Thursday, June 19, 2008

The French

Notre Dame  (click to embiggen)  

Marilyn at Simmer Till Done got me thinking about
Paris since she has visited there recently.  Not a thing I 
like better to think about and dream about.  I have so
many books about France and French in general.  I have
only visited there once and would love to return soon.
Here are some bits of information that might prove 
useful to you when you travel to France.
"The French are different from you and me.  Theirs
is not a puritan country.  We speak with an air of detachment,
even distrust, of the pursuit of happiness.  The French just
go ahead with it--and they've organized a country and a 
great city to make sure they catch what they're chasing...
What I mean is that the French have developed the arts of
leisure to a higher degree than we have.  Eating, drinking,
gossiping, just enjoying--the French do it with unique style...
An American has more of a chance to become the person he
or she aspires to be.  A Frenchman is more locked in by where
he was born, what his father did, how he speaks the language.  
But, God, the French know how to live.  And thank God the 
rest of us can share life with them for a while..."  
~Richard Reeves-"An American in Paris"

According to Polly Platt in her book, "French of Foe?", there
are certain codes one must adhere to when visiting or living
in France.  
Code 1:  Don't smile.  "French people don't smile blandly
as they walk down the street.  They don't smile without a 
reason."  De-smile your public face.
Code 2:  Flirt.  It can come in handy when it comes to
receiving help.  You do it with your eyes.  
Code 3:  Use the ten magic words!  The first five are:
"Excusez-moi de vous deranger, monsieur (or madame)..."
"Excuse me for disturbing you, Sir, or Madam.."
"This is the charm that warms the hearts of impatient 
Parisians on the street.  The five magic words click with
Frenchmen like the responding smile with Americans."
The five magic words work wonders and if you add five
more:  "J'ai un probleme" ("I have a problem"), you 
qualify as a person to be respected and helped to the
very limit of the Frenchman's possibilities.  
Code 4:  Add "Monsieur" or "Madame" to "Hello."
You must always say hello and goodbye to all of the
strangers that you have an exchange with in the stores.
"Bonjour, monsieur (or madame) and au revoir, monsieur
(or madame).
Code 5:  Shake hands!  You shake hello and goodbye.
This is more for people living there and working.
Code 6:  Watch out at the door!  Just because you
got to a door first does not mean that you should go 
through it first.  It's called the bataille de la porte (the
battle of the doorway) and also takes place at the elevator.
Rank and sex are key here.  

Benjamin Franklin said:  "Everyman has two countries,
his own and France."