The Convenience / La Commodité

Qu’est-ce qui te manque le plus ? When people ask me what I miss most about the United States, the first word that comes to mind is convenience. And then I have to explain what exactly that means to me: being able to do what I want when I want. I was never forced to comply to someone else’s schedule. There were plenty of stores and restaurants open 24 hours so I wasn’t as rushed to buy my groceries before 8pm. Banks and the post office did not close for 2 hour lunches. Not many places were closed on Sundays either.

But in France I feel as though I waste a lot of time waiting for places to open so I can get things done. Even my bank is closed on Mondays, which I never seem to remember because I don’t understand why they have to be closed on that particular day. And the idea of “un drive” anywhere but McDonald’s or Quick is practically unheard of. My local post office has this convenient drop-off box for letters, but it’s located about 10 feet from the road. You have to park your car and run down the stairs to drop your mail off. And it’s in an industrial area, so there are few sidewalks for those who want to walk there. I just don’t get it.

So imagine my surprise a little while ago when I discovered that my bank has a drive-up ATM in Annecy! I thought these just didn’t exist in France because David was always talking about how cool they were when we were in the US for Christmas. (He even took a picture of one when I stopped to get some cash. And the pharmacy drive-thrus just blew his mind!) But this bank is actually pretty far from where I live, and I avoid driving in downtown Annecy as much as possible, so I doubt I will ever use it. But still, it is there!

The second thing that comes to mind about the US is just the space. The US is much larger than France, and the population density is much lower, so I never felt as crowded as I do here. I’ve always been a country girl though, and had my parents’ back yard to escape to. I think that’s why I have a hard time living in an apartment in such a residential area in France. I will never get used to the people or the noise and not having my own private yard to relax in.

The third thing is donuts. Definitely donuts.

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  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    Congrats on the move on WordPress, I love that you have so much content here! Well, you did on Blogger too but I’m discovering the linguistics section here,

    I like WP best anyway ;-)

    I don’t miss much from France except maybe Paul sandwiches, Cheap lunch… I always find the food so greasy here.

    Zhus last blog post..Niagara Falls

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    Congrats on the move on WordPress, I love that you have so much content here! Well, you did on Blogger too but I’m discovering the linguistics section here,

    I like WP best anyway ;-)

    I don’t miss much from France except maybe Paul sandwiches, Cheap lunch… I always find the food so greasy here.

    Zhus last blog post..Niagara Falls

  • http://www.lavieenfoussias.com/ Richard

    Welcome to WordPress Jennie!

    Its funny what you say about the lack of space in France, as, coming from the UK, the increase in space was one of the big reasons for us coming to France!

  • http://www.lavieenfoussias.com Richard

    Welcome to WordPress Jennie!

    Its funny what you say about the lack of space in France, as, coming from the UK, the increase in space was one of the big reasons for us coming to France!

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    I have to agree with you on all those points! Especially the donuts, haha
    I was really struck by the lack of convenience when I had to go to a pharmacie de nuit. As far as I know, Toulouse only has one, and it meant taking the metro, then waiting in line 20 minutes. Not very convenient if you need some medicine fast, and it happens to be after 7:30pm.

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    I have to agree with you on all those points! Especially the donuts, haha
    I was really struck by the lack of convenience when I had to go to a pharmacie de nuit. As far as I know, Toulouse only has one, and it meant taking the metro, then waiting in line 20 minutes. Not very convenient if you need some medicine fast, and it happens to be after 7:30pm.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com/ Linda

    I miss 7-11 and all of that available ice on a hot day, not to mention giant drinks. I totally understand what you are saying about convenience. And I miss customer service.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com Linda

    I miss 7-11 and all of that available ice on a hot day, not to mention giant drinks. I totally understand what you are saying about convenience. And I miss customer service.

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com/ Noelia

    I prefer your blog on WP as well! It has more… space! ;-)

  • http://noemagosa.wordpress.com/ Noelia

    I prefer your blog on WP as well! It has more… space! ;-)

  • http://maladroite.wordpress.com/ Anonymous

    I definitely agree… as much as I didn’t want to return to the States this summer, there are some perks. I freaked out today when i realized that I needed to mail some things to France at 2 pm… but the post office was still open for another hour and a half! And I have to buy a card for father’s day tomorrow, but no problem! I have about 5 stores within two miles that will be open to choose from, before I head off to go out for (gasp!) breakfast with my dad for Father’s day.
    I had to laugh at the donuts comment. My (French) boyfriend looveeees Krispy Kreme. Whenever he comes we get a box and eat them all at once.
    When I’m in France, I really miss Target. I spend half my errands (and paycheck, probably) there.

