French peculiarities

Obviously the French are far more preoccupied by the idea of the European Community than, say, the British. Apart from the obvious French “tricolore”, almost every public building shows the European flag too. This is a picture of the facade of Fontainebleau’s “Hotel de Ville”.

As our current laptop shows serious signs of ageing we decided to replace it. We found one, with separate keys for the numbers, subsequently a larger screen and, yes, even Windows 8. It was a real bargain, too… At least that was what we thought, until we unpacked the thing at home and discovered an AZERTY-keyboard instead of the expected QWERTY. We reassured each other: don’t panic, we’ll go back and change this one for a QWERTY-keyboard (“clavier” in French, no music in this case). Well, fat chance, in fact no chance at all, as in France there is nowhere a QWERTY-keyboard to be found. The unhelpful shop assistant’s answer was a flat “no” initially, followed by the assertion that a QWERTY-keyboard is forbidden by law in France. (Huh? You must be joking!) Fortunately we found a friendly guy at the service desk in the same store who changed the keyboard to an American/English one and he even had the kindness to replace the keys into the QWERTY positions. We now only have to buy stickers to glue to the other keys, like /, {, +, & and so on. Piece of cake! And a lesson learned! Next chapter: how, for heaven’s sake, does the new one work??

Health and safety really is a major item in the country we have lived in for over five years. Less so in France. In France you get the impression that one is supposed to behave sensibly – just like that. Use your senses, connect it all to your brain and act accordingly. On the one hand Britain sometimes seems to “go over the top” – and on the other France seems to practice their well known “laisser faire”. We have no idea where our home country stands…

Dog dirt is a bit of a neglected area in France. “Yuck” and “clean up after your dog” is what we’d like to say. No more comment.

It happens that a receipt still renders the paid amount not only in Euro’s, but in the old French francs as well. Almost eleven years after the introduction of the Euro! Perhaps this gesture, sympathetic as it is, is meant for the elderly – or the diehards. But isn’t it safe to say that inflation only makes this a bit superfluous after all these years? Even the male part of the two of us stopped calculating a price into guilders after five years or so….

For some reason we love this tiny drains, everywhere to be seen in the streets of the town where we currently live. They do the job as good as any big one!

In a “tabac” it’s obvious that it’s not unusual to drop an empty ‘sugar straw’ on the floor. There is no sign of amazement to be seen anywhere. Ha!, we are brought up in such a (Calvinistic?) way that we do not dare to act like this even in France! Conclusion: every country has its own morals – why try to change them? After all, it might be a part of “joie de vivre”, an authentic French invention!