Some French things that I may never get used to

Showers. Or lack of. Most apartments have bathtubs with a hand-held showerhead that is not attached to the wall. There is usually no shower bar or curtain. I’m still mystified as to how people take “showers” this way. The hose that connects the showerhead to the faucet is not very long, so it must be impossible to wash your hair unless you kneel or do it upside down. And how do you stop the water from spraying all over the bathroom? How do you not freeze to death? How are you supposed to wash your hair and yourself when one hand is always occupied?

Television. The daily news is on at 8 pm instead of 6 and 11. The “primetime” shows usually don’t begin until 8:50 or later. There seems to be no pattern as to when when the shows start, so that if you want to watch two different shows on two different channels, their times may overlap and you’ll miss part of one. Everything is dubbed, not sub-titled, in French. And France is apparently 3 years in the past because CSI is still in season 4 here.

Grocery stores. Smell like raw fish. No bag boys. Must put a euro in the cart to unlock it. Shortest aisles ever. Whose great idea was it to leave only 5 feet of space for the check-out lanes? Stores are always so packed here (regardless of the time or day) so the line of people waiting continuously extends into the aisles of food, making it impossible to shop in those aisles or even go around the corner of those aisles.

Erratic hours. For example, the library: Closed Monday. 11 am – 5:30 pm Tuesday. 9:30 am – 12:30 pm and 2 – 6 pm Wednesday. 3 – 6:30 pm Thursday. 2 – 6 pm Friday. 10 am – 12:30 pm and 2 – 5 pm Saturday. Closed Sunday. WHY? Whatever happened to open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm? BTW, banks are closed on Mondays and national museums are closed on Tuesdays. I’m sure there’s absolutely no reason for this either.

Late dinners. I’m hungry by 6 pm, please let me eat then. I don’t like waiting until 9 or 10. That’s what time I go to bed.

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  • Linda

    The same things bother me. It drives me nuts when they are stocking the shelves at the busiest time of the day with crowds of people trying to get around. I found out that they dont’ pay overtime here so stocking goes on during shopping hours. Our shower is ok. Closures for lunch in smaller towns can get irritating. I find French TV very strange as well. We do now have a channel where we can watch American sports which helps. I’m starting to get used to it all since I’ve been here as long as I have. I just remember the good stuff like the food and wine and the beauty here.

  • Linda

    The same things bother me. It drives me nuts when they are stocking the shelves at the busiest time of the day with crowds of people trying to get around. I found out that they dont’ pay overtime here so stocking goes on during shopping hours.
    Our shower is ok. Closures for lunch in smaller towns can get irritating. I find French TV very strange as well. We do now have a channel where we can watch American sports which helps. I’m starting to get used to it all since I’ve been here as long as I have. I just remember the good stuff like the food and wine and the beauty here.

  • The Franco Fille

    I’m used to the showers because we had that kind of shower attachment growing up. We used that instead of the actual showerhead. So when I saw them in Paris, it wasn’t unfamiliar. But it IS hard to maneuver.

  • The Franco Fille

    I’m used to the showers because we had that kind of shower attachment growing up. We used that instead of the actual showerhead. So when I saw them in Paris, it wasn’t unfamiliar. But it IS hard to maneuver.

  • DestinationMetz

    I so agree re the showers! I hate, hate, hate Christophe’s shower. The hot water is never hot enough either so its freezing. My acne returned when I was staying there and I wonder if the low-flow shower head and not getting a good face blast from a proper shower was part of the problem actually. I enjoy baths as much as the next person but getting ready in the mornings, give me a stand up shower anyday.

  • DestinationMetz

    I so agree re the showers! I hate, hate, hate Christophe’s shower. The hot water is never hot enough either so its freezing. My acne returned when I was staying there and I wonder if the low-flow shower head and not getting a good face blast from a proper shower was part of the problem actually. I enjoy baths as much as the next person but getting ready in the mornings, give me a stand up shower anyday.

  • IslandGirl4Ever2

    I have to tell you my “shower” peeve was fixed when we put up the bar my hubby had in the cave and I put up the plastic shower curtain I bought at Target in the States.. Not that they don’t have them here.. I have just NEVER seen them on a shower here!! It clears up the phobia of getting water everywhere.. which I was VERY good at before the curtain went up.. I turn up the hot water to 45 because I like very HOT showers… I miss the shower filter on mine back in SD and also the BIG shower head I had put on, as well.. those hand held things don’t do the trick.. except for cleaning the sides of the bathtub..hehe!!!— We eat around 8:30 or 9 pm because we eat a big lunch around 1 pm and then we are not hungry til later.. but we eat light for diner… But it doesn’t get dark until 9:30 pm or so now.. My pet peeves are the people who stand in the middle of the sidewalk like they own it.. and the others who walk straight into you and would… if you don’t move outta their way… Yeesh!!!Oh wel… that is my rant.. — ciao, Leesa

  • IslandGirl4Ever2

    I have to tell you my “shower” peeve was fixed when we put up the bar my hubby had in the cave and I put up the plastic shower curtain I bought at Target in the States.. Not that they don’t have them here.. I have just NEVER seen them on a shower here!! It clears up the phobia of getting water everywhere.. which I was VERY good at before the curtain went up.. I turn up the hot water to 45 because I like very HOT showers… I miss the shower filter on mine back in SD and also the BIG shower head I had put on, as well.. those hand held things don’t do the trick.. except for cleaning the sides of the bathtub..hehe!!!
    — We eat around 8:30 or 9 pm because we eat a big lunch around 1 pm and then we are not hungry til later.. but we eat light for diner… But it doesn’t get dark until 9:30 pm or so now..
    My pet peeves are the people who stand in the middle of the sidewalk like they own it.. and the others who walk straight into you and would… if you don’t move outta their way… Yeesh!!!
    Oh wel… that is my rant.. — ciao, Leesa

  • Mlle Smith

    The whole closing entire restaurants during lunch hours makes me crazy. What do you do when you want to meet friends somewhere for lunch?…entire restaurant staffs would gather at a table eating and look at me with this look of loathing each time we’d approach. I have no idea of the logic in closing and entire business for hours. Why not staggered lunch hours? And what’s with the whole shower thing? I’m bringing my own shower curtains, but I wonder if I should bring a showerhead, too? (I have no idea if it would even fit…)

  • Mlle Smith

    The whole closing entire restaurants during lunch hours makes me crazy. What do you do when you want to meet friends somewhere for lunch?…entire restaurant staffs would gather at a table eating and look at me with this look of loathing each time we’d approach. I have no idea of the logic in closing and entire business for hours. Why not staggered lunch hours?

    And what’s with the whole shower thing? I’m bringing my own shower curtains, but I wonder if I should bring a showerhead, too? (I have no idea if it would even fit…)

  • Jennie

    You can buy the showerheads that attach to the wall in stores for about 30-50 €. But you’ll have to screw holes in the bathroom tile to install it. Shower curtains and rods are easy to find too. I just don’t understand why showers are not automatically set up like this… It’s so annoying to have to go buy all of the stuff and do it yourself.

  • Jennie

    You can buy the showerheads that attach to the wall in stores for about 30-50 €. But you’ll have to screw holes in the bathroom tile to install it. Shower curtains and rods are easy to find too. I just don’t understand why showers are not automatically set up like this… It’s so annoying to have to go buy all of the stuff and do it yourself.

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I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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