this sign it means you have to slow down because the side street on the right has the priority. I've had many a near-miss because of this rule.  I wish they'd just put a stop sign instead.
2. Tintin slippers.  It may have been a Steven Spielberg production, but Tintin and this captain character featured on the slippers are much more popular in Europe.  It is from a comic book series.  I don't know too many grown men in the US sporting these.  They'd probably prefer Homer Simpson.
 3. Speaking of men's apparel, French guys are not afraid to wear frilly scarves.  Just check out all these scarf and shirt/jacket pairings in the men's section in Monoprix, an upscale grocery store.  It's not just a metrosexual thing here.  I dare you to show me one Alabama boy wearing this style.
With a manly leather jacket.

I swear this was in the men's section.

Fresh summer sailor look.

4. Women of a certain age (as the French expression goes) might wear one of these smocks for cleaning.  You might see a lady cleaning her front stoop and pouring out the soapy water in this type of apron.
 5.   Here's a pun you can't make in English.  "Bio" is the abbreviation for "biologique" meaning organic.  This is an organic cotton shirt so the designers went with a punny expression.
6. People lining up to buy lottery tickets on Friday the 13th.  This is a newsstand that sells lottery tickets in the grocery store shopping center.  In France this day is considered lucky by many.  In the US it's associated with horror movies and bad luck. Since I recently had a fender bender on Friday the 13th, I'm thinking my American side must be winning (or should I say losing) out.
 7. Micro-sidewalks.  Two people can barely walk on this.  Don't even try pushing a stroller!  The two lines of brick in the middle are actually the gutter.
8. Microcars. My sister called these "baby cars" when she first came to visit me in  2003.  I still have to stop and stare at them sometimes. These particular ones are called "voitures sans permis" which means you don't need a license to drive them.  They must be easy to park, at least!

 9. April Fool's fish?!  Juliette was busy Tuesday night cutting out and decorating paper fish to put on the back of her unwitting classmates and teachers with a little piece of scotch tape.  When people tell you a fake story on April 1st it's called a "poisson d'avril," literally an April fish.  Maybe like a "fish story"?  Bakeries will also make a sweet flaky pastry in the shape of a fish for this day.
10. Food trucks that sell "French" hamburgers.  For all their love of using English words and even opening retro-themed diners, the French always want to have the last word regarding food.  I guess that's why this "food truck" wants to specify that their burgers are "français", oui, merci!  Whatever that means exactly.

And one more for the road... probably my pet peeve as an English teacher: the misuse of apostrophes.  The French do it to seem more English.  But it just ends up looking very French.  I guess it's their revenge for us making all those "Le bag" bags in the 80s.


Tim Dudek said...

I had to laugh at the men's fashion section. I just watched a movie with Kevin Costner that took place in Paris. For most of the movie he walks around in a leather jacket with a frilly scarf on. I kept thinking only in France

Mil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mil said...

Thanks, Tim. I am so behind on US movies. Looks like someone did their homework when they filmed that one. Of course, Kevin Costner can pull it off.

Jenenz said...

Regarding #1, I would have no idea what an "X" on a sign would mean. That sign does not resonate with my brain. The scarves made me thing immediately of the French and European men that I have worked with. They do wear those scarves, even in the States. You can take the man out of Europe but can't take the Europe out of the man.

I Say Oui said...

Yes! My friend and I were just talking about men and their delicate flowery scarves in France! I notice more older men who wear them, along with colorful socks.