  • http://maladroite.wordpress.com/ Anonymous

    I definitely agree… as much as I didn’t want to return to the States this summer, there are some perks. I freaked out today when i realized that I needed to mail some things to France at 2 pm… but the post office was still open for another hour and a half! And I have to buy a card for father’s day tomorrow, but no problem! I have about 5 stores within two miles that will be open to choose from, before I head off to go out for (gasp!) breakfast with my dad for Father’s day.
    I had to laugh at the donuts comment. My (French) boyfriend looveeees Krispy Kreme. Whenever he comes we get a box and eat them all at once.
    When I’m in France, I really miss Target. I spend half my errands (and paycheck, probably) there.

  • http://islandgirl4ever2.blogspot.com/ Leesa

    Besides Target and the ocean/sun 24 hour fitness, CVS drugstore, Whole Foods, etc…. I really miss finding a place here in town or in Paris to just go to at any given time for coffee, just to hang out… and see people there that I know and can just engage in a conversation… I had a few places like this in San Diego.. I could just go to at any given time of the day and see people I knew or could meet total strangers and sit and talk… That’s something particular to American culture, I think… BTW… LOVEEEEEEE the new blog!! Great work, Jen!

  • http://islandgirl4ever2.blogspot.com/ Leesa

    Besides Target and the ocean/sun 24 hour fitness, CVS drugstore, Whole Foods, etc…. I really miss finding a place here in town or in Paris to just go to at any given time for coffee, just to hang out… and see people there that I know and can just engage in a conversation… I had a few places like this in San Diego.. I could just go to at any given time of the day and see people I knew or could meet total strangers and sit and talk… That’s something particular to American culture, I think… BTW… LOVEEEEEEE the new blog!! Great work, Jen!

  • http://islandgirl4ever2.blogspot.com/ Leesa

    Besides Target and the ocean/sun 24 hour fitness, CVS drugstore, Whole Foods, etc…. I really miss finding a place here in town or in Paris to just go to at any given time for coffee, just to hang out… and see people there that I know and can just engage in a conversation… I had a few places like this in San Diego.. I could just go to at any given time of the day and see people I knew or could meet total strangers and sit and talk… That’s something particular to American culture, I think… BTW… LOVEEEEEEE the new blog!! Great work, Jen!

    And also… just to state outright…. Saying what one misses isn’t complaining in any way that things are good here in France.. I love it here and prefer to live here rather than to go back and have all that I did in California… except maybe– the great weather… REALLY missing that right now… So is my hubby… and he’s French!!!

  • http://islandgirl4ever2.blogspot.com/ Leesa

    Besides Target and the ocean/sun 24 hour fitness, CVS drugstore, Whole Foods, etc…. I really miss finding a place here in town or in Paris to just go to at any given time for coffee, just to hang out… and see people there that I know and can just engage in a conversation… I had a few places like this in San Diego.. I could just go to at any given time of the day and see people I knew or could meet total strangers and sit and talk… That’s something particular to American culture, I think… BTW… LOVEEEEEEE the new blog!! Great work, Jen!

    And also… just to state outright…. Saying what one misses isn’t complaining in any way that things are good here in France.. I love it here and prefer to live here rather than to go back and have all that I did in California… except maybe– the great weather… REALLY missing that right now… So is my hubby… and he’s French!!!

  • skylar

    wow you said it perfectly. Europe is lovely, but one is always uncomfortable somehow as an American. Whether hungry, thirsty or an alcoholic, the stores are always closed when you need them most. And customer service is lacking, because no one wants to sell anything it seems like. Bush should conquer Europe! jk

  • skylar

    wow you said it perfectly. Europe is lovely, but one is always uncomfortable somehow as an American. Whether hungry, thirsty or an alcoholic, the stores are always closed when you need them most. And customer service is lacking, because no one wants to sell anything it seems like. Bush should conquer Europe! jk

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

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 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 a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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