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France in five paragraphs

June 10, 2006

I was sitting in a long flight with a French colleague. I am always interested in how natives talk about their countries and cultures, and since there wasn’t too much to do, I asked him to tell me his version of what France as the country is like and what differences does it have. Would be interesting to hear from other Frenchmen what do they think of this…

Bretagne and Normandie in the north. Always having this rivalry with each other. Also very much like Northern Europe regarding people’s warmth (or rather, lack of it): people appear cold and reserved, but if you get close to them, you’ll have true friends, unlike south (below).

The eastern part close to Belgium, Germany with Strasbourg. Places like Alsace-Lorraine etc. The most “European” part, enthusiastic about this whole EU thing. Feels more “German” (since that’s what it has been a part of for a long time).

Paris. A totally different thing and not really French (like NY in the USA I guess).

The central belt with Lyon. The best place to go if you really want to get the “French life”.

South part. East of it closer to Italy (Cannes etc) and West closer to Spain. People here appear warmer, but in reality it’s all gang-dominated. You get good food, good service and smiles, but unlike in the North, no one really cares about you and people are more superficial.